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-- by Serdar Yegulalp
If you're looking for a creative, fascinating way to improve your graphic designs or Web pages, try adding photo-realistic textures. Texture Creator 2.0 can re-create the natural appearance of objects such as wood, clouds, stone and ripples to add visual appeal to your work.
Within the program, you can work with a wizard, use a preset texture or start with a blank slate. Beginners will enjoy the step-by-step Texture Creation Wizard. Presets (fully editable textures categorized by type) give you a good starting point for creating specific objects. Experienced users can create totally customized textures.
Regardless of the creation mode, you get basic tools like light sources, shader layers, a surface layer and a beveling slab. Each component adds an attribute to the texture. The light sources give the texture color and visibility. The shader layers let you mix patterns, colors and raw texture material; algorithms simulate the look of clouds, wood or stone. The surface layer provides a finish-anything from a sheen to a matte surface. And the beveling slab lets you give the entire texture a chiseled edge, perfect for creating Web buttons or similar graphics.
Unlike clip-art backgrounds and textures, Texture Creator images look gorgeous and extremely realistic, even at high resolution. The program's output gives 2D, 3D and Web-related graphics an added element. You can save the textures to all the major graphics file formats, including JPEG, GIF, TIF and BMP. The program also supports Photoshop and Targa files.
Texture Creator is a bit pricey; Ulead's PhotoImpact 3.01 (see WinLab Reviews, February) provides a complete image-editing program for $199. But Texture Creator does perform its singular function exceedingly well.