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Training Video Review: Environment Modeling and Texturing


Terry Wallwork reviews 'Environment Modeling and Texturing' by

Terry writes:

Recently a new Blender 2.5 training website come into existance, Run by Lee Salvemini and Christopher Plush, both extremely talented, professional Blender users with lots of experience in big budget productions (Sintel, Yo-Frankie to name just a few of the ones Blender users will know about).

They currently have 2 Blender products available on their website. In this review I will be reviewing their Environment Modeling and Texturing Tutorial Video.

Product Specifications:

  • Name: Environment Modeling and Texturing
  • Author: Christopher Plush
  • Price: $60 (18 Dec 2010)
  • Type: Downloadable Tutorial Video
  • Length: 14 Hours Roughly

There are two versions of this tutorial video, one comes on a physical DVD and the other is in downloadable form, both are the same price and have exactly the same content. I purchased the downloadable version, it's a very large download, so if you don't have a very fast internet connection I would recommend getting the DVD version.

Once the files are downloaded you can extract their contents and open the files in your web browser. I was using Firefox and running on a Fedora Linux system and everything worked very well for me.

With the tutorial page open you are presented with 12 video sections:

  • Chapter 01 - Tool Overview
  • Chapter 02 - Modeling the Base Environment
  • Chapter 03 - Unwrapping the Environment
  • Chapter 04 - Environment Destruction
  • Chapter 05 - More Construction
  • Chapter 06 - Environment Texturing and Materials
  • Chapter 07 - More Texturing and Details
  • Chapter 08 - Making the Props
  • Chapter 09 - Lighting and World Settings
  • Chapter 10 - Light Maps
  • Chapter 11 - Final Details
  • Chapter 12 - Post Processing Filters and FX

Each video can be played in the embedded flash player presented on the webpage, and here is the first minor problem I encountered. For some reason the flash video player plays the videos at a lower resolution than they are actually encoded at. As a result if you use the flash player that's embedded in the webpage to play the videos at fullscreen they are very unclear to view. Fortunately it is possible to play the full higher resolution versions of the videos and when you do they are very well encoded and very easy to view.

Each video is a combination of realtime video viewing and time lapse viewing of the texturing and modeling process's involved. Nothing is skipped and everything is recorded in minute detail.

Each tutorial video builds on the previous one, resulting in construction of a very detailed interior barn scene. Which includes creating and texturing all the props contained inside the barn as well as the barn structure itself. The barn is modeled so that it can be used within the Blender Game Engine, but even if you have no interest in the Blender Game Engine at all, the techniques that are demonstrated will allow a modeler to create very detailed looking models, that are very low poly and very memory efficient.

By the time you have finished watching all the videos, you will have seen very good demonstrations of modeling and texturing techniques of a professional level, and you will be able to bake every kind of normal, texture and shadow map known to man and follow along in creating all the items!

The website says that the tutorial videos are aimed at a Intermediate level Blender user, though I feel that everything is explained so well and clearly when needed that even a Blender beginner would be able to get something from these videos. If you are an Intermediate Blender user you will probably also pick up a lot of new tricks and techniques.

Another slight issue I have with the tutorials, is that there is a lot of use of Photoshop and an NVIDIA Normal Map generator. It would have been nice if Gimp and a Gimp Normal Map Generator had been used, as they are open source and obviously available to many more users, and are just as powerful. Fortunately you can pretty much do all the stuff shown in Photoshop in Gimp and the NVIDIA Normal Map generator can be replaced by the Gimp equivalent. So that is why I say it's a very small issue. If you want to use Gimp you can.

I feel their website really undersells the amount of content covered in the videos, their website really would benefit from having a more detailed table of content as to exactly what objects, props and texture are created, the chapter list really doesn't contain enough detail. Still that's the kind of surprise I like, getting more than I was expecting.

These tutorials are very detailed, of a high quality level and are well worth the price in my opinion, if you are interested in game environment creation or just want to use some of the relevant techniques for memory efficient modeling this is a must have Video tutorial.

I will certainly put on my list of sites to keep an eye on! Can't wait to see what they come up with next.

Review Score 89%


  1. What? The videos are not clear? I stopped reading right there.
    Contact me when you get that cleared up and I'll buy them.

  2. bearinthewoods, the videos are clear, they're just embedded in the browser smaller to better fit most people's screen resolutions, but the full res videos on the dvd are 1280x768 and "are very well encoded and very easy to view"

    And thanks Terry for the positive review!

