I was in the mood to model with Blender today, so I recreated a typical directional sign found in Future World at EPCOT. What I find interesting about this excercise is that the entire model is basically made out of primitives (cylinders, cubes, etc.) But when put together, the design looks really cool, thanks to the brilliant Disney Imagineers.
There are a few techniques worth mentioning, however. Refer to the figure below.
The outer frame is a cylinder, that was simply extruded around a corner. One end of the cylinder was rotated 45 degrees around the Y-axis, then extruded down the Z-axis.
The lattice work is made up of elongated cubes. All of them originally overhung the outer frame. I couldn’t find any kind of “slicing” operation, so I created another elongated cube to act as my slicing object. I positioned it where I wanted the slice to occur, then performed a Boolean Difference operation with each piece of lattice.
The outer cylinders, that will eventually hold the arrows that point to the associated attractions, are actually made up of three cylinders. I began with the first cylinder and deleted its end faces, so I basically just had a hollow ring. I duplicated the ring, then scaled it down to make an inner ring. On each end of this dual cylinder, I made faces between the inner and outer rings. I then created a third cylinder, kept its faces intact, and scaled it to fit inside the inner ring.
The next step for my EPCOT scene was a curved guardrail. I knew I was going to have to get a grasp of two main concepts: extruding along a path and duplicating objects along a path.
The top and bottom of the guardrail, as well as the ends, involved extruding a circular cross section along a path. For the top and bottom, I drew a Bezier curve to the desired shape. I then drew a Bezier circle to act as the cross section. Then I simply selected the curve and told it to use the circle as its bevel shape. For the ends, I created a path and adjusted its vertices to the desired shape. Again, I created a circle to act as the cross section, selected the path and told it to use the circle for its bevel shape. Why did I use a path instead of a Bezier curve for the ends? I’m not sure. I think at the time I was unsure how to add more control points to the curve, and a path comes with five control points as default. This allowed me to bend the ends 90 degrees to meet up with the rails.
The posts are made up of simple cylinders. Obviously I only wanted to create one cylinder and have it duplicated along the rail. So the first thing I did was to duplicate the rail curve to act as a path for the posts to follow. I then converted the curve to a mesh object and subdivided it a few times until I had the desired number of vertices. I created one post and made the new mesh its parent. I then selected DupliVert, and I had a path full of posts.
I had the urge over the last week to play some more with Blender. After brushing up on the excellent tutorial “Blender 3D: Noob to Pro”, found at http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Blender_3D:_Noob_to_Pro, I was back at it. I began by creating a couple of simple models, shown here — a bench and an umbrella, as found at EPCOT: Future World West.
I’ve once again been delighted with the elegance of Blender. Although intimidating at first, once you get the hang of the basic controls, you’ll wish more applications were like this.