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Animating with Blender: How to Create Short Animations from Start to Finish


The new book 'Animating with Blender: How to Create Short Animations from Start to Finish' by Roland Hess will start shipping on September 26. He just released the accompanying animation titled 'The Beast'.

Roland writes:

While it's not the most awesome thing ever committed to the digital medium, I think it's a nice testament to what one person can do on their first try as an animator if they have solid instruction and process behind them. The book, "Animating with Blender: How to Create Short Animations from Start to Finish", starts to ship on September 26.

The Beast is my first animated short, created as a companion piece and learning tool for the Focal Press book Animating with Blender. It represents about two hundred hours of work. Am I entirely happy with the final product? Eh, although there are lots of things in it that I like. Was I on a deadline? You bet.

Streaming flash available, as well as links for 720p, medium and low resolution downloads, and an HD stream at


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. Man you need to learn about human and animal atonomy ,your models were not proportianate the baby looked like a fat vacume bag and the mother looked like a stiff brick well atleast her hands did ,
    44 DOLLARS is over priced for sloppy work ,ive see n better ,your book is worth around $18
    only ,if you do better work than sell your book at a higher price otherwise lower it to $18 because thats the quality of work that youve given

  2. Although the book touches on issues of animation and modeling specifically related to production, it is NOT a tutorial on, say, how to model hands, or how to become a great character animator. There is already a bunch of material available for that. What it talks about is the full production pipeline for creating short animations like this, how Blender fits into that, and how to actually finish your production, which seems to be the biggest hurdle that beginning producers face.

    Hands? Yucky indeed. It always bothered me, but I was on a deadline and it turned out that other things, like the usefulness, accuracy and quality of the book, were more important than spending an extra week on the hands. Eh. That's life in the real world.

    You know what always bugged me about classic animation like Mickey and Tex Avery? Mice, owls and other creatures just don't look like that! Waaaaay out of proportion. No elbows? Arms that just curve? Crazy. I think they probably should have gone back to school or something.

    One thing I forgot to mention to BlenderNation was that the production files for this animation all come with a Creative Commons license, similar to the Foundation projects, so you can pick them apart (if you can stand to look at the horrible, horrible hands!).

  3. Maurice Raybaud on

    Didn't you just hear some kind of noise?... You didn't have to answer that harkyman
    That is precisely what makes one's work professional: ability to choose the right priorities depending on the deadline and compromising with your own perfectionnism.

  4. Actually, I do feel the need to point out what the book ISN'T. I don't want people picking it up and thinking it's a step-by-step character modeling tutorial, or a master class in character animation. I want the book to find the right people so that they can get out of it everything it has to offer.

  5. I had planned to purchase the book before watching the movie, and sure I will !

    200 hours for this movie is not a lot, and I'm very impressed.


  6. kILL me for pointing out the obvious ,i expected high quality but i got lesser than i expected
    "Animating with Blender: How to Create Short Animations from Start to Finish" is that not what it says on the cover of the book" keywords being" START to Finish"Animation isnt supposed to be sloppy when you animate your supposed to consider the proportions of your characters,i didn't see you do that there are numerous places in your animation where your rigging settings are off,THE BOTTOM LINE IS if your going to make somehting at least spend the effort of making it good and dont just do it just for the sake of it.

    well if you say that you spent more effort into making the book than i,d like to see snippets because your video is telling me that you dont pay attention to detail when animating,thats very disappointing, theres no excuse for sloppy work even though if you were on a deadline 200 hours is alot of time ,I,m sorry the truth can hurt sometimes , it seems that your just out there to make a quick buck ,like you said you had to meet deadlines so you didnt pay attention to quality or detail of the animation ,but paid more attention on trying to sell your book? I,m sure your book is good for the very basics of animation but i think its overpriced compared to what you ve showed me on video , your video makes me valeu your book at 18$ if you had paid attention to detail than it should have been around $44.

    but neverthe less some people will buy your books and may produce videos like you do

  7. Harkyman, I look forward to the book and have it pre-ordered. Given that there is already a lot of good material out there instructing us in how to model and animate characters, I'm so glad that this new book will be about the planning and production processes involved in creating a short work.

