updated 10:00 pm EST, Thu March 3, 2011
Now Intel-only; adds new UI, more
Shade, one of the oldest 3D programs on the Mac, has joined the ranks of Intel-only software with its latest release, Shade 12. The new version features a completely re-designed interface, new preview options, fast preview rendering, new import/export options and more. In addition, the rendering engine has been enhanced to make more use of multiple cores and network rendering.
The new interface groups related tool sets together intelligently and lets users switch immediately between workspaces -- from modelling to animation to rendering -- and set up custom spaces. The new Sketch Modeler turns 2D drawings into 3D models, and can also use multiple 2D photographs of an object or a building to create a 3D model. The 3D rendering options include anaglyph (red/blue glasses), NVidia's 3D Vision platform and FujiFilm's multi-picture object (MPO) 3D format.
New preview options now include GLSL Phong rendering with OpenGL 2 support as well as 3D stereoscopic previews. A powerful new Mirror tool for mirroring geometry, a magnet tool for deforming geography and non-destructive cage modelling and deformation are among the new modelling options, and v12 also includes volumetric attributes for lighting, displacement and normal mapping techniques, and subsurface scattering to help create complicated hues and shadows such as those associated with skin, jade, marble and plastics.
Shade also now has support for volumetric materials, unlimited images for materials, and unlimited maps per mesh -- making it easier to work with maps imported from other programs (or created within Shade). The new lighting system works with 64- and 128-bit HDRI background images in Image-Based Lighting (IBL) and more. Finally, among the many smaller changes and improvements is support for Collada import and export (Shade Pro only).
The program requires an Intel Mac running OS X 10.5 or higher (64-bit mode is only available in 10.6). The program is sold in three editions: Basic ($99), Standard ($349) and Professional ($749). Owners of Shade 10 can upgrade at a discount, but Shade 8 users have a very limited time left to upgrade to Shade 12, the company warns. A free trial is available.