Many of the tools and concepts in CorelDream 3D will be familiar to Corel users, including the Bezier curves, object grouping and aligning, and the view tools (see screen A). Corel licensed the core of Ray Dream Designer 3.0 and ported it to NT's 32-bit environment, taking care to change the interface to make it compatible with the other Corel applications. Although CorelDream 3D is not as well suited as 3D/Eye's TriSpectives (see "32-Bit 3D Graphics Software for NT" on page 43) for creating technically accurate models, it is a more mature product and easier to learn and use. This is fortunate because the manual is confusing: Corel forgot to port the manual from Ray Dream. Thus, Corel's manual is full of cross-references to nonexistent pages, some of the command sequences are wrong, and some described commands don't exist. It also refers to files with the Ray Dream .RD3 extension instead of the CorelDream .D3D extension.

CorelDream 3D uses wizards to help you create complex extruded, lofted, swept, or lathed objects. You start with either a free-form shape or a basic geometric shape, called a "primitive" shape, and position the models in a 3D workspace. Outlines of the object are projected on each of the three walls of the space, and you can drag and stretch those outlines to position and resize the object. Double-clicking on an object brings you into an edit window where you can use the splines to modify the surfaces and cross-sections. CorelDream lacks Boolean operations, so you could have difficulty creating cutouts.

You create renderings by dragging "shaders" onto an object. You can edit various characteristics of the shaders, such as color, transparency, bump, and highlight. The package includes 300 shaders and 750 3D models to help you fill your scenes. One unusual feature in the package is that you can paint any texture on any area of an object--you aren't limited to painting complete polygons. You can save the final rendered image in a variety of bitmap formats, including PCX, BMP, and TIFF.

You create animation with Corel Motion 3D. This easy-to-use animation tool allows simple movement of objects, lights, and camera. You can create 3D animation sequences and then save them in a multimedia file format, such as AVI, QTM, or MPEG. As Corel is quick to point out, however, Motion 3D is not a full-featured, full-blown animation program. It is directed toward the animation of text, logos, or other simple graphical images.