Realsoft 3D 4 is a package that aims to make the difficult process of 3D design and animation slightly more accessible. It attempts to appeal both to the novice and to the advanced user by being easy to learn – but, at the same time, includes a suite of features not usually found in 3D modelling software at this price range. Its interface is certainly very flexible, and it won’t be long before you gain control over it. You can switch between views using simple mouse gestures, or rotate the viewport with a hot-key. All the usual 3D tools are available in Realsoft 3D. Primitive objects give you a good starting point for creating a range of geometric shapes. NURBS and subdivision faces are also in place. Bones can be built easily, and you can produce particle systems. The program makes it easy to place objects into hierarchies – indeed the concept is quite central to everything you do in the program. Each time you create an object, it appears in the object list on the left-hand side of the screen. By dragging an object around on this list, you set up hierarchies. For example, you may build a tabletop, then decide to create some legs. Select New Level in the projects list, and a folder appears. Into this, you can place the tabletop and its legs. If you create objects to be placed on the table, just set up a new level within the table folder. When you’re working on a complex project, the value of this kind of organization becomes instantly apparent. The listing of the elements in a project looks just like the filing system in Windows. When you apply a material, you simply create another folder containing the material and mapping definitions into which you can drop any of your objects or other folders. The standard package includes features that let you create hair and fur using particles – although you may encounter problems if you want to give hair complex attributes such as motion or varying directions. As a quick and easy solution, however, it works well. Meta-modelling is possible too. You can apply meta-modelling to spheres that then meld them together to produce complex curved objects – although again this is not an advanced modelling system. Realsoft 3D also contains a powerful scripting language that lets you create and modify objects and animations or write your own custom controls, materials and the like. The most obvious use of scripting is in setting up complex relationships between animated objects. However, with the advanced choreography tools available, you can easily make any attribute animate based on any other attribute. Walking animations can be created very quickly using the Footsteps tool. Here, you can place left and right footsteps anywhere in 3D space, then give any skeleton – with any number of legs – the instruction to follow the footsteps. Realsoft calculates ideal motion. Realsoft 3D 4 offers a shallow learning curve, and provides an impressive range of features for the 3D animator. That said, not all of the headline features are as comprehensive as they could have been.