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I have split several chains of vertices into groups in an attempt to access only one chain at a time for modeling, and it seemed to work yesterday. Today I can't isolate them when I use proportional editing. Is there something I need to do differently?

Here is the situation: I am building a model of the mountain below (it's on the Moon, so there aren't any files out there with its topographic information, and only one high-resolution photo exists). I have to figure out the relative height of its ridges by judging what the lighting means. So I drag parts of the vertex chains marking the ridges up and down using proportional editing, in right ortho view. The other vertex chains I don't want to move remain visible, otherwise I can't judge their relative position, but I don't want to move them.

lunar mountain being edited in blender

Edit - I see now why it sometimes works - the circle marking the edge of the proportional effect is actually a sphere. If it doesn't touch adjacent vertex chains, then it works the way I want.

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    $\begingroup$ instead of manually recreating the topography, have you considered using elevation maps and a displace modifier? see: blender.stackexchange.com/questions/5987/… and blender.stackexchange.com/questions/27451/… $\endgroup$ – cegaton Aug 21 '15 at 18:42
  • $\begingroup$ @cegaton There are no elevation maps of the Moon in this area with sufficient precision - not even close. There is the laser altimetry map done by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, but it's accuracy is something like 100 m. It is useless to me. $\endgroup$ – kim holder Aug 21 '15 at 18:48
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You can change the proportional editing type to 'Connected' to only affect the vertices connected to the ones you are moving:

enter image description here

This can also be enabled with Alt+O.

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  • $\begingroup$ Perfect! And there's even a keyboard shortcut :) thanks. $\endgroup$ – kim holder Aug 21 '15 at 17:22
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You can select vertices in vertex group, invert selection and hide all other vertices, that you do not want to modify.

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    $\begingroup$ The trouble is i need the other vertices as a reference, or i'm working blind. $\endgroup$ – kim holder Aug 21 '15 at 17:23

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