  3. I also purchased this set and have been very pleased. I agree that even a beginning Blender user can glean a ton of information from these videos. Just watching the first video I picked up quite a few great bits of information that definitely benefits my Blender skills. The full res videos are beautiful and the overall quality of the set is impeccable. I recommend this set to any intermediate users wanting to advance their skill set. As for beginning Blender users, these may move a bit quick for most but still worth every penny.

  4. Even the free tutorials are top quality, and I have to say, these rank well with Blender Cookie, Guru and themselves as the top three tutorial sites for Blender to date.

    I am buying these, I am just deciding which one will benefit me the most first

  5. Alex Delderfield (AD-Edge) on

    Awesome new site, I missed the last BN post about it so Im glad this review was done. Bought the DVD straight away.

    I planned these holidays to get up to speed with environment modelling, Ive done a little but theres many areas I want to improve, so for this DVD to pop up out of nowhere is perfect, great timing. Ill definetly be sitting down for a few days to get though it all. (I have a couple of projects planned for my portfolio which involve game environment modeling)

    I also went though a couple of the free tutorials today, which were all very detailed and insightful. Learnt a few things which I can already see countless uses for in projects Im about to start.

    Great stuff. Look forward to seeing/buying more game related tutorials soon.

  6. What the monster said. I Have both the dvd's still waiting on this one though. The videos are in mp4 format which is great as i have put them on my ps3 to watch them on the big screen. The videos look great quality is good.

  7. Excellent reviews! Am going to purchase my download copy before Xmas. Need some good tutorial fodder for the break. Thanks for reviewing this, and for other commenters for giving it their endorsement. It's so subjective, it's hard to pick good ones.

  8. "It would have been nice if Gimp and a Gimp Normal Map Generator had been used"
    I actually prefer the way they did it, using Photoshop.

  9. I just bought both DVDs. They were both well-worth it. The quality of information, the video standards, production value and the amount of stuff you get on the DVDs is phenomenally good. I'm impressed. 2 thumbs way up.

  10. I think that the tutorials haven't a solid structure, I mean that there's a lot of "undos", and it takes a lot of time to do things that can be done easier (smart project, for instance, he always takes the long way to get the same thing, why?), in the UV chapter he does things but doesn't explain why, you have to figured it out several chapters after :/

    Also I found it incomplete because well, it teaches you how to create the environtment (modelling, texturing, lighting) but he doesn't mention how to make it works, I mean you have an environtment but you don't know how to use it, I miss a last tutorial to make it works, setting basic controls (W,A,S,D) export it as an .exe, or things like that, this is like you have the scene but you can't render it, quite dissapointing, maybe ther's another DVD planning to cover those sections?

    A good tutorial but quite incomplete.

  11. Hi Victor, this DVD was only on modeling and texturing, no realtime controls that's a separate topic. I do have plans for a total game creation DVD using this level(think typical zombie survival fps like nazi zombies in cod), but that's content all unto itself and will probably come with two DVDs, there's a lot more content involved with that I just simply couldn't even begin to fit on a DVD that already has 15 hours of video.

    About the techniques, true, I'm an oldie, I got stuck in my ways from the past, but I'll keep a note of that.

  12. I have purchased Environment modelling tutorial and it is very usefull. I have learned a tons of new things although I've only finished first 3 videos. And I do not agree that even a beginner can learn this through. I mean anyone can, but what a pain it is to follow the instructor sometimes. Everything is happening very fast because it is assumed that you know the basic controls (I follow the video frame by frame almost everytime). Well I had to learn it a hard way. Good thing I have Keyboard Shortcuts printouts from, which helped alot. There r some things I still couldn't fully understand, so I had to follow tutorial using my own manual methods which took lots of time and took no time for the instructor.

    The toughest thing about the tutorial is that you do not get button shortcuts of what the instructor is pressing himself and he only occasionally explains it in full detail or just names the process. Although there's an introductory material, it hadn't made life much easier. You never know when he is pressing something you haven't learned yet.

    Still the material is great. And it is very long to follow and very interesting. Really good tutorials. Although I only finished 3 videos, I'm already very happy with teh result and very tired from following :). I bet its a piece of cake from pros and a sadamasochism for beginners.

    Oh and e-mail support was really great, and also very polite and fast. I had problems with downloads and it was solved.

    Advice for cgmasters:
    I like tutorials from Blender Guru, they explain things very well. Would want that kind of explanation implemented in cg masters. I find it that it is best to show one thing very well explained (for example one window made) rather than show how you made all the windows in fast forward mode. If you make the user make one window, I bet he will cope making the others.

    Also was wandering, are there going to be tutorials on low poly vs high poly? resolution change for textures? individual UV mapping of objects vs multiple object uv mapping? destructable environments? modelling vihicles for games?

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