• Price When Reviewed: Free

  • Pros: Free; UV unwrap workflow; support for 3DS and Collada; native PSD support for import/export and rendering; content library; normal mapping; wide selection of editing and object creation tools and hair/fur and deforming tools.

  • Cons: No Mac support; no integrated 3D file exchange with Photoshop CS3 Extended.

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

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This review was taken from our group test of 3D tools for illustrators.

Recently released for free following the takeover of developer Caligari by Microsoft, trueSpace is a fully-featured 3D application. Although it has an unorthodox look and feel, it offers hundreds of tools, animation facilities and physics simulations, and a collaborative working environment.

Although there’s no integrated 3D file exchange with Photoshop Extended CS3, you can import and export models in the Collada and 3DS formats supported by Adobe (plus some OBJ files).

The trueSpace UV Mapping workflow allows you to set Photoshop as an external editor. When you unwrap the texture of a 3D object, you can send the resulting projection to Photoshop as a texture map file. When you’ve worked on the image
in Photoshop and saved the result, the texture map in trueSpace is updated when you click on the UV Mapping Editor window.

Shipping with 400-odd modelling tools, a large library of materials, textures and objects, normal map support and HDRI environments, trueSpace also supports morph targets, real-time cloth, hair/fur grooming and character animation, as well as the impressive ability to work on objects at the same time as other users on a network. Rendering features include soft shadows, transparencies, reflections, sophisticated materials and the handling of HDRI backgrounds.

trueSpace’s closest competitor here is Carrara, which has a smaller modelling toolset and no roundtrip texture-editing, but supports Poser-format character models from Daz 3D and others. Both may be a bit much for Photoshop users, though, who might find 3D Toolbox or Strata 3D[in] a slimmer alternative.