Blender Foundations: The Essential Guide to Learning Blender 2.5 (2.6) is the best way to learn the Blender 2.5 series.
Available from all major book retailers, including Amazon.
The book takes you from zero knowledge, through the interface and into a field-tested practical instruction project that has a number of goals. First, you’ll produce a (very) short scene with an animated character, a full set and production lighting. The final product of the book can be seen below in the embedded video. If you’ve been using Blender for a long time, that’s not going to be amazingly impressive to you, but the fact is that if you’ve never done 3D before or only dabbled, you’ll go from knowing nothing to producing that by the end of the book. Also, if you’re wanting to transition from another piece of software (Blender 2.4 series included), the examples demonstrate all of the major skill areas you’ll need to know. Third, I’ve gone to great lengths to give this book a “point of view” when it comes to art and working in 3D. It’s not just a tutorial (and it certainly isn’t a tools reference!) that shows you what buttons to push. I’ve tried to teach you how to think when you’re working in 3D.
Here are some snippets from reviews:
“He gets to the point and offers professional advice that would take you years to learn on your own… The proposition is simple: you can spend 6 months hacking away at Blender and just scratch the surface or you can get this book and spend a few weeks studying it and spend the next 6 months building dazzling CG.”
“Finally, there is a book that not only documents the latest and greatest that the Blender Foundation has to offer, but it does so with figures and illustrations that actually add to the text instead of insulting it. Good colors, good contrast, good image detail: all these things encourage learning everything about Blender, rather than just the highlights and forgetting about the things lost in the shadows.”
I have to say that I’ve been incredibly happy with the quality that Focal Press, the publisher, has brought to the production. The paper used is superior and has a great feel, the typesetting is steady and nicely tweaked, and the illustrations are full color throughout, big and sharp.
I’ve used the material in this book to teach Blender, and it works fantastically. If you’re thinking about incorporating a one or two semester 3D course into your institution, this book works like a ready-made curriculum.
Oh, and the last thing you get is me. I’m always available through firstname.lastname@example.org. I love to hear success stories and to see what you’ve produced. I’m also sensitive and responsive to problems you have with the stuff I’ve built. I think that I’ve created a superior educational product with this book, and I care very much about how it works for you. If you have a problem with it, I want to know about it so I can either fix it, or do it better the next time. In any case, I’ll do my best to help you.