Free Online Book On Blender: Solid 3D Rendering/Animation Lessons

by Ostatic Staff - Mar. 20, 2009

One of the great things about open source platforms and applications is that skilled authors often put free books online as guides. We've written about excellent ones for Ubuntu, one for Linux hacks, and one for the GIMP graphics application.   Recently, I came across a great, free online book on the super powerful open source 3D graphics and animation application Blender. The book is called Blender Basics, Second Edition, and while it has the slight shortcoming of showing examples from Blender version 2.4 (Blender is now on version 2.48) it's still an excellent, very thorough way to learn the application. If you're unfamiliar with Blender, it's so flexible that impressive, full-length animated movies have been created with it. Here's more on what's in the book.

Blender Basics is a 120-page PDF, and it takes about a minute to download the whole book. The book consists of 21 chapters on everything from setting up worlds, to rendering characters, to raytracing and adding lighting effects. The 21 chapters are followed by many screenshot-driven practice sets where you can learn to build impressive characters, set up and light up worlds, and more.

In the screenshot below depicting one of the book's many practice sets, a Sculpture file in Blender is created first, representing a Blender character. Then the character is rendered in a camera view.

The practice set continues with instructions on lighting and shadow effects until the character is fully rendered, as seen below.

In addition to a complete glossary of Blender commands, the book makes heavy use of annotated toolbars, widgets and pallettes within Blender. Numbered annotations like the ones below have complete explanations for what each tool, widget, and field is intended for.

The book's 21 chapters are listed below. It's impressive, and it's free. Take a look, and if you find yourself getting deep into studying Blender, this post has an outstanding collection of 25 tutorial resources on Blender, many of which are beyond the scope of the book. And, if you decide that you have graduated to becoming a serious Blender artist, definitely join BlenderArtists and participate in the forums there, and follow BlenderNation for news.

  • Chapter 1- The Blender Interface
  • Chapter 2- Working with Viewports (windows)
  • Chapter 3- Creating and Editing Objects
  • Chapter 4- Lighting and Cameras
  • Chapter 5- Materials and Textures
  • Chapter 6- Setting Up a World
  • Chapter 7- Render Window Settings
  • Chapter 8- Raytracing (mirror, transparency, shadows)
  • Chapter 9- Animation Basics
  • Chapter 10- Adding 3D Text
  • Chapter 11- NURBS and Meta Shape Basics
  • Chapter 12- Modifiers
  • Chapter 13- Particle System and Interactions
  • Chapter 14- Child-Parent Relationships
  • Chapter 15- Working With Constraints
  • Chapter 16- Armatures (bones and skeletons)
  • Chapter 17- Relative Vertex Keys (shape keys)
  • Chapter 18- Soft Bodies
  • Chapter 19- Creating Springs, Screws and Gears
  • Chapter 20- Game Engine Basics (real-time animation)
  • Chapter 21- Video Sequence Editor