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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.

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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Spiros tutorial: Making jewelry

In this tutorial we will learn how to model some ornaments, based on spirals and torus knot shapes, to make jewelry objects.

First, we’ll see how to create a bracelet with a triangular spiral shaped decoration. Secondly, we’ll learn how to make two different kind of pendants from torus knot shapes.

Before starting, let’s see which are the most common methods in 3dsmax to turn a spline curve into a volumetric mesh:

  • Make the spline renderable (Editable Spline properties)
  • Apply a Sweep modifier
  • Use Loft compound object
  • Use Path Deform modifier
  • Extrude Along Spline (tool from Editable Poly)

In this tutorial we use a different method for each of the three cases, but you can use the method that better fit your needs, or the one you are more comfortable with.

Making the bracelet

As you see in the image above, the bracelet’s triangular decoration was made starting with a simple spiral object created with Spiros.

Here’s the process:

1. In 3ds Max, open Spiros and create a spiral shape on the top viewport, with the size you like.

2. At the script’s UI, set the following values: Turns = 4.0; Knots = 13; Curve type: Line.

3. Now you will have a triangular spiral. Rotate it so that the triangle points upwards.

4. Edit the spline as shown in the image, to make all the sements perfectly parallel and delete the extra segment on the left.

5. Add a Sweep modifier. Use the built-in section called “Half Round” as the profile shape. This will turn the spline into a volumetric mesh.

6. Adjust the Sweep radius so that the mesh does not overlap itself, until it looks similar to the image.

7. Convert the mesh to Editable Poly to clean the geometry, remove undesired parts and add detail wherever you like.

8. Subdivide the mesh or add tesselation to increase the mesh resolution for applying later deformation.

9. Model the tube for the bracelet.

10. Place the triangular mesh on top of the tube and apply a Bend modifier to make the triangle conform to the tube’s surface.

11. Add any necessary details to finish the bracelet, apply materials and you are done!

Making the pendants

Celtic Knot

The first pendant, a celtic knot similar to a flower with 4 petals, was made the following way:

1. In 3ds Max, open Spiros and create a torus knot shape on the top viewport, with the size you like.

2. At the script’s UI, set the following values: Foils = 4; Variant = 2; Star/Ring = 6.

3. Scale down the shape in Z axis to make it flatter.

4. Create a rectangle shape to use as the profile section.

5. Apply an Extrude modifier and make a very tall box, with 100 segments for starting. (The advantage of this method over using the Box primitive, is that you can set the number of height segments to a very high value)

6. Apply a Path Deform (WSM) modifier to the box and pick the torus knot as its path. Press “Move to Path”.

7. Go down in the modifiers stack and adjust the Rectangle dimensions to give the knot mesh a reasonable thickness and proportions.

8. At the Extrude modifier parameters, adjust the Amount and Segments until the knot looks closed and with a nice mesh resolution.

9. Zoom in the part of the mesh where the start and end of the knot meet. You will need to make both ends of the mesh match perfectly.
For that, go to the Path Deform modifier and adjust the Twist amount.

10. With 3dsMax snapshot tool, take a snapshot of the mesh. Then convert it to Editable Poly.
Now you can delete or hide the old mesh and path. You will work with the new object now.

11. Weld the start and end of the mesh. Perform some cleaning if necessary and then model any extra details you desire to finish the pendant.
Apply materials/textures and you are done!

 

5-Pointed Star

The making of the second pendant, a 5-pointed star (or pentagram), will be explained very briefly because the procedure is very similar to the previous objects.

1. In Spiros, draw a torus knot with the following values: Foils = 5; Knots = 5; Curve type: Line. (or choose 5 Point Star preset from the dropdown list)

Tip: You can make Star shapes with the Torus Knot tool by setting the same number in Foils and Knots, and set the Curve Type to line.

2. At the spline parameters, make it renderable in viewport and renderer. Set the section shape as Rectangular and adjust its dimensions as desired.
Now you have the star mesh.

3. Convert it to Editable Poly. Perform some cleaning and then add the necessary detail to the mesh.

4. Model the ring to complete the pendant and then put both pieces together. Apply materials/textures and you are done!

Hope you enjoyed this tutorial. 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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TurboSplines tutorial: Creation, Edition & Animation

Here are 3 videos that will show you tha basic procedures for creating, editing and animating your path deformed meshes with TurboSplines 3dsmax script.

This video will show you how to use the tools in the Creation section to quickly make path deformed meshes.

  • Load your paths
  • Use different mesh types (cylinder, box, capsule, ribbon, custom profile, custom mesh)
  • Create multiple meshes per path
  • Add extra features to your meshes: Taper, Tip, Slice start/end

This video shows how to use the tools in the Edition section.

