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Curved Arches tutorial

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Makkon polycounter
Hey guys! A few of you mentioned that you wanted a tutorial on how to make arches (or other geometry) curve around a cylinder.

Well, this is my first tutorial, and so if it ends up being confusing let me know and I can rewrite it. I took too many pictures, but I'm more of a visual learner.

Here goes.



Let me start off by stressing the importance of the grid. Any sort of modular assets (even curved or radial) MUST be confined to the grid or you will encounter frustrating complications while modeling and using your assets. The grid is designed to keep things clean and simple.

In fact, I use it so much, I gave the grid options it's own hotkey: ctrl+alt+g

You'll end up using this a lot, as you'll be changing the size of the grid often. Keep it to 5, 10, 20, 40, and so on.
001.jpg



We'll start off by making an arch. This is just one way of doing it, but you are free to make the arch in whatever way you feel. I have found that this works well with more complex molding.
And so we start with a box. This will become our archivolt (decorative band of arch) in a moment.
002.jpg


Make whatever shape you want, but be certain that the top and bottom of this shape are filled, flat, and have only 1 face. This will likely be an n-gon.
003.jpg
004.jpg



Copy it, move it a number of units over, rotate it and combine both shapes. Remember that the center of these shapes will end up getting cut in half, so have them 4, 8, or 16 units away center-to-center. (probably have it wrong in this image, please don't count it).
006.jpg



Select the top faces and go to Edit Mesh > Bridge (options) near the top.
Be sure to have smooth path+curve selected and enough divisions to give you something to work with. I haven't figured out just how it works, but putting one more division than what you want seems to keep it even (for example, I put in 17, one more than the usual 16).
007.jpg

This will give you something ugly like this:
008.jpg

But we'll fix that, by referencing from a cylinder. Match the size as close as you can. The radius will likely be 1 unit bigger than the typical 4 or 8 (like 5 or 9 or something).
009.jpg
010.jpg


go into an ortho view, and select the curve you see in the arch. You may need to right-click and select control vertex
011.jpg

Just mess with the top 2. Drag it up, and scale it sideways until it gets as close as you can make it.
012.jpg


Much better
013.jpg


Here's why we had you move your two initial shapes away from eachother center-to-center. We'll be cutting off the ends with booleans. MAKE SURE EVERYTHING IS SNAPPING TO THE GRID. Or I'll slap you. Srysly.
014.jpg

Merge any stray verts
015.jpg

But that's just an example of how to make a simple arch. I know you can make something more elegant and beautiful than that. So we won't be working with that bulky piece of garbage. This is much better.
016.jpg

Replies

  • Makkon
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    Makkon polycounter
    That same arch, with booleans, can be made into a few variations.
    017.jpg



    Now we'll make our radial reference grid. Start with a cylinder that has 16 segments, and a radius of 4, or 8, or if you're feeling really ambitious, 16 or higher. Snap it to the center of your scene.
    018.jpg

    And another one. But this time, 128 segments around, and 16 segments on the caps.
    019.jpg

    Move your arch into position. It'll need to be rotate along Y exactly 11.25 degrees.
    FREEZE TRANSFORMATIONS. Found in the Modify dropdown
    020.jpg
    021.jpg


    We're going to create a lattice that will be our primary deformer to bend the arch around this curve.
    In the animation menu, go to Create Deformers > Lattice (options)

    No need for local mode, make it 9x2x2.
    This makes it 8x1x1 segments.
    022.jpg


    Start snapping each lattice vertex from the top ortho to your radial grid that you made. The large 16 sided cylinder defines where the edges of your arch should go. The large 128 sided grid guide the verts in between.

    Be careful. When snapping to vertexes, you must be sure to use the transform tool arrows. Otherwise, you will flatten your arch. Check in perspective view often to make sure you didn't screw it up.
    023.jpg
    024.jpg


    One more thing. Even though it's curved, it's not quite matching up with the actual curvature of the cylinder. You'll need to move the lattice verts in the middle outward so the geometry of the arch matches up. Helps to do this in Object Transform mode in your tools options.
    025.jpg
    026.jpg


    Let's take a look. OMG it's too tall!
    027.jpg


    Easy fix. Be sure to be using grid snapping throughout all this.
    028.jpg


    So you have one arch. Lets make an array of arches. Make sure you freeze the transformations of your first arch if you haven't already. Take note of these angles. You may use every one, or every other one, depending on the size of your arches.
    You got this one. I don't have to tell you how to do everything.
    029.jpg


