You are on page 1of 258

Swift 3D V4 User Guide

Copyright
This manual and the software described within its pages are furnished under license and may only be used or
copied in accordance of the terms of such license. Program copyright 2004 Electric Rain Inc. User Guide copy-
right 2004 Electric Rain Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this manual may be reproduced in any form or by any
means without the expressed written consent of Electric Rain, Inc. Translation: It's ours and you can't have it!
THTHPPPT! Unless you say "pretty please."

Electric Rain, Inc.


5171 Eldorado Springs Drive
Boulder, CO 80303
www.erain.com

Trademarks
Swift 3D, the Swift 3D logo, RAViX and Crystal Trackball are trademarks of Electric Rain Inc. Electric Rain
reserves the right to seize all your assets…Hey, what are you doing reading this ridiculous fine print. OK, you
caught us. We'll keep it legal. Macromedia Flash and Freehand are trademarks or registered trademarks of Mac-
romedia, Inc. Microsoft, Windows, Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows NT, Windows 2000, Windows ME and
Windows XP are trademarks of Microsoft Corporation. Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and Streamline are trade-
marks or registered trademarks of Adobe Systems Inc. All other product brand names are trademarks or regis-
tered trademarks of their respective holders. Translation: Make up your own stuff.

Credits
Swift 3D was originally built by John Soucie, the RainMaker. To him we owe our existence. Electric Rain's helm
is manned by Mike Soucie, RainMan. To him we owe our past and our future. Brett Close and Jeff Burton are
responsible for pushing Swift 3D to the next evolutionary level - thanks for diversifying our genetic pool. Justin
Bertman, without you we'd just have a big pile of code - thanks for making it all work.Ed Wunsch and Carrie
Cochrane - we appreciate you turning this application into a rock star. And as for the rest of the Erainiacs who
have come together in Boulder, Colorado to build software and enjoy life, it's been fun!
Much appreciation goes out to all the family members who have supported us through this journey.
The Swift 3D User Guide was penned by Nicholas Petterssen - RainWriter, and Christine Petterssen.
Cover artwork and all ERAIN print design was masterminded by Jeff Schaich, the best damn designer ever.

Thanks Y'all!
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

BIG SHOUT-OUT TO OUR USERS!

You know who you are, and we know where we'd be without you (to put it bluntly… nowhere!)
Electric Rain has accumulated what we believe to be the highest quality user base in the history of
software, and everyday we all go to work it's because we enjoy building stuff that makes you happy,
and in turn getting feedback from happy people. Yes, it all sounds a little sappy, but honestly we are
all greatly appreciative of the types of people who are into creating 3D for Flash and we value the
fact that we can pursue our passions in software with folks like yourselves who pursue Flash design
with equal passion.
As we enter Phase Four of this journey, I want to personally thank those people who comment on the
way we go about the business of documentation. Now I'd like to also offer you all some gratitude
from our Technical Support department since they have jumped onboard with me in our efforts to
provide high quality and personable resources to our users. This User Guide is now a joint effort on
our behalf to provide you with both the initial educational aspect of learning Swift 3D, but also the
post educational support you might be seeking once your feet get wet in the waters of 3D for Flash.
With that in mind, you'll notice certain aspects of our documentation continue to evolve. You can
expect to find additional step-by-step instructions on specific tasks, more rich-media tutorials that
directly correlate with topics in the User Guide, as well as the expected thorough coverage of fea-
tures and their use. I credit these additions in this document to my comrade in educational arms,
Christine Petterssen, who has spearheaded the forward development of this User Guide and contin-
ues to run Electric Rain's stellar support system that's offered to everyone via our sup-
port@erain.com address.

Much Thanks,
Nicholas and Christine Petterssen
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

CONTENTS
What Swift 3D Is All About ..................................................................1
How did we get here? ........................................................................................................................1
A workflow for everyone ....................................................................................................................2
1. Building 3D Models ...............................................................................................................2
2. Creating 3D Scenes ..............................................................................................................3
3. Rendering 3D Output ............................................................................................................4
4. Integrating 3D Content ..........................................................................................................5
3…2…1… ..........................................................................................................................................6
Getting Up and Running ......................................................................7
Welcome to the ERAIN world ............................................................................................................7
Some thoughts about this User Guide ...............................................................................................7
Installation ..........................................................................................................................................8
What you absolutely need to run Swift 3D ................................................................................9
Puttin' this puppy on your unit ...................................................................................................9
Additional Resources .........................................................................................................................10
“What the #@&?% is going on?” (Tech Support) ..............................................................................11
Web Assistant ....................................................................................................................................13
Scene Editor ........................................................................................15
Overview ............................................................................................................................................15
Swift 3D Interface ..............................................................................................................................16
Customizing the Swift 3D Interface ....................................................................................................17
User Preferences ...............................................................................................................................18
18
Editor Tabs ........................................................................................................................................18
Extrusion Editor .........................................................................................................................19
Lathe Editor ...............................................................................................................................19
Advanced Modeler ....................................................................................................................19
Preview and Export Editor ........................................................................................................20
Web Assistant ...........................................................................................................................20
Scene Editor ......................................................................................................................................20
Viewports ..................................................................................................................................20
Properties Toolbar ....................................................................................................................21
Main Toolbar .............................................................................................................................22
Animation Toolbar .....................................................................................................................24
Rotation Toolbar .......................................................................................................................24
Lighting Toolbar ........................................................................................................................24
Gallery Toolbar .......................................................................................................................... 25
Gallery Management .................................................................................................................25
Tutorial ................................................................................................29

1
Table of Contents

Overview ............................................................................................................................................29
Viewport Properties ............................................................................39
Overview ............................................................................................................................................39
Layout Properties ..............................................................................................................................39
Layout .......................................................................................................................................39
Display Modes ...................................................................................................................................40
Environment Properties ....................................................................................................................42
Background Color .....................................................................................................................42
Ambient Light Color ..................................................................................................................43
Environment ..............................................................................................................................44
Working With Objects ..........................................................................45
Overview ............................................................................................................................................45
Object Property Page ........................................................................................................................45
Name ........................................................................................................................................46
Hide ...........................................................................................................................................46
Lock ..........................................................................................................................................47
Refraction Index ........................................................................................................................47
Use Texture Coordinates ..........................................................................................................47
Smoothing .................................................................................................................................48
Selecting Objects ...............................................................................................................................48
Selecting Individual Objects ......................................................................................................48
Selecting Multiple Objects .........................................................................................................48
Selecting Objects Using Hierarchy Toolbar ..............................................................................49
Grouping Objects ...............................................................................................................................49
Cutting, Copying, Pasting and Deleted Objects .................................................................................50
Positioning Objects ............................................................................................................................51
Click-and-Drag ..........................................................................................................................51
Nudge Keys ..............................................................................................................................51
Constrain Axis ...........................................................................................................................51
Numerical Positioning ...............................................................................................................52
Pivot Points ........................................................................................................................................53
Rotating Objects ................................................................................................................................54
Numeric Rotation ......................................................................................................................55
Flash Tutorial: Rotating Objects ........................................................................................................56
Scaling Objects ..................................................................................................................................56
Scaling Mode ............................................................................................................................56
Scale Property Page .................................................................................................................57
Hierarchy ...........................................................................................................................................58
Creating Parent/Child Relationships .........................................................................................58
Groups Within Hierarchy ...........................................................................................................59
Primitives .............................................................................................61
Overview ............................................................................................................................................61

2
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

Inserting Primitives ............................................................................................................................61


Sphere ...............................................................................................................................................62
GeoSphere ........................................................................................................................................62
Box (Cube) .........................................................................................................................................63
Pyramid ..............................................................................................................................................63
Cone ..................................................................................................................................................64
Cylinder ..............................................................................................................................................65
Torus ..................................................................................................................................................65
Plane ..................................................................................................................................................66
Polyhedron .........................................................................................................................................66
Text ......................................................................................................71
Overview ............................................................................................................................................71
Inserting a Text Object .......................................................................................................................71
Text Property Page ............................................................................................................................71
Bevels Property Page ........................................................................................................................73
Sizing Property Page .........................................................................................................................75
Editing Characters Individually ..........................................................................................................75
Convert Text to Paths ........................................................................................................................75
Working With Text Objects in Advanced Modeler .............................................................................76
Extrusion Editor ...................................................................................77
Overview ............................................................................................................................................77
How It Works .....................................................................................................................................78
Main Toolbar ......................................................................................................................................78
Working with Extrusions from the Model Gallery ...............................................................................80
The Grid .............................................................................................................................................81
Creating Shapes ................................................................................................................................81
Editing Your Artwork ..........................................................................................................................83
Editing Points ............................................................................................................................83
Editing Paths .............................................................................................................................84
Working with complex shapes ...........................................................................................................85
Combining and Breaking Apart ..........................................................................................................86
Editing Imported AI and EPS Extrusions ...........................................................................................87
Path Morphing ...................................................................................................................................87
Extrusion Properties ..........................................................................................................................88
Working With Extruded Objects in Advanced Modeler ......................................................................88
Lathe Editor .........................................................................................89
Overview ............................................................................................................................................89
How It Works .....................................................................................................................................89
Creating a Lathed Object ..........................................................................................................90
Working With Lathes from the Model Gallery ....................................................................................91
Copying and Pasting from the Extrusion Editor .................................................................................92
Lathe Property Page ..........................................................................................................................92

