29 November 2014

Frederik Steinmetz & Gottfried Hofmann - The Cycles Encyclopedia (Ebook)

Good things have been happening in the Blender world recently, specifically the Blender Cycles rendering engine has been getting all manner of improvements and new features.

It is true that Blender Cycles is becoming the render engine of choice for Blender users when they want to do work which looks reasonably photo realistic.  The realistic lighting, shadows, caustics, reflections and global illumination almost for free out of the box, makes Blender Cycles much easier to get impressive looking renders from.

It is certainly true that you can do very impressive work with Blender Internal render though you need a greater depth of knowledge to achieve the same level of results as you would get from Blender Cycles.

So in short Blender Cycles has lowered the barrier to entry for impressive render results.

So Blender Cycles seems like a slam dunk, so everyone is using it right?

Well not quite Blender Cycles has two potential issues that you need to evaluate before taking the Blender Cycles route for rendering:

  1. Blender Cycles needs a very powerful modern GPU based graphics card.  Specially a CUDA based system from NVidia (OpenCL support from AMD is so bad at the moment it's not practical yet to use OpenCL even though that would be the better system).  And even if you have such a card, render times with Blender Cycles for certain types of scene can be very, very long.  If you don't have a compatible GPU based card you are stuck with CPU only rendering and this is a good way to gain lots of patience.
  2. Blender Cycles uses completely different methods for creating material shaders for the objects in your scene.  Specifically a Node based system.  Which unfortunately is not very well documented at the moment.  This means a lot of Blender Cycles Node functionality is a mystery to a lot of Blender users.

Frederik Steinmetz & Gottfried Hofmann's "The Cycles Encyclopedia" ebook aims to fix the second problem in the list above.

Product Specifications:

        Now Blenderheads that have been around for a while will know the names Frederik Steinmetz & Gottfried Hofmann as they are two very talented Blender tutors and both BFCT's.

        They run the www.blenderdiplom.com which produces English and German Blender tutorials of high quality regularly.

        Frederik & Gottfried's Ebook describes all of the Blender Cycles shading nodes, and gives examples of the effects of each node.

        Many pictures and diagrams are used to demonstrate the effects on materials of each node.  The pictures are large and in full color and very clear.  So you will not have any trouble seeing the effects of each node, as described in the book.

        I saw a pre-release version of the Ebook (0.8) and it had some minor grammar issues and the occasional missing sections of text which had not yet been written.  By the time you read this I think version 1 will have been released and you can expect those issues to have been fixed.

        Even with the small unwritten section and the occasional grammar errors, I think this book is currently the best available as far as documenting the Blender Cycles Shader Nodes is concerned.

        The topics covered in this Ebook are somewhat advanced so I would say that if you are completely new to Blender or 3D in general you may struggle a little to understand some of the concepts that are explained in the text.  I think this book will be more useful to Intermediate/Advanced Blender users.

        The price of this Ebook may seem a little high, but remember you do get 6 months of free updates to the Ebook, so it will only get better with time.

        Excellent Ebook, if you use Blender Cycles you probably need this book.

        Review Score 85%