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It’s been well under a year since the release of trueSpace 6.0, and Caligari is at it again with yet another update of the popular 3D package. Version 6.5 is again a feature-rich upgrade; indeed, the way Caligari can pack in so many desirable features in such a short space of time is admirable. TrueSpace is a fully featured 3D animation program for Windows. It has been available for a few years, and unlike so many other 3D applications that have come and gone, trueSpace has managed to hold its ground. It’s also one of the more memorable 3D programs currently available because of its trademark upside-down and icon-heavy interface. Whether or not you like the aesthetics, the program’s interface design will have a significant impact on the way you work. An icon is only useful if it communicates what it’s for. Not all of trueSpace’s icons break this rule, but many do – plus the sheer number of them poses a great deal of difficulty for the user trying to decipher one very similar candy-coloured splodge from another. We don’t like trueSpace’s interface. Yet, from a marketing point of view, it’s easy to see why Caligari sticks with it. It’s ingrained in computer users’ psyches that icons equal ease-of-use. Plainly, there are times when this isn’t so. TrueSpace veterans will be pleased with some of the new features on offer in version 6.5. One of the great tools in version 6.0 was the interactive polygon-rounding that put many 3D applications costing much more than it to shame. Now, you can chamfer and round any polygon edge (and we do mean any) without the tool failing, and interactively adjust the number of divisions and the size. You can also select edges or faces, and cause subsequent rounds to intersect previous ones without too much grief. Subdivision Surfaces have been improved with support for Subdivision layers. This is an interesting feature – it allows you to stack SubD cages using each level as the control cage for the subsequent one. You can edit the surface of both the cage and the surface for incredible levels of control and detail. Also new is geometry painting. Select the object to clone, select the surface onto which you want to clone it, then click to place the duplicates. It works well, but you can’t seem to paint the duplicates – just place them one by one. Plus, there doesn’t seem to be a history – so if the surface changes shape, the cloned objects don’t follow along. The program also has a good IK system, plus character tools suitable for most character-animation situations. The material system is good in theory, but in practice, it’s frustrating, lacking the precision and material-management feature of other applications. Overall, trueSpace 6.5 is a well-featured 3D program but it’s let down by the way those features are implemented, the workflow, and that annoying interface. The program is suitable for high-level animation and modelling, but professionals that need these kinds of features are likely to find the interface more in keeping with a low-end package designed for dabblers.