On Colin Litster’s New book: Blender 2.5 Materials and Textures Cookbook

Blender 2.5 Materials and Textures Cookbook
by: Colin Litster
312 pages
Publisher: Packt Publishing

Even though I have used Blender for over ten years, my understanding of Blender’s material and texture options is hit and miss to say the least. What understanding of materials/textures I have gained over the years has been obtained with the tried and true “poke it with a stick” method of minor tweaks to settings to see what they do. And while this often produces an acceptable material, it doesn’t give a deep understanding of how it was accomplished so that it can be repeated easily. And it is the main reason why I generally stick to fairly simple materials that don’t require a lot of adjusting. Add in the fact that over the last several years, material and texture options have been improved and expanded on with new tools and the creation of nodes and you can understand why I stick to simple materials.

But as these things go, I find myself wanting to create better materials, okay perhaps I should say more complicated materials and not really knowing where to start. Which brings me to the reason for this post. I have been aware for some time that Colin Litster has been working on a Material Cookbook that I had high hopes would enlighten me on some of the finer points of Blender’s Material system.

I am beyond tickled that he has finished it and it is now available. I was even more tickled when I was contacted to review it.

So technical stuff out of the way first. The layout of the book is clean and easy to read. The screenshots are very legible making it easy to see the settings (always a potential problem in software books). All images and screenshots are in black and white. Not an ideal choice for a book on materials, but in the first couple of pages of the book there is a link to a downloadable package of support files. So you can see the actual blend files Colin used to make the materials.

I have read far too many software books over the years that were dry and generally tedious to read. So it was a great pleasure to discover that Colin has a smooth, polished style of writing that has an easy flow to it. Something that I believe makes it much easier to retain information and makes it far more enjoyable experience as well.

Now fun stuff. Each chapter is set up in what I consider a fantastic learning format. Each material “recipe’ is a series of clearly stated steps to create the material. Then it is followed by an easy to understand explanation of why and how the material works. (This is the part I really needed 😛 )

In my opinion, this is nothing short of brilliant. You see the steps, then you get the whys and hows. Later when you have gone brain dead and just need to see which step you have forgotten, you can easily find the “recipe” without having to wade through massive amounts of explanation text.

Colin covered a rather nice selection of material types as you can see from the Table of Contents:

Chapter 1: Creating Natural Materials in Blender
Chapter 2: Creating Man-made Materials
Chapter 3: Creating Animated Materials
Chapter 4: Managing Blender Materials
Chapter 5: Creating More Difficult Man-made Materials
Chapter 6: Creating More Difficult Natural Materials
Chapter 7: UV Mapping and Sub Surface Scattering
Chapter 8: Painting and Modifying Image Textures in Blender
Chapter 9: Special Effects Materials

While chapters 1, 2, 5 and 6 cover the types of materials you would expect in a book about materials, Colin went the extra mile in writing chapters 3 & 4, where he shows you how to animate materials in chapter 3 and how to effectively manage materials in chapter 4. And Chapters 7-9 can only be considered a wonderful bonus as he shows you how to get some very nice advanced materials and special effects.

Overall I have loved this book and think that Colin has done a wonderful job explaining an often confusing subject that has produced an excellent guide to Blender materials. It is clear enough for a beginner to understand and covers more than enough to be of use to experienced users. In my opinion this book will prove to be invaluable guide to Blender’s material and texture options for quite some time.

One response to “On Colin Litster’s New book: Blender 2.5 Materials and Textures Cookbook

  • Fax

    That’s a very helpful review, I already had this cookbook in my wishlist and now it’s gone up in priority. I’m also tired of “poking with a stick”, time to actually learn materials! Thanks 🙂

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