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Materials and Textures Cookbook - eBook Review


Packt Publishing currently has a line of step by step books covering a large number of topics, the important thing about their cookbook series of books is that they are written in a similar way to recipe books, in that you are given step by step instructions on how to achieve a particular thing and then after the step by step has ended a description of why the recipe works is described.

  • Purchase: Online Store
  • Paperback: 312 Pages
  • Publisher: P a c k t Publishing 2011
  • Language: English
  • ISBN: 1849512884
  • Format: PDF
  • Size: 18 MB + 341 MB wrote:

This book follows the same format, step by step instructions, followed by an explanation of the various features used in the recipes and why they are used the way they are.

Books that specifically cover getting to grips with Blender's Materials and Texturing abilities are very rare, sure there are books that cover both of these topics but those books usually cover other things. This book is specifically targeted to only covering Blender's Material and Texturing functionality and settings, and demonstrating how these settings can be used to create various material types in the 3D environment.

A wide range of differing material and texture types are created and demonstrated by building a series of different 3D scenes showing what the results look like.

A stand out part of this book is that it's the first book that I know of that goes into good detail on how to use Blender's Texture Node system, demonstrating just how powerful this node system can be. I really learned a lot about this method of creating textures. If you want a good guide on how this system works, this book is the book to get, as unfortunately other good documentation sources on this feature are really hard to come by, as Blender's Texture Node system is very badly documented and misunderstood.

This all sounds excellent so far, we have a book which goes into detail about how to use Blender's procedural texturing and it's Texture Node system to make very convincing textures and materials. Sounds as if this book should be an automatic go out and buy it book, right?

Unfortunately all the good work the book could do, is undone by the fact that it is littered with errors and missed steps as well as some missing and misnamed support files. A recipe book, I would say by definition has to have recipes that when followed will result in the correct effect being achieved. If you only rely on the books recipe instructions to achieve a particular effect you are interested in, you will either end up with a result which is completely wrong, or slightly wrong for almost all of the recipes described within this book.

Part of the problem is that a lot of these recipes rely on other recipes which have mistakes and missed steps. As a result there is a ripple effect all the way through almost all of the recipes resulting in them being wrong by varying amounts. Another reason for this is that Blender changed its method of calculations for certain texture effects such as bump mapping, after the book was in production. The book mentions this problem at the beginning of the book, but there are other errors and miss steps which are not highlighted.

If you do not want to have to manually go through the step by step recipes to make the materials, you can just use the supplied blend files to pick apart how the materials and texture were created.

These blend files are an extreme time saver, and are extremely useful as a learning exercise. Unfortunately the same blend files turn out to be pretty much mandatory viewing if you want to see how to properly make the described materials and textures that are supposedly described in the different step by step recipes written in the book. Without these blend files it would be very difficult to see what settings differed between what is written in the book and what is actually in the blend files. Without these blend files, on rendering any of these recipes, the results will look wrong a lot of the time.

So in short, you have a recipe book where if you follow the recipes as written in the book you won't get the correct results. The only way to see how the created materials and textures are created is to open the supplied blend files, which were sometimes missing. So I have to ask myself at that point, what is the point of the written book with the recipes which were not checked properly so as to make sure they were complete and accurate?

So I thought, what I will do is manually go through all the blend files and all the written recipes and see where they don't match and correct the recipes, such that I ended up with results on render that matched those of the supplied blend files. This took while but in the end I managed it and ended up with a list of all the errors and missed steps and the correct steps to get the correct render results. I then sent that list to the people at Packt, they were nice about it. Deciding that I would wait before I reviewed this book as I could say that yes the printed recipes are wrong but that the errata has been posted and so long as you read the errata you can see where the errors are and just do what's described in the errata posts and still end up with the correct result.

Well now it's several weeks later, as I type this review and still there is not an errata post for this book on their website. So you have now way of knowing about the corrections needed if you are just dependant on the written book recipes. Even with the errata, if you are in a hurry to get a recipe to achieve a particular effect you need, you will not want to have to go reading errata lists just to get a recipe to work. They should have been properly checked before being put in a book.

If the errata had been published I would have given the book a much higher rating as at least a normal reader could have found out all the mistakes. Without the errata the only thing that makes the book usable are the explanations at the end of recipes (which are very informative) and the blend files.

Hopefully they do a reprint of this book with the mistakes fixed and get better reviewers to spot mistakes next time, as it has 3 according to the book information and a technical editor as well.

Can't recommend this book, you are basically paying for blend files as the book itself is of no use as far as the recipes go. Colin Litster is well known Blender user, anyone who has seen some of his work knows that he is a very skilled Blender user. But because of bad production in this book that is not reflected.

