Review of Gordon Fisher’s “Blender 3D basics”

So I thought I knew Blender pretty well, with some gaps, of course. Then I got a chance to review Gordon Fisher’s “Blender 3D Basics: The complete novice’s guide to 3D modeling and animation”. In summary, this is a great book and definitely lives up to the billing as the best starter guide for complete newcomers to 3D modeling and animation. Having seen quite a few Blender books, video tutorials, and written documentation, I’d have to say that working through this book is the best first step before going on to other more advanced topics.

I’ll even go further and recommend this book to somewhat more experienced Blender users such as myself. Blender isn’t exactly easy to learn on your own, so this book is a great way to tackle the initial learning curve.

As an indie game developer, programmer, artist and musician, this book is a great resource both for improving my Blender skills and also for learning some great things about 3D graphics and animation.

Blender’s user interface isn’t exactly standard. It’s famous for driving people nuts and stumping newcomers. Version 2.6 is a vast improvement over the earlier 2.4 versions, but it’s still a bit wonky. On the other hand, the user interface is very keyboard oriented, which is just how I like it. There’s just the slight problem of learning the keys and enough of the basics to learn the rest on your own.

This isn’t some cursory review. I actually worked through the first 330 pages of this 430 page book. I plan to work through the rest in the coming weeks, but I thought that I’d share my impressions so far.

The step-by-step approach of the book is great. Just follow the steps and slowly but surely you’ll learn how to use Blender. Anyone can do it. There’s no artistic talent required, just an eye for detail. The downside of this way of learning is that if you happen to skip a step or do something slightly differently you might find yourself looking at something very different from the screenshots a few steps later. Never fear, the author did a really great job providing a whole bunch of .blend files to load to get you back on track.

The whole experience of working through the steps was truly educational for me, as I’m sure it will be for you as well. My only real criticism is that on occasion I felt that I would have liked an explanation of the steps as I was doing them rather than in the “What just happened” section after completing the section.

Technically, this book is pretty good, though it’s not perfect. There are a few typos and, strangely, the occasional confusion of RMB and LMB (right mouse button and left mouse button). In Blender you select layers with LMB, but the book instructs you to use the RMB I a few places. Not a big deal, really. Also, a few of the screen shots don’t match exactly what I was seeing when working through the steps, but over 95% of the time they were right on. In all cases I was able to work through the steps and follow along.

In conclusion, this is a great book and definitely worth you while if you’re interested in learning the basics of Blender 2.63, 3D modeling, and a little bit of animation.

P.S.  Here is a link to the book at Packt Publishing:

http://www.packtpub.com/blender-3D-basics-complete-novices-guide/book

 

 

About Franz Lanzinger

Franz Lanzinger is a classic video game developer with video game credits for Atari's coin-op Crystal Castles, Tengen Ms. Pacman, SNES Rampart, and the Gubble series. He has a degree in mathematics, wrote "Classic Game Design", a book about how to make classic video games, and is a professional pianist, accompanist and piano teacher.
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