    Use a calculator if you need to. Keep adding 11.25
    030.jpg


    Then just duplicate your quadrant of arches, freeze transformations, and rotate again until you have a full circle.
    031.jpg


    There you have it! I forgot to note that you can delete the faces on the sides of the arches, so you can merge them seamlessly. If you did this right, you will be able to merge all the verts of each arch perfectly into one solid mesh.
    032.jpg
  • Makkon
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    Makkon polycounter
    You can create some very beautiful architecture using this method.
    033.jpg
    workshop5.jpg
    workshop6.jpg
    workshop3.jpg

    POST AND QUESTIONS YOU MAY HAVE HERE, and I will try to answer them
  • trancerobot
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    trancerobot polycounter lvl 7
    Impressive tutorial, especially the images at the end... I don't use Maya though.

    edit: haha, I've been editing the crap out of this post for some reason. But you replied to it so I guess I'm going to leave the last part there.
  • tristamus
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    tristamus polycounter lvl 9
    Awesome, thanks =)
  • Makkon
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    Makkon polycounter
    trancerobot: This method can be easily adopted to Max or any other 3d software, no worries.

    Those last images are renders from a school project I did last year. That project is where I developed this method.

    tristamus: no problem, man!
  • Gannon
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    Gannon interpolator
    I'm totally remaking the arches for my Brawl scene now. Thanks!:thumbup:
  • Maph
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    Maph polycounter lvl 8
    Cool tut man, thanks for sharing. Interesting Bridge tool in Maya, I wish Softimage had something similar. :)
  • WarrenM
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    Excellent, thanks so much!
  • sltrOlsson
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    sltrOlsson polycounter lvl 14
    Cool stuff! Something i thought of, why not just use the bend modifier (or what ever it's called in maya) instead of the latice bending?

    Anyhow, cool tut (:
  • m4dcow
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    m4dcow interpolator
    The bend deformer can be weird to work with as you need to input radians and you also have to move pivot points around to keep it on the grid.
  • Endzeit
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    Endzeit polycounter lvl 10
  • Mark Dygert
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    Interesting method. Seems like a lot of steps?

    I'm a max user and I normally I create a path/spline for the arch, create a shape path and sweep it over the arch. You can adjust either the shape and the default UV's that are generated work for most things really well.

    You can also create a straight piece of geometry and path deform (WSM) it over the arch path/spline, I suggest doing it to an instance that way you can work on the straight piece while the curved one is updated as you work.

    If that doesn't make sense I can kick up a few visual examples.

    EDIT:
    SweepArch00.jpg

    SweepArch01.jpg

    SweepArch01.gif

    SweepArch02.jpg

    SweepArch03.jpg
  • Makkon
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    Makkon polycounter
    Dang, Mark! I'm sure there's something like that in Maya, just haven't found it yet. Any more experienced Maya users around here know how to do that?


    sltrOlsson: I'm not familiar with the blender modifier, but I use the lattice because you can precisely snap the verts to the grid or other verts. This is what gave the arch it's precision.
  • nullfed
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    nullfed polycounter lvl 9
    Pretty similar in Maya:


    set up your curves for the arch and the profile:

    archA.jpg

    Go to Surfaces>Extrude>options with the curves selected (profile first):

    archSettings.jpg

    If the tube/arch is inside out, you can rotate the profile curve or go to Curves>Reverse Curve Direction.
    A node called nurbsTessellate has the value for the number of divisions (polygon count):

    archNode.jpg

    modifying either curve afterwards will affect the shape/profile of the arch:

    archC.jpg
  • kodde
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    kodde polycounter lvl 19
    nullfed> You beat me to it T_T

    I like the Tesselation Method: General as well where you get to decide U and V spans.
  • Cyrael
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    Cyrael polycounter lvl 10
    Super Useful! Thanks, definitely keeping this in mind when I need to do some arch work!
  • Makkon
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    Makkon polycounter
    nullfed: Awesome! I'm going to give that a shot! Thanks for taking the time to post that, man, I appreciate it. :)
  • Tea Monster
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    Tea Monster polycounter lvl 15
    Thanks very much for sharing all this, it's opened my eyes on how to do this.
  • EzMeow
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    EzMeow polycounter lvl 10
    another way to do it in maya is with a motion path and flow path object, which is usefull if you got something else than a profile.
  • Visceral
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    very very helpful !
  • raul
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    raul polycounter lvl 11
    cool stuff! thanx for sharing!
  • Vinterdragen
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    Vinterdragen polycounter lvl 12
    Thanks Makkon!
  • buzz001
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    Very nice. I loved that from this one tutorial 2 other where spawned. I"m going to try this later
  • iniside
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    iniside polycounter lvl 6
    In 3ds max I'm just using splines.

