NEW! Strata Design 3D CX 8.0 for Mac

Professional Level 3D Modeling and Animation Software for Creative Designers on Mac OS.

Strata Design 3D CX 8 is our professional-level 3D modeling and animation software for Mac that delivers end-to-end power for the entire 3D design workflow. Quickly bring your creative ideas to life with a simplified learning curve, tight integration with Adobe Photoshop and award-winning rendering quality rivaling any software at any price.


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All the Power in One Integrated Solution

Design 3D gives you all the tools you need to complete professional 3D projects. This includes integrated modeling and scene composition so you can get to the final high quality images and animations that professional studios demand. Even though Design 3D is a stand-alone solution, it’s still connected to the other tools and resources you need so your overall workflow efficiency is maximized.

Simplified 3D Learning Curve

Strata Design 3D eases the learning curve for 2D designers who are new to 3D. Quick start templates, libraries, predefined effects, backgrounds, environments and more allow designers to create complex scenes in minutes. With a user interface and tools that are familiar to today’s 2D designers, you invest your time learning 3D design concepts rather than a new design paradigm.

Model Anything in 3D or Import Existing 3D Assets

For many, the thought of 3D modeling is a daunting task. Design 3D offers an extremely friendly modeling toolset and environment for manipulating your polygons, splines, and primitives into any 3D object or scene you can imagine. If you’re working with existing 3D assets, Strata Design 3D CX utilizes a host of filters and options to accurately import third-party 3D models and scenes.

Apply Surface Textures with Precision

In the world of 3D, texturing may just be the most important component in creating convincing final renderings. Once you have designed your 3D model, Strata Design 3D CX gives you powerful tools to create, apply and manipulate surface textures with beautifully accurate results.

Sophisticated Lighting, Backgrounds & Cameras

Scene composition is a critical step in producing stunning images. Design 3D CX makes it easier to control the environment than any photography studio you could imagine. Position your 3D objects and then place lights, reflection panels, cameras, backgrounds, environments, reflection elements and more to produce a superior final render or animation for your design project.

Photo-Real Images & Animations at Blazing Speeds

Design 3D is well known for its extraordinary rendering technology. Whether you’re after photo-realistic results or some other style for your static or motion graphics, you will find the rendering options to suit your needs and output the results using one of the fastest rendering engines in the industry. After all, it’s all about the final results and Design 3D delivers.

Learn Design 3D CX Online at Strata 3D University

Learning 3D doesn’t have to be difficult. Especially with Strata’s online training library at your fingertips, covering every aspect of Strata Design 3D CX and the entire 3D design workflow. Strata 3D University makes it simple to find the subject of interest and quickly get up to speed with short, informative videos created by professional 3D designers. Visit the University

Tightly Integrated with Photoshop® & Illustrator®

Design 3D CX is a favorite among creative professionals, thanks to tight integration with Adobe tools. Illustrator art can be brought in as 3D objects into Design 3D. Design 3D allows you to use linked Ps and Ai files as image maps, so art – such as product labels – can be changed in the master file and the 3D models are updated automatically. Design 3D renders to Adobe Photoshop Layers, including in high bit-depth, which allows for easy post-production work.

3D Printing, Augmented Reality & 3D Web Publishing

New in version 8 is the Publish 3D feature that gives you a direct connection to Augment for augmented reality for your 3D objects with iPhone, iPad and Android apps; Sketchfab for easy web 3D publishing for client websites, Facebook, Kickstarter and more; and Materialise for 3D printing that offers thousands of combinations of printing methods, materials, and surface finishing.

