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Graphics software is complicated and the manuals are rarely adequate. It took a lot of time to find books that would explain how to actually get some use out of these programs. Most of the following books were selected because they complement RDS--both in pre- and post-production.

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coverThe RAY DREAM Handbook -- 2nd Edition -- ed: J. Sledd, pub. Charles River Media
There is only one RAY DREAM text worth owning and it is absolutely indispensable. Though not without its frustrations (some tips are presented without any mention of the techniques underlying them, and a couple of the tutorials--especially the nested shader--attempt, but fail, to explain complex subjects) it is unsurpassed in expanding a user's understanding of this program. This book is full of practical, usable techniques. Don't hesitate, it's worth far more than it's entirely reasonable price.

coverThe Carrara 1 Bible -- D. Sahlin, pub. IDG Books
I love RDS. I own Carrara, but am not a fan. There was a desperate need for a major upgrade to the modelers to ensure longterm survival of this product line. Unfortunately, the major development effort went into creating a silly user interface that emphasizes cosmetic appeal at the expense of functionality. Doug Sahlin has performed a service to the user community in putting together this reference as a needed supplement to the manual. If you are new to the world of 3D graphics and RDS/Carrara, you will find this book invaluable.


cover3D Photorealism Toolkit -- B. Fleming, pub. Wiley
This is an interesting and fun-to-read book. If you're a beginner, you'll appreciate it more after you've had some experience with RDS and have tired of all your renders turning out as if everything were made of shiny plastic. Bill Fleming is a renowned 3D artist and author. Many of the techniques he discusses in this book are very briefly presented online in his column at Visual Reality Magazine, under the title "Bill's Reality Clinic." There is no RDS-specific information and a couple techniques can be technically difficult to implement in RDS (e.g.: beveled edges). Nonetheless, by its conclusion, you will have gained more than just some general techniques; you will have been educated in a philosophy of 3D design that promotes a higher standard of realism.

coverAdvanced 3D Photorealism Techniques -- B. Fleming, pub. Wiley
More of Bill Fleming's general techniques for creating realistic images. I don't know about the 'advanced' part in the title, but Fleming is a dedicated educator in the field and the information is solid. This book tends to emphasize natural settings more than the Toolkit (above). As in Fleming's other titles, the examples shown are primarily done in Lightwave, but most can be adapted to other toolsets.

Other books by Bill Fleming which may contain some useful information include the following. Be aware, however, that the examples included rely heavily on tools found in higher-end packages.--

3D Modeling & Surfacing
Mastering 3D Graphics: Digital Botany and Creepy Insects
Animating Facial Features and Expressions
3D Staging, Lighting, and Animation This volume is scheduled for publication in December 2000

coverDigital Character Animation -- G. Maestri, New Riders Pub.
A well-regarded text on the fundamentals of character animation. This is the original edition. Recently, it has been much expanded into a planned two-volume set, the first volume of which is currently available and the second due October 2001:
Digital Character Animation 2 : Essential Techniques
Digital Character Animation 2 : Advanced Techniques


If you've never used Paint Shop Pro, you will need instruction in its features. The manual which accompanies the retail version of PSP is essentially the Help file in hard copy.

Good sources for techniques are tutorial sites put up by enthusiastic users. As the popularity of Paint Shop Pro continues to grow, there are an increasing number of texts available.
cover Teach Yourself Paint Shop Pro 6 In 24 Hours
Paperback - 375 pages
1 edition (November 1, 1999)
pub. Sams
cover Teach Yourself Paint Shop Pro 7 In 24 Hours
Paperback - 400 pages
Rev&Updtd edition (October 4, 2000)
pub. Sams

Coming off my good experience with the Teach Yourself CorelDRAW book (below), I decided to give this book a try. I was not disappointed.

