Splinepatch
Outer Edges

The SPLINEPATCH plugin just doesn´t stop at creating surfaces. You can simulate adding depth to your patches by creating outer edges. Something that you´ll often want to do when modelling cars. Here´s an animation of screengrabs that give you a taste of the control that you can have by changing the outer edge options. These options really are quite powerful as they are live and you can come back to them at any time and adjust them. You have the option to disable specific segments from being extruded as I´ve done with edge 2 several times. The plugin makes this easy by naming the segments (The segment naming can be disabled).


Outer Edges - Various Options

Impressive eh!! There´s still more options available but I´ve shown the main ones. This generally works well but in some cases the outer edge won´t extrude at the right angle on all edges. In this case you would make the Multipatch object editable and then move a few points around just as would normally do when box modelling a car after extruding a few edges.

Inner Edges

Inner edges are the edges between individual patches. These are numbered by a small red number (The display of inner edge numbers can be disabled). There´s 2 options for inner edges, bevelling and breaking the phong shading. Like outer edges you can select which edges that you want the bevel or phong breaks to occur on. Further control is offered by being able to grow or shrink the bevel across the length of each individual edge. Below is a cube constructed from splines and patches. I´ve selected some of the edges and applied a bevel. The only issue here is the bevel has no options like number of segments or profile as what the bevel tool has in C4D.

Inner edges

Inner Edges - Bevelled

Cuts

There´s still more nifty things that the Multi Patch object can do. You can make cuts into your patches and there´s a whole heap of options and in fact the cuts are more like boolean operations I reckon. One thing to be wary of with cuts is that you have to use a closed spline to make a cut / hole. If you´re using a spline primitive that hasn´t been made editable then the spline is projected from a position of world centre regardless of where the spline is. If you make the spline editable then you can move the cut / hole around by moving the spline and you can even animate the position of the spline if you want to. Here´s some examples of what you can do.


Cuts - Various Options

Don´t expect miracles when using cuts and you´ll run into exactly the same problems when using normal boolean operations i.e. triangulation and phong shading problems. You can have up to 4 cuts per Multi Patch.

Documentation / Manual

SPLINEPATCH 2.5 comes with a comprehensive html based manual in both English, German and Japanese. It´s indexed on the left had side and as you select topics they are shown in the right hand window. There´s a search option that searches on words. This works very well and highlights the result on the first page where the word occurs. To get subsequent pages where the word occurs you click the search button again. I found the documentation very well written, thorough and a cut above what you often get with plugins. Just like the DRIVE plugin has been a labour of love by the developer. Here´s an example of the manual (image reduced).

SPLINEPATCH Manual

SPLINEPATCH Manual

To finish up here´s another partially finished car mesh. This one by Cafe member Raginpixels. The splines are shown in white.

Lamborghini Gallardo by Raginpixels

Lamborghini Gallardo by Ragingpixels

Conclusion

I had an awful lot of fun with the SPLINEPATCH 2.5 plugin just as I did with the DRIVE plugin. But like the DRIVE plugin, learning to use SPLINEPATCH does take some time. You´ve got 2 things to learn, first the plugin itself and then a whole new modelling technique with splines. Initially I found working with splines and SPLINEPATCH pretty slow going as I was feeling my way but if you´re prepared to put the time and effort into learning the plugin and spline modelling then you´ll be rewarded for your efforts by having an excellent new modelling technique that is often quicker than regular modelling techniques.

While I was working on the review I encountered several minor bugs. I emailed the developer and he responded within a day or two with an updated version that fixed the bugs and he subsequently posted the updated version his site. This is excellent service and an indication how much pride the developer takes in his work. As far as I can tell the plugin is completely bug free now.

Can I recommend SPLINEPATCH 2.5. Yes most definitely especially for people modelling cars and I reckon pretty handy for modelling aircraft as well. Think of it as another tool in your tool box rather than a replacement for regular modelling techniques. Often you´ll want to make your multi patch objects editable and finish your model with normal techniques. The plugin is available from both Mac OSX and Windows 32 bit and 64bit.

Review by 3DKiwi (Nigel Doyle)

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