Designers and Clients using Strata Design 3D

From Fortune 500 to neighborhood companies, Strata Design 3D has played a part in helping to build brands, sell ideas, produce illustrations, and visualize the future.
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Chris Tyler, expert Strata user and certified trainer, developed the images and tutorial videos provided in this section. Chris uses his expertise to explain some of the important details in this latest release of Design 3D:
Design 3D 8.0 can access massive amounts of memory during rendering.
The gamma function shifts pixel intensity values in a way that more closely approximates the way humans perceive light. This creates more realistic lighting and makes lighting a scene easier. Linear gamma tends to be more contrasted, with areas near light sources that can be over exposed, and areas farther from lights tending towards under-exposure.
High Precision Floating-Point Color Output (OpenEXR)
Renderings can be saved in OpenEXR format which stores high precisioncolor information. Among its features is the ability to save pixel intensities which can far exceed the white point. In both 8 and 16-bit color white is always white. No intensities beyond it are available for editing once the bitmap is saved.
High Precision Integer Color Output (16-bit)
16-bit color avoids gradient banding problems common to 8-bit per channel color. With 16-bit integer color each channel contains 65,536 value steps, whereas 8-bit contains only 256 steps per channel.
LiveRay, Rapid Scene/Object Raytraced Preview
LiveRay allows for quick tests in any modeling or scene window (including camera windows) with a fast raytraced overlay. This helps to visualize complex material setups that aren’t visible with the standard OpenGL display. LiveRay also allows for rapid lighting visualizations without having to invoke the standard render mechanism.
New Anti-Aliasing Filter mechanism
A new anti-aliasing mechanism allows the renderer to produce sharper or softer pixel filtering for aliased geometry and textures. Three presets (sharp, medium, soft) allow for easy access to these filters. Very nuanced settings can be accessed to manually adjust the anti-aliasing system.
Faster Rendering of 7.5 Files
Design 3D 8.0 often provides improved rendering performance when compared to version 7.5.
Image Brightness Controls During Rendering
A rendering can be image adjusted during the render process. This is most useful for adjusting the overall brightness (or lack thereof)for a rendering. This helps to make fine-tuned adjustments to an image without needing to change lights or materials, or to stop a rendering to make these changes.
Soft Shadows for Global Lights
Global lights can now cast soft shadows by setting the ‘Size in Angular Diameter’ parameter. This is very useful for realistic lighting, especially when using the Sun & Sky function.
Spherical Camera
A new spherical type allows easy creation of spherical HDRI images from any existing scene. These can be saved as floating-point EXR files and then used in the Lightdome to provide lighting.
Directly Import AI/PDF Files in the Material Dialog
Native vector source files for textures can be imported directly into a material channel. This helps to bypass generating intermediate files from a source file.
Interaction with LiveRay
Texture changes can be easily previewed from within the material dialog with LiveRay by pressing the Apply button.
Built-In Common Texture Maps
The materials dialog has easy to access gneneral-purpose bitmaps such as masks, normal maps, anisotropic reflection maps and color maps.
Better Interactive Lighting
Working interactively with models is easier now. Instead of needing to place many global lights around a scene, a single color can be placed in the Lightdome to provide even lighting. Models that have metallic surfaces (or surfaces with no diffuse component) are also fully illuminated, whereas those would appear as black in 7.5.
Publish 3D Overview
The new Publish 3D command gives you easy access to the leading cloud based services for augmented reality, web 3D and 3D printing. Click on the thumbnail below for a Publish 3D overview video.
SketchFab: Publish your models online
Send your content from Design 3D, using the new Publish 3D interface, for use in realtime 3D anywhere on the web. Use high quality interactive 3D that’s as easy to use as YouTube. Embed models on Kickstarter, Facebook, your client’s website or your own.
Augment: Present Your Ideas in Context
Send your content from Design 3D, using Publish 3D, for use in augmented reality. Show clients and customers your products on a shelf or a model in their hands—all without making physical prototypes. iPad, iPhone and Android devices become virtual windows for your ideas using Augment.
i.materialise: Easy to use 3D printing
Send your content from Design 3D, using Publish 3D, for easy 3D printing with one of the worlds leading 3D print services. i.materialise provides a huge variety of materials and finishes. Virtually every 3D printing technology is at your fingertips.
Studio-like Lighting
HDR Light Studio is an optional module which allows for quick studio-like lighting of scenes and objects.
[/dk-tab] [dk-tab title=”Videos”] If you want to dive in deeper this series of videos, ranging in length from 6 to 15 minutes, will introduce you to the basics of using Design 3D CX. The videos are from the Strata 3D University and are part of the Getting Started series, which can also be accessed using the Design 3D CX 8 “Help” menu.