3
Table of Contents

Lathe Path Morphing .........................................................................................................................93


Working with Lathes in the Advanced Modeler ..................................................................................93
Importing AI and EPS Files .................................................................95
Overview ............................................................................................................................................95
How to do it ........................................................................................................................................95
Materials of Imported AI and EPS Files ....................................................................................96
Layers (Depth Progression) ......................................................................................................96
Editing Your Imported AI and EPS Artwork .......................................................................................97
Tips for building vector artwork ..........................................................................................................98
Troubleshooting AI/EPS Import Problems .........................................................................................100
Importing 3DS and DXF Files ..............................................................101
Overview ............................................................................................................................................101
3DS File Format .................................................................................................................................101
DXF File Format ................................................................................................................................103
Advance Modeler .................................................................................105
Overview ............................................................................................................................................105
When to use Swift 3D's standard modeling tools: .....................................................................106
When to use Swift 3D's Advanced Modeler: .............................................................................106
When to use them both: ............................................................................................................106
3D Terminology 101 ..........................................................................................................................106
Polygons ...................................................................................................................................107
Normal ......................................................................................................................................108
Moving Between Scene Editor and Advanced Modeler .....................................................................108
Scene Editor to Advanced Modeler ..........................................................................................108
Advanced Modeler to Scene Editor ..........................................................................................109
Modeler Default Settings ...................................................................................................................109
Working With the Viewports ...............................................................................................................109
Customizing Viewport Layout ....................................................................................................109
...................................................................................................................................................Viewport
Menu Button 110
Reference Grid ..........................................................................................................................110
Axis Guide .................................................................................................................................110
Viewports ...........................................................................................................................................111
2D Orthographic Viewports .......................................................................................................111
...................................................................................................................................................Perspec-
tive Viewport 112
Viewport Display Modes ............................................................................................................112
Edit Mesh Button ...............................................................................................................................112
Combining and Breaking Apart Meshes ............................................................................................114
Starting with Gallery Models or Primitives .........................................................................................114
Model Gallery ............................................................................................................................115
Primitive Meshes ...............................................................................................................................116

4
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

Inserting Primitives ....................................................................................................................116


General Properties .............................................................................................................................117
Selection ............................................................................................................................................118
Select Tools ..............................................................................................................................118
Selection Property Page ...........................................................................................................122
Soft Select (Editing Mesh Mode Only) ......................................................................................123
Edit Menu ..................................................................................................................................125
Surface Groups (Editing Mesh Mode Only) .......................................................................................127
Transform Tools - Move, Rotate, Scale and Extrude .........................................................................129
Selecting Transform Tools ........................................................................................................130
Move ..................................................................................................................................................131
Move Tool .................................................................................................................................132
Move Tool Property Page ........................................................................................................132
Rotate ................................................................................................................................................133
Rotate Tool ...............................................................................................................................133
Rotate Property Page ...............................................................................................................134
Scale ..................................................................................................................................................135
Scale Tool .................................................................................................................................135
Scale Tool Property Page .........................................................................................................136
Extrude (Editing Mesh Mode Only) ....................................................................................................137
Extrude Tool ..............................................................................................................................137
Extrude Tool Property Page ......................................................................................................138
Align To ..............................................................................................................................................138
Mirror .................................................................................................................................................139
Flatten ................................................................................................................................................140
Roundness .........................................................................................................................................141
Subdivide ...........................................................................................................................................141
Delete Empty Faces ..................................................................................................................143
Edge (Editing Mesh Mode Only) ........................................................................................................143
Weld (Editing Mesh Mode Only) ........................................................................................................144
Smoothing Groups (Editing Mesh Mode Only) ..................................................................................145
Bitmap Texture Mapping ....................................................................................................................148
Materials ..............................................................................................151
Overview ............................................................................................................................................151
The Material Gallery ..........................................................................................................................151
Vector Materials ........................................................................................................................152
Raster Materials ........................................................................................................................152
Applying Materials .....................................................................................................................153
Material Property Page ......................................................................................................................154
Material Editor ....................................................................................................................................156
Creating and Editing Materials ..................................................................................................156
Solid (Vector) Colors .................................................................................................................157

5
Table of Contents

Bitmap Textures ........................................................................................................................159


Procedural Color Mapping ........................................................................................................160
Procedural Texture Mapping .....................................................................................................162
Transparent Materials ...............................................................................................................163
Reflective Materials ...................................................................................................................164
Environment ..............................................................................................................................165
Lights ...................................................................................................167
Overview ............................................................................................................................................167
Types of Lights ..................................................................................................................................168
Lighting Gallery ..................................................................................................................................168
Trackball Lighting ...............................................................................................................................169
Positioning Trackball Lights ......................................................................................................169
Adding and Subtracting Trackball Lights ...................................................................................170
Scene Lights ......................................................................................................................................170
Free Lights ................................................................................................................................170
Target Lights .............................................................................................................................170
Light Properties ..................................................................................................................................172
Hierarchy ...........................................................................................................................................173
Cameras ...............................................................................................175
Overview ............................................................................................................................................175
Standard Cameras .............................................................................................................................176
Camera Mode ...........................................................................................................................176
Perspective Camera .................................................................................................................177
Scene Cameras .................................................................................................................................179
Free Cameras ..........................................................................................................................179
Target Cameras ........................................................................................................................180
Camera Property Page ......................................................................................................................181
Hierarchy ...........................................................................................................................................182
Rendering Camera Views ..................................................................................................................182
Animation .............................................................................................183
Overview ............................................................................................................................................183
Animate Button ..................................................................................................................................184
Animation Timeline Toolbar ...............................................................................................................184
Animation Gallery ..............................................................................................................................186
Saving an Animation to the Animation Gallery ..........................................................................187
Keyframe Animation ..........................................................................................................................188
Editing Keyframes and Animations ...........................................................................................190
Editing the Animation Path ........................................................................................................191
Animating Scale .................................................................................................................................194
Animating Materials ...........................................................................................................................194
Animating Lights ................................................................................................................................194
Animating Cameras ...........................................................................................................................195

6
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

Hierarchical Animations .....................................................................................................................196


Path Morphing ...................................................................................................................................197
Preview and Export .............................................................................199
Overview ............................................................................................................................................199
Previewing vs. Rendering vs. Exporting ............................................................................................199
Render Preview .................................................................................................................................200
Export To File ....................................................................................................................................202
Rendering With RAVIX .........................................................................203
Overview ............................................................................................................................................203
Vector Output Options .......................................................................................................................203
General .....................................................................................................................................204
Fill Options ................................................................................................................................208
Edge Options ............................................................................................................................214
Rendering With EMO ............................................................................217
Overview ............................................................................................................................................217
General ..............................................................................................................................................218
Target File Type ........................................................................................................................218
Bitmap Compression .................................................................................................................218
Color Depth ...............................................................................................................................219
Antialias Quality ........................................................................................................................219
Working With Exported Files ...............................................................221
Overview ............................................................................................................................................221
Publishing SWF files directly to Web .................................................................................................221
SmartLayer SWFT Files using MX Importer ......................................................................................221
Swift 3D Importer ......................................................................................................................222
Layers .......................................................................................................................................222
Now the Fun Begins - Utilizing SmartLayer Technology ...........................................................224
Updating Imported SWFT Files .................................................................................................224
SWF Files From RAViX III — Standard Import ..................................................................................224
Breaking Out to Layers .............................................................................................................225
Optimizing in Flash ...................................................................................................................226
Raster Files from EMO — Standard Import .......................................................................................226
Appendix A: Menus ..............................................................................227
Scene Editor Menu System ...............................................................................................................227
Extrusion and Lathe Editor Menu System .........................................................................................229
Advanced Modeler Menu System ......................................................................................................230
Preview and Export Editor Menu System ..........................................................................................232
Appendix B: Keyboard Strokes/Shortcuts ..........................................233
Scene Editor ......................................................................................................................................233
Extrusion and Lathe Editors ...............................................................................................................234
Advanced Modeler .............................................................................................................................235

7
Table of Contents

Preview and Export Editor .................................................................................................................236

8
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

1 what swift3D is all about

How did we get here?


The answer to that question gets more and more complex through each version release of Swift 3D as our little 3D tool
grows up to be a full-fledged 3D application. Here's a quick study of Swift 3D's history…
Swift 3D has always had a fairly clear focus in life, declaring unabashedly that it was all about creating quick and easy
3D for Flash. Furthermore, with its initial focus on vector output via the RAViX rendering engine, users typically came
knocking on Swift 3D's door looking for one core solution - generating 3D vector animations.
But of course, things change.
As Flash's breadth grew, so did Swift 3D's, and before long we included a second rendering engine that provided the
ability to output photorealistic raster output. And not to overlook its roots, there was an entire development effort
thrown into upgrading the vector output which bolstered RAViX's position as the industry's premier 3D vector render-
ing engine.
Meanwhile, back at the interface, Swift 3D has been introducing more and more modeling capabilities that suit our
most abundant customers - people with lots of design skills but little 3D background. Tools were included that made
the leap from 2D to 3D design as comfortable as possible for all those Flashers out there tantalized by the thought of
easily creating 3D graphics and animations for their Flash projects.
And since no application is an island, Electric Rain has also spent significant time constructing easily accessible and
fast-moving bridges designed to get your 3D content out of Swift 3D and into the world of Flash. When playing the
role of a complimentary tool, we've felt it prudent to maintain a good working relationship with the application we
compliment.
So that's Swift 3D's illustrious past in a nutshell, which brings us back to the present day and the task at hand - trying to
summarize our now mature and highly-potent 3D application in a few short pages of this User Guide. You see, as Swift
3D continues to develop in features and capabilities, so too does it develop in its utility. Whereas we used to be able to
clearly define our typical user and his or her typical workflow, now Swift 3D is faced with a multitude of users coming
into the application with a multitude of things they are trying to achieve.

