My workflow for such shapes(I’ve designed dozens possibly hundreds of concepts for high-end playgorund equipment based on this general idea)is to make a 3D curve along the centerline of where I want the strip, then make a flat(to start with)plane for the ribbon and “Flow” that onto the curve with history, then I might Twist or otherwise modify the strip to get all sorts of wacky things going on. That shape is a 10-minute job this way.
Just draw a simple Plane, make a center Line along its length, and Flow it along the 3D curve. Then, to make it twist around I can use the Twist command on the plane, or Cage editing, and to change the profile I might do cage editing or just point-editing.
Not at all. I ask because I was recently working on a lighting concept that was way simpler than this and it took me ages to get to something I wasn’t wildly happy about. I’d love to see how easy it can be for someone with experience.
Of course I tried and rushed too much and it indeed got all wonky :), maybe later…
You have to make sure the radii in the 3D curve aren’t too small and making it fold on itself, you have to be aware of how the profile of the surface twists as it goes around the 3D curve independently of whatever twist you add to the base surface.
Flowing some brightly-colored reference curves extracted form the ribbon along with the surface can help keep your bearings, tell you what part of the flat surface corresponds to where on the target.
So all that really adds up to is starting simple, taking it easy, gradually adding detail.