Fundamentals: User Interface

Fundamentals: Windows and Views

Fundamentals: Modeling

Fundamentals: Texturing

Fundamentals: Lighting

Fundamentals: Animation

Fundamentals: Rendering

Fundamentals: Export & Publish

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In-Depth Feature List

Drawing Features
Strata Design 3D CX makes it easy for 2D designers to get started in 3D. You can import 2D elements from applications like Adobe Illustrator or you can draw 2D and 3D objects directly in Strata Design 3D CX.

  • 2D/3D Text
  • 2D Drawing Tools (rectangles, ellipsis, etc.)
  • 3D Primitives (cubes, spheres, etc.)
  • Spline Curves (Bezier lines/regions)

Modeling Features
Strata Design 3D CX offers an incredible array of modeling options. You can model using familiar Bezier splines, but now in 3D: traditional polys- but now with Quad Polysplines (subdivision surfaces); MetaSurfaces to meld objects together; Extrude and Lathe; Boolean to combine or subtract: Skin; Mirror and more!

  • Polyspline SDS (subdivision surfaces)
  • Meld MetaSurfaces
  • Bezier Surfaces
  • Extrude
  • Lathe
  • Boolean
  • Skin
  • Polygonal Modeling
  • Path Extrude
  • Construction Objects
  • Shy Objects
  • Shape Instancing
  • Replicate / Duplicate
  • Object Manipulation
  • Drop a Curve
  • Hide Objects
  • Fillet
  • Thickness
  • Mirror
  • Hull Surface
  • Deformation Lattice
  • Grids – World, Custom & View
  • Guides – Custom and Default
  • Smooth Mesh
  • Decimation
  • Segment Edge Command
  • Show Face Normals
  • Point Snap

View Features
Unlike your favorite 2D applications, Strata Design 3D CX gives you the opportunity to examine artwork from any angle. With the power of 3D perspective comes new challenges for control. Strata 3D rises to the occasion with split-able views, connected views, multiple views, depth cueing and even special views for cameras and light sources. OpenGL gives you quick previews while LiveRay gives you photo-real previews.

  • Familiar Interface
  • Split Views
  • Camera View
  • Multi-Views
  • Depth Cueing
  • Image/Movie Backdrop
  • Spotlight Views
  • OpenGL
  • LiveRay

Environment Features
Sometimes great design is about the “negative space” – the area that surrounds your 3D model. Strata Design 3D CX gives you many options and an easy to use interface to control your “environment”.

  • Ground Plane
  • Air Refraction
  • Visible Backgrounds
  • Reflective Backgrounds
  • Atmosphere
  • Gravity
  • Wind

Lighting Features
You’ve heard of “looks good in any light” – now you’ve found the tool that gives you that elusive “any light”. Strata Design 3D CX gives you point lights, spotlights, global sun-style lights, environment based lightdomes, High Dynamic Range Image lighting, glowing surfaces, gels – all unlimited and fully controllable.

  • Point Lights
  • Spot Lights
  • Global Lights
  • Glowing Surfaces
  • Lightdome HDRI
  • Intensity
  • Host Object
  • Soft Edges
  • Ambient Light
  • Gels
  • Animatable Lights
  • Overflow Handling
  • Spotlight Window View
  • Effects Applied to Light
  • Direct Manipulation Interface
  • HDR Light Studio Integration (optional)

Special Effects Features
Any image or animation can be spiced up with special effects like Lens Flare, Auras, Particles – and the new Script FX. Add multiple effects, place effects on any object, even animate the effects.

