SuperHelix Manual

Index

  1. Version Requirements / License
  2. Installation / License Activation
  3. Getting Started
  4. The script UI in detail
  5. Advanced Manipulation
  6. Contact/Support

Version Requirements

3dsMax 2012 and higher.
SuperHelix has been tested succesfully on 3dsMax 2012 to 2016. It should also work properly on future versions. However, if you experience any issue, please report it to contact@splinedynamics.com

License

With every purchase you get 2 license keys. Each one is valid for 1 workstation for a period of 2 years.
You have the right to get customer support for 1 year (+ access to the online user forums)
You will get free upgrades for the same version of the product.

Installation

  1. Drag the mzp-file onto a viewport.
  2. To add the script to a toolbar, go to the menu Customize > Customize user interface…
  3. Go to the “Toolbars” tab and pick the category “Spline Dynamics”.
  4. Drag the “SuperHelix” script onto a toolbar and you’re done!

You may need to restart 3dsmax in order to see SuperHelix icon properly.

License Activation

SuperHelix script default version is SuperHelix Free, wich comes with some limitations. In order to enable SuperHelix Pro features, you need to activate your license:

With the script open, go to SuperHelix Pro rollout at the bottom of the UI and click “Activate SuperHelix Pro button.

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).

If the license key is correct, you get a message and you are asked to restart the script to perform the changes.

The script title should have changed to SuperHelix Pro and all its features will be now available.

Getting Started

The User Interface (UI). Overview.

1 – MAIN ROLLOUT. Groups of parameters and their purpose:

Presets
Manipulate Presets of UI parameters and gizmos.

Gizmos
Manage creation and edition of SuperHelix gizmos. (explained in the next section)

Basic Parameters
Control Turns, Resolution and Clockwise/Counterclockwise direction.

Path Options
Let the user pick a custom path as the main path of the gizmo and add or delete sections to it.

Curve Type
Causes the resulting spline to have linear or curved segments.

Transition Type
Make the interpolation between sections of the gizmo to be smooth, linear or abrupt (step).

Bias (flow type)
Controls how the helix flows along the main path. The flow can be linear or simulate an easing.

Absolute Rotation
Allows the user to set a rotation, perpendicular to the main path of the gizmo, from the start to the end of the helix.

Clone (circularly)
For creating duplicates of the helix around the main path of the gizmo.

Noise
Adds noise to give the helix a messy irregular aspect.

2 – DISPLAY ROLLOUT
Lets you hide or show SuperHelix gizmos.

3 – SPLINE PARAMETERS ROLLOUT
To manage the basic parameters of the selected splines, such as thickness.

4 – ANIMATION ROLLOUT
To easily create a spline growth animation.

5 – SUPERHELIX PRO ROLLOUT
Here you can activate the license for using the Pro version of SuperHelix.

6 – HELP / ABOUT ROLLOUT
Help and credits.

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:

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

You can also 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).

The root helper is used to move, rotate or scale the entire gizmo.

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.

The script UI in detail

UI_PresetsPreset controls:
Dropdown list for setting Presets. Buttons to load, save and delete presets.
You can create your own presets and save them as files to use them whenever you need.

UI_GizmosGizmo controls:
Dropdown list of all gizmos in scene. Lets you see the current active gizmo and select another one.
Buttons to create a new gizmo and to rename, delete or duplicate the current gizmo.

UI_BasicParameters

Basic Parameters:
Turns. The number of turns of the helix.
Resolution: The amount of vertices per turn. (High values make a smoother curve)
CW/CCW: Direction of the helix can be clockwise or counterclockwise.

UI_PathOptions

Path Controls:
Pick Custom Path: lets you pick a spline from scene to use as the main path of the gizmo.
Move to path: aligns the active gizmo to the recently picked path.
Add Section: add a new section circle to the main path. You can move it along the path to relocate it. You can also rotate it or scale it.
Delete Section: deletes the selected section/s. (Same as pressing delete key on your keyboard)
Add one section per vertex: creates a section at every knot of the main path. (very time-saving option)

UI_CurveType

Curve Type
Controls wether the resulting spline will have linear or curved segments.

UI_TransitionType

Transition Type
Sets the kind of interpolation between sections of the gizmo. (Affects the whole helix)

Bias
Controls how the helix flows along the main path. Could be a linear or non-linear kind of flow.

UI_AbsoluteRotation

Absolute Rotation
If enabled, sets an absolute rotation in X and Y axes, perpendicular to the main path of the gizmo, from the start of the helix to the end. Ignores the local rotation of sections.

UI_CloneDuplicates

Clone (circularly)
No. of splines: the total amount of splines to create, duplicating the initial helix around the main path of the gizmo.
Attach all splines: if not checked, the script will generate independent splines.

UI_AddNoise

Add Noise
Displaces the helix vertices randomly. The spinner controls the amplitude of the noise. Increasing the helix Resolution makes the effect more visible.

Display Rollout
It has controsl to hide or unhide the current gizmo or all the gizmos of the scene.

Spline Parameters Rollout
Here you can change the basic parameters of the selected spline/s, such as the thickness, sides, steps, etc.

UI_Animation

Animation Rollout
Lets you easily create a spline growth animation for a helix generated with this tool.

You can set the Animation Time Range and the Easing.

 

 

SuperHelix Pro Rollout
Here is the Activate SuperHelix Pro button. If you press it, a dialog pops-up, where you can enter the license activation key for this product. The script will connect to the server and validate the license you have. If it’s correct, a success message will appear and the pro version features will be activated.

Help / About Rollout
The Help button here will show the quick start help graphic that you saw when you first installed the script. Below the graphic, the are some useful links to help and documentation.
Superhelix credits are shown at the very bottom.

Advanced Manipulation / Good Practices

When you create a new gizmo, make sure to give it a meaningful and clear name. That will be the prefix of every component of the gizmo and also of the helical splines. Every gizmo must have a unique name. If you want to rename a gizmo, do it with the Rename button at the Gizmos parameters group.

If you plan to use a complex path for the helix to flow along, don’t modify the default path of the gizmo. Instead, it is preferable to create a separate spline from scratch and replace the main path with it, using the Pick Custom Path button to accomplish that.

SuperHelix gizmos can be saved within your .max files as any other object. This is strongly recommended because it helps you keep splines editable.

Creating your own presets is also a good practice. Just remember that custom presets only save the UI parameters, not the gizmo. That’s why you should keep the gizmos in the .max file.
The advantage is that you can apply one preset to different kind of gizmos.

When you work with complex scenes and many gizmos, you need to keep your objects well organized and your scene clean and clear. For that reason, SuperHelix automatically creates 3dsMax layers every time you make a new gizmo or generate a helix: one layer for the gizmo components and one layer for the splines generated from that gizmo. This way, you can hide or unhide the objects anytime you need to clear the view of your scene.

Here’s an advanced tutorial for you to practice many of the SuperHelix tools: Jumping Goat tutorial

Contact / Support

If you experience any issues using this script or need help, please check first the Superhelix User Forums. Maybe you can find the solution there and save precious time.

For custom support or making suggestions or business proposals, please don’t hesitate to contact us through this Contact Form.

You can also write us directly to contact@splinedynamics.com.

All feedback is greatly appreciated. We will try to answer all your inquiries as soon as possible.

Best regards,

SuperHelix Team.