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Electric Image Amorphium Pro 1.1

3D modeling, painting and animation software By Dave Nagel
I've mentioned before that for designers, particularly those who work in Flash, skill with 3D is rapidly becoming a prerequisite. Last year, the only tool on the market for bringing 3D content into the Flash format was Swift3D from Electric Rain. Now, however, it seems that every 3D publisher wants a piece of the Web, and they're all either offering Flash expansion modules or are developing export options for SWF animation.

As a subset of these publishers, there are those who are not just expanding existing applications to make them useable on the Web but are actually tailoring them for use by those whose skills tend more toward 2D design?print and the Web?but who are beginning to need 3D for things like spinning logos, flythroughs and character animation.

Enter Amorphium Pro from Electric Image.

Now, many of you probably remember the original Amorphium (from Play Inc.), a 3D product also targeted toward designers that was introduced a few years ago. If you had the chance to use it, you probably weren't terribly enthralled by it. It didn't exactly deliver on the promise of 3D for the masses. But Amorphium Pro is different. Very different.

What it does
Amorphium Pro is probably the first true 3D modeling and animation package targeted toward designers that also happens to have amazing features to back it up. This is a full-featured 3D suite, one that includes numerous tools for modeling, painting, texturing, masking, effects and rendering. I can't possibly cover it all here, but I'll try to give you a general sense of what it does and a few specific examples of how it works.

I say that this package is targeted toward designers not because it's a dumbed-down version of a high-end program. It's not. It's targeted toward designers in that its workflow and tools are organized in as close a way to 2D applications as possible while still being able to produce 3D. It's like your favorite image editor and painting program rolled into one and then extruded for 3D. And it's not a "dumb" program. This is unquestionably a professional tool.

By way of example, consider the problem of masking and painting a model while you're still in the process of building it. Say, for example, that you just want to make some hair on a head and paint it. You just click on the "Mask" tool, paint your mask on the object, and paint color with a tool similar to Photoshop's airbrush tool on the unmasked areas. Then just unmask you model to go back and do some more modeling. Simple, right? We'll take a look at masking later in this review. First let's take a look at how it all works.

Amorphium Pro is divided into 12 components for accomplishing various tasks. By default, when you launch the program, you get a mesh sphere in the middle of a blank scene in the Composition mode. Composition is where you come to create new basic shapes, arrange them in the scene, attach them to other objects, change object attributes or animate objects using a timeline that's very easy to understand. It's sort of the homeroom for all the rest of the features.

The basic single-window view in Composition mode. The toolbar on the left
can be expanded into individual palettes, and you can also view numerous
windows for different perspectives on your object.

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