Looking for method to non-destructively alter object, independent from mesh.

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Old 07 July 2013   #1
Looking for method to non-destructively alter object, independent from mesh.

I'm designing the tectonic plates of a planet, and I'm unsure of how I can draw the shapes of the plates onto the sphere without messing up its mesh.

I tried working with the mesh to define areas (http://imgur.com/5l6SBWh) however it feels very 'messy'.

Is there a way to have an outlayer to the mesh which takes for granted the original design, but can be non-destructively manipulated?
Sorry if the question is unclear, and thank you for your time.
 
Old 07 July 2013   #2
I'm relatively new to modeling, but these are a few things I would try. Whether or not they're the right way or would even work, I have no idea:

  1. Duplicate part of the surface and scale up with the pivot point at the origin of the sphere. Change its vertices to your liking and extrude. Alternatively duplicate the entire sphere over the existing one, scale it up and then remove the parts you don't need. (In second thought, if you need to modify any vertices, I imagine it'd be hard to move them in the correct axis)
  2. Make the object live and draw curves on it. Duplicate the curves away from the surface and loft. This should be a relatively flexible method
  3. Use the split tool to actually outline the shape of the plates and extrude. Not too non-destructive
 
Old 07 July 2013   #3
How about using displacement? Then you could literally draw the shapes without having to worry about modeling.
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Old 07 July 2013   #4
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