1
Chapter 1 | What Swift 3D Is All About

Fortunately, this growing set of user variables and disparate end-games need not concern you. I am happy to report that
although Swift 3D has developed an increasingly rich set of capabilities, it still does one thing really, really well -
quickly and easily create 3D graphics and animation. And this is critical because whether you're a Flash designer, a 3D
artist, a 2D illustrator, a CAD professional or a Web design hobbyist, Swift 3D now provides ALL of the tools you
need to get your mission accomplished in the least amount of time with the highest quality results.

A workflow for everyone


Regardless of your 3D experience or design intent, this chapter is included in order to help you get your arms around
the concept of Swift 3D as quickly as possible. We're not here to answer specifics - those come later. We're here to look
at the workflow and toolset in an "every-user" sort of way. And despite the diversity of goals our users now come into
Swift 3D with, there is an underlying series of steps that everyone will end up moving through, regardless of your
intended outcome. Here are those steps:
1. Building 3D models
2. Creating 3D scenes
3. Rendering 3D output
4. Integrating 3D content
We'll go through these steps one at a time and point out some key functional areas of Swift 3D. At the same time I'll
call attention to some of the areas that are new to Swift 3D V4 so those of you coming from an earlier version can get a
better feel for where your upgrade investment lies.

1. Building 3D Models
Creating 3D objects is at the core of any 3D application, but there are a variety of different strategies you can take
within Swift 3D to populate your scene with these models.

Importing existing artwork and models


Since many graphic designers have already spent time creating 2D vector artwork, one of Swift 3D's most convenient
tools is the AI/EPS importer that instantly converts vector artwork into a 3D object. In addition, you can utilize the
scads of free models available on the Web, or any existing 3D assets you or your clients already have, and bring them
into Swift 3D in either the 3DS or DXF format.

Pulling from internal galleries


Once something has been modeled, there's rarely ever a need to go through the "create-from-scratch" process again
with that particular model. Swift 3D V4 includes a model gallery as well as a Bezier path gallery that come populated
with pre-built artwork designed to expedite any modeling tasks at hand. And of course you can save your own cre-
ations into these galleries as well as gather resources from fellow members of the Swift 3D community.

2
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

Using basic building blocks


3D primitives are objects that serve as the fundamental building blocks for modeling. You can choose from a variety of
primitive shapes, such as boxes, spheres, cones and even the occasional dodecahedron, which can be modified and
assembled into more complex models. Or if you're looking for 3D text, Swift 3D will convert any TrueType or Post-
Script font installed on your computer into a 3D model.

Drawing 2D shapes to create 3D objects


Since most of our users are pretty handy with a Bezier pen, Swift 3D serves up two modeling tools that use basic paths
to create more complex 3D objects. The Extrusion Editor is designed to give your 2D paths both depth and bevels, and
the Lathe Editor will convert your paths into radial 3D surfaces.

Advanced Modeling interface


This feature is less a modeling tool and more an entire modeling environment. When you've hit a point where the sup-
plied shapes and your 2D drawing skills aren't going the full distance, the Advanced Modeler is here to take you the
rest of the way to the land of total and complete modeling power and versatility. In this interface you have full editing
control over the polygonal structure of your models as well as the ability to apply detailed textures to their surfaces
through a UV texture coordinate system.

Adding colors and materials to your objects


We don't live in a monochrome world, and neither should your models. Swift 3D provides a variety of tools to help you
color and texture your creations. Whether it's dragging and dropping a supplied material from the galleries, editing an
existing material to suit your needs or creating a bitmap or procedural texture from scratch, you'll have no problems
surfacing your 3D creations for optimal visual impact.

2. Creating 3D Scenes
Although 3D models comprise the basics of a project, they rarely serve as an ending point. Lights, cameras and anima-
tion are usually integral parts of what is to become an entire 3D scene.

Using cameras to view your scene


Swift 3D comes equipped with a handful of standard cameras that serve as windows into your scene, and you won't
have to know a thing about optics or cinematography to use them. But as you grow more comfortable with your skills
you'll find that great visual effects can be created through the use of Scene Cameras, which are integrated with your
scene and fully mobile, just like the cameras used to create big-time Hollywood movies.

Lighting your scene


Although you won't be forced to touch a single light bulb or switch, the world of lighting can get as rich as you care to
make it. By editing existing lights, adding your own custom lights or even animating lighting schemes, you'll see that
showing your scene in the best possible light is both easy and powerful.

3
Chapter 1 | What Swift 3D Is All About

Lighting Gallery
Realizing that it's not everybody's dream to be a Key Grip, Swift 3D includes an entire gallery full of pre-configured
lighting schemes so you can harness the creative juices from the 3D gurus of the world. And when you step up to create
your own illuminatory masterpiece, the gallery will be there with open arms to archive your creation for future use.

Animating objects within your scene.


Of course 3D images are cool, but 3D animation is what most of our users are after. Swift 3D supplies you with a key-
frame-based timeline designed to make animating a breeze. You tell Swift 3D what your scene should look like at var-
ious snapshots in time and its tweening system will figure out the details for you. Or use the super-simple approach and
just drop a pre-built animation from the gallery onto your objects.

Advanced animation tools


When it's motion control you're looking for, Swift 3D hands over the wheel and says, “you drive.” Swift 3D offers full
animation path editing through an in-scene Bezier curve editor, letting you map out precise object, camera and light
animations. And it's a simple process to link both cameras and lights to other objects using Swift 3D’s Hierarchy sys-
tem so cameras and lights can easily track objects throughout an animation.

3. Rendering 3D Output
Herein lies the magic of transforming your 3D scene into a usable format. Depending on your production goals, Swift
3D is prepped and ready to render exactly what you need.

Creating vector content with RAViX III


In its ongoing mission to please all vectorphiles of the world, the RAViX III rendering engine lies at the heart of Swift
3D and is the single most common reason users have flocked to this application. RAViX III is responsible for taking the
3D scene you have assembled within the Swift 3D interface and converting it to vectors. We can't tell you exactly how
it does it, but we CAN tell you that the third incarnation of this ingenious technology offers so many output variations
that I have to refer you to the rendering chapter for the full details.

Creating raster content with EMO


Despite the beauty of scalable vector content, there's definitely a cap on the realism you can generate with RAViX III,
and thus the existence of EMO, Electric Rain's very own ray tracing raster rendering engine. And that long list of
adjectives I just used can all be summed up in a single word - Photorealism. If you're shooting for 3D content that sim-
ply blows people away, EMO will get you there with its advanced light calculations and detailed bitmap material ren-
dering.

Utilizing SmartLayer Technology


Ever since Flash MX stormed onto the scene with its extensibility architecture, Electric Rain has had the opportunity to
get more creative in how RAViX III renders files since Macromedia provides us with the ability to go beyond the typi-
cal SWF import process. SmartLayer Technology works hand-in-hand with the Flash MX and MX 2004 Importer (see

4
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

next section) to break apart your 3D scene into individual layers that can be automatically imported into Flash's
Library. This technology provides exceptional ease of integration with your Flash content, creates smaller files, allows
for more design creativity and is highly recommended for anyone using MX and MX 2004. Integrating 3D Content

4. Integrating 3D Content
Swift 3D is designed to be a content creation tool, not a content viewing tool. For this reason, anything you render from
Swift 3D, whether using RAViX or EMO, will need to be displayed to your viewing audience using some additional
tools or technology.

Distributing SWF files directly


Output from Swift 3D in the SWF format, both vector and raster-based, can be viewed directly in two ways. First is if
your viewers have the standalone Flash Player installed on their computers, which is typically only the case if those
computers also have the Flash authoring tool installed as well. Second is the method of using a Web browser and its
associated Flash Player plug-in to display SWF files from Swift 3D. Many of our users who have no post-production
editing needs simply publish their Swift 3D-generated content to the Web using SWF files embedded in their HTML
pages.

Importing SWF output into Flash


A larger number of our users DO want to somehow further edit or integrate their 3D work in Flash, and the SWF for-
mat provides an excellent vehicle for making the journey from Swift 3D to Flash. Both vector and raster renderings
contained within an SWF file will be comprised of a series of keyframes (or a single keyframe if it's a single-frame ren-
dering) that will arrive neatly onto Flash's timeline in their own separate layer upon import. For the raster-based SWF
files there will be a series of images on that layer, and for vector-based files there will be a series of vector-based draw-
ings made up of lines and fills, which can be further broken apart and edited on a frame-by-frame basis if needed.

