Book: Blender 2.5 Lighting And Rendering

Blender 2.5 "Blender 2.5 Lighting And Rendering" is a new book published by Packt Publishing and written by Aaron W. Powel, freelance artist and tutor, webmaster of CGShark.com.
As you can read in the title, it is updated to the brand new Blender 2.5, although you can use it on the current stable version, but you can be sure that when 2.5 reaches the stable state, all that you've learned is up to date. With it, you learn the present and tomorrow of lighting and rendering inside Blender.

Lighting and rendering is everything when we're making synthetic images of 3D models. These two words comprise everything that someone who sees our images calls realism, quality, or atmosphere. Some 3D models simply fail to show how good they are because their modelers did not had the knowledge to make them display all their complexity and quality in a good render, lightened the proper way.
The author wants to tell us how to achieve these attributes, and as an expert, he really does that.
The book goes through 9 lessons, that are like circles on a spiral staircase: you go through them smoothly, deeper and deeper into the topic.
The first chapter begins with an introduction to color theory. Why? Because the color of light sources greatly influences what we see as the colors of objects. Even more, colors is reflected by object, and tints the other colors by the light that is reflected. This makes necessary to understand how colors interact.
The book introduces us to the color wheel, and concepts that may be familiar to photographers, like the color temperature, chromatic adaptation, and so on.
Powel also tells us about the basics of lightning in Blender, the types of lights that we can use, when and why. And there is even an interesting explanation on what is the minimum number of lights to get a well lightened image, what do these light do, and how to place them. This is called a light rig, and we'll be doing light rigs all along the book, and learning by practical examples how to place and adjust lights to get perfectly lightened scenes. Again, like a photographer in his study.
On chapter 2, "Outdoor lighting: setting up our scene", the author explains not only how to do this. He also explains, like in other practical Blender books by this publisher, practical workflows for professional works. Not only learning how to do things, but also how to do them in less time, with less effort and more results.
He also turns us into a sort of detective of lights. Makes us ask ourselves many things about how is an scene made, how should it be lightened. This way, we learn with this book how to analyze a situation, and get realism.

"Ambient lighting techniques in Blender" is a chapter about lighting with advanced techniques to get accurate shadowing. Blender 2.5 adds 3 ambient lighting features: ambient occlusion, environment lighting, and indirect lighting. It can use 2 methods for rendering this kind of lighting: raytraced and approximated.
Everything of this can be strange for you, but by the practical examples of the book you will learn them the best way: seeing how they look.
The next two chapters are a revision of everything that was explained before but at a deeper level, telling yo things like how to do transparent or reflective materials for example, or the use of layers to apply different lighting to some objects to make them stand out of the rest of the scene.

"Blender 2.5 Lighting And Rendering" also introduces you to UV mapping inside Blender, explaining all the process and also texture making using GIMP, the powerful free graphics editor.
The process continues on the following chapter, through the integration of the texture map into the objects and tweaking all the materials and render to get a stunning final result. We will also learn to organize our folders in a big project, to better find and reuse our assets.
And the most interesting, the use of Blender's Node Compositor to make textures inside Blender combining materials already created for our object.
Something that really caught my eye while reading this chapter was the final touch of adding depth of field to the render, like in photography, getting a render with blurred background, focused on the main subject, really beautifying the scene to get art beyond realism.
At this point of reading the book, you already have acquired a deep knowledge of lighting and rendering. It is the time to combine all that you learnt. In chapter 8, "Combining Indoor and Outdoor Lighting Techniques", you seek the correct mix between artificial and real lighting. This situation is the real world situation most of the time, like when we have a light bulb inside a room but the sunrays also coming from a near window. So mastering this means mastering the maximum realism for your scenes.
The last chapter goes even deeper, and uses a real world photo as a model and teaches us how to mimic it inside Blender, so we achieve photorealism, as a culmination of everything that was told in this book.
Summarizing all this, "Blender 2.5 Lighting And Rendering" is a book that you may want to have because of its approach to the lighting and rendering topic.
All the lessons are illustrated with lots of screenshots, and the minimal text if it can be explained by an image, and long paragraphs only in those parts that need you to understand why something is done and when.
It's a very practical and analytic book, that gives a general view of all elements since the beginning, and then, in each chapter, introduces you to a new knowledge in each aspect. So you start being a novice but knowing all the basics in every aspect, and then you are on the way of becoming an expert when you finish, because you learn more and more on the topic, connecting the new lessons with what was explained before.
Think no more, get it and become a master of lighting and rendering in Blender:

-Jordi R. Cardona-


© 2008 by Jordi R. Cardona. Link to this post without copying the text.

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4 comments

mikeadwin said...

You have a great blog buddy. Keep writing this informative content.

Regards.


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Jordi R Cardona said...

Thank you!

Alissa Bonds said...

Thanks for the review. You got me thinking about the light rigs. I'm getting a copy of the book asap.


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aerospace hardware said...

I think I need a copy of this asap. Thanks for informing.

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