I've been looking at tutorials on how to create a curved object and all they all use paths. I'm trying to create a curved building. How can I create a tangible 3D curved mesh that doesn't involve stacking slightly rotated objects onto one another, Like a path would do?
Sorry, this may not be pleasing to hear, but there are two ways to do this.
The hard way (manually model the object to be curved)
The easy way (it requires using a curve modifier.)
Since the first way really requires step by step or a tutorial, and is out of scope for this site, I'll give you the easy way.
Using a Curve modifier
Create your object that you want to curve, make it the length that you want it to be. Be sure it has plenty of vertical subdivisions or edge loops, the more, the merrier. (actually, just the smoother after curving.) This picture shows the mesh properly set up to be curved, notice the "up-down" lines, these are the loops I was talking about.
I know you didn't want to use curves, but Create a curve! in order to get something really nice without a lot of trouble, you need curves, and once you get used to them, they really aren't that bad.
Once you've shaped the curve just right you can re-select the mesh and add a curve modifier. isert the curve you just created under the Object parameter.
Very good! you now have a curved object: if it hangs off the edge of the curve a little, just mess with the location of the mesh.
If all you need is a simple deformation, like twisting or bending, you could just use the simple deform modifier set to twist or bend. No need for curves or anything complicated!
Simple deform works by deforming the object's bounding box, you can read the linked wiki for more info.
You can use the Screw modifier. For this all you need to do is make a two dimensional profile of the curved object you want to make:
You can then add the modifier:
Your mesh will now look like this:
Notice that the Angle setting decides over how large of an arc the mesh is screwed.
You can change the radius by simply moving the vertices (in Edit mode) farther from the origin.