Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Using Template Files in Shape 2.0

3D Experience, 3DVIA Shape, 3DVIA Shape Tutorials, Tutorials 3 Comments »


Why do things more than once? Whatever your passion is in 3DVIA Shape 2.0 modeling, you can create template files like gsmith has and save enormous amounts of time. He shows us how valuable it is to create a single model containing a bunch of common elements that we can then select, copy, re-position and re-texture to make a new model. Then we just delete the leftovers and publish it as our own custom model.

It’s like having a 3D catalog of housing choices that we can use to build just what we want. His Colonial House Template file is complete with instructions too!


The yellow highlighted “Secret tip for aligning extensions” is very valuable, so I’ll add some images here to hopefully help make it even easier. Please pardon so much scrolling to see the images, but it’s important to see the difference between one action and another and what it is that you should be looking for.

First, an important note about selecting:

click-to-select-just-a-part-of-the-model-2375-h.png select-whole-object-2375-h.png

If you just select a face or line, as in the left hand picture above, you won’t be able to move or change anything except what is highlighted with a blue dashed outline. If you select the box inside the blue circle, then you select the whole item, as shown in the right hand picture above. Once you’ve selected the whole object then you can copy and paste it and use the “Secret tip”.


I’ve rotated the model a little, but if you select the whole object, then copy and paste it ( ctrl-c / ctrl-v ) it will look like it does above.


This is the “Secret” - after you paste the selected object ( ctrl-v ) and before you do anything else, PRESS THE SPACE BAR. Now your object has the measles - oh, I mean it’s covered with orange spots that you can now choose as anchor points. The anchor point that I want to use is circled in green.


Now that I’ve left clicked to select an anchor point, as I move the copy closer to the original, the original gets blue spots all over it (some of which are highlighted with green circles). This shows potential points that my selected anchor point can be latched onto. The one that I want to match up with is circled in red.


The yellow dashed line shows that the copy is aligned horizontally with the original using the center of both objects - just like I want it to be.


As I move the copy closer to the original, it will snap into place and indicate with a blue square that the alignment is complete.

* It is important to note that once you have joined one object to another (like we just did), you cannot disconnect it as a unit later. If you are lucky and realize it soon enough, you can use the undo button. You can also delete it face by face if you have to, but it can be time-consuming.

So, now you know the secret and can start making custom houses that are all yours without having to do all of the work from scratch. Thank you gsmith!

NEXT - we explore the “texture as desired” part of his instructions. It’s kind of like a recipe where the instructions say “salt and pepper to taste”. Adding textures can be a lot of fun and make all the difference in how your house tastes - I mean looks!


Vehicle Design 102: Games

Tutorials No Comments »


In my previous blog we talked about individual vehicle design. In this blog we will explore vehicle design for games. There are a few considerations you must keep in mind when designing vehicles for games, today we’ll cover 3: Mobbing up, Flavor, and Balance.

Mobbing up

No man is an island, in games, no one vehicle can win a game. Sure there are mega/epic units but by themselves they will get over powered and destroyed. Build vehicles that can accomplish their one particular role well. Don’t add weapons and abilities “just in case”. You want the player to build all the wonderful units you made and use them all as one cohesive swarm. Each vehicle performs one role well, and all others badly, but in a group, it can’t be defeated. The best real world examples are Navy Battle Groups. Large formations of ships supporting one another with specific combat roles.


Here is where we get creative. All games have factions or races, each one with a particular flavor. You can’t give a vehicle with laser gatling guns to a nomadic faction that cobbles together their technology from various junk piles. When building for a particular faction, write down their strengths, weaknesses and what makes them unique from the other factions. Keep this in mind when you create a new vehicle. That laser gatling gun vehicle could be an excellent anti infantry unit for a techie cyborg based race.


Here is where we make sure the game play remains fair for each faction. The main point of balance is to keep the game fun but challenging. No one likes a game they can’t win, and no one really enjoyes a $50 game they can beat in 15 minutes with 2 units.

Vehicles for each of the armies in the game usually have a direct corresponding vehicle in each of the other armies and a suitable counter vehicle. In this respect, you see many armies have an anti aircraft vehicle. You use the flavor to make them really different from each other, but they perform the same function, thereby creating balance.