    Blender is such a versatile tool for creating digital media content. I'm excited to see a book that walks us through getting from point A, the idea, to point Z, the finished product.

    As for The Beast... you got quite a chuckle from me. It's a fun story, and I look forward to "playing around" with it as part of the learning process.

  8. tyy,
    there are various options:
    * buy the book, use it and then write a critique
    * make your short film without the book, then you don't have to write such a rubbish (200 hours is a lot ? 200 is nothing!)

    I don't feed the troll because I think tyy is a very young guy with only a bit of Blender or 3d experience.

    Nice work harkyman, sure, there are many flaws in it
    but the film is not the main part of the book, only the example.

  9. Well, what I know is that I always dream of making a short movie some time... Knowing how a practical mind Harkyman is, no doubt the book must be full of small interesting tricks... I'm ordering right now!
    About actually making the short movie, well... let's begin with reading the book... first things first...

    Btw, one of the coolest things about blender, is that regularly someone appears, shows an impressive piece of work and says: "I made this alone"... I always find that incredible, it is going counterstream to the tendency that says you cannot produce decent work without a big company, a big framework, a big team, a big organization, and of course big expensive software :)

  10. Chiming in here that tyy reaks of "amateur 3d artist" and to compensate for that he's acting like an asshole.

    ...yeah I don't think he thought that through either.

    But the book looks sweet :) If animation was my field I'd definately pick it up.
    All the best to you harkyman! Congratulations in following through with your idea of publishing a book. No easy task at all! My highest respects!

  11. harkyman's been around a long time. He brought us BlenderPeople and Essential Blender and now AWB; he by no means is out to make a quick buck and I agree with redbyte, tyy sounds like an amateur and an ass! Anyway, harkyman thanks for bringing the Blender community this great resource... look forward to picking up a copy.

  12. I'm an artist and to me art it art regardless of the quality,is the expression of the idea concept and that what gravity our attention to the medium.
    you did very good in expressing that artistic talent.
    people will always bash other people art work,so get use to that dark side of humanity.

    good luck


  13. And as for the book price,I'm sure you didn't have a choice to set it at a reasonable book price.printing cost are sky rocking
    and the low volume the higher is the cost for each book.
    I know,I work for a commercial printing company.


  14. Congrats on getting this published HarkyMan! I am just taking it as part of the Multi-verse where there can be many things different.
    @tyy: Do you complain about full length movies or with Disney. It's just a look that's all.


  15. terrywallwork -- It's not a follow on, but something like Essential Blender is really a pre-requisite. The book isn't for beginners. The recommendation is really for people to have a good grasp for making decent stills in Blender and to have basic keyframing experience. Someone who has gone through Essential Blender and understood it all will do fine with this book.

  16. Good job Harkyman, I know it takes a lot of work to pull off a short (and takes even more work to write a book)
    I congratulate your success and finishing well :)
    It looks like your time was devoted to the dogs and the mom character mostly... because that was one ugly baby! :D but that's the only thing that I'd say looked ugly (was that baby the "beast" ? ) . Everything else looked great! especially the lighting and fur.
    good job!

  17. MastaEgg -- Just realized that the book listing doesn't say. It is printed in full color throughout, and printed nicely. :)

    I have an advance copy on my desk beside me. It looks great.

    BTW -- the baby is supposed to be kind of shockingly ugly. He's the Beast.

  18. Congratulations on getting this beast done! Making a full movie like that (from start to finish!) is an enormous task for one person, and writing a book about the process is also an enormous task, so doing those two together is really very impressive. Not to say that I was skeptical when I first heard your plan or anything, but... way to go pulling it off!

    I'm also really looking forward to reading the book. I've seen the contents list and I know that this book takes a very broad view, and will cover things that really aren't dealt with anywhere else in Blender tutorials and books. So for that reason alone I am quite sure that this book will be a good addition to any Blender animator's library.

  19. Vastly overpriced, as usual (like all Blender 'training materials').

    Blender is a FREE program, but it has no adequate documentation of it's own.

    So time after time BLender users get screwed over by ppl that charge waayyyy to much for their publications!!

