What would you like to see in a Blender training book?

Hi all,

I’ll be writing a book teaching Blender for 2.50/2.51 that will be focused on

  1. New users coming from other 3D software
  2. Schools using Blender as their software for teaching 3D
  3. Existing users of Blender looking to learn usage of some of the tools that have improved in the past 3 or so releases

I’ll be taking a novel approach to what tools are introduced when, and cover areas that I feel are lacking coverage in other Blender and 3D books.

I’d be interested in your thoughts on what you would like covered and if it fits into my planned framework I’ll try and address it (I already have some very specific plans on what will and will not be covered so no promises that your particular hoped for coverage will happen).

LetterRip

How much do you plan to cover about rendering? I would like to see a section that goes (somewhat) in-depth about rendering and covers information such as the differences between biased/unbiased, what a shader is, maybe a couple of pages about yafaray and luxrender.

How much do you plan to cover about rendering? I would like to see a section that goes (somewhat) in-depth about rendering and covers information such as the differences between biased/unbiased, what a shader is, maybe a couple of pages about yafaray and luxrender.

Probably not much. While lighting and rendering are important, my focus will be more on a game pipeline where those are not really relevant.

LetterRip

The game engine isn’t so easy to find tutorials in where you take the first step into python programming and making an entire game. There are some great tutorials already on the basics, but I would like to see a little bit more advanced ones.

Looking forward to see your book :slight_smile:

Okay. I can certainly see your points (you and Super Duper Cow) about the lack of in-depth tutorials concerning the Game Engine. Is this what you’ll be covering through the entire book?

I personally think it would be good to have some indepth tutorials on the workflow in blender for creating game assets, i.e. the best workflow/ fastest for creating low poly/ high poly models, baking normal maps, baking lighting etc etc.

There are alot of very powerfull tools in blender, but it’s sometimes hard figuring out how they fit together, for example it took me some time to figure out how to bake normal maps, it took even longer to figure out that you could bake an object onto another object, same for mutli UV’s.

Also i still can’t quite figure out how the mask and clone layers work, so perhaps, if you can, going over how to use the tools together, how they can be harnest to produce high qaulity content, then that, imo would be an exellent book on using blender for game developemt.

actually, it would be nice to do some more advanced/intermediate stuff, like writing a small script, and creating macro’s etc, etc…really expand on the already evident power.

Agree. And optimization! How to optimize textures, armatures (don’t really know but they seem to take some capacity, can you optimize them for games?), poly count, code, everything. And some tips and tricks that aren’t so obvious would also be nice.

I use blender to create game assets, and these are some things I really think would be useful to cover, as they are useful and not always obvious… Keeping in mind they are all focused on a game pipeline :slight_smile:

First things first, how to set up scene defaults, as blender is the only program I’ve ever used that saves preferences and layout in a default file. Setting up some game specific layouts on ctrl+left/right (modeling, uv, animation) would be helpful. Obviously since this is a 2.5 book you should cover some interface customization, like setting up your own buttons in the toolbars and a few examples of modifying the ui scripts.

Modeling stuff, assuming it’s pretty much the same in 2.5:
Quick loop and ring selection, and how to use subdivide and subdivide smooth, edge slide, alt+j, Skin Edge Loops (this one is important, since most people call it bridge and can’t find it), and ctrl click extrude to your advantage. Teaching them how to clone stuff off of the mesh with shift+D on faces and p is very helpful too, as well as joining them back together and remove doubles. Flattening things with S+axis+0. How to use shrink/fatten.

How to get away from manipulators using GRS XYZ and the shift key, and why they should!

Handling multiple UV and vertex color sets, and how to paint vertex colors.

In depth LCSM unwrap/UVs, including live unwrap transform, sync UV and mesh selection mode, angle based vs conformal for mechanical vs organic models, island selection mode, how to assign a UV texture and toggle it (shift+t), how to see and light a GLSL normal map/spec map set up in the viewport, how to set up and preview approximate AO and bake it into a UV texture (I need to do this every day), how to save out the UV layout.

Maybe you could cover getting clean normal maps out of blender as well, as currently I export to maya to do it :slight_smile: Not just how to do a normal map, but the tricks to get a good one, and how to swap channels to get it into an engine that uses them differently.

