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Various Issues Moving To Blender


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First of all, apologies if this is quite a general question (But it is aimed at producing precision sized objects for KSP). I have tried to research first in the blender community at large, but ran into the same two unhelpful responses:

  • "blender is for art, not for CAD"
  • "why would you want to do that?".

The questions, I'm finding it impossible to understand scaling and sizing in blender (Maya too), everything seems to be relative and it is hard to get "the bigger picture" when modelling.
I'm very eager to move on to more "advanced" tools, but these roadblocks are proving so difficult.

Case 1

Get the size of some arbitrary selection of faces and set a new size.

Wings3D

Super easy, absolute scale options, get the scale and then set whatever new scale is wanted.

c1cc2d5629.png
74b445d635.png

Blender

Well, I can get the... area? edge lengths?
But, what is the size in X/Y of the face?
How can I set the central face to some new absolute size (preferably by inputting the values), can I even do that?

The secondary thing, accuracy only to four decimal places?

988b5d9a8f.png

Maya

Not a clue. I understand there are specific measuring tools, but that seems crazily labour intensive to just get a size?

035765975d.png

 

Case 2

Move a point or face to some absolute position, input the number via keyboard input.

Wings3D

Select a face, set an absolute position, 3.0 for example.

64ca252e63.png

Blender

All movement seems to be relative to the faces original position, it's simple to calculate how much to move something for simple shapes, but if it got more complex?

a012afdd2e.jpg

Maya

Quite easy to see the absolute position it is being moved to (and you can see discrete steps), but no way to input the value?

228aa58e31.jpg

 

 

So, I ask:

Am I just being stupid? Is there some hidden feature which I have been ignorant to? (I've followed quite a few tutorials, but not seen anything relevant - on researching the problem I may be using the wrong terminology in Google).

Edited by Beale
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For Maya, you might be able to find what you need in the modeling toolkit (the leftmost button at the top right next to the attributes, tool settings and channel box).

Second, I looked around a bit and found some stuff that might be useful. No guarantees. I generally try and keep a workflow where I create cylinders of specific size so that the ends match up, and work around those ends. Generally speaking most programs for this sort of thing aren't terribly precise, though if you look hard enough you will probably find something. I'd hazard that Blender has a higher chance of being successful. Alternatively, you might check out SketchUp (Which I believe Bac9 among others use) which is basically somewhere between a CAD program and modeling software, which is what I believe you're looking for. Model there then export the Obj to UV unwrap. 

https://www.creativecrash.com/maya/script/distance-between-tool

http://area.autodesk.com/bonustools

https://www.lynda.com/Maya-tutorials/Integrating-Modeling-Toolkit/370603/384948-4.html

EDIT: HOLY SMOKES IM SO STUPID.

So if you do an action, hit ctrl Z, you'll see the line of instructions that got undone in the lower right? That's MEL scripting. You would have to look it up, but basically you can input VERY specific commands using that. I do not know much about it but I *have* done extremely discrete operations with it before.

EDIT:

http://joshuamosley.com/tutorials/Maya_MelModeling/index.html

http://download.autodesk.com/global/docs/maya2014/en_us/index.html?url=files/GUID-312387EC-2907-40D6-A0ED-1BE322106BBB.htm,topicNumber=d30e68424

https://knowledge.autodesk.com/support/maya/learn-explore/caas/CloudHelp/cloudhelp/2016/ENU/Maya/files/GUID-BCB33B1D-21CB-4841-9C66-FA431792A3DB-htm.html

http://help.autodesk.com/cloudhelp/2016/ENU/Maya/files/GUID-579A6D9F-CB41-4CD9-B9D7-3DB1FD33735D.htm

I really wish I could help more but I have next to zero experience with it. Come to think of it, @akron might know a little more than me. He has a broader knowledge of Maya.

Edited by CobaltWolf
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For Blender, hit 'N' to open the Properties Shelf, one of the things in there is called "Transform". When you're in Edit mode you can select vertices to see their exact position (and change it), with faces or edges this will show their average position. If Blender has an option similar to the Wings option in Case 1 I don't know where it is, as a workaround I would Shift+A (in Edit mode) a new circle mesh with the settings I wanted, move it and the join it to the cylinder.

Sorry for the rough images, was trying to do them quickly. :P

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16 minutes ago, CobaltWolf said:

For Maya, you might be able to find what you need in the modeling toolkit (the leftmost button at the top right next to the attributes, tool settings and channel box).

