form·Z is an award winning general purpose solid and surface modeler with an extensive set of 2D/3D form manipulating and sculpting capabilities, many of which are unique. It is an effective design tool for architects, landscape architects, urban designers, engineers, animators and illustrators, industrial and interior designers, and all design fields that deal with the articulation of 3D spaces and forms. form·Z is highly responsive to the needs of mature designers and, at the same time, novices can use it with ease.
Highly interactive graphic interface with associated multiple windows, tear off tool palettes, virtually unlimited and selectively applied Undo/Redo operations, customizable key shortcuts for all the operations, simultaneously available prepick and postpick modes, and integrated 2D/3D operations allow you to work in either 2D or directly in 3D space.
A full set of primitives can be generated through graphic or numeric input. Also dynamically generated 3D solids and 2D shapes include rectangles, n-sided polygons, patterned polygons, circles, ellipses, arcs, free hand line drawings, a variety of splines, and double (“wall”) lines. These can be extruded in a direction perpendicular to their plane, or to a point.
Spherical objects, that include the complete set of Platonic solids, soccer balls, and lathed and geodesic spheres, can be generated both interactively and through numeric input, and can also be scaled and stretched. A special type of spherical objects, metaballs, can also be generated and blended to form highly organic shapes.
Derivative objects that can be generated from other objects include 2D shapes, 3D extrusions, walls, parallel objects, projection objects, unfolded objects, revolved objects, helixes, screws and bolts, stairs, sweeps, skins, and lofts.
Terrain models can be generated as true 3D solids, trimmed to the shape of a site, from 2D contour lines. The four available types, mesh, triangulated mesh, stepped, and triangulated contour models, can be freely combined to model rivers, roads, flat areas, and a variety of other topographies.
Objects can be meshed at any level of resolution either in the direction of a selected edge or in another preset direction. The meshes can be moved symmetrically according to a predefined profile, or they can be disturbed randomly or according to a mathematical formula, such as a wave. Also, deformation operations can be applied to bend and twist meshed objects. Image based displacements can be used to imprint a shape on both flat and already meshed surfaces.
Both quadratic and triangular subdivisions (called q-subz and t-subz, respectively) are available. By increasing the resolution of the surface of an object, while optionally curving it, offers extensive form generation possibilities.
Advanced rounding can be applied to both facetted and smooth parametric objects. It ca be applied to vertices, edges, or both vertices and edges, including concave vertices and sequences of edges called stitches. Surfaces can also be smoothly blended or fillets can be applied to their lines of intersection. Draft angles can also be applied to surfaces of solids, to facilitate molding operations.
A variety of smoothly curved splines, including NURBS lines, can be drawn directly or can be generated from previously drawn vector lines. All these splines are parametric and can be edited to change their shape.
Parametric smooth surfaces can be generated from previously drawn control lines using one of a complete set of mathematical methods that include NURBS, B-splines, and Bezier curves. The NURBS based surfaces are called nurbz  in form·Z. After their initial creation, these surfaces can be freely edited to interactively change their shape.
Coons and bicubic Bezier patches are parametric curve-bounded surfaces, generated in different ways, that can be smoothly combined to produce a variety of challenging free forms.
Metaformzª allow you to organically blend a variety of 3D forms and, as implemented in form·Z, raise the metaballs technology to unprecedented levels.
Boolean operations, which include union, intersection, and difference, as well as the composite split operation, can be applied to either 2D shapes or 3D solids. They can be used to compose primitive shapes into arbitrarily complex forms.
Trim, Split, and Stitch operations are Boolean-like operations that can be applied to surface meshed objects as well as to solids, to cut away a piece, to separate an object into two or more parts, or to connect objects together.
Both 2D and 3D sections of solid objects can be derived using either a cutting plane or a cutting line. Sets of 2D sections at equal intervals are known as contours and can also be generated in orientations parallel to preset reference planes.
Cages are low resolution objects or rough volumetric approximations of other detailed objects. They are primarily useful as temporary replacements of the real objects, while manipulating complex scenes or setting up animation sequences. While they can be generated from scratch, there is also a special tool that generates them from an existing object.