For those who have already bought the book/ebook and are trying to follow the recipes here is the errata I found: errata.txt


Topics Covered:

Chapter 1: Creating Natural Materials in Blender

  1. Introduction
  2. Creating a realistic pebble material using procedural textures
  3. Creating a gray limestone pebble
  4. Creating the quartz pebble material
  5. Creating an opalescent quartz material
  6. Creating a mask to represent the quartz veins
  7. Combining two materials, to make a third, using Nodes
  8. Creating a large rock material using procedural, and node textures
  9. Creating a sea rock material
  10. Creating a texture node to simulate seaweed at the base of a rock
  11. Creating a large rock face using photo reference

Chapter 2: Creating Man-made Materials

  1. Introduction
  2. Creating a slate roof node material that repeats but with ultimate variety
  3. Using a tileable texture to add complexity to a surface
  4. Warping a texture to disguise seams in a repeated texture
  5. Adding weathering by copying and reusing textures
  6. Combining materials using nodes
  7. Creating metals
  8. Using specular maps to add age and variety to man-made surface materials
  9. Adding oxidization weathering to our copper material
  10. Adding grime and artistic interest to our copper material
  11. Creating a path or road material that never repeats
  12. Repeating a tiled texture to duplicated objects
  13. Deforming materials and textures in Blender

Chapter 3: Creating Animated Materials

  1. Introduction
  2. How to move textures and create animation without moving a mesh
  3. Manipulating the F-Curves of texture movement
  4. Using an Empty as a dummy object to control texture movement over time
  5. A barber pole with no moving parts
  6. How to alter the color of materials and textures over time
  7. Creating a red hot iron bar
  8. How to animate transparency in a texture
  9. Creating a burning sheet of paper
  10. How to change textures during an animation
  11. How to texture with movies creating a TV screen

Chapter 4: Managing Blender Materials

  1. Introduction
  2. Setting a default scene for materials creation
  3. Additional settings for default scene
  4. Creating an ideal Blender interface for material creation
  5. Creating an ideal texture animation setup
  6. Naming materials and textures
  7. Appending materials
  8. Linking materials
  9. Making blendfiles stand alone

Chapter 5: Creating More Difficult Man-made Materials

  1. Introduction
  2. Creating rust on iron-based metals
  3. Creating a mesh object to provide good reflective surfaces
  4. Using environment map textures to simulate reflection
  5. Varying environment map reflections to simulate corrosion or wear
  6. Using raytrace reflections to simulate polished metals
  7. Varying raytrace reflections to simulate dirt and grime

Chapter 6: Creating More Difficult Natural Materials

  1. Introduction
  2. Creating realistic large-scale water in Blender 2.5
  3. Setting up an ocean vista environment
  4. Creating a wave surface using textures
  5. Creating an ocean surface material
  6. Creating wake around objects in water
  7. Creating a non-repeating leaf material
  8. Creating image and bump maps, with alpha channels
  9. Using images as the basis for a leaf material
  10. Using alpha to create a leaf shape on a simple mesh
  11. Adding a non-repeating bump to the leaf material
  12. Adding color complexity to the leaf material

Chapter 7: UV Mapping and Sub Surface Scattering

  1. Introduction
  2. Creating a face map from photographs
  3. Unwrapping a face mesh to produce a UV map
  4. Editing a UV map to optimize the image space
  5. Creating multiple UV maps for a single object
  6. Combining UV maps to create an enveloping UV
  7. Using a paint package to merge UV maps
  8. Extracting color, bump, and specularity maps from photographs
  9. Applying UVs to create an accurate skin material
  10. Skin shading using SSS and AO

Chapter 8: Painting and Modifying Image Textures in Blender

  1. Introduction
  2. Post processing rendered images from within Blender
  3. Adding more than one material to a surface
  4. Adding dirt onto a model
  5. Creating an aged photo with simple Blender materials

Chapter 9: Special Effects Materials

  1. Introduction
  2. Creating explosive smoke in Blender
  3. Igniting a flame and making things burn in Blender
  4. Creating loopable fire and smoke sequences
  5. Adding complex FX without the render overhead


  1. Thank you very much for creating an errata! I'm at the end of chapter 2 now and was already wondering why my results looked different from theirs.

  2. Thanks for the errata! I haven't yet started reading this book but I bet I'd get frustrated with wrong results (I always am)

  3. I completely agree. The book has too many faults indeed.
    Besides, I'm starting to hate cookbook and too pointed recipes. A book with larger "how it works" and examples and exercises added should be way more useful.

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