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Q-Proxies: Presets & Mesh Types

Q-Proxies comes with 7 useful Presets that help you quickly setup the main parameters for generating proxies, according to the type of objects you are working with. They cover the general categories of : rocks, vehicles, vegetation, sculptures and characters.

Before digging more into how the presets work and how to use them properly, it’s better to know which are the type of meshes this plugin can generate to use for proxy objects.

Proxy Mesh Types

The plugin gives you 5 different alternatives that you can use as a proxy mesh:

  • From Source (also Lowpoly): uses a copy of the original mesh. If you set Use Polygon Reduction on, then you will get a lowpoly version of the source object.
    (This works generally good for most cases, except for those objects that contains a lot of submeshes o tiny faces, like vegetation, wire fences, nest-like shapes, etc.)
  • Convex Hull: creates a convex mesh that wraps original mesh, with a very low resolution.
    (Recommended when require to have very lowpoly proxy meshes but they don’t need to accurately represent the original object’s shape. Very useful for cars, rocks and many others)
  • Box: creates a box mesh from the local bounding box of the object.
    (Useful for objects whose shape resembles a box and they don’t have a main role in the scene, like very distant buildings, packing boxes, containers, etc.)
  • Vertex Cloud: shows only the vertices of the original mesh. If you activate Polygon Reduction, you can control the amount of vertices shown.
    (Very useful for vegetation, wire fences, nest-like shapes, etc.)
  • Custom Mesh: lets you pick a custom mesh for your proxies.
    Make sure the object you pick has no transforms and its pivot is placed according to how it is set in the objects you are going to replace.

As you see, there’s a wide range of options to choose from, to cover all your needs. Some are very lowpoly and lightweight, but just give you a very raw representation of the original object’s shape. Others look very similar to their reference but having much more polygons. Others, like vertex cloud, are lightweight but take more time to be generated. It is about you to pick the better option for what you need. And there are also the Presets to help you.

Presets

There are 7 default presets to make a quick setup for creating proxies. These presets were thought based on different categories of objects, but every option may be suitable for other type of objects too. They are just generalizations.

Although Q-Proxies can process many different kind of objects together at once, if you plan to create proxies for different type of objects at the same scene, it is advisable to work them separately, in steps. That way you will ensure to process every type of object in the most appropriate and efficient way.

Each preset configures the options that mainly define:
to treat an object as static or animated; to apply polygon reduction or not (and how much); to bake the object’s animation or not; to turn grouped objects into a single proxy or not; what type of proxy mesh is better to use.

These are the presets, with a little description of what they do:

  • Deafult: suitable for most cases. Uses original mesh with a moderate polygon reduction.
  • Rocks/Stones: makes a quite lowpoly version.
  • Vehicles – static: uses Convex Hull as mesh type and turns grouped objects into a single proxy.
  • Vehicles – animated: makes a lowpoly version, keeping all objects separated to handle animation.
  • Vegetation: uses Vertex Cloud mesh type for a more efficient representation. Also suitable for wire fences and objects with multiple submeshes.
  • Sculptures/Statues: creates a lowpoly version, with enough vertices to preserve some detail. Also suitable for still characters.
  • Animated Characters: it bakes the character/vertex animation to a lowpoly version, attaching all character parts.

The recommended procedure is to firstly choose the preset that better match the type of objects you want to replace, and then adjust the parameters if necessary.

Apart from using the default presets, you may want to create your own presets. For that porpose, there are the Load and Save options, which let you store preset files to disk and reuse them later.

That’s all for this tutorial. If you have any questions or consultations, just write us throught the Contact form. Take a look at the other tutorials and the plugin’s manual for further learning.

Cheers! ūüôā

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Q-Proxies Quick Start Tutorial

Introduction

People who usually work with heavy 3dsMax scenes, with a great amount of objects and polygons, often have to struggle against 2 factors:

  1. Low viewport performance, wich makes scene navigation and manipulation a real pain.
  2. Giant file size, wich causes very long loading/saving times.

These problems result in frustration, wasted time and a low productivity.

Q-Proxies helps you quickly downsize your heavy scenes through the automatic creation of proxy meshes, amazingly improving the viewport performance and reducing the loading/saving times. It’s an extraordinary timesaver that will greatly speed up your workflow and make your life much easier.

