This is something I came up with a few years ago and I've not seen it documented anywhere else so I thought I'd share it with you. I use CorelDRAW and Lightwave from Newtek in this tutorial but any vector illustration and 3D application should work just as good.
First I drew a shape in CorelDRAW... Nothing fancy, about two hours worth of work.
I exported the CorelDraw file as an illustrator version 6... That format seems to work the best in Lightwave working this way. I then imported the AI version 6 file into Lightwave via the EPSF import. Lightwave used to have a limitation as to how many points a polygon could be made up of so I used the FINE setting. Now, in version 9 of Lightwave, that limitation is gone and it can be imported as SUPER FINE.
Now that the shape is imported correctly into Lightwave, I extruded all of the shapes, beveled them and applied various surface properties to the individual shapes (Glass, metal/plastic, etc). It is important to note that booleans are used to cut out the holes in the shape. I also drafted the booleans within my shape in CorelDRAW so that I could accurately punch the shapes out that I needed to.
It looks something like this...
This is where it gets interesting though. Using the knife tool, I then uniformly and very tightly sliced up the shape on all three axis. I used about three or four cuts on the thin Z side of the shape. It looked like this.
Now this is the fun part,
Now that the object is cut on all three axis... just bend it (using the bend tool) on the width and length sides. VOILA! A pretty complex shape made in one day. Crazy?
Instead of making a complex spline cage and patching all of the nooks and crannies to make a mesh, I extruded and beveled my object as a flat piece and then sliced it up to be an editable mesh. Here is a 360 30 fps Flash view.
Some things to note:
Note the roundness of the two top lights on both axis. Try modeling that quick with bevels.
Note the beveled twist on the open window render.
The pros of this technique:
Only one... Super complex shape made real fast.
The cons of this technique:
Not perfectly accurate
The heavier the mesh polygon count the smoother the shape. It can be HEAVY before it looks good.
This technique would work well for abstract Flash web graphics or perhaps a filler object to be filmed with a little bit of depth of field blur applied to hide some of the imperfections. I use this technique a lot. WORKS GREAT!
I hope you have enjoyed my slice and bend tutorial. If anyone knows of a similar tutorial on the web, please send a link my way.
Here is a link to an HD 1280 by 720 Flash loop of this shape.
Keywords: slice and bend modeling technique using corel draw and lightwave quick hard surface shape animated flash example of spaceship cabin cab rotating lit rendered embeded within html blog post allowed on blogger google