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Excuse my title gore.

I've been modeling Gothic architecture:

Gothic Window

(reference)

Here's the blend file I've been practicing with.

So I'm extruding along curves a lot. The complication is the fact that just one curve with a highly detailed bevel object won't work. You'll often need part of your beveling to split off into additional tracery, or to omit it in certain places. So you'll need a bunch of similar curves with different bevel objects.

I end up with a bunch of meshes running perfectly parallel to each other, which prevents the use of the Boolean modifier, the obvious answer to this question, even after dealing with n-gons. I also have lots of hidden faces from tucking curves inside each other to hide my end points. Cleanup and decimation are often necessary to prevent Blender from hanging when you tab into edit mode, actually.

What I'm asking is how I can reduce/eliminate internal geometry, ways to reduce my face count (especially parallel faces), or any other advice you might have relevant to the end of modeling Gothic architecture. I'm probably doing something wrong or inefficiently.

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  • $\begingroup$ While I'm here, when I extrude along a sharp angle, there'll be some "pinching". Is there any way to address this other than manually mending the mesh after the fact? Here's an example of what I'm talking about: imgur.com/0MD0czo $\endgroup$ – Joshua King Jun 20 '16 at 17:01
  • $\begingroup$ It's probably better to create a new question if you want a full answer. There's not much you can do about it it's a known limitation of the curve system in Blender. Try adding an edgesplit modifier see if it improves. Otherwise you can probably clean it up in the end manually by converting to mesh. $\endgroup$ – Duarte Farrajota Ramos Jun 20 '16 at 21:00
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There are a few things you can do:

1 Reduce curve resolution - Both in your curves and in your section defining objects

Reduce Curve Resolution

2 Eliminate unnecessary vertex - In straight line segments you don't need all that useless points adding additional geometry

Eliminate unnecessary vertex

3 Turn Handles to Vector - In straight segments change your handles type to Vector, so no additional subdivisions are created without need.

Handles to vector

4 Clean up your sections Eliminate segments for parts that are never seen or end up inside the geometry

Clean up sections

5 Use Bezier handles in curved parts wherever possible You can then take advantage of dynamically and easily adjustable resolution using the Resolution setting as shown in the first step, for sections curves too.

Bezier Curve Handles

6 Use a mirror modifier Use a mirror modifier whenever possible. This will not necessarily reduce polygon count, but it will save you time, guarantee symmetry and save cleanup work (you only need to do half)

Mirror Modifier

As for the self intersecting parts, it's probably more trouble than its worth. You may try using Booleans to intersect them, but you will have to destructively convert to mesh, and the resulting intersections (if they can even be made easily) will likely create more geometry and complexity then they solve.

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  • $\begingroup$ Most excellent. Though regarding the mirror modifier specifically, it seems to chew up my geometry near the divide more often than not. $\endgroup$ – Joshua King Jun 20 '16 at 19:56
  • $\begingroup$ You can adjust that by controlling the "Merge Limit" setting in the mirror modifier, or if it doesn't suit you, you can disable it all together by unchecking the "Merge" and "Clipping" checkbox $\endgroup$ – Duarte Farrajota Ramos Jun 20 '16 at 20:01
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You can "lower" the problem by reducing this value :

enter image description here

But this is not a perfect solution, because it will decrease the resolution everywhere. So eventually, you will need to compensate that by adding vertices to your curve.

Edit : you should try a subsurf modifier in complement

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  • $\begingroup$ using wireframe view or activating wire in object properties panel will help you finding the best resolution and reduce the "pinching". This will reduce your face count, but making some low poly bevel object will reduce it too (every edge will produce a face, less edges=less faces) $\endgroup$ – Bithur Jun 20 '16 at 17:24

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