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Planet3DArt Feature Article

<b class="vrgrafixText">Realsoft 3D Version 4 Review
by Leonard Teo, 09 January 2001

Introduction

Realsoft Graphics is a 3D software development company out of Finland. Their latest software, Realsoft 3D version 4 is a 3D modeling/animation/rendering package that rivals other high-end packages at a very attractive price of US$700. Featuring many heavyweight tools that are only available in much more expensive packages, Realsoft 3D exuberates with true "bang for your buck" factor.

User Interface

The Realsoft 3D interface is similar to Alias|Wavefront Maya's and discreet's 3ds max. Large, colorful buttons line the top of the screen, and a selection window on the left allows you to control all of your scene objects and attributes. Realsoft 3D even has a mini version of the famous Maya "Hotbox", which they call the "Compass". This allows you to quickly switch views or perform operations on objects without having to go back to the command buttons or menus.


The Realsoft 3D user interface. Notice the "Compass" that allows you
to quickly apply different views or actions to objects.

Surprisingly, the default UI configuration is not a "four" layout (top, front, side, perspective viewports), but a single, large perspective viewport. With the Compass, you can quickly change views, but most experienced 3D modelers prefer to work with a "four" view. The good news is that the UI is completely configurable, and there is a preset layout for the "four" view.

Modeling

I think that the area where Realsoft 3D excels most is in modeling. Built into Realsoft 3D is some very powerful subdivision surface and NURBS modeling features that are only found in much more expensive packages. Realsoft 3D also throws in metaball modeling, for creating interesting liquid-type, blobby objects.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that Realsoft 3D features true Subdivision Surface modeling. Any time you render the SubD object, it renders out smoothly subdivided. This is unlike other packages where you need to increase the subdivision levels to get a smooth surface. The set of tools for SubD modeling is very comprehensive, including weighted points and edges, and also edge creasing. There is also a "Tunnel" tool that will punch a hole in a polygon or join two faces together. SubD modeling furiously fast, and once you get the hang of it in Realsoft 3D, you can create many objects or characters quickly and without fuss.

Realsoft 3D also comes with an impressive set of NURBS modeling tools. From the basic lathes, extrusions and lofts all the way to surface trimming (punching holes in surfaces), welding and fillets. For a $700 package, that's pretty damn amazing.

An interesting tool is the Pen tool which you can use to very quickly create NURBS surfaces. It works by first creating a curve, then using a Pen (options are Rail, Sweep and Rotate) to interactively create the resulting NURBS surface. As you lay down the points on the new curve, you can already see the surface taking shape and interactively adjust the look of it.


This vase was created in a few seconds by using the Pen tool to lathe an
existing curve interactively. Notice that Realsoft 3D also has in-viewport
rendering for previews.

I found it a bit cumbersome to edit sub-objects such as vertices and faces. While the user interface includes large "manipulators" that allows you to move, rotate and scale objects constrained to an axis quickly in 3D space, sub-object editing does not have these. No doubt, you can get around it quite easily by switching the input plane to another view or by locking an axis with keys, but it's a little more tedious. It would have been easier to grab the manipulators.

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