  • Change basic parameters (radius, sides, segments, height)
  • Edit and animate Path Deform properties
  • Copy/Paste parameters between meshes
  • Apply variation to get a more appealing look.

This video shows how to use the tools in the Animation section.

  • Set Animation type: move, grow, reveal
  • Configure Animation start and length
  • Apply Offset and set animations order
  • Adjust Path Percent values
  • Set an Easing

For further information about TurboSplines, please check out the other tutorials or go to the TurboSplines Manual.

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How to get interesting splines to feed TurboSplines

There are many ways to get appealing spline curves to work with in 3ds Max.
Here’s a bunch of ideas to boost your imagination:

3dsMax parametric shapes

The standard parametric shapes of 3dsMax are generally not interesting enough to make nice splines for animation. However, with a little of creativity, you can get very nice-looking curves from them.

For example, a combination of overlapping circles or concetric circles arranged to fit a specific design or porpose can make an outstanding animation with very little resources.

Another powerful method is to use text shapes with interesting typography. Just convert them to splines and add some fillet on the corners to get a smooth deformation when using TurboSplines.

Import them from vector software

You can design your curves using a 2D vector software such as Adobe Illustrator and then import them into 3dsMax.

If your splines are imported with a lot of unwanted knots, gaps and other common errors, you can use our great Spline Cleaner to clean and repair them easily.

Trajectories

Natural and harmonic movement is an amazing source of beautiful splines. 3dsMax comes with a tool to convert any trajectory to a spline (see the Motion Panel). So if you already have animated objects or characters in your scene, use them as your source of splines.

If you want a tool capable of extracting trajectory splines from many animated objects, bones or even particle systems, try our free script called Trajectory to Spline.

Edge Loops

Meshes with a smooth surface and clean topology are also a good source of splines. You can select edge loops that surround the mesh and use the Create Shape from Selection tool from the Editable Poly parameter interface.

Some 3dsMax primitives, such as the Torus Knot (in Extended Primitives) can produce mathematically perfect and beatiful intricate splines.

Shape sections

Another way of extracting splines from meshes is to perform a cross-sectional slice through them, using 3dsMax’s Section Tool, located at the Splines creation section.

Plugins and scripts

There are a lot of nice plugins and scripts for making gorgeous splines. Many of them are free.

Go to Scriptspot.com and make a quick search in there. You will find plenty of useful spline generators.

A great tool for this our SuperHelix Free. Try it!

Draw your own splines

Of course you can draw your custom splines directly in 3dsMax. Just make sure they flow smoothly through your scene’s space.

You can use the Array tool to make interesting arranges of splines if you need to.

 

That’s all for now. If you have specific doubts or consultations, you can contact us through the contact form or leave us a message at our Facebook Page. Cheers!

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TurboSplines: Quick Start Tutorial

Welcome to the wonderful world of TurboSplines! 😉

With this quick start tutorial you will learn how to work with this script and begin to familiarize yourself with its tools. For that, we will create a simple scene with some growing splines.

You can access the following image from TurboSplines Help section, clicking the Quick Start Tutorial button.

The instructions in the image guides you through the typical steps required to create a “growing splines” animation.

These are basically the steps to follow, even simpler:

  1. Draw or prepare your splines (they will work as paths for Path Deform modifiers)
  2. On TS Creation section, go to Source Paths area and load your paths. They will be listed there.
    (The steps 3 and 4 in the image are not necessary for this example, but you can do them to learn a little more about TurboSplines tools)
  3. Press (RE)BUILD GEOMETRY button. This will create one path-deformed cylinder for every spline. They will look the same as if you created renderable splines. The big difference is this way you can make them grow!
  4. Go to TS Edition section and change the Radius parameter to adjust the width of your meshes as desired.
  5. Go to TS Animation section and change Animation Type to GROW (stretch).
  6. Finally, press CREATE/MODIFY ANIMATION button (at the bottom of the section).

Now play your animation and you will see your cables growing.

This is just a quick sample of the power of TurboSplines. Play a while with all the script parameters and you will be able to make your scene and animation as complex as you like.

Maybe at some point of this tutorial you wondered this: why can’t I directly animate my renderable splines??

Well, here’s a good news: you can! 🙂

The porpose of this tutorial was to show you an overview of TurboSplines’ workflow, but if you only need to make growing splines, there’s an extremely simple way to do that:

  1. Just start directly with your renderable splines.
  2. With your splines selected, go to the TS Tools section and press Convert from Renderable Splines.
  3. Go to TS Animation section, set the Animation Type to GROW and finally press the big button at the bottom to create the animation.

You we’ll get the same result in less steps, leaving to the script only the animation part. Then you can modify the meshes with TurboSplines since they will be now TS meshes.

