Posted on

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.

Cheers!

Share
Posted on

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.

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!

Share
Posted on

Spiros tutorial: Morphing spirals

In this tutorial we are going to explain how to make a transformation animation (morphing) between 2 shapes created with Spiros.

At Spiros‘ introductory video, there’s an animation in wich a spiral shape morphs into a spherical helix that becomes the Earth globe (see the image above). That animation was made in 3dsMax with a little used technique: using the Morpher modifier to morph between splines.

This modifier is very powerful and it’s capable to make transformations not only between 3D meshes, but also between splines (and FFD lattices). The only restriction is the same as for meshes: splines must have the same number of vertices/knots.

Since Spiros let you set a specific number of knots for the shapes you create or modify, you can make any transformation between any shapes created with this script. Just make sure they have the same number of knots. Also consider to change the order of the knots in the spline (reverse it) if necessary, for getting a better result.

The better way to make this kind of morphing is to work on a single channel in the Morpher modifier. Just add all the shapes that will participate in the transformation to a single channel, then arrange the order of appearance and adjust the tension parameter to zero.

Try ity! There’s a lot of cool animations and effects you can do by morphing splines. Imagine you have many objects whose position or rotation depends on a path (path constrained) or they are wrapped to a spline (path deformed). If you animate (or morph) the spline, they will act in consequence. It’s an incredible tool for Motion Graphics animations.

That’s all for this tutorial. I hope you liked it and make great animations.

If you have any doubts or consultations you can leave a comment down here or write us through the Contact form.

Cheers!

 

Share
Posted on

Spiros tutorial: Making jewelry

In this tutorial we will learn how to model some ornaments, based on spirals and torus knot shapes, to make jewelry objects.

First, we’ll see how to create a bracelet with a triangular spiral shaped decoration. Secondly, we’ll learn how to make two different kind of pendants from torus knot shapes.

Before starting, let’s see which are the most common methods in 3dsmax to turn a spline curve into a volumetric mesh:

  • Make the spline renderable (Editable Spline properties)
  • Apply a Sweep modifier
  • Use Loft compound object
  • Use Path Deform modifier
  • Extrude Along Spline (tool from Editable Poly)

In this tutorial we use a different method for each of the three cases, but you can use the method that better fit your needs, or the one you are more comfortable with.

Making the bracelet

As you see in the image above, the bracelet’s triangular decoration was made starting with a simple spiral object created with Spiros.

Here’s the process:

1. In 3ds Max, open Spiros and create a spiral shape on the top viewport, with the size you like.

2. At the script’s UI, set the following values: Turns = 4.0; Knots = 13; Curve type: Line.

3. Now you will have a triangular spiral. Rotate it so that the triangle points upwards.

4. Edit the spline as shown in the image, to make all the sements perfectly parallel and delete the extra segment on the left.

5. Add a Sweep modifier. Use the built-in section called “Half Round” as the profile shape. This will turn the spline into a volumetric mesh.

6. Adjust the Sweep radius so that the mesh does not overlap itself, until it looks similar to the image.

7. Convert the mesh to Editable Poly to clean the geometry, remove undesired parts and add detail wherever you like.

8. Subdivide the mesh or add tesselation to increase the mesh resolution for applying later deformation.

9. Model the tube for the bracelet.

10. Place the triangular mesh on top of the tube and apply a Bend modifier to make the triangle conform to the tube’s surface.

11. Add any necessary details to finish the bracelet, apply materials and you are done!

Making the pendants

Celtic Knot

The first pendant, a celtic knot similar to a flower with 4 petals, was made the following way:

1. In 3ds Max, open Spiros and create a torus knot shape on the top viewport, with the size you like.

2. At the script’s UI, set the following values: Foils = 4; Variant = 2; Star/Ring = 6.

3. Scale down the shape in Z axis to make it flatter.

4. Create a rectangle shape to use as the profile section.

5. Apply an Extrude modifier and make a very tall box, with 100 segments for starting. (The advantage of this method over using the Box primitive, is that you can set the number of height segments to a very high value)

6. Apply a Path Deform (WSM) modifier to the box and pick the torus knot as its path. Press “Move to Path”.

7. Go down in the modifiers stack and adjust the Rectangle dimensions to give the knot mesh a reasonable thickness and proportions.