    Just make two point spline, then refine, add another point somwhere in middle of spline, make that point Bezier, tweak, you can also make it Bezier Corner. Next enable rendering in Viewport. Voila, we have arch of any shape we can possibly imagine. From moorish horse arch to gothic :D.

    Also dont forget about symmetry, as you get only half of arch. Then.. Then you are welcome to weak, add more details or just export to zbrush/mudbox.
  • Illusions
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    Illusions polycounter lvl 18
    Thanks as well Makkon, looks highly useful.
  • Remmers
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    Remmers polycounter lvl 7
    effective tutorial! nice renders as a result!
  • Fingus
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    Fingus polycounter lvl 11
    Here is how I'd do it:

    First I make my base shape, in this case I just beveled a cube for a brick. I snap the pivot of the cube to one of the corners, making sure that it's in one of the outermost verticles.
    Screen%20shot%202011-04-07%20at%207.08.28%20PM.jpg

    I duplicate the cube and snap the copy to the matching opposite corner.
    Screen%20shot%202011-04-07%20at%207.08.53%20PM.jpg

    I click shift+D to duplicate with transform which will make a new duplicate and move it the same distance as the previous. I keep clicking shift+D many times to make a nice row of evenly spaced bricks.
    Screen%20shot%202011-04-07%20at%207.09.23%20PM.jpg

    I grouped and rotated the cubes 90 degrees so they stand straight up. Of course I could have duplicated them straight up from the start but... I forgot.
    Screen%20shot%202011-04-07%20at%207.09.47%20PM.jpg

    I make a bend deformer.
    Screen%20shot%202011-04-07%20at%207.10.30%20PM.jpg

    I input a value of 1.570796 which is half the value of pi. If you wanted to make a perfect circle you would input 3.141592, if you wanted a quarter of a circle you'd input pi/4 which is 0.785398, and so on. Keep in mind that while it displays 1.571 you should type in about six decimals as maya will actually note the difference. This can cause issues if you want to perfectly line up verticles for merging. Especially if you want to make a perfect circle.
    Screen%20shot%202011-04-07%20at%207.11.11%20PM.jpg

    And here's my arch.
    Screen%20shot%202011-04-07%20at%207.11.24%20PM.jpg

    Of course you don't need to use bricks. You can make elaborate tileable segments and merge them afterwards. Or if you want to make it look more interesting you can rotate, offset and add details to the bricks before you apply the bend deformer.

    Deformers are incredibly useful modeling tools, they can save you a ton of time of used properly.
  • LMP
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    LMP polycounter lvl 13
    I think you missed a little detail here Fingus... These are CURVED arches in that they are curved around, so that the end result is a round circle of arches
  • Makkon
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    Makkon polycounter
    No worries, LMP. Part of the tutorial was how to make an arch. I was wondering how to do that! Thanks, Fingus. :)
  • LMP
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    LMP polycounter lvl 13
    No biggy, the bend deformer is a valid way to make arches. But, it's completely useless for curving them afterwards. the result was kinda funky and difficult to work with.
  • Fingus
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    Fingus polycounter lvl 11
  • LMP
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    LMP polycounter lvl 13
    hmm... now, there is one thing that is still illusive to me... the best way to UV an arch.
  • SnakeDoctor
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    SnakeDoctor keyframe
    Mark, would you mind showing us how to instance a completed arch around the circle, while keeping it to the grid? If I remember correctly the lattice works a bit differently in max. Would try myself, but dont get back into town until Tuesday.
  • Mark Dygert
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    I'm very imperfect about stuff like this.


    SweepArchCurved.jpg

    Create one arch, copy it a bunch of times in a straight line, instance it (so you can work on unbent arches later)

    At this point you can do it two ways:
    A) Apply the bend modifier to one of the instances of arches (be mindful of your pivot).
    - You can then scale and edit the straight arches (in sub object mode like element) to close any gaps and make the arches fit more or less perfectly.

