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Blenderella or the modeling of great characters

Blenderella or the modeling of great characters

This is my personal short review of the Blender Institute training DVD  6:  Blenderella, Character Modeling in Blender 2.5.

Summary

What is it all about? Obviously character modeling. More specifically the DVD focuses on polygonal quad-based modeling using the latest Blender version. There are a lot of different ways one can go about character modeling, for example using a sculpting program like ZBrush or Scultpris and then at some point switching to a modeling application. This not the approach presented here, rather the other popular way is characterized, which is starting from reference images inside the modeler and then using polygonal modeling techniques like extruding and subdividing to form the mesh. While this approach is less intuitive it generates really nice geometry which is very suitable for animation later on. The DVD covers the complete workflow from adjusting and setting up the reference images to finishing up the model with intricate detail. Not covered are rigging, animation, texturing and rendering.

Target audience

As with all tutorials, this one is also directed at a rather specific audience. If you are completely new to Blender you will have a hard time following the steps and what is done. As clearly stated on the website, this training DVD is directed at users that are already proficient with modeling in Blender and are interested in the specific techniques and pitfalls of character creation using polygonal quad-based modeling. To recreate what is done, you’ll need some understanding of human anatomy as well, as this is an integral part of laying out the geometry of the mesh for correct deformation when animated. Personally, I would consider myself the perfect target audience, since I do have experience modeling with Blender and already have tried to create characters myself. Which is also why I was so interested in this and my hopes didn’t get disappointed!

Content and structure

The DVD is structured like a professional character artist might tackle the task of creating a 3D model of a character that can later be used for animation. It starts by showing how to prepare the reference images for usage in Blender, which includes alignment and post processing for the specifics of the modeling context. In the next step the scene setup in Blender is shown, which is mainly importing the reference images as background images into Blender and aligning them properly. The modeling itself starts with the eyes, the head and ears. In the beginning the various modeling techniques like extruding or subdividing with edge loops are eplained in more detail and later on are only mentioned when things get really tricky. After the head is done, body, arms and boots are added. Difficult parts like the hands are done in seperate chapters to give them the space and time they deserve. Later chapters conclude with hair, clothing and other detail work.

Review

For me this DVD was really exciting. I had a general idea of the techniques and the approach for character modeling but had never seen the whole workflow presented by an expert. So this was my opportunity of looking over the shoulder of an artist at work. A lot of things I already knew and had incoroporated into my own modeling, but there also a lot of things – especially little details – that were true revelations for me. Modeling the hair or the clothing were things I wouldn’t have known how to do efficiently. Having watched those tutorials I feel a lot more confident and have sort of a “golden path” that I can follow and deviate from where necessary. It’s always good to have a solid guideline when exploring complex tasks like character modeling. The DVD offers exactly that. You don’t get training exercises or lessons in character design, you just get to see how you could do the modeling.

The narration is very calm and Angela has a really nice voice. It’s a pleasure to listen to!

On the negative side there is not much to mention. A few times the timelapse part can give you motion sickness I guess if you’re sensitive :) The DVD I got contained an error when used on Windows that prevented the intended usage out of the browser. But a fix is posted on the website and I could even get a new DVD free of charge.

So, if you’re a proficient Blender user, but rather new to character modeling, you should definitely check this one out. On the plus side you also support Blender development by buying the DVD from the official store!

Finally, the teaser from youtube for those still undecided:

Posted in Blender Modeling, Tutorials Tagged , , , .

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