I have been working on some dragonfly wings for a character and am a bit stumped as to the best way of combining the elements and cleaning them up into one. The wing cells were created by drawing out a flat grid and adding a skin modifier. The heavier struts are made of extruded and tapered curved tubes. This leaves me with a bunch of randomly intersecting and overlapping objects with varying density of meshes.

What is the best way to combine them into one object without any extra geometry? enter image description here

A membrane filling the spaces between wing structure will be added separately and does not need to be part of this object.

The .blend file can be found here:


I would suggest doing this by adjusting the Mean Radius in Edit Mode. This way you can make the outer parts thicker while still having them connected as a single mesh.

Mean Radius is a vertex attribute that is AFAIK exclusively for the Skin Modifier, to control the thickness of the resulting mesh.

With the vertices you want to adjust selected, click and drag-down to get both input fields selected. Then you can hold shift while moving the mouse to make fine adjustments, or type in a precise value.

And unless this is for an extreme close-up, you might want to just make a normal map out of this on a separate lower-poly mesh. That's a lot of geometry for something as small as a dragonfly wing. But this of course depends on the shot.


Here is a .blend of just one wing for demonstration, based on the original file provided:

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  • $\begingroup$ See if I understand this. You're suggestion is to throw out the original struts, redo them as part of the geometry of the cells and adjust their thickness by applying a Mean Radius modifier to specific vertexes? $\endgroup$ – Rivercoon Apr 10 '19 at 6:48
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    $\begingroup$ Yeah, but before throwing out the struts you can use them as guides to save time when rebuilding - set their display type to Wire and use X-ray if needed. Or maybe you already have a reference image you're tracing over, in which case, just use that. It's not that there's a Mean Radius Modifier - it's that the Skin Modifier uses the Mean Radius of the verts to determine thickness. And if you look at dragonfly wings you will see that the struts are not the only place thickness varies. So really this is the only way. $\endgroup$ – Mentalist Apr 10 '19 at 9:32
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    $\begingroup$ Also, since you're going to be using the Skin Modifier, notice that for a mesh to utilize this modifier it must have one "root vertex". One is designated automatically when you add the modifier, but if that vert gets deleted the modifier's effect will disappear until you select a vert and click the modifier's Mark Root button. This is all in the manual, but I mention it because it confused me the first time I encountered it. $\endgroup$ – Mentalist Apr 10 '19 at 10:11
  • $\begingroup$ Mean Radius is giving problems for this. After applying the Skin Modifier I pick out the verts that need to be increased. What I get is those vert disappearing to be replaced by this mess. This is done without adding a Subsurface modifier to smooth things out so the Skin Modifier is just showing a series of cubes. Instead of $\endgroup$ – Rivercoon Apr 15 '19 at 20:01
  • $\begingroup$ You shouldn't have applied the Skin Modifier yet. You need to adjust the Mean Radius first. Please check the screenshot I posted in my answer again. Notice that it shows the Mean Radius for the selected vertices being adjusted in Edit Mode, with a Skin Modifier on the object, but not applied. Once you apply it you are left with the resulting mesh, which cannot be altered in the same way. It's a destructive edit. I hope you saved a version of your file (or made a duplicate backup object) before you applied that modifier. $\endgroup$ – Mentalist Apr 15 '19 at 23:40

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