Photoshop 7 Bible -Professional Edition

by Deke McClellandAfter reading the previous version, I knew this one would be great, but it didn’t seem like there was that much new info. Instead it felt more like they just condensed it by taking out the stuff that most people presumably already know about. Thus, if you’re new to Photoshop, don’t reach for the “Professional Edition” because there will definitely be some gaps in your understanding. Make sure you have a solid foundation before reading this book. Nevertheless, it’s a great refresher course. Highly recommended.

[Digital] Lighting and Rendering

by Jeremy BirnThere were many times when I had to put the book down, and pick up my jaw while reading this book. It is phenomenal! This book is loaded with tips and tricks that you’ve spent weeks trying to figure out. The author explains things so well, you can’t help but understand it. He offers real, usable advice straight from his experience working in the industry (at Pixar, last I knew). Don’t hesitate on this one. (Note: there is an updated version of this book which was readily added to my wish list.)

[Digital] Texturing and Painting

by Owen DemersPretty good book. Moral of the story: observation is key to creating believable textures. Lots of practical advice, but it didn’t wow me. I guess the thing that makes it hard to write a book like this is that it is really an art, and therefore up to personal taste. I think this book is definitely worth the read, as it reveals a lot of common mistakes 3D artists make, but I don’t find myself referring back to it often. It’s probably worth reading a second time though.

[Digital] Cinematography and Directing

by Dan AblanGood stuff! …really good stuff. There’s a lot of highly useful guidelines in this book –clear definitions and great examples. It really focuses on a traditional art form in a digital world –something that most books don’t do. It really helps you get beyond the mouse clicks and menus of 3D programs, and encourages you to really think about the story you’re telling. Quite unexpectedly this book has influenced my photography more than any other book. It’s all about telling your story visually. I can’t think of anything negative to say about this book, but there’s something stopping me from giving it the 5th foot. I just can’t put my finger –er, toe– on it. =)

Maya 6 Killer Tips

by Eric Hanson and contributorsSo far, this is the first and only Maya book I’ve read worthy of 5 foots! I give it 5 because it is packed cover to cover with golden tips and tricks for speeding up your work. Imagine that you’ve read 10 books on Maya; now take everything you’ve highlighted and put it in a single book. That’s the beauty of Killer Tips.  It will speed up your work flow and give you a host of helpful ideas and techniques. (Note that this book is not intended for beginners, but rather intermediate to advanced users.)

Complete Maya Programming

by David GouldEh, good and bad here. First of all, it’s 500 pages and only four chapters long, so it’s not laid out very well. I heard someone say it was unevenly paced; I would have to agree.  The author really lingers on some parts and flies through others without rhyme or reason. The second half of the book assumes that you have a working knowledge of C++ even though the author clearly says that he assumes no knowledge on the part of the reader. This book is a common case where the author has an amazing resume, but not a natural ability to teach. The section about MEL was definitely beneficial –that made it worth the purchase, but I kind of wish I chose MEL Scripting for Maya Animators instead.

Adobe Premiere 6.5 Bible

by Adele Droblas and Seth GreenbergI had read four other books from the Bible series, so I expected this one to be on par with the others in the series. However, I was slightly disappointed with this one. Mind you, it’s still a good book, but perhaps it seemed a little bit incomplete. To be fair, I had been using this program for a few years before I read this book, so I already knew a thing or two. The book affirmed that I had a good handle on how the program works, but I was never wowed. If you’re interested in learning to use Premiere make sure to look for an updated version of this book. I hear that the newer version has been revamped with some 200 new pages, so I’m sure it’s up to par now.

Maya Secrets of the Pros

by John Kundert-Gibbs and contributorsPerhaps another reviewer said it best when he said this book lacks focus. It reads like a series of unrelated master classes. Each chapter offers excellent “how to” and problem solving techniques, but it focuses on the details without relating those details to the larger picture. It falls short of giving solid advice that can be applied universally because the 12 examples given in the book are very specific. Don’t get me wrong; there are definitely some golden tips sprinkled throughout and there is much to be learned by hearing how various professionals work, but it is not overtly stated. Most of what I learned from this book is what I inferred, rather than what I read.

Maya 4.5 Bible

by Joe Spadaro and Don KimWinning the prize for the single biggest book I’ve ever read, this book is an excellent reference. There were no doubt some issues in getting this book released, and unfortunately that becomes apparent in the text; but I gotta give it to ’em for tackling such an immensely deep program in a single book. If I had to learn Maya all over again, I would definitely get this book and Maya Savvy to help me work it out. I found that those two books seem to complement each other well. This one is more descriptive while Savvy is more hands-on.

The Art of Maya

I had just finished a book about 3D Studio Max when I picked up this book, eager to start learning Maya. Boy was I ever disappointed. No more than 20 pages into it I realized that this book was little more than a distant overview of 3D with Maya. There are some useful parts to it, but don’t expect to learn anything specific from this book. It’s like a cookbook without recipes; “Look at this; doesn’t it look great?! …but we’re not gonna tell you how to make it.” It is little more than a promo piece for the makers of Maya. Keep it on the coffee table, or better yet, the bookstore shelf.