Blender is a beast. At least to a guy like me that is usual in code and not in user interface tools. Sure I use Xcode, Eclipse, and Visual Studio but they just give me a place to code. I have used Photoshop, GIMP, and Expression Studio which make you depend on the tools available but Blender is in a class of its own.
I have downloaded it in the past around the time Big Buck Bunny was first released. I spent a few weeks playing with it, but got nowhere. This book convinced me to take another crack at it and I am really glad I did.
The book starts off with an introduction to Blender and a short introduction to GIMP. GIMP is another powerful open source tool the author uses for 2D image editing throughout the book. For a great book on GIMP check out The Book of GIMP: A Complete Guide to Nearly Everything.
I have listed all the chapters below to give you an idea of all the high level topics covered. Each chapter is packed with tons of information.
1. Introduction to Blender
2. Introduction to GIMP
4. Blocking In
5. Modeling the Details
8. UV Unwrapping
9. Hair and Particle Systems
10. Texture Baking
11. Texture Painting
14. Rendering and Compositing
15. Going Further
I had Blender open almost the entire time I read the book. It took a little longer to get through because I kept getting sidetracked trying different things, and wanted to be in front of a computer with Blender on it, but I think it was worth it.
Blender really is an amazing tool and I know the author said they have made great improvements to the user interface to make it more intuitive, but I would still be lost in it without a book like this.
Without this book I would have never figured out how to do sculpting correctly or work with particle systems and paint textures. This book goes into some really advanced modelling techniques, which makes this book great for both the beginner and the advanced user.
The book sticks to creating, texturing, and rendering models as still images. It does not cover the rigging and animation tools, simulation tools, or the game engine. That takes nothing away from the book and actually makes it better. Focusing on creating, texturing, and rendering models as still images the author is able to go in depth on a massive amount of topics.
The book comes with some awesome examples. Without them I probably would have not have learned as much as I did. It was pretty cool to see how powerful Blend is and how awesome the results of using it correctly can be. The author does some really cool stuff.
The author's writing style also made the very complex tools easier to understand. The book is written like he is there in the room with you helping you learn and showing you how to work through the steps of creating still images.
This book has literally opened up a whole new world of creative possibilities. I now have Blender open every chance I get.
I highly recommend this book to anyone wanting to learn about Blender, or anyone working with Blender at any level.