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Blender 3D Incredible Machines

samzenpus posted more than 3 years ago | from the read-all-about-it dept.

Book Reviews 57

terrywallwork writes "Things have been moving along lately on the Blender 3D book front; a friend of mine informed me that Allan Brito released a new book called Blender 3D 2.49 Incredible Machines. I had previously reviewed one of Allan Brito's other books Blender 3D — Architecture, Buildings and Scenery, which covered the Architectural Visualization side of using Blender 3D. This new book takes a very different approach to teaching the use of Blender 2.49. It does this by taking the reader through the modeling, texturing and lighting of 3 different objects, those objects being: a futuristic gun, a futuristic spaceship (steam-punk styled) and finally a robot. Read below for the rest of Terry's review. The introduction in the book states that the reader requires no previous experience of Blender to make use of the book. However further on in the book it is said that the book is not a beginners book and that many things will not be described in detail as the reader is expected to know the basics of how to use Blender in terms of its interface and various buttons and keypresses. After having read the entire book I would say that a beginning Blender user would be able to understand most of the book as most of the time things such as key presses and the basics of how to use Blender are explained in a way a new user to Blender would be able to follow.

The book is organized so as to be read from cover to cover and slowly progress from easy tasks to harder tasks. If you have some intermediate experience with Blender then I think the progression is well graded and will help the reader to quickly progress through the book. If you are a complete beginner some sections of the text will get a little confusing at times but with a bit of re-reading they should be understandable.

One thing that I did notice right away was the awful grammar of the text. This is most likely because English is not Allan Brito native language. Sometimes the grammar issues get in the way of understanding what task he is trying to accomplish. This does not happen often but I did find myself re-reading paragraphs to get his meaning. Now it is important to point out that I am not blaming Mr Brito for the grammar issue, the editors of the book however should have a serious talking to.

I bought the ebook version and that is what I am using to base this review on, this caused me a slight problem because the ebook mentioned some resources and graphics that were available to download from the Packt site, however on going to site the resources are not available for download (yet). As luck would have it though the EBook PDF file had good screen shots and so I was able to copy the resources directly from my PDF reader. Hopefully the site will be updated to have the resources available from the book.
I am also pleased that packt publishing has removed password protection and you can copy and select parts out of the ebook. They do however plaster your address on every page border which is irksome and if i was a pirate I could remove it easily but still they are heading in the right direction.

The book tries to present the production of the various objects in a way that is similar to how it would be done in a real production studio. While this may help give a glimpse to Blender newbies about how things are done in a real studio, to be honest those that know more than the basics will know that a lot of steps are missing that would be in a real studio setup.

With a few glaring exceptions most of the vital areas of Blender are covered in just enough detail for the information to be useful to a beginner and a memory jogger for a Blender user with some experience. Notable things that were missing from the book were any kind of use of Blender Compositing features, while this is surprising given the aim of the book, there was really no choice given the page count.

Given what was just said above, what was surprising was some of the topics that were covered, specifically the use of external renders such as Yaf(a)Ray and LuxRender. The book goes into a fair bit of detail on setting up Blender so as to use the external renderers. You won't be a Yaf(a)Ray or LuxRender guru but it gives enough to get you going. I am a Linux Fedora user and had to compile my version of the Renders from source and the book does not cover this, so if you in this position you are out of luck. There is a nice description of progressive renders and how they are different from more traditional rendering systems.

So all in all this is a passable book, useful for the info on External Renders and as a memory jogger for an experienced Blender user.

You can purchase Blender 3D 2.49 Incredible Machines from amazon.com. Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews -- to see your own review here, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.

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Uh huh, I See (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31173334)

One thing that I did notice right away was the awful grammar of the text. This is most likely because English is not Allan Brito native language.

And what's your native language, Terry? The Internet?

Re:Uh huh, I See (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31174228)

Gotta love the discrimination against ACs.
I guess mods are worried that their modpoints will leak out of /. and that therefore karma will disappear!

Yours either? (4, Funny)

the linux geek (799780) | more than 3 years ago | (#31173468)

"This is most likely because English is not Allan Brito native language."

This is probably my favorite sentence in the review.

Re:Yours either? (1)

longhairedgnome (610579) | more than 3 years ago | (#31173500)

That is most likely because English not terrywallwork native language.

Re:Yours either? (0)

EvilBudMan (588716) | more than 3 years ago | (#31173954)

Hi yawl, I think he means speaking American.

