Tips for using Ray Dream to work with Poser: General Building Techniques

                                                                                          by Bloodsong

Table of Contents Volume Two
Subdividing & Triangulating Can't Triangulate!?
Polygons that just WON'T fill Did you Know...? {Go To Volume One}
{Back to Tutorials}

Introduction: Messing with the Mesh Form Modeller

   I've started modelling natively in the MFM, based on Dave T's Box Modelling tutorial.  Being used to whipping out a cross section, and bending it's extrusion path anywhichway in only a few seconds, I always thought building stuff in the MFM was soooo slooooow and clunky.  But, once you get used to it, it isn't so bad.

    Here's some tips and tricks to help make it go faster/better.

Subdividing and Triangulating:

     Have you ever done this?  Drawn a nice cross section, then extruded it and dragged the new cross section way down to the end of your object... and then later decided you wanted a bend (or two or three) between the two sections?  So you say, 'Hey, I'll just subdivide these long lines, here!'  Then you select all the endpoints and subdivide... which means all the tiny cross section segments *also* got subdivided and now you have a mess!  ARGH!  I wish there were a "select all horizontal edges" or a distance command for the subdivide -- kinda like an inverse Weld distance command.  Anyhow, here's a semi-easier way to go about subdividing only on one axis!

   Select every OTHER line that you want to subdivide, by shift-clicking on each.  This way, the cross-bar edges won't get selected.  Then you can hit Subdivide; then select the other lines, and do it again.  It's better than Subdividing EVERY single line by itself! Ugh!

   Now if you build a nice mesh out of squares (if you are not a strict triangle person), and want to smooth it, you can subdivide the whole thing.  Keep in mind that when you subdivide like this, RDD will automatically triangulate everything.  There is no way around it, but Anthony Appleyard has made a utility that will un-triangulate obj files.  It is located in the Renderosity Free Stuff section, and is called "DeTriang."  (Note: DeTriang looks for extra triangles added at the end of the obj file... Ray Dream seems to stuff the new triangles in with all the old polys, so DeTriang, sadly, doesn't seem to work to well with RDD meshes.)

     If you can't subdivide (you get a Program Error), check the next section about Triangulating.

Can't Triangulate!?:

     If you have pentagonal polys, they will show up as holes in Poser, because Poser just can't count up to more than four. ;)  The usual quick fix for this is to select your model in the MFM and Triangulate everything.  If you get an error when you try that, then you are in big trouble!  Nevertheless, here's some help!
     NEW:  Now you can skip triangulating and get Anthony Appleyard's "DePent" utility (available in Renderosity's Free Stuff), which will take pentagons out of the obj file for you.  VERY nice, VERY neccessary, GO GET IT!

     First, try to locate the untriangulatable poly(s).  You can do this by selecting pieces of your mesh and trying to triangulate it bit by bit.  When you hit the bit that makes RDD choke, you found something. :)  Hide everything else, and try to find the weird poly and hand triangulate it.  Just select two vertices at a time, and hit Ctrl-L to link them.

     Some polys are just untriangulatable.  If you are going to create a symmetrical object from an extrusion, make sure the center line is not made up of single points.  (I did that, it was the kiss of death!)  You will end up with one sided polys that only triangulate on one side, and even if you hand-link them, it still won't work.  Make sure your object is hollow, and does not flatten out into a single-thickness sheet at any point. (If it's *all* a single-thickness sheet, you're fine.)

     Also, if you have a cross section you drew for extrusion, you probably want to triangulate that for export to Poser.  It probably has a bunch of logical, nicely placed triangles you can make from it.  Ray Dream will probably pick the most obscure and long-distance points to create triangles from. Sometimes it is neater if you just do it yourself. :)

Polygons that just WON'T fill:

     Don'tcha hate this?   You finish up your mesh, got it all nice and perfect, then turn on the solid view, and it's full of holes.  So you hit the Fill Polygon thing (if it's not greyed out) and nothing happens?  ARGH!  RDD uses some kinda obscure rules for filling polys.  Here's a wild guess:

    First, if you take the Polyline tool and go doink doink doink doink doink doink doink all around and close your shape, RDD will fill it (whether you want it to or not).  Don't let this fool you into thinking that you can fill any crazy-shaped polygon.

     Only triangles and squares will be filled.  If you subdivided one side of a square, you will not be able to fill it until you link the new vertex to the two opposite corners (ie: triangulate the polygon).  Now, I know what you're saying: But if you fill the polygons *first* and THEN subdivide one side, they stay filled.  They do.  But you want to fill a new one, it has to be a triangle or a square.  Go figure!

     Now what do you do if you have a triangle or a square, and it STILL just WON'T fill!  DoubleARGH!  First, select the points on the edge of the polygon you are trying to fill.  If the edges between them don't line up, then the polygon you think you see does not exist.    Try linking the dots.  (Also, try another view to see if some vertices are actually on the backside of your object, not on the front where you think they are.)

     You can try to unlink one (or all) of the lines and re-draw it. (Select an edge, hit Ctrl-U to unlink. Then Ctrl-L to link.)  If you welded things together, check the seam and make sure all the edge vertices got welded properly.  If you created an object from an extrusion and then welded, check to see if one of the cross sections is filled that shouldn't be.  If a center cross-section in your object is filled, then all the polys on the one side of it will not fill.  (Boy did this one drive me nuts!)

Did you Know...?:

     Some cool tips for working in Ray Dream!

  You can switch camera locations by hitting Ctrl and the number pad (if you use the camera view menu, I pity you!), but did you also know... If you hit Ctrl-8 and then Ctrl-5, you can see the top view of your object with the 'back' of the working box at the bottom of the screen?  This is neat if your top view is usually 'sideways' of how you want to work on your object.  (This also works if you hit Ctrl-5 from the Ctrl-0 (Perspective) location.  Remember, Ctrl-5 lines the camera up with the active drawing plane.)

   Did you also know that if you forget to hit Ctrl when you use the number pad, that you can move the camera around the working box in increments!?  Too Cool!  Now you can fly around your object in RDD!  You can also see stuff on a diagonal and move it that way, too.  Very handy. :)

   The MFM universe is absolute.  If you create one object at the center, and then build an object in relation to it sticking off the side, say... You can copy and paste  that object into the original, and it will be perfectly aligned where you want it!  (This is handy for building figures from FreeForm objects.  If you build and place all the objects together, then convert them to Meshes, they will retain their relative coordinates.)  
    This works, even if you move the Mesh object.  If you made a pair of eyes for your line of figures, you could toss them outta the way, down into a corner of the box.  But each time you jump in, copy and paste, they will appear in exactly the same spot each time.

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