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Upcoming Book: Blender Basics

27

manual23.jpgA new Blender book is being prepared by the Blender Foundation and they still have some space left for input by YOU! Read on to find out more about it and see how you could contribute to it.

Editor Roland Hess writes:

With the wild increase in popularity of our favorite Open Source 3D application, a lot of new users are coming to Blender. Some are completely new to 3D, while some are looking to add Blender skills to their existing production pipelines and resumes. Still others are considering Blender for classroom use. Although the online documentation for Blender is great, many of these new (and existing!) users prefer to have a physical book on their desk while they learn. That's why the Blender Foundation is producing a new book called Blender Basics.

The book can be used as a full introduction to 3D art and Blender, or as a reference for people already experienced with other applications. Each chapter consists of a tutorial section and theory section, meant to speak to new users and give them a grounding in the solid basics needed to succeed with Blender.

We are currently in the active production stage of the book, with several chapters already written and authors joining up as we go. Like so many Blender endeavors, this one too lives on the strength of the community. If you haven't been contacted to help, don't let that discourage you and please don't be offended! If you consider yourself a good (or great) Blender artist and can put a couple of sentences together in a reasonable fashion, we still need your help. If you want to help contribute to Blender's future in very a tangible way that won't cost you a penny, please email me at blenderbasics at harkyman dot com.

We'll keep you posted as the project develops.

Thanks!

Roland Hess (harkyman)
Editor, Blender Basics

About Author

Bart Veldhuizen

I have a LONG history with Blender - I wrote some of the earliest Blender tutorials, worked for Not a Number and helped run the crowdfunding campaign that open sourced Blender (the first one on the internet!). I founded BlenderNation in 2006 and have been editing it every single day since then ;-) I also run the Blender Artists forum and I'm Head of Community at Sketchfab.

27 Comments

  1. Hmmm... Blender Basics.... This reminds me of the VHS tutorial video's of the same name. Anyone remember those?
    One of the things I didn't like in ANY of the 'official' Blender Books (1.5, 2.0, 2.3) is that about 1/3 of the volume is taken up by the reference manual. Will this be the case here too?
    Another thing is that Blender is getting rather BIG too give an overall view in a single book. That is what I liked about the Gamekit book and about the upcoming book from Bugman on Character animation... They have more focus. I'd love to see more 'Blender Tutorial' sized books on specific areas (a bit like the fantastic BSoC material)

  2. Blender books are always welcome! What I'd really like to see is one that I can place open on my desk as I work... That probably means that I'd like it to be ring bound. The 2.3 book was excellent, but being such a hefty tome it refused to stay open at the page I wanted whilst I worked :( Is this binding format a possiblilty, or would it hike the costs through the roof? Just a thought, it's something that I always wish for where reference books are concerned.

  3. : ) I'm one of those new blender users you were talking about. One of the ones who was totally new to 3d when I found this wonderfull program. I was really close to buying the old blender manual for the 2.3 releases of blender but I decided to wait for a newer revision. This makes me very excited to hear and I will be purchusing this as soon as its available. Although I am learning very quickly through the vast amount of online tutorials and such.

    Blender is changing the way I create visualy and Its free. I don't think I've ever found something so usefull that came completly free. Except mabe linux. In any case I can't wait to give back to the blender foundation through this purchuse : )

  4. This will not be a reference manual. It's a series of tutorials and discussions designed to get people familiar with the most-useful parts of the toolset and to hopefully assist in their transition to thinking in "The Blender Way(tm)".

    In some of the work that's been done already (like Materials and Texturing), we've found that indeed a whole book could be written just on that subject! This book won't be a substitute for an in-depth look at a topic like Tony Mullen's character animation book (http://www.amazon.com/dp/0470102608), but is meant to give new users a solid foundation in Blender so they can start to tackle the more advanced tutorial and reference material out there.

  5. Dear Roland,

    Don´t forget to talk about how to make precise rigging. Bones and objects orientations need more atention. There is a lot of wonderfull tutorials about how to set up an animation without a word about this kind of subject (how to set up clear orientations). Thats important because you can loose a lot of animation work when another version cames out.

    There is also a very important subject without cover: character rigging for games. For artists there is not a clear path for it yet. There is a lot of talk about Collada integartion, etc but we are far away from having something closer to a standard.

    It would be great if you talk about another programs trying to integrate with Blender such as Ogre, Cristal Space, Sharpconstruct, Verse etc etc...

