The Right Tool For 3D Text Graphics

Several years ago, in the mid-'90s, in fact, I stumbled upon this Internet thing. I was fascinated, to say the least, and still am. I'm thinkin' if it keeps on like it has been, it might just catch on directly.

I was poking around looking at web-sites and struggling to put up a page on AOL, and one site that I found had some really cool-looking 3D text graphics for headings. Of course I was always on the lookout for techniques and ideas that might make my own page look a little less...well, you know (rhymes with snappy), so I hunted around until I found an email address for the site. I sent them a note, explaining how I admired their site, particularly the great-looking graphics, and asked what software they had used, and was it available to the public, please? I really wanted to be able to do that sort of thing at home, you see.

Well, they sent back a reply; a sad, disappointing reply. It seems that they would decide what text graphics they wanted, and the size and colors, etc., and sent it off to a professional graphics studio. The studio would take their request, render the text into 3D graphics objects, and send them back, all ready to upload to their web-site. Not exactly the answer I was hoping for.

Believe it or not, just a few months later, I came across the web-site of a graphics software company called Xara. They were promoting a product called Xara 3D, a brilliant, and budget-friendly, program that did exactly what I was looking for. You could type any word or phrase from your keyboard, and it would instantly render it in 3D, giving you immediate, real-time control over colors, position, shadow effects, lighting, depth of extrusion (it doesn't take long to learn the terminology), and lots of other details.

Of course, I wasted no time downloading the free trial. As soon as I had installed it, I was blown away by the ease with which I could produce the most extraordinary graphics. And of course I ordered the un-lock code that same night. Looking back, I don't believe I slept for about a week.

I've been using Xara software for well over a decade now, for web-sites, desk-top publishing projects, and Power-Point-style presentations; the graphics can be exported as.jpg and.gif files, and a host of other formats, including animated.gifs and flash animations. At the risk of sounding clichéd, with the software products available from Xara, you are only limited by your own imagination. If graphics is your thing, Xara is the way to go.

For a multitude of graphics needs, from book-covers to numerous web-based projects, David L Henderson relies on Xara software, the core of his graphics toolbox. See some examples of his work, and visit his Blog, at