How it works

Q-Proxies helps you identify meshes in your scene with a high number of faces, through the use of object filters. Then, automatically replaces them with proxy meshes, wich are generally lowpoly versions of those objects, and stores the original ones (called references) in separate 3dsMax files. When you make a render, the high-resolution references are temporarily brought back to scene, aquiring the changes you made to their proxies.
This way you end up with a lightweight scene, with smooth viewport navigation, that loads and saves much faster, so you can work comfortably and efficiently.

The main difference between Q-Proxies and other proxy objects (created with third-party render engines or plugins) is that the proxy creation process here is automatic. You don’t need to manually build your proxies one by one, or plan how to optimize your scene before you actually create it. Q-Proxies can generate multiple different proxies at once, fast and effortlessly. And the best of all, it’s compatible with all render engines and third-party proxy objects, because it works independently from the current renderer and uses 3dsMax standard Editable Meshes, wich you can edit at any time.

The general procedure is:

  1. Set wich objects to convert to proxies / Configure Object Filters.
  2. Select the Preset that best match the type of objects you are targeting.
  3. Optionally, adjust a few proxy creation parameters (like mesh type, polygon reduction, animation baking, etc.)
  4. Press ‘Generate Proxies’.

Interface

The plugin’s UI has 5 different sections. The 3 main sections are the ones initially visible when you run the plugin:

  1. Object Filters
    Include options for filtering your scene meshes by number of faces, size, static/animated, and others.
  2. Create Proxies
    Here you setup the parameters for creating the proxies: type of proxy mesh, amount of polygon reduction, bake animation, etc.
  3. Display/Render Options
    Controls to set how to display proxy meshes in scene and whether to activate or not the replacement of proxies during render.

There are 2 more tabs at the middle, with advanced options and help (Manage/Tools and Help/About), wich are not covered by this introductory tutorial.

Quick Starting Example

Let’s pretend we have an architectural interior scene: an art gallery. For simplicity, this sample scene will contain just 2 elements of the art gallery: columns (cylinders) and sculptures (teapots).

So first, we are going to build this simple scene with high resolution meshes to make it heavy, and then we will use Q-Proxies to reduce it to a very lightweight scene.

  1. In a new 3dsMax scene, create a cylinder to represent a column. Give it 5 height segments, 1 cap segment and 24 sides. The radius and height don’t matter.
  2. Make 6 instances in total and arrange them like the image above, to place our sculptures in the center, surrounded by the columns.
  3. Create a teapot to represent a scuplture, with about 1/3 the height of a column. Give it 64 segments and add a TurboSmooth modifier to it, with 1 iteration. Convert it to Editable Mesh.
    So now it will have more than 1 million faces. This will be our high resolution mesh.
  4. Now make 10 copies in total (not instances). Arrange them the way you like, in the center of the scene. Save your scene.
    You have now a scene with more than 10 million faces (triangles), with a file size of about 452 Mb. Check it out.
    Supposing this is a very complex scene, with lots of objects, polygons, modifiers, textures, etc, you would be probably experiencing a low viewport performance and waiting too long for saving and loading the scene. So we’ll use Q-Proxies plugin to solve this problem.
  5. Open Q-Proxies. (If it was already open, please close it and re-open it, so it resets to default values)
  6. Let’s assume that the objects in our scene are hard to identify and select. So, let’s use Q-Proxies filters to identify the high resolution objects, so we can replace them later with proxies.
  7. Go to Objects Filters section (at the top) and check the radio button called All Geometry, instead of the default Selection. This tells the plugin to operate on all geometry in scene, not only on selected objects.
  8. Leave the other options by default and press the ‘Select‘ button at the bottom right of Object Filters section. This selects filtered objects.
    A message appears: “No objects found after filtering”. That’s because the ‘Max. num. faces’ value is too low. Our teapots have more than 1 million faces each one.
  9. Increase this value to 2,000,000 (2 million). Press ‘Select‘ again.
    The 10 teapots are now selected.
  10. Go down in the UI to the bottom of Create Proxies section and locate Presets. Choose the option ‘Sculptures / Statues’.
    These presets help you quickly setup the main parameters for the proxy creation process.
  11. Press the big button ‘GENERATE PROXIES’.
  12. A message will show up, asking you to confirm the action. Go on.
  13. In this case, another message will show up: “There’s a lot of information to process. […] Continue anyway?”.¬† (If you process more than 500 objects or 1 million polygons, this additional warning will appear). Confirm again.
  14. Q-Proxies will start processing the objects and generating the proxies.
    It should take no more than 10 to 30 seconds in this simple scene.

