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I'm trying to model something like the image below, and I'm stuck on the support wires.

enter image description here

I've been trying to create a curve to use a guide for a spring model, but haven't had success. I find it tough to get my curves the right distance off the sphere; it's also tough to get the right curvature.

enter image description here

Here's another example of my problem; I can't figure out how to get good curve placement such that it sits nicely on the surface of my sphere.

enter image description here

Is there a better workflow that I could use to model this?

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    $\begingroup$ You can draw with grease pencil on the mesh and convert it to curves $\endgroup$ – Denis Jul 11 '16 at 0:59
  • $\begingroup$ @brasshat I'm not asking about how to model a spring; my problem is creating the guide curve $\endgroup$ – ajwood Jul 11 '16 at 1:02
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    $\begingroup$ Honestly, I think hand-placing the curve is your best option. Just keep adjusting your view and viewing from different directions and tweaking until it looks good. I usually tackle making curves like this by getting the basic shape first with a couple control points, then keep subdividing the curve and tweaking as I go along. $\endgroup$ – PGmath Jul 11 '16 at 4:34
  • $\begingroup$ @Denis Your suggestion here is easy and even more accurate. You should post this as answer (IMHO). $\endgroup$ – p2or Jul 12 '16 at 10:41
  • $\begingroup$ The best way is still to place it by hand, because only like that you will get the imperfections and gaps. If it's too perfect it will look artificial. $\endgroup$ – Jaroslav Jerryno Novotny Jul 12 '16 at 10:56
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In complement to the answer given by Duarte Farrajota Ramos you can use a shrinkwrap modifier on the curve.

That can allow you to set the curves around the sphere the way you want and keeping a constant offset from the sphere.

enter image description here

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In order to make it work well, give a subsurf to the sphere, because of the "nearest surface point" option in the shrinkwrap modifier.

If you do that before curving the spiral, once your placement is good :

  • Add more resolution to the curve (in the curve panel "preview U")
  • Convert the curve in a mesh Alt + C then "mesh from curve/..."
  • Then come back to a curve : Alt + C and "curve from mesh" in order to curve the spiral.
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Go to File > User Preferences > Addons and search for Add Curve: Extra Objects and activate this addon

In the 3D view add a new curve object from the Spiral type. Adjust its settings as desired.

Add a new curve circle with a radius similar to the sphere.

Now to the spiral curve apply an Array modifier fit to a curve using the circle as length definition.

Next add a curve modifier to it using again the circle as deformation curve.

Create a spring spiral

You can now freely adjust the bezier curve circle as desired to match desired length and radius. Set it's handles to Free and then subdivide it to make shorter segments.

Adjust spring Spiral

EDIT

The trick here is using a bezier circle as deformation in the Curve modifier, since it will guarantee a perfect fit around the sphere as long as the body is truly spherical. You can then rotate both objects at the same time (curve circle and spring-like spiral) at will and it should always fit around the curve.

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    $\begingroup$ I think he already has the making the spiral part down (look at the 3rd screenshot), he is asking how to position the curve across a surface. $\endgroup$ – PGmath Jul 11 '16 at 17:04
  • $\begingroup$ I think this method covers placement too. If the 'body' part of the 'creature' is a sphere the trick here is to use a bezier circle as deformation. That will yield a perfectly circular deformation which will guarantee a perfect fit around the sphere with any desired rotation, as shown in the second GIF $\endgroup$ – Duarte Farrajota Ramos Jul 12 '16 at 1:37
  • $\begingroup$ Yeah, I think before I try to manually place curve points, I'm going to try piecewise circle segments like in this.. not sure which'll end up doing the trick. $\endgroup$ – ajwood Jul 12 '16 at 2:39

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