the Lathe Editor
       by Sharif aka the Reefster : 13 July 2004

A really neat feature in swift 3D v3 is the lathe editor. Some of you probably never even used this because you were either too lazy or too scared to try it out. Swift 3D's modeling tools are somewhat limited, so they give you editors to create your shapes.

What's The Lathe Editor?
The lathe editor is a special function in swift 3D that lets you draw a curve or a shape of some sort. Then, once in the scene editor, your curve/shape is rotated and duplicated in a circle as many times as it needs to until it meets again. Let me show you an example to clear things up.

 The Curve       The Shape

Note that the curve in the lathe editor (left) becomes a shape in the scene editor (right). This is pretty self-explanatory. You draw a curve and it will revolve in a full circle around the vertical (y) axis.

Here Is How:
  1. Start up a new swift 3D document and get into the lathe editor.  

    The Lathe Editor Tab

  2. Inside this editor, select the Add Point Tool and one of the point types such as curve point. I used the corner point to create the shape above.  

    The Point Tool

  3. Now make sure the grid is centered and has enough space for you to draw. Let's draw a small and simple shape. Make sure this shape looks half of the full shape if it was flat. Draw a shape so the right of it touches the y axis and make sure the bottom is touching the x axis like so. I used the corner point and zoomed into about 200% and came up with this shape:  

    Our Curve

    You're probably wondering how I got my points all perfectly lined up. Well, to do this, after you draw your shape, select the Shape Tool first.  

    The Shape Tool

    If the point properties window is not open, go to view > point properties. This will bring up the point properties panel. Look at the Keyboard Nudge of this point properties and set the increment to 0.001. This will move the points 0.001 points on the grid, thus giving accurate positions.

    Select your points and start moving them and lining them up with each other and the grid and voila, your shape is pixel perfect.

  4. Now go to the scene editor tab and look at your shape! It's there and it's all rounded up nicely. If you drew the shape I did, you'd get this:  

    The Shape

    We have our little indent in there too. For now, we'll consider this as a thing.

  5. Now for some tweaking. Let's say you don't want this shape to be exactly revolved 360 degrees. Let's say you want it to only revolve 180 also known as half. Select your shape, on the lathe properties (panel on the left), you can turn the Sweep Angle down to 180 degrees. You can also turn up the Radial Segments for incredibly smooth shapes. I used 64 (maximum smoothing).

     The Sweep Angle       The Shape

And that's it! It takes time to make your shapes perfect. So play around with lots of settings, points and properties and you will be a pro in no time. Don't be afraid to experiment in these types of programs, experimenting will all come out for the better.

I hope I helped you get a more advanced understanding in lathe modeling. You can create some amazing shapes with them if you practice enough with the right concentration.

Here is an example of a shape I made in Swift 3D. All objects in here are made by the lathe editor.

Swift 3D Tower

As always, I have provided the swift 3D file that we used in this tutorial for you to play around with.

Download Swift 3D v3 File

If you have any questions, comments or would like to show your work, feel free to post on the forums.

the Reefster



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