Leveraging the Flash MX Importer


As mentioned in the SmartLayer section, those using Flash MX and MX 2004 have the ability to use the included Flash
MX Importer to transport files from Swift 3D to Flash via Electric Rain's .SWFT proprietary file format. Contained in
these files is layered 3D content that the Importer interprets and places into Flash's library as a movie clip or directly
onto the stage. The Flash Importer is installed automatically for you with Swift 3D when either Flash MX or MX 2004
is detected on your machine.

Using raster-based file formats


The EMO ray tracer is well-versed with the standard raster file formats such as JPEG, BMP and PNG to name a few.
When rendering to these formats you'll find that the files behave just like any other image file you've worked with in
the past. Whether publishing them directly to the Web, editing them further in Photoshop or Fireworks, or attaching
them to an email, these files are about as universal as you get.

5
Chapter 1 | What Swift 3D Is All About

Using vector-based file formats besides SWF


Yes, Swift 3D tries to be as agnostic as possible when it comes to rendering output, so you'll find both AI and EPS as
file types within the RAViX III rendering options. These files can be imported into vector-based drawing applications
like Illustrator and Freehand, making Swift 3D an excellent choice for creating 3D illustrations. Additionally we have
included the SVG format as an option for those interested in this potentially powerful distribution format.

3…2…1…
That's it, you're now fully prepped and ready to move on to Phase 2 of the Electric Rain Experience. With both the his-
tory of Swift 3D and its prescribed workflow in your back pocket you're set to begin your rapid climb to veteran Swift
3D status. Read on, learn more, play around and enjoy it all.
Now have at it!

(Seriously, that's it. Now get along. Shooo!)

6
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

2 getting up and running

Welcome to the ERAIN world


Don't be alarmed. We’re not going to make you go through any bizarre indoctrinations or memorize obscure incanta-
tions. But we would like you to understand a little bit about our company and its philosophy. You see, just because we
build software doesn't mean that we have to function like every other company that builds software. In fact, I'd like you
to put most of what you know about software documentation into a dark closet and lock the door, because this is not
your typical User Guide, and I am not your typical technical writer. I'm just some guy who lives on a small farm in Ver-
mont who loves to write and happens to know Swift 3D inside and out.
Our goals at Electric Rain are simple: build world-class software, conduct business with unconditional integrity, have
gobs of fun and share that fun with our users. And that's where you come in. We can create the absolute best 3D tool in
the industry, but until we educate you on how to use it, we've accomplished nothing. In the past, User Guides have
served the purpose of conveying one important message: what the software can do. The good ones take it a step further
and teach the important lesson of how to actually use the software. Hopefully you will find that the Swift 3D User
Guide accomplishes both those tasks efficiently. But there is still one thing that has been missing from the world of
software documentation and that's the sharing of the fun.
We had an absolute blast creating Swift 3D V4, and my goal is to share that same excitement with you while learning
the application. My instinct tells me that you want more from a User Guide than just a reference document. I believe
that you want to walk away from the experience with an implicit understanding of Swift 3D. You want to do more than
just learn what notes this powerful instrument can play, you want to learn how to create beautiful music with it. And
maybe, just maybe, you want to actually enjoy the experience of learning new software and have a few laughs in the
process. So sit back, relax and just “let it rain.”

Some thoughts about this User Guide


As I just mentioned, this User Guide strays from the norm by combining your typical conveyance of information with
a more elaborate theme of user education. To accomplish this goal, we'll use the following structure:

7
Chapter 2 | Getting Up and Running

First, we'll take a look at the Swift 3D interface via the Scene Editor chapter, which also serves as a nice Quick Tour of
the program as a whole. We've gone to great lengths to design software that's as intuitive as possible, but a general
familiarity with the program can do a lot to prevent any initial head scratching due to a simple misunderstanding of
workflow or tool-use. The Quick Tour exists for you to get the proverbial “lay of the land.”
Of course, there's nothing like actually rolling up your sleeves and getting dirty, so once you're comfortable with the
general layout and functionality of Swift 3D, we'll go ahead and crank out a 3D animation in the Tutorial chapter.
Although virtually impossible, we'll attempt to hit all the main features of Swift 3D by constructing a desk lamp.
The balance of the User Guide is designed to provide you with the full details of every last bell and whistle within the
Swift 3D interface. Each chapter will begin with an overview and then quickly get into the details of how to accom-
plish exactly what you want. I'll try and focus on the most common applications for each tool without forgoing infor-
mation that gives you the freedom to take each functional component of Swift 3D to the next level.

If you have been a Swift 3D user since the good old days and only want to read about what is new, as you
flip through the pages look for the “new” icon. Keep in mind that it is placed next to both features that are totally new
and old features that have updated functionality. Since the Advanced Modeler chapter is completely new, we avoided
overkill and just placed one “new” icon at the beginning.

What's that you say? (User Guide Standards)


As is the case with any form of communication, there are some standards I'd like to cover so we're all speaking the
same language here.
• Click means press the mouse button once and release it.
• Right click on the Windows platform means press the right mouse button once and release it. All right clicks on
the Macintosh platform can also be performed with a CTRL + click, which means depressing the CTRL key
while clicking the mouse button.
• Double click means press the mouse button twice in rapid succession.
• Click-and-drag means press and hold the mouse button while you move the cursor.
• Select means choose or highlight an item by clicking on it.
• Key names are given in caps (CTRL, SHIFT, ENTER, etc.). When keys should be pressed simultaneously, their
names are connected by a ‘+’ sign.
• Menu commands are referred to by their Menu Name > then the Menu Item > followed by any further Menu Item
Subcategories. For example, Setup > Materials means open the Setup menu and choose the Materials menu item.

Installation
Now that we know how to click, let’s go ahead and get Swift 3D installed on your machine. This section also contains
some helpful information about installing maintenance builds and how to get Swift 3D purring at optimum speed on
your machine, so even if you’ve already passed the installation process with flying colors you might want to give this
section a quick read anyway.

8
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

What you absolutely need to run Swift 3D


(IMPORTANT: The most current system requirements are posted to our website.)

Windows 98, ME, NT 4.0, Win 2000, XP Macintosh 0S 8.6 and higher, OS X 10.2 and higher*
600 MHz CPU (1.2 GHz recommended) 400 MHz CPU (1 GHz recommended)
128 MB of RAM/256 MB of RAM for XP (512 MB 128 MB of application RAM (512 MB recommended)
recommended) Video resolution 1024x768x65k (Color set to Millions)
Video resolution 1024x768x65k 30 MB free hard disk space
30 MB free hard disk space CD-ROM Drive
CD-ROM Drive *Support is only provided on 10.2 and higher

Enhancing the Performance of Swift 3D


Swift 3D will take advantage of any hardware acceleration that your computer's video card may utilize. If you expe-
rience any problems with the display of the Swift 3D interface, go to Setup > User Preferences and turn off the Allow
OpenGL Hardware Acceleration option. If the display issues continue, then the problem lies with the OpenGL imple-
mentation of your video card. Try downloading the latest driver for your card from the manufacturer’s site to see if a
fix is available. If the display problems persist you will have to run Swift 3D with hardware acceleration disabled.

The only other factors that will increase rendering performance are CPU speed and the amount of RAM you have
installed. When using dual CPUs, Swift 3D will only utilize one of them while rendering.

Puttin' this puppy on your unit


Installing the Full Release
If you have a previous version of Swift 3D installed on your machine you do not need to uninstall it before installing
Swift 3D v4.00. Swift 3D v4.00 will be installed to a separate directory and will not have any interaction at all with
previous versions. (User preferences will not be transferred to Swift 3D v4.00 from previous versions of the program.)

To install Swift 3D from the downloaded installer file:


1. Locate the install file.
Win: The file is named "Swift3DV4Release-XXX.exe" where XXX is the current build number of Swift 3D V4.
Mac: The file is named "Swift3DV4Release-XXX.hqx" where XXX is the current build number of Swift 3D V4.
2. Run the installation program:
Win: Double click on the found "Swift3DV4Release-XXX.exe" file.
Mac: Double click on the "Swift3DV4Release-XXX.hqx" archive to begin unpacking it. After unpacking, you
will have a file named "Swift 3D V4 Installer." Double click on this file.
3. Jump to number 3 in section "To install Swift 3D from the CD-ROM."

To install Swift 3D from the CD-ROM:


1. Place the CD-ROM into the CD drive.
2. Run the installation program.

9
Chapter 2 | Getting Up and Running

Win: If the auto run doesn't initialize the CD and launch the installer, navigate to the CD-ROM and double click
the 'setup.exe' file.
Mac: Double click on the CD and navigate to 'Swift 3D Installer' and then double click on that file.
3. Follow the Installation instructions to complete the install. Unless you chose a different location, Swift 3D will
install to the following location on your machine:
Win: Program Files\Electric Rain\Swift 3D\Version 4.00
Mac: Applications\Swift 3D\Version 4.00
4. You will be asked for your serial number the first time you attempt to run Swift 3D after installation. Subsequent
maintenance installs will not require your serial number to be re-entered.
5. When Swift 3D asks you to register your product, go ahead and take the extra minute of your time to do it because
you will need to be registered to get future maintenance updates and to access discounts on future version releases.

Installing Maintenance Builds


Once a full version of Swift 3D has been installed on your machine, you can download update builds from the Cus-
tomer Only Site.

