Piranesi Pro 2010 review

Piranesi is not a 3D tool, it creates 2D visuals – artist’s impressions – based on your 3D models. The trick is in Piranesi’s file format, EPix. You can export EPix files from most Mac-friendly 3D applications, including Google SketchUp, Lightwave and Cinema 4D. It means, however, that you can’t truly create skins or spot light scenes in Piranesi Pro. Or rather, you’ll have to be painterly about it.

EPix files maintain plenty of information about the original 3D file, including depth, the orientation of planes and surfaces and the different materials used within a scene. That means when you’re painting a scene – and Piranesi features plenty of options here including textures, inks, colour opacity, brush types and raster files – you can be very selective.

Without masking, you can paint a wash on a wall, fit a raster wood grain to a desk or fill all the legs of glass tables on a piazza in one click. Point at a surface to highlight it, then click: it’s that simple.

EPix’s depth information enables perspective to be upheld. That’s important for effects like brickwork or for cutouts – whether they’re bitmap, text or 3D, which are all supported. Hanging a sign from a ceiling that curves in the distance is entirely possible.

The real gem is the new layers feature. As in Photoshop, you can toggle them on and off to look at multiple takes of a composition. Quickly show your client various ideas: bricks or concrete for walls perhaps, or day and night views, and so on.

The paint effects are also very strong. You can simulate emotive pencil sketches, easy-on-the-eye watercolours, gentle washes, or out-there abstracts very quickly and convincingly. Photorealistic images are also possible. Combine this feature with layers and Piranesi’s power is easily apparent.

OUR VERDICT

Considering its price, Piranesi Pro 2010 is a valuable addition to any studio responsible for creatively rendering interiors or exteriors. It has its limitations, but these are far outweighed by its speed, simplicity and overall power.

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