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Chapter 4. Shipbuilding 101: The Making ... > Spacing Tool and Renderable Splines

Spacing Tool and Renderable Splines

In this section, you learn to use a 2D shape to distribute objects in an equally spaced pattern along the shape. This enables you to add stanchions or posts that will support a safety railing around the deck of the boat at roughly a 6-foot spacing.

This is a great tool for placing light poles along a street, spikes on a dogs collar, or ducks in a row, for example.

Then, to actually create the railing itself, you align a copy of the path to the top of the stanchions and make it renderable. Any 2D shape can be made renderable, which applies a circular cross-section by default with the radius and detail you set. It is normally only visible at render time, but you also can have it visible in the viewports.

All forms of ropes and wires or spider webs could be created easily by enabling renderable splines.

Spacing Stanchions on the Deck

Exercise 4.15 walks you through the steps of placing vertical stanchions at roughly 6-foot centers around the outside of the deck of the boat. The shape has already been created by extracting 2D data from the hull and resizing and moving it into position. The Stanchion01 object is just a cylinder that has been edited at sub-object level. The original object is left in place and clones are distributed along the path. You align the original at the bow at the end of the exercise, but generally, it would be deleted after the spacing operation.

Exercise 4.15 Using the Spacing Tool to Distribute Objects

1.
Open the file called Ch04_Monitor01.max on the CD-ROM. From the File pull-down menu, choose Save As, point to an appropriate subdirectory on your hard drive, and use the plus sign button to save a new file with the name incremented to Ch04_Monitor02.max.

2.
In the Perspective viewport, select Stanchion01. It might be easiest to use Select by Name because it is a relatively small object and difficult to pick. In the Tools pull-down menu, choose Spacing Tool. In the Spacing Tools dialog, you can either pick two points in a viewport to have a number of evenly spaced objects or you can pick a path. You should click the Pick Path button and, in the Perspective viewport, pick the shape at the top outer edge of the hull (see Figure 4.65). The button now reads rail_path.

Figure 4.65. Select Stanchion01 and then choose Spacing Tool in the Tools pull-down menu. Click the Pick Path button in the Spacing Tool dialog and pick the shape at the top of the deck.


3.
With Stanchion01 still selected, click the Align button on the main toolbar. Press H to call the Pick Object dialog and double-click rail_path in the list. In the Align Selection dialog, check X, Y, and Z Position to align Center to Center. Click Apply. In the Align Selection dialog, check Z Position, Minimum in Current Object, and Maximum in Target Object. Click Apply. Click X Position and Stanchion01 should move to the tip of the bow (see Figure 4.67). Click OK.

Figure 4.67. Use the Align tool to place Stanchion01 at the tip of the bow.


4.
Save the file. It should already be called Ch04_Monitor02.max.

Figure 4.66. Set the Spacing Tool to use rail_path with 6-foot spacing between instance clones.


A Renderable Spline at a Safety Railing

Normally, shapes do not show up in any rendered image, but sometimes, it is helpful to have a shape be treated as an object—in the case of ropes and wires, for example. In Exercise 4.16, you learn to enable the renderable spline settings for a clone of the rail_path shape that has been aligned with the top of the stanchions. You then learn to optimize the resulting object.

Exercise 4.16 Assigning Shape Thickness in Renderings and Viewports

1.
Open the file called Ch04_Monitor02.max on the CD-ROM or from the preceding exercise. From the File pull-down menu, choose Save As, point to an appropriate subdirectory on your hard drive, and use the plus sign button to save a new file with the name incremented to Ch04_Monitor03.max.

2.
In the Perspective viewport, select rail_path at the top of the deck. In the Edit pull-down menu, choose Clone. In the Clone Options dialog, select the Copy radio button and rename the object Safety_rail (see Figure 4.68). Click OK. You choose Copy because Instance would make both renderable when you apply the setting.

Figure 4.68. With Edit, Clone, make a copy of the rail_path shape and call it Safety_rail.


3.
The cloned copy becomes the selected object. On the main toolbar, click the Align button and, in the Perspective viewport, pick the Stanchion01 at the tip of the bow. Check Z Position and set Current Object to Maximum and Target Object to Maximum. Click OK.

4.
In the Modify panel, Rendering rollout, enter 2" in the Thickness field and 6 in the Sides field. The default 12 sides to the object is much too dense for the detail you need. Check the Renderable option and check Display Render Mesh (see Figure 4.69). This last option enables you to view the 3D mesh in the viewports.

Figure 4.69. Set the shape to be visible in the renderings and the viewports, and optimize the number of sides to fit the detail needed.


5.
Save the file. It is already called Ch04_Monitor03. max.

tip

If you have many renderable spline objects in the scene, it would be wise to leave Display Render Mesh off. Turning it on could slow viewport performance significantly.


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