|A Creative COW Book Review
©Copyright 2005 Todd Groves and Creativecow.net. All Rights Reserved
In this article, CreativeCOW.net contributing editor Todd Groves reviews The Cinema 4D 9/9.1 Handbook (Graphics Series) by Adam Watkins and Anson Call and published by Charles River Media; Book & CD-Rom edition, 426 pages, Copyright 2005, ISBN: 1584504021 and writes, "...the moment I dove into it, I soon breathed a sigh of relief. Adam wastes no space between the front and back cover." and "Though Adam indicates that The Cinema 4D 9/9.1 Handbook is best for beginners most any user of Cinema 4D of any level of expertise will most likely find useful and helpful information inside the covers of this book"
To be honest up front, I am quite picky when it comes to books designed to teach the reader how to use computer applications - especially applications as deep and powerful as Cinema 4D. One of my pet peeves is the tendency of some authors to bury the steps of the tutorials inside paragraph after paragraph of theoretical rambling; throwing in the occasional screenshot to break the monotony. Thankfully, Adam Watkins avoids that dreadful habit.
When I first picked up the book, I was quite fearful that I had come across another one of those books. You know, the rambling kind. Not counting the table of contents and the index, the book clocks in at 412 pages. But the moment I dove into it, I soon breathed a sigh of relief. Adam wastes no space between the front and back cover. And yes, believe it or not, I read the book from cover to cover.
Like any good book on computer programs, Adam starts off with a clear and concise outlay of Cinema 4D's interface. As dry and boring as a chapter on a program's interface may sound, you would only do yourself a disservice by passing this up. You'll thank yourself later.
Chapters two through four cover most aspects of modeling in Cinema 4D. From building a simplified castle; to a desk lamp using Cinema's HyperNURBS tool; to a house and then a dolphin (which incorporates both polygonal and HyperNURBS modeling) you're exposed to most aspects of basic modeling situations.
Chapter five covers materials and textures focusing especially on effects and a feature that goes under-documented in many books: Layered Shaders. Believe me, you will feel indebted to Adam Watkins for covering Layered Shaders. While he covers most aspects of texture creation through the building of the layered shader in the tutorial, it becomes quite apparent at the end that you've just been exposed to one of Cinema 4D's greatest features. Yes, the Layered Shader is your friend.
Chapter six covers lighting in strong detail. While he informs you that the book is best for beginners you can't help but feel that you're more than a beginner by the time you've finished the book. Through setting up and designing the lighting for daytime, nighttime you get a pretty good idea how to work with Cinema 4D in most real world lighting situations. At first I was a little disappointed by the cursory coverage of Radiosity in this chapter, but my appetite was later satiated by the in depth coverage in Chapter 11 of many aspects of Radiosity.
Chapters seven through nine go into great detail on animation; from your atypical bouncing ball tutorial to full-on character rigging and animation. He covers how to animate your camera as well as clearly conveying the power of motion blending. Whether you're working mostly on character animation or complex object animation you can never get too much information on motion blending.
Adam spends all of chapter eight on covering the important aspects of animation as well as the specific features of Cinema 4D that will make your experience with animation all the more user friendly when it comes time to creating that first keyframe. Chapter nine, Character Setup: A Complete Walkthrough, gives you just that. Everything you've ever wanted to know about creating a character ready for animation but were afraid to ask. Suffice it to say, this is a very involved and detailed chapter. So you might want to grab a mocha latte with a couple extra shots of espresso before you start.
Chapter ten covers the new Clothilde feature. Probably one of the most user-friendly workflows for creating cloth simulation that I've seen in any 3D application. And Adam makes this quite clear in what is a deceptively short chapter on cloth. While he doesn't show you how to dress your character in shirts and pants, he shows you all you need to know to work with cloth and making it ready to incorporate with a pre-animated character. While there are many other applications for cloth simulation in 3D animation, Adam keeps it simple by focusing on utilizing it with character animation; which is a good idea in my book.
Chapter eleven, Cameras and Rendering, goes into great detail about working with camera and rendering settings. From working with anti-aliasing, shadows, depth of field, motion blur, radiosity, caustics, Flash output, etc. can be found here. The two tutorials in this chapter cover how to work with radiosity and HDRI providing you with an excellent workflow for both features.
Chapter twelve covers quite well how to get Cinema 4D to make you look like an excellent pen and ink artist through the Sketch and Toon module; all without ever picking up a pen or brush. In this case, you take a raygun model and render it so that it would look right at home on the cover of any Marvel comic book.
Finally, chapter thirteen shows you how to customize Cinema 4D's interface to work the way you do. It may not roll over, play dead, or fetch the morning paper, but you'll certainly be able to work faster given the ability to layout Cinema's buttons and attribute managers the way you like.
©Copyright 2005 Todd Groves | Creative Cow. All Rights Reserved