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Xara3D4 by Xara Ltd
Reviewed by Joyce Turner


Xara3D4 creates the highest quality 3D titles and logos for use on Web pages. All images are fully anti-aliased for smooth, professional quality. Xara3D can also create simple, high quality animated GIFs or AVI movie sequences in seconds.

Description: Xara3D by Xara Ltd. is a superb program designed to create top quality 3D titles, logos and buttons. All images are fully anti-aliased. Xara3D can also create simple, high quality animated GIFs or AVI movie sequences in seconds. The many options available to control the settings for lights, colors, tints, textures, swing, rotation, size, etc. enable one to create terrific animations and images very quickly. Xara3D is very easy to learn and to use. Download a Demo Version at Xara Ltd.'s Site. To order the CD directly, use this Link.

Features:

Creating and Importing:

  • Uses any TrueType font. Six fonts are included in the download and a further 50 on the CD. Simply select the font from the drop down menu.
  • Supports international character sets, such as Japanese, Chinese and Russian.
  • Full text control, including alignment, sub- & superscript, line spacing, tracking and kerning values for individual characters or over whole selections.
  • Instant access to full character sets from within the text dialog.
  • Can import 2D graphic shapes as Windows metafiles (WMF and EMF) and CorelXARA/Webster files (XAR and WEB) to be used as outlines.
  • You can select any background color and texture to match your web page background. Then you can position your image exactly against the background.
  • Full anti-aliasing for the best possible on-screen display.

Editing and Applying Special Effects:

  • Interactive control over the 3D extrude depth.
  • Unlimited undo.
  • Automatic button-making.
  • Real-time 3D positioning around three axes by simply dragging the image on screen.
  • Real-time solid shading with optional error-diffusion dithering for top quality results.
  • Areas of text can be selected, and different attributes such as bevel, color, fonts and text settings applied.
  • A total of 21 different bevel types with adjustable bevel size.
  • Simple to alter lighting (three adjustable light arrows for interactive adjustment of the color and direction.)
  • Flexible interactive controls over the color and texture of the image and background.
  • Images can be displayed with front and back faces, or can be made hollow.
  • Images can have bitmap textures applied.
  • A total of 37 textures are included in the download, and there are 800+ on the CD-ROM. You can also import your own GIF or PNG files.
  • Textures can be scaled, rotated and colored.
  • Images can be matt or shiny.
  • Images can have a soft-edged shadow and an intuitive interface allows you to simply alter the blur, transparency and color.

Animated GIFs:

  • Images can be animated in many different ways, such as Rotate, Fade, Pulsate, Step, Fade and Swing, using a simple user interface.
  • Step-through multi-page animations of different images.
  • The number of frames in a sequence, the rotation direction, the speed, pause and number of loops can all be selected through simple controls.
  • GIF Animations can be paused (and pauses can be seen in the on-screen preview).
  • Great for creating animated buttons.

Exporting your results:

  • Outputs JPEG, GIF, BMP, PNG (including full PNG alpha channel), animated GIF and AVI
  • Optional background transparency
  • Color reduction and palette-optimization for maximum quality with the smallest file size.
  • Complete control over the image size, including a handy Fit To Width feature (with pixel size shown on screen).

Cost: Full Version: $39.00 ; Upgrade for owners of version 1: $29.00; Upgrade for owners of version 2: $15.00.

Requirements: Intel compatible 486 or better: 8 MB RAM: Does not require Direct X or any other software to run.

Platforms: Windows 95, 98, 2000, NT4.

Installation: If one downloads the trial version, then one follows the instructions given for installation. Then if you purchase the full program, the trial version should be uninstalled when you receive the CDs. Then reinstall Xara3d4 from the CD. If one purchases the full program and then installs, then one just uses the CD and follows the instructions.

Manual: The help files are excellent. The samples also give one ideas of what can be accomplished using Xara3D4. There is a Xara 3D forum on TalkGraphics (http://www.talkgraphics.com). It's a great forum for getting help and feedback on the product as well as sharing some artwork in the galleries.

Illustrations: Illustrations made by the reviewer using Xara3D4.

Reviewer's Remarks: Xara3D4 is an excellent and easily learned program for making logos, buttons and titles. The help files are superb. One can achieve many different effects by using the mouse and dragging the lights, the background or text image. The changes are seen instantly as one drags the items. Exporting the animations is simple. One can export the animations as transparent gifs or with a background.

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