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Renderosity has an article about Building a Blender Bookshelf in which they talk about what books an artist would need to make the most of Blender. Jason van Gumster’s Blender for Dummies and Tony Mullen’s Mastering Blender are two of the books, while Animating with Blender, my own work, is the third.

The article makes good points about all three of the books, but I’m particularly proud of the section about Animating with Blender. First, they refer to the production values, down to typography and layout as “superb.” That may not seem like a big deal at first, but spend a number of days with your nose in a book and those little touches can make the difference between an effortless entry of informational into your mind and a fatigue inducing struggle.

Best quote:

What makes this really well-organized book so good is not only the organization of the information presented, but the down-to-earth writing style of Mr. Hess [Dude — Mr. Hess is my father! -ed.]. Reading the book and going through each section you feel like the author is right next to you helping with mistakes and pointing out ways to save time.

And what the reviewer [Mr. Ricky Grove] does not tell you is that, in fact, I am right next to you. I am sneaky. I already went through your kitchen cupboards looking for pop tarts. By the time you turned around, I was gone. Out and down to the street, with your breakfast pastries in my greedy little mitts, and all because you bought my book. How awesome is that?

I just wanted to remind folks that until Blender 2.6 (the real gold release in the middle of next year) hits the stands, the Blender 2.4x series is still the stable production version to use. If you’re ready to move past making still scenes and just doing new feature test renders and haven’t already picked up Animating with Blender, you should think about it. If you’re interested, click through the ad on the side of the page and read the Amazon reviews. It’s worth it.

Thanks for your time!

Emulate Numpad

I’ve been using my laptop a lot lately, and the lack of Emulate Numpad in 2.5 is killing me. While I try to figure out how to have the keymap change on-the-fly to follow the user preference, I just went into the appropriate op file in the editors directory and changed them directly. I don’t use the key commands for layer display all that often, so it’s not loss on the laptop. My own private compile with “emulate numpad” hard-baked. I’m going to spend a little time on it this weekend and try to get the user pref to work properly, but until then this will do.

Edit: If you’re interested in patching your own for working on a laptop, click here to get it. Remember, this isn’t a permanent solution.

Ubuntu Karmic Beta

When I’m writing, I mostly use my laptop. I use the desktop (faster, etc.) for any actual 3D work, and for editing so I can have Blender up in one monitor and the manuscript in another. Lately, the desktop box hasn’t been much use so I decided to install the beta of Ubuntu’s next release: Karmic Koala 9.10. The real release is at the end of October, so I figured it must be pretty close to finished. And really, I’m a developer myself so I’m both fault tolerant and probably able to get things working even if there are glitches.

Egad. Karmic broke my wifi. It’s an Atheros card (AR2413), and there is a long list of gripes on teh Internets about Atheros not playing nicely with Linux. There is a set of open drivers (ath5k) for the cards, but after finally getting Ubuntu to use them, I got really really horrible connection. Oh well. That’s why they say not install the beta on a production machine! The solution I came up with? Order a different card. Edimax makes cards that play very well with Linux, and for $20 I not only get a card I don’t have to fight with every time I do a system upgrade, I get one with an extensible antenna with a cable. Hopefully I’ll be able to position it more freely than a card with the antenna attached directly and nab some extra signal.

So from a Blender perspective, just remember that beta really means beta. Don’t use it for production unless you are either extremely fault tolerant or can fix problems yourself. When 2.5 rolls out (hopefully) at the end of the month, by all means grab it and pound on it. It’ll help the development process. But don’t think you’re going to be doing end-to-end production with it.

Blender 2.49 is still where it’s at, and really, I don’t think I’d roll 2.5 into my production pipeline until after Durian is over and the gold release (or 2.60 or whatever it will be called) happens next summer. That in mind, if you’re foggy on the higher order aspects of using Blender in a real production, it wouldn’t kill you to check out my book in the sidebar (turn your ad blocker off for a second!) It’s been called both “the best software book I’ve ever read” and “a replacement for Inspired Short 3D Film Production“, and not just by my mom!

I had griped on one of the mailing developer lists a couple of weeks ago that the recently added “Loop Cut” tool wasn’t in fact a loop cut at all. It was an edge loop selector. After you made the selection, you could of course use the Subdivide tool to make the cut. That was functional, but not nearly as elegant as the tool in Blender 2.49 (and previous). You would hit Ctrl-R, select your cut interactively, use the mousewheel to determine the number of cuts, possibly slide a single cut along the edge, then LMB click to actually finish the cut.

A couple of days after my gripe, Joe Eager added a more convenient Loop Cut tool that was activated with Ctrl-R. You could make a single cut.

I was working on the modeling basics chapter of the new book and really missed multi-cut. I figured it was already there for Subdivide, so how hard could it be? Turned out it wasn’t too hard. Multi-cut is now back in the Ctrl-R loop cut tool. If I have some more time, I’m going to see if I can do the edge slide too, although Joe indicated in his notes on this that it wasn’t possible with the current structure. As he’s about 100x the programmer I am (i.e. a real coder, not a hacky dilettante), I’m probably chasing the wrong cat, but I suppose it’s worth at least a look.

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