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Free Blender 2.0 Manual Posted

The contents of the famous Blender 2.0 manual, previously available only in printed form, has been released in both browsable HTML format as well as a downloadable tarball:

Blender 2.0 manual in HTML

This is great news for those who may just now be looking into Blender for the first time and find themselves needing something to get them going. I bought the printed book when it first came out and it's quite a nice guide to have around.

I bought this book a year ago and finally dusted it off after picking up the A:M 2003 upgrade at MacWorld. This book is one of the best guides I've found for Animation:Master to date; especially considering my own interests. It of course primarily focuses on "anime" style character modeling, using both cel shading techniques as well as more traditional 3D. The tutorials are just awesome; I don't know how else to describe them. Fans of anime may already be familiar with Mahou Yuugi 3D, a recent series animated by AIC using Hash's Animation:Master (the Hash booth at Macworld was even showing it on a portable DVD player). Much of the 3D design work was done by Maki Yoshida who contributed a character named "Hinako" as one of the tutorial models (shown here on the book's cover).

A CD-ROM containing a (now pretty dated) A:M 99 demo along with associated tutorial files is included. Though the book is in Japanese, it features many detailed diagrams and screenshots which will no doubt help anyone interested in improving figure modeling in Animation:Master.

Now that A:M 2003 is heading to OS X (the reason I picked up the upgrade; it's going to be a free download), the book will finally see some use!

Anyone interested in buying this book can order it from Amazon Japan for 3,200 yen. I purchased my copy at the San Francisco Kinokuniya Bookstore.

Copyright 1999/Ani:Mas User Group/Laputa Books ISBN4-947752-02-5

Digital Virtual Beauties

As a huge fan of 3D character artwork - particularly of beautiful women - I recently decided to order a huge 576 page monstrosity squarely targeted at my favorite genre: Digital Beauties: 2D & 3D Computer Generated Digital Models, Virtual Idols and Characters, published by and available via mail order from

I was quite surprised at the heft of the book having ordered it online sight unseen. As one might expect, there's quite a number of great images and artists inside, but I found that the quality isn't as consistent as it could have been. A lot of the featured work was obviously created using generic Poser models and looks rather bland. The Japanese artists are really the stand outs in this book with nearly all of my favorite 3D modelers represented, however there are notable contributions from around the world as well (such as Alceu M. Baptistao's work; worth the price alone IMHO - simply wonderful stuff). The artist's bios are also interesting, providing background on the artist, insight into the artwork as well as a summary of tools used. Websites, e-mail and other contact information is also provided for most of the artists.

Overall I'm quite happy with the book for the price; it will make a nice reference for 3D modeling and texturing as well as a source for desktop background images.

Virtual Beauties 2020: The Ultimate 3D Graphic Collection is by far the best book of this genre I've seen yet. It's a large 9-7/8" x 11-3/4" book with 200 pages featuring the work of many of the most popular 3D artists in Japan. Published by and available via mail order from

I'd actually picked this book up first and have to confess I was a bit spoiled by it ... I was really hoping that Taschen's Digital Beauties would be more of the same. It's obvious that the pieces featured in this book were carefully selected; there really isn't anything negative I can say about it. The included work spans Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within to many popular game, virtual idol and pinup characters.

One of the many standouts of this book over Digital Beauties is the inclusion of tutorials demonstrating the techniques used in creating many of the characters, making this more valuable as a reference work for 3D modeling.

I highly recommend this book if you're interested in sort of thing, and if you can only buy one "Beauties" book, this is the one to get.

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