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Greg Serafin reviews: Cinema 4D The Artist's Project Sourcebook

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Greg Serafin reviews: Cinema 4D The Artist's Project Sourcebook
A Creative COW Book Review



Greg Serafin review Cinema 4D: The Artist's Project Sourcebook
Greg Serafin
Greg Serafin
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

©2004 Greg Serafin and CreativeCOW.net. All rights reserved.

Article Focus:
Greg Serafin reviews CINEMA 4D: The Artist's Project Sourcebook written by Anne Powers, and published by CMP Books, 368 pages, July 2004,
ISBN: 1-57820-242-6, and finds it to offer instruction and inspiration for users of Maxon's Cinema 4D, a powerful 3D modelling, animation and rendering software application. Often an high-end app may prove intimidating to the newbie and yet the advanced user may seek more complex uses and desire further instruction. Anne Powers provides to a broad audience an excellent and interesting textbook manual.



In One Sentence...


If, like yours truly, you are that kind of a person for whom reading manuals sits somewhere close to the end of your priorities list, then this book is for you.

The Book


At first glance the book looks very appealing - full of illustrations, box-outs, tips and other goodies. There's even a DVD in it!
Starting from the Introduction the book is written in a very friendly, easy to follow way. Unlike many other publications, Anne's book points to many facets of image production. It is not about how complex your model is, it is about the idea and its execution (hence the word “artist” in the title). There are many references to our perception of visual reality and its representation in the world of 3D.

The Goodies

The whole book is project based and follows a logical progression.

Cinema 4D by Anne PowersThe projects start with simple modelling exercises. The instructions are clear and to the point, often explaining the logic behind the processes and alternative methods. Most of the steps are illustrated with screen-shots and shaded box-outs give you additional info on technical or artistic issues.

The projects soon progress to animation, key framing, F-curves etc. The progression always feels smooth and logical.

The modelling takes you as far as modelling a human head and is followed by facial animation (at which stage you are not a beginner any more).

The animation section covers everything you'd need to know to start working independently. Starting with key framing it goes on all the way to character rigging, IK and MOCCA.

The Materials and Lights sections are good, but did leave me wanting more.

At the end of each chapter there is a “Springboard!”. Springboard is a nifty little thing giving you a nudge in the right direction and encouraging to experiment and learn more. There are also clear directions to finding more information on the included DVD.

A whole section of the book is dedicated to third party C4D plug-ins. It is a very comprehensive look at the most creative and useful plug-ins available, complete with work examples and distributors details - bravo!

Yet another big bonus is the part dedicated to working with third party software. The info on using Illustrator and Photoshop is a great addition to the book.

Finally Anne encourages you to turn your computer off and spend some time just looking around and sketching - I could not agree more.

The DVD


The DVD included with the book is filled with useful information (and there is 1.5GB of it!).

It is very well organized with folders for each chapter, with the working files, other examples and other mind-expanding goodies.

All illustrations included in the book are also included for your reference.

There are galleries of “masters” and guest artists as well as additional information on creating artwork and textures in third party applications (Illustrator, Photoshop etc.).

My only gripe with the DVD was that most of the files were saved with save path in them (pointing to Anne's Desktop) and after hitting render, you have to stop, change the path and go again. A small issue, but it can get a bit annoying. Also some of the example files seem to have their textures buried far away from the project and you need to search for them on the DVD.



In Conclusion

CINEMA 4D: The Artist's Project Sourcebook is aimed at the beginners and intermediate users, however considering the fact that most of the users don't learn the software in its entirety, everyone is bound to find new, interesting stuff in it.

I love the fact that Anne spends equal amount of time talking about the technical issues and the visual, artistic approach to 3D.

I am happy to give the book a solid 4 1/2 cows, the remaining half being chewed up by the DVD gripes, and the fact that v9 is out with “100 new modelling tools”.








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