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 Basic Tutorial: Editable poly and smooth  
 Objective: Handle editable poly and smooth
 Difficulty: 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 - Box Modeling Tutorial + Mesh Smooth >> Tools and Basic Operations intro
2 - Vertex
3 - Edge
4 - Polygon
5 - Element
6 - mesh smooth
 Language Notes: tutorial original language: Spanish - comments about the translation to info@tutorials3d.com (we will gratify your help)
 Page: 1 of 1

Tutorial Modeling with boxes + Mesh Smooth >> Tools and Basic Operations

Hi! Let's explain what is a editable poly and the things we can do with them. Without doubt, one of the most popular methods to model is boxmodeling with editable polys.

…and what is a editable poly? It is a complex object with five sub-object levels: vertex, edge, border, polygon, and element. We can edit this levels and take control of it.

To create an editable poly, we can start with any object: primitives, splines, extrude objects… let's start with a 2x2x2 box. Right click over the box and select ‘convert to -> editable poly':

To see the edges in the viewport, you must activate these options (right click in the viewport name):

As you saw when convert the box, there was another option to convert the primitive: editable mesh. The main difference is that editable meshes are formed by triangles and editable polys by polygons (At least 4 vertices per face), this is better when you apply modifiers like Mesh Smooth. Here is the editable poly menu:

All the commands and tools allowed for a determinate level are activated when you activate that level. Some tools are always activated (‘cut' for example). We can access the differente subject levels from the modifier tree or from the ‘selection' panel. Let's see what we can do:

2 - Vertex

In the ‘selection' panel there is a checkbox that allows us select only the vertices (or edges, polys…) oriented to us in the viewport:

We can do more than rotate or move with vertices. ‘Break' creates a new vertex for each polygon attached to selected vertices:

To delete a vertex we have the ‘remove' tool:

Note: If you remove any edges, you have to go to vertex level to remove the vertex of those edges. Of course we can weld vertices; the method is selecting the vertex to wells and adjusts the weld threshold:

We have other powerful option to weld: target weld. Select the vertex to be welded and the target vertex to weld it:

Other important option is chamfer vertices:

we can also extrude a vertex. In this case, we can take control of the extrusion base and the extrusion height:

Finally, collapse that welds all the selected vertices:

We have some options available for the different levels:

These options allows us hide/unhide the object geometry and work more comfortably. ‘Make Planar' forces all selected polygons to become coplanar.


3 - Edge

At the editable poly edge sub-object level, you can select single and multiple edges and transform those using standard methods. You can also select edges loop:

Extrude and bevel options are similar as vertex ones:

We can also insert new vertex in an edge. There is another sub-object level: ‘border'. It's a linear section of a mesh that can generally be described as the edge of a hole, it is not very important so in this tutorial is not needed explain anything about it.


4 - Polygon

In this level, the operations are similar as the others, we can extrude:

and bevel polygons:

Another interesting toot is ‘Inset', that performs a bevel with no height. In the image, I've selected the 4 faces of a side and apply an inset:

‘Create' allows us to create new polygons from isolated vertices and border vertices. All vertices in the object are highlighted. Click vertices in succession to define the shape of the new polygon. (The cursor changes to a cross when it is over a vertex that can legally be part of the polygon). In the image, the left box has a hole, let's create the missed face (right box):

and the result:

Very important are the options to refine the geometry. ‘Slice Plane' creates a gizmo for a slice plane that can be positioned and rotated where you want to slice the edges. Also enables the ‘Slice' and ‘Reset Plane' buttons, to make effective the slice press the ‘slice' button. You can make more slices till you press the ‘slice plane' button again to deactivate this mode.

The ‘cut' tool is available in all the sub-objects levels and allows us add new cuts to the geometry, adding new edges and vertices:

Remember that we can hide/unhide the geometry as we need.


5 - Element

An Editable Poly can be formed for more than one element. To add a new element to the editable poly, just press the ‘attach' button and select the object, also, we can detach elements:

In the image, there is our editable poly (the box) and some primitives that could be attached as elements:

just click in the attach dialog box and select the elements:

These are the main operations and tools with editable polys. You can model everything with editable polys, from chamfer boxes to cars, organic models… just training and with a little of patience. Now is the time for the Mesh Smooth modifier.


6 - mesh smooth

Our objective with polygonal modeling is creating a low resolution model, taking the main characteristics, then we can apply the Mesh Smooth that adds faces at corners and along edges (an extra face is added for every vertex and edge). It is useful to organic models (as human characters) and even industrial models (as cars).

To apply the modifier, just select it from the modifier list:

the Mesh Smooth options menu:

as subdivision method use NURMS to obtain great quality results. The next section is the most important, you can adjust the subdivision amount in the Iterations, usually is enough with a value of 1 or 2 iterations. That is important to obtain detail but always having in mind that details costs memory and values of 3 or 4 iterations could be a very expensive memory spend. You can apply the subdivisions only in the render or also in the viewport. ‘Local Control' allows move vertex or edges from the original mesh and see the smooth result in real time, to make this we need activate ‘display control mesh'.

In the image we have a 1x1x1 box, with subdivision iteration. If you add more iteration the original box becomes a sphere:

In the case, we start from a 2x2x2 cube, the result is not a sphere but a chamfer box, we are controlling the curve of the subdivisions adding and moving edges:

In the last image, we have a 3x3x3 cube but we have move the edges and they are very close between them, the result is a chamfer box with a quality curve in its edges. If we wish hard edges we need edges close to other edges and if we wish more smooth surfaces the distance between edges will be bigger.

Now wed have extruded a face, see the result, all the surface is smoothed, but see the next figure:

we have chamfered the base and the extrusion extreme and as you see, the curves in that zones are hard. Other examples:

Other example with a tube:

Let's see what is ‘Local Control'.

Create a 3x3x3 cube and apply it a Mesh Smooth with 2 iterations. Activate ‘vertex' in ‘Local Control' and also the checkbock to show the mesh:

in our object appears an orange wireframe gizmo that shows what the control mesh looks like after it's been converted to polygons and before the smoothing occurs. The vertex of the gizmo are the original object vertex (with no smooth), we can move, rotate… this vertices and see the result in the viewport in real time. With ‘Control Level' we select the amount of vertices in the gizmo, with a 0 value we are in the original object, with 1 we are in the original object with 1 subdivision iteration…

using this option we have moved some vertices, see the result in the smoothed mesh. It's a good trick for modeling :-)

Well, these are the basic tips about mesh smooth. Train with us with our next tutorials!!


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