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Mastering Blender by Tony Mullen


Well Tony Mullen's at it again with another book and I can't wait to see the results and add this to my collection.

Mastering Blender is part of Sybex's "Mastering" series, and as such takes an in-depth, fairly advanced look at its subject. Mastering Blender is geared to intermediate and advanced Blender users who really want to get the most out of Blender.

It is divided up into three parts. The first part deals with miscellaneous general Blender 3D topics such as using multiple UV mappings and baking to create seamless photographic textures, sculpt and retopo workflow, using the nodes system to do green screen matte pulling and live-action video compositing, and editing video with the VSE, among other topics.

The second part of the book deals with Python scripting for Blender. This part begins with a simple introduction to Python itself which is suitable for people who have never done any  programming at all (the book is geared to experienced Blender users, not programmers).

The next chapters go deeper into Python scripting specifically in the Blender environment, and cover all major Python-Blender functionality. The last part of the book deals with the game engine, and spans three chapters that take you from creating assets for the game engine through a complete overview of working with logic blocks all the way to using Python in the game engine.

I think this book will help people to get even more out of Blender than they already do.



Mastering Blender is now available for pre-order at VIA BlenderNation.


  1. Hi everybody,

    A few more pieces of information. The book covers 2.48 functionality. It's already written, edited and mostly typeset and will be ready for printing in a few weeks. That said, there's an extensive discussion on the planned changes in 2.5, to help people understand what the big deal is and to prepare for it.

    It should be stressed that the book is not for beginners. People who read this book should probably have used Blender for at least a little while, and probably have experience with switching from one version to the next, so I don't expect version inconsistency to be a huge problem. The idea here is to get people on top of advanced functionality such as Python scripting, video editing and compositing, sculpting and retopo workflow, working with the game engine, and so forth.

    Like all Sybex Mastering titles, the book is printed in high-quality black and white with large images and a full-color insert. I managed to talk the publisher into expanding the color insert, so it is 24 pages rather than the typical 16. In addition, I used the entire color insert for images from the content of the book, to clarify any places where the b/w images might be insufficient or ambiguous, so there should be absolutely no problem there. I know how important that is to people, so I've really tried to make the most of what was available to me.

    I'm really excited about this book. In addition to covering only advanced material that's not easy to find elsewhere, it's also the heftiest of the 3 books I've written at about 500 pages. It's been a huge job, a lot of fun, and a great learning experience to write it, and I hope people get a lot out of it.


  2. "Poor timing, wait for 2.53 or 2.55."

    :) No, anon, *You* wait until 2.53 or 2.55. By that time I'll have written something about 2.5!

  3. Well I have you Character Animation with Blender book and loved it! Gosh, now I have to really plunge into Blender again!

  4. @Richard, thanks for pointing that out! I hadn't actually seen that on Amazon. I presume you're talking about this one:

    That will be the second edition of Introducing Character Animation with Blender, updated for 2.5, so it will basically replace that book. I have not even begun to do the work on ICAWB 2E, because 2.5 is still not far enough along for me to feel comfortable writing about it definitively. Much of the material will be brought straight over from the first edition, with the necessary updates. In addition, my contract for the book stipulates at least 100 pages of all-new material, so I'm hoping to add enough new stuff to give completists their money's worth...

    The cover art up there now is temporary. I hadn't seen the mock-up until now. I'm planning to have a public call for gallery and cover artwork just as I did for the first edition so many moons ago...

  5. Looks like a real nice book, the UK amazon site looks like it's £37 and the US amazon is $37?!
    Also is the release for April this year right enough?

    I'll be happy to pre-order, looks like a great and natural fit within where I'm at with Blender. Just wish I could get a copy this month! :D

  6. A book with a lot on getting into Python is a great angle to take, at least from my point of view. There are plenty of advanced modelling / texturing / etc resources out there that more or less apply to all 3D apps, but I think this was a very wise decision for an 'advanced' Blender book. Hopefully some more developers might pop up here and there to help the already strong team along... :)

  7. Ahh, another hit by Tony Mullen. Finally, a book geared towards the advanced users, other than the so often noobie books and tutorials. The second part of the book (python scripting) could come especially handy, because the more people exposed to python, the more able the community is to create cool scripts, and the cooler (and better) Blender gets!

    So well done Tony! I thoroughly have (and still am) enjoying your Introducing Character Animation book, this should be the same, if not better.

  8. Ordered! I've been waiting for something to come out for advanced users addressing python scripting. I'm used to mel and feel limited in blender without scripting ability. Thanks for writing this, Tony!

  9. No fair, Tony isn't leaving any room for the rest of us to write best selling Blender books. =) He's cornering this niche market on his own. Pretty soon at book stores, there will be the already bloated Photoshop section bursting at the seams and then the bulging Tony Mullen section.

    I guess I'll be writing the Tony Mullen Biography with my spare time, being that all the Blender literature is covered. Tony I'll be in Japan again in March-April Tony if you have time to meet up again for some Blender conversation. That delicious green tea smoothie I had at that cafe still appears in my dreams once in a while.

