Price: £284 plus VAT
As a Web designer, I’m used to creating content in bitmap- and vector-graphics applications, and using Web-creation tools to build sites. I’ve also work with digital video and author interactive content with Macromedia Director and Flash. But I must admit that I’ve limited experience of using 3D authoring software. After taking Axelcore – which is aimed at people like me – for a spin, I’m feeling ready for 3D action on a regular basis.
The slim 33-page ‘quick start’ guide for creating Web 3D content provides a useful grounding in the concepts of 3D authoring and how to get started. The best way to learn Axelcore is to work through the training PDF file on the installation CD – following this document, you will quickly master the program.
The 3D workspace
Axelcore offers the traditional work views of a 3D application with top, front, right, and camera views of the project. Other main work areas are the toolbox (the toolbar in Windows); the project manager; the parameter editor; the interaction editor; and the sequencer. While it all looks daunting to the uninitiated, I found that playing around with the various tools for a couple of hours quickly made them familiar.
Creating models is straightforward. Create a new project, and then go to the Model menu. Select the Add Surface command, then choose a primitive such as a cube or a sphere from the pop-up menu – the shape selected appears in the centre of your project window.
Of course, building your first virtual world will be a matter of hard work and practice. The modelling tools are basic compared with those a professional 3D artist will be used to, but Axelcore is aimed at novices to the world of interactive 3D modelling, and doesn’t overload you with options. Once the basics have been learned, even the uninitiated designer will be creating 3D content for the Web.
Small file sizes
The 3D files generated by Axelcore are viewed in Web pages using the Axel Player browser plug-in, a download of less than 1MB that installs itself automatically when Axelcore content is found in a Web page.
The 3D files themselves are tiny; you can create animations and embed them in Web pages of less than 50K. Axelcore 1.5 features some enhancements over earlier versions: it now boasts QuickTime texture support – which means that you’ll need QuickTime 5 installed – and new cartoon and wireframe rendering capabilities have been added.
This version is carbonized for the Mac, so it will work in native mode under OS X with a streamlined Aqua interface. It will also work with OS 9.2.
Axelcore 1.5 is an excellent entry-level introduction to the world of Web 3D content creation. Any reasonably skilled Web designer can learn to use it in a short time and some of the features found within the application would not be out of place in more expensive 3D tools.