Am i using the right tool to draw a large floating textile? my computer crashed!

My computer is not responding :slight_smile:
please advise the best way to build this in rhino or grasshopper? (i am new to both)

I am trying to build something that looks like a knitted/woven textile, which is floating in air.
Starting with the small components made from polysurfaces (i’ll call them tiles). The tiles are arrayed over a rectangular grid. Separately i have an assymentrical surface which ive made to look like a sheet of fabric floating in the breeze. I want to flow the arrayed bed of tiles over this surface.
I have attached a screen grab of the arrayed objects and the assymetrical surfaces in the perspective frame.
Ihaven’t even got to the flow to surface step yet!!! :slight_smile: It crashes after i array the bed of polysurface objects…

I have a system with 8G RAM, quad core i5-2500k (3.3ghz) processors and a NVIDEA quattro600 graphics card.

Is my problem the computer capacity, or should i be doing this another way?

I need the individual ‘tiles’ to retain their general proportion, because i want to build a large ‘floating textile’ sculpture based on these smaller units.


Hi Sian- do you need to have these ‘tiles’ as 3d geometry? it seems like using a texture map in a repeating pattern would be far more efficient.


hi pascal
yes the ‘tiles’ are not 2D patterns. let me rather call them ‘bricks’. They are slightly bulging polysurfaces, which i want to lay over an undulating surface.

my first problem is that my computer is not handling at all, and it has more than the minimum requirements…

tnc for getting back to me

What do you need this for?
Blocks could be one way to go.
And lowpoly mesh parts that are joined together is another.

Hey Sian,

Take a look here:


thanks pascal - i’ll look for the texture map tools and give them a try

hi david
is this an example of how to apply a texture map? Do you displace a base surface with a pre-drawn texture map? Not sure if this tool is useful for my need…

Thanks Holo
I’ll try using bricks.
And making my components into the lowpoly mesh sounds like a good idea regarding the low performing PC!

I am brand new to 3d modelling…so this is a steep learning curve. but all seems pretty user friendly and intuitive. I love rhino!

My challenge here is that this needs to be built in real life. Each of the polysurface ‘components’ which sit on the base plane will be manufactured - and will be made exactly the same way/size/proportion. Unfortunately both flow to surface and panelling tools seem to always distort the shape/proportion of the individual components. I can select ‘rigid’ when flowing to surface, however the spacing then becomes too stretched. Of course the reason for this is that the target surface is not the same surface area as the base surface…

I need to create an undulating surface which has the same area size/proportion 2D surface as my base surface, and which retains it’s surface area even while i manipulate it into a 3D shape.

How would you recommend I do that? here’s a better screen grab - i hope this better illustrates what i’m doing.

this looks good

Without seeing the actual file, it could be possible you´re running out of memory. Take a look into your taskmanager, then save your scene and use FlowAlongSurface, either with or without Rigid option. If it runs out of memory, try to flow only a single piece but not all at once.

If your flat surface does have different proportions than your 3d surface, the proportions cannot be maintained. If the 3d surface is the one to be maintained, have you tried to unroll it into a flat surface using Squish command ? You could then build your pattern geometry on top of that and use FlowAlongSurface to get the polysurface tiles deformed.

EDIT: I´ve forgot to mention that you can use History during FlowAlongSurface so you can later move the tiles on your flat surface and see them update in 3D.


thank you Clement
i’ve spent the day looking into the hardware, re-nstalling all my drivers. I checked the task manager and only 25% of memory was being used…so it’s not that. I will try one more system install and then try again. it just crashes when i try to flow to surface. I will try squishing the target surface and working on that as a base surface. good idea, thanks!

Sian, can you send the base surface, the target surface and the objects being flowed to I’d like to take a look.

OK, I see you posted it for Vanessa the other day, I’ll look at that file.


Hi Sian- I messed with your file a little- I made meshes from the elements and grouped them for convenience. I also ShrinkTrimmedSrf your target surface and then used Rebuild with 20 by 60 points - this makes for a pretty dense surface with evenly distributed UVs, which makes for a more predictable FlowAlongSrf. You can delete this rebuilt target surface and bring back the original once the Flow is done… I did not see a base surface so I made one- just a plane.
FlowAlongSrf (Rigid=Yes) works very quickly on the mesh objects… the question is, is it OK for them to be meshes?

I take it back - with Rigid set to yes, there is no need to mesh- the flow works just fine here on the original objects- is that how you are doing it?


hi pascal
thanks for the input! after reinstalling the operating system and updating the driver/settings too, i am still finding that rhino lags a lot. (the ‘program not responding’ message comes up and i have to wait a while before it processes). The CPU and RAM usage don’t seem very high in task manager, so it’s still a mystery. I always set to rigid=yes. Thanks for the tips regarding shrink/trim/srf, all useful - along with getting the surface direction to match… all helpful, and the objects are flowing to surface nicely now thank. But computer still hangs.

I would like to create mesh’s from the polysurfaces, but i cant seem to figure out how, and most tutorials just show ‘mesh to surface’ operations. I’m COMPLETELY new to modelling :slight_smile: but have 2D autocad experience, so this isn’t too complicated…

do you have any experience with grasshopper? I was looking at some tutorials this morning and am hoping to try this process with it. That way i can adjust the density and patterning quite easily. I’ll post a new query regarding that now…

I recomend that you do a skype meeting with a shared screen. That is possible with the free version of skype, and a great way to bugtrack issues like this.

Hello hello
i’m back :slight_smile:
Clement thanks for the advise - unfortunately the flat surface is the one where i begin, and needs to be maintained.

thanks pascal, i did turn everything to meshes, checked all the UV orientations, increased the points density by rebuilding and grouped everything…which helped in the processing lag…

However my original problem of ‘locking’ the base surface area while folding/pressing/moving the 2D into a 3d form remains…
I have attached my file here,
& if anyone has some time, you’ll see that I had success in matching the surface area… but my method was way too time consuming and i won’t give up until i have found a better way!

you’ll see 2 surfaces both with a group of mesh ‘tile’ objects laid in a repeated pattern over the surfaces. I have flowed the one set onto the other successfully.
The method i used to get the surface area on the curved surface matching the total width and length of the 2D surface was a HUGE waste of time. I had to project a series of paralel lines/curves onto the curved surface in order to measure the surface lengths and widths across the whole thing. After checking the lengths, i would keep adjusting the points on the surface to stretch or compress the surface until the width and length were roughly matching the original 2D surface. At least i got the tiles to flow without any noticeable distortion, but WOW there must be a better way! :slight_smile: that’s crazy! :slight_smile:

I would like to do this with panelling in grasshopper, (or maybe evolute? does anyone know that software?), but I’m worried that learning grasshopper on my own in time for this job delivery will be too slow, so i want to resolve this in rhino, and then move on the grasshopper in later projects…I’m super busy at the moment, so unfortunately i don’t have a lot of extra time for the learning curve…

scallop flow to surface - problem of maintaining surface area.rar (1.7 MB)


Sian, is it OK to just scale the target surface to make it match the area of base surface?


No it’s not quite as simple as that.
The end product will be made up of repeated identical ‘tile’ components, so
the width/length needs to be controlled.

I have two restrictions:

  1. The geometric shape of the tile which will connect to other tiles at
    their corners (shape to be decided, could be square, diamond, hexagonal etc)

  2. Fixed Area of tile

Is there a way I could chat with you on Skype later? I’ll be in my office
between three and six pm today GMT+2