3ds max 4 Fundamentals : Good 3d book for users new to computer graphics & animation for whom 3ds max 4 is the tool of choice.3ds max 4 Fundamentals
by Ted Boardman
Paperback - 544 pages Bk & Cd-Rom edition (April 18, 2001)
New Riders Publishing
Dimensions (in inches): 1.21 x 9.10 x 7.34
The target audience for 3ds max 4 Fundamentals is users new to computer graphics & animation for whom 3ds max 4 is the tool of choice. Artists experienced with Max & wanting the scoop on the new features might be disappointed, but someone who doesn't know a storyboard from an x-axis will probably get quite a bit from this book.
Computer graphics is an involved topic, & animation is a specialty by itself. Trying to learn the fundamentals of either of these fields while learning to use a program like 3ds Max 4 is difficult at best, since each is worthy of its own devoted study. This book, however, opens with two chapters (making up part I) covering a crash course in graphics from an animation perspective, including storyboarding, composing a shot, the importance of color & lighting, & movement. Chapter 2 nails down the basics of how 3ds max 4 works from a conceptual standpoint, a sort of bird's eye view of the application. This covers Max terminology & the basic feature categories without getting into the specifics of exactly how to do things--that starts in the next part.
Part II, the bulk of the book, dives into the actual use of Max. Workflow, getting around the interface, modeling, texturing, lighting, the basics of animation, & rendering are discussed over the course of 300-plus pages. Many of the examples follow the making of a single scene throughout the book: The interior of a diner. This is a fairly involved scene, & learning how to create it from scratch all the way through final rendering provides a nice sense of continuity.
Part III, "New & Updated Max Features," focuses on what's new in version 4. Since this book is oriented toward new users, this section is more of an overview than a how-to on the new features.
Overall, the writing is clear & concise, & each chapter is well illustrated. One drawback is the complete lack of color illustrations, although the CD-ROM includes color versions of all the images used in the book, along with all the project files & some free & demo version third-party plug-ins.
The 3ds max 4 application is a major upgrade from version 3.1, & although much of the interface hasn't changed, there are enough new features & enhancements to give pause to experienced users & probably stop new users in their tracks. The new features or improved functionality make Max an even deeper & richer program than it was, but the learning curve has grown longer & steeper. This book offers a slightly different take on the tools & features than is provided in the manuals; it is a concise & approachable handbook for mastering this powerful animation system. --Mike Caputo
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