Re:Yours either? (0, Offtopic)

Qubit (100461) | more than 3 years ago | (#31173960)

Hmmmm.... yes, I must agree with the_linux_geek. My first glance at the article didn't raise (m)any red flags in my brain, perhaps because I was reading a book review on Slashdot. Upon further examination, I found several problems with the article. Some sentences were potentially grammatically acceptable, but didn't flow right off my tongue -- you know, the way that large carpets sometimes have a bit of a hernia in the middle, and no matter how many times you roll over them with the vacuum cleaner, you just can't get them to flatten out. Both the carpet hernia and these sentences are just waiting to trip you up.

Here are some of the sentences that did not pass muster in my book, and you know this guy really seems to enjoy run-on sentences however we should perhaps cut him a bit of slack, the editors of the article however should have a serious talking to. :-)

Notable things that were missing from the book were any kind of use of Blender Compositing features, while this is surprising given the aim of the book, there was really no choice given the page count.

Now it is important to point out that I am not blaming Mr Brito for the grammar issue, the editors of the book however should have a serious talking to.

I bought the ebook version and that is what I am using to base this review on, this caused me a slight problem because the ebook mentioned some resources and graphics that were available to download from the Packt site, however on going to site the resources are not available for download

Notable things that were missing from the book were any kind of use of Blender Compositing features, while this is surprising given the aim of the book, there was really no choice given the page count.

You won't be a Yaf(a)Ray or LuxRender guru but it gives enough to get you going.

I am a Linux Fedora user and had to compile my version of the Renders from source and the book does not cover this, so if you in this position you are out of luck.

Re:Yours either? (0, Offtopic)

sabernet (751826) | more than 3 years ago | (#31174078)

The grammar in this review caused me to reread certain sentences and paragraphs...

I bought the ebook version and that is what I am using to base this review on, this caused me a slight problem because the ebook mentioned some resources and graphics that were available to download from the Packt site, however on going to site the resources are not available for download (yet).

The book tries to present the production of the various objects in a way that is similar to how it would be done in a real production studio. While this may help give a glimpse to Blender newbies about how things are done in a real studio, to be honest those that know more than the basics will know that a lot of steps are missing that would be in a real studio setup.

Now it is important to point out that I am not blaming Mr Brito for the grammar issue, the editors of the book however should have a serious talking to.

Seriously, for spending so much time hammering on a book's grammar, a good proofread could have been performed for credibility's sake.

Don't get me wrong. I hardly ever act as grammar Nazi("Me fail English? Unpossible!"). But Mr terrywallwork should have a look at this fine article:

http://www.waylink-english.co.uk/?page=61070 [waylink-english.co.uk]

Re:Yours either? (3, Funny)

YourExperiment (1081089) | more than 3 years ago | (#31175248)

This is most likely because English is not Allan Brito native language.

It not?

Useful if you need it (0)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 3 years ago | (#31173496)

Like the cross platform compilation capabilities of gcc, a toolset only really has any usefulness if you have an actual need for it.

Blender is one of those tools that most people are just not going to need. Like POVray and other 3D image creation tools, it looks like a lot of fun, but ends up being a major pain in the ass. You'll be back playing Sudoku or Mahjongg within an hour.

So skip the book and stick to online samples. If you are really interested in Blender after spending a few days slogging through the existing documentation, then buy the book (bad grammar and all). Otherwise, it's just a waste of money.

Re:Useful if you need it (1)

x1n933k (966581) | more than 3 years ago | (#31173662)

"...one of those tools that most people are just not going to need..."

Which could be said about everything. Yes, Blender isn't for everybody, but neither is /. Hobbyist who create game content for Flight Sims, User expansions or even work on their own homebrew or school projects can benefit from Blender or this book.

Did you read the book, or just trolling? I'm curious about the grammar comment.

[J]

Re:Useful if you need it (1)

drachenstern (160456) | more than 3 years ago | (#31173676)

Uh, thanks for the analogy?

Re:Useful if you need it (1)

bartok (111886) | more than 3 years ago | (#31175878)

Very good point.

Blender 2.49... (3, Funny)

GenP (686381) | more than 3 years ago | (#31173508)

Good thing they aren't totally revamping the user interface in the next version!

Re:Blender 2.49... (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 3 years ago | (#31174360)

If that's not sarcasm, you've surely invited the wrath of the GIU gods. On your head be it.

