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Book Review: Figures, Characters, Avatars

May 20, 2010

Figures, Characters, And Avatars
The Official Guide to Using Daz Studio to Create Beautiful Art
Les Pardew

While the technical content here is of high value for the beginning 3D artist, I was wholly uninspired by this book. The sample images were mundane, dark, and dreary. Even though the author devotes an entire chapter to lighting and how essential it is to a scene, he has not followed his own rules here in the overall presentation. Many of the images looked as if they were out of a 1995 video game, and I simply expected more. So the title of the book is indeed, to me at least, misleading. Many of the sample images are nowhere near “Beautiful Art”. My opinion is that much more care should have been taken here. While the chapter on basic lighting has enough technical meat to satisfy the eager beginner, it’s sorely lacking when viewed by a more experienced 3D artist. Even more disappointing was that the highly touted “Uber Lighting” is not even mentioned. Enjoyed mostly  by  Daz Power Artists, I thought the topic would have at least rated having a short paragraph.

There are good passages throughout the book that discuss the dynamics of posing, the action lines of a figure, and even how human figures are hand drawn. While I found all of the material in this area well done and of high interest, my friend Dan, the total 3D N00B, was totally bored to death. He just wanted to get on with things and start making fire breathing dragons and stuff.

The section on PowerPose is well done. I have to admit that it’s a tool I’ve used only on occasion, but as I played around with it some more in following the book’s guided tour, I’ll be using that feature more. While not perfect, it will help speed up things like hand posing and head/neck movements. Nice and fluid, and less clunky than using the sliders.

There’s a small section in here for Bryce users. While I find Bryce one of the easiest things to use for a rank beginner, it’s only a small taste and does not begin to touch on the power of the program.

The book served mainly as a roadmap for me in getting the most out of Daz Studio. In some cases I did find out more than I already knew about tools or features. For those areas where I was not totally fluent, as in the case of a rarely used tool, I made sure I took the time to try things out. But the book lack lacks intricacy. I’m good with all of the basics, I want expert info on the fine points of the program.

While I understand that the book is intended for Daz Studio users, I would have been much happier if the author had done a more comprehensive guide on figure creation in general, including tools such as Poser, ZBrush, and even Quidam. While I love Daz Studio for it’s simplicity, the book really doesn’t help me much in advancing my current skill and all around knowledge levels.

Additional Notes:

Currently the book offers free versions of Hexagon and an older Carrara version in its bundle. While to me the book did not live up to its billing of a guide to creating “Beautiful Art”. But for the price you can’t beat getting two competent software packages for just about free.

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