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Linking Strata 3D CX with Adobe Apps

Strata 3D CX lets you import native Illustrator CS files for 3D By Leif Buckley

While the market for 3D applications seems to get only more competitive, many companies have been forced out of business or absorbed by a larger company. But Strata continues to thrive on its own, while staying competitive by offering major upgrades. The most notable one is the latest version -- Strata 3D CX (4.1).

The CX name stands for "Connect and Extend" and it is geared toward designers who want a simple solution for creating 3D content. Underneath a friendly and even familiar looking interface lies an extremely powerful and easy-to-use piece of software.

One of the great additions to version 4.1 is its improved ability to work alongside Adobe's design applications. This includes ?live linking for textures in Photoshop and advanced importing/exporting abilities for Illustrator files.

A simple method of 3D design is to start with a profile made in Illustrator that can be brought into Strata 3D CX for extruding, skinning or lathing.

In Figure 1, you will see a basic shape of a Butterfly (Balisong) knife, a blade and a single side of the handle which makes up the majority of this model.

Figure 1 (Click for larger view)

Note: Filling your closed paths with black in Illustrator will bring in a solid 2D shape, while leaving the path empty would create a hollow shape in Strata 3D CX.

After making some uniform holes (solid white circles placed on top of the black profiles), I used the Pathfinder tool in Illustrator to create solid shapes for importation. To do this, I simply selected all the pieces of the handle and, while holding down the Option key (Alt for Win), selected the second icon "subtract from shape area."

Next, I saved my shapes as Native Illustrator CS files to import into Strata 3D CX for creating 3D shapes from my 2D Illustrator files.

Note: I saved my objects as individual files so they would remain as separate shapes in CX.

This recent project of the Butterfly knife put Strata 3D CX through a complete run of its new abilities and vastly improved toolset. Most noticeable is the new Subdivision Poly Modeler.

Before I could work with these imported shapes, I needed to change them to polygon meshes. In Strata 3D CX, you do this with the "Convert" tool.

Now that I have the basic 2D converted shapes of my knife, I can extrude them in the new Subdivision Poly Modeler and then further detail the shapes with new tools like Bridge, Bevel and Cut. Before you can access the new tools, you need to enter "Reshape" mode. You can use the Reshape button on the button bar, or use Command-L (Alt for Win).

In Figure 2, you can see the 2D handle has been extruded, and the holes were retained. I then used the bevel tool to make some softer edges on the handle. For the blade I started with the same method, I extruded the shape to give it depth, but then I used the "Ring Select" to select all the edges. I then used "Connect" which connected all my edges right down the middle.

Figure 2 (Click for larger view)

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Related Keywords:Strata 3D, Strata 3D CX, version 4., 3D applications


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