I’ve been seeing tidbits of Freestyle Level Up at Seabug over the last year, and seeing the finished product is a massive enlightenment. Lee Posey and Sage Light Bwk have done an amazing job, and their BNPR homepage should be a routine destination for all Blender users. Freestyle’s development has skyrocketed in recent years, and truly took off when #1. Blender’s render layers reorganized and #2. Freestyle was included by default in Blender. Freestyle’s capability is ready for action, but the Blender community still has a drought of great Freestyle tutorials. Until now. Here’s my review!
If this is totally new to you, a bit of clarification:
- NPR=Non-photoreal. Comics, anime, all that good stuff.
- Freestyle=a postprocess line art renderer that’s part of Blender.
Right off the bat, the production value of this series is terrific. Great editing, Clear voice-over, and constant set decoration to keep you engaged in the material. Before I even learned anything, I knew I’d be munching popcorn the whole time. Video game lingo and DBZ references keep you engaged during the most obtuse, difficult concepts.
Freestyle has often confounded newcomers (myself included), because unlike many intermediate blender tasks, it’s not WYSIWYG. Switch your render to Cycles? It automatically works! You turn on Freestyle, hit render, and…well, lines appear, but how do I change ‘em?!
Freestyle Level Up hits this problem right on the head with two major approaches. First, it explains the concepts, so you’re not just randomly turning buttons on and off any more. Sage and Lee take your brain and wrap it around the core concepts, so you understand edge types, line styles, and how it plugs into Blender’s overall rendering paradigm.
Secondly, once you know just what you’re dealing with, you can see infinite Freestyle combinations…and that’s intimidating. No worries though! BNPR’s team have come up with a formidable library of Freestyle recipes. Following along with their various recipes will leave you ready to start with the right style (or really close) right away, rather than fiddling for hours to get it right.
BNPR’s Freestyle Level Up video series fills a massive void in the Blender tutorial universe by covering Freestyle both aesthetically and under the hood. But not only is it the first major offering on the subject of Freestyle, it’s also a highly polished, easy-to-swallow romp that keeps you entertained while you learn. I’ve been excited to see Freestyle’s development over the years, but it’s even more exciting to know what the heck I’m doing in Freestyle! If you’re new to Blender, you might want to start somewhere else; Freestyle (like so much of Blender) is practically a program within a program. But if you’re comfy with your F12 key in Blender, Freestyle Level Up is a great way to add a great new tool to your toolbox.