Featured Freeware: DAZ Studio

From the makers of the popular scene-rendering program Bryce comes DAZ Studio, a powerful cross-platform 3D-modeling and CAD program that looks great but is a resource hog and can be sluggish for the average user.

From the makers of the popular scene-rendering program Bryce comes DAZ Studio, a powerful 3D-modeling and CAD program for Windows and Mac that looks great but is a resource hog and can be sluggish for the average user.

The publisher recommends having at least 256MB of RAM, but that's wishful thinking. The program runs choppily on anything less than 1GB, although some of the more complex rendering was processed more slowly than others. It also requires an OpenGL-compatible graphics card with at least 128MB of RAM onboard, so machines built before 2003 will certainly struggle. This isn't unusual for this kind of program, though.

DAZ offers up a wide array of built-in models and tools for creating, animating, and recording life-like scenes. Users can purchase additional models through the publisher's Web site. Free tutorials on the site take a bit of the edge off the learning curve, although it's still steep. The feature set is nothing short of incredible: you can take a model, manipulate it, add detail and texture, have it interact with other models, and manage your art files. The tool panels on the left and right navigation bars can be hidden, to maximize screen space, and all the tools have mouse-over labels to help newbies learn what's what. There are also components for easy export to other programs, like Photoshop.

According to the publisher, the program is compatible with Windows Vista, however, we were unable to install it on our Enterprise edition. Also, keep in mind that all users must register on the publisher's Web site to get the free serial number to run the program.

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