I have been thinking about the current state of the Blender user base, pondering where the greatest potential for growth exists, and also where Blender can do the most good. My tentative conclusion is that Blender is ideal for a classroom setting at the secondary (high school) level. Given the low hardware demands and the fact that it runs on Linux, a Blender-based CG lab could be created at very low cost, thus it is attainable even in school districts where resources are scarce. Granted, even at low cost, many districts will not invest in something as apparently “impractical” as a CG lab, especially when one sees what is happening to many art and music programs nationwide (I know nothing of Europe or the rest of the world, sorry).
In order for Blender to be put to good use, however, there needs to be a new set of docs that addresses the current feature set and go into some detail on some of the advanced issues. I know of at least one Blender-based curricullum, The one created by James Chronister and it is very good for what it is. However, the information presented is not based upon the recent major revisions (it apparently stops around 2.3 and doesn’t discuss 2.34, let alone 2.35). The course also seems to assume a certain level of knowledge about CGI and 3D concepts.
What I would like to do is start from scratch, at least where the writing is concerned, and write a Blender curricullum / online textbook for high school students that will:
introduce the student to basic CGI principles
Familiarize the student with the Blender UI
Take the student through several smallish projects, from modeling to texturing to animating to rendering.
Utilize Blender’s advanced / improved features as much as possible.
My basic idea is to take existing tutorials and documents and incorporate their concepts into this new text. I plan to write new text, unless a given author consents to having their tutorial included in the text. Part of the point of this is to agregate the disparate tuts and written materials into a cohesive work. Note, I realize that the 2.3 manual is online, and it is very good. It is no longer current, however, and it does not go into some pretty important issues like displacement mapping, ramp shaders, etc (at least, not in detail). I am looking to supplement, not compete with or replace official BF/NAN docs.
Here’s the problem: I’m a lawyer with four kids. Free time is in small supply. I will write as much as I can, but I am interested in collaborating with other Blenderheads (particularly the more experienced users out there).
This isn’t some vanity project I’m contemplating, and I fully intend the end product to be available online free of charge, just like Blender.
Would anyone be interested in such an idea, or am I merely duplicating and possibly diverting attention/resources away from projects arleady in progress?