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Tony Mullen's - Bounce, Tumble and Splash - Book Review


Terry Wallwork reviews 'Bounce, Tumble, and Splash!: Simulating the Physical World with Blender 3D'

Tony Mullen's been at it again releasing another Blender book this time on using Particles, Physics, Softbodies, Blender Game Engine and Fluid simulation features in Blender 2.46.

A few basic stats about the book:

It is published by Sybex and is part of their Serious Skills range, which also includes another very good book by Mullen on character animation also using Blender.

  • It has roughly 362 pages of useful information.
  • It's pages are slightly larger than A5 size.
  • It costs £20.56 from (using their pre-order service, it arrived on the 3rd of July 2008) - Price wise this is not too bad given that it is printed in colour.
  • It's pages are in COLOUR!

That last piece of information puts this book into a league of its own as far as printed Blender books go. I have been desperate for the publishers of Blender books to get the message and make all their books in colour. The colour really helps the book get its message across, indeed without it a lot of the pictures within the book would be useless. So Sybex scores points with me on the colour printing.

The title of the book is a big clue as to what topics the books covers. A rough overview of some the subjects of each chapter is listed below:

  • Chapter 1 - Re-creating the World - An Overview
    Descriptions of various techniques of simulating the real world in Blender, using both Physical and None Physical ways of representing things. A very useful description of Modifiers and how to use them to make various effect are described. I especially liked the techniques to make a spring.
  • Chapter 2 - The Nitty-Gritty on Particles
    This chapter goes through the various options and setting of Particles and how to use them. Various techniques are shown as to how to make things like smoke and fire and how to use explode. After reading this chapter I had nice understanding of forces and dynamic particles. Even more surprising was the coverage of BOIDS, very interesting.
  • Chapter 3 - Getting Flexible with Soft Bodies and Cloth
    This chapter goes through the various options and setting of Cloth and Softbody objects. It was a very involved chapter but worth it as it has a real example of how to put clothes on a mesh, and lots of other tips and tricks for using Softbodies and Cloth. Another interesting topic was how to create stress maps which was totally new to me.
  • Chapter 4 - Hair Essentials - The Long and Short of Strand Particles
    To me this is one of the most important chapters in the whole book. It covers the use of particles to make hair and other strand objects. Going into detail on how to manipulate and control the strands. As well as giving some information on how to use texture and Softbodies to get various effects on stands.
  • Chapter 5 - Making a Splash with Fluids
    This chapter goes into detail about all things fluid in Blender, from the basics of domain objects all the way up to animating object through fluid and gives various examples of what can be achieved with Blender.
  • Chapter 6 - Bullet Physics and the Blender Game Engine
    This chapter goes over some of the ways in which the Blender Game Engine can be used for modelling purposes and physical simulations, covers areas such as rigid body simulations and how to make a rag-doll that reacts to physical conditions, among other things. I enjoyed this chapter as easy to understand info on the BGE is hard to come by unless your a code warrior. The book by Allan Brito only covers the BGE briefly and the Official Blender Game Engine book is so out of date it's useless.
  • Chapter 7 - Imitation of Life - Simulating Trees and Plants
    This is the last chapter and wraps up by demonstrating how to use various external scripts to create real world objects, such as trees and ivy. This chapter was useful in showing how to use these various scripts. Though I could argue it would of been more useful to take the time describing the use of these scripts and instead direct it towards describing more of Blenders internal features instead.

Another point worth mentioning is that this book is not officially a basics book, as it is assumed that you know the basics of how to use the Blender interface and how to do really simple things like add and manipulate basic objects. So if it's the basics you are after then you really need a basics book such as "Essential Blender" or make your way to or one of the many other Blender tutorial sites.

I personally am not some Blender guru and I didn't have any problem keeping up with the book, Mullen's use of pictures and mostly clear explanation of what the various bit of Blender do and can achieve were clear to me. So although it is true to say this is not a basics book it is by no means hardcore, a Blender newbie should be able to read this book and get something from it.

To my mind, BTS can be seen as part of a companion set with Mullen's other book 'Introducing Character Animation with Blender'

This does not mean that you need to have read ICAB for BTS to be useful, but there are times in the BTS text where certain topics are not covered and the reader is referred to Mullen's other book. These don't happen very often and even when it did, it didn't stop me in my tracks so I doubt it would stop anyone else.

