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Chapter 4. Shipbuilding 101: The Making ... > Primitive Objects and Editable Poly:...

Primitive Objects and Editable Poly: A Starting Point

In Chapter 3, “Fundamental Modeling Techniques: The Building Blocks,” you worked with 2D shapes and 3D mesh objects. While editing the 3d mesh objects, you applied modifiers that enabled you to select sub-object level, Vertex, Edge, Face, Polygon, or Element entities. A polygon within a 3D mesh is defined as any set of triangular faces bordered by a visible edge.

Editable polygon, or editable poly as it is also known, is a different type of editing object. Instead of triangular faces, it builds the surface with quads whenever possible. It is primarily designed for computer gaming engines to more easily keep information stored in vertices in a more controlled manner. However, editable poly objects have sub-object levels of Vertex, Edge, Border, Polygon, and Element and have a very different set of editing tools available; these tools can prove to be very efficient and fast to work with.

The downside to working with editable poly is that there is no history to navigate when trying to make changes. After you commit to a change and move on to other edits, it can be very difficult to modify those changes.

Figure 4.1 shows two objects in wireframe mode with all edges visible. The object back and left was converted to an editable poly, and the foreground object is an editable mesh. You can see that the only triangular faces in the editable poly are in the rounded end, where they are absolutely necessary to describe the curved surface.

Figure 4.1. You can see editable poly on the left and editable mesh on the right. Editable poly uses quad faces where possible, whereas the editable mesh always uses triangular faces.

As mentioned, the editing tools are also different for the two object types, both in the tools available and in the manner in which they are applied. Figure 4.2 shows an overview of the Modify panels for each object type.

Figure 4.2. Modify panel for editable mesh on the left and for editable poly on the right. Different tools are available for each object type.


There is an EditMesh modifier that you can apply to any 3D object to allow the same functionality as editable mesh. It can be removed or disabled from the object if necessary, returning you to a point in the editing history before the modifier.

There is no Edit Poly modifier; after you convert an object to editable poly and made changes, you are committed to those changes.

You will work mostly with editable poly objects in this chapter because the tools lend themselves well to modifying against a background object to create a clean, efficient object that accurately depicts the form of the object you are tracing.

The exercises in this chapter walk you through several repetitions of editable poly editing while creating the boat hull, starting with a simple Box primitive object.

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