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How do I add small details such as buttons, switches and grooves in electronic products in Blender? I can only think of Boolean for this purpose but boolean is not the best solution it seems as it need very dense mesh. Also please don't suggest any paid addons. Can't afford right now. enter image description here

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    $\begingroup$ Sorry, voting to close this question as it demands opinion-based answers. There's no "correct" way to do this, it depends on the model (and if you are talking about just this one specific object shown in the picture, the solution is of no general benefit). It comes mostly down do these two, 1. Boolean, not always the best but not necessarily the worst solution, or 2. just model it. I don't know what addon you have in mind, either one modeling it for you(?) or doing other fancy Boolean stuff. But that's it mostly, the exact way can vary a lot. But no magical "button & switches generator". $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 3, 2022 at 6:41
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    $\begingroup$ I disagree. It asks for ways to do this not for the best way. No different than many technique questions. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 3, 2022 at 7:07
  • $\begingroup$ i have to agree to Marty. Maybe you read too quickly? $\endgroup$
    – Chris
    Commented Aug 3, 2022 at 7:24
  • $\begingroup$ @MartyFouts Well, if nobody agrees so the question won't be closed, no problem. I just thought since one way (Boolean) is already given in the question and supposed to be "not the best solution", it is somehow asking for the best way. And the method given by Chris' answer for example I wouldn't suggest, since the reference image looks like the goal is maybe seeing things quite close-up (I might be wrong on this one, but have no information on that) and since these buttons and switches are not micro details and not too complex shapes I would model them. So, we have different opinions here. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 3, 2022 at 8:23
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    $\begingroup$ There's also another nice tutorial here for headphones, with a nice technique for the leather wrinkles youtube.com/watch?v=p2iloupX7S8 $\endgroup$
    – Luciano
    Commented Aug 3, 2022 at 14:34

3 Answers 3

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Honestly there's no substitute for just modeling it out sometimes. I might use something like this method.

Model your curved headphone shape:

enter image description here

Model out the button however you like. Use a medium amount of geo with no support loops. I set the bevel weight on sharp edges over 30 degrees with a few select edges I didn't want removed/added to the weight set. This is for the next step.

enter image description here

Apply a bevel modifier with these settings set like this:

enter image description here

Alot of times it works fine for objects with the angle set to 30 or 45, sometimes it's not so universal so you'll need to manually set it to weighted edges to specify the edges you want. Then I add a subsurf, and a weighted normal modifier which gives us this result.

enter image description here

Not bad for a mesh that had 16 n-gons just a second ago. No need to add support loops or anything. This technique usually only works with objects that need a subsurf to smooth things out and give it that "realistic look".

Trying to do super flowy organic shapes will probably not pan out.

Then add a lattice modifier with only one layer to it and fit it to the button object. You might want to rotate it into position as best as you can to prevent skewing.

enter image description here

Then add a shrinkwrap mod to the lattice object to bend the button object to the curved shape. You might have to fiddle with the offset settings to get it just right.

enter image description here

(NOTE: Before you do this next step, duplicate the curved base object and make sure your button curve Lattice modifier is targeting this mesh for deformation. Then hide the duplicated object.)

Then if you want to really sell it; duplicate the button object. Select the outer face ring and use Alt+S to push it out a bit.

enter image description here

Then delete all the mods except the lattice and apply the lattice. Select all the mesh, then run Select Boundary Loop to get the exterior edge, invert selection and delete everything.

You should have something that looks like this.

enter image description here

You probably want to use Alt+S to push this out away from the surface a tiny bit. (I found I had to make a face to give the verts a decent normal to follow, then just Delete>Only Faces once it's moved into the correct spot).

enter image description here

Then we're gonna use Knife Project to cut this shape into our curved object. Just read the manual, I won't go into the step-by-step here. (Tip: if you select the faces you want to cut, then press Shift+Numpad7 it will give you the best camera view to cut the faces with)

enter image description here

Run it.

enter image description here

Then we just inset the resulting geo from that operation.

enter image description here

You will probably need to go through to clean it up a bit. Just delete the random floating edges and nearly doubled vertices:

enter image description here

Cleaned:

enter image description here

Then use the same Bevel>Subsurf method to smooth this out.

The reason we duped the base object and hid it before all this, is because if you inset the geo it will cause the Lattice mod to deform against the inset geo, which we don't want.

enter image description here

Final result:

enter image description here

You can basically use this method for the rest of the button models.

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    $\begingroup$ .. Congratulations on your honesty. Choosing the trickiest feature to demonstrate that modelling is the way to go :) Modelling it beautifully. And illustrating it beautifully. $\endgroup$
    – Robin Betts
    Commented Aug 3, 2022 at 10:56
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    $\begingroup$ Great showcasing of the lattice and shrinkwrap mods. I'll probably add them to my process, to keep it more parametric :)) (btw Robin is right) $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 3, 2022 at 10:59
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    $\begingroup$ @RobinBetts hey man, I never said 3D modeling was easy. ¯_(ツ)_/¯ $\endgroup$
    – Jakemoyo
    Commented Aug 3, 2022 at 12:24
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    $\begingroup$ Excellent use of Lattice. :-) $\endgroup$
    – Mentalist
    Commented Aug 4, 2022 at 2:17
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    $\begingroup$ @Jakemoyo Thanks you so much. This helped a lot. The use of single-layered lattice is something I would never do. I tried doing shrinkwrap directly on the mesh itself (which distorted the button). Your method is far more accurate and controlled. Cheers. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 9, 2022 at 4:09
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I would suggest using shrink-wrap method described here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3rlMzsBWtPY

In short, the method looks like this.

  1. Prepare the base model with a lot of subdivisions. In my case, I'll use torus:

enter image description here

  1. Make a copy of the model, and set a shrink-wrap modifier on the high-poly model:

enter image description here

  1. You are free to add holes in the mesh now, that doesn't break the surface of geometry:

enter image description here

  1. To add a volume, extrude the points:

enter image description here

  1. add them into the new vertex group:

enter image description here

  1. Put this group into shrink-wrap modifier:

enter image description here

  1. With this technique you can add any holes in the mesh without braking the base surface, even if it is very complex.

enter image description here

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One very easy way is too use normal maps. Disadvantage: you have to "find" these normal maps "somewhere".

Then you can use this node setup (the object is just a smooth shaded ordinary cylinder):

enter image description here

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