When the process ends, please save the scene with a new name to compare it with the previous.

Now you will notice some incredible things in your scene:

  • If you deselect all and see the scene in shaded mode, there’s almost no difference. The general look of the objects was preserved.
  • Every teapot is now a lowpoly mesh, with about only 1,300 faces.
  • All teapots are now instances of each other.
  • Every teapot is an Editable Mesh with a modifier applied, called ‘Proxy Attributes‘. This means that object is now a Q-Proxies proxy mesh.
  • The whole scene has now less than 15,000 total faces!
  • The scene file size was amazingly reduced to just about 650 kb.

This is the magic of Q-Proxies! ūüėÄ

Now zoom in to one of the teapots, place a camera and render a very close-up shot. Use any production renderer.

You will see the high resolution mesh at the render!

Now, while you easily manipulate a very light scene, with low resolution proxies, everything looks great and polished in the final render.

I hope you enjoyed this starting tutorial. Just play around with the plugin and its parameters and take a look at the other tutorials and the plugin’s manual for further learning.

Cheers! ūüôā

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SubSpline – Quick Start Tutorial

SubSpline is an Advanced Subobject Selector & Material IDs Editor for spline shapes in Autodesk 3dsMax.

With this plugin, you can edit your shapes way faster, using its smart and efficient tools for selecting vertices, segments and spline subobjects.

SubSpline is also the perfect tool for managing the material IDs in your splines, due to its extensive set of functions ment for this porpose.

Some tools in this plugin work only in subobject level (like the ones in Select Subobjects section), while others can work both at base or subobject level. See the image above.

SubSpline was ment to work in parallel with 3dsMax¬†Editable Spline¬†tools. You can switch between the different subobject levels directly from the script’s UI, with the vertex/segment/spline buttons, at the Main Panel.

Vertex/Segment/Spline (icon buttons):
These 3 check buttons are clones of the ones in Editable Spline parameters and have the same function: enable or disable the corresponding subobject level edition.
When active, all the controls in Select Subobjects section become enable and ready to operate.
You can hold CTRL+button to convert the current subobject selection to a different type (like you do in 3dsMax Editable Poly).

Select an editable spline shape and start playing with SubSpline tools. The pugin is very intuitive and easy to learn.
You will really speed up your workflow and reduce your spline editing times by half.

If you are a user of iToo Software RailClone plugin, SubSpline will open a world of exciting new possibilities for you. It’s a great tool to manage spline material IDs, fast and efficiently.
Here’s a great RailClone & SubSpline Tutorial.

For further information and detailed description of every tool in this plugin, please check the SubSpline Manual.

Cheers!

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SubSpline Tutorial: Working with RailClone

This video shows the great advantage of using SubSpline 3dsMax plugin to complement and maximize iToo Software RailClone‘s capabilities by managing spline material IDs fast and efficiently.

Note: If you are not familiarized with the use of spline material IDs in RailClone, we recommend you to first see this tutorial.

For further and detailed information about SubSpline tools, please refer to the SubSpline Manual.

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Spline Refiner Basics – Tutorial

General Considerations

Spline Refiner is a 3dsMax productivity tool thought to automate and speed-up the tedious task of subdividing all the segments of a shape manually, trying to achieve a general uniform vertex distribution along the splines.

This is not a normalization¬†tool, like 3dsMax’s Normalize Spline modifier. It’s a Smart Subdividing tool.
The goal of this plugin is to get an even segmentation of the splines while preserving all the original vertices and shape intact.

Since this tool was ment to use at a final stage of the curves edition, it works better when provided with clean shapes, without overlapping vertices or other problematic issues, that may cause undesired results.

Spline Refiner works on any type of shape but will convert the base object to Editable Spline (keeping all the modifiers intact). It supports shapes with modifiers assigned (even geometry builders like Extrude modifier), because it works on the base object level.