    Halve your prices and you sell more than double! (read "The Long Tail")

  20. Halve your prices and you sell more than double! (read "The Long Tail")

    That just shows that you didn't understand the Long Tail at all - it's not about prices, it's about diversity in product offering.

    I think the price is more than fair for the amount of work it takes to write such a book. This attitude of 'Blender is free, so Blender products should be free/cheap' makes me so tired...

  21. Actually, I think I've run into KritikAll before -- he makes the argument that, somehow, the Foundation intentionally neglects documentation so that they can steal everyone's money by selling overpriced books.

    Just so he knows, the only Foundation-produced book available right now is The Essential Blender. Both of Tony Mullen's excellent books and this one are produced completely independently of the Foundation/Institute. The prices for those books are set by the publishing companies and are right in line with publications for other software packages.

  22. i just feel sorry for the people who will buy the book ,paying over the top just to get decent skills ,sure go ahead pay $44 and make animations. buy the book at least it will teach you something. right

    or if you feel that you cant afford it than you could download this and put two and two together to produce the same results or even better for free

    harkyman i,m just giving professional opinion ive only highlighted the facts and pointed out your mistake , dont get offended or anything continue with your work its good but try and make it excellent sounds
    teach about quality and not quantity

    everyone if you need the book dont let me stop you from buying the book buy it .

  23. By the way, although I did point to the pdf Wiki page, my point was not that that was a substitute for this book. My point was to emphasize that KritiKall's comments about there being no free resources for Blender are complete nonsense. There's an ocean of free resources on Blender, ranging from tutorials all over the web, to a gigantic and well-organized Wiki, to the truly, truly excellent release notes, to the open content of the BF productions that you can learn from if you've got the initiative. I'd like to see any other software with such a wealth of free learning resources available.

    What the commercial projects offer is a more accessible, cohesive, and hopefully easier way for people to learn the same stuff that they could learn for free with much more effort. Ideally a book should save people the trouble and time of waiting until they stumble over everything that's out there strewn around the web. The author has done the legwork of collecting the information you need, editors have helped to streamline and organize it, and things are put into context in a way that should be helpful to learners. It's an involved process and it's not free. If you want those kinds of additional helpful resources then, well, you pay for them, like with anything else.

    @tyy, in order to formulate a valid opinion about a book, it's necessary to at least see it, and ideally to actually read it. Once you've done that maybe your opinions will carry some kind of weight. In the meantime, they really don't.

  24. For some perspective, here are tyy's comments on Big Buck Bunny:
    "any movie less than 2 hours isnt a movie so tehre fore bbb aint a movie its just a freakin trailor get over your selves and try making a real movie and please stop calling a 10minute demo a freakin movie coz it aint"

    I think that says it all.

  25. Whether tyy is right or not, i don't really care.

    If you want to learn generally about how to animate you should buy animators survival kit. If you want to learn about blender's production pipeline there's always something to learn from other people like Hess. This is what the blender community is about, lets not forget that.

    Lets keep the community up people.

  26. Looking forward to buy this book. Essential Blender was very useful. Any chance this will be sold as an ebook? (Like Mullen's or Brito's books?)

  27. "This attitude of 'Blender is free, so Blender products should be free/cheap' makes me so tired…"

    I don't say all products should be free, but they should be priced reasonably, so to be within the 'character' of Blender! Sell me an (e)book for around 15-20 Euro's and I'd gladly buy it.

    "The prices for those books are set by the publishing companies and are right in line with publications for other software packages."

    That's just wrong! Those are commercial packages and must not be compared with what is the 'character' of Blender!

    @Tony: bookmarked, thanks! :-|

  28. is there a chapter by chapter breakdown of the book anywhere? This sounds like an interesting read, and a great supplement to the other material out there.

  29. @KritikAll,

    Do you think it's cheaper to publish a book about Blender than it is to publish a book about other software? Do you think authors, editors, printers, distributors and booksellers should get paid less to work on Blender books than they get paid to work on other books? Is food, rent, and clothing cheaper for them than it is for people who work with other software?

    I don't mean to be snarky, but I think you should give a little bit of thought to what your argument entails here.


  30. I am about to embark on my first blender-made short film, so I am incredibly excited about this book. Many thanks for all your heard work Harkyman!!