  • Lens Flares
  • Particle Collision Detection
  • Script FX
  • Auras
  • Caustics
  • Fountain Effects
  • Global Gravity Control
  • Global Wind Force Control
  • Global Air Control
  • Fire & Smoke
  • Hair
  • Hotspots
  • Pixie Dust

File Import/Export Features
Being able to talk to other programs in your design studio is an important issue. Strata Design 3D CX offers a number of options in this area.

  • U3D (in)
  • Collada (in/out)
  • Illustrator/EPS (in)
  • Photoshop PSD (in/out)
  • STL (in/out)
  • XMM (out)
  • Quicktime (in/out)
  • PICT (in/out)
  • Quicktime VR (out)
  • TGA (in/out)
  • TIFF (in/out)
  • BMP (in/out)
  • JPEG (in/out)
  • 3DS (in)
  • PDF (in)
  • DXF (in/out)
  • AVI (in/out)
  • MiniCAD (in)
  • Amapi (in/out)
  • OBJ (in/out)
  • VRML 1 & 2 (in/out)
  • Flash SWF (out)
  • True Type Fonts (in)
  • Postscript Type Fonts (in)
Rendering Features
The core of what makes Strata Design 3D CX so good – and what it’s famous for – is the high quality rendering. Rendering is the process of taking the design you worked to put together and creating the final image.

  • OpenGL
  • Toon
  • LiveRay
  • Photons
  • Raytracing
  • Raydiosity
  • Render to Layers
  • Flat Shaded
  • Hidden Line
  • Outline
  • Pointcloud
  • Smooth Shaded
  • Wireframe
  • Scanline
  • Transparency
  • Alpha Channel
  • Anti-Aliasing
  • Oversampling
  • Glow
  • Reflectivity
  • Blurry Transparency and Reflectivity
  • Instance Rendering
  • Anti-Matter Effect
  • Field Rendering
  • Atmospheric Effects
  • Shadows
  • MIP Mapping
  • Soft Shadows
  • Stereoscopic
  • Custom Environments
  • Specular Highlights
  • Suspend Rendering
  • Marquee Select Rendering

Animation Features
Design 3D CX takes a simple approach to animation: Everything can be animated. And it takes a simple approach to controlling animation: keyframes, a timeline, and scripting. Even if you’ve never booted it up, you already know how to use it.

  • Scripting
  • Hierarchial
  • Visible Paths
  • Everything Time Variable
  • Animation Preview
  • Shatter
  • Explode
  • Jiggle
  • Convert to Path Event-Based
  • Cycle Back & Forth
  • Key Frames
  • Velocity Graphs
  • Life Checkbox
  • Align to Path
  • IK (Inverse Kinematics)
  • FK (Forward Kinematics)
  • TCB, Spline & Natural Paths
  • Proportional Event Scaling

Texturing Features
“What if” is as simple as drag-and-drop in Strata Design 3D CX. Select from the palette of hundreds of pre-made surface textures or make your own using features like live-linking to native Photoshop and Illustrator files – make a change in Photoshop or Illustrator and Strata Design 3D CX automatically updates the model surface.

  • Native UV Mapping
  • Scripting
  • Hierarchical
  • Visible Paths
  • Photoshop Linking
  • Illustrator Linking
  • Displacement
  • Box Wrapper
  • Normal Maps
  • Mist
  • Image Textures
  • Corrosion
  • Starfield
  • Rainbow Reflection
  • Mock Tile
  • Shadow Catcher
  • Ripples
  • Solid Brick
  • Silk
  • Solid Candy
  • Solid Concrete
  • Solid Marble
  • Solid Moonscape
  • Solid Rock
  • Solid Stone
  • Solid Terrain
  • Solid Wood
  • Wildlife
  • Mock Plank
  • Surface, Solid & Volume
  • Layer & Mix
  • Fog
  • Haze
  • Clouds
  • Burn UV
  • New Conform to Mesh option; using Least Squares Conformal Maps technology
  • LSCM unwrap (Conform, Conform Connected) Unwrap entire objects, single UV island or just selected polygons
  • Pin UVs (Toggle pinned vertices on or off)
  • Fit (to UV, U or V)
  • Fit Each (to UV, U or V)
  • Rotate Connected (to Grid, U or V)
  • Move (to U, V; Center to U, V)
  • Select Perimeter
  • Select Pinned UVs
  • UV Edge Seam Assignment
  • Select UV Seam Edge
  • LiveRay Texture Preview
    see all texture effects with interactive rendering directly in the modeling view

