Although it does create preview renderings, sPatch is purely a modeling tool. Rendering and animation features may be added in the future, but for now its main purpose is to create model files for other renderers.
The toolbar contains the most commonly used tools in sPatch, and a brief description of the currently selected tool is displayed in the status bar at the bottom of the window. The sPatch menus contain less common options. The view toolbar (below the toolbar) controls how the working region is displayed.
New working views can be opened using the "Split" command in the "View" menu.
When you create 3 or 4 points that are connected in a loop, the loop defines the outline of a patch, with one exception. If all the points lie on the same curve, no patch is created.
For an example, take a look at Fig. 1. On the left you see 2 circles. The one on the left is a loop of 4 points, but since all 4 points are connected with the same curve, no patch is created. This is verified in the preview rendering on the right. On the other hand, the circle on the right, because of the extra connection between the top and bottom points, has 2 loops of 3 points each. Since each loop uses 2 curves to connect the 3 points, they each generate a patch as seen in the preview rendering.
Notice that, in the circle on the right, multiple curves can pass through a single point. Both the circle and the diagonal line pass through the same points. The only way loops can be created is when multiple curves pass through one point.
That's it! No matter how complex the model, it all comes down to loops of 3 or 4 points. Keep an eye out for these loops in the sample files and as you build your own models.
If you want another example, take a look at Fig. 2. In this counter-clockwise spiral, we see 4 loops. The first loop, though, has 5 points in it, so it doesn't define a patch (notice the preview render on the right). The next two loops have 4 points each (both valid patches), and the loop at the tip of the spiral has 3 points (also valid).
Of course, we want interesting 3D shapes, not just 2D loops. Fig. 3 shows a slightly modified version of Fig. 2. Several more patches have been added, but they're all easy to find (look for loops or 3 or 4 points). Notice that the new points (in green) are not all in the same flat plane as the original points. Patches can be any shape, as long as they're made up of 3 or 4 points.
*** IMPORTANT ***
The most important tools for creating patches are the Add Point Tool and the Translate Tool (along with the point welding feature). These tools are described in the section Point Manipulation Tools. If you don't read anything else, at least read the description of these two tools.
Add Point tool
Click and drag with the add point tool to add a curve segment. If you click close enough to an existing point, the segment will be added to that point, otherwise a new curve will be started. (You can add points to either the ends of existing curves or to any midpoint.)
This tool is used to move an existing point or group of selected points. Holding the shift key constrains motion to either horizontal or vertical.
Also use the Translate tool to select individual points. Hold the Control key while clicking the Translate tool to select or deselect an individual point.
*** This tool also performs welding. *** Welding in sPatch is the process of joining two existing points. You can weld the two ends of a single curve into a loop, or weld two points on different curves. To weld two points, drag one on top of the other with this tool, and before releasing the mouse, click the right mouse button. Welding is *very* important for creating valid patches - see Modeling Rules if you don't know what it takes to define a patch.
Only works when multiple points are selected. Makes the selection larger or smaller.
Also works only with multiple points selected. This tool rotates the selection. The axis of rotation depends on which view the tool is used in. Holding the shift key will constrain the rotation to 45 degree increments.
Add Noise tool
Can only be used when multiple points are selected. This tool will move the points around semi-randomly. Useful for making objects look less computer-generated.
The grouping tool lets you select multiple points to manipulate together. Drag an outline around the points you want to select. Outlining points that are already selected will cause them to be deselected. Other selection tools can be found in the "Select" menu.
This tool modifies the curvature of a spline passing through the selected point(s). This tool can make four points in a loop look like anything between a square and a circle (or beyond).
The lathe tool takes a 2D curve and generates a 3D lathed object like a vase. Draw a curve in the front view and make sure at least one of its points is selected. Click on the lathe tool and the object is generated. Fig. 4a and Fig. 4b show 2 curves and the lathe objects created by them.
Once the lathe object is created, it is just a set of curves like everything else and can be edited as much as you want. In Fig. 4c, the two lathe objects are positioned in preparation for combining into a new object. After a little welding and moving a few points around, we get Fig. 4d, a complex shape that was easy to put together by starting with the lathe tool.