  31. Maurice Raybaud on

    Having it also published as an ebook would certainly be cheaper and allow people who find it so expensive to buy it. Also it would speed up the diffusion of the book.

  32. Here's a vote of support for Tyy. The animation in the film DOES need improvement. There's nothing wrong with saying so, and to his credit the author took the criticism with good grace.

    Shame about internet forums, how you have to pile on the diplomacy in order to give honest criticism.

    The book looks like it could be a useful resource, You can be a great animator and still not be able to complete a short film like this. The skills involved in planning and organising a project are not to be underestimated, as shown by the many half finished projects we've seen come and go over the years.

    Nice one Roland!

  33. @KritikAll

    Can you define what is reasonable price? What maybe reasonable for you, might not be reasonable for somebody else, and while $44 might be reasonable for somebody (like me), it's not for you! Because it's about Blender it should be free or even reasonable?

    Are you getting everything for free or for reasonable price in your life? I just think your comment is absurd.

  34. To those complaining about the price of the book.

    The book is a reasonable price. It compares well with other books in its class.

    Book prices are set by publishers, not the author. If you ever publish a book, please let us know if you can suceed in changing the list price, as you will be the first I have ever heard of, who has sucessfully done so.

    Regarding the book in question. I consider it in my opinion fairly priced and a reasonable book, which I will be purchasing.

    Also Blender is free. When using other programs, several thousand euros is spent on initial purchase, followed by purchasing of several auxillary books, DVD training, DVDs of models, etc.

    In Blender only purchase of books is paid for and some training DVDs if desired.

    Blender is significantly better value for money.

    If I was using max, viz, xsi, maya or my preferred program houdini, I would now have spent 5000 euros or more on various training, manuals, licence, plugins and various other stuff.

    With Blender I have spent about 140 euros on various books and auxillary items.

    That tells me everything I need to know about Blender.

  35. hey Harkyman, thanks for taking the time to do this, one of the things that stopped me from learning blender was that I hate working through online tutorials, and there were no decent books available. and now there are a whole string of them out and coming out...... I really dont get what some people are complaining about, if you look at hank in the essential blender book, he is not exactly shrek, he is just a little more than a stick man, yet that is not important, he is there, stripped down to the essential elements to aid in the learning process- so that you can grasp the principles.... I dont want to recreate your short, I want to learn the process, and apply it to my own designs.... and to have someone walk me through the process is fantastic!!

    having read the TOC this book is going to fit in so nicely with the other books that are available. and I would suggest that before anybody criticizes it, they should understand what it is and isn's meant to be.

    From what iv seen short covered all the elements represented in the book beautifully.

    keep up the good work!!!

  36. I've seen this book at the local book store and it has many wonderful color illustrations and from my quick browse looks to cover a lot of ground. Once I've learned the basics I'm picking up my copy. I think the criticism on price is way out of line, compared to other books in the same category this looks like it's a very good bargain especially with all the color shots.

  37. Other people have posted good things about this book. I won't disagree.

    Let me emphasize that what follows are my _impressions_ I got from looking through the book. By no means do I intent to dissuade anyone from purchasing this book But I think harkyman is the first to acknowledge the book - done under a tight deadline - has some issues.

    My initial impression of came from the image on the cover, and it wasn't favorable. The characters on the cover of the book were certainly not the creation of a professional - they lacked style and appeal. To me, this implied - right or wrong - things about the author:

    * They weren't a professional modeler
    * They weren't likely to be a professional animator
    * They weren't likely to have made more than one short animation
    * They weren't likely to have knowledge of any package other than Blender

    In other words, the level of knowledge that I could expect in the book would likely be shallow.

    Again, I emphasize that these were simply impressions I got from looking at the cover. But paging through the book did nothing to dissuade that belief. In fact, I was left with the impression that the only reason the author attempted a short animation in the first place was to write this book. I ended up not spending a lot of time going through the book in detail. As a caveat: I'm not a frequent user of Blender.

    Anyway, all these things present reasons a buyer might choose to put the book back on the shelf instead of purchasing it. I don't think it's helpful to attack people who point out issues with the book.

    Congratulations on getting the book done!

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