18 June 2014

Lee Posey & Light BWK - BNPR's Freestyle Level Up video training

If you have been using Blender for any length of time then you know that Blender's feature set is forever increasing;  Hardly a week goes by when some new feature is either tweaked or an entirely new feature is added.

One of those reasonably new features is Blender's Freestyle feature.

Blender's Freestyle feature is a more feature rich and flexible version of Blender's older edge rendering technique.  Freestyle is a class of post processing non-photo realistic rendering system, used for doing stylized renders with line geometry.

Blender Freestyle is so flexible and powerful that not many yet know how to use it (or even what it is specifically).  There is a lot of misinformation as to what role it plays in the creative pipeline of software such as Blender and other software.

Light BWK & Lee Posey have a very clear definition:

"Freestyle is a geometry based, post processed, line art renderer. Commonly used in animation, info-graphic, arch-viz and product visualization. Freestyle is only line art, not a surface shader as most believe it is."

Product Specifications:
  • Name : BNPR's - Freestyle Level Up
  • Author : Lee Posey (TheJikz) & Light BWK
  • Price : $38 USD or Bitcoin equivalent (on 9th June 2014)
  • Runtime : 124 Mins
  • Format : Video
  • Website : https://blendernpr.org/store

        In an attempt to remedy this apparent lack of information on what Blender Freestyle is and what it is for Lee Posey and Light BWK have created a series of video tutorials that describe the features that Freestyle has to offer, and also describes how to integrate it into your workflow.

        Their stated aim is:

        "Learn FreeStyle the fun way. Masterfully create geometry based post-processed *line art* from the very basic to the very advanced for your still images, product design, arch-viz, motion graphics and motion pictures."

        Both Lee Posey and Light BWK are very experienced Blender users so you can expect the information they provides to be accurate.

        The tutorial series comes with all the videos and Blend files included.  The videos are very clear and well encoded and they are spoken very clearly and very well produced.

        For each purchase of this course a percentage of the money raised goes towards funding development of B.E.E.R (Blender Extended Expressive Rendering) an impressive Non-Photo Realistic rendering extension for Blender.

        You can see the videos for the site promotion and Freestyle line demo for the Freestyle Level Up course below:

        There are 15 videos which teach the various important topics for getting to grips with Freestyle.

        The approach taken when teaching the material is to use a points scoring game metaphor.  With short videos which teach specific topics in a short amount of time as you watch the material and do the tasks you gain points.  This game based approach is somewhat strange but the information provided is accurate and clear and you can ignore the point scoring if you want to.

        It should be made clear that if you are entirely new to Blender you may struggle with this material;  As it is assumed you have at least basic familiarity with Blender's interface and how to interact with it.  If you do have this level of knowledge of Blender then you should be able to understand what is presented in this course.  The fast pacing of the videos does mean though that you may well have to watch some videos multiple times to grasp the topics that are covered.

        Freestyle is not anymore difficult than other parts of Blender but it does have strange terminology which can take a while to wrap your head around, but the terminology is consistent to other software according to the authors.

        The tutorial videos often speak of things like mastering a topic, and while you will get a lot of useful information from the videos, Freestyle has so many options and they are so configurable that you will at best get a good grounding in what Freestyle is capable of;  It will require extensive experimentation to get the most out of this material.

        The Freestyle Python API method of controlling Freestyle is not covered, but this is not really a major limitation as this still leaves a lot to learn from and experiment with.  According to the authors the Freestyle API is undergoing lots of changes and could not yet be documented in a tutorial series.

        Features such as Line Sets, Styles, and Line Textures, Line Modifiers are covered and various examples are used to demonstrate some of the harder to grasp features.  You are expected to experiment and try out various features for yourself when watching the videos.

        All in all an excellent introduction to Blender Freestyle, and currently the only good source of Blender Freestyle information, as the Wiki information is not the easiest things to understand at the moment.  There are various websites but the information they cover is patchy and does not cover Freestyle as a single whole.

        Well worth adding to your collection of Blender based learning materials.

        Review Score 85%