Camera Features
A great camera can make even the novice photographer look good. Just think of what Strata Design 3D CX will do for you with all these imaging options at your finger tips. These options include four kinds of motion blur, depth of field, and six styles of cameras including panoramic.

  • Scripting
  • Hierarchial
  • Visible Paths
  • QTVR
  • Motion Blur
  • Depth of Field
  • Boom
  • Pan
  • Dolly
  • Arc
  • Pitch
  • Yaw
  • Roll
  • Host Object
  • Target Object
  • Focal Distance
  • View Angle
  • Stereoscopic Camera
  • Panorama Camera
  • Cubic Camera
  • Fisheye Camera
  • Spherical Camera
  • Shutter Speed
  • Live Window Updates
  • LiveRay Scene Preview

Scripting Features
Strata Design 3D CX includes a Lua based scripting language. Lua is a widely used language, particularly in gaming, with companies like Blizzard (World of Warcraft), Criterion Studios (NBA Ballers, ESPN Major League Baseball), BioWare (Neverwinter Nights), UbiSoft (Far Cry), Double Fine Productions (Psychonauts), Nival Interactive (Blitzkrieg) and many more. Even new favorites, such as Adobe Lightroom, utilize Lua.

With Lua you can script shaders and textures to: access the rendering pipeline; lens scripting for the creation of custom lenses, effects and warps; Filter FX which allows you to write custom Lua scripts to apply filters based on an object’s surface normal, direction, lighting, volume, and by pixel color, depth, transparency, layer within the psd file – and much, much more. In fact, Design 3D comes with a whole series of special effect shaders created using Lua. These “Script FX” let you do things like bounce, vibrate, alter acceleration and more. Each Script FX gives access to the full Lua source code, so you can edit them if you like.

Additional features are implemented directly in Lua throughout Design 3D such as Match Motion and Instance Node Control. If you’re somebody who’s interested in scripting, Lua gives you the opportunity to extend Design 3D in a variety of important ways.

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System Requirements

Macintosh Minimum System Requirements

  • Intel Processor(s)
  • Mac OS X 10.9.X or later
  • 4GB of RAM (more is highly recommended)
  • 5 GB of available hard-disk space for install (additional 2 GB for HDRLS if bundled)
  • 1024 x 768 capable display
Design 3D CX 8 is not available for Windows.
Version 7.5 is available for Windows.

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StrataCafe User Reviews

“IT’S AMAZING! Purchased upgrade with HDR Light Studio add-on, brilliant!!! Simply – brilliant.” Alldaron

“Aircraft interiors are a rendering nightmare, but this upgrade blazes trough the geometry with excellent results!” Joe

“The awesome new memory handling with 64-bit addressing practically eliminated any concern for memory limits with large architectural projects.” Tom

“The new rendering gamma control coupled with floating-point color output gives me a degree of control and latitude in post-processing I couldn’t get with the old 8-bit renders. It’s like working with camera raw as opposed to JPEG.” Greg

“Amazing! Strata skipped at least 5 upgrades with this new release. It’s like a whole new program…tons of new features for every step of the workflow yet still familiar enough to make learning and using them easy and intuitive from the start.” Tracy

Photoshop User

Photoshop User
“Strata Design CD CX is a great product for anyone who’s looking for a 3D app that will enhance their productivity, creativity, and integrate with the Adobe products to help create projects.”

