Beginner Book Recommendations

Hello everyone,

I’m looking for a good beginners book on OpenGL for someone with a very small amount of graphics programming experience. I’ve dabbled in Direct3D 9 & 10, but I would rather use OpenGL for various reasons. I’m also familiar with much of the 3D math involved.

I would like to start learning with version 3.0 and up, but there haven’t been many 3.x books released yet, and the one’s that have been released seem to be getting pretty bad reviews on Are the changes from 2.x - 3.x that large? And where would you recommend starting? OpenGL Superbible 5th ed is being released in July, and there’s another book by Allen Sherrod “Essential 3D Game Programming: With C++ and OpenGL”, being released at the end of the month, but I don’t know what version of OpenGL Sherrod is using. Should I just wait?

And will I be able to run 3.x with an HD 4800 series video card? (sorry if this is a dumb question, but I just want to make sure.)

The 3rd edition of the OpenGL Shading language (orange book) is quite useful.

I’m not sure that book would be for me. I’m an absolute beginner to OpenGL, so I’m not sure it would be wise to buy a book focused on GLSL yet. Unless it covers the basics first and then moves on to the shading language. It’s my understanding that OpenGL 3.x is somewhat like DirectX 10/11 in that the fixed function pipeline is gone, so shaders play a large part in the graphics pipeline. Is this correct?

Yes HD 4800 supports up to 3.3 if I’m not mistaken.

There is an openGL 3.1 edition of the ‘OpenGL programming guide’(used to be the best book around for beginners)
but it covers a lot of deprecated/removed stuff and doesn’t cover the new programming paradigm well.

Its a great time for anyone interested in printing a book on modern openGL to do so. There is almost no easy way for the beginner to start.

Believe it or not, the best book to start learning OpenGL in last two years is:

OpenGL ES 2.0 Programming Guide, Aaftab Munshi, Dan Ginsburg, Dave Shreiner, Addison-Wesley Professional, ISBN-10: 0321502795, ISBN-13: 978-0321502797, 2008.

Although it covers OpenGL ES, it is well written and totally shader based.

OpenGL Programming Guide: The Official Guide to Learning OpenGL, Versions 3.0 and 3.1 (7th Edition) is irreplaceable for fixed functionality and as a reference, while OpenGL Shading Language (3rd Edition) is an excellent for learning GLSL, but the beginners simple do not have a clue how to access those shaders from the application. After all, there are lots of things to setup outside the shaders (shaders are just the part of the 3D pipeline, everything else must be setup from the OpenGL).

My memory may be a little hazy, but I seem to remember that the Orange book gives quite a good (maybe a bit brief perhaps) overview of OpenGL in it’s opening chapters, and discusses how to go about setting things up. You might like to have a read of it before you pay any money though.

Yes, the first chapter is an EXCELLENT overview of OpenGL functionality. But, it is just an overview.

I agree with alexander.

Or, go for (arguably) an even simpler book: Beginning OpenGL Game Programming, Second Edition, Luke Benstead

Thanks for the suggestions everyone. I’ve decided to go with “OpenGL Programming Guide 7th ed.” Seems like it’s the best fit for someone at my skill level, even if it covers some deprecated stuff.

The OpenGL SuperBible, by far. The only tiny problem is that it’s missing a few newer things, but it really gets you rolling - also has a lot of great examples and a terrific reference section.

Oh, the Fifth Edition is coming. I’ll probably end up grabbing that as well as the 4th I have, it’s so useful.