27 February 2015

Blender 2.6 Cycles: Materials and Textures Cookbook Ebook Review

Normally I try to keep on top of all the Blender books and review them in a timely maner, but sometimes I either run out of time or as in this case forget that I have read the book but not posted a review about said book.

Normally I would skip posting a review of such a book if it was this late but since with a few exceptions most of the information in the book is still applicable in newer versions of Blender, a review seems in order.

So the first thing to mention about the book is that it is by Enrico Valenza, as far as I can remeber I haven't previously read any books from him before.  A scan of Google reveals that as well as this books he is also working on two other books on Blender, which will be released soon.

Back to this book, for those that have seen some of my other book reviews you will notice that this book is another one of Packt Publishing's Cookbook series of books.  These books takes the approach of teaching a subject by presenting topics as a series of small recipes to explain how particular features of Blender work and how you can use those features to produce complex effects and results.

This books covers recipes which demonstrate how to use Blender Cycles material and texturing system.  The Blender Cycles material and texturing system is mostly controlled using a series of nodes which when connected together control how the materials and textures that node are applied to will be displayed when rendering and even when viewed in the 3D Viewport of Blender.  The node based system of material and texture creation is very different from how older versions of Blender (Blender Internal) created materials and textures.  The node based system is much more intuitive and easier to control and as a result is generally much more powerful.

There are roughly 50 recipes covered in this book, covering creation of many different types of materials and textures, as well as lighting properties.

Each recipes it presented in a fixed format, first the recipes are presented to the user and then after the instructions on how to implement them are explained the book then explains why they were constructed the way the were and a detailed rundown on the different parts of the recipe are given.

Product Specifications:

        On the whole the recipes as they are presented are clear and reasonably easy to understand.  I in general could understand the instructions given and why particular recipes achieved the effects they did, one or two of the recipes were not clear to me why they worked, but they none the less did.  So this is probably my fault for being dense and not rereading the descriptions more closely.

        All the Blend files and resources required to carry out the recipes are included with the book.  Even if you don't read through the entire book and do all the recipes manually, having the Blend file is very useful as it allows you to pick them apart and experiment to see how they work.

        It also helps that Enrico has a clear and easy to understand writing style.  Often Packt Publishing books are not the best edited or easy to read but in this case there is no problem.

        The book covers Blender 2.6x series of Blender but even with the newer versions of Blender (currently at 2.73) the information contained within is still useful and the Blend files will for the most part still work.  In fact in newer versions of Blender it will often be even easier to carryout the recipes as there will be newer nodes which negate some of the steps used in the recipes as presented in the text.

        So even though the book is getting on in age (in Blender development time scals), the information is still largely accurate the book is still well worth getting.

        Review Score 80%