Preferably non-intersecting objects can be joined into a single object, without reconstructing their faces, which the Booleans do. Joined objects or objects that consist of distinct volumes can be separated, where each volume becomes an independent object. Objects can also be grouped, which links them without turning them into a single object. Groups of objects can be ungrouped, which breaks their links.
2D and 3D text (TrueTypeª and PostScriptª) can be generated as plain text or as text objects. A variety of text placement methods are available, including the placement of text on or between freely unfolding and editable control lines.
Both 3D symbols for modeling and 2D symbols for drafting can be defined and stored into symbol libraries. The program actually ships with a few libraries of its own. Symbols can be placed as instances as many times as desirable through a variety of placement options. Also, symbol editing operations allow you to apply global or local changes to instances.
Both vector lines and splines can be edited to change their shape, to break them, or to combine them with other lines or splines. The latter includes operations such as trimming, connecting, joining, filleting, and beveling.
The topological attributes of objects can be adjusted, which includes reversing their directions, repositioning their initial points, and setting markers. Also, the representational personalities of objects can be converted from one type to another, such as a smooth object becoming facetted, a nurbz becoming smooth, etc. A special conversion operation is cover, which generates a surface to fit the shape of a wire object.
Many of the objects in form·Z are parametric and are generated from control lines, which can freely be manipulated to reshape the object. Frequently, it is useful to extract the controls in their new state, which is an operation offered in form·Z.
The Query tool provides the ability to determine information about objects, and to calculate areas and volumes, while distances and other lengths can be extracted using the measure operation.
Graphically and dynamically executed 2D/3D geometric transformations provide the ability to move, rotate, scale, or reflect either individual entities or groups of entities simultaneously. They can be applied at any of the topological levels (point, segment, face, volume, or group), and a sequence of transformations can be recorded as a macro, which is editable and can be applied as a single operation.
Attach, extend, and place tools facilitate the positioning of objects or their parts relative to other objects. Align and distribute operations reposition objects in space according to a variety of preset criteria.
As operations are applied to objects, they may be ghosted, which is useful for keeping records of executed operations. Objects can also be ghosted directly and, once ghosted, they may be displayed in a light color or not displayed at all. Ghosted objects may be unghosted by the respective operation.
Insertions and deletions are 2D/3D form editing and sculpting operations that can be applied to points, segments, outlines, faces, or volumes. Combined with geometric transformations, they provide an extensive ability to reshape forms.
Perspective, axonometric, oblique, isometric, and panoramic views can be graphically controlled by interactively changing the viewing position. You may also view your work in straight up perspective, or use match perspective view to easily blend your model into an existing environment. Viewing positions can be selected from a menu, or one of two tools can be used to navigate through space interactively and to select the desired view. For more control of the viewing parameters, the Cone of Vision may be manipulated to accurately define the position of the viewer, angle of vision, center of interest, and light source, and to position the hither and yon planes. Drawing and graphic input in general can occur under any viewing type and angle.
Underlays are images that can be opened and placed in the background of a window for both 2D projections and 3D views. They are useful both for tracing drawings that may have been scanned, and for modeling within the context of an existing environment which may be depicted in the underlay.
Rendering options include wire frame, hidden line, surface, and z-buffer rendering with smooth shading, soft and hard shadows, and antialiasing. Photorealistic rendering, including raytrace, and radiosity is available in form·Z RenderZone and form·Z RadioZity. Shaded renderings for interactive manipulations are available through QD3D on MacOS and OpenGL.
A drafting module is integrated with the modeling module, which allows images to be transported from modeling to drafting and vice versa. In addition to a variety of drawing tools, the drafting module offers associative dimensioning and hatching, 2D Boolean operations, text, and symbols.
Import and export utilities include Art·Lantis, BMP, DWG, DEM Data, DXF, EPS, FACT, HPGL, IGES, Illustrator, JPEG, Lightwave, Lightscape, OBJ, Photoshop, PICT, Piranesi, PNG, QTVR, RIB, SAT, STL, SGI, TGA, Targa, TIFF, VRML, 3DGF, 3DMF, 3DS, and VRML.
Rapid prototyping is made easy with STL.
2D/3D digitizing is supported through two distinct modes, screen and world.
Floating point precision, virtually unlimited layers, English and metric units, on line Help, numeric input, user defined preferences, and more features are also included.
More info at Form Z