[Review] 3D Box Maker

{rw_text}Software reviewed in this article:

Exeicon.com’s 3D Box Maker

Version reviewed:

v2.091125

Supported OS:

Windows 95 and above

Price:

$79.95 (USD) per personal license but you can get it for free for a limited time at Giveawayoftheday.com!

NOTE: At the time of this writing, there is an ongoing sale allowing users to attain a personal license for $49.95

Software description as per the developer:

ExeIcon.com 3D Box Maker is a virtual packaging design tool. It creates 3D software box shot, vista  boxes, ebook covers, CD covers, books, electronic magazines covers and more. It allows you to create high quality web and printable graphics with just a few clicks!

{/rw_text} –>

{rw_good}

  • Straightforward and easy to use.
  • Users can either use pre-designed templates or create custom designs from scratch.
  • Users can insert multiple different objects into designs, including boxes, CDs, books, and 3D text.
  • Each object can be customized (look, size, rotation, etc.)
  • The environment of the design (background, floor, camera, light, etc.) can be customized.
  • Has a built-in basic image editor that users can take advantage of.
  • Supports import of .3ds models.

{/rw_good} –>

{rw_bad}

  • Cannot export designs as GIF (JPEG, BMP, and PNG supported only).
  • Cannot change the font of the 3D text.
  • Interface is an eye sore – could do with an overhaul.

{/rw_bad} –>

{rw_score}
{for=”Ease of Use” value=”8″}Aside from the fact that the interface is ugly (very ugly), the program itself is fairly easy to use.
{/for}
{for=”Performance” value=”9″}Works very well; quality of images – after they have been exported – is excellent. Isn’t too much of a computer resource hog either, comparatively speaking. The only two problems is that designs cannot be exported as GIF and the font of the 3D text cannot be changed.
{/for}
{for=”Usefulness” value=”3″}I don’t see too many people finding this program useful.
{/for}
{for=”Price” value=”7″}The price is a fair price considering the fact that 1) this software is aimed at commercial users 2) the price of rival software 3) the software is currently “on sale” for $49.95. However, if I were a potential customer, I would want the developer to revamp the interface before I shell out that much cash for the program.
{/for}
{for=”Final Score” value=”7″}
{/for}
{/rw_score} –>

{rw_verdict}[tup]
{/rw_verdict} –>

Exeicon.com’s 3D Box Maker is a program that allows users to create box shots, also known as eCovers. This is what the main program window looks like:

When creating box shots, users can either use a pre-designed template that comes with the program…

…or create a custom design from scratch. (To create a custom design from scratch, go to “File” -> “Clear” or hit “Cancel” when being asked to select a template.) Note that when using a template the images you see in the template preview won’t be shown – only the template design will be given to you. In other words, when you select, for example, the first box template (the blue one) you will get the template but without the images:

When creating a box shot – whether you are creating your own custom design or customizing a design from a template – 3D Box Maker allows you to insert as many objects as you desire. In other words, you can have more than one box in your design. Clicking on “Add Object” brings up a popup menu allowing you to insert objects, such as a box or notebook:

You may insert multiple copies of the same object if desired – you are not limited to only one of each object per design; and each object you insert can be customized individually:

Box

Round Corner Box

Book

Note Book

Thick Book

CD

Curved Surface

3D Text

Take note when customizing the skin of an object, you can either select a solid color or import an image:

(Clicking on a box under “Skin” brings up the above menu.)

Additionally, as you can see from the screenshot, 3D Box Maker has a built-in image editor which you can use to make basic edits and crop images:

This same image editor cannot not only be used to edit images for skins, but can also be used to edit the box shots after they have been rendered and exported (more on this later).

In addition to customizing objects, users are allowed to customize

  • The environment

The floor and background can either be set as solid colors or images can be imported for them, similar to the skin for objects.

  • Lighting

  • Camera

3D Box Maker also supports mouse usage, so camera position can be changed by click + dragging on the preview in addition to the slider bars shown in the above screenshot. Similar, objects can be moved by click + dragging (you must have the object’s tab selected when you want to move it otherwise it won’t work).

When all is set and done and you are happy with your design, you can

  • Save the project, so you can edit it at a later date.
  • Save the design as a template.
  • Export the design as an image:

When exporting the design as an image, you can set the image size (width and height), how the image will be rendered (leave it at auto unless you know what you are doing), and select the format of the image (JPEG, BMP, and PNG supported only). Additionally, you are allowed to publish the image, then use 3D Box Maker’s built-in image editor to make edits to it:

In terms of performance, 3D Box Maker produces excellent quality images. Check it out for yourself:

Computer resource usage is not too bad either – about 25-60 MB of RAM (depending on what you are doing), about 30% CPU usage while customizing the design (not constant 30% usage – only when you do an actual task, like rotate the image), and about 50% CPU usage while rendering and exporting the design.

That said, there are three aspects where I feel the developer can improve the program:

  • Add support for more than just JPG, BMP, and PNG image formats when exporting designs.
  • Allow users to change the type of font used for 3D text.
  • Improve the interface. Currently, the interface looks very unprofessional and is an eye sore.