A popular balance method is the old Paper-Rock-Scissors. Where class A vehicle defeats class B vehicle - class B defeats class C vehicle - class C defeats class A.

You’ll find some games that don’t follow these general rules, and go so far as to create units that one faction will have more trouble defeating than another, attempting to create a 3 way faction balance. These games usually give you other alternatives like super weapons/units, or the ability to pair up with another player using diplomacy rules to defeat a stronger army.

Recently some games have allowed you to customize special modular vehicles, allowing you to alter the role of the vehicle to meet your needs. These tend to be a unique vehicle, and allow you to create some real power houses adding an element of unbalance in to gameplay but creating a really fun (albeit unfair) experience as a trade off.

No mater the method you chose for balance, always keep in mind that each vehicle you create has a role within its flavor/faction/race, and it is best supported be an army of specialist vehicles covering each others’ weaknesses. All working together to defeat the latest evil nasty nameless army that has threatened your people with ever lasting elevator music!

Till next time,
Fight well, honorably and often

-Models in the Tittle Image where created for a GI-Joe mod by Brendan Fennimore, Chris McCune, Jonathan Millman, and Juan M. Del Rio.


How to export CATIA V5 3DXML files for 3DVIA

CATIA, Tutorials 6 Comments »

3D models make our world possible - and fun too! Whether our 3D models are the internal bulkhead of the next major airliner or the latest clothing mod for our hot avatar, 3D makes it better. is a gathering place for all kinds of models and modelers. Check out the latest architectural ideas or explore historical steam engines for some perspective. Learn some cool new things and have some fun.

In order to keep the fun factor up and the frustration factor down, this post provides some useful tips to export your CATIA models so that they can be easily uploaded and shared on

skiier-2-1-0-ht.png mirage-2-1-0-ht.png rear-of-rc-car-3-1-0-ht-narrow.png fanuc-2-1-0-ht.png coffee-maker-3-anti-aliasing-1-0-ht.png

Dassault Systemes’ CATIA is a creative tool that is highly respected throughout the world for its wide-ranging capabilities. Fortunately; Fabrice Pinot, member of the CATIA Solutions team in Suresnes, France, has kindly offered some valuable information to help make it as easy as possible to export your CATIA V5 models in a way that allows them to look their best on

So, in his own words:

There are 2 options that are very important for the 3DXML exports from CATIA V5 to

First is the type of 3D mesh which is used for the geometry. At the present time, the supported mesh in is specified in the following option, it is a mesh in ASCII code.


The second option deals with 3D Accuracy:


For products; where all the parts have roughly the same size, such as consumer goods or hi-tech products, we recommend setting a fixed accuracy from 0.1 to 0.2.

Fixed 3D Accuracy sets a fixed sag value (from 0.01 to 10), which is used for calculating tessellation on all objects and does not vary with object size. The sag value defines the chordal deviation for curves and surfaces. The “curve chordal deviation” represents the maximum distance between a polyline (”chord”) whose end points lie on a curve and a point on the curve:


For detailed models of cars, boats or planes, we recommend setting a proportional tessellation of 0.1 to 0.2 as you may have small parts and huge ones. In this case tessellation is calculated according to object size: the larger the object, the coarser the tessellation. For the same 3D accuracy setting, the tessellation on small objects is always finer than on large objects. Please note that the toggle does not represent a distance, but a parameter, as the actual sag will depend on the object’s size.

Of course, in both cases, the finer the parameter, the larger the 3DXML file. Uploaded files are limited to 10MB on If your file is bigger, then toggle this 3D accuracy parameter in order to be below this value.

Other tips:

Products originally created in CATIA V5 have the Z axis as the vertical axis, so there are no modifications to perform to have them appear in the proper orientation in If this is not the case, it is always possible to insert this product into a newly created one and rotate the inserted model with the 3D Compass.

Textures created in CATIA V5 are supported, do not hesitate to use them. It gives a better aspect of your product at a minimum cost.

SPECIAL NOTE: These suggestions are valid for V5R18 and V5R19SP1. V6 compliance and tips are in the works. Stay tuned.

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