Review: Blender 2.5 Lighting and Rendering, by Aaron W. Powell

Review: Blender 2.5 Lighting and Rendering, by Aaron W. Powell


Sometimes the best book on a subject is the shortest. This is a very concise book, focused very much on a single narrow, but important, subject with Blender: which is how to light your subject, create colors and textures, and generate the final 2D render from the 3D scene.

Blender 2.5 Lighting and RenderingBlender 2.5 Lighting and Rendering

There's also a confusing array of available light models, and the in-program does not really clarify the situation. So there's a real need for a book on this subject

Up until now, my main interest with Blender has been in learning how to model objects in three dimensions. But in order to create final rendered scenes with Blender, you have to master lighting and rendering. And I can say from experience that it's just not as simple as you might think it would be. The mathematical "lights" that Blender uses are approximations, and they don't behave exactly like real lights which can cause a lot of confusion for new users.

There's also a confusing array of available light models, and the in-program does not really clarify the situation. So there's a real need for a book on this subject.

The contents

The book starts out with a little theory: color theory, Blender's lamps, and standard studio lighting practice as well as the 3D equivalents. It then launches into three major tutorials: one for outdoor lighting, one for indoor lighting, and finally, one for mixed indoor/outdoor lighting.

The book covers not only the lighting itself, but also the rather complex business of creating materials and textures for objects.

Who’s this book for?

If you are new to Blender, this book will give you the introduction you need to texturing, lighting, and rendering your models. Even if you've been successfully using Blender for a while, this book may help to de-mystify the way lighting works in Blender.

Relevance to free software

Of course, Blender is the premiere free software 3D modelling, rendering, and animating applications, so this book is focused on free software. Specifically it covers details of the lighting model in Blender 2.5 (although much of the material also applies to 2.4).

It is not a free culture work itself. I have to admit I found the section in the preface warning me about the "dangers" of "piracy" a little off-putting in a book about a free software application, and for this, I dock it a point. But that's a nitpick, in my opinion.

Of course, Blender is the premiere free software 3D modelling, rendering, and animating applications, so this book is focused on free software

Pros

Very direct introduction to the way lighting works in Blender, filled with practical examples, and walk-throughs. No fat.

Many of the explanations of the detailed behavior of lamps, reflecting materials, and other concepts are extremely useful.

A lot of mystifying and cryptically-named features are explained by this book.

Cons

Although the book is very good overall, I do have a couple of nitpicks:

Some of the explanations are a little thin -- almost as if the writer doesn't really understand how it works, and resorts to hand-waving about Blender "faking" the lighting (which is a vague thing to say: obviously in one sense everything Blender does is "fake", but many of its lighting algorithms are based either on real physics, or on approximations). I'm assuming he generally means there's something very unrealistic about the mathematics being used, but without a better description, I still feel kind of lost with these features.

About the publishing: despite the fact that this book is all about final visual appearance and color, the book interior is printed entirely in black and white! The illustrations in the color theory section are particularly absurd because of this.

There is a URL provided for a PDF document, but for $39.99 (a high price for a very thin book), I think it would have expect the book to just be printed in color.

In short...
Title Blender 2.5 Lighting and Rendering
Author Aaron W. Powell
Publisher Packt
ISBN 978-1-847199-88-1
Year 2010
Pages 234
CD included No
FS Oriented 9/10
Over all score 8/10
Category: 

Author information

Terry Hancock's picture

Biography

Terry Hancock is co-owner and technical officer of Anansi Spaceworks. Currently he is working on a free-culture animated series project about space development, called Lunatics as well helping out with the Morevna Project.