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.
(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.
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”.
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.
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.
Make final adjustments. Try changing the number of turns and the spline thikness. Check the volume and flow in general.
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.
Here’s a clear explanation of Presets and The Gizmo in SuperHelix, extracted from the script manual.
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:
Root 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.
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:
Ball of Wool
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
Welcome to SuperHelix, an Autodesk 3ds Max script for creating impressive custom helical splines for 3D modeling and animation!
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.
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! 🙂
Here are 2 videos showing a quick overview of SuperHelix script basics.
The Gizmo: example of what you can do with the gizmo and how to manipulate it to accomplish the style of helix you desire.
The Interface (UI Parameters): tweaking the script controls to get different results.
Visit our SplineDynamics channel on Youtube for more videos.