  10. I feel worried about how all these great books about blender will appear useful once 2.5 comes out... Isn't it hard to catch up with all the changes that are being made? Still, I think I'm buying this one too :)

  11. Great!!! Finally some books have come out lately that aren't just for beginners and according to who the author is this should be a great one!

  12. Thanks everyone for the encouraging comments. I'm glad people are excited about the Python scripting aspect, because that was really the part that I was most eager to dig into. So much is possible with Python. I'm really looking forward to seeing more people taking advantage of it.

    @TxRx, I have no idea about the UK price or release date. has it listed as March 30th but I expect them to have it sooner. In the past, when all has gone smoothly, they have sometimes started sending out books even weeks before the date posted.

    @Bastian, thanks for asking! You can see the table of contents on my website here:

    @Mike Smick, by all means, get in touch when you're in Japan. There are plenty of other places to check out!

    @blackcoatman, time marches on. Seize the day is what I say! I write about the software that exists. When there's new software, there's new stuff to write about.

  13. Pre-ordered!
    As n00bhaxor says, it's great to see a book geared towards the advanced users. There are so many beginner tutorials, books and resources out there that advanced users have been feelin a little left out. :( So this book is a breath of fresh air. :D

    Coincedently, last week I thought to myself, "hmmm I should really break into Python scripting". So you seem to have read my mind :)

    Can't wait to read it!

  14. Sweet! If this book answers tough questions, and I can afford it... I don't know, i might, just might consider buying it. ;)

    @Tony: Hey, will the book cover how to make custom normal, bump, and spec maps that fit with a custom texture, and how to apply those custom maps and texture to your mesh? Thanks, Tony, it is great to have a book aiming at more experienced people instead of always hitting the beginner arena. One time when I started a tutorial for Blender I think I called it "Mastering Blender 3D" (or something similar to that.) Cheers! (If we get a great book preview and a low-down on what the book's contents, that would encourage buyers.) See ya!

  15. Done, pre-ordered, now for the long wait till april. Though i saw it a while back on amazon and on sybex's product catalogue thing they do. Nice cover btw.

    It's interesting about the amazon listing character animation with 2.5. They sure love to think ahead. 2.5 seems still to be ages away if #blendercoders is any guide to go by. Still good to know it will be on its way when 2.5 hits :)

    It's a shame its not full colour but I guess the price would of been too high. Excellent news about the fact that it will cover scripting, as the Blender GameKit 2nd Edition book was a good reference for BGE scripting, but didn't cover any of the more mesh bashed scripting stuff. Guess it's lucky that I have brushed up on my python skills (or lack of).

    The Blender Bookshelf is certainly starting to get better and better.


  16. @banor, yes. There's a chapter on making seamless, photographic textures using multiple UV mappings and texture baking. I snuck in a fairly significant section on working with Gimp as well (you really need to for this kind of texturing). The recent 2.48 enhancements to the UV mapping system are really powerful, and so I think this chapter will be of interest to a lot of people.

    @Terry, yeah, my copy of the BGK2E just showed up and I'm really impressed with it. I wasn't aware it was in the works when I wrote the section of my book on the game engine, and no doubt there's a bit of overlap there, but I think the two books approach the topic from pretty different angles. But you're right, the non-BGE scripting part I think is the real virgin territory here.

  17. Nice one Tony, I'll happily stump up your newest tome. It'll appear by the end of March/start april at the latest then. I'll happily take that :D

    Really looking forward to the python part. Been using Python at the studio for a while (for some custom framework, houdini and pipeline tools) and I've not had the time to play or explore that side of blender just yet. :D


  18. @Tony: So you come here often or.. maybe we should hang out some time... did you wash your pants with windex because I think I can see... ahhh, you get the point. As much as I can figure out just trying to accomplish a goal (I want the table to look like this in the GE, let's make it happen mentality) these books probably teach me just about as much if not more.

    You know what I have no idea about?

    What the hell are the Radiosity buttons used for?! I guess I've never needed them, but last night as I worked I seriously became interested in them. It's like a kid finding candy under their bed.

  19. @ Icono:

    That's a really old feature. It lets you bake radiosity into vertex colors (which you can add as extra light to the shader). Any material that uses emission gets counted as a light source (though last I checked, textures are not taken into account). It's sort of antiquated now with fast AO and baking, though.

  20. I'm still waiting for the 'Blender for Dummies' book so I'm gonna see what it's like first before I buy *yet another* Blender book. I've got a whole library of Blender books now but hardly had time to read any of them.

  21. I ordered it anyway ;) I'm really interested in the video-compositing stuff.

    Does it show how to mix Blender generated CGI through Green screen with live action video?

  22. @Olaf, the book covers how to pull green screen mattes so you can, for example, put a live-action character or object into whatever scene you want to create. In the example in the book, the character is just put against a simple sky-map background, but of course any CG scene would also be possible to use, and the techniques covered in the book can be easily generalized to compositing into more sophisticated 3D scenes.

  23. can someone please tell me how to import more than one .blend i made because when i import one it erases the other !!!!!

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