Second, I looked around a bit and found some stuff that might be useful. No guarantees. I generally try and keep a workflow where I create cylinders of specific size so that the ends match up, and work around those ends. Generally speaking most programs for this sort of thing aren't terribly precise, though if you look hard enough you will probably find something. I'd hazard that Blender has a higher chance of being successful. Alternatively, you might check out SketchUp (Which I believe Bac9 among others use) which is basically somewhere between a CAD program and modeling software, which is what I believe you're looking for. Model there then export the Obj to UV unwrap. 

https://www.creativecrash.com/maya/script/distance-between-tool

http://area.autodesk.com/bonustools

https://www.lynda.com/Maya-tutorials/Integrating-Modeling-Toolkit/370603/384948-4.html

EDIT: HOLY SMOKES IM SO STUPID.

So if you do an action, hit ctrl Z, you'll see the line of instructions that got undone in the lower right? That's MEL scripting. You would have to look it up, but basically you can input VERY specific commands using that. I do not know much about it but I *have* done extremely discrete operations with it before.

I'll take a look at the plugins, thanks! :) 

The MEL scripting makes a big difference thanks, but most functions seem to all be relative rather than absolute.

13 minutes ago, hoojiwana said:

For Blender, hit 'T' to open the Properties Shelf, one of the things in there is called "Transform". When you're in Edit mode you can select vertices to see their exact position (and change it), with faces or edges this will show their average position. If Blender has an option similar to the Wings option in Case 1 I don't know where it is, as a workaround I would Shift+A (in Edit mode) a new circle mesh with the settings I wanted, move it and the join it to the cylinder.

That looks very strongly like what I am after, thanks :) 
The only issue for me is hitting T just seems to hide and show the window on the left.
bd3589ce5d.png

For the other case, that looks to be an okay workaround, but an awful lot slower than what I'm used to. Still, many thanks! (And extra thanks for the images) 

 

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Just now, Beale said:

I'll take a look at the plugins, thanks! :) 

The MEL scripting makes a big difference thanks, but most functions seem to all be relative rather than absolute.

 

Assuming you're keeping track of everything, wouldn't it be simple to just plug it into, say, the windows calculator? I usually just model by feel other than the ends of the parts, which as I said I measure precisely by creating them at exactly the right size.

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Just now, CobaltWolf said:

Assuming you're keeping track of everything, wouldn't it be simple to just plug it into, say, the windows calculator? I usually just model by feel other than the ends of the parts, which as I said I measure precisely by creating them at exactly the right size.

Well sure, but that extra step just makes the entire process just the little bit more mentally taxing. There is also a chance to make a mistake somewhere along the calculations, causing more headaches later on.

It's great (more than great) just being able to get and set the size, no calculations, no mcguffins. :) 

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1 minute ago, Beale said:

Well sure, but that extra step just makes the entire process just the little bit more mentally taxing. There is also a chance to make a mistake somewhere along the calculations, causing more headaches later on.

It's great (more than great) just being able to get and set the size, no calculations, no mcguffins. :) 

 
 

Yeah I definitely understand. I really don't know why that isn't easily accessible.

EDIT: Hit post before I finished my thought. I know it's frustrating not having something like that, I'm trying to find workarounds to make the best of it.

Edited by CobaltWolf
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44 minutes ago, hoojiwana said:

Oops, I meant N. :sealed:

Haha, thanks :) 

That's quite an improvement to getting to grips with the whole thing. It's just a shame that "scale" isn't right there alongside transform.

51fd1acdd0.png

Edited by Beale
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Sorry if this is too generic but http://blender.stackexchange.com/questions/28746/how-do-you-access-the-ruler

This is basically how i used to get the spesific measurements of things in blender when polymodeling. 

 

In 3dsmax i use the measurement tool to check measurements and lathe(splines) to quickly create cylindrical stuff with cad-like precision(this also enables me to change the segment count on the fly)

Pro tip: In blender you can scale while snapping (something you cant do in 3dsmax atleast. Altho there are other ways to do it) this enables you to scale a n extruded cylindrical cap(etc.) to an exact point in space or to another cylinder with the radius you want the extrusion to have.(set snap from highlighted vertex)

 

Also:

http://blendermama.com/precision-work-in-blender.html

 

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Huh. I wish I had *the* answer to share Maya's solution. I know that you have this capability at the object or group level, but I have not seen this for vertices or faces. Maya has the capability to track some of the movement because I see the option embedded in the extrude tool. I am curious, I think I will reach out to one of my old instructors to see if they know.