To install an update build:


1. Go to the Help > Product Updates from within the Swift 3D Interface.
2. Click on the "Download Latest Swift 3D v.4.0 Update" button to begin the download process.
NOTE: On the Mac you will be prompted to download a file named "download.asp." Please do not change the
name of this file as it will corrupt your download. Leave the file name as "download.asp" and the correct file will
be downloaded.
3. Once the download is complete, make sure Swift 3D is not running and double-click on the update installer.
4. The installer will automatically find your Swift 3D installation and install any new features or bug fixes.

Additional Resources
In addition to the basic content of this User Guide, we’ve thrown together a smattering of additional resources for your
educational pleasure. Actually, the truth is we found that the more educated our users are, the less tech support we have
to deal with, so it’s also a little bit of a self-serving maneuver.

Nick’s Tips
Strewn throughout the User Guide you'll find ‘Nick’s Tips,’ which are tricks, shortcuts and hints that may
expedite your journey through the world of Swift 3D. Despite Swift 3D's transparency of functionality, there are
always subtle nuances that can be overlooked by the virgin and veteran user alike. After playing with this application
for over 4 years now, I'm happy to share any relevant knowledge I've acquired along the way.

Flash Tutorials
Swift 3D is an easy-to-use tool, but as much as the writer in me hates to admit, nothing compares with the
power of visual demonstration. A basic foundation of tutorials are included on the Swift 3D CD-ROM, and for those
who have downloaded the program you'll find the tutorials online, accessible via the Help menu within the Swift 3D

10
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

interface, or at www.erain.com. As the product releases, we’ll be adding to the list of online tutorials, so you can check
in from time to time to see if there’s anything new.

Appendix
At the end of the User Guide, you will find two Appendices that detail the menus (Appendix A) and pull out all of the
keyboard and menu shortcut keys (Appendix B) into a single location for your convenience.

HTML Help
Because the printed word is quickly becoming an artifact in the culture of software, we offer the entire Swift 3D User
Guide in an HTML Help format. You can access the electronic version of the exact words and images contained in this
printed document by selecting Swift 3D Help Contents from the Help menu within the Swift 3D interface. This help
system is fully indexed and searchable so you may find it more convenient than this book. But beware, folks may think
you're a little off if you start bringing your laptop into the bathroom for some light reading.

PDF of User Guide


We also distribute the contents of this User Guide in PDF form, which is accessible from the Help menu. Maybe you
want to print a second copy or enjoy the more book-like presentation of the Portable Document Format over the HTML
Help style. Whatever the case may be, we let you decide how to view your educational material.
Once you've read every last word in the User Guide, paid attention to each little tip and viewed every single tutorial, if
you still have a question on how Swift 3D works, write me a personal email at npetterssen@erain.com. That's right, I
just gave you my email address. Why, you ask? Electric Rain is determined to offer the highest quality user experience
possible, and understanding our software is the most integral part of this experience. If you make it through all of the
resources we offer (see upcoming section on technical support as well) and are still foggy on how Swift 3D functions,
we've fallen short of our goal. Write me your question and I'll get you an answer. It may come back from our support
department, but it will come back quickly, and then we'll know where our educational efforts need to be fortified in the
future.

“What the #@&?% is going on?” (Tech Support)


Wouldn't it be nice to design a product that everyone understands so thoroughly they never have a question? Wouldn't
it be great if our products always worked flawlessly no matter what sort of torture users put it through? Wouldn't it be
great if Team ERAIN could solve the world hunger problem with a nicely designed piece of software? Unfortunately,
reality dictates that despite our addiction to quality, things break. Fortunately, Electric Rain dictates that broken stuff
gets fixed.
If you happen to encounter something that breaks, doesn't behave as you'd expect, or even seems just slightly fishy, we
ask that you remain calm and tap into our available resources in order to remedy the situation. More often than not, the
solution is close at hand, and if not, we'll place it there.

11
Chapter 2 | Getting Up and Running

Web Support
It's a fool who doesn't use the Web for what it's good at. And one thing it's really good at is conveying up-to-date infor-
mation like solutions to tech support issues. In a concerted effort to avoid being called fools, we have an entire division
of our Web site devoted to answering these types of questions. Even if it's as simple as finding that your solution has
been fixed in a recent build and you can get it from our Product Update Web Site, that's valuable information that can
be gleaned at any hour, from any online computer anywhere in the world. Translation: It's cheaper than a phone call
and quicker than an email. To access the following Web support options you can choose Help > Swift 3D Technical
Support Site or visit www.erain.com and head to the support section.

FAQs
The basic concept behind our Frequently Asked Questions is “If it happened to you, it's probably happened to someone
else.” We have an extensive list of FAQs in our support area that will likely answer the most common questions or
issues. With a quick browse, you'll be a self-answering unit within just a few clicks.

Online Forum
After seeing how many questions that get posted about Swift 3D on Flash-related resource sites, we decided to create
our own area for customers to come in and discuss the use of our products. This area is really designed to facilitate
users communicating with users, but we check in daily to make sure that everything posted gets a response one way or
the other. The forum is great for folks who have questions relating to how Swift 3D interacts with other applications
because we openly admit to not being the ultimate authority on authoring rich media content. That title belongs to our
users who are building cool stuff for a living. The moderators and frequent visitors to the Swift 3D forum tend to be our
hardcore users who have much more ‘real life’ experience than us simplistic documentation writers. They are amaz-
ingly talented and love to help out fellow users, often with a great sense of humor, so definitely take advantage of this
great resource.

Product Update Web Site


At Electric Rain, we're a little fanatical about our customers using the best software we have to offer. We use our Pro-
duct Update Web Site as a means for distributing the most recent build of Swift 3D, so when we have feature updates
and bug fixes, this is where you'll be coming to access any improvements. If you've purchased the CD-ROM version of
Swift 3D, you may want to head to the Product Update Site immediately due to the lag time in CD production and dis-
tribution. To do this, you need to choose Register Online from the Help menu (if you didn't already register
the product), and then head to the Product Update Site by selecting Product Updates from the same menu.

Email Support
If we haven't satisfied your needs via the User Guide or through the Support section of our Web site, we welcome you
to utilize our email support system. The basic idea is you email us an explanation of your problem and we email you
back the appropriate solution. However, if you've already explored our other help resources and came up empty
handed, your question or problem is probably a tad more complex and we'll need some information to remedy the
problem.

12
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

A technical support form can be filled out by going to Help > Technical Support Site and clicking on the Contact
Support option. If you choose to email your question directly to support@erain.com, the following is a list of things
that will be helpful for us to reference as we work on your situation:
1. What type of machine do you have?
2. CPU type and speed?
3. What operating system and version of that system are you running?
4. How much RAM do you have?
5. What video system do you have?
6. What program, version number and build number do you have? (Under Help > About Swift 3D - WIN or Apple
Menu > About Swift 3D - MAC)
7. What exactly is happening, and what steps lead up to the problem?
8. Are there any files associated with the problem? If so, please attach them.
9. Are there any related error messages? If so, please tell us what they are.
Our email support policy is that we'll get you a response within 48 hours, but we typically get back to you within 12
hours or less. Keep in mind that the more technical the issue, the more time it may take to resolve your issue, and the
attachment of any relevant files will almost guarantee a more timely and accurate response.

Web Assistant
The Web Assistant exists as a tab along the top of the main Swift 3D interface. The purpose of the Web Assistant is to
make your life with Swift 3D easier by providing you direct access to the primary web resources Electric Rain makes
available to its customers. The Web Assistant works by opening up your browser directly into the Swift 3D interface
and taking you to a web page that will provide you with quick links to resources like software updates, registration,
your customer account, announcements and other great community offerings.

13
Chapter 2 | Getting Up and Running

14
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

3 scene editor

Overview
Most of your time working with Swift 3D will be spent within the Scene Editor since this where you pull all of your
various models together into one cohesive, well-oiled scene. As you read through this chapter you will find that in
addition to providing information about what is available in the Scene Editor, this chapter serves a dual purpose
because it also supplies information about things like customizing your interface, setting up user preferences and orga-
nizing the various galleries that come populated with a great array of materials, animations, models, etc. In essence,
this chapter is designed to help new users of Swift 3D gain their bearings.
In the vast sea of software, Swift 3D ranks solidly in the easy-to-use category, so I can't say that reading this chapter is
absolutely paramount to your success with Swift 3D. On the other hand, you may happen to be the type of learner who
likes to get to know their surroundings before interacting with them. You may want to know what things are meant for
and what order they should be used in. Some folks, however, take the more direct approach and learn new things sim-
ply by doing them. For those types of learners I direct you to the Tutorial chapter, but if you errantly undock a toolbar
and can't figure out how to get it back to where it started, just know that this chapter is waiting for you when you need
it. You know yourself best, so I'll leave the decision to you.
As we go through all of the Scene Editor's primary features, don't hesitate to mess around with each item as they are
explained. At the very least you can move your cursor around the interface and note the little Tool Tips that pop up
when you hover over an object, as well as read the longer description down in the lower left corner of the interface in
the Status Bar. If you end up getting yourself into trouble due to random clicking, dragging and toggling, just close
your current document without saving, open a new document and continue exploring (with a little less clicking, drag-
ging and toggling).

