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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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SuperHelix: Jumping Goat Tutorial

jumpingGoat_final

Hello fellows!

The goal of this SuperHelix 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 3dsMax script, 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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SuperHelix Quick Start tutorial

Welcome to SuperHelix, an Autodesk 3ds Max script for creating impressive custom helical splines for 3D modeling and animation!

 

INSTALLATION

1. Drag the “.mzp” file onto one of your viewports in 3ds Max . The script automatically installs itself.

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. The script name “SuperHelix” must be listed there. Just drag it onto a toolbar and you’re done!

 

START: PRESETS & THE GIZMO

Fortunately, Superhelix comes with a set of various presets wich make your life easier. They will help you understand how the tool works and to experiment its power in a matter of minutes.

For starting, there are 3 main controls you need to know. They are shown in the image on the left:

1. Presets list (at the top)
2. “Create Gizmo” (big button below presets)
3. “Make Helix” (big button at the bottom)

The script comes with 7 default presets. They show you a panorama of different things you can achieve with this script. Every preset defines specific values for each of the script parameters.

-> Try selecting different presets and look how parameters change interactively.

-> Now set back the first preset “Basic Spring” and press “CREATE GIZMO”.

A pop-up dialog appears, asking you to type a name for the Gizmo.

-> For now, just leave the default “NewGizmo” and click OK.

Instantly, a new Gizmo is created at the origin. But what’s a gizmo for SuperHelix script?
As you see, a gizmo consists of some helping objects: a root helper, a central spline and some circles (in this case, two). These objects are connected in a specific way so you can manipulate them and have a preview of the volume and shape of the final helix before making it.

-> Just press “MAKE HELIX” and see what happens.

A helix spline is created, according to volume of the gizmo. By default, the splines are created as renderable objects, but you can change that at the “Display / Options” rollout, at the bottom of the interface.

-> Delete the spline. Now, with the standard scale tool, scale down the top circle and then press “MAKE HELIX” again.

The spline now should look like a cone.

-> Delete the spline and try rotating the top circle about 45 degrees in x or y axis.

At this point i think you get the point, right?

You can move, rotate or scale the circles (wich are called sections), edit the central spline (called main path) or manipulate the root helper to move, rotate or scale the whole gizmo.

-> Play around with the gizmo and try different setups.

-> When you have played enough, delete the gizmo. (You will get a warning message. Just confirm the deletion)

-> Then, move on to the other presets and try one by one, modifiying the gizmos. You will discover many interesting things SuperHelix can do.

 

FINAL WORDS

Just one important note to finish:

Each of the default presets comes with a singular predefined gizmo, but that’s just a shortcut. You can start with the Basic Spring preset and achieve any shape you want for the gizmo to create unique and amazing super-helices. As they say, the limit is your imagination! 🙂

Enjoy the tool, practice and come back for more! We have other tutorials and an image gallery waiting for you!

Cheers!

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