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Creating impressive 3D artwork may not be any easier these days but it’s sure getting a whole lot cheaper. Although many of the top applications may still require an extension on your credit limit, there are a growing number of titles becoming available that even the most cash-starved student will find within their reach.

Although barely in its second generation, Hexagon has a longer history with its roots being traced back to the popular Amapi title, which, although an effective tool, its rather “unique” interface left many floundering. Some dramatic revisions and a new interface later and Hexagon was born to win back many of those who appreciated the control of Amapi.

And at well under £100, the 3D polygonal modeller is fast proving itself a popular choice among thrifty computer artists that are keen to sculpt their artwork using its more organic approac ... Read more »

Category: Software reviews | Views: 1705 | Added by: G-Shock | Date: 28.02.2009 | Rating: 5.0/1 | Comments (0)

Paint Shop Pro has long been the image editing shareware champion that many of its supporters claim to be even better than Photoshop. Originally created by Jasc, the title was acquired by Corel who, with its market established with CorelDRAW, was keen to extend its portfolio with a recognised image application. Paint Shop Pro X is the first release of the software title that Corel has been involved in and there have been a few changes that have had the Paint Shop faithful muttering.

A revised interface is the most apparent change – the old clunky interface has gone and a more streamlined front end makes the software a little more attractive to new users as does the introduction of the new Learning Centre feature. This makes itself available through a dedicated panel to provide the novice user with some invaluable advice on how to push their pixels, although we ... Read more »

Category: Software reviews | Views: 934 | Added by: G-Shock | Date: 28.02.2009 | Rating: 0.0/0 | Comments (0)

Formerly owned and developed by 3D giant Alias, Autodesk SketchBook Pro 2 is a software title that enables the artist the freedom to create their work without worrying about how different dialog settings, panels or toolbars affect their art. There are parallels with Corel Painter with its natural media effects and stylus controls, but it is the simple interface that will appeal to the more traditional artist.

As with ArtRage, SketchBook Pro employs a clean interface that effectively turns your screen into one giant canvas. You have controls to determine tools, colours and effects, but these are presented in a way that makes accessing them as simple as reaching for a different pencil.

However, the advantages through using such a software alternative quickly become apparent. You have full control over your brush settings including type, flow, size and even s ... Read more »

Category: Software reviews | Views: 1016 | Added by: G-Shock | Date: 28.02.2009 | Rating: 0.0/0 | Comments (0)

The transition from a 2D package to a 3D title is one that many artists will consider at some point, as they become tempted by the potential of turning their flat drawings into immersive worlds complete with fully fleshed out characters. However, many such applications are difficult to master – and although you’ll still need to reach for the manual regularly, Carrara does have the advantage of enabling you to concentrate on your creativity rather than having to decipher complex settings.

Tools and menus remain accessible without being distracting as you begin to explore the additional dimension that the application provides. Panels providing access to more complicated features of the software are arranged around the edges of the interface enabling easy access, and a timeline is available at the foot of the screen to suggest its animation potential.

Existin ... Read more »

Category: Software reviews | Views: 861 | Added by: G-Shock | Date: 28.02.2009 | Rating: 0.0/0 | Comments (0)

Despite software advances, for many there is nothing that can replace the humble pen and paper. But irrespective of the creative freedom such traditional media provides it’s now inevitable that, at some point, your work will need to be digitised.

Many existing applications enable you to import scanned work, but this method requires knowledge of how to remove artefacts and discolouration. Other applications such as Painter can trace your work but can create inferior results.

Aimed at the manga artist, ComicWorks enables you to import work from your scanner. It provides a series of tools that enable you to recreate your original in a faithful manner and provides methods to enhance the concept.

