What software can do this?

Discussion in 'Tips, Tutorials & Tools' started by Arjun, May 23, 2007.

  1. Arjun

    Arjun Member

    Here are two tasks I need to do to make my card modelling more 'virtual', to make better kits. With a very limited range of paint, the paintwork for non-standard colours has been uneven. Moreover, since I do everything by hand, precision is not guaranteed. So I need programs that can do these- MSPaint obviously can't
    1. I want to draw lines at any measured angle specified to an existing line. In a few words, I want to take my compasses, protractor and ruler to the computer, so that I can draw lines of desired length, angle and curvature, at exact precision in numbers. Likewise, I need to calculate the angle or length of a line.
    2. About curvature, given a few points (line ends or polygon corners), I want to draw a curved line across all of them.
    3. Given a few views of an object- front, top, left, right (?)- taken from blueprints, I want to develop the surface area of the object- the whole surface of the object comes on paper, and it can then be rolled, folded and pasted to recreate the object in 3-D.
    4. Finally, when I draw some lines, I want them scanned or converted into just plain lines on an all-white, not exactly the scan. Basically, it's like PDF scanning for lines, to eliminate any stains on the surface scanned.
    Right now, I've got Maya8 PLE. I'd like to know if any of this can be done there.

    This sounds rather outlandish, but doing everything by hand, I have more than a few problems-
    • I can't get things done to the scale I want.
    • Drawing curves is a little tough, though I've got a very steady hand and can get very good precision.
    • Measurements are next to impossible when I am constructing figures.
    • Drawing is not as tough a problem as colouring and scribing. I want even colouring and inscriptions to the colour, size and shape I want.
  2. cgutzmer

    cgutzmer Guest

    I am FAR from being an expert but isnt this what Rhino does? Not being sarcastic or anything - I am just going off what little I know about the application. I suppose it depends on what you are willing to spend.... ;)
  3. Arjun

    Arjun Member

    What do you use to make your kits?

    EDIT: I've come across something called TouchCAD. Has anyone used it? What do you think?
  4. cgutzmer

    cgutzmer Guest

    I dont make any kits yet. What I know is purely from what I have seen people post about rhino in the forums here. I am just getting into recoloring - designing is a ways off..... :D

    GEEDUBBYA Active Member

    Howdy Arjun and Chris,

    Well, this might not be a "program" designed for these purposes, but I own a Wacom "Tablet". In effect, this is a "hard" mouse pad (but larger) with a stylus and mouse, either of which can be used independently. See Photo below:

    The Intuos pen tablet comes in six different sizes: 4x6, 6x8, 6x11, 9x12, 12x19, 12x12 and allows you to "Draw" on the "mousepad" with the stylus. Not only can you "draw", but you can write, add a signature etc...
    With a little imagination, you can use an old "pencil holding compass" with the stylus, or use a ruler or straight edge in conjunction with the stylus on the "pad". I havent tried it, but a Scale rule should work just as well.
    My pad is 12 x 12 and plenty big for any drawing I want to do.
    If you would like more info on their line of products, visit their site at:


    *edit: When used with a photo editing program, you can make your "paper" (area drawn on) any size you want, allowing you to create drawings in any scale. (Some math required lol ).

    I hope this helps,

    Have a good day,

    Greg aka GEEDUBBYA (GW)
  6. Stev0

    Stev0 Active Member

    I want a wacom tablet but they are very expensive even for the smallest one.

    The tablet is great for painting since your using a virtual pen instead of pushing a crosshair around with a mouse. The more expensive ones have a display you draw on directly http://www.wacom.com/cintiq/index.cfm...

    For super accurate Vector work ... you can get a Cad program.

    GEEDUBBYA Active Member

    Howdy Steve,

    Yes, they are expensive, I didnt mention the price in the above thread because I thought it might preclude people from looking.
    Fortunately, I got mine thru work in a "bulk" buy of them.
    However, they are nice and they are better than pointing a crosshair with a mouse.

    Have a good day,

  8. barry

    barry Active Member

    I have a wacom tablet very simple pen input tablet cost about £34 at PCWorld with a 14 x 9 cm pad area works well but using it with Photoshop the brush size gets stuck so you can end up with the circle size you want showing but the pen is not in line in width. Other than that it's pretty good. Still learning to use it.

    Made in China CTF-420 from PC World not listed on Wacom's own site and it looks like no support for it from them.
  9. rowiac

    rowiac Member

    I haven't used TouchCAD, but it might work for you. You would need to create the 3D model in it and then unfold the model in it. I don't know if it can import 3D models created in other applications though.