Another nice quality I liked about this book is how good the proof reading/error checking must of been, as I found very few things that I would call mistakes and for a book this detailed it is a very good achievement.

Only occasionally were things not explained in the detail I would of liked. This happened very rarely and for the most part when a button or option was used it was explained.

Every Blender user should probably have this book. It's for now at least the most complete source of information on Blender physics and particles (until the wiki catches up).

The information on keyed particles, BOIDS and hair are reasonably hard to come by and information on how to use them with all their new features as brought to you in Blender 2.46 is even harder still to come by.

It's not what I would call the complete bible of everything as regards Blender physics, hair and fluids but it's the best there is at the moment and it's going to be hard to beat unless someone decided to publish an 800 to 1500 page bible book on Blender (ala Blender Guide 2.3 for Blender 2.47 or something like that, which I can't see happening).

QUE and Packt publishing I daresay will be watching with interest and wondering how they are going to beat this book. As for now at least this is the books to beat.

Review Score 89%

Terry Walwork regularly posts excellent reviews on his personal website, Adventures in Blender. This review has been copied with his permission.

About the Author

Avatar image for Bart Veldhuizen
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.


  1. I bought Mullen's animation book which is very good. But some of the Blender documentation and online resources are so weak in comparison. I would rather donate straight to Mullen to just bring everything up to his standard on the topics he has covered.

    As an XSI customer, the installed help files are rich with information.

  2. J'ai acheté le livre d'animation Mullen, qui est très bon. Mais certains de la documentation Blender et ressources en ligne sont si faibles en comparaison. Je préfère faire un don directement à Mullen à un peu tout mettre à son niveau sur les sujets qu'il a couverts. En tant que client XSI, les fichiers d'aide installés sont riches en informations.

  3. I have bought the book and it looks very interesting. I just started to read it and explanation are clear and accurate.
    The image are in very good quality and the examples are as interesting as wide in subject.

    There is also a CD with all the examples inside the book which is quite interesting.
    Basically the book explain how to do the simulation with this examples and you can learn every different components of the simulation engine of blender independently from each chapter. So the lecture can be non linear as i do ( i start with chapter 5).
    The material is very impressive and it is worth the price i think.
    The main drawback is that the material is for non beginner so some time i need to read some other book like the essential blender. But i think that if you want to play the physical simulator of blender you will need some basics before.

    So my advice learn before a little the basics of blender and try this book.

  4. J'ai acheté le livre et il semble très intéressant. J'ai juste commencé à lire et les explications sont claires et précises. Les images sont de très bonne qualité et les exemples sont aussi intéressants que l'échelle de l'objet. Il ya aussi un CD avec tous les exemples dans le livre qui est très intéressant. Fondamentalement, le livre explique comment faire la simulation avec ces exemples et vous pouvez apprendre toutes les différentes composantes du moteur de simulation de Blender indépendamment de chaque chapitre. Ainsi, la conférence peut être non linéaire comme je le fais (je commence avec le chapitre 5). Le matériau est très impressionnant et il vaut le prix je pense. Le principal inconvénient est que le matériau est non pour les débutants ainsi quelque temps, j'ai besoin de lire un autre livre comme le mélangeur essentiels. Mais je pense que si vous voulez jouer au simulateur de physique de blender vous aurez besoin de quelques notions de base avant. Donc, mon conseil apprendre avant un peu les bases de Blender et d'essayer de ce livre.

  5. Did you just use "must of" instead of "must've /must have" in the part about the proof reading? Ouch! :X
    Other than that, the effort is much appreciated.

  6. Avez-vous utiliser "doit de" au lieu de "must've / must have" dans la partie de la relecture? Ouch! : Autre que celui X, l'effort est très apprécié.

  7. Blast it!! I ordered BT&S 2 months ago in the FNAC in Brussels and they still don't have it.... That the last time I order books there!!! And to think I did it to save time!!

  8. Tonnerre! J'ai commandé BT & S il ya 2 mois dans la FNAC de Bruxelles et ils n'ont toujours pas l'avoir .... C'est la dernière fois les carnets de commande I il! Et dire que je l'ai fait pour gagner du temps!

