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