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Have you ever wanted to create some of those great 3D images you see all the time? Strata 3D CX v5.0 provides the ticket.

Software Review – Strata 3D CX v5.0 From Strata

Adobe has products that handle design, imaging, web and video but there has not been much in the realm of 3D. Sure in the new Adobe Photoshop CS3 there are some 3D features that have been addressed, but not in a full service product. Over the years, Strata has been handling 3D design with its Strata 3D products, now it has released the latest version of it's modeling product Strata 3D CX v5.0.

Strata 3D CX v5.0 is the only 3D application that is specifically designed for use with industry standard graphic applications such as Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator. It uses the same standard palates and interfaces that are found in these applications and therefore it is very easy to pick up on. Version 5 has added many new features such as modelers, interfaces enhancements and plug-ins to connect to third party applications.

Don't get me wrong, just because you are an expert with Photoshop or Illustrator does not mean that you will be just an idea away from a completed project, rather it means that there are a number of levels of learning curve that you don't have to experience.

If you have ever tried to work with a 3D product before such as Maya, trueSpace or Studio Max, you have not only a complex product, but a complex interface. Most of these products have interfaces that are different from the standard Mac or Window's look and feel. As you can see in the image below, with Strata 3D CX v5.0 you can now work within your world. (Image by T. Haarup Laursen) Image by Thorbj¿rn Haarup Laursen

So what's new with Strata 3D CX v5.0? Well beyond the enhancements that have made it more Adobe interface friendly, they have added Scripting Power by using the Lua Scripting language. This is the language that is used by many of the 3D games and engines. It is also the same scripting language that is used to drive around 40% of Adobe Lightroom code. Scripting can allow you to apply filters based on an objects direction, lighting or just about any other variable that you need to control.

Quad Modeling have been introduced into Strata 3D CX v5.0 making the leap from triangular-based meshes to Quad-based meshes. The Quad surfaces use the Catmull-Clark algorithm for subdivision; this helps when building symmetrical items and adds compatibility with other 3D applications. This also helps in approximating a curved surface by breaking the polygons into smaller and smaller faces.

Another powerful feature is the ability to animate almost anything within Strata 3D CX v5.0. This again goes back to the Lua scripting. By using Groups, Shapes, Joints and Bones you can set up animation hierarchies for complex sequences. By taking a simple approach; using keyframes, timelines and scripting, it makes animation much easier to use.

Finally, what is probably one of the most powerful features in Strata 3D CX v5.0 has to be the new Adobe connection features. First you have the improved native Photoshop file import for linked 3D textures and the improved native Illustrator import for creating 3D objects. Next you have the Filter FX where Photoshop like filters are applied to any object or scene based on things like position, light color, light distance etc. You can add multiple effects or even animate the effects.

Lastly, Render to Layers is where each image component is rendered out as a separate layer into a native Photoshop .PSD file so that you can now take each layer and work them separately from within Photoshop. You can even use the mask and Selection Layers to create new effects. What's even better, any changes made in Photoshop are updated in the 3D model automatically. There are also additions such as the History palette, multiple un-dos and the ability to dock palettes. One thing to note, not everything is un-doable.

Strata 3D CX v5.0 comes complete with both a users manual (322 pages) and a reference manual (54 pages). To get you up and running, the first chapter of the user's manual shows you how to walk through generating a basic image. By using a 2D slice of apple from an Illustrator file, you see how to import the file, run it through the lathe tool to generate the apple. You then link a Photoshop layer file to the texture, set up the lighting and render and save the image to a .PSD file. Very simple; of course you will be wanting to do things like the following picture which may prove a little more time consuming. (Image by Ronald Texier)

 Image by Ronald Texier If you want to see more of what Strata 3D CX v5.0 can do, visit the Strata showcase. Check out the Podcasts from Strata; as of this writing there are 16 of them that will help get you up to speed right away. You can get Strata 3D CX v5.0 directly from the Strata site. You even get a 30-day money back guarantee; if you don't love it, send it back. I think that you will love it!

Have you ever wanted to create some of those great 3D images you see all the time in animation, visualizations, architectural renderings or product modeling? Do you want it to work like Photoshop with the precision of Illustrator? Well Strata 3D CX v5.0 From Strata is the product for you.

About T. Michael Testi

Photographer, writer, software engineer, educator, and maker of fine images.

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