Right Hemisphere Deep Paint 3D

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Advanced surface and projection-based painting help take your 3D models to new creative levels.

Looking at Deep Paint from Right Hemisphere I was impressed with its artistic approach to bitmap painting and especially its ability to paint with thick, realistic paint. Deep Paint 3D is Deep Paint's big brother and applies the same creative principles to true 3D.

The two programs don't just share the same approach, they share an almost identical interface based on the toolbar running down the left and the main tabbed Command Panel down the right. It's very clean and simple - and deceptive as there's actually a lot of power hidden away. To begin with, once you've selected the main Freehand tool, there are dozens of artistic brushes, chalks, charcoals and so on to choose from in the command panel's Presets tab and all are completely customizable in the Brush and Paint Settings tab.

And, rather than simply painting with colour, you can choose to paint with textures - including alpha channels - or apply any loaded bitmap as an image stamp. Or you can pick up the colour from an underlying layer and automatically create an artistic interpretation of it using one of a range of Clone brushes. Most impressive of all, you can really make your work stand out by specifying Bump and Shininess values for your strokes just as you specify their RGB values. Using the Light tool you can then interactively position your lighting to highlight the raised surface of the canvas and bring out its new depth.

It's all good stuff but, as it's all there in Deep Paint, you begin to wonder what more Deep Paint 3D brings to the party. With exactly the same set of 16 tools on offer what could possibly justify the four-fold hike in price? The answer immediately becomes apparent when you go to the Open dialog and find that alongside the standard bitmap formats, TIFF, JPEG and PSD, Deep Paint 3D can also open the standard 3D formats, 3DS, LWO and OBJ (it also provides plug-ins so that you can export directly from Maya, 3ds max, SoftImage and LightWave).

The beauty of Deep Paint 3D is the ability to paint directly on your 3D models.

Whenever one of these models is opened, Deep Paint 3D enters true 3D mode (as opposed to the "2.5D mode" it offers with bump-mapped bitmaps). Now when you select the Rotate tool, rather than simply turning your canvas to make it easier to draw on, you can spin your model in 3D space. And when you select the Light tool you can now light your model from any angle. Most importantly of course, when you select the Freehand tool you can now paint on your model just as easily as you paint on a flat bitmap!

This ability to paint directly on the surface of your model in real time and with complete freedom is jaw-droppingly powerful but the beauty of Deep Paint 3D is that it all seems completely natural. Behind the scenes though an amazing amount of processing work is being done to make everything seem so effortless. After all, what you are really painting on is any number of UV maps, the bitmaps that are draped over the complex polygonal mesh that defines the model.

Deep Paint 3D's great strength is that it makes this process transparent, but it also offers you complete control when you need it. Using the command panel's Objects and Materials tabs you can inspect all the materials defined in the model and lock or hide those that you don't want to change. Using the Layers tab you can select each material in turn and, if necessary, create new bitmaps to define the material's colour, bump, shininess, glow and opacity (though you won't be able to see the effect of the last two within Deep Paint 3D). Double-clicking on any map opens it in 2.5 mode which offers greater functionality such as the ability to apply Photoshop filters (and if you need even more control you can export and re-import the entire material as a layered PSD). Best of all is the ability to add layers so that you can experiment with effects and then flatten them when you're completely happy.

Behind-the-scenes, this is possible thanks to advanced mapping.

The advanced map-based control is there when you need it, but the real beauty of Deep Paint 3D is simply being able to paint directly on your model. Especially as many of Deep Paint's 2D strengths make even more sense when working with a 3D model. The ability to paint with textures, for example, is essential when producing realistic materials and Deep Paint 3D's ability to vary hue, opacity, scale and so on takes this to new creative levels. The ability to paint with colour and bump-mapped based depth is also particularly useful, for example, for quickly painting on realistic fur and stubble.

Deep Paint 3D has one final trick up its sleeve. As well as its default surface-based painting it offers "projection-based" painting. This lets you freeze the current view of your model as a flat 2D bitmap which you can paint on just like any other bitmap. When you've finished making your changes and exit projection mode it automatically maps your 2D changes to the underlying 3D surface materials. This is especially useful for cloning from existing photos onto your model say to add realistic eyes.

Ultimately it's their bitmap-based surfaces that bring 3D models alive and Deep Paint 3D is the master of them whether you're wanting to add realism or to produce creative works of art. It's the Photoshop for 3D.

Ease of Use
Value for Money

ratings out of 6

Tom Arah

July 2003

requirements Pentium III, 128Mb of RAM, 250Mb of hard disk space, Windows 98, NT, 2000 and XP, IE 4.0 or later, SVGA, CD-ROM



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