Xara 3D Maker 7 review

Creates 3D text for print and the web
Photo of Xara 3D Maker 7
£29.99

Introducing 3D effects to your designs – whether on the web or paper – helps add a sense of depth and solidity to your creative efforts. At its simplest, this means adding drop shadows, frames and curls to various elements on the page – but when it comes to text, you need something like Xara 3D Maker 7.

Bring you into 3D
Xara 3D Maker is a program for turning text into 3D headings, badges, logos and other sorts of titles that you can fill with various colours and textures, and then illuminate using up to three different light sources.

The result? Beautifully rendered 3D text which you can export in a web-friendly graphics format, as an animated GIF, simple Flash animation or to work with Magix’s range of video editing and photo slideshow programs.

Complete control
3D Maker 7 gives you complete control over colour, extrusion level, bevel type, shadows and texture, offering plenty of pre-sets to get you started. Indeed, one of the program’s quirks is that you can’t start with a blank page – you have to edit the default animation by replacing the text, design and effects with your own choices.

It’s supposed to be helpful, but it feels peculiar. Which is all the more odd because everything else in 3D Maker feels entirely natural – especially the way you can work directly on the text using the mouse pointer to do pretty much anything, from changing colours and textures to manipulating the extrusion level and light sources by selecting and dragging.

Low system requirements
As with other Xara products, 3D Maker is snappy and responsive, even on a slow machine, and although the new version only adds a few features – notably better Windows 7 integration, automatic saving when you quit, support for adding animated credits to Magix’s movies and slideshows, seven new types of bevels and the ability to cut and paste your work into Word documents – it’s still good value.

Company: Xara

Contact: 01392 209509

Positives
  • Creates high-quality 3D text of all descriptions, really fast.
Negative
  • Creating 3D text that doesn't look dated is harder than you think.

Verdict

Excellent, low-cost way to create 3D text-based graphics for print or the web that's easy to learn and intuitive to use; and although some designers get sniffy about animated GIFs, they're lightweight and still have their uses.