Review: The PBR Guide: A Handbook for Physically Based Rendering by Wes McDermott

The PBR Guide is a short book, so this review will be short. At less than 100 pages, it can be read in one sitting, but don’t let that fool you. There is critical knowledge inside these pages and the author does not waste time. The book is definitely focused on using the Substance suite of tools, and does mention Unreal Engine a few time, but otherwise is generally applicable to any software based on a PBR workflow.

Within this small guide, it’s broken into two main sections. One on theory and the other in application. Thankfully the theory part is not very math heavy, but does try to introduce some core concepts in layman’s terms. The second half is focused on authoring textures, and is very practical and geared toward artists. There were definitely tips here I have not seen elsewhere, and it’s also nice to have a guide that explains things in simpler terms for non-programmers.

Overall, this book was very worthwhile for me. It’s short and not super deep, but it does manage to cover the basics well and include some tips that are unique. Though the intended audience is for artists, I think programmers would also get a benefit, if you just want a straight-to-the-point overview of PBR and don’t want to get bogged down with complex formula. So yeah, definitely worth reading, especially if you want to author content in Unreal Engine, or other tools that have adopted the PBR workflow. Recommended.