• Price: £51 . £20

  • Company: Daz

  • Pros: Inexpensive, faster rendering, dual-processor and multi-threading support.

  • Cons: Poor installation of content DVD, no Intel Mac support, dismal number of showstopping bugs.

  • Our Rating: We rate this 4 out of 10 We rate this 4 out of 10

Show a 3D landscape to most digital artists, and they’ll bet that Bryce was the application that created it. Debuting in 1994 on the Mac, Bryce has endured a chequered history – from periods of stagnation to changing hands every few years.

Fast forward to today, and Bryce 6 is the first, full-point release from new owners Daz, which acquired the software in 2004. Unfortunately for long-time users it continues Bryce’s less than glorious past when it comes to bug squashing and stability issues, while adding little in the way of new features.

Bryce is a modelling, animation, and texturing tool that specializes in the creation of 3D vistas, and comes loaded with a series of specialist tools that help artists build and populate virtual landscapes. Artists can build terrains either using greyscale 2D maps or by directly editing 3D greyscale representations using brushes or a series of settings such as erosion, valley depth, and so on. With this release, Daz has bumped image support in the Terrain Editor to 16-bit, offering up finer terrain control.

Many of Bryce’s tools and much of its workflow is identical to the previous version, and the interface still features the original workings of the previous incarnation. It’s all shiny control balls, glassy sliders and various Labs that are heavy on experimentation, if a little light on finessing and measured control. The Bryce interface is something you either love or hate.

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Elsewhere, it’s business as usual. Bryce still features a reasonably robust Tree Lab for creating a variety of 3D foliage, although the output isn’t going to worry the likes of rival tool Vue from E-on. The Texture Editor remains unchanged, providing a quick way to import, create, and edit textures – or it would if I hadn’t run into a file structure problem that prevented textures from loading.
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Also unchanged is metaball modelling, the ability to work with Daz|Studio, and most rendering options. Bryce also ships with Lightning 2.0 – a licence-free tool for rendering scenes across networks.
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Not updating many of Bryce’s tools would be forgivable if Daz had significantly boosted the application <BR>
in other areas, but even here version 6 is found wanting.
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The headline addition is support for more realism thanks to the ability to light scenes with High Dynamic Range Images (HDRI), which does bring Bryce into step with many other 3D tools, although it’s still late to the HDRI party. HDRI is handled with aplomb, thankfully, with full control over the HDRI effect via attributes such as intensity and quality – and the results will bring smiles to the faces of Bryce veterans.
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