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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 > GeometryCompound 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.


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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.


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. 🙂 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! 🙂

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TurboSplines: Making Light Trails

“Mystical Explosion”. Art by Rodolfo Rodríguez, CG Artist & Animator.

Hi guys!

In this tutorial we will see how to recreate this cool VFX work, called “Mystical Explosion”, using TurboSplines 3dsMax script.

Although this kind of special FX (light trails and light rays) are usually made with 3D particles, VXF plugins or directly in postproduction, the power and versatility of TurboSplines allows you to easily create them as 3D meshes, so you can have a fast realtime representation of the whole thing and control every aspect of the final shape. Let’s start.

First, we need to create the nucleus. It’s like a magical gem about to explode.

Create a geosphere. Then add an EditPoly modifier and extrude all its faces a bit outwards to make it look like it’s cracking because of the internal pressure.

To make the paths for the light trails, you can use circular shapes and place them like orbits around the nucleus. Another way is to make a torus knot object (Control Panel > Extended Primitives) and extract one of its edge loops to use just a single spline as the path. But the better and easier way to get a cool path for this, is using Spiros script. It’s as simple as creating any primitive shape in 3dsmax. The one in this tutorial was made with that script. Look at the image below.

Now open TurboSplines. At the Creation section, load the path/s and create 5 or 6 cylinders along the path/s to make the light trails. Use the extra feature Taper to make the trails look more dynamic and appealing.

To make the bigger end of the cylinders look smoother, change the basic geometry of the meshes from cylinder to capsule (with rounded end). Go to CreationMesh Type and select Capsule. Then press ‘(Re)Buil Geometry’.

Adjust the meshes’ radius, segments and height at the Edition section.

Once you are happy with shape of the light trails, hide them to start making the radial light rays coming out of the nucleus.

For this example, instead of using a post-render effect, we will build the light rays as 3D geometry (for the same reason we did that with the light trails).

Although there are other methods to create objects like spikes on the surface of another object, we recommend you to try this great free script called Vertices to Splines.

Download the script and do the following.

Make a copy of the geosphere, scale it down a bit and delete the EditPoly modifier. This way you can use its vertices as starting points for the radial light rays.

Using the script and the second geosphere, generate the radial splines with some length variation to make like the bright of a star. See the image below.

Then use TurboSplines again (cylinders with taper) to quickly create like spikes, emerging from the geosphere. Delete this second sphere.

Unhide the light trails meshes and check the general shape and volume of the final model. Make the necessary adjustments.

Create a camera and set a nice view for the final composition.

Assign some nice materials for the light trails, the nucleus and the radial light rays.

Render the image, with all the channels you need to have enough freedom for compositing (diffuse, reflection, z-depth, transparency, etc.)

Finally, in your favorite image-editing or post-production software, retouch the image/s, add glows, smoke, bright and additional effects to your final render.

That’s all! I hope you liked this tutorial. If you have any doubts or consultations, please post them down here on the comments section or write us through this Contact form.

Cheers! 🙂