30 November 2013

CG Masters - Master It - Volumes 1 & 2 - DVD Training Review

CG Masters have released another one of their tutorial series this time called "Master It"; 

It's a two volume Blender video training course which is aimed at beginning Blender users.  With it's aim being to take those beginners and give them broad exposure to many of Blenders different tools and features, enabling them to get up and running quickly when using Blender.

This course is presented by Christopher Plush and Aidy Burrows.  Both Christopher and Aidy are very talented Blender users with a lot of Blender knowledge to impart.

Product Specifications:

        If you decide to purchase this training course then you have two options, you can either buy a physical DVD or you can download an electronic version.  In either case the price of the course is the same and both version present the same material.

        The price is one of the first things I noticed.  For $60 dollars you get almost 18 hours of training material.  So the value for money aspect is very high given the quality of the training material.

        As with all CG Masters tutorial materials the content is produced to an extremely high quality;  The video and audio are very clear and easy to follow.  With lots of realtime and occasionally timelapsed video recording.  Chris and Aidy are very good an explaing what they are doing throughout their videos.

        The materials provided in the course include all the Blend files, videos, textures and final results of all the work for you to examine. You can access the videos and other resources either directly using your own media player of choice, or alternatively access all the content from inside your web browser.

        The web browser interface neatly organizes all the course content into manageable sizes allowing you to quickly navigate to the sections that interest you most.

        This is a course for beginning Blender users so it is designed to be watched from start to finish and where possible you are advised to follow along and try and carryout the tasks shown in the training videos.

        Unlike a lot of beginner type courses this one tries to cover all of the most fundamental features of Blender and it's tools.  By necessity it can't cover every single feature but it does cover a lot of different topics, and most of the important tools and features are covered.

        Topics List:

        Volume 1 - Section 1 - Welcome To Class 
        • Chapter 1 - How To View
        • Chapter 2 - Common Terminology

        Volume 1 - Section 2 - Understanding Blender
        • Chapter 1 - 3D Space
        • Chapter 2 - Anatomy Of A Mesh
        • Chapter 3 - Saving And Loading
        • Chapter 4 - Window Types
        • Chapter 5 - Creating A New Layout
        • Chapter 6 - Toolbars
        • Chapter 7 - Layers
        • Chapter 8 - User Preferences

        Volume 1 - Section 3 - Working with Blender
        • Chapter 1 - Object Mode
        • Chapter 2 - Part 1 - Edit Mode & Modeling
        • Chapter 2 - Part 2 - Creating A Toon House
        • Chapter 3 - The 3D Cursor And Object Origins
        • Chapter 4 - The Specials Menu
        • Chapter 5 - Materials And Textures
        • Chapter 6 - UV Unwrapping
        • Chapter 7 - Color, Normal, and Specular Maps

        Volume 1 - Section 4 - Lighting and Rendering
        • Chapter 1 - Blender Internal VS Cycles Renderer
        • Chapter 2 - Camera
        • Chapter 3 - Lighting
        • Chapter 4 - Lighting And Rendering A Scene

        Volume 1 - Section 5 - Modifiers
        • Chapter 1 - Introduction to Modifiers
        • Chapter 2 - Generate Modifiers
        • Chapter 3 - Deform Modifiers

        Volume 1 - Section 6 - Animation and Physics
        • Chapter 1 - Introduction to Animation
        • Chapter 2 - Object Animation
        • Chapter 3 - Cannon Blast Exercise

        Volume 1 - Section 7 - Game Engine
        • Chapter 1 - Introduction
        • Chapter 2 - Adding The Main Controls
        • Chapter 3 - The Keys
        • Chapter 4 - Opening The Door
        • Chapter 5 - The Final Product

        Volume 1 - Section 8 - Tips And Tricks
        • Chapter 1 - Tips And Tricks
        • Chapter 2 - Creating Normal And Specular Maps
        • Chapter 3 - Normal Maps, Bump Maps, Displacement Maps, Which One Do I Use?

        Volume 2 - Section 1 - Acoustic Guitar In Cycles
        • Chapter 1 - Setting Up The Blueprints
        • Chapter 2 - Modeling The Body
        • Chapter 3 - Neck And Headstock
        • Chapter 4 - Fretboard
        • Chapter 5 - Turning Pegs
        • Chapter 6 - Strings
        • Chapter 7 - UV Mapping
        • Chapter 8 - Creating The Texture Maps
        • Chapter 9 - The Environment
        • Chapter 10 - Rendering In Cycles

        Volume 2 - Section 2 - Game Scene Overview
        • Chapter 1 - Baking AO And Shadow Maps
        • Chapter 2 - Game Scene Overview

        Volume 2 - Section 3 - Finishing The Toon House
        • Chapter 1 - Addons - Grass, Ivy, Clouds
        • Chapter 2 - Nodes
        • Chapter 3 - Finished Toon House Overview

        Volume 2 - Section 4 - Cool Extras
        • Chapter 1 - More Addons
        • Chapter 2 - Cloth Simulation
        • Chapter 3 - Face Modeling Made Easy
        • Chapter 4 - Making Tileable Textures

        As you can see from the topics list above the range of topics covered is very extensive.

        Videos range in length from just a few minutes to over an hour.

        The course is split between two volumes. The first covers the very basics, while the second volume covers slightly more advanced topics.

        The standout part for me in volume one was the creation of a cartoon style house.  Using a select few tools Chris was able to create a very fun looking house.  This house is later improved on in volume two.

        The second volume can be thought of as using all the topics and tools covered in the first volume to product bigger more complex projects.  For example volume two goes over how to model and texture a guitar, using all the tools mentioned in the previous first volume.  Volume two also covers various extra features and tools that Blender provides, such as addons and simulation features.

        I personally would have prefered more and deeper coverage of the Blender Game Engine and a little more focus on the Shading Nodes of Blender Cycles Render.  Although both Blender Internal features and Blender Cycles render features are covered, a little more coverage of the Cycles nodes would have been welcome.  That said for a beginner course there is more than enough coverage to keep you busy learning and digesting what is in this course for a long time.  Also note that the Blender Game Engine coverage does not cover Python Scripting.  The Video Sequence Editor is not covered but is planned for a future course.

        So all in all these two volumes are excellent and will get a beginner up to speed and confident in using Blender very quickly.  Even if you are not a complete beginner you will likely learn something from the second volume with its more advanced coverage.

        So two volumes of training videos at this price, with this level of quality, it's a good choice;  If you are wanting to get a handle on Blender they are well worth having.

        Review Score 90%