    OR

    B)Select an edge that runs around my cylindrical shape, in edit poly click "Create Shape", this gives you a spline you can use as your path.

    Note: Create Shape + Sweep is VERY handy for all kinds of things like doing trim around windows & doors, creating gutters, pipes and wires, all kinds of stuff.


    - Apply path deform(WSM) to the instance of arches and target the path you just made.
    - Adjust the "Stretch" value to close the gap and use "percent along path" to slide the arches around the cylinder.
    - You can also edit the geometry in sub-object mode to push it out away, or scale it in just by sliding it forward or back, siding them side to side will also slide them around the cylinder like "percent along path". It just depends on which option you're closest too.

    For me, B gives me more flexibility and control but takes a little longer, A is quick and if its a quick and easy job where I know bend will work fine I'll do it.
  • r4ptur3
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    r4ptur3 polycounter lvl 10
    I noticed you were using the calculator to figure out how many degrees you needed to rotate your object. The main method i use to overcome this pitfall is shift+d .

    Create an object and set the pivot to the desired location
    Shift+d to create a duplicate object
    Transform the object any way you like, but make sure you do not unselect
    Shift+d again to duplicate with previous transform
    Keep pressing Shift+d!

    If you use this method all you have to do is rotate your arch 11.25 degrees and Maya will fill in the rest :) Not to mention it is balls fast!

    Hope this helps :)
  • Huw_Dawson
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    I've always personally used (in Max) Symmetry and Bend modifiers. But these have given me some nice ideas - thanks!
  • SnaFuBAR
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    You could, alternatively, use splines to make your arches, quickslice to get the flat sides, repeat the object and attach them together. After that, use the bend modifier to make it wrap in a circle or semi-circle. viola!
  • itsmadman
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    man polycount is perfect for these kind of things. lets just hope they never delete any post. leave them up there for ever i could see my self use the tut and many others on this site 10 years from now
  • Makkon
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    Makkon polycounter
    I love Polycount! Awesome, guys! I'm going to give these all a try!
  • Fingus
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    Fingus polycounter lvl 11
    Post the results when you're done then! :D
  • Vrav
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    Vrav polycounter lvl 11
    Nice points. As stated in the image, I'm not big on modeling in Blender, but felt like finding a solution in the program anyway. It doesn't go all the way in terms of modeling the perfect arch attach point angles, but demonstrates the modifiers that would probably be used.

    archestutcopy.png
  • ralusek
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    ralusek polycounter lvl 10
    Cool Thread, I'll show a few blender methods.
    I will use the following shape or shapes similar for my arches (top view):
    archshape.jpg
    First Method is the easiest but doesn't give you specific control over the arch after you make it. Go into edit mode (tab) and use the spin function:
    archspin.jpg
  • ralusek
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    ralusek polycounter lvl 10
    This is the extruding along curve method shown in other programs. Ctrl+T at any point on the curve will change the tilt if you wanted to rotate the arch at a specific point.
    archextrudecurve.jpg

    and as far as arraying along a curve i'll just post my tutorial that covers a few of the others as well:
    (4:48 for array+curve specific)
    [ame]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sRElU2E_5Dg[/ame]
  • Mark Dygert
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    Nice guys! It's great that tutorials for 3 major packages are here. It would be nice to have a Method for Modo and for XSI but I think having Max Maya and Blender is great.


    I'll work on getting these included into the Wiki after the Brawl winds down. If you could hold off on removing any images or videos until I get a chance to download and archive them that would be awesome!

    Thanks again guys for a great thread.
  • Froyok
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    Froyok greentooth
    I have already created some parts of the maya version into image, here :

    c420992b3f246a83737a3f12b6ed1t.jpg
    Part 1

    c573c92d8bc9953edd27814b34e4ct.jpg
    Part2

    1ced2be8d864603441596081abca5t.jpg
    Final render


    (Of course, I will remove the pics if it's a problem)
  • nordahl154
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    nordahl154 polycounter lvl 9
  • simpo
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    simpo null
    Wow... great tutorial ! Thanks.
  • NAIMA
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    NAIMA polycounter lvl 14
    I'd Like this to be sticked in the tutorials section anyway is there a way someone could write the equivalent version for 3dsmax too? That woudl help a lot as I don't use maya :) .....

    Sticking it anyway .... thanks a lot :)
  • Lucas Annunziata
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    Lucas Annunziata polycounter lvl 13
    Necroing this thread because it is awesome. Thanks for showing this off!
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