MacWorld UK | Editor’s Choice Award

Macworld UK
“This could be the Adobe-devoted designer’s must-have modeler… Seamless integration with Photoshop, user interface familiar to Adobe users, robust, stable and mature.”

Layers Magazine, Four and a Half Stars

Layers Magazine
“Strata has clearly paid attention to Adobe aficionados with its robust Strata 3D CX flagship product, as Adobe users will recognize many of the core tools in the main palette.”

Digit Magazine

“Strata is a 3D application aimed at giving designers the kind of simplicity they experience on the likes of Photoshop and Illustrator… Strata is one of the most straightforward 3D packages available, and offers impressive power at an affordable price.”

MacUser UK

“Strata Design 3D provides 99% of your 3D modeling needs within an intuitive, comprehensive environment. Integration with Photoshop is seamless and occasionally inspired. Whether you’re a seasoned 3D modeler, or a dedicated Photoshop user who only wants to import and render models found in the Google 3D Warehouse, Strata Design 3D will revolutionize the way you work.”
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Case Study | A Virtual Fleet of Aircraft

Illustrating the world of flight can be a tremendous challenge. Photographs can be the wrong angle, low quality or simply not available. For the aviation enthusiasts that read the Greek magazine “Remove Before Flight” the visuals are just as important as the technical articles. As Art Direcetor of 11 Aviation Publications, Nasos Vlachos turned to Strata Design 3D CX, Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator to solve the problem.
Read More…

Case Study | A Market Bull’s Eye for Kraft

What do you do when you get a new sauce? You get a new bottle of course. Kraft’s Bull’s-Eye BBQ Sauce marketing team undertook an extensive review of the BBQ category and the BBQ consumer. This hard work resulted in a killer new sauce. With superior taste and more authentic BBQ flavor, the team at Kraft went on to develop a new brand position to go with the new flavor. This required new packaging to bring all these elements together.
Read More…

Case Study | Picking Up Spirits at Ralphs

When Diageo (the world’s largest provider of spirits, wine and beer) partnered with Ralphs (part of the Kroger grocery stores empire with over $70 billion in sales) to create a spirits retail solution they chose Linear SC. To provide a complete, “Below The Line” program, Linear SC relied on their detailed development process, designer talent, pencil sketches, Adobe software – and Strata 3D tools.
Read More…

Case Study | Walgreens Impulse Camera

Atico International is a global sourcing company with long-term ties to Walgreens, a U.S. based health and retail chain. But sourcing means much more than just importing products. Atico creates specifications for client products, develops branding, packing and promotional elements – such as point-of-purchase displays – and then sources that design to provide the client with a complete solution.
Read More…

Case Study | Dream Home Realized in 3D

Building a dream home in reality takes a lot of planning. For EH Design – and their client the Averill family – they knew that waiting until the house was built would be too late to get things perfect. To visualize their multi-million dollar home overlooking Lake Coeur d’Alene in Idaho they turned to Jon and his company – PEC, Inc.
Read More…

Case Study | Judging Books by Their Covers

Ed Tuttle and his eklektos design studio were approached by publishing giant Barnes & Noble to press restart on a series of brain-game books. The content was right on target but the covers were missing the mark. Using the Adobe Creative Suite and Strata Design 3D CX, Ed was able to solve the design puzzle and hit a bulls-eye for the client.
Read More…

Case Study | Mass Explained iPad App

The Roman Catholic Mass is the source and summit of the Catholic faith. While cradle Catholics may know the prayers and responses said at Mass, many do not know their significance or historical development. The Mass Explained iPad app was designed as a scholarly yet totally approachable and thoroughly entertaining educational tool to help faithful Catholics as well as the general population learn more about the Mass.
Read More…
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Take a test drive of our award-winning applications

Design 3D CX 8 is now available as a trial for Mac users. If you are on Windows, you will be testing Design 3D CX 7.5. Provide your information below and we'll send you download links and additional trial resources to help get you up and running, fast!

I am interested in trying out the following applications:

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