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If you've ever created a 3D model using surfaces, you know how static they tend to be. In fact, once you created a surface, there was really no easy way to edit its shape. Because of this, over the last few years, surfaces have fallen out of favor, and most modeling has been done using Solids or Mesh. Well, surface modeling has been completely reborn in AutoCAD 2011. Surfaces are now easy to create, easy to edit, they can maintain their association to the geometry that created them, and they can also be sculpted into freeform shapes.
To introduce you to the new surface modeling capabilities, I'd like to do something a little different in this chapter. Rather than doing several small lessons with multiple examples, I think it would be fun to do a project. I'm going to open a rendered image. This wagon was created almost entirely with surface objects. Over the next few lessons, we're going to create this assembly, one component at a time, and while creating each component we will focus on one of the new aspects of surface modeling. This way we'll cover all the features, we will see the tools used in a typical workflow, and when we're finished, we'll produce a photorealistic rendering of our final model.
Let's return to AutoCAD. Since we're going to be working on a comprehensive multipart project, I have got a couple of ground rules for you to consider as we work. First of all, make sure you're familiar with using the Orbit command. We'll be using that tool a lot. To orbit your view, you can hold down the Shift key on your keyboard and the scroll wheel on your mouse, and then as you move your mouse you can orbit your view around the outside of your 3D part. That's why I have given you this drawing of this airplane, so you can practice. Make sure you are very comfortable with adjusting your view in 3D space.
Now let's talk about what you can do if you have problems. For instance, if you see something is working for me on my screen but it's not working for you, I'd like you to try some things. If you're having trouble selecting your geometry or editing your model, I'd like you to do this. Right-click on your ViewCube and change your view to Parallel. sometimes making this change is enough to fix the issue. Another thing you can try, you can open up your Subobject panel and try turning off Culling. Culling controls the highlighting of our 3D objects on screen.
It also controls how AutoCAD sees our geometry. So turning this feature off might also solve your problem. Finally, and most important, be careful with your running object snaps. I'm going to right-click on my Object Snap Mode because I want to show you that I'm going to be running a center as well as an endpoint object snap, and that's it. If you have too many running object snaps, you'll run the risk of grabbing a bad coordinate. Well, whenever you are ready, we'll get to work on our first component. I think you're going to find with all of the new changes made to surface objects, they just might be the tool you look to first when you're creating a conceptual design.
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