I have seen tutorials on creating a plane as a cloth that reacts to objects. What I would like to do is to create various patterns (such as the mesh below) and manipulate that pattern as a cloth (fold, roll, pull, etc).

How can I accomplish this using Blender (I'm not interested in creating an animation)?

enter image description here

  • $\begingroup$ Not entirely sure what you mean by your rephrased question? Is it the patterns you are after? As in "this blanket has a tartan pattern"? "this towel is chessboard-pattern? If so, that is done by applying a texture to your plane. Or you mean that you want the actual mesh to be seen? $\endgroup$ – benteh Jan 3 '14 at 14:47
  • $\begingroup$ The basic answer is that you need to use shape keys. This excellent tutorial by Kent (not me ;-) gives you some ideas and examples: youtube, download from cgcookie $\endgroup$ – Stephen Jan 3 '14 at 19:33

well.. there is Blender. But depending on your need, Blender could be a little overkill, possibly. It is a steep learning curve, but a very, very powerful programme (yes, it is free and opensource).

I am sure there are other, intermediate 3D programmes out there, but as a bottom line, I think Blender is worth the effort. It might be overkill for this job specifically, but it will probably pay off in longer term.

Edit I: I would also say that the reason why you want to do this is important. What is the goal? In professional 3d programmes, you have a plethora of alternatives for a plane and polygons to act in different ways. You have cloth-effects with predefined constrains (thickness, cloth type, colour, substance). This might be useful, as you could make polygons of various shapes, and then "drape" the cloth over it, and it will act as a twisted mesh. Just a thought.

Edit II: I am not well versed in autodesk, but here are some examples from Blender (Blender is the open-source cousin of Maya):

enter image description here

This image is taken from this tutorial.

An explanation of how it works here.

Of course, you do not have to make it that clothlike. You can set properties to be a stiffer material (i.e. fewer vertices, thicker material), and what shapes you choose to drape your mesh over will of course define the resolution.

  • $\begingroup$ As John mentions below, I get that these "sticks" would later need to consist of many more pieces in order to make this happen. I want to treat whatever pattern I create as a surface, then manipulate it as a cloth - exactly has you suggest. I just tried Autodesk Make 123D - but the Make/New option doesn't do anything. $\endgroup$ – ElHaix Jan 3 '14 at 13:57
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks. I used blender with a similar tutorial (youtube.com/watch?v=z_c3LvrlOzk). So now, back to my original question, which I have reworded... $\endgroup$ – ElHaix Jan 3 '14 at 14:40

As it is a mesh, you would need to add a whole lot more divisions to be able to warp it. meshes can only bend at vertices. Each of your 'sticks' would need many subdivisions if you wanted anything close to a smooth bend result.

There are several ways to warp a mesh, although I am not specifically talking about the tools in SketchUp, as I am more familiar with Maya myself. The two main techiques are:

  • Bind the object to a skeleton/joints/bones. You would then paint the influence of each joint/bone onto each vertex, controlling its deformation.
  • using a deformer, you could create a simple box with a couple of subdivisions. This would be laid over the top of your mesh and be bound as a controlling object. You could then animate the vertex on that instead. This would drive the far more complex subdivided mesh underneath.

If you want to simulate cloth I strongly suggest you use a plane with many subdivision (100x100 vertices for instance) instead of what you have in your image. If you want that pattern it is possible to bake textures for it from your mesh.

This is the basic workflow. Blender SE is not for tutorials so you will only get the super short version. Experiment some and come back with more precise questions.

  1. Go to the Physics panel with your plane selected and add cloth. Leave it at standard settings.
  2. Hit Alt + A to start simulating. The cloth will fall because of gravity and since nothing is stopping it, it will fall straight down.
  3. Hit Alt + A to stop simulating. Hit Ctrl + Shift + Down to go to the start frame.
  4. Add an object to interact with it. For this object, also in the physics panel, add Collision.
  5. Start the simulation again. See how your cloth interacts with the new object.
  6. Using the timeline, select a nice frame where you like how your cloth looks.
  7. Select the cloth and in the modifier panel, press apply. You cloth is no longer simulated, rather it is frozen in time, in the selected frame.

To fold the cloth you do like this:

  1. Create a vertex group with vertices that you want pinned. Kind of like if you would nail them to the floor or hold them with your fingers.
  2. Create a shape key where the pinned vertices move.
  3. Animate your shape key so that the pinned vertices move to proper locations. This is where you grap a piece of the cloth and move it over time.
  4. Run the simulation. The pinned vertices will drag the rest of the cloth with them.

To roll it, hmmm... I think I would create the cloth as a loose roll and let it fall on a surface.


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