  6. I think a "basics" book is an excellent idea. I've been wanting something like this for years. However, I do agree with Mike that if your going to go in-depth on a particular area, that should be given it's own book. Like he said, there's a lot there to absorb.

    What I'd like to see with this book is better editing. I know this will be produced in The Netherlands, and English isn't your first language. Obviously, you do have people who have a good working knowledge of English, improvements still need to be made regarding grammar and syntax, IMO. I've lost count on the number of such errors I've found in the 2.0 and 2.3 books. You need someone who is well versed in English in it's written form.

    And speaking of the 2.3 book, PLEEEEASE make sure the screenshots are in color and not washed out. Yeah, I was one of the lucky ones who got one of the first-run issues.

    Finally, will the book eventually be posted to the Website like the 2.3 guide?

    Have a good one.

  7. unsettlingsilence on

    I think an important word here is basic. If we really want to help the average person the use Blender it must start basic. I think even the traditional Gingerbread man tutorial might be a little too complicated to start out with. For instance, I have developed a simpler method that even my third grade students can follow. Also, methodologies have changed with the advent of the mirror function. This book can take advantage of those things now.
    Maybe, if demand is high, after this book there could be a "Blender Advanced" book, or series of specialized books.

  8. Oh great! a Blender basics book is just what I need. There have been those times when I think i need some more understanding of Blender. But who knows, I already know the BASICs of Blender, I think.

    !)

    oh yeah, i've got a new email guys

    [email protected]

  9. Unsettlingsilence on

    JimC should be one of the ones helping to write this book I think. When I can't personally teach someone about Blender, I always pass on that book.

  10. Heh. Actually, I'm not only a native English speaker, but I'm an Ivy League educated (writing major) American who wrote something like 60,000 words myself last year. I've also been part of professional editing and book production pipelines before. From a style and proofing perspective, the written word content of this book will compare favorably with (and, imho, surpass) the quality of content of any of our "competitions" books that are on shelves at this very moment.

    Roland

  11. Now forgive me if this is off-color but...(don't you just hate that!) with all the 'other' 3D programs out there wouldn't it be great to have a translation or two for those of use that have started elsewhere first? (Just the Big Boy's) The learning curve is one of those things that will keep many a future 'Blender-Head' away.

    To reiterate, the 2.3 guide had English errors that should never have come to print. This to me wasn't as much the fault of the writers as with the editors. One work-around would be to have it proofread from the web. (We would love to help!!)

    And remember the words of George Orwell, "..less is more". If a topic is tackled take it to the finish, or just leave it alone for a supplement. I for one would have loved one on Animating with IKA's and Bones that left me feeling better than I do today!

    Oh, and by the way...I just can not get over that everyday there IS something new about Blender on your sight! Great job!!

  12. Sweet, just what the world needs!
    I actually taught yr9 and yr10 at my school cause I had some spare time in between studying for my exams. I pinched and slightly modified some tutorials on basic modelling and textring from some german guy to help teach the kids.
    Would you guys want the tutorials that I (half) wrote?

    I never asked permission off him to use them because he probably wouldn't care, but I think he might want credit if his work was to be published...

    And will the cd included with the book (I think there is one as one is shown in the pic) have sample .blend files? I made some to go with the tutorials.

    Kayde

  13. FromTheDark: One thing I haven't mentioned about the book yet is that it IS intended to be used by people coming from other 3D applications. Once a user has read the basic interface and object manipulation chapters, they should be able to bounce around to whatever topic they need to learn at the moment. In that sense, the chapters are atomic for people with previous 3D experience. Also, the back of the book will contain (if I can pull it off) an index for each of the popular 3D apps (Maya, 3DSMax, Lightwave, etc.) with their major features listed, followed by what it's called in Blender and on what page you can find how to do it.

    Roland

  14. Oh, good to hear about the editing Harky. I was gonna donate my time to proofreading after having been irritated at the errors in the last one. It's all I could donate, since I am a poor newb at Blender, but am a good proofreader. However, seems like you have things well in hand. I'll definitely be getting one of these to hopefully become at least mediocre.

  15. >>Maybe, if demand is high, after this book there could be a “Blender Advanced” book, or series of specialized books.

