Piranesi 5 Review

Named after Giovanni Battista Piranesi, an 18th century architectural draftsman, Piranesi 5 is the latest upgrade of this 3D painting tool. Used alongside one of the many supported 3D CAD-type tools, Piranesi gives life to the simple building blocks that make up 3D visualisations.

Imagined buildings and cityscapes are fleshed out, giving them both character and mood, producing seductive, painterly results. Piranesi’s intelligent painting tools, based on the EPix (Extended Pixel) file format, add a human element, helping to focus detail while creating a more uniform feel by blending elements effortlessly.

This latest update helps achieve consistently attractive results by revamping the interface and making tools easier to find and use. A new Help Assistant, docked to the right of the tools, but adjustable, offers tips and underlined links to further information from the Piranesi help menu. Written and video tutorials are also provided, along with some useful online help.

Additionally, a Tool Options toolbar docked at the top of the screen displays settings for the currently active tool. Files need to be imported in the EPix format, so Piranesi provides a free bundled application called Vedute to do the translation, as well as plug-ins for third-party 3D modelling formats not supported. For those on a budget, Piranesi is compatible with the Google-owned SketchUp, now available as a free download.

The painting process can seem more complex than some software packages, but with practice a number of features help to achieve impressive results. Piranesi uses a series of powerful locks to ensure your handiwork doesn’t resemble a child’s daubings. For example, to ensure paint on one surface isn’t transferred to another, click the Material lock and your brush appears padlocked on every other area other than the one you originally select. This process applies when painting space retaining your 3D foundations, and the ability to paint on a pane. Cutouts or props such as figures can be imported and duplicated in such a way that you won’t spot the join.

OUR VERDICT

A welcome redesign and the addition of new tools, including the ability to light a scene effectively, makes Piranesi 5 a worthy upgrade. The mix of 3D and bitmap editing is certainly novel and the seemingly hand-rendered results impressive.

There is a trial available at http://www.piranesi.co.uk/trial/trial_home.asp.

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