This post is a review of the Body modeling DVD created by Jonathan Williamson of Montage Studio. If you don't know about Jonathan Williamson or Montage Studio I recommend browsing our past posts here at Blendernation or checking out montagestudio.org. They have a blog they keep up to date on the latest happenings at the studio.
In this review, I'll do my best to touch on each topic covered on the DVD, so the reader can get an understanding on whether or not this DVD is for them, as well as describe the quality of the content.
The Body modeling DVD is a continuation from the previously released Head modeling DVD. Once again Jonathan is kind enough to provide copies of Blender 2.45 and VLC. VLC is an excellent open source cross-platform media player and along with Blender it means that you are ready to view videos and model along with Jonathan.
The completed models are included in progression on the DVD, so one could pick up the lessons at any point. The final model is included as well. The models are available in both .blend and .obj file formats for ease of use within other applications. And yes I'd say that these video tutorials could be easily translated to work with virtually any application with comparable tools.
The DVD doesn't have actual structure to how the videos should be viewed, but we will go through them in a logical way. This lack of an order is something I'd like to see changed with the next DVD like this produced by Montage Studio. It would be nice to have some sort of menu structure similar to what the Blender Institute has done for its DVD's.
The chest and neck are the first logical place to start. Jonathan goes into detail on how the torso connects to the neck and goes through the process on creating geometry to fit the model anatomically correct. Its worth noting at this point that again I'm impressed with how Jonathan is able to explain the detailed process of creating the model without being overly repetitive and losing the viewers interest. He is very clear on where and why he creates the geometry he does.
The stomach video is full of interesting techniques. His method of scaling and translating the mesh to maintain the meshes shape is a very useful tip and something I've utilized myself a few times since. He explains some of the benefits of the loop cut tool. The navel portion of the video was fun to follow along with because of how it demonstrated how small geometry tweaks can mean a lot in the final effect. And Jonathan pays close attention to what he calls "subtle detail" and how important it can be.
The lower and upper back were interesting to follow. The upper-back video does a great job of demonstrating how to create shoulder blades. The lower-back video again illustrated how simple techniques can go a long way. Jonathan clearly has a good grasp on muscular anatomy.
Hands are always a difficult thing for any new modeler to master. The hand's need to be a balance of geometry where its needed and not adding too much geometry so its too difficult to attach the hand to the arm. This is something Jonathan does a good job of doing and explaining. I'd say the DVD is worth it for this video alone.
Legs and feet are the last videos that involve actual modeling. The most interesting thing about the leg's video is the technique Jonathan used to create the knee joint. I will say in the entire series of videos this one was the hardest to follow. Mainly because it involves a lot of geometry cutting and editing. But just watch that portion of the video a few times and you'll be able to follow along. It really is a good example on how to use the knife tools in Blender.
The final video goes into tweaking the mesh for that final detail. How to pose the model better if need be and uses the proportional editing tool a lot. A good look into using the tool.
I hope I've given all of you a good look at the videos and that I've provided enough information so you can make an educated decision on whether or not the DVD is for you. The only other negative comment I'd like to make along with those few others that I've listed is the variation in sound volume from one video to the next. If watched in sequence it can be a bit annoying having to adjust the volume between videos when he is harder to hear in one video, but not in the next. I do think that everyone will be pleased with the video quality though its very clear and crisp.
More information about the DVD, including how to purchase, can be found here.