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What is the best way to model the intersection of multiple hard-surface objects? Not technically different "objects" persay - but where different pieces meet visually.

A perfect example of this.

What are various ways of achieving this, and which ones are good for which use cases? Curved surfaces, insets of other pieces, panels, etc.

Using paid modifiers is fine; although, ideally there are ways to do without as well.

Thanks in advance!

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  • $\begingroup$ Mean Slices? Try to be more specific... $\endgroup$ – Jan Matys Dec 8 '18 at 4:52
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    $\begingroup$ Are you talking about making the edges along which they intersect look believable? If so, investigate the bevel modifier. $\endgroup$ – Marty Fouts Dec 8 '18 at 21:48
  • $\begingroup$ But should the piece be modeled as separate chunks, or cut out in a different fashion? $\endgroup$ – Dr. Farquaad Dec 10 '18 at 16:45
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If you're talking about cutting panels, There's a very nice non-destructive method demonstrated by Penfinity, at the time of writing, in two videos, here and with an improvement thanks to Nahuel Belich, here.

Penfinity likes to be a bit of a magician, so this answer will try to slow the explanation down a bit; draw back the curtain.

1. Select the Edges

..you would like to cut between the panels, and..

2. Assign them to a Vertex Group.

(the second halves of the following illustrations show the vertex weights, under the bonnet. You won't see most of that stuff, unless you apply the modifiers, and you don't want to do that..)

enter image description here

3. Assign a Bevel modifier

..with two segments, by 'Vertex Group'. This will isolate the edge selection from Masking later on, and determine the width of the gaps you are going to make. The modifier-created edges have an interpolated weight, which allows us to select them away in the next step.

enter image description here

4. Assign a Vertex Weight Edit modifier

..with the Vertex Group as its target. It is set to remove vertices from the group, with a full weight of 1 as the upper threshold. This results in the group being modified as shown:

enter image description here

5. Assign a Mask modifier

.. with the inverse of the modified vertex group as its target. This cuts a gap as wide as the original bevel into your mesh.

enter image description here

Now you can set where and how wide the gaps are, by adding/removing from the original edge selection, and setting the width of the first bevel.

This is the modifier stack at this stage:

enter image description here

Now you can add a Solidify, Bevel (by 'Angle'), and Subsurface modifier. Simply changing the settings in the first and second bevels can give you a lot of flexibility in the outcome:

enter image description here

and everything is editable.

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Boolean and Bevel modifiers.

Or if you just want to CAD it and import it, thats fine, but it'll be easier to alter the mesh if you model it inside Blender.

In real life, there are no perfectly sharp 90 degree edges... Metal Sheet

Metal Sheet Close Up

So you would use the bevel modifier on sharp edges. The settings you will have to research. Blocks

But once they are close to the real world material, then it will look accurate. Beveled Blocks

Rendered Blocks

For two objects that are very different from each other but are CONNECTED physically, you can use the Boolean modifier... Pre Boolean

Connected Boolean

Tweaking the appropriate settings will get you the results you want...

Boolean

As far as the appropriate settings, that you will have to research also, because it depends on what you're modeling, how good you are, and the end purpose of the model. Incidentally, you can use the knife tool, but if you're looking for higher accuracy, then use the Boolean modifier where you possibly can. And try not to make the mesh complex BEFORE you use the tools or modifiers, because they tend to create difficult polygons for beveling.

Hope thats a good start...

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