AuthorAaron F. Ross
Skill Level Intermediate
- [Instructor] The freeform strip feature of the Modeling ribbon lets us paint strips of connected polygons. We can also conform to an existing object making it easy to draw a road on this procedural terrain. We want to paint into an object other than the one we're conforming to. I've prepared that with this sphere located at the origin. Select that and go to the Modify panel, it's named freeform strips and it's an editable poly object.
Let's open up the Modeling ribbon and paint into this object. Click Show Ribbon and go to the Freeform tab and we want to conform to this terrain. So, go up to the PolyDraw selection and you'll see a button to choose what you're going to draw onto and by default it will say Grid. From the pull down list, choose Draw On Surface. And then you get a button labeled Pick.
Click Pick and then click on the terrain object, then we see the word Terrain listed there. Now the tools in the PolyDraw panel will conform to that terrain object. And as an aside, this terrain is not even an editable poly itself. It's a simple plain primitive displaced with a space warp but these conform tools will work just fine. Here in the PolyDraw panel we've got Strips. Click on that button and then you can click and drag to draw polygon strips on the object.
And we can toggle around with Alt and middle mouse button and see that it is indeed conforming. The default behavior of the Strips tool is view dependent and that is that the size of the strips is dependent upon pixel values rather that absolute world units and if we change our distance by zooming in and out, we'll change the size of the strips. I'll zoom in with Control + Alt and middle mouse button drag and go back to drawing strips and now I have much smaller strips but when I was zoomed out, I was drawing larger ones.
I'll undo those with Control + Z a couple of times and go into the PolyDraw options. Click on the down-facing arrow where it says PolyDraw and you'll open up the PolyDraw Panel Expansion Tools and here we can change the Min Distance amount which affects the size of the polygon strips. By default, it's set to In Pixels. Let's change it over to In Units and now this value will be in World Scene Units.
To increase the Min Distance up a lot, click in that field, don't click and drag but just click so that nothing is selected and we'll change that value to 1,000 and press the Tab key and when we resume drawing, the size of the polygons is absolute in world space and I can prove that by zooming back in again with Control + Alt and middle mouse button and drawing another polygon strip. Cool, I'll undo that with Control + Z and of course we get a very rough result here.
If we press F4 on a keyboard, we'll get edged faces and we can see that the polygons are very large relative to the terrain itself. And we can't do much about that except maybe subdividing this later. We can adjust this and tweak it so that we don't have any harsh edges by simply switching over to the Move Conform Brush and we can click on these Vertices and move them around. And we can change the size of the full strength and fall-off radii here.
The inner white circle is the full strength of the transforms. We can change that radius with Shift and drag. The outer black circle is the fall-off radius and we can change that value with Control and drag. And now we can have a little bit more predictable result here. And as we dolly forward and back here, again the Move Conform Brush is view dependent as well. Cool, so let's go back to our Strips tool and there just a couple other keyboard shortcuts you should know about.
If you Shift and drag on an edge, you'll just continue drawing from that edge and you can do that perpendicularly as well to create a branching structure. So, just Shift drag to do that. There's another keyboard shortcut which lets you connect to another polygon strip. So, we have to have a separate strip for that to work, so I'll just draw one here and get in a little bit closer. Hold down Alt and drag from an edge on one strip to an edge on another strip and we get a connecting polygon.
And of course, we can go back to the Move Conform Brush and clean that up. That's how to use the Freeform Strip tool to paint polygon strips on an object.
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