This tool takes a curve, duplicates it, and connects each of the points in the new curve back to the corresponding point in the old curve. The newly extruded curve will lie exactly on top of the existing curve, so you should immediately use the translate tool to pull the extrusion out to where you want it. A single curve must be selected (all of its points) before the Extrude tool is used. Fig. 5a shows a curve (note the Peak tool was used to make sharp corners) before extruding. Fig. 5b shows the curve after extruding.
Remember the rule about patches - loops of 3 or 4 points. Fig. 5b is not really complete. The extrude tool only created the edges of the letter. Fig. 5c fills in some missing details.
The extrude tool can also be used immediately again on the newly extruded curves. Fig. 5d shows repeated use of the extrude tool (with a little rotation thrown in).
This tool duplicates the current selection. Note that after the duplication, the new points lie exactly on top of the old ones. Just use the translate tool to move them to their new position.
Delete Edge tool
Click this tool to delete an edge of a curve. (To select an edge to delete, first select just a single point, then press 'Tab' until the desired edge is selected.) Use this tool to break a loop without deleting any actual points.
When this tool is clicked, the curves that pass through selected points will be turned into sharp corners. (If a point has multiple curves passing through it, you can peak just one curve by selecting the appropriate edge with the 'Tab' key.)
This button is the opposite of the peak tool. It is used the same way, but it makes sharp corners round again.
sPatch models, because they're spline-based, are appropriate for both real-time applications like VRML, and high quality raytracers like POV. The screenshots below are from files directly exported from sPatch - of course, some extra texturing applied afterwards couldn't hurt.
Undo: Reverses the previous operation on the model. (Up to 16 levels of Undo are supported.)
Redo: Re-does the previously undone operation.
Cut: Cuts the current selection to the clipboard.
Copy: Copies the current selection to the clipboard.
Paste: Pastes the contents of the clipboard into the current model.
Preferences: Allows the user to customize sPatch.
All: Selects all the points in the model.
None: Deselects all the points in the model.
Inverse: Inverts the current selection.
Connected: Selects all points that are connected to the current selection.
Spline: If an edge is selected, this command selects all the points on the same curve as that edge.
Hide Selection: Hides the selected points - use to temporarily simplify a model while editing.
Show All: Shows all points that were previously hidden.
Insert: Lists all the files in the "Clip Shapes" folder that was installed with sPatch. Add additional entries to this menu by placing sPatch model files in the "Clip Shapes" folder.
Append Model: Lets the user select another model file that will be merged with the current model.
Flip X: Flips selected points across the X axis.
Flip Y: Flips selected points across the Y axis.
Flip Z: Flips selected points across the Z axis.
Toggle Invisibility: Turns selected points invisible/visible. Invisible points will still be a part of the model, but they won't be used to build patches.
Lathe Settings: Sets the number of curves used to build a lathe object.
sPatch has support for up to 8 editing layers. These layers are useful for organizing a layer, because when one layer is active, the other layers are still visible, but can't be modified. Also, layers can be individually hidden, shown, and exported.
Current Layer: Choose the current working layer here. Other layers will be visible but not editable.
Show Layer: Hide or show individual layers by selecting them from this menu.
Toolbar: Hides/shows the sPatch toolbar.
Split: Splits the sPatch working region into four independent views.
Synchronize Views: When a model is edited in one view, the other views update only when the mouse button is released. When this option is checked, multiple views will be updated simultaneously.
Show Axes: Hides/shows the coordinate axes in the working region.
Grid: Turns on a grid that points get snapped to.
Grid Settings: Modifies the resolution of the grid.
About sPatch: Displays program information.
sPatch Help: Displays this document.
|C||Select all points connected to the current selection.|
|Enter||Deselect all points.|
|Tab||Steps through the curves that pass through selected point.|
|Delete||Delete selected points.|
|A||Add point tool.|
|X||Toggle X constraint on and off.|
|Y||Toggle Y constraint on and off.|
|Z||Toggle Z constraint on and off.|