Introducing Maya 5: 3D for Beginners

We all know that learning a 3D application on your own can be as tough as Sam and Frodo’s journey to Mount Doom: You play with the program for a few months, but then you hit a brick wall and can’t get passed the initial few steps. To get to the next level, you need to have a strong and solid foundation. And unfortunately you can’t get that by a few random online tutorials here and there. The book Introducing Maya 5 by Dariush Derakshani is the kind of tool you need to push you to the next level. ‘Your exploration should be about learning what you can do and not what the software can do,’ writes Derakhshani. The author has a strong architectural background and is also an award-winning animator. In this book, he teaches everything from the Maya 5 interface, to button functions and even art essentials.

The tome is devoted to different aspects of Maya from rendering and texturing to NURBS polygons and subdivisions. It also offers a great section on the walk cycle. The featured images by new Maya artists are very inspiring and provide good examples of over-lit and under-lit scenes. Overall, the book covers everything a beginning Maya artist should know and includes some suggested readings, good sites and a CD with Maya Personal Learning Edition Version 5.

The Good News: This book is definitely more than just a ‘step-by-step’ tutorial. It actually explains why and how we get there. That means you get an explanation of 3-point lighting as well as how different kinds of light work.

The Wish List: Some intermediate ‘how to’ and bonus files on the CD would have been nice.

The Bottom line: If you’re just beginning to dive into the world of 3D, this is the book for you. I also recommend this book if you’re making a transition from another 3D software to Maya.

Web Address: www.sybex.com and www.alias.com

Animation Magazine’s Seal of Excellence

Final Score: *****

Quality of the writing: *****

Ease of use of the Tutorials: *****

Depth of Coverage: *****