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Model, Rig, Animate with 3ds Max 7


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Author/Animator/Musician Michael Hurwicz examines "Model, Rig, Animate with 3ds max 7" by Michele Bousquet. This slim volume covers the entire process of creating a 3D character animaton, from modeling to rigging and animation. It is very step-by-step in its approach. Although the subject matter is intermediate, even dedicated beginners should be able to follow along. Highly recommended.

Michele Bousquet's Model, Rig, Animate with 3ds max 7 offers a gentle introduction to the mysteries of character animation for beginners and intermediate 3ds Max users. It covers everything you need to know to model, rig and animate a low-poly character. Bousquet sticks to the basics, not stretching for anything fancy or showy. But what she does cover she covers in a methodical step-by-step fashion, with all the cautions and tips you need to get the job done. If you want to skip any steps (and you probably will if you are much beyond the beginner stage), intermediate work files on the CD allow you to start at any point in the workflow.

Bousquet really holds your hand through the whole process. For instance, within the first ten pages of the book, she devotes a whole page to practicing selecting polygons, and another couple of pages to practicing extruding and beveling. I imagine a lot of readers will skim these pages. Still, they do emphasize the point that getting your basic skills down, while not necessarily glamorous, is important.

Even these elementary pages contain some good tips, such as the use of Arc Rotate Selected (as opposed to plain old Arc Rotate) to keep the mesh from disappearing offstage when you rotate the view. In general, the book has a lot of useful tips: Again, nothing amazing and unheard of, but essential things you might not know or might have forgotten.

There is a lot that is not in this book, which is only 250 pages long, even with large type, lots of margin and generous line-spacing. (It's very easy on the eyes, by the way -- no eyestrain with this one.) Sometimes Bousquet gives a nod to the missing topics, mentioning speech animation (lip synch), for instance, in a section of a few paragraphs. Other topics, such as Character Studio or biped, don't get so much as a mention. (However, watch for Bousquet's "3ds Max Animation with Biped," expected in early 2006.)

Although the book retails for $40, "like new" copies were on sale for as little as $18 plus shipping when I checked amazon.com. Even though the book is highly focused as opposed to encyclopedic, at those prices it's an excellent value.

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