When Hexagon was launched almost a year ago it offered users a powerful set of 3D modelling tools and an interface that was very simple to learn. In many ways, it was a direct replacement for Amapi in that it offered a solid, no-frills approach to creating 3D models. The release of Hexagon 2, however, seems to have complicated matters.
At this point in time, Hexagon 2 can be purchased from the Daz site at the incredibly low price of $1.99. Admittedly, to do this you have to become a member of the Daz Platinum Club at a cost of $29.95, but subscription can be cancelled at any time. If you aren’t quick enough to take advantage of this offer, however, what does Hexagon 2 offer for its standard price of £189? Well, quite a lot. In addition to its already powerful modelling toolset there’s a raft of improvements and additions to the program.
First and foremost are the new brush modelling tools, which enable users to apply a range of freehand displacement and bump map brushes to models by smoothing, pinching or inflating geometry. Also new is a UV mapping module that allows users to easily place 3D maps onto models. Among a wide range of minor new features is support for pen tablets, plus transparency, instant Ambient Occlusion, real-time shadows, and contextual menus. None of these features will be new to experienced 3D modellers but it’s nice to have this level of power for a small price. Add to this improvements to polygon handling, the scene tree, and multi-resolution smoothing and at face value you have an accomplished entry-level 3D package.
But what about performance? On a G5 with plenty of RAM, Hexagon 2 is intuitive and a joy to use. On a G4 PowerBook, however, we hit problems. After a few clicks, models mysteriously disappeared, a problem that appears to have been encountered by many users. Apparently, this occurs with certain makes of graphic card. To its credit, Daz acted quickly to fix this problem. Only weeks after the launch of Hexagon 2 an update appeared on the website. Unfortunately, on our test machine this prevented Hexagon from launching at all, forcing us to downgrade.
If you’re looking for a cheap but powerful 3D modelling package Hexagon 2 represents real value for money. Hopefully, future upgrades will provide bug fixes.