In many ways the software is an essential utility, although some may feel its complexity is offputting. It can be argued that original art might be better created ... Read more »

Category: Software reviews | Views: 955 | Added by: G-Shock | Date: 28.02.2009 | Rating: 0.0/0 | Comments (0)

Being centred on a vector application, CorelDRAW isn’t the first application you’d consider when creating fantasy or science fiction artwork. However the bundle of tools has been revised since the last version of the suite, to remove elements such as R.A.V.E, which failed to challenge the might of Macromedia Flash. Instead, Corel has chosen to dwell more on fusing together the best of both worlds, with CorelPAINT providing bitmap controls and CorelDRAW catering for more traditional vector illustration.

One of the key improvements in this respect is the introduction of PowerTRACE. This provides impressive results when converting bitmap images into vectors, with options as to how detailed you want such a conversion to be.

The scaleable vector formats provide numerous advantages over raster, as we’ve seen with Xara Xtreme, and this may be an area you choose t ... Read more »

Category: Software reviews | Views: 652 | Added by: G-Shock | Date: 28.02.2009 | Rating: 0.0/0 | Comments (0)

As with CorelDRAW, Xara Xtreme is a collection of titles that creates an all-round graphics bundle. But, unlike the Corel one, Xara is aimed squarely at artists rather than graphic designers. Refreshingly, it doesn’t assume the user is as occupied with technical computer matters. Instead, it presents its available tools in a clean, intuitive manner, so you can concentrate on your artwork, not the software preferences.

The core on which Xtreme is focused is firmly in the vector camp, but don’t be fooled into thinking its results will be cold and clinical. There are plenty of examples of vector artwork available that display how possible it is to create more natural results. Xtreme is more than capable in achieving these.

Unlike many competitors, Xara has concentrated on making the software easy to use and lightning fast. Options such as vector transparency, ... Read more »

Category: Software reviews | Views: 733 | Added by: G-Shock | Date: 28.02.2009 | Rating: 0.0/0 | Comments (0)

Poser should need little introduction to you. The software has become an essential utility to many artists, especially those working in the 3D arena, because it provides powerful yet easy to use controls for creating characters.

Improvements in this latest version hit you straight away, with revisions to the software’s interface. This will be particularly welcomed by new users, who may have found previous versions increasingly difficult to comprehend.

Cosmetic changes aside, the software boasts important rendering changes that improve workflow significantly. The Production Frame feature displays the output aspect ratio directly in the document window, providing a realtime preview as you work. Area Rendering enables you to focus on a specific region of your model at high resolution without waiting for the entire form to render. The new RenderWipe feature he ... Read more »

Category: Software reviews | Views: 1289 | Added by: G-Shock | Date: 28.02.2009 | Rating: 0.0/0 | Comments (0)

The name is misleading. This software, previewed here at beta stage, is a surprisingly powerful and useful tool for digital artists. Microsoft is busy pushing it in the direction of developers wanting to create better interfaces for Vista, but digital artists may remember it from its days at Japanese software company, Creature House. Now you can download it for free (while it’s at beta stage) and it’s an incredible tool with a mass of amazing features.

Expression GD impresses because it combines the flexibility of vector graphics with the subtlety of painting with pixels. The software differentiates these two ways of working by asking you to work on separate vector and pixel layers – with the toolbox, brush list and other tools changing contextually as you switch between different kinds of layers.

The vector tools are excellent. They enable you to paint a ... Read more »

Category: Software reviews | Views: 911 | Added by: G-Shock | Date: 28.02.2009 | Rating: 0.0/0 | Comments (0)

As soon as you open up this Photoshop plug-in you know you’re going to have some fun. This piece of software enables you to create alien suns and other solar effects that are perfect for finishing off your sci-fi landscapes.

The interface has a gaggle of sliders, each controlling a different element of your final sun. These are divided into four areas: Sun, Flares, Spikes and Halo, each giving ample control over the effect. A large dynamic preview updates as you tweak settings.

One great feature is SolarCell’s ability to save and load a generous amount of presets. You can create a great sun effect, save the settings and use it again. Some of the suns do feel a little artificial, but you can get them to match your landscape with a little work in your image-editing or painting software.


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Category: Software reviews | Views: 1095 | Added by: G-Shock | Date: 28.02.2009 | Rating: 0.0/0 | Comments (0)

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