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I don't have any real experience with 3D software (except for 1995's Raydream Designer). I realize there are plenty of fine options out there, but I am looking for something tremendously simple:

For starters, I want only to take a vector image (any vector format is ok) of some text and simply "render" the text viewed at an angle with perspective, then save as a vector image so that I can easily import it into any graphic design software.

I don't need effects, particles, motion, etc. I just want to render things at an angle. Is there a software that fits the bill?

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You can do this perspective rendering with Illustrator. –  OghmaOsiris Jan 20 '13 at 21:03
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3D is off-topic here. You might look into Strata 3d or Swift 3D though. –  Scott Jan 20 '13 at 22:31
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I don't think it's quite off-topic Scott, as 3D is built into Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, albeit to a limited degree, but will still do 3D Extrusions on Text and Vector objects. Photoshop CS 6 Extended has a redesigned UI to easily create 3D Text, Extrusions, etc, with camera's lights, IBLs, and more. Scott, the other reason I don't agree is that if you look at the ads around us today, a good 80% use 3D for Text and other aspects of design. More over, designers are called upon to work with 3D assets to use in comps for product placement and package design comps. 3D is now in design. –  Kevin Bomberry Jan 20 '13 at 23:50
    
I'm merely looking at the FAQ here. –  Scott Jan 21 '13 at 3:15
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It was quite off-topic at first, but because it's 3D being applied to text and the first comment mentions Illustrator, I edited it a little. Now it's 30% off-topic, I'd say. –  Yisela Jan 21 '13 at 19:26

2 Answers 2

As @OghmaOsiris mentions, you can use Illustrator to give 3D effects to a text.

Just choose Effect > 3D > Extrude & Bevel, which will open an Options dialog window. In the 3D Extrude & Bevel Options dialog window, click on the Preview option check box to see how the text is going to look:

3D Bevel & Extrude

Ungrouped & Grouped

You can also see this article to guide you through.

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You can use Photoshop CS3 Extended and later to make 3D shapes out of vector shapes (and text), but Photoshop CS6 makes it much easier with a redesigned UI and better tools. You can fine more information at Adobe.com, Photoshop.com or googling Photoshop CS6 3D.

But if you're not using Photoshop, and you're using Illustrator, then Yisela's information is a good resource for you (above). But I will say that Photoshop is a bit easier and more powerful than Illustrator for creating and working with 3D objects—although Illustrator still has better Pen/Path tools.

If you don't have either, then you can consider using some free software like Blender, Bryce, or another one of the many free 3D tools out there. Just be sure they can export files with transparency, as I'm sure that will be a requirement for you and most designers. Cheers!

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