By Michael Burns | on July 27, 2006
Price: 997 . 1330 . 1594
Pros: Impressively accurate rendering. Wide variety of innovative tools. Offers animation of all objects including colours, real-time shading, interactive rendering, and extract from animation facility.
Cons: Steep learning curve. Fairly high price. No obvious construction history, though unlimited undo is available. No paper manual.
Form.Z has been one of the more capable 3D modelling applications for some years, but version 6.0 sees it take a significant step.
As well as new modelling tools and output functions, this update introduces real animation to the package for the first time. The only motion previously available was walkthroughs and fly-bys.
There’s a full arsenal of primitives, text and terrain tools, metaballs, patches, and NURBS-based surfaces. The package offers great control over objects, and you can quickly and easily edit an object’s parameters after their initial creation.
Form.Z makes great use of parametric derivative objects, which can be generated from other objects including 2D shapes or 3D extrusions. New tools in this version include the S-Loft operation that combines skinning and lofting to generate objects that branch, while the Cap tool enables new surfaces to be formed from boundaries of other objects.
However, if you come to this package cold or with experience in geometric-based modellers, you’ll be facing a steep learning curve. There’s only an electronic version of the manual supplied, but Auto.des.sys has incorporated a form
of tool tip for each section, probably to address the challenge. The inclusion of a 2D drafting module is just one indication that the whole approach to modelling here is different.
Different isn’t necessarily bad though. The package is very flexible when it comes to the wide variety of views and real-time shading options offered. Simply being able to drag-&-drop surface styles onto objects is a real timesaver. Previous stability issues have also been addressed, as the package was rock solid and fast on the various machines we tested on.