8. At the Extrude modifier parameters, adjust the Amount and Segments until the knot looks closed and with a nice mesh resolution.

9. Zoom in the part of the mesh where the start and end of the knot meet. You will need to make both ends of the mesh match perfectly.
For that, go to the Path Deform modifier and adjust the Twist amount.

10. With 3dsMax snapshot tool, take a snapshot of the mesh. Then convert it to Editable Poly.
Now you can delete or hide the old mesh and path. You will work with the new object now.

11. Weld the start and end of the mesh. Perform some cleaning if necessary and then model any extra details you desire to finish the pendant.
Apply materials/textures and you are done!

 

5-Pointed Star

The making of the second pendant, a 5-pointed star (or pentagram), will be explained very briefly because the procedure is very similar to the previous objects.

1. In Spiros, draw a torus knot with the following values: Foils = 5; Knots = 5; Curve type: Line. (or choose 5 Point Star preset from the dropdown list)

Tip: You can make Star shapes with the Torus Knot tool by setting the same number in Foils and Knots, and set the Curve Type to line.

2. At the spline parameters, make it renderable in viewport and renderer. Set the section shape as Rectangular and adjust its dimensions as desired.
Now you have the star mesh.

3. Convert it to Editable Poly. Perform some cleaning and then add the necessary detail to the mesh.

4. Model the ring to complete the pendant and then put both pieces together. Apply materials/textures and you are done!

Hope you enjoyed this tutorial. If you have any doubts or consultations you can leave a comment down here or write us through the Contact form.

Cheers!

Share
Posted on

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! 🙂

Share
Posted on

Spline Cleaner: Quick Start Tutorial

Welcome to Spline Cleaner, a set of powerful tools for cleaning, repairing and organizing spline curves in Autodesk 3ds Max!

INSTALLATION

Spline Cleaner UI1. Unzip the content of the .zip file and then drag the “.mzp” file onto one of your viewports in 3ds Max . The script automatically installs itself.

2. 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).

3. If the license key is correct, Spline Cleaner will start.

4. To add the script to a toolbar, go to the Menu > Customize > Customize user interface…

5. Go to the “Toolbars” tab and pick the category “Spline Dynamics”.

6. The script’s name, “Spline Cleaner”, must be listed there. Just drag it onto a toolbar and you’re done!

SPLINES INFO DIALOG

This script comes with an interactive tool called the Splines Info Dialog, wich displays very useful information about the selected shapes/splines.

We strongly recommend you to keep this dialog open everytime you manipulate spline curves to have an instant feedback about their changes.

  1. Draw some splines and shapes  in your 3dsMax scene.
  2. Convert them all to Editable Spline (most of Spline Cleaner operations requiere Editable Splines to work. Otherwise you’ll get a warning message)
  3. Select the splines and open Splines Info Dialog (the topmost button).
  4. You’ll see there all the splines info: no. of shapes selected, no. of splines, segments, vertices, spline length, and more.
  5. Click the button Show/Hide Vertex Ticks to display all the spline vertices/knots.
  6. Make changes to the splines, add, delete and move vertices. Then re-select the splines or change the selection to update the splines info.

This tool can also make a diagnosis of possible errors on your splines, such as overlapping duplicates, double splines, overlapping vertices and empty shapes.

TOOLS, ROLLOUTS & QUICK HELP

If you scroll down the script’s interface (UI), you’ll see there are more tools and other rollouts.

The main tools are in the first rollout. In the rollout named More Tools there are some complementary tools, such as Flatten Splines.

In the rollout Basic Parameters, you will be able to change the basic parameters of all the selected splines at once. Try it!

On the right of every tool’s title there’s a question mark icon. When you place the mouse pointer over this icon, a tooltip with help appears. If you click it, in most of the cases, a dialog pops-up showing an extended help.

FIRST STEPS

To start trying the script, you can play arming and disarming shapes with many splines. You can do it very fast with Spline Cleaner.

Draw some shapes and splines and create some duplicates to have a bunch of curves. Use the tools Splines Info Dialog, Attach Selected, Explode and Weld Vertices to see how powerful this script is.

We hope you enjoyed Spline Cleaner. Check for more tutorials on this site!

Share
Posted on

SuperHelix: Jumping Goat Tutorial

jumpingGoat_final

Hello fellows!

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.

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!

Share
Posted on

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!

Share