By: Michel Plungjan
OK, OK - that was a bit too easy, and it could have been bad news, but it is all as it should be. Xara3D is still the fastest, most intuitive 3D text creator I have used and the price hasn't changed either...
Here's a quick rundown of the program in case you haven't read my review of version 2 or tried the demo. Xara 3D can use any TrueType font. Six fonts are included in the download and a further 50 on the CD. The program supports international character sets, such as Japanese, Chinese and Russian. You can control the text alignment, line spacing, tracking and kerning values between individual characters and over selections and use sub- & superscript. A number of special effects are possible, and the text can also be animated.
Version 3 adds some powerful new features such as true soft shadows behind the text, with variable transparency and blur. There are two new animation types, wing and ulse, giving six different modes of animation in total, each with control over the axis and angle.
Xara3D can now import 2D objects so windows metafiles (WMF and EMF) can be used as outlines to be extruded into 3D - you're no longer limited to text! And Xara's makers claim that the fastest 3D screen redraw is now even faster. I must admit it was so fast already that I haven't noticed any speed increase.
Areas of text can be selected, and different fonts and text settings applied. This can be done real-time with a 3D cursor. 3D Positioning is done in real-time using drag and drop and solid shading with optional error-diffusion dithering is also done real-time.
So what does all this translate to?
Well, the 3D cursor alone makes the upgrade worth it - you can now change font in the middle of a sentence. The examples on the CD are so excellent that you just load one, change the text and you have a 3D banner. As I did in about two minutes with the introduction. It took two minutes because I was browsing though several of the installed examples, each more spectacular than the next before I settled for one.
The new metafiles are a welcome addition:
Now you can have ducks, recycle signs and phones in the middle of your text too.
I am still not happy with the lack of a proper button tool, but at least Xara gives a short tutorial in how to make buttons by importing the actual text. I would also like to see the possibility of making cutouts - I think a small change to the hollow text already present would be enough.
Perhaps it IS already possible - I find new things every time I look at the examples...
|Are you interested in buying Xara3D after reading this review? Why not buy it through irt.org? Simply click on the logo to the left. If you're not sure about it, you can download a free 15-day trial of Xara3D and see for yourself.|