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Do your Vue scenes to have that professional look?

Book Review: Vue 7: Beyond The Basics By Richard Schrand

Vue is the software program that is used for creating scenic backgrounds, artistic renderings, and animations. It is used by 3D artists and animators, by architects and movie studios, and by just about anyone who wants to create realistic 3D scenery.

Vue 7: Beyond The Basics was written to take your skills to the next level of expertise. It has been updated to fully support both version 7 and 7.5 of Vue and primarily concentrates on the professional editions of Vue (Infinite and xStream). It is presented as a series of tutorials. To use this book it is expected that you are familiar with the basics of Vue and as such does not go into the fundamental basics. This book is 342 pages in length, 15 chapters, and separated in to four parts. I will break it out based on the parts.

Part I, "This Land is Your Land," demonstrates that in Vue, everything begins with a scene. This includes atmosphere, terrain as well as some sort of infinite plane that can be water, clouds, or ground. This seems self evident when you look at it from the basic controls, but to move to the next level, you need to master the details of the controls. It is these buttons and sliders that add depth and breadth to your scenes.

In this part you will look at building the terraform and how to stay grounded by building the base forms. Next you will expand into the third dimension by working with height maps and developing them into grand vistas. Finally, you will go to great depths to consider the surface aquatic where you will learn about representing water.

Part II, "Architecture and City Planning," is really useful if you want to mock up layouts for architects and city designers when you want to place a building in a photograph to see how it will really look complete with plants, trees, and environment. It is also useful when you need a building within your scene.

Keep in mind that the SolidGrowth technology lets you grow your own plants, bushes, and trees and will take your talents to the next level. Next you will examine some techniques that provide new challenges. You already know that the outside has one set of challenges, but spend some time working the great indoors and you will see a different set of challenges that can be used effectively for rendering indoor scenes.

Part III, "Illustration and Design," can also be done with Vue. These can range from the photorealistic "toons" to more traditional cartoon-like effects. Then you will focus on working with other products like Adobe Flash and Adobe Photoshop for creating multi-layered banner ads and using Poser to import figures.

The final section in this part concentrates not on a tutorial or two, but rather a smattering of techniques to enhance your scenes like looking at ways to fix idiosyncrasies while working with scenes as well as exploring new ideas. There is no one specific theme, but some of the topics include working with particle systems, SubSurface Scattering, and MetaBlobs.

Part IV, "Advanced Resources," examines how Vue xStream works with other 3D products such as Cinema 4D, Lightwave 3D, Softimage XSI, Autodesk Maya, and Autodesk 3ds Max. Vue lets you work directly in your modeling application while working with Vue.

While you have been working with and learning the Functional Editor throughout the book, in this final chapter you will really get your hands dirty. Throughout the book, the author has been taking you through in little bits and pieces. Now that you are familiar with it, it is time to see how this key item in Vue really works.

Vue 7: Beyond The Basics is really well done. Unlike the prior version called Vue 6: Revealed, this book is in full color and the images are crisp and clear. Another new feature is the inclusion of a DVD that contains all of the completed projects, DAZ 3D models, and software, as well as additional materials to help you make the most of Vue.

I like the format of the book as well. It is presented in a project-based format where one technique builds off the others. It works best if you follow from beginning to end, but that is not to say you cannot skip around a bit. The projects that are used are not just trivial one-offs, but rather present useful presentations that will help build skills.

If you are a user who knows the basics of how to use Vue and knows how to create scenes, but they don't seem to have that professional touch that you would like them to have; or if you can create good looking renders, but you want to see how a professional workflow would handle things; then look no further than Vue 7: Beyond The Basics. I highly recommend this book

About T. Michael Testi

Photographer, writer, software engineer, educator, and maker of fine images.

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