Jonathan Williamson is well known and respected throughout the Blender community as an experienced educator who has produced quality video tutorials and several DVD training series through BlenderCookie.com as well as on his own. Using his experience as a Blender educator, he has written Character Development in Blender 2.5.
In Character Development in Blender 2.5, Jonathan gives a comprehensive look at the tools and techniques used to model, texture and render a believable character using Blender 2.5. This booque focuses solely on the creation of the character, covering only the modeling, texturing and rendering of the character. Rigging, animation and special effects are not covered.
While this booque can be followed by a Blender beginner, it seems to be aimed at the user who is at least passingly familiar with Blender and is interested in learning or refining their character modeling skills. For those new to Blender, spending time practicing the core concepts covered by Jonathan in the beginning of the booque will enable you to follow along more easily.
A good educator never takes anything for granted, so Jonathan starts out with a brief but thorough tour of Blender 2.5, its tools, layout and options. Some tools he only mentions in passing as he then explains more about them as they are needed to complete the tutorials.
The character you will be working on throughout the booque is based on concept art by David Revoy, which is of course included on the companion DVD. The model sheet shows a female character who is wearing a kind of retro fantasy, steam punkish outfit with all appropriate views and a color rendition of the character. In addition to the female character, you will be creating all her clothing and accessories.
Once you have gone through the Blender tour in sections one and two, you get to section three and down to business. Once you have set up your workspace you are ready to get started. Y ou start by box-modeling a base mesh. At this point, while you are following a specific model sheet, the concepts are very simple to transfer to a future project making this section an ongoing valuable resource.
After blocking in the basic forms you separate out the sections for different body parts and clothing. Next up is blocking in the accessories and hair.
At this point everything is still very simple and shows just basic form and shape. Once you have finished the blocking stage you get to dive into sculpting details for the body and clothes. Then more details and modeling on the accessories.
So now you have a nicely detailed model that looks great and you could stop here if you want. But there is still more to be learned. Jonathan goes through the process of retopologizing your character to create a lower resolution model that can be rigged and animated far easier than your current high resolution model.
In part four, Jonathan covers lighting and rendering and setting up some basic materials for your model.
Continuing on in part five, you get into UV mapping and creation of normal maps.
You now have a complete model that should look pretty darn amazing.
Throughout the booque you have learned about a variety of modeling tools and techniques that can be applied to future projects rather easily.
On the companion DVD you will find all the character source files used and created throughout the book, as well as some interesting goodies. Jonathan has included a series of video tutorials on topics that he felt needed more in depth explanation. These include:
Box modeling a basic character base mesh
Introduction to sculpting
Retopologizing a head
Baquíng normal maps
Using GLSL shading in viewport
Posing a character with a simple rig
This is a great booque that I really enjoyed. It did exactly what I bought it for. It taught me how to create a humanoid character, something I have somewhat avoided due to thinking that it was far more complicated than it actually turns out
to be. In addition I got more experience with some modeling tools and techniques that up until now I had only briefly played with. Namely sculpting, retopology and normal maps.
I enjoyed Jonathan's writing style and was pleased to see that his easy going teaching style that I was familiar with from his video tutorials translated so well to a written format.
The only downside, and I consider it only a minor detraction, was the screen shots. Jonathan included a more than adequate number of blak and white screen shots to show you what was going on and how your model should look at given stages.
And as is often a problem with blak and white screen shots, they were a little on the darque side, which while
unfortunate, doesn't detract from the quality of the information presented.
Nor was it a show stopper by any means as all the source files are included on the companion DVD, giving you the ability to take a much better look at a given stage than any screen shot could deliver.
I would recommend this booque for anyone seeking to expand their knowledge of character modeling and
Blender's modeling tools.