15
Chapter 3 | Scene Editor

Swift 3D Interface
Upon opening Swift 3D, you'll be faced with the following interface, which is called the Scene Editor:
Properties Toolbar Main Toolbar Viewports Animation Toolbar Hierarchy Toolbar

Rotation Trackball Lighting Trackball Gallery Toolbar Status Bar

If you don't see the same thing as this, it's possible your display is set to a different resolution, in which case some of
the toolbars may have been adjusted to accommodate the addition or subtraction of screen real estate. Swift 3D
requires a screen resolution set to 1024 x 786. In addition, on the Macintosh platform your Display Colors must be set
to Millions in order to accurately display the interface. So if your trackballs or any other interface item do not display
accurately on your Mac, go to Apple > System Preferences > Displays and under the Display tab set Colors to Millions.

16
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

Customizing the Swift 3D Interface


Interface Resize
If you prefer to work with a different size interface other than the default full screen, this preference is saved upon exit.
So go ahead and tweak Swift 3D so it comfortably fits into your desktop, close it up, open it again, and yes, it will be in
the same place with the same size. And if you are running dual monitors this is supported as well, so spread yourself
out across all of that nice real estate.

Toolbars
Swift 3D ships with a standard configuration of all toolbars docked on Windows and all toolbars floating on Macin-
tosh. Toolbars cannot be docked on the Mac, but you can arrange them in any way you find suitable to your workflow.
On Windows, you can customize the interface by undocking and docking almost all of the toolbars (the various win-
dows you see) to meet whatever layout needs you might have. The only toolbar you cannot undock is the Main Toolbar
that stretches across the top of the interface, as well as the Viewports. Depending on the size and shape of your 3D
scene you can undock some toolbars and leave them floating in convenient places.

To undock a toolbar:
1. Move your cursor near any border of the toolbar you wish to move until it changes into a Docking Cursor.
2. Click and hold the mouse button and a black border will appear around the toolbar indicating that you
have it in your control.
3. Move the toolbar to your desired location. As you approach the edges of your screen the toolbar may
resize itself to fit into a new docking position. If you would like to leave the toolbar floating, hold the CTRL key
down while you move it.
4. When you've got the black border where you want it, release the mouse button and you're in business.

Hide/Show Undocked Toolbars


To hide a visible toolbar or show a hidden toolbar, use the View menu. Visible toolbars will be checked and hidden
toolbars will be unchecked. The menus are covered more in-depth in Appendix A at the end of the User Guide.
Another way to manipulate the interface's appearance is to move the borders between the toolbars, thus resizing them
without changing their location. For instance, maybe you would like to see more materials displayed so you resize the
two trackballs to allow more room for the Gallery Toolbar.

To resize toolbars:
1. Move your cursor near the edge of the toolbar you wish to adjust. When the cursor changes to the Move
Border Cursor, click-and-drag on the border.
2. Adjust the toolbar's border to your desired position.
3. Release the mouse button. Voila!

17
Chapter 3 | Scene Editor

NOTE: If you've tried to make the toolbar smaller than it's comfortable with (they're sensitive about looking too
diminutive) it will bounce back to its smallest possible size.

Nick's Tips
We spent many an hour discussing the most efficient layout for Swift 3D, and this default configuration was
the chosen one. But I have never advocated the quashing of innovation, so by all means commence the undocking pro-
cedure, captain. But I have to warn you ahead of time that once you begin moving these things around, all hell could
break loose. Not a literal hell mind you, with fire, brimstone and out-of-order soda machines, but rather a situation
where you may not know exactly how to get back to where you originally started. The best order for re-docking the
toolbars is this:
1. The Properties Toolbar goes to the left.
2. The Animation Toolbar goes to the top.
3. The Trackball Toolbar goes to the bottom.
4. The Lighting Toolbar goes to the bottom (just to the right of Trackball Toolbar).
5. The Gallery Toolbar goes to the bottom right.

User Preferences
In addition to customizing the interface you can also
change the default settings for a variety of the more
commonly used functions in Swift 3D. To access the
User Preferences dialog, from the Main Menu go to
Setup > User Preferences. The User Preferences dia-
log will appear, allowing you to change certain Lay-
out, Animation, Extrusion/Text, and Export settings.
To make changes simply enter new values and click
OK. The changes will take effect once you open a
new document or close down and reopen Swift 3D.

Editor Tabs
You'll notice that there are six tabs along the top of the Swift 3D interface, with the default being the Scene Editor since
this is the primary working area within Swift 3D. While these other editors will be covered in great detail in upcoming
chapters, a quick overview of each editor’s purpose will start you off with a strong idea of Swift 3D’s workflow and

18
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

therefore provide beginners with a better understanding of the Scene Editor features that will be highlighted in the rest
of this chapter.

Extrusion Editor
Welcome to a bizarre world where everything you draw in 2D
instantly becomes 3D. It's called the Extrusion Editor and it's
cool (but I'll let you be the judge of that). The basic idea is that
you pick up a pen, draw some stuff within this interface and it
will instantly become a 3D object in the Scene Editor. This
powerful tool lets you create 2D extrusions from within Swift
3D, eliminating the need for another 2D drawing application.
The Extrusion Editor also includes an Animation Timeline that
allows you to animate the paths of your extrusions over time,
allowing for full-fledged morphing of extruded objects. For
more information on the process of extruding 2D shapes,
please refer to the chapter on the Extrusion Editor.

Lathe Editor
Once again we venture to a land seldom visited by mere 2D mortals. The Lathe
Editor is a 3D modeling tool that allows you to draw a simple path and have Swift
3D spin that path around an axis and instantly create a 3D object in the Scene Edi-
tor. The Lathe Editor and the Extrusion Editor share a similar interface, but their
functions are quite dissimilar. And once again, in our efforts to supply more cre-
ative powers to the designer we’ve included a path animation feature that allows
you to create lathed shapes that change over time. For more information on the
process of creating lathed objects, please refer to the Lathe Editor chapter.

Advanced Modeler
This feature is less a modeling tool and more an entire modeling environment.
When you've hit a point where the supplied shapes and your 2D drawing skills
aren't going the full distance, the Advanced Modeler is here to take you the rest of
the way to the land of total and complete modeling power and versatility. In this
interface you have full editing control over the polygonal structure of your models
as well as the ability to apply detailed textures to their surfaces through a UV tex-
ture coordinate system.

19
Chapter 3 | Scene Editor

Preview and Export Editor


Swift 3D’s powerful vector and raster rendering engines,
RAViX III and the EMO Ray Tracer reside within the Pre-
view and Export Editor. The beauty of Swift 3D is that it
leaves the decision up to you as to whether you want to ren-
der to vector or raster file formats. The basic workflow of
the Preview and Export Editor is a simple four-step process.
First you choose whether you will be rendering out to a vec-
tor file format using our RAViX III engine, or to a raster file
format using our EMO Ray Tracer. You then choose the file
type options, and if you are rendering to vector, you also get
to choose what fill and edge style of output you want. When
all of your options are set you render a preview of your
scene, and finally, if you like what you see you export your
rendered animation to a file.

Web Assistant
The Web Assistant was developed in order to make your life with Swift 3D easier by providing you direct access to the
primary web resources Electric Rain makes available to its customers. The Web Assistant works by opening up your
browser directly into the Swift 3D interface and taking you to a web page that will provide you with quick links to
resources like software updates, registration, your customer account, announcements and other great community offer-
ings.

Scene Editor
Most of your time will be spent working within the Scene Editor, and that's where we'll stick for the rest of this chapter,
starting smack dab in the middle of it all with the Viewports.

Viewports
The Viewports are your windows into the 3D
scene you are about to create. If you're an anal-
ogy-lover like myself, the lens of a video cam-
era fits the bill. You should be very interested
in what goes on within the confines of the
Viewport since it's where the only visible
action will take place in the scene. If you have
objects that lie outside of the Viewport they
will not be seen in the final exported file unless
they enter the Viewport through an animation
path or the camera happens to look in their direction.

20
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

By default, Swift 3D will open with two Viewports showing, but you can work with just one Viewport by going to that
Viewport’s Menu button and selecting Maximize. Choose Show All Viewports to return to the dual Viewport layout.

Camera Views
Swift 3D offers seven different cameras by default with the ability to add as many
custom cameras as you like. Camera views can be selected from the Viewport Menu
button located in the upper left corner of the Viewport. Information on working with
cameras can be found in the chapter on Cameras. IMPORTANT: To move the cam-
era’s view you must first hold down the ALT key (Win) or COMMAND key (Mac)
to enter into Camera Mode. Refer to the chapter on Cameras for detailed informa-
tion on panning, zooming, rotating and rolling the different cameras.

Reference Grid
In our daily 3D world it's easy to stay oriented since we have familiar reference points like
walls, floors and ceilings. Within Swift 3D's world, we have supplied you with a 3D grid
based on the X, Y and Z coordinate system. The red line represents the X or horizontal
axis, the green line is the Y or vertical axis, and the blue line (just a point until you alter
the camera view) shows you the depth of your 3D world, or your Z-axis. The intersection
of these three lines is the absolute center of the scene, and its coordinates are X = 0, Y =
0 and Z = 0. There are three grid options for every Viewport: XY, YZ and ZX. Each cam-
era view comes with a default setting, but you can choose to turn these grids on and off
individually or all together through the Viewport Menu button.