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I've done a variety of workarounds if I want something to be a specific size. For instance, if you select a vertex that's on one of the cardinal axes, you can get a quick measure of a cylinder's radius. Then it's pretty easy to scale it to the needed multiplier (I often have a calculator open for quick rescales like that). I've also occasionally done the trick of creating a circle primitive at the radius I need, and then scale my object by snapping to it.

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2 hours ago, landeTLS said:

Sorry if this is too generic but http://blender.stackexchange.com/questions/28746/how-do-you-access-the-ruler

This is basically how i used to get the spesific measurements of things in blender when polymodeling. 

In 3dsmax i use the measurement tool to check measurements and lathe(splines) to quickly create cylindrical stuff with cad-like precision(this also enables me to change the segment count on the fly)

Pro tip: In blender you can scale while snapping (something you cant do in 3dsmax atleast. Altho there are other ways to do it) this enables you to scale a n extruded cylindrical cap(etc.) to an exact point in space or to another cylinder with the radius you want the extrusion to have.(set snap from highlighted vertex)

Also:

http://blendermama.com/precision-work-in-blender.html

 

Thanks for the links, they should be quite useful!

I do also have access to 3dsmax, do you think that would be more suitable for the kind of CAD environment I want? (pretty big & subjective question, I know).

1 hour ago, akron said:

Huh. I wish I had *the* answer to share Maya's solution. I know that you have this capability at the object or group level, but I have not seen this for vertices or faces. Maya has the capability to track some of the movement because I see the option embedded in the extrude tool. I am curious, I think I will reach out to one of my old instructors to see if they know.

It would be really appreciated if you found some info! :) 

I noticed too extrude and move tell you the absolute position, but the information is not available anywhere free-hand.

51 minutes ago, NecroBones said:

I've done a variety of workarounds if I want something to be a specific size. For instance, if you select a vertex that's on one of the cardinal axes, you can get a quick measure of a cylinder's radius. Then it's pretty easy to scale it to the needed multiplier (I often have a calculator open for quick rescales like that). I've also occasionally done the trick of creating a circle primitive at the radius I need, and then scale my object by snapping to it.

Fair workarounds, thanks.

I think this is a case of "I learned it this way and I am being stubborn", but I still cannot understand how something so basic is omitted in two very big and prominent modelling packages? Why the need to break out a calculator or use other objects to eyeball it?


What started during Maya tutorial as an innocent "google how to get the scale of faces" has left me feeling like I'm in the twilight zone. :blush:

Edited by Beale
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@Beale I think it's a very reasonable thing to want, and if anything we're all just stumped because we all had to learn without having that kind of capability.

If you want to give it a try, I would like to motion SketchUp again if you're looking for something that has CAD influences. I've never used 3DS Max so I can't speak to it.

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2 minutes ago, CobaltWolf said:

@Beale I think it's a very reasonable thing to want, and if anything we're all just stumped because we all had to learn without having that kind of capability.

If you want to give it a try, I would like to motion SketchUp again if you're looking for something that has CAD influences. I've never used 3DS Max so I can't speak to it.

No mistake, I appreciate very much all the help here! :) 

The fact that there is no simple solution is what is making me feel like I need to be in a padded room.

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33 minutes ago, Beale said:

Thanks for the links, they should be quite useful!

I do also have access to 3dsmax, do you think that would be more suitable for the kind of CAD environment I want? (pretty big & subjective question, I know).

 

its all personal preference. I like how 3dsmax works for me but it has been a LOT of work adapting it for my use(hotkeys, custom made macros + plugins etc.) The way my setup of 3dsmax works these days is more like modo than the "vanilla" 3dsmax. But yea id say for cadlike presicion i couldnt really use anything else(except maybe fusion 123 etc. (An actual cad package)) 

 

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3 hours ago, Beale said:

Just to throw another example of where absolute scaling would be really handy.

After using a bevel, figuring out the scale of the new face is quite complicated, right?

24ae362f01.png

hit "p" to part out the face and then check the "n"-panel for the dimensions of the object it created. Blender keeps track of objects dimensions rather well. Objects can also be moved and changed in dimensions rather fast (direct numerical input). Also not that you can set blender to use metric or imperial dimensions rather than "blender units". (under the scene properties).

