Strata 3D CX 5.5 Review

Strata 3D CX wants to be the go-to application for traditional designers in need of a 3D kick. It has been criticised in the past for having a slow development cycle. With Strata 3D CX 5.0, released 2006, much of this criticism was answered in the form of extensive integration with Photoshop and Illustrator. It even took usability cues from Adobe’s flagship products, offering new users a familiar feel.

CX 5.5 maintains that functionality and streamlined interface. However, its masterstroke is the inclusion of a new plug-in set for Photoshop CS3 Extended, enabling users to pass layers from the 2D image editor to Strata for 3D modelling, and back again, absolutely seamlessly.

Model New is designed to add 3D objects to a 2D (or 3D) background, and is therefore perfect for adding muscle to logos, products or point of sale packaging. Additionally, as Strata 3D exports SWF files and has excellent animation tools, it’s also useful for web design.

The Match plug-in enables 3D elements to be added to 2D scenes via Photoshop’s Vanishing Point. Again, you can just add Vanishing Point grids to your shot and save it as a layer. Select it, open the Match plug-in, et viola: Strata opens and offers a camera view that preserves your Photoshop point of view for accurate placement of models. (There’s also a Model Edit plug-in for elements that need extra work.)

The plug-ins work incredibly smoothly. Combined with the Adobe integration, and barnstorming rendering options – including Raytracing, Radiosity and Toon – they make Strata 3D CX5.5 a worthy contender.

OUR VERDICT

Designers in search of a relatively simple yet powerful, modelling app need look no further than Strata 3D CX 5.5. It’s perfect for logos, packaging design, visualisation and other print and interactive work. It’s no Maya, but if you really need Maya, buy Maya. There are good things ahead for this package.

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