The plugin can operate on multiple shapes simultaneosly, fast and efficiently. It takes only a few seconds to process hundreds of splines.

To start working with your selected shapes in Spline Refiner, the first thing we suggest is to turn on ‘Show vertex ticks’ (at the bottom of the plugin’s UI). This way you will be able to see all the changes in segmentation in realtime.

Start trying Spline Refiner and play with the parameters of Equalize Subdivision tool. The following is a description of all the tools in the plugin’s UI.

Equalize Subdivision

This is the key tool of this plugin. It analyzes every segment of the spline/s and, according to the provided parameters, determines the best way to get the most uniform subdivision possible, without altering the existing shape and vertices.

It doesn’t use a fix segmentation value. Instead, it takes an approximate (average) segment length, wich you can choose to be calculated automatically (using the length of the shortest segment in spline) or set a custom value.

If you are working with multiple splines and you want to have a uniform subdivision across all splines, then choose the options shortest seg. and absolute.
If you want the script to calculate a specific subdivision for each spline, then choose the options shortest seg. and relative.


The image above clearly shows how the parameters of Equalize Subdivision work. (‘Automatic’ refers to choosing the option ‘shortest seg.‘ as the average segment length.)

Increase Subdivision

This tool divides every segment of the splines in 2 halves, doubling the general segmentation.
The Iterations parameter sets how many times the function will be recursively applied.

The ‘Affect curves only’¬†checkbox it’s¬†an important feature that affects both Equalize Subdivision and Increase Subdivision functions.
If active, the tools will subdivide only the curved parts and leave straight lines intact. Very powerful feature!

Additional Tools

Optimize Straight Lines (button)
Removes all unnecessary vertices from straight lines. It’s a cleaning tool.
Threshold Angle (spinner): establish the maximum angle allowed between segments for removing vertices.

Make Linear Segments (button)
Convert all segments in selected shapes to linear and vertices to corner type.

Basic Shape Parameters: Spline Interpolation
In this section you can control the basic shape interpolation for all the selected shapes. They are the same parameters you can find in any shape, but here you change them for all the selected shapes simultaneously in a single place.

Show vertex ticks (checkbox)
This option expose all the vertices of the selected shapes on screen. Very useful to see the changes in the segmentation while you apply the subdivision functions.

Undo / Revert Actions

These 2 buttons at the bottom of the UI help you revert the changes you recently made with Spline Refiner.
This is a custom undo system, since 3dsMax does not natively support undo for spline operations.

Undo (icon button): undo the very last action.

Revert Actions: reverts all the changes made with Spline Refiner on the selected shapes since you ran the plugin.

This is a simple yet powerful plugin to speed-up your workflow and make your life easier.

For further information please see Spliner Refiner’s Manual.
If you need help or have any consultations or suggestions to make us, please don’t hesitate to write us through this Contact Form.

Enjoy Spline Refiner!

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Spline Combiner Booleans: Limitations & Workarounds

Boolean operations involve complex math. Boolean engines are very complicate pieces of code and there is no perfect algorithm for this task.

Spline Combiner uses 3dsMax’s ProBoolean engine to perform boolean oprations between splines. This functions work generally very good, but there some exceptions.

There may be occasions in wich Spline Combiner‘s Boolean Splines tool cannot resolve the boolean operation properly. For example, in some cases after the process, all the shapes disappear or the resulting shape is wrong. Don’t panic! This is not an error. It’s a known limitation and it happens just in particular cases. We will point those cases and show you how to solve them in a few steps.

The image above shows 3 cases in wich the Boolean Union operation fails and how to use Spline Combiner’s Detect Intersections tool to workaround this.

The most problematic situations, as you can see, are those involving overlapping vertices and lines between shapes.

As a general rule, to overcome these cases, you can use the Detect Intersections tool. The steps are the following:

  1. Select the shapes
  2. Open Detect Intersections rollout
  3. Tick ‘Between different shapes’
  4. Choose ‘Split’ option and ‘Detach elements’
  5. Press ‘DETECT INTERSECTIONS’ button.¬†The script breaks the splines apart by intersections, detaching all curves.
  6. Delete the unwanted parts manually
  7. At the Tools rollout, press ‘Attach Selected’ and ‘Weld Vertices’

Ready!

