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Free HLSL Shader Tutorial Videos

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Ben Cloward polycounter lvl 14
Several years ago I made a series of training videos to teach artists how to write real-time shaders in HLSL.  The series starts out with very simple concepts so that someone with no programming experience at all can start right from the beginning and learn to write shaders.  Further into the series, I cover more advanced topics such as parallax mapping, global illumination, refleciton and refraction, and vertex animation. Everything is explained step by step so it's easy to follow.

Originally, the videos shipped on 3 DVDs that sold for $60 each.  Sales were pretty successful, but the company that sold them went out of business just a short time after the 3rd DVD was released.  So I've decided to upload them to YouTube so that everyone can watch them for free!  My hope is that they'll help aspiring artists and programmers learn the art of shader creation.  Although some of the material is out of date, almost all of the principles taught are still valuable to learn and understand as a foundation to learning to write shaders.


The series consists of 40 videos.  I'll be releasing a new video each weekday starting this week - so if you're interested, be sure to subscribe to the channel and check back often.  If I get enough interest, my plan is to start creating new videos that demonstrate more recent shader techniques.

Let me know what you think.  I'd love to hear your feedback!

-Ben

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  • haiddasalami
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    haiddasalami polycounter lvl 10
    Just wanted to say thanks for making these back a couple of years ago! I learned a tonne from them and it was one of the resources that started me on my ride to being a tech artist haha. 
  • Ben Cloward
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    Ben Cloward polycounter lvl 14
    Oh wow - that's fantastic.  Glad I could help!  Thank you so much for sharing.
  • Alex Javor
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    Alex Javor high dynamic range
    awesome stuff. did a quick skim over and definitely going on my watch list. Liked and subscribed.

    One thing I'll mention just as suggestion, as non-technical beginner my major hang up is always the maths. I just didn't learn math good in school and never used it since. I think probably for many people it can be intimidating if they aren't coming from the right background.

    But one thing that really helped me is in the catlike coding tutorials, they have you build out math functions like sin waves with actual mesh geometry so you can visualize what is happening. At least for me that really makes things easier to understand, especially given the context because we are using the math to create some type of visual effect anyway.


  • PolyHertz
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    PolyHertz ngon master
    Hey I remember these. I knew someone back when I was in school who bought them, I believe it helped him get his first job in the industry :)

    iirc the company that sold them owed some of the authors a bunch of money, one of the authors even told people to pirate his videos instead of buying from them. Was quite a mess.
  • Mendicantes
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    Mendicantes polycounter lvl 2
    Looks very interesting, I've just started to learn coding and switching to it from making models. Probably its just what i need. Ben, can I ask you some questions in private chat about the industry, work in it, and some other aspects of it ? Just being cut away physically from it, looking for someone expirienced to talk with.
  • Eric Chadwick
    Kudos Ben, way to give back! 
  • DavidCruz
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    DavidCruz polycounter lvl 8
    Wow nice of you, i appreciate this already posted on the channel.
  • Ben Cloward
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    Ben Cloward polycounter lvl 14
    Alex Javor - I didn't take any math in college at all and it was a mistake.  I would probably be better at what I do if I had taken a linear algebra class.  But I was able to learn the math needed for creating shaders - because I had a real-world application for the math.  My struggle with math as it's taught in school is that they give you tons of problems to solve but they don't really explain why it's useful.  When I was in high school, if someone had said, "If you learn this, you'll be able to create really cool looking graphics for video games!" I would have been a better student.

    The nice thing about writing shaders is that there's always an instant visual result.  You write some math and immediately see what the result looks like.

    PolyHertz - yeah, I remember that mess.  I was mostly frustrated that people couldn't get my tutorials once the company's site went down.  I've had a lot of people emailing me about it.  That was my main motivation for putting them up on YouTube.

    Mendicantes - sure, I'd be happy to help you out with your questions.
  • Alex Javor
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    Alex Javor high dynamic range
    exactly the same with me. If my dad had said, if you learn math you could make games, I'd have learned math! lol. Instead it was, "you shouldn't be playing these stupid games, you should be doing homework!"

    ah well. at least now I got time to learn and the motivation. thanks again for sharing for free. keeping the internet a beautiful thing.
  • DrFlail
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    DrFlail polycounter lvl 8
    Hi Ben. I just wanted to say these shader tutorials and Shader FX (which output some surprisingly easy to read shaders) were a big part of me becoming a technical artist today. Thanks so much.
  • xChris
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    xChris polycounter lvl 6
    I was at your shader talk for GDC 2017 and Siggraph 2019, love your work Ben!
  • Syros
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    Syros polycounter lvl 11
    thanks heaps Ben, you rock \m/
  • Ben Cloward
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    Ben Cloward polycounter lvl 14

    All of the videos from the first DVD have now been released. The videos from the second DVD - which focuses on lighting and lighting models started coming out this week. You can watch them here:

    https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL78XDi0TS4lE772rZflLkFe-WdhYEV4WE

    A new one will be released each weekday.

  • Eric Chadwick
    Ben, this is really great of you.

    I'm wondering if you're interested in teaching OSL. It's all the rage these days, and particularly relevant given the broad interest in USD and MaterialX.

    Another potential avenue could be PBR shader workflow.
  • Ben Cloward
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    Ben Cloward polycounter lvl 14
    Interesting idea, Eric.  I think I'm probably best at teaching what I'm currently using.  Right now I'm really focused on the node-based shader editor in the Frostbite engine at work.  Since that engine is proprietary and only specifically useful for EA employees, the next best things is either Unreal or Unity.  So I think I'll do a series of videos on creating shaders in UE4.  (It's so similar to Frostbite that there's almost no learning curve for me.)

    That being said, the principles and math that I share in these HLSL DVDs as well as the knowledge I'll be sharing in my new videos are pretty much universally applicable.  It's pretty similar to learning to use 3ds Max, and then learning Maya afterward.  With the first one that you learn, you have to learn all of the concepts as well as the interface, but then with the second one, you just have to learn where they put all the buttons.  :)

    I'll keep my eye on OSL.  Thanks for bringing it to my attention.  Maybe I'll do something with it when I'm done with the UE4 series.
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