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.
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.)
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!
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.
Enjoy Spline Refiner!
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.
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. 🙂 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!
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! 🙂
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.