Advice on the best approach to drawing


I’m having difficulties drawing out an inflatable dolphin as part of a current project. I want to keep the seams in the right place as the final render will be partially transparent. Anyone have any advice on the best approach to this?

Thanks very much,

How far did you get? Exactly where are you running into problems?

Hi Jack,

If you are just wanting to model something like this for a render, then perhaps a Sub-D modelling approach using T-Splines or similar would be the easiest.

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I’m fairly unfamiliar with complex curved objects and only have experience using Loft and rails but didn’t find either of them really worked. My original plan was to draw cross sections with a rail but this would create seams in the wrong place. Was just wondering if there was perhaps another tool I should look into that would be more useful for this?

Are you trying to create the body as one surface? Instead, create a set of surfaces with the edges of the surfaces being the seams. Draw the seams, then create the surfaces using the seam curves as the edges.

First, break the dolphin into separate parts: body, fins, tail.
Secondly, the command surface-from-curve-network will do these shapes easily.
Finally, blend or trim the parts together.
Unless you have T-Splines (which is EXCELLENT) do not try to make it in one piece.

Hi Jack- I’d start with some simple, simple curves to describe the shapes - four curves per ‘volume’, and simply Loft them with History- then point edit the curves to modify the shapes. Mirror symmetrical shapes with History. When you get the basic shapes right, add details if needed.

inflato.3dm (1.0 MB)

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Instead of learning one modeling tool and doggedly forcing it on every single project, I’ve concentrated on expanding the tools available to me. Rhino, TSplines and even ZBrush have some levels of overlap and if used as a trio in a well-equipped digital workroom, there’s hardly anything that can’t be created. For the pool toy, I’d rather use TSplines over the other two. Dorsal fin, pectoral fin, body, tail fluke… majority of the 35 minutes it took to complete was bouncing back and forth to study the browser image. Probably could’ve halved that time if I were pulling the shape against Rhino’s PictureFrame of isometric views.

Make a copy of the objects to a new layer and convert either copy to NURBS. The unconverted layer remains as TSplines to create iterative versions. Perfect 4-sided polysurfaces that match up with smooth, continuous edges. Using the Split command, use one object to cut away the intersecting object. Reverse the pick order so that the cutter becomes the cuttee. Repeat for all intersecting objects and delete the unwanted trimmed portions.

Using Curve > Project from Objects, throw a line down the body center. The resulting surface-hugging curve is used as the basis of Rhino’s Pipe command. Make a hair-thin pipe and gumball-widen it. Voila. Simulated seam for the body panel. Same process could’ve been used for seams at the fins and fluke before moving them into position when they were at a simpler isometric orientation. If I were less lazy, I’d rail-sweep a rounded rectangle curve to create the seam rather than a stretched pipe. TSplines would’ve also been suitable to model the plastic ripples at the snout.


You are good. Clap clap. :clap:

Wow amazing thanks so much guys! Very, very helpful.
Any chance you could send over the project file pascal or CarterTG? Going to give it my best shot but be great to have something to work against.
Thanks again, Jack

Hi Jack- I attached it, but it went missing- I just reattached the file to the post above. BTW, I messed around with it so the Lofts with History are all trimmed and joined etc now, but you’ll get the idea from the red curves.


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thanks so much Pascal really appreciate it!