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    Lofting is one of the most useful features in 3DStuidio MAX.  You can think of it as pulling one shape along another shape.  Extrusion, for example, is just lofting in a straight line.  Observe. 

    Except with lofts you can pull the shape along anything, not just a straight line. 

    And you can do cool stuff to the shape as it is pulled along the path. 

 

    And you can have multiples shapes at different levels on the path. 

  
Here's a quick example of how you can use lofts and deformations to make a flower vase that would be nearly impossible to make by other means. 

 

Make a simple loft with a hexagon (I rounded it with edit spline; you can do the same if you want)

 

Then add a twist and a scale deformation.

(see below how to do that)

Here is what the two deformation curves look like:

 
A deformation graph is a graph of to what percent or angle the shape is deformed vs. percent distance along the path.  By manipulating these graphs (essentially the same way you edit splines) you can achieve a wide variety of shapes. 

  
Okay, this is broken up into three sections: 
    a) how to make a loft object 
    b) how to do deformations (except fit, because that requires a little explanation that I don't quite have time to give) 
    c) how to manipulate shapes along the path. 

HOW TO MAKE A LOFT! 

 

  • First make two splines: a path and a shape. 

  • Then go to the create tab, press "geometry", and select "Loft Objects" from that menu.

  • Select the shape you want to be the path 

    • (you can select the shape, but the loft is usually aligned better when you loft from the path)

  •  

  • Press the Loft button

  • Press the Get Shape button

  • Click on your shape

  • Presto: a loft!

  • To see it render in the perspective viewport.


  •  
    HOW TO DO DEFORMATIONS: 

     

  • First select your loft.  Then drag the window up, and click the deformations button if necessary.

  • Pick a deformation, any old deformation.  I picked scale.  Press the scale button. 
     

  • Now a graph will pop up that looks something like what you see to your right.

  • To add points to this curve, press the add points button.  If you hold it down, you can choose between a corner, bezier, and bezier corner point. 

  • To adjust the points and the tangent handles, click on that move-resembling button and move them. 


  • HOW TO MANIPULATE SHAPES ON A LOFT: 
     

  • Take a loft (hey, you can even use the one from before, if you are doing these in order <gasp>) and select it.
     

  • Now drag the path spinner under path parameters to some significant number (like 50) or just click in the field and type it in.  This adjusts what percentage along that path your new shape will be at. 
     

  • Make another spline.  I'll do a rectangle.

  • Now select the loft again, press the get shape button, and click on the square.

  • Look; the circle morphs into the square as it goes along the path.  Lofts are awesome, aren't they?

  •  

    Summary: 

    • LOFTS RULE!!!!


     

    Questions, comments, and complaints go to

    mattei@bergen.org

    AAST

    200 Hackensack Ave.

    Hackensack, NJ 07601

     
     

     

     

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