Instead of building a cylinder and then bevelling the edge you could also add the base cylinder (direct numerical input possible) without top/bottom face, add a circle (direct numerical input possible)  join the objects and then use bridge loop to quickly add the faces between the top face and the cylinder.

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16 hours ago, InsaneDruid said:

hit "p" to part out the face and then check the "n"-panel for the dimensions of the object it created. Blender keeps track of objects dimensions rather well. Objects can also be moved and changed in dimensions rather fast (direct numerical input). Also not that you can set blender to use metric or imperial dimensions rather than "blender units". (under the scene properties).

Instead of building a cylinder and then bevelling the edge you could also add the base cylinder (direct numerical input possible) without top/bottom face, add a circle (direct numerical input possible)  join the objects and then use bridge loop to quickly add the faces between the top face and the cylinder.

Great tip, that works quite well. I have the units set to metric now, it is pleasant to enter "5cm" over "0.05".

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I also tend to add some planes to the different main heights of the object i want to model (can be placed numerical), then add some basic cylinders in the different diameters, set them all to wireframe display and then use the snap to vertices/edges etc function a lot during the actual modelling.

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On 4/19/2016 at 0:23 PM, Beale said:

Just to throw another example of where absolute scaling would be really handy.

After using a bevel, figuring out the scale of the new face is quite complicated, right?

24ae362f01.png

 

Rather than using bevel, this is what I do.

Select the N-gon face, hit [E] to extrude, hit [Z] to lock the extrusion in the z direction, type in the distance you want to extrude (say 25 for 25cm), then hit [ENTER].

Afterwards, while the face is still selected, hit [ S ] and then enter in the amount you want to scale the face (for instance, 0.75), then [ENTER]

Edited by cxg2827
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35 minutes ago, cxg2827 said:

 

Rather than using bevel, this is what I do.

Select the N-gon face, hit [E] to extrude, hit [Z] to lock the extrusion in the z direction, type in the distance you want to extrude (say 25 for 25cm), then hit [ENTER].

Afterwards, while the face is still selected, hit [ S ] and then enter in the amount you want to scale the face (for instance, 0.75), then [ENTER]

Nice tip! But, still a few problems I'm having.

This method is great if the part is simple and I know the original diameter (say 1.25m), but after multiple extrude and scale operations like this it would become quite difficult to remember what size I will reach.

23 hours ago, InsaneDruid said:

I also tend to add some planes to the different main heights of the object i want to model (can be placed numerical), then add some basic cylinders in the different diameters, set them all to wireframe display and then use the snap to vertices/edges etc function a lot during the actual modelling.

More good advice, thanks! :) 

Edited by Beale
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1 hour ago, Beale said:

Nice tip! But, still a few problems I'm having.

This method is great if the part is simple and I know the original diameter (say 1.25m), but after multiple extrude and scale operations like this it would become quite difficult to remember what size I will reach.

True, its not the best option, and you would need you to have a notepad to do some quick calculations for the scaling needed. otherwise go with @InsaneDruid's suggestion with creating new cylinders and then joining the edge loops to make the taper sections.

I don't have blender with me right now, but another possible option is to use directional scaling and vertex snapping:

- draw a few lines with the specific diameters from the origin outward. ([ctrl]+[shift]+ [ s ] then select "cursor to origin" to reset the cursor location)

Select the N-gon face and scale it along the plane [ctrl]+[shift]+z (this will lock scaling only in the x and y directions, can be pretty useful for re-scaling sections of a model)

then just run your cursor over whichever line you want to match diameter, and have it snap to the outer vertex of that line.

Edited by cxg2827
keep forgetting [s] does a strikethrough
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1 hour ago, cxg2827 said:

I don't have blender with me right now, but another possible option is to use directional scaling and vertex snapping:

- draw a few lines with the specific diameters from the origin outward. ([ctrl]+[shift]+ [ s ] then select "cursor to origin" to reset the cursor location)

Select the N-gon face and scale it along the plane [ctrl]+[shift]+z (this will lock scaling only in the x and y directions, can be pretty useful for re-scaling sections of a model)

then just run your cursor over whichever line you want to match diameter, and have it snap to the outer vertex of that line.

Oh, that's a great idea! :) 

Edited by Beale
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