Modeler: Metaballs

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  07 July 2005
Modeler: Metaballs

Hi All...

I was just playing around with the 'Metaballs' tool in Modeler, and you can get some really interesting effects.

But what is the tools proper use? What are metaballs...they certainly don't behave like polys??

Thanks!

Si.
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  07 July 2005
My small personal experience of LW's Metaballs: never use them nor waste your time on them.

I've used them in past and I found they need such a high subdivision values to be properly rendered as a smooth surface that they'll suck all of your CPU memory out also for simple objects.

If someone out there has better experience (or hints to share) then I'll be more than happy to change opinion about them.
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  07 July 2005
Yeah...I used metaballs to make a cartoon hairstyle for a character. They worked really well as you can easily mould them into random shapes.

The render however looked really poor as I couldn't get any kinda smoothing on the metaball surface.
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  07 July 2005
I too have never had any use for metaballs, and have often wondered why its in there.


Is it just a legacy feature from older versions of LW?

Is there anything you'd use it for?
 
  07 July 2005
Metaballs are really powerful but bad implemented (not to say what I really feel about): this is an LW's fault.

They were introduced in LW 7.0 (or before... I don't well remember) and never updated: another tool that is starving in lack of updates and care (the list is long).
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  07 July 2005
I agree that its a useless tools. Poly flow created by metaball is terrible and messy. However if it functions like the Z-sphere in Zbrush, it can be a god sent.
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  07 July 2005
Originally Posted by Exper: Metaballs are really powerful but...


In what way are metaballs really powerful?
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  07 July 2005
Great in creating organic models.

Good inplementations like the ZBrush's one are really a god-send, not the LW case though (sorry for the broken record... I'm very tired of LW's orphaned tools).
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  07 July 2005
Why don't they develop Metaballs to become a bit more like "Z-Spheres" from Z Brush 2?

I mean Metaballs aren't too far away from Z-Spheres.
Then they really would be a powerful and very useful tool.

Combine Metaballs with the Magic Bevel tool...and then we'd have Z-Spheres for Lightwave.
 
  07 July 2005
What are Z-spheres? Noob question sorry. T,T
 
  07 July 2005
Yeah I agree with Exper and Simon s; I don't use it commonly (very few occasions), however I found a little trick that works sometimes (if topology isn't so important) to take advantage of its easy random modelling way for organic forms and preserve the smooth look. I used it here for this cartoon tree and clouds:



The idea is to model with Metaballs, once achieved the wanted result, we freeze the metaballs and use qemLOOS until we have the mesh density that we want; then use MergeTrigonsX and finally subpatch option. Sometimes work, sometimes is necessary to tweak with spinquad tool.



Gerardo
 
  07 July 2005
I belive metaballs came w/v.5.6?
Back in the day MetaBalls were about to become a great tool for organic modeling. I used to use them a lot in TrueSpace 3D, a program that was very tough to organic model in. I think they were abandond in LW because MetaNurbs came around the same time and offerd so much more control and a somewhat familer workflow... So, that was developed further and MetaBalls were passed up. Just my 2 cents.
 
  07 July 2005
Originally Posted by gerardo: Yeah I agree with Exper and Simon s; I don't use it commonly (very few occasions), however I found a little trick that works sometimes (if topology isn't so important) to take advantage of its easy random modelling way for organic forms and preserve the smooth look. I used it here for this cartoon tree and clouds:



The idea is to model with Metaballs, once achieved the wanted result, we freeze the metaballs and use qemLOOS until we have the mesh density that we want; then use MergeTrigonsX and finally subpatch option. Sometimes work, sometimes is necessary to tweak with spinquad tool.



Gerardo


I am digging this look, this is the kind of look I am wanting for my small project so if you don't mind I have a couple questions :-

For the grass, are you using procedural textures?
Are bump maps being used?

cheers in advance
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  07 July 2005
Originally Posted by johnnyh66: Back in the day MetaBalls were about to become a great tool for organic modeling. ....... So, that was developed further and MetaBalls were passed up.
MetaBalls, as far as I can remeber, were implemented after MetaNurbs.

They're not a "passed up" tool... they have to be well implemented: simple.
I don't want point to ZBrush as an example anymore!
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  07 July 2005
Originally Posted by samartin: I am digging this look, this is the kind of look I am wanting for my small project so if you don't mind I have a couple questions :-

For the grass, are you using procedural textures?
Are bump maps being used?

cheers in advance


Hi, I think in this image is more notorious than isn't a bump map:



I used Sasquatch for grass, pitifully Saslite doesn't have the necessary parameters to provide a cartoon look (Tip Narrowing).
Before testing with Sasquatch I made tests with simple polygons:



a weightmap to fake some SSS effect and a transparent map:



and Textured Displacement(World Coordinates) for each grass piece; the result was similar:



however I preferred Sasquatch because the render is quicker and because with polys you need to separate in parts your grass object (in layers) if you want to use a clipmap due to shadow maps.
I've attached the test scene (luck that I kept it!) maybe gives you some ideas



Gerardo
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