If you regularly need to devise print jobs for product packages, magazine covers, or any other printing task that uses complex combinations of inks, foils, varnishes or embossings, then you need to look at Stonecube’s PrintDevizor.
It combines a simple interface with a 3D rendering engine that shows virtual 3D mockups of complex printing jobs. All varnishes, foils, glitters, embossing or debossing, glosses and paper textures are realistically rendered, allowing you to see exactly how a final print job will look under a variety of lighting conditions, and as the product is rotated and moved.
To use PrintDevizor, you first tell it the dimensions
of your product. The program allows only rectangular objects, but they can be any size or width, letting you pre-viz everything from business cards and flyers to large boxes or magazines. Once you’ve specified the geometry, pick a base texture from a range of glossy, matte, and textured surfaces, with detailed control over such particulars as the grain depth of a textured paper.
PrintDevizor’s controls are simple. The right side of the main window provides a preview of the final object, which can be spun and rotated by click-&-dragging. You can pick from six different environments, each of which provides a different background and different lighting, allowing you to better visualize
what a product will look like indoors, outdoors, in an airport, or in a brightly lit house.
The look of an object is specified by importing graphics that are mapped onto each surface, just as you’d texture an object in a 3D-modelling application.
In PrintDevizor, though, you can specify that a graphic be printed using a specific process. So, you can bring in an image as a normal colour image, or bring in an image – say a line of text – and specify that it be printing using gold foil. Each separate printing element is kept in its own layer, called an Operation, and all of an object’s Operations are kept in the Operations Stack on the left side of the program’s main window.
Unfortunately, PrintDevizor doesn’t support native QuarkXPress or Adobe InDesign formats, nor vector formats such as Adobe Illustrator. If you normally do your layouts in these programs, you’ll need to either switch to Photoshop or rasterize the designs before importing into PrintDevizor.
Exporting is similarly limited. You can save projects in the program’s proprietary format, but that’s it. The package ships with a special viewer application that’s free to distribute, providing a simple way of showing a design to clients.
But if you’re hoping to export the finished image as a QuickTime VR Object or textured 3D model, you’re out of luck. Hopefully these I/O issues will be improved in a future release.
PrintDevizor craves a frightening amount computing power. In addition to a fast G4 or G5, you’ll need a modern video card with a good deal of memory. Pay close attention to Stonecube’s hardware recommendations before you buy.
Despite these caveats, we were very impressed with PrintDevizor’s ease-of-use, excellent rendering quality and thorough list of printing options. If you regularly produce these types of print jobs, PrintDevizor might prove invaluable.