Eovia Hexagon

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RECOMMENDED

Accessible, efficient and surprisingly powerful 3D modeling power designed to work hand-in-hand with existing applications..

hexagon mesh editing

3D modeling applications are notoriously difficult and expensive which means that there’s plenty of scope for new contenders majoring on usability and value. That’s exactly what Eovia promises with the release of its brand-new application, Hexagon.

Hexagon takes advantage of its fresh start to totally rethink its interface and approach. The result is a streamlined environment consisting of a large central work area surrounded by: a control bar running below to manage layout, grid, view and display options; a series of collapsible properties panels to the right to manage scene, object and tool parameters; and a large toolbar across the top providing access to the main manipulators, selection options and the creation and editing tools. It’s not exactly revolutionary but compared to most 3D applications it’s extremely easy to come to terms with and, more importantly, very efficient in practice.

So just what modeling power does Hexagon provide? As you’d expect, Hexagon provides a typical assortment of ready-to-go primitives including cubes, spheres, cones, cylinders and TrueType-based text. Crucially it also supports the most fundamental and useful building block of all, the multi-sided polygon or n-gon. Most eye-catching is the support for spline-based objects which are constructed by drawing closed shapes and open lines that are then designated as sections and/or profiles. Most modelers provide basic Sweeps and Extrusions, but Hexagon also provides advanced options such as Ruled Surfaces, which are particularly useful for producing faces, and Gordon Surfaces which are commonly used for product design.

For the most regularly used Sweep and Extrusion effects a very handy feature is the ability to create the profile on the fly simply by clicking and dragging, especially as this enables the size of each section to be changed. Such creative interactivity is great but you’re unlikely to get things absolutely right first time. However that’s not a problem thanks to Hexagon’s Dynamic Geometry system. Look in the Dynamic Geometry panel and you can select the original sections and profile paths and then re-edit them with the object updating accordingly in real-time.

hexagon spline editing

Hexagon offers retrospectively editable spline-based surface construction.

Spline-based surfaces play an important role in building up objects but ultimately maximum control lies at the polygon level and it is here that Hexagon really shines. Before you can take full control of your mesh, you first need to select the right faces, edges or points to work with and Hexagon makes this process simple with a host of options for converting between selection types, automatically selecting loops and rings, soft selection, growing and shrinking selections and so on. The core transformations of repositioning, scaling and rotating in 3D space are also child’s play thanks to the intuitive colour-coded onscreen manipulator.

It’s with its range of hands-on editing tools though that Hexagon really stands out. The interactive sweeps and extrusions that provide so much power with splines are also available for faces, edges and points, and there’s a simple Fast Extract tool with its own interactive manipulator. To add detail to your work there are dedicated Tesselate and Connect tools while the excellent Edge tool provides another special manipulator to enable new edges to be produced interactively by filleting or extracting along or around the current selection. And to finish things off, the Tweak tool lets you visually refine your object much like a sculptor working with clay.

For more large scale edits, Hexagon provides a number of utilities for applying one-off bend, taper and twist deformations and for triangulating and simplifying the mesh. Particularly useful are the surface modeling options for applying a set offset or set thickness to your objects – great for instantly creating walls and corridors especially as these parameters are retrospectively editable via the Dynamic Geometry panel. Most important by far is the ability to set an overall smoothness level for your object which enables Hexagon to handle more organic modeling tasks. Crucially the necessary surface subdivision is handled seamlessly in real-time and is also retrospectively editable. The ability to quickly remove and re-apply object smoothing really makes the most of Hexagon’s hands-on mesh editing.

hexagon mesh editing

The real secret of Hexagon’s success is its hands-on mesh editing combined with real-time smoothing.

Hexagon’s modeling power is undeniable, but just as important as the object’s shape is its surface appearance. So what material, lighting and rendering power does Hexagon offer? The answer is: next-to-none. You can create and apply new materials based on imported texture maps or as a simple combination of colour, specularity and transparency, but that’s it. In fact rather than focusing on creating materials the emphasis is on creating shading domains: selections of polygons to which materials can then be applied. And there are no lighting or rendering capabilities at all!

It looks like a catastrophic failing, but it is wholly deliberate. It’s important to realize that Hexagon is a 3D modeler in its strictest sense. The program simply isn’t designed to produce the final rendered end results, that’s left to other programs which can assemble, light and texture Hexagon’s models after they have first been exported to one of the 3D standard file formats: 3DS, DXF, DWG or OBJ. Ultimately then Hexagon isn’t a standalone solution and so no threat to the likes of Eovia’s existing budget 3D application, Carrara. Instead the program is designed to act as a natural partner - Eovia even offers dedicated CAR file export and special companion pricing to encourage Hexagon’s use alongside Carrara.

At first sight this partner status clearly limits Hexagon’s attraction - it’s certainly not the right application for 3D beginners who will want a complete solution. However, on reflection, the decision to concentrate solely on what the program does best makes sense and could even broaden Hexagon’s potential appeal. Current users of other 3D applications would do well to try out Hexagon’s hands-on approach to modeling - it could be just what they need to make the most of their existing solutions.

 

Ease of Use
6
Features
4
Value for Money
4
Overall
5

ratings out of 6

Tom Arah

August 2005


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