Properties Toolbar
The Properties Toolbar is like backstage at a big theatre production. All the action
may be occurring on the main stage, but there's much more activity happening behind
the scenes that makes the production come off as spectacular. The Property List
Box, located at the top of the Properties Toolbar, is basically a list of categories of
properties. As these categories are selected you are presented with a Property Page
that displays settings related to that particular category.
The key to gaining a quick understanding of the Properties Toolbar is to note that
three properties are always displayed: Layout, Camera, and Environment. Beyond
these three properties, the Properties Toolbar is completely selection sensitive. What-
ever object you have selected at the time, whether it be an object, light or camera,
will determine which information gets displayed within the Properties Toolbar. Each
type of object can also have different characteristics that can be manipulated.
The information contained within the Properties Toolbar does not neatly fit into any
one chapter, but we’ve done our best to make this information easy to find. Informa-
tion on Layout and Environment can be found in the chapter on Viewport Properties
and Camera properties can be found in the chapter on Cameras. As for the rest of the

21
Chapter 3 | Scene Editor

selection sensitive properties, the chapter on Working with Objects details the property pages that are common to most
objects, and as each specific object is discussed in subsequent chapters, we will cover the property pages that are rele-
vant to each type of object. The Advanced Modeler also has its own set of property ages that are discussed in detail
throughout that chapter.
NOTE: Many of the property pages use numbers to represent the various settings you can apply to your objects. There
are three main ways of adjusting these numbers:
1. Type your desired number into the field (if field is gray then this option is not available).
2. Nudge the number up or down by clicking the corresponding arrow on the spin button.
3. Position the cursor between the arrows on the spin button and when you receive the double lines cursor icon you
can click-and-drag up or down.
You will also find these numerical controls within other sections of the interface and you can use whichever strategy
works best in your situation.

Main Toolbar
The Main Toolbar contains a variety of buttons that let you insert objects, create lights and cameras, and manipulate
other parts of your scene.

File Shortcut Buttons


These buttons allow you to quickly open a New document, Open an existing document, or Save
the current project you are working on. Swift 3D project files are saved to the .t3d file format.

Create Object Buttons


These buttons allow you to create text and simple objects
(called Primitives) within your scene. They are about as easy
to use as a light switch—a simple click will place your chosen
object onto the intersection of the X, Y and Z axis lines. All of
these objects arrive in your scene with their default characteristics, including standard size and a default glossy gray
material applied to them.

Create Light Buttons


These four buttons allow you to create lights designed to be manipulated within your scene.
Called Scene Lights, these lights differ from the Trackball Lights discussed in a
moment.

Create Camera Buttons


Here you are able to create two specific types of cameras, the Free Camera and the Target Camera.
These cameras are unique in that they can be manipulated directly within your scene and can be fully
animated.

22
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

Convert Text to Paths


The Convert Text to Paths button takes your currently selected text and turns it into a series of paths that
can be edited in the Extrusion Editor.

Zoom Camera Extents


The Zoom Camera Extents button allows you to quickly re-orient your camera view to include all of the
objects in your scene.

Scaling Mode
The Scaling button puts you into a temporary mode where any object you click-and-drag on will have its
scale altered. Scaling mode is a one-time thing, so as soon as you’re done scaling one object, it will toggle
off automatically.

Render Viewport Buttons


Since Swift 3D relies on the OpenGL rendering engine that comes standard with your computer to dis-
play the graphical representation of your scene within the Swift 3D Viewport, when you apply raster
materials to your objects you will not see them in clear detail. Because of this there is a Scanline Ren-
derer in the Scene Editor that allows you to preview your scene and materials. Render Window will render the entire
active Viewport, while Render Rectangle will turn your cursor into a marquee selection tool that you can then click-
and-drag over any area of the Viewport that you would like to see rendered. To CANCEL the rendering process, click
again on the Render Window button.

Undo/Redo Buttons
The Undo and Redo buttons provide a quick way for you to undo or redo any action in the Scene Editor.
The Scene Editor’s Undo stack (think of this as a list that holds all of your actions) is kept separate from
the Undo stacks of the other editors and is always maintained no matter which editor is active. The same
does not hold true for the Undo stacks of the Extrusion Editor, Lathe Editor or the Advanced Modeler, so once you
leave those interfaces their Undo stacks are cleared.
It is important to understand that a complete copy of your scene gets placed into the Undo stack each time the scene is
altered, which can definitely use up a lot of memory. Once you’ve reached a point when you are sure you no longer
need access to the Undo stack you can manually clear it using the Edit > Clear Undo function.

Animate Buttons
The Animate button is also a mode you slip in and out of, only this one allows you to make
changes to the Animation Timeline when it is toggled on. While off, however, you cannot
make any alterations to the Timeline. The only exception to this rule is when you are applying
drag-and-drop animations from the Animation Gallery. Turning on the Animate button also
enables the Animation Path Mode button to its left, which allows you to edit the Bezier paths of your animation.

23
Chapter 3 | Scene Editor

Animation Toolbar
The Animation Toolbar is used to
make your scene come to life (but it
won’t come to life unless you click on
the Animate button). Whenever your
scene changes over time, the Anima-
tion Toolbar displays the relevant
information. It can be used as a refer-
ence when using drag-and-drop animations, or as a powerful keyframe animation tool, much like in Macromedia Flash.
There is an entire chapter on Animation that provides details on how to use this timeline.

Rotation Toolbar
Down in the lower left corner of your scene are two toolbars that are probably unlike
anything you've ever used before. We call them Crystal Trackballs and they are really
very easy to use. They work as if you were rotating a virtual trackball with your mouse.
Just click-and-drag on the surface of the ball and it will turn whichever way you choose.
The Rotation Trackball is designed to let you adjust the orientation of objects in your
scene. It remains inactive until you have selected an object. Once you have something
selected, the object appears within the Rotation Trackball and can be rotated by clicking
and dragging on any part of the trackball itself. You will see the object spinning or rotat-
ing within the trackball and within your active Viewport simultaneously. If you have multiple objects or a group of
objects selected, they will all appear in the trackball as well.
The buttons to the left of the Rotation Trackball are available to help refine your rotation movements, and the buttons
on the right are there to quickly restore objects to their original state. Note that rotation can also be numerically con-
trolled through the Rotation page of the Properties Toolbar. Read more about using the Rotation Trackball in the Work-
ing With Objects, Lighting and Camera chapters.

Lighting Toolbar
The Lighting Trackball allows you to control the placement, location and type of
lights that illuminate your scene. Think of the lights as being positioned on the outside
of an imaginary sphere shining into the center of your scene. The sphere's size can vary
depending on the size of your scene, but it is always twice as large as would be neces-
sary to encompass your entire scene. In other words, the more spread out your objects
are, the farther your lights will be from the center of your scene.
The buttons to the left of the Lighting Trackball are available to help refine your rota-
tion movements, and the buttons on the right are there to create and delete Trackball Lights. A new scene comes com-
plete with two standard lights on the Lighting Trackball, but you are free to add, delete, or use Scene Lights (covered in
the chapter on Lighting) to illuminate your scene as you see fit.

24
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

Gallery Toolbar
The Gallery Toolbar is a combination of six gal-
leries: Material, Environment, Animation,
Lighting, Model and Bevel. All of the galleries
work under the basic principal of drag-and-drop
and everything you see within the galleries when
you launch Swift 3D for the first time are what
comes standard with Swift 3D. All galleries are
designed to be augmented and customized by the user, so please don't infer that what you see is what you get. It's
merely what you start with.
The buttons on the left of the toolbar allow you to select which gallery is displayed at any given time. The Gallery
Toolbar is present in the Scene Editor and Advanced Modeler. However, only the Material and Model galleries are
enabled for use in the Advanced Modeler, which is why all of the other gallery buttons are grayed out.

Gallery Management
Each gallery contains categories, represented by the tabs located across the top of the gallery, which provide a conve-
nient way to keep the gallery contents organized. The scrollbar located on the right side of the gallery allows you to
scroll through the content within each tab. Galleries can be customized by adding new categories (tabs), editing exist-
ing content or adding your own creations. This section of the User Guide will only cover the basics of how the Galler-
ies are managed and organized, so for specific information on how to actually apply, create or edit different types of
gallery content please read the gallery sections in the chapters covering those topics.

Gallery Setup
The Setup menu on the main menu is your doorway to the organizational structure of the Gallery Toolbar. When you
drop down the Setup menu you have the choice of accessing the setup for each of the individual galleries. The Gallery
Setup dialog will appear with tabs across the top for each of the galleries. For your convenience, the tab of the specific
gallery you chose from the Setup menu will be selected. Once the dialog is open, you can jump to any of the galleries
by clicking on the tabs along the top. The Gallery Setup dialog can also be accessed by right clicking (Win) or CTRL +
clicking (Mac) on the palette window (frame) surrounding the thumbnails, not the thumbnail itself. (Note: The Bevel
Gallery is not accessible from the Gallery Setup dialog because you cannot edit or add content to this gallery.)

