capsule review

Amorphium Pro 1.1

Electric Image's Amorphium made 3-D modeling more accessible by putting intuitive sculpting tools into a simple interface inspired by image-software wizard Kai Krause ( Reviews , August 1999). But artists soon found limitations in the inexpensive, entry-level program. Amorphium Pro 1.1 isn't so much an upgrade as a new, professionally oriented production tool built on the features of the original. And with its ability to produce Flash animations, it will appeal to Web designers looking to add 3-D elements to their sites.

Virtual Clay

Like Amorphium, Amorphium Pro lets you modify objects as though they were made of clay, apply sculpting and painting tools, and employ real-time distortion effects. But the new version removes the original's most frustrating limitations. A full keyframe-animation timeline lets you animate multiple objects, the camera, lights, and environmental effects. The vastly improved Materials function lets you define surface colors and properties, and you can add surface effects with shaders.

In addition to importing models in popular 3-D formats, the program can import EPS files and convert them into 3-D objects. And Amorphium Pro's extensive Flash export options let you choose between realistic, high-bandwidth animations and more-cartoonish ones that consume less space.

Sculpting Tools

Basic sculpting functions are now split between two modes. Tools mode has a new Brush Editor for creating your own sculpting tools; FX mode now has a Cogs effect that lets you produce gear-like objects. A new Wax mode, complete with a Heat setting, lets you expand or contract a model's geometry as if it were a lump of wax. As before, you can use linked spheres to create fingers and other objects. With a new parenting function, you can link one object's motion to another's, and Boolean functions let you create new objects by intersecting existing ones. With the improved masking tools, you can reduce or expand polygon density in different parts of a model.

The manual is skimpy and poorly indexed, and at $379, Amorphium Pro costs more than twice as much as the original. But with all the newly added features, the program is a decent value.

Never Say Kai: Pros will appreciate Amorphium Pro's new interface, which includes a useful Quad View.
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