    Pepakura Designer
    is very popular around here for unfolding 3D models. You could create your 3D model in Maya and then import it into Pepakura to unfold it. As cgutzmer said, you could also use Rhino for 3D modeling and unfolding, but it's not cheap.

    If you simply want to replace your paper, pencil and drafting tools, and create flat patterns from scratch, a true CAD program like AutoCAD or one of the more reasonably priced alternatives might be your best bet. Once you've created your flat pattern you could export it to a drawing or painting application to add color.

    Those are just some simple comments about a very complex topic. There are many ways to accomplish what you want to do. Search around in the forum posts and you will get more ideas.

    I found a refurbished Wacom 4X5 tablet on Amazon for US$60. EBay might be another option for saving some money on a tablet.

  10. Lex

    Lex Dollmaker

    Arjun, any proper CAD software can suit your requirement, few of them free though... As for colours, I recommend a (any) vector drawing program in contrast to paint or photoshop, they also have the advantage of being fully scalable.
  11. Maharg

    Maharg Member

    He's right. :)
  12. Zathros

    Zathros Guest

    I would recomend Rhino. It is very intuitive. You can probably find Rhino 2.0 cheap on Ebay , which should do everything you wish.
  13. Arjun

    Arjun Member

    Tried FreeCAD...and it turns out to be a very user-hostile program, which doesn't give me as much freedom as any version of Maya...it only makes absolutely simple structures. If someone knows which program can give me so much freedom to tweak any 3-D structure, I won't have to download every free CAD program and try out.
  14. Arjun

    Arjun Member

    Pepakura is fantastic! Take any 3-D model and get a folding pattern! The problem is, where can I make the model.

    I tried that with Maya7PLE, and it doesn't save the model in any output form, just the scene. I don't know if plugins can be used in the PLE, as I need a plugin to export the 3-D model to OBJ or DXF format, which can then be unfolded in Pepakura.

    There's 3DS Max and AutoCAD, but these are not free. I'd like to know what's best then, I still am a student without a salary!
  15. Amazyah

    Amazyah Senior Member

  16. wunwinglow

    wunwinglow Active Member


    Pepakura will do a fantastic job of unfolding fairly simple mesh structures, but will choke on the kind of huge mesh models used for rendering. Conversely, models for game animation are often VERY simple, have parts that intersect and other issues, because for game animation these factors are irrelevant. What counts is a low number of ploygons and convincing motion controls. They rarely make good models for paper, apart from some models of solid objects; there are some excellent space ship models that I understand were extracted from game data, for example.

    This is why it is best to design your own models rather than try to unfold someone elses work, simply because you can make sure the modelling style and structure is appropriate for a paper model design.

  17. Arjun

    Arjun Member

    Talk about bad luck...Pepakura won't save or export unless you 'buy the password'!!! Tell me Wings 3D has no such hassle...or a way around the pepakura problem...

    I'm not trying to unfold someone else's work, but take my drawings to the PC. I tried getting a totally monochrome scan of my sketches (to get rid of all grey patches) and got some dreadful scans. They highlighted the limitation of the human hand.
  18. Lex

    Lex Dollmaker

    In fact Pepakura is the only polygon unfolding software out there...

    If you are really keen you can try printing the development without saving. That way you'll get your unfolded model.
  19. wunwinglow

    wunwinglow Active Member

    Bad luck? Pepakuras designer has been working on this program for several years, so I don't think it is unreasonable for him to charge something for getting all the facilities of his program! What is it now, $38? Not going to break the bank now, is it? If you find it useful, and you need the save/export functions, pay the man.

    I don't think wings3d has any limitations on its use, but I don't think it unfolds either..... You can donate money to support the wings3d operation however.

  20. Maurice

    Maurice Member

    If you print to a print emulator from from a free copy of Pepakura 1 (which is still available) the pdf will contain vector information which can be extracted in dxf format (without textures) using a prog such as Canvas. That pdf can also be be opened and processed in other progs. Print from the free Pepa 2 only contains raster information.

    Pepakura does not in fact "choke".
    It is only intended to unfold a maximum number of facets. Asked to unfold too many it will bow politely, point out the limit, and then proceed to do what it has been asked. This can take a while.
    If the initial material is unsuitable the result will be an unsightly and unusable splatter - but what was asked was done.
    If the initial material is suitable then, even if well over the announced limit, the result will be useable.

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