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Objects from Images - Brains Trust Callout

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It's been a while since my last posts, hopefully you're all well!


In among other things I'm tutoring a series of very creative Post-Graduate students with theatrical backgrounds. One of them came to me with an idea that currently I can't solve, perhaps some of you out there might.


Without a serious amount of tracing we wish to create a structure that looks like this:

Stacked Layers Example Layout.png

... however has the outlines of this:

Stacked Layers Example.jpg


I've tried several things here - 

  • Trace Bitmap Commands
  • Layered Photoshop Files in Broken Layers
  • Exporting Paths created in Photoshop to Illustrator to then save as .dwg and open in VW. (Self intersecting geometry during extrusion got me but it's the closest yet!)


Now I'm asking for input. How would you approach this and create this series of extrusions?


I've included reference files and a .zip containing the PSD with individual layers available.


Any input welcome!


Stay safe otherwise all.


- J


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Id probably trace the line work and then scale duplicates down, compose and extrude with ur other geometry.  Not sure you will be able to extract good enough line work to extrude in any other manner.  I could be wrong.  Im interested to see how others would approach it.

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A fun fur cave, how awesome would that be. There are two approaches I would try -


- trace the outlines manually in VW. Yes, its a lot of work, but you'll be very good at tracing things afterwards. There's a few reasons to do this - you have direct control over the number of points, you can prevent self intersections, you can opt for using straight segments to keep it cleaner etc.. This method also allows for matching edges, since you can add/subtract surfaces to get inner/outer edges.


- break the image into separate images for each outer "ring" and use the trace command in Illustrator. Illustrator is way better for tracing than Photoshop and you have a fair amount of control over the result. I would clean up once in Illustrator to remove duplicate points etc. and then export to VW as DWG. I've attached a quick test I did of just the outermost outline. I also ran the simplify poly command in VW after importing.





Trace from Illustrator.vwx

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Have you looked in Landmark at the Plant Line tool?  It takes boring polygons, polylines, circles etc. and creates surfaces like your example.  It's not immediately evident, but you can run the command multiple times on the same object.


Good to see you here again.






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One of the things I love about being from the other side of the world from you all is I can ask a question, sleep on it, and for the most part you all bring me overnight answers. Thanks! ;) 


@markdd- My bad! Hopefully this post explains it better!


@Moto2 - Indeed. Trace is the first thing my mind says through years of automation/production pains. But in the interest of education and pushing this program to it's limits I have to go further. <insert Star Trek quotation here :P >


@Kevin McAllister - Now we're talking. I knew you'd enjoy the fur cave.


Tracing the outline as above is my instinct. I'm already quite good at it, and it does improve your pro gaming skills at the same time, but in the interest of science...


Illustrator - This was my conclusion also, and as you'll see below is probably the best resultant. I think I was impatient with the trace breakdown, more explained below. Rad answer though!


@michaelk- I really didn't need to owe you more beers Michael, but since you're here you can earn another.


The Plant Line Tool. Oh my goodness. It's amazing but has one fault for my purposes which is the self-intersection of lines when moving to an extrusion. This leads to a question directed mainly at your knowledge-base but also open to others:


When you have a self intersecting object, such as the example below, is there a fill/correct function that can rectify an object automatically?


OMG The Plant Line Tool.png


As for my current solution:


Most of you have probably jumped straight to the (rough - it's late here ok?) video attached but if you're interested in the steps from the raw .jpeg file to semi-completion until next week;


  1. Import .jpeg file to Photoshop.
  2. Using the Magic Wand Selection or similar break each piece into a layer with a fill.
  3. Open the new Photoshop file in Illustrator with all the layers intact.
  4. Select each layer and turn on individually.
  5. Use the Image Trace function to isolate and create a path for your shape (one button click but it's pretty awesome).
  6. Save each of these as a .dwg
  7. Import the files into VW, they'll come in as Symbols by default.
  8. Command/Control + K those bad boys, followed by an ungroup.
  9. Delete all the excess, mainly the background stuff and the self-intersecting fill content (I don't know why it's self intersecting <see my question above>)
  10. The remaining polyline is non-intersecting, fill with a colour and a friendly line style.
  11. Extrude and position, probably in a new file as this one will be filled with junk.
  12. Profit... maybe?


I'll keep you posted if more comes of this project but there sure is some interesting questions coming through. Let me know if you're interested in more of this content!


Stay safe all,




Edited by James Russell
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Hmmmm, @michaelkthe plant line tool seem pretty cool on the surface, but as @James Russellsays it generates all sorts of self intersecting geometry. This is super unfortunate because it means all it can be used for is 2d linework.


