Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Tinkercad Align & Smart Duplicate Tools

Daisy -- Bob Krause

All drawing students, whether working with a pencil in 2D or a mouse in 3D, must learn to appreciate the significance of the spacial relationships that exist between shapes in a drawing. Proportions, placement and perspective all play roles in creating a sense of the space being three-dimensional and conveying important messages about how objects are related.

Students use Tinkercad in my 3D modeling class. I think the metaphor it offers, of shapes adding volume and holes subtracting volume, is well suited for students’ initial 3D studies. Anyone who has sat in on even one of my sessions can tell you that the Tinkercad function that I promote most often is the Align tool, followed closely by the Smart Duplicate feature. The Align tool offers rigor to the process of placing objects relative to one another. I suggest that it should be the beginning and many times the end of the placement process.

Smart Duplicate, which is sometimes referred to as Patterned Duplicate, is used to repeatedly duplicate the previous generation of an object or selection of objects, along with a set of modifications. Let me show you what I mean.

Say I want to design a daisy. I'd begin by arranging a Cone and a Sphere to create a single flower petal. Like this…

From this simple beginning, I'd use Tinkercad’s Smart Duplicate feature. I'd duplicate the petal shape then rotate and reposition the duplicate so that it lays beside the original. Like this…

Now, without unselecting the duplicate pedal, I use the Duplicate command 10 more times.

I turn all my pedals into a single group, add a yellow Sphere, Aligned along all 3 axis, and the bloom of the flower is done.

Yes, we can fancy up our flower a bit by adding a stem. One that suits our modest purposes might be grown using a Torus Thin shape and a few Box holes arranged like this before grouping...

Center the top of our stem around the center of the Sphere, and we have a vignette of a Daisy. (You’ll catch me referring to a design that looks good yet isn’t easily 3D printed as a vignette when the object is without a context or a scene when accompanied by surroundings.)

This design is the subject of an Inventor Studios Tinkercad Tutorial which is available for use in your classroom.