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Ulead COOL 3D 3.5 - Create Eye-Catching 3D Text and Graphics

written by: •edited by: Daniel P. McGoldrick•updated: 2/24/2009
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Version 3.5 of Corel's Ulead COOL 3D software enables both the professional and the novice to design and customize a sleek, high-quality company logo, complete with text and 3D shapes. Ulead COOL 3D 3.5's drag-and-drop technology makes it possible to instantly see your creations.

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    Introduction

    Corel's Ulead COOL 3D 3.5 digital animation software is an effective and easy-to-use tool for creating your own digital or animated personal or business objects. From creating company logos to designing and animating websites, Ulead COOL 3D 3.5 handles it all. The tool's simple drag-and-drop approach to image design will appeal to both novice and professional marketers alike. 
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    Price to Value

    Rating AverageThe $49.99 price tag makes Ulead COOL 3D 3.5 a steal. (The upgrade is $29.99.) Bright Hub’s price is competitive to

    Ulead’s, but buying from other vendors will most likely run you more money; closer to $80.00 for the application and $45 for the upgrade.

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    Installation & Setup

    Rating AverageGetting started with Ulead COOL 3-D 3.5 is very simple: download the executable file you purchased from the Bright Hub website and launch. The download takes about three minutes to complete over a high-speed connection. Once you've downloaded and run the executable, the application is automatically installed and you are ready to go. The total install and setup process is minimal, requiring only about five minutes of time. 

    At startup, you are presented with a tip box that helps you to select what you want to do. [See image 4]  If you do not want to see tips at startup, you can check the 'do not display messages' box. When getting started, you can select to work with type, graphics, or geometric objects. Once you decide what you want to work with, there are additional options to select from such as object styles, bevels, lighting, and textures. For the less creative type, there are even presets available that take the guesswork out of creating cool graphics. Finally, there are toolbars across the top that can be used to do many of the functions that are available from the menus along the left-hand side of the screen. So, those users who are more comfortable using toolbars will feel right at home.  
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    User Interface

    Rating AverageUlead COOL 3D 3.5's user interface, while busy at first glance, is actually broken out in a fairly usable and understandable format. The bottom of the screen has a lot of different options available and changes depending on what selection the user makes from the left-hand selections menu. [See image 5] The middle of the screen provides the user's workspace, which can be sized according to the user's preferences by changing the dimensions. [See image 6]

    An easy-to-use animation toolbar is located across the top, making it very accessible. And the menu structure is similar to a Windows format, so existing Windows users will find it a breeze to use.
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    Performance

    Rating AverageUlead COOL 3D 3.5 was very responsive performance-wise. Objects can be built rather quickly and changes effected instantaneously. There wasn't any noticeable negative effect on my system's performance.

    In addition, the level of manipulation you can achieve with the objects is pretty stunning. I starting creating a simple company logo and worked with it until I was satisfied. [See image 7]  During that process, I was amazed at how you could tilt, bend, and otherwise maneuver the image. [See image 8]
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    Help & Support

    Rating AverageWhat's Hot
    Ulead COOL 3D 3.5's Help Menu offers a number of options, including Help Topics, a link to the Ulead home page, a link to the Ulead COOL 3D home page, and links to Ulead Technical Support, Online Registration, and About Ulead Products. On the Ulead website, there is a Learning Center, a Knowledgebase, a Support Forum, and FAQs. The FAQs and Knowledgebase can be sorted by product making them easier to navigate and peruse.

    What's Not
    The Help and Support options leave a little to be desired when compared to support options of other software applications. [See image 3] While there appear to be a number of valuable links included on the Help Menu within the application, many of them actually provide navigation to a Ulead-sponsored site rather than any real technical support.

    Additionally, the Help Topics list in my download did not build properly during my install, making it impossible for me to use the help features.
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    Product Features

    Rating AverageThere are a number of features available in version 3.5 of Ulead's COOL 3D. The features can be grouped into the following categories: Create, Add Effects, Animate, and Output. Some of the specific features are outlined below:

    The  EasyPalette, the main component of the application, which is arranged in a very logical format, is great for managing the design process because it maintains all of the available design selections in a single location. Users can begin by making a selection from the Studio Folder, such as a composition, background, shape, or symbol. [See image 1] Once dropped onto the palette, the real work can begin. Users move through the EasyPalette, customizing their design with additional effects ranging from color, light, and texture to distortion, animation, and transitions. It is even possible to begin with a 2D image or text design and then convert it to 3D by simply clicking a button.

    Drag-and-Drop technology allows users to easily create new designs and instantly see their creations. Presets within COOL 3D take the pressure off of being creative, making non-creative users more comfortable with the application. The ability to work with True Type fonts takes the designs to a new level. The Attribute Toolbar allows for customizable 3D settings. The bonus EnVector Module is a simple 3D solution for creating either vector 3D text or objects, which can be used as vector-based Macromedia Flash movies.

    Original image dimensions can be either user defined or set to the application standard, making it even more flexible for a user to create just the right image. Ulead also provides the ability to export the files to another format such as Macromedia Flash. [See image 2]

    Ulead COOL 3D can be used in a number of capacities within a business organization, including a company logo design, a company sign design, and/or brochure development. This application makes it easy for both a startup marketer and a seasoned professional to achieve high-quality professional results.
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    Images

    Studio SelectionsExport OptionsHelp OptionsStartup ScreenSelections MenuWorkspaceSample Company LogoModified Company Logo
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    Suggested Features

    • There are minimal file formats that currently can be imported into the tool.  Future versions should incorporate more importable file structures to make it a more desirable tool for other users.
    • In terms of system requirements, you must have the current versions of the software you want to work in conjunction with, such as Apple QuickTime, Macromedia's Flashplayer, or RealPlayer.
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    Conclusion

    Overall, Ulead COOL 3D 3.5 is an uncomplicated and straightforward way to take your company's marketing materials to the next level. From company logo design and sign design to website development and animation, you can create a number of very cool objects using the tool. The learning curve is minimal, even for a novice, so you can have new designs in a matter of minutes.  And, with the ability to import what you already have in 2D, you can save even more time and energy. Consider Corel's Ulead COOL 3D 3.5 when making your next 3D design software selection. You won't be disappointed.
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    Related Products

    Effect 3D Studio, Adobe Creative Suite 3, DAZ 3D, Strata 3D