We hope you enjoyed TurboSplines. Check out the other tutorials and videos for further learning.

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Spline Cleaner: Optimize, Normalize, Reduce vertices

Here’s a video showing a quick overview of the most important tools in Spline Cleaner for removing excessive vertices from your spline curves: Optimize, Normalize and Reduce Vertices.

Update: The Normalize tool was greately improved in version 1.50 with the addition of Smart Normalize feature, wich rebuilds the spline/s without loosing any detail at the corners.

Visit our SplineDynamics channel on Youtube for more videos.

Cheers!

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Spline Cleaner: Filters – Fixing Curves

Here are 2 videos showing a quick overview of Spline Cleaner’s filters tool and the Splines Info Dialog.

Using Filters: take a look at how to select, attach, detach or delete spline curves in a smart and fast way with this great tool.

Fixing spline errors: Discover how to use the Splines Info Dialog to interactively get useful data from your splines and monitor their changes. Learn to make an error diagnosis and resolve the most common errors that splines could have.

Visit our SplineDynamics channel on Youtube for more videos.

Cheers!

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Spline Cleaner: Quick Start Tutorial

Welcome to Spline Cleaner, a set of powerful tools for cleaning, repairing and organizing spline curves in Autodesk 3ds Max!

INSTALLATION

Spline Cleaner UI1. Unzip the content of the .zip file and then drag the “.mzp” file onto one of your viewports in 3ds Max . The script automatically installs itself.

2. A dialog called “Software Activation” pops-up. Enter your license key in the text field. (You received 2 license keys by email when you purchased the product).

3. If the license key is correct, Spline Cleaner will start.

4. To add the script to a toolbar, go to the Menu > Customize > Customize user interface…

5. Go to the “Toolbars” tab and pick the category “Spline Dynamics”.

6. The script’s name, “Spline Cleaner”, must be listed there. Just drag it onto a toolbar and you’re done!

SPLINES INFO DIALOG

This script comes with an interactive tool called the Splines Info Dialog, wich displays very useful information about the selected shapes/splines.

We strongly recommend you to keep this dialog open everytime you manipulate spline curves to have an instant feedback about their changes.

  1. Draw some splines and shapes  in your 3dsMax scene.
  2. Convert them all to Editable Spline (most of Spline Cleaner operations requiere Editable Splines to work. Otherwise you’ll get a warning message)
  3. Select the splines and open Splines Info Dialog (the topmost button).
  4. You’ll see there all the splines info: no. of shapes selected, no. of splines, segments, vertices, spline length, and more.
  5. Click the button Show/Hide Vertex Ticks to display all the spline vertices/knots.
  6. Make changes to the splines, add, delete and move vertices. Then re-select the splines or change the selection to update the splines info.

This tool can also make a diagnosis of possible errors on your splines, such as overlapping duplicates, double splines, overlapping vertices and empty shapes.

TOOLS, ROLLOUTS & QUICK HELP

If you scroll down the script’s interface (UI), you’ll see there are more tools and other rollouts.

The main tools are in the first rollout. In the rollout named More Tools there are some complementary tools, such as Flatten Splines.

In the rollout Basic Parameters, you will be able to change the basic parameters of all the selected splines at once. Try it!

On the right of every tool’s title there’s a question mark icon. When you place the mouse pointer over this icon, a tooltip with help appears. If you click it, in most of the cases, a dialog pops-up showing an extended help.

FIRST STEPS

To start trying the script, you can play arming and disarming shapes with many splines. You can do it very fast with Spline Cleaner.

Draw some shapes and splines and create some duplicates to have a bunch of curves. Use the tools Splines Info Dialog, Attach Selected, Explode and Weld Vertices to see how powerful this script is.

We hope you enjoyed Spline Cleaner. Check for more tutorials on this site!

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SuperHelix: Jumping Goat Tutorial

jumpingGoat_final

Hello fellows!

The goal of this tutorial is to make an animal, recreating its volume using helical splines. In this case, we chose to do a goat but you can pick any animal you like.

To accomplish that, you should first search for reference images on the web to observe the volume of the animal body. Then, find or make a vector drawing of the profile of the animal in a pose you like. (Here’s the silhouette of the jumping goat to download).

Open 3dsMax and create a plane with this last image in the front view to use as reference.

Next, you should draw spline curves along the center of the silhouette. One curve for the body and head, one curve for each limb and another curve for each of the appendices (tail, horns, antennas, etc.). See the image below.

GoatTutorial_01

(In this example, we only needed to draw 4 curves).

Now run SuperHelix to start creating the helical splines.

Hide all curves, except the one for the body, to have a cleaner view.

In Superhelix, create a simple gizmo with the “Basic Spring” default preset.

