Cad 3-D


Issue 24

Nov/Dec 86

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Antic Magazine has a good reputation in the Atari world. What about their new ST software? 

ANTIC Software 



I must confess that when I first saw this program I played around with it for a little while and thought 'So what?' I had made the classic mistake of not reading the manual and now, having worked through the tutorial, I have to say that it is a very impressive program indeed. That view is reinforced by having seen some designs created by professional designers which prove that the program, although not a full CAD tool, can be used seriously as well as for fun.

CAD 3-D is basically a program which allows you to create three-dimensional objects from pre-defined shapes or freehand which you can then scale, size or rotate as you wish. The screen is divided into four windows which allow you to view an object from different directions and immediately see the effects of any changes. Objects can be easily duplicated within windows by selecting and dragging the desired object to a new position. Complex objects can be built up by duplicating and then joining several objects into one. Just how complex objects may become is demonstrated by an incredible model of Stonehenge which is included. Imagine being able to tilt Stonehenge in all different directions and alter the size of various stones! You may even be able to improve on that ancient design - assuming you know what it was designed for in the first place!

Objects are either selected from a number of pre-drawn shapes such as cubes and spheres which can then be altered or are defined in a two-dimensional plane and then extruded or spun into three-dimensional objects. The process is remarkably easy and fascinating to watch as all the necessary calculations are performed by the computer. It is by no means instant but, considering the amount of calculation involved, very fast. Models which you create can be viewed in several different ways. Wireframe shows all of the plotted points of the object but you may select hidden line, solid or outline and view all lines or edges only. Added texture is created, in solid mode, by the use of three different light sources which can be directed from several angles and at different intensities. The lighting really comes into its own when the object is viewed in colour.

Some other points to consider? Objects created can of course be saved to disk or printed out, although there are unfortunately no printer drivers so that only the standard Alternate-Help screen dump is available. You can however save in DEGAS or NEO formats and so use other utilities on finished objects. Animation is possible with a separate program supplied although this is fairly limited and quite slow. If you are interested in animation though, ANTIC will shortly have a separate program available which can accept CAD 3-D images and animate them at blinding speed. Keyboard alternatives are available for all the commands in the program for those who prefer to work in that way.

There are many other aspects and refinements which I have not been able to cover. A disadvantage in reviewing a product such as this is that I am not a professional draughtsman and will therefore inevitably overlook its strengths and weaknesses in the professional field. I am sure however that, considering its cost against established CAD programs, most professionals would find it useful and worthwhile, if only to sketch out ideas at home. The range is open to the designers imagination. It is certainly possible to design something like a vehicle chassis as I have seen such a demonstration. For non-professional users it will open up new areas of creativity and give many hours of interest in exploring the world of three-dimensional objects.