Blender makes me sad. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31173512)

It's wonderful that Blender exists, and a lot of people work very hard on it. I'm sure the code is beautiful and elegant, and the algorithms are sublime, but the program itself is awful. Absolutely unusable. The interface is an act of violence.
 
I think it has an Undo command now, but that fact that it went so long without one is a testament to its dedication to torturing the end-user.
 
"Code it yourself" is a valid point to make, but the truth of the statement doesn't actually improve the software in any way.

Re:Blender makes me sad. (1)

Loomismeister (1589505) | more than 3 years ago | (#31174356)

You're way off base with this criticism. Most of what you just said is completely irrelevant to blender today.

Re:Blender makes me sad. (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 3 years ago | (#31174414)

You're too generous. I once tried to use Blender. After a few days of banging my head against the computer I decided that eating glass shards would be a better use of my time--and would be almost as productive.

Re:Blender makes me sad. (2, Informative)

codepigeon (1202896) | more than 3 years ago | (#31176404)

I don't know why there is so much Blender bashing here. I have been using it off and on for a few years, and I love it. I work for a major flight sim company and I can create models in Blender in about half the time it take us when using Creator (Presagis).

I can export to OpenFlight, and compile in our proprietary software, UV texture and all. Very cool.

Re:Blender makes me sad. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31180954)

They probably think that it is abuse if you have to read the documentation and think to learn the UI.

Re:Blender makes me sad. (1)

TheTurtlesMoves (1442727) | more than 4 years ago | (#31181618)

Because its /.

Real nerds don't post here.... oh wait...

Re:Blender makes me sad. (1)

RogerWaggener (1748542) | more than 4 years ago | (#31187128)

I also work for a major flight sim company and use a blender > Presagis workflow. Once the admittedly non-standard (in versions before 2.5) interface is mastered- Blender is one of the fastest tools to model with and has great UV tools and a bunch of stuff built in that are big $$$ plugins for other apps- hair/fur, fluid sim, etc.

eating glass shards (1)

formfeed (703859) | more than 4 years ago | (#31189184)

You're too generous. I once tried to use Blender. After a few days of banging my head against the computer I decided that eating glass shards would be a better use of my time--and would be almost as productive.

Not as productive, but more fun.

Re:Blender makes me sad. (3, Informative)

LetterRip (30937) | more than 3 years ago | (#31175748)

It's wonderful that Blender exists, and a lot of people work very hard on it. I'm sure the code is beautiful and elegant, and the algorithms are sublime, but the program itself is awful. Absolutely unusable. The interface is an act of violence.

Blenders interface has been totally redesigned to be far more usable, and recoded to be reconfigured however one likes including custom mouse and keybindings, custom menus, custom button layouts etc. A number of studios are switching to Blender, and a lot more will once 2.5 final is out.

LetterRip

Re:Blender makes me sad. (1)

socceroos (1374367) | more than 3 years ago | (#31178162)

From a blenderhead himself. =)

Re:Blender makes me sad. (1)

Yoozer (1055188) | more than 4 years ago | (#31183322)

Last time I struggled with Blender I gave up trying to get Yafray to work. Are there any plans to include a proper radiosity solution out of the box without making you jump through hoops?

!TIM (5, Funny)

Captain Spam (66120) | more than 3 years ago | (#31173540)

So... this ISN'T about using Blender to make a 3D version of the classic puzzle game series, The Incredible Machine? Pfft.

My thoughts exactly (1)

Langfat (953252) | more than 3 years ago | (#31177918)

This is exactly what I thought when I saw the headline. Imagine my disappointment. Well, I guess you don't really have to...

Re:My thoughts exactly (1)

CopaceticOpus (965603) | more than 4 years ago | (#31186454)

Same here. Coincidentally, I discovered the online game "Fantastic Contraption" earlier today. It's highly recommended to fans of The Incredible Machine.

http://fantasticcontraption.com/ [fantasticcontraption.com]

Bad examples. (2, Insightful)

Animats (122034) | more than 3 years ago | (#31173546)

: a futuristic gun, a futuristic spaceship (steam-punk styled) and finally a robot.

If those are the examples, it's a crap book. Spaceships are considered lame as animation work. They're very easy to do, and if you put one on a demo reel, most studios will throw it away.

Classic still life subjects, like a bowl of fruit, are harder to do. Do a deer nibbling on a rosebush, and you'll be taken seriously.