Then, click “Pick Custom Path” button and select the body curve. The main path of the gizmo is replaced for a copy of the selected curve.

Now click on “Move to path” to align the gizmo to the current curve.

Path_options

Next, you need to create sections along the main path of the gizmo, as if you were placing scale keyframes along an extrusion path.

Tick the checkbox named “Add one section per vertex”. This will help you make things faster.

Then click “Add Section”. One section circle is created at every knot of the curve.

Adjust the scale and rotation of every section to adjust them to the body shape and “flow”.

GoatTutorial_02

GoatTutorial_03

Now click “MAKE HELIX” to see how the resulting helix looks like.

Smile! You almost have the body ready. 🙂

Try varying the thikness of the spline (at the Display/Options rollout) untill you are happy with it.

At this point you’ve probably got the idea of how to continue.

Just repeat the same procedure for all the parts of the animal with the curves you drew. This way you will build all the gizmos you need to generate the splines.

Note for users of SuperHelix Free version:
The Free version can handle only up to 3 gizmos at a time per scene. So, if you need to create more than 3 gizmos, like in this case, do the following:
1. Once you have your first 3 gizmos ready, select them by their layers into the layer manager, and then save the selection to a new .max file.
2. Then, delete them from scene.
This way you are ready to start creating new gizmos and all your gizmos will be saved for future edition.
If you need to do this frequently, consider to purchase SuperHelix Pro for a very affordable price.

GoatTutorial_04

For creating limbs in pairs (for example, for legs and arms), you only need to have one gizmo ready and then duplicate it with the “Duplicate current gizmo” button. It is located below “CREATE GIZMO” and named “DD”.

You can move, rotate or scale the gizmos using the point helper of each gizmo (displayed as a box).

You can also perform a non-uniform scale on section circles to have a better look on joints or other parts.

GoatTutorial_05

Make final adjustments. Try changing the number of turns and the spline thikness. Check the volume and flow in general.

GoatTutorial_08

GoatTutorial_10

That’s all for now!

We hope you enjoyed this tutorial.

You can post your comments bellow or at the users forums.

We want to see your amazing work with SuperHelix. Post your images or send us your renders if you want us to publish them in our Image Gallery.

Cheers!

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SuperHelix: Presets and The Gizmo

Here’s a clear explanation of Presets and The Gizmo in SuperHelix, extracted from the script manual.

The Gizmo

To start using SuperHelix you need to create a gizmo.

The SuperHelix gizmo controls the shape and volume of the resulting helix spline.

Due to the complex procedures that SuperHelix script performs, the user cannot see the resulting splines interactively. So, to give the user a live preview of the result, the script uses a control gizmo. This a great advantage because it shows a very simple representation of what can be a very complex spline.

The gizmo include 3 type of components:

the_GizmoRoot helper (a cyan point helper displayed as a box)
It controls the position, rotation and scale of the whole gizmo.
Main path (green central spline)
It’s the “spine bone” of the helix. Indicates how the helix flows through space.
Sections (one or more yellow circles around the main path)
They control the variation of volume and torsion at different parts of the helix.

The 3 type of components are simple 3dsMax objects and can be manipulated as so:

For example, you can modify the main path from the Editable Spline parameters, adding more vertices and moving them to change the spline shape. (Although it is preferable to use the “Pick Path” option for working with custom-shaped splines).

You can add or delete circular sections, as well as moving, rotating or scaling them to produce a different shape.

Presets

SuperHelix comes with a set of useful Presets. They are a quick way to start and learn this powerful tool.
You may also create and manipulate your own presets.
Every preset stores the values of all parameters in the UI. The default presets also store a uniquely modifed gizmo each one.

These are the Default Presets and their particular gizmos:

Basic Spring
00_preset01.png01_preset01_2.png

Cartoon Tornado
02_preset02.png03_preset02_2.png

Ball of Wool
04_preset03.png05_preset03_2.png

Snail Shell
06_preset04.png07_preset04_2.png

Rope
08_preset05.png09_preset05_2.png

Chinese Pagoda
10_preset06.png11_preset06_2.png

Fruit Basket
12_preset07.png13_preset07_2.png

Every preset was specially built to show the use of one or more parameters in conjunction with a particular gizmo structure.
For example, the presets Ball of Wool and Snail Shell make use of the Absolute Rotation parameter to achieve a kind of spherical volume.
Rope and Fruit Basket show the use of the Clone circularly tool to generate many helical splines around the path of the gizmo.
Chinese Pagoda shows how a low resolution value can be useful to give a geometrical look to the helix.

Take in consideration that the presets are just a set of predefined parameters and modified gizmos, but any gizmo shape and parameter settings can be achieved by starting from the default Basic Spring preset.

Here’s a Quick Start Tutorial to start playing with Presets and the Gizmo

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