• Price: 155 . 61

  • Company: Electric Rain

  • Pros: Soft Shadow Rendering; 3D Boolean Operations; cross-platform serial numbers; clone and array; advanced texture mapping, background image tracing.

  • Cons: Flash-based online user guide seems more up to date than supplied PDF version; some finesse could be added to the Mac interface.

  • Our Rating: We rate this 8 out of 10 We rate this 8 out of 10

Adobe Flash has some basic tools for creating 3D animations and website elements, but Swift 3D takes it to the next level. As well being able to export Flash- and XAML-based 3D from full models imported from modelling apps like Maya or 3ds Max, Swift3D offers an Advance Modeller of its own as well as a library of 3D primitive shapes.

Here you can apply bitmap materials to groups of surfaces, then click the Edit Texture button on the main toolbar to enable a further range of mapping tools.

Adobe Flash has some basic tools for creating 3D animations and website elements, but Swift 3D takes it to the next level. As well being able to export Flash- and XAML-based 3D from full models imported from modelling apps like Maya or 3ds Max, Swift3D offers an Advance Modeller of its own as well as a library of 3D primitive shapes. Here you can apply bitmap materials to groups of surfaces, then click the Edit Texture button on the main toolbar to enable a further range of mapping tools.

A new texture-editing mode gives an extra level of control over how the texture is positioned and displayed on the mesh surface, allowing you to reposition the texture at the vertex level. There’s also new support for Bump map textures.

Version 6 lets you apply Boolean operations, to create, change and edit new 3D objects by combining two primitives. It’s a very quick way of modelling. The Boolean operation is non-destructive, so after creating a union of the objects or using one to add or subtract from the other, you can drill down into the scene hierarchy to adjust the properties of the component shapes at any time.

Trace elements

There’s a new addition to extrusion and lathe operations: background image tracing. This allows you to bring in bitmap images and trace round them in either the lathe and extrude editor windows. Once you switch to Scene Editor, the shape is presented in 3D form. It’s quick to use for logos or text with straight lines, while Swift3D’s tangent and curve tools can be used for more tricky work.

You can now create clones of objects in Swift3D, instancing the object so that the original is changed, all of the clones change in the same manner. Also useful is the new array feature, which lets you distribute the cloned objects along defined axes with adjustable positioning.

Rendering has been improved with Soft Shadows, which greatly enhances the visual realism of exported Swift3D scenes. This effect is adjusted using the light size control, where a 0 value gives hard-edged shadows, but increasing it by small increments creates renderings that have shadows with blurred edges.

Still on export side, Swift3D builds on the support for the Papervision format in version 5, now allowing output of a whole Swift3D project as a Papervision 2.0 (PV3D) and Collada (.dae) project- a great timesaver.

Swift3D is no longer has the only Flash 3D tool around, but the new modelling and texture features and enhanced support for Papervision 3D means it’s still a strong contender. Rendering speed is noticeably improved and although the undocked Mac interface can be irritating, the cross-platform serial numbers give you the option to switch to PC if you desire.