This review was conducted on a laptop running Windows 7 Professional 32-bit. The specs of the laptop are as follows: 3GB of RAM, a Radeon HD 2600 512MB graphics card, and an Intel T8300 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo processor.

{rw_freea}

3D-Pack.com

You can create a box, a CD box and a DVD box directly from this website without ever having to install anything. However customization and options are very limited.

3D Box Shot Maker

3D Box Shot Maker is an easy and FREE tool to virtually design quality box shot as your software box cover. It is important to present a professional boxshot to attract your potential customers to take a closer look at your products. An impressive box shot will make your software outstanding, and easily defeat your competitors at the start.

3D Box Shot Maker accepts a front image and a side image as input, and generate the final image on the fly. It can also include a shadow and a reflection in your box shot. It will show the preview image instantly as you adjust the size and other parameters.

-Developer

BoxMaker Classic

BoxMaker is a three dimensional virtual packaging design tool. It transforms your image artwork into a 3D box in real time using the OpenGL library supported by  your PC’s graphics hardware, allowing you to rapidly prototype your packaging designs. You can easily select the cover images, rotate, pan and zoom your box in real-time. 3D Box Shot can then write high quality bitmap images of your box which can be edited for inclusion on your web site or in promotional literature.

BoxMaker can also be used to display three dimensionally rotated image.

-Developer

Virtual Hardbox Designer

Virtual Hardbox Designer is a graphical tool that allows you to virtual 3D hardware boxes for digital products can be made. Im Handumdrehen haben Sie mit diesem Tool eine ansprechende Verpackung gestaltet, die Sie als Webgrafik in Ihren Online-Shop oder Ihre Homepage einbinden können. In an instant, you have this tool with an attractive packaging design that you use as web graphics in your online shop or your homepage may be. Üblicherweise müssten Sie komplizierte 3D-Software verwenden, um solche Grafiken zu gestalten – mit Virtual Hardbox Designer hingegen ist das Gestalten einer virtuellen Verkaufsbox für Ihre Software, Ihre Mediensammlungen etc. ein Kinderspiel, und im Handumdrehen präsentieren Sie digitale Inhalte auf Ihrer Website oder in Ihrem Online-Shop in einem professionellen Look. Normally you would have complicated 3D software used to create such graphics – with Virtual Hardbox designers, however, is designing a virtual Verkaufsbox for your software, your media collections, etc. a breeze, and instantly present your digital content on your website or in your Online-Shop with a professional look.

-Developer

{/rw_freea} –>

{rw_verdict2}A program has two aspects to it: form and function. 3D Box Maker has great function, but lacks in form – the interface is fairly ugly and unimpressive and really hurts what is otherwise a great program. Thus, I give 3D Box Maker a thumbs up for its great function, but stop short of recommending it because of its lack of form. That said, though, 3D Box Maker really does make excellent eCovers; if you need a program to make boxshots/eCovers, this could be the one for you, assuming you don’t mind the ugly interface – download the trial version and decide for yourself before purchasing.
{/rw_verdict2} –>

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7 comments

  1. Ashraf
    Author/Mr. Boss

    @Josh: I like to reserve the “recommended” rating for a software that excel in all categories – form, and function. The software that I have given the “recommended” rating to in the past have only minor issues, if any at all (the only exception would be niche software that are unique – 3D Box Maker is not unique). An eye sore GUI is not a minor issue in my book, hence the “heavy emphasis”.

    3D Box Maker is good, no doubt. However, the developer should realize GUI is an important part of a program, and it plays a large role in how people view a program.

    I hope that makes my point of view a bit more clear.

  2. Josh

    Why the heavy emphasis on the GUI? So maybe some of us like eye candy, but with functional utilities like this, should the focus not be on the end result, rather than how the application interface looks?

  3. Ashraf
    Author/Mr. Boss

    @joa1: The free ones aren’t really as good as 3D Box Maker but you can try 3D Box Shot Maker and BoxMaker Classic.

    @MerryMarjie: Thank you for the kind words!

    @Mr. Lee: It is a split, in my opinion. Cover Commander has a much better interface, and allows for a few better visual effects. 3D Box Maker allows users to insert multiple objects into designs, allows you to have different images/colors for the floor and background, and is lighter on resources. I say if you need an eCover, give both a try and see which one you like (download trial versions).

  4. Mr. Lee

    Hello Ashraf, I’m curious how you think today’s offer compares with “Cover Commander”, by Insofta Development, which was offered on GAOTD on Feb. 9th, 2009 (which you reviewed here).

  5. MerryMarjie

    The thoroughness with which you describe software is incredible, as are your screen shots.  Though I may not download every program, I am duly impressed by your reviews and eagerly read each one.  Thank you for your very useful service!

  6. joa1

    It would be GREAT to know what you think of each one of the alternatives… even if not doing here a full review for each… which packs the best of all? not “bang for buck” as they cost nothing… but… maybe more “flare for free”… what’s the best one, Ashraf?