Over the last few weeks I have been working my way through Away3D 3.6 Essentials written by Matthew Casperson. This is a really good book to get if your interested in learning 3D in Flash as it covers everything from basic 3D concepts to creating full 3d scenes using the Away3D engine.
The book starts of with a fairly in-depth introduction into how to get started with Away3D by teaching you how to check out the library using SVN, get it set up in Flash Builder or Flash CS4 and even covers using FlashDevelop. The book then moves on to explain the basic components of the Away3D engine such as Camera3D, Scene3D & View3D. It even provides you with a basic template class to get you started ASAP.
Once you’ve mastered this step, the next thing covered is basic 3D concepts like 3D positioning, vertices, faces, coordinates and primitive shapes. A basic explanation of all the primitives available in Away3D is given and what properties can be applied to them.
With this mastered the next chapter covers moving 3D objects in 3D space. Coordinates systems are covered including explanations of world, parent and local space (each with code examples) and other functions such as the moveForward/Backward/etc() functions are covered. Then tweening with library’s such as TweenLite is covered. When you have finished this chapter you’ll be completely familiar with all the animation methods the Away3D library offers you to manipulate and animate objects in you scene.
The next topic covered is z-sorting and has an entire chapter dedicated to it. This covers the default method of z-sorting that Away3D uses, an in-depth explanation of how your 3D scene is sorted, how to edit and adjust the sorting of 3D objects and what additional renderers are offered by Away3D.
After this the extensive subject of Materials is covered. All the different types of materials such as WireframeMaterial, AnimatedBitmapMaterial and many others are covered, as well as the Pixel Bender based ones such as the Dot3BitmapMaterialF10. Different kinds of mapping such as texture and environment are covered and also a brief explanation and code sample of how to apply each different material. A useful table of all the supported colours and what materials support what lighting techniques is provided.
Models & Animation is the next topic covered with an introduction to loading 3D models in to your scene, what different file types are supported and a brief explanation on how to export models in certain 3D packages. An explanation of what types of cameras are available, their differences and effects as well as mouse interactivity.
After this mouse interactivity, 3D text, special effects and performance issues are covered. Each chapter following the same as the ones already mentioned with a good selection of code samples provided and an in-depth explanation. Overall this book gives you everything you need to get started with the Away3D engine, and the good thing is it can be used by people who are already familiar with Away3D but what to learn more. A good understanding of Actionscript 3 is obviously required, but I highly recommend this book the anyone looking to get a good understanding of Away3D.