Other 3D Applications
Quite a few other 3D applications support PNG, too. These range from VRML
editors and high-end modeling programs to artificial terrain generators and
font-extrusion utilities. In the next few pages, I list a number of these applications,
together with the version number of the latest release and the current web
site as of this writing.
- 3D Studio MAX
Version R2.5, Kinetix/Autodesk. Available for 32-bit
Windows; read/write support for PNGs. This is the reference software for
high-end 3D modeling, much like Adobe Photoshop is the reference for
high-end image editing; release 2.0 (and later) supports export of VRML 2.0.
- Cosmo Worlds
Version 1.1 (IRIX) and 2.0 (Win32), SGI Cosmo Software, Platinum
Technology, Computer Associates, and/or Web3D Consortium. Available
for SGI IRIX and 32-bit Windows; read/write support for PNGs; full
alpha support. This was Cosmo's flagship VRML 2.0 editing program.
SGI retained the rights to the IRIX version; as of early April 1999,
the fate of the Windows version was up in the air. Platinum's plans to
release it to the Web3D Consortium (as open source code, free for
noncommercial use) may go forward, or it may remain proprietary
software under Computer Associates' control.
Version 2.0, Macromedia. Available for 32-bit Windows
and Mac PPC; read/write support for PNGs as textures and backgrounds; write-only
support for PNGs as output format for rendered scenes, including interlacing
and (32-bit) alpha support. This is a 3D modeling and animation tool.
- Font F/X
Version 2.0, DCSi/Electric Rain. Available for 32-bit
Windows; write-only support for PNGs. This is a 3D font-rendering program.
Version 1.3a, John Beale. Available for Unix and DOS;
write-only support for PNGs. This is a terrain generator that uses ``random
fractal forgery'' to produce realistic mathematical representations of hills,
mountains, and craters; its output must be fed into the POV-Ray ray tracer for
rendering. The included Tcl/Tk interface is called Xforge.
- LightWave 3D
Version 5.6, NewTek. Available for 32-bit Windows,
Mac PPC, IRIX, and Solaris. Read/write support for PNGs and full (32-bit) alpha
support if James G. Jones's PNG loader/saver is installed as a plug-in. This is
another 3D modeling and animation tool, with particular emphasis on film and
Version 3.0.2, Wolfram Research. Available for 32-bit
Windows, Mac 68k/PPC, and most flavors of Unix; version 2.2.3 is also available
for 16-bit Windows, OS/2, and OpenVMS. Read/write support for PNGs, read-only
support for 32-bit RGBA, and full 16-bit support if Jens-Peer Kuska's
PNGBitmap package is installed. Mathematica is a graphical environment
for interactive mathematics and technical computing; the add-on allows it to
use PNGs for textures on surfaces and to save rendered output and other
graphics elements in PNG format.
Version 2.0, Jens-Peer Kuska. Available for 32-bit Windows,
Linux, and Solaris; read/write support for PNGs. This is a standalone,
interactive viewer for Mathematica 3D elements; it supports PNGs as textures
on input and as an output format for rendered images. It can also produce
POV-Ray or VRML 2.0 models with PNG textures.
Nichimen Graphics. Available for 32-bit Windows and Solaris;
read/write support for PNGs. This is a 3D modeling and 2D painting application
with support for PNGs as textures and VRML 2.0 as both an input and output
format. PNG images can be edited in the paint portion of the program.
Version 1.4, WareOnEarth. Available for SGI IRIX; write-only
support for PNGs. This is a simple (and free) command-line utility to convert
IRIS Performer 3D files into VRML 2.0 format; it will optionally convert the
SGI-specific texture formats into PNG and JPEG.
Version 3.1a, Persistence of Vision Development Team. Available
for 16- and 32-bit Windows, Unix, Mac 68k/PPC, DOS, and Amiga; read/write
support for PNGs; full (32-bit) alpha support; full gamma support; full
16-bit-per-sample support. This is probably the most well known ray-tracing
program; its file format has become an unofficial 3D standard.
- Rational Reducer
Version 2.2, Systems in Motion. Available for 32-bit
Windows, Linux, and SGI IRIX; read-only support for PNGs. This is a
polygon-reduction tool for 3D models in VRML 1.0, VRML 2.0, AutoCAD (DXF), and
3D Studio MAX (3DS) formats. It supports PNGs for textures.
Version 4.1, Caligari. Available for 32-bit Windows;
read/write support for PNGs. This is a 3D modeling and rendering program
with support for radiosity, NURBS, and so on. It supports PNGs for textures and
can write VRML 2.0 files.
Version 3.0, Xara. Available for 32-bit Windows; write support
for PNGs (may also support reading PNGs as textures); full (32-bit) alpha
support. This is a 3D font-rendering program.
One other application is worth mentioning here. VermelGen, an
all-Java VRML editor written by Justin Couch and Cameron Gillies,
relies on Java's built-in image-handling support for textures. The
most recent version of the app, beta 2, was released in mid-1997 when
Java did not support PNG. But with native PNG support in the new Java
Advanced Imaging API and in Justin's own Java Image Content Handlers
(see Cross-Platform Libraries), it is possible that VermelGen will inherit
PNG support as well. (Of course, it's also quite possible that some
modifications would have to be made in order to work with the updated
Java code.) VermelGen is available from
it requires the JVerge VRML classes, available from
As with the other application categories, new VRML browsers and 3D applications
with PNG support will be listed on the following two pages at the PNG home site:
As of 2003, the second page lists all known 3D applications with PNG
support, including VRML browsers and editors; the first is reserved for
detailed test results for various VRML browsers. Note also that the follow-on
to the VRML97 specification is an XML-based format called
X3D. It includes
several profiles of varying complexity, one of which is VRML97-compatible.