  16. For some reason my post above was lost in space, most annoying!

    Unsettlingsilence, I had suggested something like this to Roland in an email suggestion for the book. I considered perhaps creating 3 volumes (not necessarily bu him), beginner, intermediate, and advance. I suggested that his, and the suggested other volumes, should perhaps better serve users if they were PROJECT books, each containing a complete project from start to finish, showing how to use blender in a "real-world" scenario, as opposed to having a series of disparate tutorials. For instance, in the advanced version of such a book, Elephants Dream could be used as the project. I believe this might be a better approach to learning blender, as it focus on creating a cohesive understanding of blender's toolset.

    Unfortunately due to the nature of his resources this approach is a not a viable one for th eproduction of this book. This is understandable, and I wish him and his contributers the best inthe creation of this book.

  17. Harkyman, that sounds great and I for one hope you can pull that off! Once the rest of the '3D' world really gets a good face-to-face with Blender, get ready for the flood.

    Eric

  18. Unsettlingsilence:

    Thanks for the kind words. I wouldn't mind providing some input, but I don't think I could do much right now. Too busy with big class projects, too much to do in my workshop till Christmas, and after the holidays, I'm starting to work on my National Board Teacher Certification. That will be like going back for a masters degree while keeping my family happy :-)

    Haven't been contacted about it anyways, so I'm sure it's all under control....

  19. Sounds great, hopefully the content new guide will be different, not like the 2.3 guide, some of the content are could be found from manual reference.
    - some update tutorial would be nice esp on the key...
    nyway. all the best!!!

  20. harkyman (roland):
    i really like the idea of a "dictionary" for other 3D apps users coming from 3DS, maya or lightwave b/c i know of people in my circle who are using those programs. it would help me translate their technical lingo to blender.

    i agree with samtheeagle to design the book in a way that it stays open when used as a reference. maybe there's a possibility to split the book in several volumes???

    are you guys planning on an alternative to the printed version like a downloadable one (eg. in PDF format) although it might be a huge download? or how about a handbook on CD? it would probably be much cheaper anyway aside from saving trees, saving postage, and what not. i personally would definitely purchase either one. another advantage, i could print out only the sections that i would be learning from and could add my own scribblings without feeling guilty of ruining a nice handbook.

    CKA

  21. The perfect combination would be to have a basics book similar to Jim C's book and a CDROM or DVD with Video Tutorials similar to Neal Hirsig's video tutorials at the Tufts University's site. Jim C's book is an excellent basics book that helped me learn a great deal about blender when starting out. Neal's tutorials are neat packets of information.

    Jim C's
    http://www.technology-education.org/blenderanimation/

    Neal Hirsig's
    http://ocw.tufts.edu/Content/28/supplementarymaterial/366743.

    Once the basics are learned there should be an advanced blender book or an advanced section to the basics book that delves into topics such as fluids, compositing, advanced mesh modeling (the face and ear tutorial from Jonathan Williamson aka Mr_Bomb) and on and on...

  22. unsettlingsilence on

    Jim, being in education myself I totally understand.
    As for this book, if I might make a suggestion, I like the concept Vidrazor set forth of a series leading to a completed project. However, I understand this would be a huge undertaking. Perhaps an easier theme for this book could be: "Creating a Portfolio".
    As 3d people know part of the road to success is in creating a reusable portfolio of objects and materials. Simple objects like glasses and materials such as realistic metals and glass could help people gain a working understanding of blender, while the creation of say a nice looking fork could make for a simple tutorial to follow. Each simple object could be designed to cover another aspect of modeling. A person would end up with something reusable and a sense of accomplishment. Textures would be swappable and objects appendable to say a final dinner table scene, or something like that. A person could fail a tutorial without feeling like they can't do anything. Also, from the start there should be an emphasis on work flow since it is essential in completing a project in a timely manner without feeling lost. If I were creating a book all of these themes would be in every section: Usable and reusable interface setup, usable and reusable props and materials, and good work flow all contributive to an achievable goal. A solid understanding of the buttons window and menus are also important since it is easy to forget hot keys. This would be my beginning book.

  23. I also have the Blender 2.3 guide and used it quite a lot in the beginning. The one thing I found annoying as a beginner was the fact that the greyscale images (obviously) did not contain colour - and the colour in some of the diagrams sometimes matter - especially when you are a beginner.

    I know colour printing would cost more, but can't one print at least some of the key diagrams in colour - without resorting to glossy paper? When I was unsure, I had to resort to the web (colour) diagrams.

    Do owners of 2.3 manuals get discount on an upgrade to the new one? ;-)

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