Xara 3D 5

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Recommended

More effects, improved productivity and basic Flash output are added to Xara3D's existing simplicity and speed..

If you're looking for a way to make your logo or page title stand out, one obvious solution is to do so quite literally by making it 3D. It's one of the most common and eye-catching of all web effects and Xara3D is designed to make the job of creating realistic 3D text a cinch.

The first step is to click on the Text icon in the toolbar and to enter your text. You can use any font installed on your system but some work better in 3D than others and Xara3D provides 50 fonts designed for the purpose. Once you click OK, your text appears in all it anti-aliased 3D glory complete with default shadow, extrusion, fill, bevel and lighting. You can then drag on your text, shadow and lights to reposition them in 3D space with the overall effect updating in real-time.

Using the other options in the toolbar you can then refine your text by calling up relevant palettes which can also be conveniently docked. The Extrusion palette lets you change the depth of your effect while the Bevel palette lets you choose between 25 corner effects including four new options - Fancy Incut 1 and 2, Bumpy and Ridged. You can format your text using uniform fills with the Colour palette or apply any of a wide range of preset patterns using the Texture palette. New options here include the ability to apply different textures to individual characters and to the front and sides of your text.

Using the palettes it doesn't take long to create an attractive effect from scratch, but much the easiest way to go about this is to use the new Import Styles command. This opens a Style Picker dialog to let you copy some or all of the attributes of a whole range of preset sample files. What makes the Picker particularly useful is that its large and fast preview shows what your own text will look like when the currently selected style is imported.

Xara3D doesn't only create static 3D effects. Using the Animations palette you can quickly choose between one of eleven customizable animated effects including three new options: Typewriter, Ripple and Pulse. You can also now apply many animations to individual characters and to text and lights separately. Again much the easiest way to apply an animation is with the new Import>Animation command that works like the Style Picker to let you see your own text in action with a whole host of provided presets.

When you're happy with your project it's time to export it. As in the past you can export to the major bitmap-based standards - GIF, JPEG, AVI etc - and the dialogs for the static bitmap formats now offer an image preview and feedback on file size. You can also now export to the Windows SCR screen saver format and to the vector-based Flash SWF format. The Flash support is nothing like that from a dedicated program (see Swift 3D review below) and shadows and textures are immediately dropped unless you choose to output each SWF frame as a bitmap. Even so, thanks to the real-time Flash preview, it's a simple and fast way of creating striking effects.

In fact that's true of Xara3D as a whole. There are plenty of areas in which the program could be made more powerful: greater control over shadows and lighting, timeline-based animation and especially support for non-text objects (though the latter is partially catered for by the bundling of the Xara Webster drawing utility and the ability to import WMF files). Ultimately though Xara 3D isn't about high-end power; it's about creating high-impact 3D text effects as quickly and easily as possible. It does the job well.

Tom Arah

Features
3
Ease of Use
5
Value for Money
6
Overall
5

ratings out of 6

Xara X
Software (+ free trial)
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Xara 3D
Software (+ free trial)
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Xara WebStyle
Software (+ free trial)
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Xara Fonts
Software (+ free trial)
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System Requirements: Requirements: 486 or higher, 32 MB RAM, 15 MB disk space, Windows 95, 98, 2000, ME, XP or NT 4

Tom Arah

January 2003

 

       
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