For a very reasonable price, you get a series of tools and techniques tutorials. T. Michael Clark's style is notable for its clarity. More time and attention is appropriately given to the areas that need it the most: Masks and Layers. This is the one to get to start learning how to use Paint Shop Pro. Then, have a look at the following text by the same author for practical applications:

cover Paint Shop Pro Web Techniques
Paperback - 256 pages
(May 1997)
New Riders Publishing

T. Michael Clark maintains one of the better PSP tutorial web sites. Paint Shop Pro Web Techniques, based on his on-line tutorials, is well done and consists almost entirely of practical examples and techniques. There is some basic introductory information on file formats and issues such as dithering and anti-aliasing, which beginners will need to know.

coverPaint Shop Pro 6 Power! Davis, pub. Muska & Lipman
Probably the closest thing to a PSP bible.

coverPaint Shop Pro 6 Visual Insight Pruitt, pub. Coriolis Group
Here's a reasonably priced and good introduction to PSP. It's very graphically, as opposed to text, oriented. There are a number of practical examples, especially in the selection and mask sections. This is a better value than the Shafran books listed below. Keep an eye out for the PSP7 edition.

cover Creating Paint Shop Pro Web Graphics
A. Shafran, Paperback - 384 pages
2 edition (April 1998),
Muska & Lipman Pub
cover Creating Paint Shop Pro 7 Web Graphics
Lori J. Davis, Andy Shafran, Paperback - 352 pages
(October 2000)
Muska & Lipman Pub

The first edition of this book, for PSP4, was the granddaddy of PSP texts. It's oriented towards producing simple images for use on web pages. Strictly for beginners to both graphics and the web, it covers such things as the differences between the file formats (gif, jpg, png), basic HTML to get graphics up on web sites, and some of the basic operations of PSP. Judging from the illustrations, the author's idea of what constitutes good web page design is strictly first-generation, and his "cool techniques" show limited imagination. Perhaps these are meant to not overwhelm new users. If you are completely new to web graphics and bitmap editor software, you will find useful information. If it were more reasonably priced, I could more generally recommend it.


CorelDRAW, the individual program as well as the full suite, is an immensely complicated piece of software. Despite having one of the best manuals and most well-designed on-line tutorials of any of the major graphics packages, it remains intimidating to any new user.

The best references I've found are:
cover Teach Yourself CorelDRAW 8 in 24 Hours
Paperback - 384 pages
Teach Yourself CorelDRAW 9 in 24 Hours
Paperback - 414 pages
(June 1999)

The book is divided into short sections which you can easily complete in thirty minutes to an hour. Each section is organized around a small project which illustrates the use of the tools emphasized in that section. There are a couple sections at the end on Corel Photo-Paint (the bitmap editor) and CorelDream (otherwise known as Ray Dream Designer 4). However, don't expect to learn much about either of these latter two. It is clear, concise and well-organized and an excellent value.

cover CorelDRAW 9 f/x and design
Paperback - 500 pages
Bk&Cd Rom edition (July 1999)
The Coriolis Group

The CorelDRAW 8 version of this book was the first CorelDRAW text I bought, mostly because I'd had some email interactions with Shane Hunt, who was Corel's on-line help person. Shane is a talented artist and has a light humor which is evident in his writing. I wouldn't recommend it as a tutorial for new users, and there's not much in it directly applicable to using the program with RDS. But, to move beyond simple operations in CorelDRAW and into artistic techniques this is a superb reference. Your best bet is to first get the Teach Yourself book (above) and then, when you're more comfortable with the program get this one. It is exellent in all respects.

As an aside: Perhaps it's unfair, but my impression of the Mastering and Official Guide titles for CorelDRAW is that they don't offer much more than a rehash of the manual with some tutorials added. It's also apparent that the large type face in the Mastering volume was deliberately selected to make the book appear heftier than it legitimately should be. Stick with the two books recommended above and I don't think you'll be sorry.


cover Corel PHOTO-PAINT 8 -- The Official Guide
D. Huss
pub. Osborne McGraw-Hill
January 1998
cover Corel PHOTO-PAINT 9 -- The Official Guide
Paperback - 771 pages
(May 24, 1999)
Osborne McGraw-Hill

Photo-Paint is as complex in its own way as CorelDRAW. This big book is not just an excellent reference, it's a course in file formats, color systems, image resolution and distinctions between designing for the web versus print. This is one of those books that makes you hunger to fire up the program and try out the techniques it describes. It's highly readable; but one very significant omission is the movie editing functions. Nonetheless, if you have the CorelDRAW suite, make this a companion volume to the Teach Yourself and f/x CorelDRAW books mentioned above.

There are other books covering the programs mentioned above. I've limited this page to those I've used or had a chance to review. You can find other books in the Amazon catalog, on any subject, through this search window:

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All contents not otherwise owned are copyright 1999-2000 bilagaana. All rights reserved. Original graphics are digitally watermarked and may not be copied in any form without the permission of the author. All constructive comments, suggestions, or questions are welcomed.