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More painting…

Okay, I promise I’m not going to post every single piece of artwork that I do here (although, why not?), but the Intuos + ArtRage is just so much fun. Impressionistish rock in moving water. Click for full res in flickr.

Impressionist water and rock

I bought ArtRage Studio Pro last year as an upgrade from my version 2.0 that I had, but have been too busy to install it until last night. The other bit of incentive to actually install it was that I finally upgraded from a generic pen tablet to a Wacom Intuos 4 (medium, refurbished). What a dream to use. Just fantastic. Nothing to do with Blender exactly, but this is harkyman.com, not blender.com.

Anyway, I got it all set up and did this last night and this morning (click for high res):

The book has been very well received, and I want to thank those of you who contacted me personally about it. Much appreciated. I see this morning that Amazon only has two left in stock (more on the way). Wow! Never thought I’d do something that would “sell out.”

On a down note, it seems that the Focal editorial team (who are generally superb) missed one edit I had given them. If you run across it (and you will), here’s the fix:

In Chapter 4, when we work through modeling a chair, I had indicated to them to remove the instructions on using the Bridge Faces tool and provided new instructions for doing it “by hand.” They added the “by hand” section, but didn’t remove the other. So, when you come to the bit about “bridge faces,” just skip the rest of that paragraph and move onto the next one. Sorry about that. Hope you didn’t give up on Blender in frustration when you hit that part.

And please remember, if you’re stuck, have a question, etc., you can email me at the address found in the book. I almost always respond the same day, and really do love hearing from people who are using the book.

Cheers!

Although a lot of people obviously know about it already, I’ve not announced it here officially, so here we go:

Blender Foundations: The Essential Guide to Learning Blender 2.5

is now shipping!Let’s clear up three bits of grief first. The book cover and text reads “Blender 2.6″. Unfortunately, when the cover art was finalized and locked at the printer’s several months ago, the official (and unofficial) word was that the released version of the Blender after all of these alphas and betas would be called Blender 2.6. That has changed. We had to make a call, and we made the wrong one. So don’t be scared of the “2.6″. It’s entirely cosmetic.

I’ve also heard a couple of grumbles from people that the book was written based on “pre-release” software. The simple fact is that Blender is pretty much always “pre-release.” We’re not like these giant, sluggish software companies that do a release once every two years, giving writers and other documenters a huge amount of time to make docs that last. With Blender, if you start to write a book about an official release on the day it’s released, your resulting book will be out of date and probably at least one release behind by the time it starts to ship. So choose your poison: the future or the past.

Finally, the title. There was some controversy (hopefully all internal) regarding the book’s title. The Blender Foundation posed an object to the publisher that the title would could confuse people into thinking that the book was both an officially sanctioned publication of the Foundation it isn’t), and/or that it was a sequel to The Essential Blender. The Foundation and Focal Press were able to come to an agreement that the parties satisfied (I believe). Personally, I think it’s pretty clear what items come directly from the Foundation or have official sanction: you buy them in the e-shop on blender.org. That’s pretty much it. If I’m wrong, and you were personally confused, please put me some knowledge in the comments. On the notion of it being a sequel to Essential… If The Essential Blender was important for you because the title and who published it, then this is definitely not a sequel. However, if you appreciated Essential for the quality of instruction and the thought that went into it, then in spirit this book is a sequel.

With that stuff out of the way, here is what you get with Blender Foundations: The Essential Guide to Learning Blender 2.5 (2.6). 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, 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 which is significant. 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. Instead, I’ve tried to teach you how to think when you’re working in 3D.

The support website for the book, located at www.blenderfoundations.com, is a work in progress. It currently has all of the screenshots from the book, all of the sample files and textures, and a number of sections of added content that were not in the book. For example, the book tutorials on building a table and chair don’t have a screen shot with every single step. That would be silly to put into a book. However, you get a screen shot for every step of the way for those projects on the website. Also, there are a pile of animation clips and examples from the animation chapter. There are a couple of pieces I’m still working on (a hair styling video is one example), and I’m putting them up as quickly as I can make them.

One last bit that I need to implement on the site is an erratta section. I’ve had a few reports from readers so far of minor errors, or things that I should probably note. Probably by next weekend I’ll have the errata section for each chapter working, so you can always check the web site for the latest updates in case the developers do something that breaks the book horribly. Of course, I don’t anticipate that happening. Most of the stuff in the book is fairly basic, already hammered-out functionality. The only real difference is in the tools panel for the sculpting and painting tools. I’m working to get updated screen shots into the website for those so you can see what they look like if the minor differences bother you in the book.

So, if you’re looking to learn the new Blender series (2.5) and you like to learn via books (which not everyone does), I highly recommend this one. You get the same superior quality of instruction as my last two works (The Essential Blender and Creating Short Animations with Blender — just pop over to Amazon and read the reviews), as well as the superior production values that Focal Press brings to their publications (full color throughout, top grade paper, very nice typesetting).

Oh, and the last thing you get is me. I’m always available through animation@harkyman.com. 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.

Blender Foundations Beginner Project from Roland Hess on Vimeo.

And that’s it. Get the book. It’s really good. You won’t be sorry (unless you’re perpetually and indiscriminantly sorry, in which case I can’t help you).

Cheers!

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