Re:Bad examples. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31173650)

Which is exactly why he probably chose them as *tutorials*, no?

Re:Bad examples. (4, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 3 years ago | (#31173668)

If those are the examples, it's a crap book. Spaceships are considered lame as animation work. They're very easy to do ...

Would you say they're an excellent exercise for beginners or intermediates who are trying to learn how to use a new tool?

Some of us aren't depending on the book to get us hired at Pixar Studios tomorrow morning.

Re:Bad examples. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31173754)

Would you say they're an excellent exercise for beginners or intermediates who are trying to learn how to use a new tool?

No, I dont think so. I mean theres a youtube video of a 6 year old kid doi8ng a very good quality spaceship in 20 minutes.

In sorry to say if you need a tutorial for this your screwed.

Re:Bad examples. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31174860)

Yes and I'm sure it's a crappy ship, with bad poly flow no UV maps no texture, without animations, in a program like sketch up. Sorry but that's pretty useless anyway.

Re:Bad examples. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31174270)

Get a better hobby than 3D animation. And if it is your hobby? Use Maya or Softimage... Hobbies aren't free.

Re:Bad examples. (1)

FranTaylor (164577) | more than 3 years ago | (#31174508)

And if it is your hobby? Use Maya or Softimage... Hobbies aren't free.

I think you have the concepts of "profession" and "hobby" reversed.

Re:Bad examples. (1)

obarel (670863) | more than 3 years ago | (#31177792)

Why can't you just obey an AC who told you how to live your life?

Re:Bad examples. (2, Insightful)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 3 years ago | (#31173686)

They're very easy to do

Which is why they're a good choice for teaching people how to use Blender, no?

Re:Bad examples. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31173708)

Nobody working in Blender is likely to be taken seriously about animation work anyway. If someone were serious, they'd invest in serious software.

Re:Bad examples. (1)

FranTaylor (164577) | more than 3 years ago | (#31174562)

Nobody working in Blender is likely to be taken seriously about animation work anyway. If someone were serious, they'd invest in serious software.

When I decided I wanted to learn to drive, I decided to be serious about it, so I bought a brand new Mercedes 500SEL for my driving lessons.

Re:Bad examples. (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 3 years ago | (#31175164)

When I decided I wanted to learn to drive, I decided to be serious about it, so I bought a brand new Mercedes 500SEL for my driving lessons.

Ah, you don't understand his meaning. Let me correct your analogy for you:

"When I decided I wanted to learn to drive, I decided to be serious about it, so I replaced my custom-designed go-kart that used a PS2 controller for steering with a Honda Civic and an automatic transmission. Not only am I street-legal now, but I can actually converse with other drivers about the operation of their cars. I can even get a job as a delivery guy now!"

I've worked on a movie where one of the artists used Blender from time to time. It has a feature that was really useful for something very specific we were doing. He took the time to train a few of us to use it. And.. for a bit it worked okay, but the workflow was so alien that retention just wasn't in order. Sadly, this is a major problem for the adoption of Blender.

I will say, though, that I'm happy they have managed to sway my opinion a bit. It wasn't all that long ago that I'd make a fart noise whenever Blender was mentioned. After my coworker showed me the workflow for modelling that piece, I was suitably impressed. Even though it was a silly learning curve, they had a few things right. 1.) They solved a problem. 2.) They used a common file format. 3.) It worked like you'd expect it to work, as opposed to only working in bench tests. A few more wins like that and it'll easily become part of my everyday toolset.

Re:Bad examples. (1)

chromas (1085949) | more than 4 years ago | (#31181182)

Speaking of serious workflow,
"

I'd make a fart noise whenever Blender was mentioned

"
I'm glad I wasn't taking a drink or my nose would be burning right now.

Re:Bad examples. (1)

drachenstern (160456) | more than 3 years ago | (#31173718)

Good thoughts, but if I could do a deer nibbling on a rosebush in Blender, I would no longer have my eyes, so what use would I be? :p

No seriously though. I can barely work MSPaint.exe ... almost anyone who can work in Blender and make it look professional is doing great in my eyes.

I may play with it Blender in the future to see what I can do, and starting with a spaceship sounds like a good way for me to learn the system. And the first line is proof of my understanding of Blender and what it takes to work in it. Strictly meme stuff.

Re:Bad examples. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31180126)

Considering that your work [animats.com] looks like complete shit, you have absolutely no place to talk. Seriously, I can (and already have) create better looking models in GtkRadiant and UnrealEd.