  9. Thanks everybody for the comments, and thanks Terry for the nice review. Also, Terry's been kind enough to send me some of the errors he's found, so I really appreciate the close reading! The errors should be posted soon to the Sybex errata page.

  10. Merci à tous pour les commentaires, et merci Terry pour l'examen de Nice. En outre, le type de Terry été de me faire parvenir quelques-unes des erreurs qu'il a trouvé, alors j'ai vraiment apprécier la lecture attentive! Les erreurs doivent être affichés dès la page d'errata Sybex.

  11. Nice review, it makes one want to buy the book :-)
    (but for god's sake, figure out the difference between "of" and "have" :-p)

  12. Nice examen, il donne envie d'acheter le livre :-) (mais pour l'amour de Dieu, comprendre la différence entre «de» et «avoir»:-p)

  13. I'm waiting to have some money to buy this book, it's amazing, the other book, the one about animation, was very useful to me, so I will buy it without any doubt

  14. J'attends d'avoir un peu d'argent pour acheter ce livre, c'est incroyable, l'autre livre, celui sur l'animation, a été très utile pour moi, alors je vais l'acheter sans aucun doute

  15. got mine from book depository was quick and cheap.
    I would have personally like a little more examples other than smoke for particles, like dust, dirt particles etc. As i now find smoke to be the easiest thing to creat thanks to this book !!
    Any discount on PDF version if you own the book already ?

  16. mine reçu de dépôt de livres a été rapide et bon marché. J'aurais personnellement comme un des exemples peu plus les autres que la fumée pour les particules, comme la poussière, les particules de saleté etc Comme je l'ai maintenant trouver de fumer pour être la meilleure chose à creat grâce à ce livre! Toute remise sur la version PDF si vous possédez déjà le livre?

  17. @mjordan, yes, it is. I talked a little bit about it in the latest Blenderart magazine. Basically, it's going to be an intermediate/advanced book that will cover some more various aspects of Blender itself, plus a significant part on Python scripting and a significant part on the game engine. A few other surprises as well if all goes as planned...

  18. mjordan @, oui, il est. J'ai parlé un peu à ce sujet dans le dernier numéro du magazine blenderart. Fondamentalement, cela va être un intermédiaire / avancé livre qui portera sur certains aspects plus variés de Blender lui-même, plus une part importante sur les scripts Python et une part importante sur le moteur du jeu. Quelques surprises aussi d'autres si tout se passe comme prévu ...

  19. My CD appears to be missing some of the blend files mentioned in the text (e.g., lava.blend). Is this a known issue of the pressings? Regardless, is there a public ftp site where I could download the missing files?

    Otherwise, I have already found the book to be quite helpful. Just like the last Mullen book.

  20. Mon CD ne semble pas figurer certains des fichiers mélange mentionné dans le texte (par exemple, lava.blend). Est-ce un problème connu de la pressings? Malgré tout, est-il un site ftp public où je pourrais télécharger les fichiers manquants? Sinon, j'ai déjà trouvé le livre tout à fait utile. Tout comme le dernier livre Mullen.

  21. There´s a mistake in this book.
    On page 209 you see an image that sould be "Particle material settings" but it´s the same image than in page 208,that shows "Particle settings".

    Great book anyway.

  22. ThereÂ'sa erreur dans ce livre. Sur la page 209 vous voyez une image qui pourrait être "réglages de matériaux de particules", mais ITA la même image que dans la page 208, qui montre "les paramètres de particules". Grand livre de toute façon.

  23. I have a problem with my CD, because it is scratched. My Computer can't read two files.

    - the first ist boids.blend in CD:\Chapter Files\Chapter 2\boids.blend
    - the second is fire.blend in CD:\Chapter Files\Chapter 2\fire.blend

    May you, Tony, can send me a link to the files or you can send me an E-mail with the files?
    It would be great!

    Thank You


  24. J'ai un problème avec mon CD, parce qu'il est rayé. Mon ordinateur ne peut pas lire deux fichiers. - La boids.blend ist premier CD: \ Chapitre Files \ chapitre 2 \ boids.blend - la seconde est fire.blend en CD: \ Chapitre Files \ chapitre 2 \ fire.blend Puissiez-vous, Tony, pouvez m'envoyer un lien pour les fichiers ou vous pouvez m'envoyer un E-mail avec les fichiers? Ce serait génial! Merci Slider94

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