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Introducing Character Animation with Blender

Tony Mullen, Ton Roosendaal (Foreword by), Bassam Kurdali (Foreword by)
ISBN: 978-0-470-10260-2
496 pages
February 2007
Introducing Character Animation with Blender (0470102608) cover image


Let this in-depth professional book be your guide to Blender, the powerful open-source 3D modeling and animation software that will bring your ideas to life. Using clear step-by-step instruction and pages of real-world examples, expert animator Tony Mullen walks you through the complexities of modeling and animating, with a special focus on characters. From Blender basics to creating facial expressions and emotion to rendering, you’ll jump right into the process and learn valuable techniques that will transform your movies.

Note: CD-ROM/DVD and other supplementary materials are not included as part of eBook file.

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Table of Contents




Chapter 1: Blender Basics: Interface and Objects.

Work Areas and Window Types.

Navigating the 3D Space.

Objects and Datablocks.

User Preferences.

Chapter 2:  Working with Meshes.

Polygons and Subsurfacing.

Extrusion Modeling and Box Modeling.

Chapter 3: Completing the Model with Materials, Textures, and Particles.

Material Datablock.

Material Properties.

Textures and UV Mapping.

Using Static Particles.

Chapter 4:  Armatures and Rigging.

Blender Armature System.

Building a Simple Armature.

Rigging Captain Blender.

Chapter 5:  Shape Keys and Facial Rigging.

Shape Key Basics.

Building a Shape Key Set for Captain Blender.

Facial Bones and Controls.

Improved Mesh Deformations Using Driven Shape Keys.


Chapter 6:  Basics of Animation.

Keyframes and Ipos.

Using the Ipo Editor: Bouncing a Ball.

Interpolation and Extend Types.

Chapter 7:  Armature Animation.

Posing and Keyframing with the Action Editor.

Walk and Run Cycles.

Pose-to-Pose Animation.

Chapter 8:  Facial Animation and Lip Sync.

Facial Posing.

Lip Sync.


Chapter 9:  Nonlinear Animation.

Using the NLA Editor.

NLA in Action.

Mixing Actions: Walking and Talking.

Chapter 10:  Further Issues in Character Animation.

Interacting with Props.

Deformation with Lattices.

Softbodies and Metaballs.

Chapter 11: Lighting, Rendering, and Editing Your Animation.

Lighting Basics.

Rendering Your Animation.

Editing in the Sequence Editor.

Chapter 12:  Using Python Scripts.

Installing and Executing Python Scripts.

Standard Scripts.

Extended Functionality with Scripts.


Chapter 13: Full-Scale Productions: Elephants Dream and Plumiferos.

GPL, Creative Commons, and the Blender Artistic License.

Elephants Dream, the World’s First "Open Movie."

A Preview of Plumiferos.

Chapter 14:  A Look Into Elephants Dream.

Proog and Emo Rigs.

Texturing Proog.

Ways of Walking: Following a Path vs. a Manually Keyed Walk.

Tips on Studying the Elephants Dream Files.

Chapter 15:  Feifi the Canary: Plumiferos Takes Wing.

Introducing Feifi.

Rigging a Cartoon Bird.

Chapter 16:  Blender in the Pipeline.

Production Pipeline.

Using Libraries.

Collaboration with Subversion and Verse.

…and Back Into Blender.


Chapter 17:  Other Software and Formats.

Importing and Exporting Other File Formats.

Useful Open-Source Software for Blender Artists.

Blending into the (Near) Future.

Chapter 18:  Resources for Further Learning.

Selected Online Resources.

Recommended Books.

On Becoming a Blender Master.


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Author Information

Tony Mullen, Ph.D., teaches at Tsuda College, Tokyo, where his courses include modeling and animation with Blender as well as the Python programming language. Mullen has been a cartoonist and an illustrator. His screen credits include writer, co-director, or lead animator on several short films, including the award-winning Gustav Braüstache shorts.
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New to This Edition

  • Endorsed by the Blender Foundation, Introducing Character Animation with Blender, is written in a friendly but professional tone, with clear descriptions and numerous illustrative screenshots.
  • Tutorials focus on how to accomplish actual animation goals, while illustrating the necessary technical methods along the way.
  • Students will gain all the skills necessary to build and animate a well-modeled, fully-rigged character of their own.
  • Includes clear descriptions of how each specific aspect of Blender works and fits together with the rest of the package. .
  • The character built over the course of the tutorials is included as a .blend file on the DVD, for the reader to experiment with and learn from.
  • A color insert section includes sample characters and frames from animations by many of the Blender community's most talented artists, which help to illustrate the impressive potential of the software.
  • Companion DVD includes the complete Blender installation executable for Windows, Mac, and Linux; the short film "Elephants Dream"; all the Blender and source files used to produce the examples and tutorials in the book; extensive links for tutorials and Blender related resources; and other valuable open source software discussed in the book, including the popular BlenderPeople plug-in.
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Download TitleSizeDownload
figure.blend File Missing from DVD
34.75 KB Click to Download
download missing female_head.blend file

Download the female_head.blend file.

121.76 KB Click to Download
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Do you think you've discovered an error in this book? Please check the list of errata below to see if we've already addressed the error. If not, please submit the error via our Errata Form. We will attempt to verify your error; if you're right, we will post a correction below.

ChapterPageDetailsDatePrint Run
figure.blend File Missing from DVD
figure.blend file available in the Downloads section
female_head.blend file missing from the DVD

Visit the downloads section to download the missing file.

62 Text Corrections
P. 62: "In this example, you created the belt as a separate object, so you must now join the meshes by selecting both mesh objects in Object mode and pressing Ctrl+J." should be "In this example, you created the belt as a separate object, so it will be necessary join the meshes by selecting both mesh objects in Object mode and pressing Ctrl+J. However, at the moment there is a mirror modifier on the body, but not on the belt, which will lead to doubled vertices on the belt if you join them now. It's best to wait until after you apply the modifier at the end of the modeling process and then join the two meshes together."
158 Text Corrections
Pg. 158: "Create an IK constraint on the forearm bones targeted to these IK bones" should continue with " and set the ChainLength to 2."
159 Text Corrections
Pg. 159: "set up copy rotation constraints on IK_Hand.L and IK_Hand.R, respectively" should read "IK_Arm.L and IK_Arm.R, respectively".
178 Text Corrections
Pg.178, Table 4.1, in the row "Bicep.L", column "Parent": "UpperBody" should instead read "Torso"
4 178-9 Table Corrections - Table 4.1
In the row "Ball_Heel_Rotation.L", column "Copy Loc" reads "No". It should instead read "Yes."
Line Ball.L has parent listed as FootRoot.L. It should be Heel.L.

Two bones listed on the table, "necknull" and "spinestretchnull," do not appear anywherre else in the text.
These bones were renamed and are mentioned in the text under different names. Remove the entries for these two bones in table 4.1.
375 Text Corrections
Page 375: last paragraph, "hit has become almost a cliche" should be "it has become almost a cliche".
463 Text Corrections
Page 463: "Colin Lister's" should be "Colin Litster's"
14 407-425 Corrupted files on DVD: ORANGE1.rar and ORANGE2.rar
To obtain the ORANGE1.rar and ORANGE2.rar files, as well as all the production files for Elephants Dream go to:

This is a huge collection of files, and it's not compressed into a single file. In order to download it all with minimal hassle, you may try using the wget application, or in Windows, WinWget, which is available here:
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Instructors Resources
Wiley Instructor Companion Site
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