A Solid, Free Online Course On 3D Modeling in Blender
We've written before about Blender, the powerful open source 3D modeling, graphics and animation application, currently out in a much improved new version. Blender is in fact so powerful that it's been used to create very professional looking full-length animated movies.
The web, and the Blender.org site both abound with Blender tutorials, and the free online book "Blender Basics" is a good place to start learning the application, but Free Software Magazine alerted me to what may be the best free way to master Blender of all: Tufts University's Blender 3D Design online class.
According to Terry Hancock at Free Software Magazine:
"I think [the Tufts course] may well be the easiest way to approach Blender if you have no prior 3D modeling experience. The class is broken up into tiny snippets of video, each containing tutorials on a specific task. This is useful pedagogically, because you can play a video, then, while the material is fresh in your mind, you can try it out immediately in a live Blender window on your system."
The Tufts free online Blender course is broken up into Learning Units, as seen here, and if you go through the whole course you get 68 hours of education--nothing to shake a stick at. Here's an example image from one of the many Flash video tutorials, showing how rendering works in Blender:
And here's a shot of one of the Flash videos teaching how to light scenes in Blender:
All of the Flash videos in the course are narrated, and you can start and stop them as you wish, trying the many examples. In addition to the free online book mentioned above, this looks like a great way to dig into an open source 3D modeling tool so powerful that it's used by professionals in the film community.