By Michael Burns | on October 13, 2008
Price When Reviewed: 9 . 149
Pros: Initial application free; inexpensive modules; good modelling features.
Cons: Mac-only; limited use outside texture workflow or object viewing; no integration with Photoshop CS3 Extended; 3D Metafile format for 3D file export only.
This review was taken from our group test of 3D tools for illustrators.
Microspot 3D Toolbox is a Mac-only modular 3D application that you upgrade by buying plug-ins that offer rendering, texturing, modelling and animation facilities. The free base application can serve users of Photoshop Extended CS3 as an object viewer, as it can open Quickdraw 3D, 3DS Max, and Sketchup files.
Files from various applications can be assembled, then customized by repositioning and resizing the elements, and adding a background and base plate. This lets models cast shadows while being rendered, adding more depth and realism to the scene. Buying a serial number for £9 (plus VAT) opens up Microspot’s custom library, as well as the Save and Export functions. Libraries are updated via downloads from Microspot.
Using the Save option saves the file in 3D Metafile format, so you’ll need an additional conversion plug-in before you can use it with Photoshop.
If you buy the Texture Pack, you can add images in any QuickTime translatable picture format as textures to items or surfaces of objects, then adjust the size, position and rotation of the texture.
For texturing, you can use Photoshop to prepare image files and drag them into the scene from the desktop, or import them from the Pictures folder. It’s possible to ungroup models into components, then restrict the texture application to a single component. There’s also an Eyedropper tool that can move attributes – including textures – from one object
The modular system makes this an affordable 3D solution, though if you’re after greater choice, it might be worth paying extra for the polish of Carrara or Poser Pro.