Design Visualization

First Look Review: Shade 8.5

3 May, 2006 By: Ron LaFon

Capable 3D graphics toolkit for designers, illustrators and architects comes in Windows and Mac versions.

Shade 8.5 from e frontier is a 3D modeling tool that lets you generate photorealistic renderings and 3D animations. This new release supports 64-bit Windows and Intel-based Macs and includes a variety of new features and improvements. Shade 8.5 is touted as running up to twice as fast on Intel-based Macs, and the Windows 64-bit supports more than 2GB of memory rendering.

Shade 8.5 is a 3D modeling tool that now supports 64-bit Windows and Intel-based Macintosh systems.

Shade 8.5 offers a clean and simple interface with an easy-to-grasp menu structure -- improvements in this version have made this better than ever. Shade's rich feature set has many niceties, such as the ability to import Adobe Illustrator design files and export to Adobe Photoshop for final composition. It

Shade 8.5
Pros: Capable modeling, rendering and animation tool; supports 64-bit Windows and Intel-based Macintosh systems.
Cons: Rendering speed dependent on system speed.
Price: $899.99 Professional, $199.99 Standard, $99.99 upgrade from Shade 7 and Poser, free upgrade from Shade 8.

e frontier

provides direct support for integrating with Poser, e frontier's 3D character animation and figure design tool. Shade also integrates with ArchiCAD and other popular 2D and 3D software applications. Use OBJ, IGES 5.3 and DXF file formats to integrate with CAD-based environments.

The program includes advanced Boolean and polygon modeling tools. You can apply global illumination to models with radiosity for photorealistic visualizations. Rendering takes place in an image window, with rendering speed largely dependent on the system processor and amount of RAM installed. Rendering can be distributed to other systems using a Rendering Server program included with Shade 8.5 Professional version. Shade 8.5 supports pixel depth in 32-bits, 64-bits and 128-bits for all rendering image output. It also supports TrueType and PostScript Type 1 fonts.

New Features
Among the new features and improvements to be found in Shade 8.5 are 3D Sound (users can import and export sound files), QuickTime VR support, a Path Constraints plug-in that permits easy linked motion, and a FogPlus plug-in for advanced fog effects. Significant improvements include PowerFusion's support of bounding box display, ShadeExplorer's support of background and sound catalogs and a number of improvements to the user interface.

System Requirements
Recommended system requirements for Shade 8.5 on the Windows platform are a Windows XP system with at least an 800MHz Pentium III or AMD Athlon processor. You'll need 512MB of RAM or more and 5GB of available hard disk space. For best performance, an NVIDIA GeForce FX 5200, GeForce FX 5600, GeForce FX 5800 or an ATI RADEON 9000 graphics card is recommended, paired with a color monitor with at least 1280x768 or higher resolution. You'll also need a CD-ROM drive. Shade 8.5 runs with less-powerful systems, but for the most responsive performance you'll want to meet or preferably exceed these recommendations. Rendering can be slow, particularly on systems that have the minimal requirements.

The recommended Macintosh system is a PowerPC G4 or better running OS X 10.4, at least 512MB RAM, 5GB of available hard disk space and a color monitor capable of at least 1280x768 resolution, along with a CD-ROM drive.

Find Out More
A number of versions of Shade 8.5 are available, with v8.5 a free upgrade for Shade 8 users. Pricing for the standard version is $199.99 and the Professional version is $899.99. Upgrade pricing from prior versions of Shade starts at $99.99, with upgrades from Power starting at $149.99.

Shade is an incredibly complex application, making it impossible to do more than briefly highlight its capabilities. For a more extensive listing of features, as well as examples of output, visit the e-frontier Web site. Demo versions of some e-frontier products are also available for download.

About the Author: Ron LaFon

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