Using the 3D cursor to your advantage. For instance using Alt+D on a column, setting your cursor in the center of a level, and doing R+Z+30 multiple times to make columns perfectly surround something in 30 degree increments. And using Center Cursor to modify pivots, as well as cursor snapping.

Using Automerge editing + vertex snapping to do a Target weld, and remove loop, absolutely essential when you’re doing LODs.

The importance of the modifier stack needs to be nailed, especially Mirror, Subsurf, and EdgeSplit. It’s an odd concept for many people and sometimes they give up on it.

Sorry, I’m sure you already have most of those in mind, but those are what I really needed to know to get along well as a game modeler. I hope some are helpful!

I think Figbash nailed a lot of good topics. I think ideally this book should be focused much less on game art creation in general, and much more on how Blender fits into that pipeline, with the reason being that it is a book focused on game professionals, not Blender users specifically. A good example might be unwrapping. While a game artist will know well how to organize a UV layout, they may not know about LSCM unwrapping or the stretch detection tools or pinning in Blender. Focusing on those sorts of things will be much more helpful. Also, as mentioned, detailing the general workflow for current-gen assets using Blender’s tools with a focus on how they fit together would be helpful. A lot of UI information would be good as well, since 2.5 is a drastic change. I would urge you to ignore the BGE since very few professionals will actually use it, and instead detail a pipeline that is focused on getting content out into other engines.

Topics that are relevant may include (as mentioned, these are Blender specific, so when I say modeling, I don’t mean general modeling techniques, but rather how to most efficiently model with Blender’s tools):

Modeling
Rigging
Animation
Shape Keys
Sculpting
Retopoing
Unwrapping
Projection Painting
Baking
Texture Painting
Materials
Nodes (both materials and nodes, while perhaps not relevant to other engines will show an artist how to preview in Blender which is invaluable).

This is a lot of topics, but I think if they are focused on the software more than technique, they are doable.

All in all I really look forwards to having a more advanced Blender book, especially if it’s focused on game art.

Now you have your hands full…don’t you…lol

This tut here pretty much epitomizes what I was talking about:

http://vimeo.com/5667694#

Great tut by the by.

LetterRip, one thing that is very valuable to me, from a beginner’s perspective, is a comprehensive index. One needs to be able to find and re-find the section that first defines something new; the beginner encounters so many new things in a short span that review is necessary.

I suggest that a keyword system be adopted early and this will form the index at the end.

Hi,

my focus will actually be ‘pipeline’ focused. So getting assets into and out of Blender as would be typical of mid and large company production for games and 3D. For instance a company might want to use Blender for just the UV unwrapping, or just the skinning, or just for modeling, or just for creating morph targets, or just for animation etc. I’ll do some teaching of the tool usage, enough to create a model with good topology, multiple normal map (and/or displacement map), bump map, color map, diffuse, spec, and have the model rigged, skinned, and with simple character animation.

LetterRip

Love it, I’m excited for the book.

Figbash and Dim,

excellent feedback, yes I’d planned to cover much of that, but it is good to know that it is some of the same ground you would recommend.

LetterRip

Hi,

my focus will actually be ‘pipeline’ focused. So getting assets into and out of Blender as would be typical of mid and large company production for games and 3D. For instance a company might want to use Blender for just the UV unwrapping, or just the skinning, or just for modeling, or just for creating morph targets, or just for animation etc. I’ll do some teaching of the tool usage, enough to create a model with good topology, multiple normal map (and/or displacement map), bump map, color map, diffuse, spec, and have the model rigged, skinned, and with simple character animation.

LetterRip
This sounds like an excellent book, but I wonder how do you plan to tackle the lack of proper mirrored normal maps display in Blender. This could be potentially a turnoff for many people who’d wish to use Blender for normal mapping.

There are a couple of issues with Blender related to normal maps (mirrored normal maps; normal maps (and other baked maps) aren’t antialiased among other issues). First step I’ll take is to see how difficult they are to fix in the code. If fixing the code isn’t readily addressable, then I’ll look into work arounds.

For mirrored normal maps in particular - they aren’t supported in all game engines or content creation environments, however I will look into getting them supported with Blender.

LetterRip