By Ben Simonds
Published March 2013 List Price:$49.95, Your Amazon.com Price: $36.45
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Summary: Blender is a powerful and free 3D graphics tool used by artists and designers worldwide. But even experienced designers can find it challenging to turn an idea into a polished piece.
For those who have struggled to create professional quality projects in Blender, author Ben Simonds offers this peek inside his studio. You'll learn how to create 3D models as you explore the creative process that he uses to model three example projects: a muscular bat creature, a futuristic robotic spider, and ancient temple ruins. Along the way, you'll master the Blender interface and learn how to create and refine your own models.
You'll also learn how to:
Work with reference and concept art in Blender and GIMP to make starting projects easier
Block in models with simple geometry and build up more complex forms
Use Blender's powerful sculpting brushes to create detailed organic models
Paint textures with Blender and GIMP and map them onto your 3D artwork
Design textures in GIMP and map them onto your 3D artwork
Light, render, and composite your models to create striking images
Each chapter walks you through a piece of the modeling process and offers detailed explanations of the tools and concepts used. Filled with full-color artwork and real-world tips, Blender Master Class gives you the foundation you need to create your own stunning masterpieces.
Supplementary download includes files for each project in the book, as well as extra textures, brushes, and other resources.
Covers Blender 2.6x
GDNet Staff Review: Blender is a great modeler for getting started. Not because it's particularly easy to use, but because it is particularly cheap. And by "cheap" I mean free. But despite being a very powerful tool that can be used to make professional 3D content for games and film, it has a UI and workflow that takes a little getting used-to. Blender Master Class is a book intended to get you up to speed in Blender as well as creating some fairly advanced models. It is not a "step one draw a line, step two draw a circle" kind of tutorial. You will have some fairly significant technical and artistic hurdles along the way, but if you do manage to get through the book's three projects (Jungle Tomb, Bat Monster, and Robot Spider), you will be well on your way.
One thing I immediately liked about Blender Master Class was its use GIMP as a companion texture-painter. I mean, if you are making a book about a free-to-use 3D modeler, and you want to pair it up with a paint program, it is best to pair it up with a free one. That way the total cash outlay above the price of the book itself is zero. That indicates that the author has put some thought into the workflow and the intended audience. Mind you, GIMP only gets a small bit of coverage, but it is necessary, as 3D modelers and 2D image editors do need to work hand-in-hand.
One serious problem I have with the book was with the quality of the pictures in the e-Book. Before getting the paper review copy, I received a PDF of the book from the publisher, and I was surprised at the appearance of the screenshots and models. The book is color throughout and has color screenshots and diagrams on almost every page, but many of the screenshots were so dark that they were barely recognizable. I held off judgment until I had the paper copy in-hand, and the images there were much improved on paper. Still, as it stands I think that the new trend towards that brownish-gray "dark" UI is not very compatible with books, printed or otherwise. While low contrast may be easy on the eyes on a product with which you are familiar, it is not a very good choice for a beginner's tutorial. Even if the contrast was improved, the number of hairline guides and very detailed screens would make this a difficult read on a screen.
As it stands, I can definitely recommend the paper version of Blender Master Class. It was well thought-out, and the guide was clearly put together by someone who knows how to use the product and build a high quality 3D model.