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 Basic tutorial: Splines  
 Objective: How to handle the "splines"
 Difficulty: Very low
 Required time: 2 hours (approximately)
 Progress files: Due to the low difficult of this tutorial, this one does not have progress files
 Index: 1- Splines – Modifiers: lathe, extrude, bevel
 Language Notes: tutorial original language: Spanish - comments about the translation to info@tutorials3d.com (we will gratify your help)
 Page: 1 of 1

Splines – Modifiers: lathe, extrude, bevel

Hi. Welcome to our splines tutorial . Let's explain what a spline is and what we can do with them. First of all, comment that splines are very important so we must to have a great domain of them, because they are the basic objects from we are going to create more complex objects (loft objects, extrude objects…) We will see this feature step by step.  :-)

In the creation panel, we can find the ‘shapes' button. But… what is a spline? A spline is a 2D shape composed of vertices and edges. We can create lines, rectangles, circles… let's start with a line. Press the Line button and click one of the 2D viewports, appears a white square and from this square a line:

this is the first vertex of the line, if you click again we are still creating more new vertices, click the right button to finish the line edition. By default, all the new vertices are ‘corner' vertices, click and drag the mouse when you are creating a new vertex to create a curved segment:

The Lines are editable objects, this means that we can expand its tree in the modify panel and access its different sub-object levels:

Of course, a line is composed of vertices and edges, but in the tree appears others sub-object level: spline. Why? Because you can select single and multiple splines within a single spline object and move, rotate, and scale them using standard methods. Let's select the vertex mode. Now we can select and move (scale, etc) the vertices (the vertices selected are remarked in red):

There are some types of vertices, is you click over a vertex you will be allowed to change the vertex:

with the Bezier vertice s, each vertex is controlled by two other points that control the endpoint tangent vectors:

Let's stop with the bezier. We can select the Bezier tangency points and move it at the same time, but with shift+move we can move the points one by one:

Selecting the ‘segment' sub-object level, we can select and convert it to lines or curves. Now let's do an exercise, in the left viewport, create this line:

Go to the spline level (in the modifier tree), with the ‘outline' tool let's outline the shape, you can enter a value or use the tool directly in the viewport:

the ‘center' option outlines de spline from its geometrical center. Go to ‘segment' level, select and remove the segment of the image:

But the vertices are corners. So select it and let's use a tool to solve this:

Fillet and chamfer are tools that allow us to refine vertices adding a new vertex and a new curve or linear segment:

So, fillet the vertices of your shape! Do the same in the in the top vertices of your shape, we are modeling a glass. After fillet, the top vertices are very close; a good idea is select and welds it:

As you see, we have some tools to weld vertices. ‘Weld' has a threshold distance that you can modify. After welding:

Let's go to the modify panel. A glass is a revolution volume. If you rotate your shape on a central axis the result will be a glass. Let's do it, we have a modifier for this: lathe

It has some parameters: negrees, number of segments, a option to weld the core and another one to flip the faces normal. Sometimes the result is not correct because the normal are inverted but checking this box the result will be correct (the normal is a perpendicular vector that allows the program know what faces must be rendered). If needed, check this option. There are other options in these modifiers to select the axis, to align the shape...

In the modifier tree we can select the axis. Make a render to see the result . Train with more shapes like this; for example, try to model a champagne cup. The best way is start with a preliminary shape and refines it with the different tools we have:

A very useful tool to model with splines is ‘refine' that adds a new vertex in a segment, it is available for segment and vertex sub-object level.

Let's continue with the other splines. We have circles, arcs, donuts…

These are not editable splines but parameter splines. In the modify panel we can change radius (circles), corner radius (rectangles), widths, lengths… To convert it into editable splines, just right click over the object and select in the popup ‘Convert To-> Editable Spline':

In the image, we have a rectangle with rounded corners. Let's convert it into editable spline.

In the splines creation panel there is a checkbox: ‘start new shape', this makes independent shapes when you create it, but if you uncheck it, all the shapes will be in the same splines, in this case, the spline is automatically converted into editable spline:

Now, if you go to the spline sub-object level, we have 2 shapes that we can select:

The Boolean operations are very important with splines. With them we can combine different splines:

Use it is very easy. Select a spline, choose your operation button and click the other spline.

We can also mirror our splines (with or without copy):

Other option is ‘create line', as you can imagine allows us create a new line:

Another useful tool is ‘connect', that allows connect 2 vertices clicking them:

Let's training!! :-) We can extrude splines to have the 3rd dimension. Create a spline, go to the modifiers list and select ‘extrude'. Enter the extrude amount and… voile. You can also adjust the number of segments:

... and if you need a drill in your object, just put a spline into other:

Let's do a grid. In the top viewport create a rectangle, create a new rectangle and place as it's shown in the picture:

copy the small rectangle up to complete the grid:

convert to editable spline the bigger rectangle and attach the others to the same spline. We have a tool to attach splines:

…and extrude:

I'm sure you've noticed that in the splines options bar there is an ‘interpolation' panel:

It is in 6 steps (default value). With a bigger value, the spline is more perfect. In the next image you can see 4 copies of the same circle, see the difference with different interpolation values:

A spline is not renderable by default, but you can force its render in the ‘rendering' panel:

the shape of the last image is a simple circle.

Let's explain the ‘bevel' modifier using texts. Create a text in the splines creation panel:

We have the typical options with texts. Go to the modifiers list and select ‘bevel':

Bevel allows us make different levels of extrusions controlling the outline of each level. Test the modifier with different values:


Final Exercise: Pawn

Now, we must be able to model a chess pawn. Let's go step by step. First let's create different splines in the front viewport:

attach these splines in a single spline. The pawn is a revolution volume, so we only need to model half pawn. Move the different elements and combine it:

remove the remaining vertices. You can activate this option to weld automatically the vertices when move splines close to others:

Model the shape, but take care with the central axis, we have to rotate the spline in that axe:

fillet or chamfer vertices if you wish. Your shape must be similar to this one:

Alter the ‘lathe' modifier:

ok, good work!! :-)


Model your own shapes and train with them. To more complex object you can combine splines and primitives. For example, this rubber has been made with a chamfer box and an extrude text:

In our next tutorial we are going to explain the compound objects!

See you!


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