Font F/X spiffs up type published on paper or online

So what do you do? Serve up some sizzle with the steak: Provide sound, video or
graphics with text. The GCN Lab recently tested a 32-bit program called Font F/X from DCSi
Inc. that provides 3-D text rendering of True- Type fonts. The lab has tested many 3-D
rendering tools. And though they all worked well, most were fairly complicated to use.


A nice thing about Font F/X is that its focus is limited to 3-D text. It's still
full-featured; it just has a dedicated function. Creating 3-D text in most packages is a
convoluted process involving the text itself, lighting, colors and textures. The steps
remain the same in Font F/X, but an excellent user interface and robust features and
templates simplify the process.


After loading the program from its CD, it took only minutes to create usable 3-D text.
Images can be saved as Graphics Interchange Format or bit map files. If you are working
with other software that is compliant with Microsoft Object Linking and Embedding 2.O,
such as Microsoft Word or Lotus Freelance, you can embed images in documents.


The Font F/X interface is impressive, with a concern for design usually reserved for
higher-end products. The closest comparison would be Adobe Photoshop 4.0, in that most
drawing and design tools were available on screen.


At the center of the interface is the View Port, a fancy name for your workspace. Here
you execute changes in your fonts and develop final images. Surrounding the View Port are
a number of other windows and tool boxes.


The windows feature a "Crystal Trackball" that controls light sources, scene
orientation and image rotation for your text images. It is an intuitive way to handle
images, and the control is fine enough to be useful. Tool box controls augment the
trackball's functions.


To the right of the View Port is the properties window, where you can access templates,
change text, fonts, text size and 3-D effects, and add textures to the background.


Although novice and intermediate users will benefit most from this package, power users
will like its speed and ease of use. The rendering itself takes almost no time at all, and
the text customizing options are thorough.


Some users might be annoyed that the program does not carry out changes to an image
immediately. The review staff found this helpful because users can make a host of changes
and execute them all at once.


After a user has finished the creative process, the issue becomes what to do with the
text. Font F/X is capable of high-resolution rendering, meeting the output requirements of
any print device running under Microsoft Windows 95 or Windows NT.


When printing from Font F/X, you can position an image on the page before printing.


Included in the program's CD-ROM are a few extras, including a 60-page Getting Started
Guide, the Font F/Z Template and Texture Pack I. The Template and Texture Pack have more
than 80 textures, 29 templates and 20 fonts. The textures are bit map files so you can add
more if you have them. The user also can create and save templates for later use.


Three-dimensional rendering has gotten much easier over the years, and Font F/X takes
advantage of the tools available. DCSi accomplished Font F/X's quick rendering by using
the Open GL graphics library. The excellent interface and OLE 2.0 compliance result from
DCSi's writing Font F/X in C++ under Microsoft Foundation Classes.


Although there are other programs out there that can render 3-D text, Font F/X is one
of the easiest to use. And though it may not do everything, what it does, it does
flawlessly.


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