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An example of creating a new 3D object

In our example of creating a 3D object, we will start from scratch with a leaf drawing and take it all the way to a finished leaf on a plant.

Step 1: Draw a leaf outline.
Using a paper notepad or a computer drawing program, sketch the outline of the leaf shape you want to create, as though you had a pressed leaf to work from.
Step 2: Triangulate the outline
Still working on your notepad or in your drawing program, add triangles to one half of the leaf outline. Think about where you want the leaf to bend. In a curvy area, use more triangles to approximate the curve. You can see in this example that there are more triangles in the area on the top left, where the leaf curves near the tip.

Step 3: Make the triangles in the 3D editor
In PlantStudio, choose the leaf 3D object parameter for the plant you want your new leaf on and click on the picture of the leaf there.
gif/plantstudio00090000.gif In the 3D object chooser window that appears, click New.
gif/plantstudio00090000.gif Starting at the bottom of the leaf (where it will attach to the plant), add triangles matching the triangles you've drawn to create half the leaf (see
Adding triangles to a 3D object). Remember to connect existing points whenever you can.
gif/plantstudio00090000.gif If some of the triangles in your half-leaf have a different color, flip them (see
Flipping triangles in a 3D object).

Step 4: Create a mirror image
Now go to the points in what will be the center of the symmetrical leaf and line them up vertically, so the lines between them are perfectly straight.
gif/plantstudio00090000.gif Click Mirror. Additional triangles will appear on the other side to complete the leaf.
gif/plantstudio00090000.gif Drag the center points to make sure they are connected. If not, undo your drags (click Undo), then undo the mirror imaging, then drag the center points to the right places, then click Mirror again.
gif/plantstudio00090000.gif Now you have a symmetrical, but flat, leaf.

Step 5: Fold the leaf
Now drag some of the points in the Z direction: click Drag mode gif/plantstudio00000091.gif and right-click and drag up or down. Don't worry too much about which is up and which is down because you can reverse the Z values later. Use the View panels to rotate the leaf into directions that help you see what you are doing. In this picture, one View panel is used to see the leaf from its end and the other views the leaf from the side. When you are finished you should have a reasonably folded leaf.
gif/plantstudio00090000.gif You have to drag the points on both sides of your 3D object to make it symmetrical in the Z direction, so you might want to fold the leaf when you only have half a leaf. But this takes a little more imagination as to what the whole leaf will look like.
gif/plantstudio00090000.gif Remember that leaves usually have an indentation in their center where the middle vein is, and that the strongest part of the leaf (the least folded) is nearest the plant.

Step 6: See it on the plant
Now it's time to see how your new leaf looks on your plant. Click OK, then Apply, and look at your plant.
gif/plantstudio00090000.gif If the leaves are upside-down or inside-out, go back to the 3D object editor and click Reverse then click OK and Apply again.


After you've read this example, take a look at the 3D objects in the libraries supplied with PlantStudio. Rotate the 3D objects around and study how the triangles can be aligned to create leaf folds and bends that look natural. Of course, no plant has leaves that are all the same shape, but you can get some surprisingly good results with this simple system.

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Updated: March 10, 1999. Questions/comments on site to
Copyright © 1998, 1999 Paul D. Fernhout & Cynthia F. Kurtz.