By Neil Bennett | on April 20, 2009
Price When Reviewed: 135 . 67
Pros: Powerful 3D text and vector-extrusion tools that are easy for Photoshop users to learn; great-looking output.
Cons: Crashes more than it should; no scroll-wheel support.
Next comes the application of materials. The easiest way to do this is to apply a Material Swatch, which coats your text or shape in combinations of colour and texture. You use the Material Palette to apply different materials to the front, back and sides of each element, while the Profile Viewer palette enables you to further - for example to allow you to put different materials on the top and bottom halves of some text.
The Object Style Swatch palette offers combinations of different materials for text objects, and while there’s a tendency towards The Day Today-style ubergraphics, there’s a huge number of options for modifying them in the Material Editor palette.
The Light Editor is simple and easy to use too, with preset panels for individual lights and groups. 3D Invigorator supports up to six lights, plus an ambient light. Positioning your lights is as simple as dragging a light around a globe and there are advanced controls over shadow softness. You can also drag the light around on your scene using the Light tool. Next to the Light tool is the camera tool, which is a bit redundant for static artwork creation but provides a quick way to rotate around multiple elements.
We were impressed by the quality of this plug-ins rendering – it’s not photorealistic, but it’s more than enough for most illustration projects and it can mimic a number of different lens types from Fisheye (12mm) to Wildlife (1,000mm). Other features we liked included the plug-in’s ability to work as a Smart Filter, so you can go back and modify your scene if you like – and to work within areas you’ve selected in Photoshop, including complex shapes.
We discovered a few niggles though. Due to a restriction within Photoshop, you can only see the layer the filter is applied to below your elements in the plug-ins interface. You can’t use your scroll wheel within panel, which slows down selecting materials and presets. We also saw more than a few crashes in more complex scenes,
3D Invigorator really is a 3D tool for digital artists and illustrators who’ve never looked beyond Photoshop’s layers for compositing due to 3D’s complexity and painful initial curve, as it’s powerful and accessible and is capable of producing great results.