3D Modeling Special Interest Group – September 2017


In this session, we went through the steps needed for making a scroll object. Along the way, we touched on how to use the Extrude Along Path command, the Loft Surface Tool, and Working Planes.

Topics covered:

  • 00:15    The challenge in making a scroll object is getting the path right. If you don’t get the path right, then your Extrude Along Path command won’t execute very well. We used the “Golden ratio” to place a series of increasingly smaller rectangles within each other; they served as an aid in drawing the arcs needed for our scroll. Not completely happy with the result, we tried out the Spiral Tool—but there was equal spacing between the spiral’s layers, which wasn’t what we were looking for. Using the “Golden ratio” spiral as our path, a rectangle as our profile, and the Extrude Along Path command, we created a scroll object. We experimented with making a tighter series of arcs. Snap by Fraction under the options for Snap to Distance helped us choose 1/4 or 1/5 of the distance along each arc as we drew a new spiral. The Select Connected Objects command made it really easy to turn these arcs into one polygon, which we then used as the path for our Extrude Along Path command.
  • 20:45    Once we had our 3D scroll, we had a bit of fun. First, we snipped a bit out of the middle of the profile, giving the shape a slight concave look. We tried using the Deform tool on it, but it didn’t have much of an effect on this object. Actually, the snip to the profile had done a bit more, so we went back to modifying the profile. We scooped it, before flipping it. We used the Fillet tool to round off all the edges at once! It made it look pretty but drastically increased the rendering time. Watch out when editing the path of a polygon that is an Extrude Along Path object—you have to use the Move Polygon Handles mode instead of the Move Edges Parallel Line mode, as polygons don’t have edges!
  • 30:02    We used the Extrude Along Path command to make our scroll object, but another option is to use the Loft Surface Tool, with either one or two rails—although I usually only use this technique as a last resort. A copy of our Extrude Along Path polygon served as a guide. This process involved using NURBS curves. We had fun but, after several abortive attempts, switched back to modifying our Extrude Along Path object. Extruding along a path is super straightforward! The Factor value in the Object Info palette can be used to taper the scroll. We added a powder-coated zinc texture! If you were to use the scroll object as a tree deck, you could use the Duplicate Along Path command to construct a railing along the scroll’s edge. You can have a lot fun with 3D modeling in Vectorworks!
  • 45:00    We finished by reviewing how to set and rotate a Working Plane. We set our Working Place perpendicular to the surface of our scroll object and used the Solid Subtraction command to add screw holes. Although building a 3D model might seem like it takes a lot of time, it really makes it much easier to make plans, sections, and elevations—particularly when you have to incorporate changes!

3D Modeling September 2017 am

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