This method and works for almost all the cases, since the algorithm Spline Combiner uses for detecting intersections is very accurate and effective.

Try it! If you have any doubts or consultations please leave a comment down here or write us through this Contact Form.

Cheers!

 

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Spline Combiner: Shape Cutter tool

Hi guys!

In this tutorial we want to show you how to cut 2D shapes in 3ds Max, in a clean and easy way, using the Shape Cutter tool from Spline Combiner 3dsMax script to make the logo in the image above.

In the case of this 3D logo, the three different color regions were required to be separate meshes, to animate them independently.

3ds Max natively comes with a tool for cutting 3D objects called ProCutter (located in Control Panel > Geometry > Compound Objects). You could use this tool to cut an already extruded logo, but that way you end up with an Editable Mesh (or Poly) with a collapsed modifiers stack. You loose the advantage of keeping the extrusion parametric as a modifier.
Using this script, you work in a non-destructive way, so you can go back and edit the original shapes/splines if you need to.

Let’s start. Make a new scene in 3ds Max and do the following:

1. With the Text shape tool, type “Rainbow” (or whatever you like) in a viewport, give the text a reasonable size and assign a nice font to it.

2. Draw an arc through the whole word. Then make a copy, using SHIFT+move, and place it below it to build a rainbow arc, like in the first step at the image below.

 

3. Open Spline Combiner.

4. First, you need to attach both arcs together because Spline Combiner requires the cutter object to be a single shape. So, select both arcs. Then go to the Tools rollout (in the script’s UI) and press Attach Selected. Now you have a single shape containing both splines.

5. Go to the Shape Cutter rollout. Press the button  Pick Cutter Object and click on the arc shape. Its name appears in the button text.

6. Leave all the checkboxes on. The options Cookie cut for closed shapes and Detach all elements are exactly what we need to get extrusion-friendly shapes.

7. Select both shapes, the rainbow arc and the text. The press APPLY CUTTER.

8. The script will take a little time to perform the action. As a result, you will get many single spline shapes (3 or more per each letter). Like in the 2nd step at the above image.

9. Now you need to attach all the shapes by region, considering the 3 regions delimited by the arc shape: top region, middle region and bottom region. So, select all the shapes in the top region, go to the Tools rollout again and press Attach Selected. Repeat the same procedure for the shapes in each region. You will end up with only 3 shapes, like in the 3rd step in the image above.

10. At this point you can delete the cutter object. Delete the arc shape then.

11. Now try to assign an Extrude modifier to the top shape of the logo. If the shape does not extrude well, it means there are some open splines. You need to weld all the vertices properly to get closed splines for the extrusion. So, at the Tools rollout, use the Weld Vertices tool for that. Repeat the process with the other shapes if necessary.

12. To make a 3D logo from a vector shape, you can use either the Extrude or the Bevel modifier. The one in this tutorial was made with Bevel.

13. You should have a now a beautiful 3D logo, composed of 3 meshes. Assign a different colored material to each one and you are ready!

We hope you enjoyed making this practice. If you have any doubts or consultations, you can post a comment down here or write us through the Contact Form.

Cheers!

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Spline Combiner: Handling Spline Intersections

Hi guys!

In this tutorial we’ll see how to deal with spline intersections in 3ds Max, with the help of Spline Combiner‘s Intersections Detection tool.

3ds Max lacks a ‘snap to intersections’ feature. Besides, all operations between splines (like boolean functions, trimming, etc.) require all splines to be part of the same shape. So, if you need to create new shapes from existing ones, it turns a really time-consuming and inefficient task.

Here’s when Spline Combiner comes in to make your life easier. The script can detect all kind of intersections between splines (between different shapes, spline subobjects and self intersections) and then perform a series of actions like placing helpers at intersections, refine the splines or break them and detach them all.

Placing helpers at intersections

Consider the following situation: you have 4 independent splines, like in the first graphic in the image above. Your goal is to get the shape inscribed between those splines (see the last graphic on the right). For that, since they are all straight lines, the easiest way would be to draw the final shape by snapping to the intersections. Spline Combiner can help us by automatically placing a point helper at each intersection. Let’s start. Prepare a similar scene in 3ds max and follow these steps:

1. Open Spline Combiner, close the first and second rollouts and open the one named Detect Intersections.

2. Select all the shapes you want to find intersections for.

3. In this case, tick only the checkbox labeled Between different shapes.

4. At Action area, select the option None. (No action is needed apart from the intersections detection)

5. At Helpers area, turn on Place helpers checkbox.

6. Then press DETECT INTERSECTIONS.

7. Voila! You now have one helper per intersection. You can change their color and size with the controls in the Helpers area.

