Thursday, November 1, 2012

Introductory Tutorials #07a & 07b: The Lofty LOFT Command

LOFT contains just 4 characters.  That's not very imposing sounding, is it?

But, the actions behind this simple sounding command, are anything but not imposing.  LOFT is a LOT more lofty than one might suppose.  It is just plain impressive in function.

What LOFT does is to produce a special type of extrusion that moves from the outline of one shape to another in a series of shapes.  For instance, it can begin with a circle shape and morph into a rectangle shape in smooth transitions.

LOFT - Circle to Rectangle

It's ability to make these transitions smoothly is remarkable.  Here are just a few challenging examples of LOFT in action.  In the second example, we reverse a shape and move from the original profile to the reversed profile.

LOFT - Reverse Shape

In this third sample, we go from a 5 pointed star to a 10 pointed star.  This is challenging since it requires each high and low point to map to both a high and low point.

LOFT - 5 Point Star to 10 Point Star

This next example shows the result of LOFTing through a series of triangles mapped to a curve that closes back on itself.  Both items are the same object in different orientations.

LOFT - Series of Triangles along a Path (Closed)

But, the best way to see LOFT at work is with a video showing how to use it.  In this first video, we create a bugle using a series of circles that we placed along a path.

We continue to explore LOFT in this video where we try different combinations of shapes and placement of shapes to test the results.  A LOT of fun.

LOFT is one of those commands that invites us to simply explore for exploration's sake.  The wide variety of end results from LOFTing the same set of shapes that we can achieve by changing the combinations of LOFT options is amazing and sometimes downright surprising.  I urge you to play around with this wonderful command with no goals in mind.  Soon you will hit on something that ignites a creative spark and you will be creating things you never thought possible.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Introductory Tutorial #06: Extrude, Array & Twist

Extrude is a common function in all 3D design applications.  But, like other commonly available features found generally in all 3D package and Moment of Inspiration, MOI seems to go beyond the norm by proving additional, not so common, capabilities.


Extrude allows us to pull a 3D object from a 2D shape.  In its simplest form, it allows us to give depth to a 2D shape by extending that shape upwards for downwards.  A circle, for instance, can be EXTRUDED to become a cylinder.  A square can be EXTRUDED to become a box.


Moment of Inspiration allows us to extrude a shape in ever smaller increments until the shape comes to a point. Instead of a circle being extruded to a cylinder it can be extruded to form a cone.  By default, EXTRUDE TO POINT operates at 90 degrees from the plane of the object being extruded.  But, by selecting UNLOCK, the point can be placed anywhere in space.


Rather than being restricted to 90 degree extrusions, Moment of Inspiration allows us to select a straight direction in which the extrusion will travel.   Combined with ARRAY, this can be used to create some very interesting and complex shapes.


While EXTRUDE - SET DIR is restricted to a straight line, EXTRUDE - SET PATH permits us to draw a path which will be used to direct the extrusion's travel.  This allows us to extrude more organic kinds of objects.


This is a new capability in Moment of Inspiration.  Currently, it is only available to owners of Moment of Inspiration that download the MOI 3.0 Beta.    It permits the user to select an extrusion angle and distance.  It's great for creating bases and expanding shapes.

Here is a tutorial that covers each of these EXTRUDE capabilities.

Introductory Tutorial #05: Revolve & Rail Revolve

One of the joys in using Moment of Inspiration is that it seems to go beyond mere functionality when it comes to features standard to most 3D design packages. 

REVOLVE is common to every 3D package I have ever explored.  In every package, we get the ability to create a profile and then revolve that profile around an axis to create a 3D object.  Moment of Inspiration has that feature without some of the confinements in other packages.  But, it goes well beyond simply revolving circularly around a simple axis. by allowing us to select a RAIL to guide how that revolve is to be performed.  This allows for more interesting and complex revolve results.

It is this kind of versatility that makes Moment of Inspiration a real joy to use.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Introductory Tutorials #4a & 4b: Boolean Functions

Boolean Functions are extremely powerful in Moment of Inspiration.  In fact, it was probably this aspect of design that first sold me on Moment of Inspiration above other 3D design products. 

I try to keep my tutorials under or around 10 minute in length.  So, even at the introductory level it took two sessions to even begin to explore the richness of Boolean functions available to designers.  These functions fall into four categories: Difference, Union, Intersection and Merge.  And, each of these functions work on both 2D and 3D features.  And, they all require at least 2 different objects to be selected.


Boolean Difference requires the selection of two or more different objects in two different categories. It subtracts material from a "Base Object(s)" based on the characteristics of the "Subtraction Object(s)".  It is typically used to cut holes or remove portions of an object using a complex shape. 


Boolean Union also requires the selection of at least two different objects.  They must be touching.  That is because they are combined into a single object. 


Boolean ISECT or INTERSECTION is a very interesting function.  It creates a NEW object by doing something that can best be described as a reverse difference.  The parts of those selected objects that do NOT intersect with each other are removed.  And, a new object is created that encompasses only the area in which both original objects intersected.


Now it REALLY gets crazy.  This command KEEPS the parts of the selected objects that did not intersect.  Generally, the result is a new object for each of the selected objects.  But, then it also creates an intersection object!  For two original objects, this generally results in 3 new objects being created.

Here is the first of our explorations into Moment of Inspiration's Boolean functionality.  In this case, we cover just UNION and DIFFERENCE to create a housing for something like an automobile thermostat.

All of the BOOLEAN Functions are explored in this second half of this tutorial.

Seeing the functions at work is worth a thousand words!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Introductory Tutorial #3: Cookie Cutter from Circles

Our third introductory tutorial for Moment of Inspiration (MOI) explores how simple circles can be used to create an animal shaped Cookie Cutter.  MOI's command set makes this task a breeze!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Video Response to a User's Question

One of the great things about having the internet and YouTube is that it gives us the ability to answer tough questions very quickly and easily.

A MOI user posted a comment in response to my 2nd tutorial asking a specific question regarding how to do something.  Fortunately for them, it happened that I actually knew that answer!  It could just as easily gone the other way resulting in TWO of us being completely baffled.  LOL!

They wanted to split a single cylinder into two branches like a "Y".  So, here is at least one way to accomplish that task.

I post it here so that others might also benefit.

While it seems simple enough in this video, when we are first faced with learning any 3D application, ALL of us are overwhelmed by completely unfamiliar concepts and tools.  I had NO idea what SWEEP or LOFT were supposed to be able to do when I first started learning Moment of Inspiration. 

So, don't be discouraged.  It will all make sense before long.  :)

MOI Introduction #2: Naming Objects

It may seem odd to immediately jump into a tutorial about the importance of naming objects in Moment of Inspiration so early in the learning curve.  But, there are good reasons for doing so,

Because the basic design strategy is to use 2D drawings to create 3D objects,,, and, these 3D objects often obscure these original 2D drawings, we need a way to access them even when they are obscured.

But, the power of naming goes well beyond that.  It provides a way for us to completely control what objects are ultimately sent to the STL file for printing and which are not.  Very often, we might want to select a single object in a group of objects for printing.  There is no way to do this, beyond completely deleting objects from the design, unless they are named.

So, it's a good idea to understand the importance of naming objects very early in the learning curve to make it second nature as we design,

While it is not the primary focus of this video, we also cover more interface customization capabilities and some 2D to 3D operations like EXTRUDE and REVOLVE as well as the SELECT ALL command.