Wirebundler
By Neil Blevins
Created On: Apr 18th 2012

Some people have asked me for a practical example of using my wirebundler script (for 3dsmax), available here. Especially using the path deform mode. So here we go.

Our Model

For this example, I will be using this tentacle, built using simple poly modeling. My goal is to have a bunch of tentacles clumped together.


Preparing The Mesh

First, lets prepare our mesh. Follow these steps...
  1. Backup: Make a backup copy of your mesh in the scene, so you can always go back to it and edit what you've done.
  2. Attach: If your object is made up of more than 1 object, like for example if you're making a wire that has a number of connectors and other greebles, attach them all together so they're a single object. Path deform works better on single objects. In this example, since our tentacle is already a single object, we don't have to worry about this.
  3. Rename: now's a good time to give your object a decent name, since you're about to make a bunch of them.
  4. Reset Xform: Path deform works better on objects that have had their xform reset. So select your tentacle, go to Utilities -> Reset Xform.
  5. Collapse: Lets collapse the mesh so we don't have any extra modifiers. Select your tentacle, right click and choose "Convert To Editable Poly".
  6. Place Pivot: Place your pivot at the bottom of the tentacle, right at the origin (see image below).
  7. Turbosmooth: Apply a turbosmooth to your mesh, this will add segments, which will help your object deform smoothly. You should make sure when modeling your original mesh that it will look correct once it's been turbosmoothed.


Using wireBundler



So you'll notice that many of the tentacles intersect. This is because the script has no collision detection. You can always click the "Delete" button under "wireBundler Tools" to delete your current bundle and then click "Apply" again, and keep doing that until you get a bundle you like (each time you redo it it'll be a random configuration), or another way is to just manually edit the splines. Each tentacle is deformed based on a spline. So select the spline and move its knots, the tentacles will go along for the ride. Here's after 2 minutes of editing the knots of the splines...



This technique of course is good for more than just tentacles. Bundles of wires or pipes, rope, boat rigging, stylized hair, all sorts of uses. Also, if you already have some splines, you can use the script simply as a shortcut to run meshes down your pre-existing splines, you don't have to have the script create the splines.

So hopefully this quick tutorial gives you a basic idea on how to use the script. I've certainly had fun using it...



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