8. Turn on 3ds Max snap tool and at the snapping options check only “Pivot“.

9. Now, with the Line tool, draw the final shape. (You can select the helpers through the Named Selection Sets dropdown list in 3dsMax and delete them if you want)

Ready! Nice, quick and simple. ūüôā¬†Practice this method and you’ll see how faster you work this way.

Now we’ll see another method to handle a slightly more complex situation.

Refining or breaking splines at intersections

Consider the situation in the first graphic of the image above. There are 5 independent splines. Your goal is to get from them the shape in the last graphic on the right.

Spline Combiner can perform a variety of actions after detecting spline intersections. You can choose either to Refine the splines at those points, to Split (or break) them, or to break and detach them all as new objects.

So, let’s start. Prepare a scene in 3ds Max, containing something similar to the first graphic in the image and follow these steps:

1. Open Spline Combiner > Detect Intersections rollout.

2.  Select the shapes you created.

3. At Action area, check Split option and leave Detach all elements on.

4. Uncheck Place helpers if it is on. Then press DETECT INTERSECTIONS.

5. Once the script has finished the task, you will get many individual splines, like you see in the 2nd graphic at the image above.

6. Now just select and delete the unnecessary splines, leaving only the ones that make the final shape.

7. Since the splines are individual objects, you need now to attach them all and weld their vertices. So, go down in the script’s UI and open the Tools rollout. Use the corresponding tools Attach Selected and Weld Vertices to complete the task.

Ready! You have now a clean and closed final shape.

Note: If you need to make this exercise but, instead of having different individual splines, you have a single shape containig many spline subobjects and want to keep it that way, you can use the options Splines of same shape and Refine. Then work in subobject mode to delete the leftovers and weld the vertices.

That’s all for now. If you have any doubts or consultations, please post a comment down here or write us through the Contact Form.

Hope you liked it! Cheers!

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Spline Combiner: The Basics

The following video tutorial shows the basic use of the main Spline Combiner tools.

The video was speeded up to make it more dynamic, but you can stop it as many times as you need to better follow the process.

It covers this 3 tools: Boolean Splines, Shape Cutter and Detect Intersections. Each tool has its own peculiarities but they are all very simple to use and understand.

If you have any doubt or consultation, please don’t hesitate to write us. You can comment down here or do it through this Contact Form.

Enjoy Spline Combiner! ūüôā

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Spiros tutorial: Morphing spirals

In this tutorial we are going to explain how to make a transformation animation (morphing) between 2 shapes created with Spiros 3dsMax script.

At Spiros‘ introductory video, there’s an animation in wich a spiral shape morphs into a spherical helix that becomes the Earth globe (see the image above). That animation was made in 3dsMax with a¬†little used technique: using the Morpher modifier to morph between splines.

This modifier is very powerful and it’s capable to make transformations not only between 3D meshes, but also between splines (and FFD lattices). The only restriction is the same as for meshes: splines must have the same number of vertices/knots.

Since Spiros let you set a specific number of knots for the shapes you create or modify, you can make any transformation between any shapes created with this script. Just make sure they have the same number of knots. Also consider to change the order of the knots in the spline (reverse it) if necessary, for getting a better result.

The better way to make this kind of morphing is to work on a single channel in the Morpher modifier. Just add all the shapes that will participate in the transformation to a single channel, then arrange the order of appearance and adjust the tension parameter to zero.

Try ity! There’s a lot of cool animations and effects you can do by morphing splines. Imagine you have many objects whose position or rotation depends on a path (path constrained) or they are wrapped to a spline (path deformed). If you animate (or morph) the spline, they will act in consequence. It’s an incredible tool for Motion Graphics animations.

That’s all for this tutorial. I hope you liked it and make great animations.

If you have any doubts or consultations you can leave a comment down here or write us through the Contact form.

Cheers!

 

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