I have not had the time to make a tutorial recently, but I was given the opportunity to review another book, Blender Cycles: Lighting and Rendering Cookbook, written by Bernardo Iraci and published by Packt Publishing.
Personally, I really enjoyed this book. I use the Cycles rendering engine for all of my current projects (so I have a good understanding of how to use it), and I still learned quite a bit. I was particularly pleased by how Bernardo clearly states not only what he is doing to a scene, but also why he is doing it. Blender Cycles: Lighting and Rendering Cookbook, like all of the “cookbooks” released by Packt, are set up to teach through hands on examples. Each section of the book contains “recipes”, which are instructions on how to render a particular scene in Cycles. The recipes start out very basic and become increasingly more advanced.
When I first began using Cycles, I remember having trouble wrapping my mind around the whole “material nodes” concept. Thankfully, Bernardo does a great job explaining how it all works clearly and concisely, and I think that anyone who is new to Cycles would be able to follow along without any problems.
Blender Cycles: Lighting and Rendering Cookbook is 274 pages long, and has a fairly good amount of pictures and examples that explain the author’s points. While reading, however, I did wish for examples of how each individual material should have turned out. I realize that would have taken considerable amount of space and probably wasted lots of ink in a physical book. On the other hand, I would have expected more examples if it had been strictly an e-book.
I was pleasantly surprised by how up-to-date this book is. The author even went into detail regarding the current system of hair and strand rendering in Cycles. If you are interested in learning how to use Cycles, I would recommend this book over an older book because of it’s accuracy.
To sum it up, if you are serious about learning how to realistically light and render using Blender’s Cycles engine (and like books better than video tutorials), this book would definitely be worth the read. You can check it out here: http://www.packtpub.com/blender-cycles-lighting-and-rendering-cookbook/book