Actually (1)

planetoid (719535) | more than 3 years ago | (#31174172)

This article's title, the mentioning of the book's name... just gave me an idea... finally an idea...

I wonder... I bet it's possible... to make a Rube Goldberg machine in Blender and literally let its physics handle all the stuff that should be handled by physics in such a device. Holy crap, I finally have an idea of something interesting to keep myself occupied, instead of sitting at the Blender menus with nothing but blank noise in my brain for the "What should I make?" department.

Re:Actually (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31176130)

I think they actually had a Blender Rube Goldberg contest several years ago. But more Rube Goldberg is never a bad thing.

Re:Actually (1)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 3 years ago | (#31177296)

This article's title, the mentioning of the book's name... just gave me an idea... finally an idea...

I wonder... I bet it's possible... to make a Rube Goldberg machine in Blender and literally let its physics handle all the stuff that should be handled by physics in such a device. Holy crap, I finally have an idea of something interesting to keep myself occupied

I don't know how capable Blender is, but that was final assignment in my Maya "particles and dynamics" class.
Teach called it "incredible machines", too. Of course, some animation / trickery was allowed, nay, encouraged.

Allan Brito? (1)

Garabito (720521) | more than 3 years ago | (#31174708)

Sorry, I couldn't help to laugh and show the story to my co-workers when I read that name .We had to google it to make sure it wasn't made-up

For many spanish-speaking people, 'Allan Brito' is a typical fake name people use to make prank calls and such. (In spanish, 'alambrito' means 'little wire')

I don't mean to insult the guy; but it's funny when you know there is an actual person with a name you always used to laugh at. (Like when Bart calls Moe's and asks for 'Hugh Jass', and there was a person with that name at the bar).

Re:Allan Brito? (1)

Saija (1114681) | more than 3 years ago | (#31177528)

hehehe
i thought the same here, i just have to go to Amazon to verify the author's name, i'm just waiting the next Photoshop title by Marcos Pinto...

Where's the pictures? (1)

YourExperiment (1081089) | more than 3 years ago | (#31175444)

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and in this case that couldn't be more true. Unless I can see the final renders from the projects in the book, I have no idea whether the book is of any interest, regardless of any praise or criticism the reviewer may have for it.

I was hoping to help out by posting some links, but I can't find the requisite images anywhere (admittedly I only spent a few minutes looking). I did find the next best thing, a video on Brito's own blog [blender3darchitect.com] .

Why pick such a poor quality author (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31175584)

Alans books are by far the worst that have been written on Blender, I'm rather disappointed that it a book that the time spent reviewing was used for. If it were just 'poor grammar' or 'incomplete coverage' those are forgivable, but the writing is very poor, and the workflow and methodology are about as bad as you can get. He clearly is not very experienced with Blender.

Seriously, I would wait... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#31177574)

I hate to rain on this guys book parade, but Blender 2.50 is a pretty radical update even from 2.49b. The user interface was completely redone. There are at least 400 major patchsets installed after 2.50 alpha0 came out (and 2.50 is still alpha0, usable and all, but still alpha0). Its likely to be at Alpha1 in the next month, then perhaps Alpha2 after that, or maybe even beta0. Besides the UI, major pieces of the system got significant overhauls. The developers have been working on the code for over 6 months. The development work lasted 8 months. Expect blender 2.50 to be out by mid summer, or perhaps in the fall. Already the renderer has been changed to accept up to 64 threads (up from 8 in 2.49). The exporter/importer has had a massive overhaul. Fluid dynamics, sketching, cloth, fur, particle physics have all had either freshening up, or major overhauls. The bullet physics engine will be incorporated into blender (previously the bullet engine was just part of the game engine). There are daily builds of 2.50 alpha at graphicall, and there are usually 20-30 changesets per day. I hate to say that this documentation is obsolete, but ..... it really is.

Learn to use Blender (1)

rastoboy29 (807168) | more than 4 years ago | (#31182328)

If you can bother enough to go through a simple tutorial for 15 minutes, you will amaze yourself with what you can do very easily in Blender.  It truly is a magnificent tool, and the interface is reasonably internally consistent once you get used to it.

Blender 2.49? (1)

DaVince21 (1342819) | more than 4 years ago | (#31185466)

Why come with a 2.49-based book now, when 2.5 is just around the corner, sporting a completely revamped UI?

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