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Surface Array weirdness

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Been to Rome 2 weeks ago and saw there a beautiful little church with a beautiful dome.

At the moment I'm trying to recreate the dome with the surface array tool.

But this is not so easy as I thought.

Surface array does some weird things.

1: If I have planar object inside the surface array and I extrude them in the "edit array items" command then the object aren't visible in open gl, only wireframe. I have to restart Vectorworks to make them visible.

(I use this workflow to keep the model easy to handle when I'm changing al the parameter's in the OIP. If I start with 3d geometry the computer has to 'think' a lot)

2:unwanted overlapping geometry in 2d and 3d at the starting point of the circle where the dome is based on.

SOLVED: changed the repetition mode to numbers instead of fixed distance.

ubbthreads.php?ubb=download&Number=10863&filename=unwanted overlapping geometry.jpg

3:unwanted visible geometry in opengl and fast renderworks. Hiddenline and wireframe are fine

ubbthreads.php?ubb=download&Number=10862&filename=unwanted geometry 1.jpg

4 trim of 2d and 3d geometry:

- turned of classes vissible

- unwanted geometry from the turned of classes

- unwanted holes

- etc.

ubbthreads.php?ubb=download&Number=10860&filename=trim 2d.jpg

ubbthreads.php?ubb=download&Number=10861&filename=trim 3d.jpg



Edited by Buzz Lightyear
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Beautiful, Buzz! I get more or less same results, though, with your vwx. I get that layer plane image of the array items in OGL. Also, vwx locks up when I do any 3d form of the Array Items, even if they are symbols.

As you suggested, I switched to number array instead of fixed distance to fix the overlap. I started with 3.5 x 15 (closest to your fixed distance) but looks like should it be 3x8 to mimic the church dome interior.

Your NURBS Base Surface can be stretched in one direction to model that oval dome - if I can ever get out of the lockup.

OK, still trying to see what's happening with the file.


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  • 3 weeks later...
  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee
Why cant surface array not have the same intuitive way of creating as tiles?

I actually just requested this recently, because of this post. I'll add this thread to it.

The offset numerical entry works "ok" for regular surfaces like hemispheres, but a graphical UI is needed to work with complex irregular surface objects in an intuitive way. I'm pretty sure the original reason that didn't happen was because of the delay in surface array creation, but once that's sped up it will likely be back on the table for a UI change.

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Buzz & Jim - I worked with the dome file for a while producing some fun and some disappointment. The Array Surface is a fairly new command and a great addition to the program. But it needs refinement. A few screen shots attached.

Centering the array objects on the octagon helped this work better for me, 2d and 3d. I reshaped the base dome into an oval footprint, then applied the array.

Arraying onto a curved surface is like sticking popsicle sticks onto a beach ball. The longer the stick, the more it sticks out from the surface. The sticks don't map onto the surface. Staying flat/sticking out is sometimes desired, but many times we wish for a map to surface option.

For the 3d extrudes in this example, arraying them as a group causes the stickouts. Ungrouping lets each object sit tangent to the base.

Those genius designers and builders of yore put many of our contemporary efforts to shame (the clients were a often wealthier and more enthusiastic). Thanks, Buzz Lightyear for pointing out Boromini's decorated, sculpted dome in the San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane. I only hope that some or our work (CAD or not) is considered to be so competent and beautiful to future audiences.






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  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee

Having array objects in a group or as a symbol will cause them to not be deformed to fit to the surface object. This is a useful feature, but it is not immediately obvious and takes some experimenting to discover.

Among the other improvement requests from this post I am going to add a request that a "Fit objects to surface" or "deform objects along surface" be added to the arrays OIP so that users can try both without having to guess that they should be trying symbols or groups to stop the objects being reshaped automatically.

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Wow, That would be awesome, Jim

So, could we also have a stand alone tool/command for bending objects?

eg length & area of a bar stay same, while shape changes either as conform to some target surface, or as drag vertices, or numerical adjustment of vertices.

Really go for it with twist, pinch, stretch, bulge - sorry, dreaming again.


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  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee

I think you will be pleasantly surprised, soon.

We are working more towards being able to modify geometry in this way. a lot of our 3D modeling is based off of following curves or variations on extrusions of 2D geometry. Being able to work directly "on" 3D geometry that already exists, treating it like clay (sort of, we are a long way off of a freeform editor like Mudbox for example) is a current goal.

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Hi Jim,

That sounds great!

Please keep the editing history available in these new features so it doesn't become a general solid.

One of the things in Vectorworks i really like is that you can go back in al the history and it makes it easy to fine-tune it.

Do you know why i cant work properly in 3d with this file? Is my graphics card to old?

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  • 1 month later...

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