This video takes a look at Bonus Tools that can create tubes and ribbons from a simple NURBS curve. George shows how to create both types of objects, as well as how to control the size, shape, and level of detail in the final meshes.
- Hi, I'm George Maestri. And today we're going to take a look at modeling. I'm going to show you an easy way to turn a NURBS curve, into either a tube, or a ribbon. This is done using what I call, a bonus tool, so make sure that you download your bonus tools from the Autodesk website. When you do, you should have a Bonus Tools menu. Just make sure you have bonus tools installed. Let's get started. This whole thing works off of NURBS curves.
So, I'm going to draw a simple NURBS curve. I'm going to go into my top view port here, Go Create, Curve Tools, let's just do a CV curve. I'm going to make a fairly simple S shape. Something like that. Then just go back out to my perspective window. Now that we have this, all we have to do is turn it into either a ribbon or a tube. I want to make sure that this is selected. Then we can go into Bonus Tools, Modeling, Curve to Ribbon Mesh, or Curve to Tube Mesh.
Let's start off with ribbon mesh. When we do this, all we have to do is just press the button, and there we go. We have a polygonal surface that matches this NURBS surface. In fact, If you take a look at the NURBS surface and show the control vertices, you'll see that this NURBS curve basically follows those control vertices, so we have kind of subdivisions right around those same places. If I select this surface, I can certainly hit 3 to smooth it, and that would give me a little bit more of a realistic surface.
But if I hit 1, to just put it into basic polygonal mode, you'll see that it's not quite there. We can change this after we apply the plug-in. Let me show you what happens in the outliner here. I started off with this curve here, which is my basic NURBS curve. And when I press the button, it created what's called a Curve History. And if I unhide that by hitting Shift H, you'll see that it duplicated this curve, and then added a little sub-curve there, which would be this one here, the Profile, which is actually the shape of that ribbon.
Then it made an instance of my original curve, and it hid it. So, I'm going to go ahead and hit Control H and hide that. From that, it created a ribbon mesh. This ribbon mesh we can take a look at in the Attribute Editor. We have a Transform Group here, and then underneath we have what's called Ribbon Mesh 1, which is the actual geometry of that surface. When we want to modify this, we have to go to this node here, this Ribbon Mesh 1 node.
If we scroll down on the top node here, you'll see that under Extra Attributes, Maya actually has extra attributes. Those were added in by the ribbon mesh plug-in. So, we can change all sorts of stuff about this. We can change the width of it. So, if we want to make it 2 instead of 1, I can do that. Or I can make it .5, or I can make it, really any value I want. And then, the Curvature of this. Do we want this to be concave or convex? Orientation.
Do we want to twist it, so that it's vertical rather than horizontal? Taper. Do you want it smaller at one end and bigger at the other? Well then, just put something like .5, and that will taper it down a little bit at one side. Then we also have Length Divisions. For something like this, we probably do need more of length division. So, instead of 7, let's go ahead and put in a larger number, such as 20. And as you can see, that gives more divisions along the length of this, and it makes the curvature much better.
We can also do width division. Right now I have 1,2,3, along the width, but if I wanted to, I could do 5 or 6, and giving it a little bit more detail. If I do something like curvature, you can see now, I can create like a little shell or a little convex tunnel there. For example, this might be a ditch or something like that. We have a number of options here for extra attributes that allow you to control it.
Now, when we created this, it did create a lot of intermediary objects. Once we get this mesh exactly the way we want, we can do one of two things: I can either, delete history, and then delete all of these helper objects. Or, I can go back into Bonus Tools, go into Modeling and do Cleanup Ribbon Tube Mesh. When I do that, watch what happens to the outliner. It gets rid of all of the connections.
I can now delete the curve history, as well as the original curve, and now I've got my ribbon mesh. Okay, and I'm going to delete that, too. Now we have a clean outliner. Let's go ahead and draw another curve, and let's take a look at how to do tubes. I'm going to go in to my top view here. Let's create another CV curve. Now, you don't have to use CV curves, but, I'm kind of used to drawing them so I will draw a CV curve.
I'm going to go back in to my perspective view. Let's go ahead and do another one. I'm going to go ahead and open up my outliner here. You can see that all I have in here is just Curve 1. When we go in to Bonus Tools, Modeling, Curve to Tube Mesh, watch again what happens in the outliner. This time I'm creating a tube rather than a ribbon. Again, it adds in, Curve History, like it did before, then it creates tube meshes. And we have that Tube Mesh.
One thing I forgot to say is that, below this Tube Mesh, we have a bunch of point constraints that are created, that help control the creation of this mesh. Just like with ribbon mesh, the mesh itself has the control. If I select the mesh here in the outliner, or if I just click on it in the view port, I should get Tube Mesh 1 in my attribute editor, scroll down to Extra Attributes, and I have a very similar array of attributes.
I have my width, so, if I wanted to, I can make it bigger, or I could make it smaller. I can change the orientation. Again, that just revolves it. So, something like this, which is just a basic tube, you're not going to see much difference. I can taper, I can twist, so I can twist this along the edge here. So, if I wanted to, I could say, make that a value of 3, and we could twist it a little bit. Or a value of, say, .5. Again, what does that is it twists it.
It doesn't twist it from start to stop like a corkscrew, it just twists the mesh itself. Then we have length and width division. For length division, let's go ahead and put in a high number such as 20, that will give me more curvature. In terms of width, that's actually the radial diameter of this. So, instead of 7, you could maybe put in something like 10, and you can see, I'm getting this a little bit smoother. Again, just like we have before, we have all of this history here.
So, if I select this mesh here and do Modeling, Cleanup Ribbon Tube Mesh, what happens is, again, it deletes all of those constraints, then I can select the Curve History, and the original curve and delete it. Now, I have a basic tube. If you wanted to turn this into something like a tube, or a pipe, this might not be the type of geometry you want. You may want to give it a little bit of thickness.
You can do that by right-clicking over this, going into Face mode, selecting all the faces, and then doing an extrude. I'm going to hit Control E, to do a simple extrusion, and then we can extrude along the blue axis, which is Z, and as you can see, I'm getting now some volume in there. So, now this is a two-sided surface, If I wanted to, I could smooth that, and you can see that we have now, a very nice little pipe. If you want to turn NURBS curves into surfaces, Curve to Ribbon Mesh and Curve to Tube Mesh are really handy tools.
Skill Level Intermediate
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