03 June 2012

www.montagestudio.org - Modeling the Female Body - Video Tutorial Review

Well now I'm upto the last product from www.montagestudio.org, this product being:
Having finally managed to get it downloaded, with yet another email to the people at Montagestudio (who were quick and helpful) (something tells me payloadz the storage providers for downloads are not well liked at Montagestudio). So now that I have managed to watch through it, here's a review:

Anyway on to the review of "Modeling the Female Body".

My first observation is one of my oft stated pet peeves, and that is the use of proprietary video formats, rather than the open sourced OGG alternative for video. This is really annoying but they just don't seem to learn. The other slight issue with all the videos from Montagestudio so far is background noises, while they don't stop you from following along with the videos, they are distracting and really there should be better use of editing. What from cockrel and hens, people talking and water sounds, and the author having various colds and sniffles, a tutorial on the benefits of video editing using the Blender Video Sequence Editor would be useful. Also Online download system for purchasing and downloading Montagestudio products is really awful, it's not Montagestudio that does that side of it, but it really needs to be sorted out/changed.

The first thing to note is that this title is a little misleading, in that it does not model the whole female body but skips doing that head as that is part of another DVD (reviewed previously). It covers every other body part though, they are listed below:
  • Part 1 - Chest
  • Part 2 - Stomach
  • Part 3 - Lower Back
  • Part 4 - Upper Back
  • Part 5 - Leg
  • Part 6 - Arm
  • Part 7 - Hand
  • Part 8 - Foot
  • Part 9 - Final
A strange thing to note is that although I labelled that parts 1 to 9, they aren't labelled in the files, so at the beginning you will have to find the right file to open as you move between the different videos. This is not too bad however, as at least by default on my system, they seem to be listed in the order they should be opened. But this won't be the case on all systems ,as some will reorder by alphabetic order or file size, etc. This is just a minor annoyance though.

Unlike the "Modeling the Female Head" video, this tutorial runs for 4 hours but is only 1 gigabyte in size (which made it much less of a hassle to download). It looks like this was achieved by lowering the frame rate at which the video was recorded. This has not really caused any problems as far as watching the video is concerned, as the screen display is still clear enough to see what is being done.

As is to be expected from a modelling video, all the standard topics are gone through at the beginning, such as positioning and using reference images and a suggestion is made on where to get good royalty free images (www.3d.sk). I browsed this site and it looks ok, but I dare say with a bit of searching you could find a cheaper place (maybe even free).

After all the introductory and preparatory setup has been carried out, the modelling proper starts. The poly by poly method of modelling is used in this (and all video tutorials so far that I have seen from Montagestudio). This may put off some watchers of the video, but it does allow a more accurate and clear modelling of edge loops (from what I saw). The video author does mention that you could do all of this in Box modelling mode though.

All in all each of the different sections of the body were well described and the modelling processes in terms of edge loops and positioning were as clear as they needed be, though obviously some things about the modelling of the human body are just fiddly. The fiddly parts of the modelling the author did his best to highlight and give various tips on how to ensure that you could avoid problems. Though obviously the best way to get to grips with the more complex parts of modelling is to model something in 3D and get a feel for it that way.

The hands and the feet were not modelled in very high detail and the author mentions that this is because he only wants to describe the process of being able to make these parts not get down into the nitty gritty of folds and bumps of individual bits. This is fair enough but I would of appreciated a more in depth looks at achieving things like wrinkles on fingers and such. Still it does give the overall information needed to make well modelled hands and feet.

Another slight gripe was that sometimes as the author was modelling he would come across parts of his mesh that had triangles in them, which he was able to fix, but it would of been helpful to go through more of the techniques for fixing bad meshes (which a beginning modeller would have), although some techniques were gone through, because the author was very experienced a lot of the ways for correcting mistakes were not covered because he himself avoided them most of them. I know this is rather like arguing that he was too good but still, more info on fixing triangles and mesh fixing techniques in general would of helped.

This video tutorial is not a beginners tutorial so you really are expected to have gone through the other videos, or at least know you way round Blender reasonably well, though to the authors credit he still does explain most of the key presses and processes that he goes through with Blender as he is modelling. So to my mind I think even a beginner should be able to follow along or at least understand what is being done.

After all the parts of the body are modelled the video tutorial move on to a short section on reshaping the body as a whole to get different poses of the body. This is another weak point in the video, as it really should of covered at least basic rigging and skinning to allow the person to use better methods to pose the altered model, rather than altering the underlying mesh directly. It will probably be covered in the animation video they are said to be making be even so it would of been nice to at least have basic posing covered.

Good tutorial worth getting, though a little pricey, your edge loop skills will be boosted though.

Review Score 75%