Paul Tondeur and Jeff Winder’s Papervision3D Essentials is a solid book with clear writing, a very hands-on approach to learning Papervision 3D and a thorough coverage of the material—at 400 pages, it’s a meaty book despite its size.
Papervision3D is an open-source ActionScript 3.0-based engine for generating 3D content for Flash. It seems 3D is becoming more important for Adobe and Flash: even though Adobe still has not produced an application strictly for creating 3D content, a few Creative Suite apps are adding 3D functionality to their features, most notably Photoshop which has had 3D tools for a couple versions now. This means that more and more 3D content will eventually reach Flash Player and a framework for handling such material is more and more pertinent.
Papervision3D Essentials is mostly exercises and written lecture, which is advantageous for readers who want to learn by doing. It’s comparable to the Classroom In A Book series, though I’d say Papervision3D Essentials has less explanatory material that is sometimes important to explaining concepts. I’m disappointed the book doesn’t have a companion CD, though the code in the book is available for download online.
As far as the exercises themselves go, they are solid and provide good training for Papervision3D for beginners and intermediate users in particular but also for advanced users. The exercises I did were fairly easy to follow and made some impressive results by the end. I’m a learner who likes to dive into more explanatory copy at the beginning of the chapters, and I wish the book did flesh out the concepts a little more, but it was an enjoyable learning experience and the authors should be proud of Papervision3D Essentials. I could go for a book with color pages and a more interesting design, but the material itself is very good.