In fact the objects I generated with it wouldn't fill using the 2d polygon paint bucket or the lasso. It also wouldn't allow me to add or subtract surfaces from it. Generally the resulting object doesn't seem to play well with anything. @JimWcan you try working with an object generated by the Plant Line command? I think there's some bugs here. You should be able to work with the resulting geometry. You should also be able to generate an object that doesn't have any self intersecting geometry. What's the point of generating an object you can't work with in any way? This is BAD.....




Edit: Here's an example. I think the Plant Edge command generates corrupt objects......


Screen Shot 2016-10-23 at 10.37.39 AM.png


Edit 2: It seems to be related to the corner mode you chose when running the Plant Line command. In my example I used the "Random" setting which consistently produces polylines that are unusable in further operations. I had trouble with the result from all methods except "Normal". I used the default values for segment length and thickness.


Plant Edge Polyline.vwx

Edited by Kevin McAllister
Added example.
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@James RussellHow am I ever going to collect those beers?


There are 2 stupid tricks that help with this:


1.  Run the Plant Line command on an object.  Then draw a rectangle completely inside that new object.  Select both and add surface.  It gets rid of most of the self intersections.  The only ones left are double self intersections that create a little piece of surface outside the main surface. 


2.  Run the Plant Line command on an object and don't delete the original.  Try step #1.  Then add the original shape to the new object.  It's not as craggy, but it often extrudes.


The Plant Line tool is my favorite thing in the Landmark module.  @JimW Official request:  Can the controls for the Plant Line tool be live sliders for segment length and thickness?  I think I understand what segment length is.  But what does the thickness parameter control?  I think Mr. Russell would have a chance at making his crazy cave if those parameters were more intuitive sliders.


James, was that the animation script from a couple years ago in the movie? 



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Just a thought, but why so much modelling when a texture would serve you better?  An extrude of any sort is still going to give you those jagged edges in a continual vector, whereas if you built a lofted nurbs surface and applied a furry texture (displacement) you would get a much better effect. 

furry prosenium.JPG

Edited by grant_PD
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@Kevin McAllister


the plant line tool seem pretty cool on the surface

Unintentional puns?


I came to a similar conclusion playing with this tool, although has mixed success creating a new item with (or around it) using the fill polygon creating something extrudable. I have had issues with all modes of corners, I would love to see the generation code for this, I have a feeling it just randomly chooses to make new points random(max line length) from the current path and most probably without creative coding probably won't ever be smart enough to make non-self-intersecting creations.


@michaelk- Maybe collect those beers when I touch base with@JimWand finally organise a demo of our NFT Augmented Reality tracking at these amazing VW events you lucky ducks get, then I'll have an excuse to come over!


+1 to all your points. 


It was not the crazy animation script from years ago. That was the Create Animation... > Orbital Point mode in OpenGL. Although the attached is for you in particular:

OpenGL Cave Animation.mov




Created in that mystical plugin (available in Australia by default, do you guy have it too yet?) - Animation works. God can I say if this feature is going to stay as a product valued at $200AUD it needs an upgrade (8 years, no update?). Either that or the source code released so we can finally understand how it exports image files via script and then compiles into a .mov.


@grant_PD- For realism I could not agree more. As you'll see in the video above the purpose of this particular design is for a stage set which has a feature wall that automatically comes forwards and engulfs the stage in a cave. Beautiful render by the way.


@Alan Woodwell- Indeed. In the general educational perspective we're looking at a process based guide on taking a line drawing and converting it to polygon/workable objects, not just this cave reference.



PS - Sorry the render is so rough, I spend a long time getting timing right, not a lot on the symbol looks.

Edited by James Russell
The PS.
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James, Hi, I took you drawing into Photshop, inverted so i had lines and broke it into sections then blurred it a little to smooth out the lines so not so jagged. took each section as a jpg back to VW and traced bitmap. Duplicated one and scaled it down then do a multiple extrude to get this.


Will do a short video of the process for you tonight my time.


Thought about adding staigtights which is easy with displacement. Will add some.



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1 hour ago, James Russell said:

@michaelk- Maybe collect those beers when I touch base with@JimWand finally organise a demo of our NFT Augmented Reality tracking at these amazing VW events you lucky ducks get, then I'll have an excuse to come over!


+1 to all your points. 


It was not the crazy animation script from years ago. That was the Create Animation... > Orbital Point mode in OpenGL. Although the attached is for you in particular:

OpenGL Cave Animation.mov


Great animation.  Is that animation works?  





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