Focus on Graphics and Imaging
This month we're covering the high-tech graphics and imaging genre. Since this is one of the most competitive segments of the software industry, graphics software is just about as cutting-edge as it gets. Check out some of these impresive products we've recently come across.
Would you like to use the same graphics program NASA's technical illustrators utilized to create the Mars Pathfinder illustrations? If so, pick up a copy of Canvas 5, Deneba Software's all-in-one package that gives professional illustration, image editing, publication and graphic design, and pre-press capabilities. Available for both Windows and Macintosh, Canvas 5 features an imaging system with up to 24 channels, letting you create sophisticated hi-res images. The software's expanded open architecture lets you use any Photoshop-compatible plug-in filter, meaning less switching around between programs.
Canvas 5 comes with 2,000 new URW fonts in both TrueType and Type 1 formats, and over 20,000 royalty-free clip art images including color vector art, hi-res backgrounds, textures, photos and technical symbols. Deneba has also just released Colada, a Java-based plug-in that gives Canvas 5 users the ability to quickly create Web pages. All page design takes place in the Canvas environment, making URL management a simple task. Visit http://www.deneba.com/ for more information or to download a beta of Colada.
MetaCreations, always a strong player in the high-performance graphics field, has recently released Painter 5 for Windows. This new version offers over one hundred new brushes and creative effects through an extensible plug-in architecture. Its GUI has also been reworked for ease-of-use, and it offers a full Color Management System by Kodak. "[Painter 5] contains the expected MetaCreations magic, and one-of-a-kind features that people expect from us, like the Liquid Metal floater that lets you draw with reflective blobs of paint that can be moved and arranged like liquid mercury," says Mark Zimmer, the father of Painter.
Painter's unique Natural-Media brush technology has always helped it stand out, and the new version adds expandable plug-in brushes such as texture, noise, fire, glow, turbulence, confusion and more. For example, the Impasto Floater gives a realistic 3D look of thick acrylic paint. Painter 5 offers many other new and improved features and tools, and also gives new Web publishing capabilities. Check out http://www.metacreations.com.
Modeling and Much More
A useful program we've recently discovered is 3D Construction Company's new 3D Builder Pro 3.0. This unique product builds accurate and detailed 3D models from photographs, complete with seamless full-surround, photo-realistic textures. It can be a real time saver, as it obtains accurate field measurements and creates 3D "as built" CAD models, without the need for target points.
The software, using a powerful math solver, can combine information from a large number of photos of complicated objects, extract the needed information, and then merge it together into a single 3D model ready to export to rendering, animation and presentation programs. It features camera calibration, automatic perspective correction and more. 3D Builder Pro 3.0, available for Windows, also includes the new VRML 2.0 export function that supplies data files small enough for Internet use.
Another specialized product to catch our attention is Nemetschek's ARCH 14 Modeler, an architectural plug-in for AutoCAD Release 14. ARCH 14 was developed in response to extensive research into how architects use existing applications, and provides functionality specific to an architect's needs. It assists architects in modeling applications, including massing studies, conceptual modeling, schematic design and component design. ARCH 14 Modeler requires AutoCAD Release 14 running on a Windows 95/NT machine. For more detailed information go to http://www.arch14.com.
A product that combines both 2D drafting and 3D solid modeling in one package, DesignCAD 97 ensures total compatibility in each project phase, from idea to blueprint to scale model. From ViaGrafix, DesignCAD 97 includes more than 200 professional drawing and editing commands; 3D modeling tools with Boolean operations and volume calculations; surfacing tools; animation support, including AVI; 3D walk-through; e-mail and VRML support; anti-aliased rendering; true 3D texture mapping; direct scanner support with vector conversion; Visual Basic and Visual C++ support; DWG file compatibility; and free technical support. For even more on this powerful Windows-compatible program, browse over to http://www.viagrafix.com.
From Manufacturing and Consulting Services (MCS), Anvil Express has garnered praise from instructors for being easy for engineering students to learn quickly. The latest version has an even more productive user interface, along with some unique and powerful tools. AutoSnap 3-D is a tool that helps create automatic solids from a 2D mechanical drawing, and the powerful SolidWorks 97Plus parts and assemblies modeler is also included. Parametric drafting is supported, as is photorealistic rendering and animation. Anvil Express features a complete set of 2D and 3D design and drafting tools. Art: Microstation Descartes Can Process All Raster Images
Bentley Systems has recently released MicroStation Descartes, which lets users include and process all raster images - including maps, scanned drawings, and aerial and satellite photos - and MicroStation vector design files in a single program within the MicroStation environment. Descartes' new raster-to-vector conversion capabilities support color and black and white geographic images. The software also includes automated vectorization, text and symbol replacement, and a comprehensive API for customization, product extension and system integration. Go to http://www.bentley.com for more information.
If students don't have an interest in high-end graphics or imaging, even the best software sits unused in a CD-ROM server. To create interest in 3D and virtual reality, Hearlihy & Company produced a new, 10-hour Virtual Reality course (Windows only). The course includes software, books and videos that let students create a 3D model of a house; take a virtual reality tour of the human body; profile careers that involve virtual reality technology; identify and develop solutions for architectural errors; and more.
Finally, we'll close with a product that's just too cool to pass up, the National Geographic Photo Gallery. Distributed by Mindscape, it features 3,000 hi-res photos by top National Geographic photojournalists. Categories include Endangered Species; the Wildlife of Africa; the American West; the Environment; Children of the World; Geography; and more. Available for Windows 3.1/95, National Geographic Photo Gallery's remarkable photography can be integrated into student projects of all types.
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3D Construction Company
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Nemetschek Systems, Inc.
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Manufacturing and Consulting Services, Inc.
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Bentley Systems, Inc.
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Hearlihy & Company
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This article originally appeared in the 12/01/1997 issue of THE Journal.