I'm learning Blender, coming from some basic experience with Cinema 4D. C4D leans heavily on spline-based modeling, and I'm trying to transfer those skills into Blender's curves when appropriate — e.g., revolving a profile to create a vase, or sweeping a curve along another curve to create, say, a molding on a wall.

I'm having trouble understanding the intricacies of curves in Blender, though, and coming up short on documentation and tutorials. Specifically:

  1. The role of normals and how to manipulate them.
  2. Working with Bezier curves feels really cumbersome vs. Illustrator.
  3. But SVG import from Illustrator seems to result in a different sort of curve and lacks normals.
  4. Extruding one curve along another can sometimes result in the sort of artifacts I'd expect from overlapping polygons.
  5. 2D vs. 3D curves.

I'm not necessarily looking for answers to each of these, so much as a good, comprehensive intro to curve modeling (and an understanding of how I should shift my philosophy from C4D). Any suggestions?


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    $\begingroup$ Hi. This site works best if you have a specific question. If you a looking for more of a discussion, this post may be better suited to somewhere like blenderartists.org . I suggest narrowing your post to 1 specific issue that you would like to resolve. $\endgroup$ – Ray Mairlot Jan 18 '17 at 16:11
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    $\begingroup$ Please break down your different questions in different posts. $\endgroup$ – user1853 Jan 18 '17 at 17:00

Generally speaking curves in Blender are kind of a second though. They work but are mainly seen as a helper for animations rigging and other related tasks, rather than actual modelling tools.

I do love using Bezier curves as actual modelling tool, and my daily workflow relies heavily on curve objects for geometry in Blender. It is an unpopular and exotic method, very few people actually use it, and can certainly be very cumbersome in some situations. It lacks features and tools, requires a lot of workarounds and sometimes convoluted workflows for seemingly simplistic tasks, yet when used to your advantage it presents very unique benefits and advantages that totally outweigh its downsides, with some practice you can get a good flow going.

There have been several attempts to improve this area of Blender before but success rates have consistently been poor.

You will find there are no builtin trim/extend/offsets currently (though there are several quite acceptable addons), snapping and precision tools are also scarce, and materials and texturing are limited too.

Importing your curves as SVG/DXF from an application like Illustrator or Inkscape is indeed the best workflow. They will come as regular 2D bezier curves.

Avoid filters and effects or any other curve altering modifiers in those applications that create additional geometry; because they will import as garbage and duplicate vertex you will have to manually clean once in Blender to achieve good results and avoid artifacts.

Imported curves often come with varying scale factors, make sure you apply it before proceeding to avoid problems. After applying scale to a curve always make sure you enter Edit Mode and force-set all vertex radius back to $1# with the Set Curve Radius operator, otherwise it will yield weird results.

There are two main curve types in Blender 2D (constrained to the local XY plane) good for logos, text, and bi-dimensional stuff; and 3D for anything else like wire or tubular structures.

Inside each curve splines can be either Poly, Bezier or NURBS type. Polys are straight-segment only, beziers have handles, and NURBs are fit through control points.

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