Category List Box


Along the left side of the Gallery Setup is a Category list box that displays the names of all the tabs located along the
top of each gallery in the Gallery Toolbar. The categories within each gallery are simply suggested organizational
schemes to get you started. For example, even though we have started you out with materials nicely organized by type,
there is nothing preventing you from saving a transparent material into the reflective category. As you will see in a bit,
these categories are just like the directories on your harddrive.

25
Chapter 3 | Scene Editor

Content List Box


The Content List Box resides underneath the Category List Box
and contains the names of all the individual materials, animations,
lighting schemes, etc. that reside under each category tab. For
example, if you have the Material tab selected and choose Glossy
Colors from its Category list box, all of the colors that reside
within the Glossy category, and thus under the Glossy tab of the
Material gallery, are displayed.
Naming Conventions
All default content that is shipped with the program begins with an
“ER”as a reminder that these are the items that came with the pro-
gram. You can certainly alter these items in any way that you want,
but keep in mind that if you ever need the original content you will
have to uninstall and reinstall the program to get it back. Addi-
tional naming conventions have been set up for the Materials and
Models in order to help lessen the confusion regarding the different
content items that reside within each gallery, but again these con-
ventions are just for your convenience. Since the Model gallery
can contain meshes, extrusions or lathes, the default models that
come with that gallery are prefaced with ER Mesh, ER Extrusion
or ER Lathe. The Material gallery contains both vector and raster materials, which are identified with the preface ER
Raster or ER Vector.

Gallery Setup Buttons


Along the right side of the Gallery Setup dialog is a series of buttons that vary depending on which gallery is active.
The tabs common to each gallery are as follows:
New Category allows you to add a new tab to the gallery. Simply click on this button and enter your desired category
name. Note that the new tab will not appear until you exit the Gallery Setup dialog.
Edit allows you to edit the selected item. The degree to which you can edit depends upon what gallery tab you are in.
For example, clicking on Edit under the Material tab will bring up the Material Editor, which provides you complete
access to all of that material’s base properties. Clicking on Edit under the Animation, Lighting, and Model tabs will
only give you access to editing the name and a few other basic properties since the content of these galleries can only
be edited directly in the workspace where they were created.
Remove permanently deletes the item that is currently highlighted in the content list, which is why it will kick out a
warning message asking you to continue or abort. Note: You cannot remove entire categories using the Gallery Setup,
only individual items within the categories. If you need to remove a category, this can only be done by deleting that
folder directly from your file structure. Read more information about this in the upcoming section on Gallery Location
and File Formats.

26
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

Copy will copy the item that you have selected in the content list. The copy will appear directly below the original it is
copied from and will be given the default name of the original item with a [1] appended after that name. You can
change the name by then selecting the Edit button.
Move allows you to move an individual item (material, animation, model, etc.) from one category to another. When
you click on this button, a new dialog appears that lists all existing categories. Simply click on the category to which
you want to move your selected item, then click OK.
The Preview Window simply displays what the current selection looks like.
Since you can Add or Edit Materials and Environments directly from the Gallery Setup, under these tabs you will
also see the following buttons:
Add Material or Add Environment lets you add new materials to existing categories. The category that is currently
highlighted in the Category list is where this new material or environment will be added. When this button is selected it
brings up the Material or Environment Editors. The Material Editors can also be brought up by double clicking direc-
tion on the material or environment preview thumbnail in the galleries. Refer to the Materials chapter for more infor-
mation about these editors.

Saving New Content to the Galleries


There are slightly different steps to saving new content to each of
the galleries since there are obviously vast differences in the under-
lying architecture that makes up an animation versus a model. As a
basic overview, new materials and environments are created and
saved through the Material or Environment Editors, while anima-
tions, lights and models are saved by clicking on the Viewport back-
ground or object and choosing File > Save Animation, File > Save
Lighting or File > Save Model. These steps are detailed in the
upcoming chapters on Animation, Environment, Lights, and Mate-
rials. Since the Model Gallery contains Mesh, Extrusion and Lathe
objects, steps for saving these various types of models are detailed
in the Extrusion Editor, Lathe Editor and Advanced Modeler chap-
ters.

Gallery Location and File formats


All pre-made gallery content, with the exception of the Bevel Gal-
lery, is saved in a proprietary file format and is stored in directories where Swift 3D is installed on your machine. The
directories are as follows:
(On Windows the complete file path is C:\Program Files\Electric Rain\Swift 3D\Version 4.00 and on the Mac it is
Applications\Swift 3D\Version 4.00)
...\Swift 3D\Version 4.00\Animations\Animation Name.t3a
...\Swift 3D\Version 4.00\Environments\Environment Name.t3e
...\Swift 3D\Version 4.00\Lighting\Lighting Name.t3l

27
Chapter 3 | Scene Editor

...\Swift 3D\Version 4.00\Materials\Material Name.t3m


...\Swift 3D\Version 4.00\Models\Model Name.t3om
Under each directory are folders that correspond to the category tabs that reside across the top of each gallery. Any new
content added by you will get saved to the folder that corresponds to the tab in the Gallery under which the item was
saved to. If you create a new category, a new folder will be created with that category's name. If you need to delete a
category, you can only do this by deleting or moving the actual category folder. This is a permanent procedure so make
sure you are confident in what you are doing. Reinstalling Swift 3D will always restore any default categories that
come with the program, but if you are deleting your own stuff you will not have any recourse for retrieving those files.

Sharing Gallery Content With Other Users


The great thing about the galleries is that they make it easy to share your creations with other users. There are two ways
to go about sharing files:
1. Navigate to the Swift 3D\Version 4.00 directory on your harddrive, open the folder that corresponds with the gal-
lery content you wish to share, and copy the actual .t3X file (e.g., animation.t3a) and give that file to your fellow
Swift 3D user. The recipient of the file will simply need to copy it into the corresponding directory on their hard-
drive, choosing any category to place it under, and the next time they run Swift 3D that item will be available for
use from the gallery.
2. Copy and send the user your full .t3d file. When the recipient opens the .t3d file in Swift 3D, they can save the
desired animation, environment, lighting scheme, material or model directly into the corresponding gallery.

Now Go Forth and Make Me Proud!


So that’s the quick tour of the Scene Editor. From here you can start skipping around to the sections you find
most interesting, or perform my favorite option, which is to read the whole darn book cover to cover. That way
you’ll know everything I know about Swift 3D within a few short hours.

Flash Tutorial: Tour of Swift 3D V4 Interface

28
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

4 tutorial

Overview
Although reading about Swift 3D can be an educational experience, there’s no substi-
tute for hands-on, get your feet wet, grab the controls experience. If you’re the type of
person who enjoys a good trial by fire then this chapter is going to suit you just fine.
Our mission today is going to be modeling a desk lamp. Yes, I realize that designing
the 3D interface of your next Flash game might be why you actually purchased Swift
3D, but you gotta start somewhere. Besides, this lamp is what I had sitting in front of
me so that’s what we’re stuck with. If all goes well we should end up with something
that looks like the model to the right, with a little camera zoom animation to go along
with it. So let’s jump in and get it done.
NOTE: This tutorial does not use any of the tools in the Advanced Modeler due to the complexity involved with using
that portion of Swift 3D.

Open a new document and adjust the Environment


1. Open Swift 3D and a new, empty scene will automatically be created for you.
2. Click on Environment in the Properties Toolbar.
3. Double click on the Background Color selection box.
4. Choose a color you like (I went with gray since, I’m so darn bad with colors).
5. Click OK.
NOTE: We’ll continue to use a white background in the images for easier viewing.

Create the base of the lamp with a cylinder primitive


1. Click the Create Cylinder primitive button on the Main Toolbar.

29
Chapter 4 | Tutorial

2. In the Properties Toolbar, adjust the Length property to 0.06 (you can either type
it in or use the spinner controls).

3. Click-and-drag downwards on the cylinder, so it is positioned towards the bottom


of the Viewport.

Create the arm support with the Extrusion Editor


1. Click the Extrusion Editor tab along the top of the main interface.
2. Draw a triangle similar to the one pictured to the right.
3. Click the Scene Editor tab.

4. With the Bevels category already selected, adjust the Style to Outer Round.
5. Adjust the Bevel Depth to be 0.050.

6. With the extrusion still selected, click the Sizing category in the Properties Tool-
bar.
7. Adjust the Depth to be 0.100.

30
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

8. Click-and-drag on the support and position it to sit on top of the cylindrical base.

Create the lamp arm with a cylinder primitive


1. Click the Create Cylinder primitive button.

2. With the Cylinder category selected in the Properties Toolbar, adjust the Radius to
0.030.

3. Toggle the Lock Spin button on within the Rotation Toolbar.

4. Rotate and position the arm so it fits into the support piece.

Create the light hood with the Lathe Editor


1. Click the Lathe Editor tab along the top of the main interface.
2. Click the Curve Point button.

31
Chapter 4 | Tutorial

3. Draw a shape using four control points like the one pictured to the right. It will be
a little messy when you first lay down the points but we’ll clean it up shortly.

4. Click the Shape tool and adjust all of your Bezier curves to create a nice curved
shape like the one pictured to the right.
5. Click the Scene Editor tab.

6. Click-and-drag on the hood to position it at the end of the arm.


7. ALT (Win) or COMMAND (Mac) + click-and-drag on the background to pan the
camera and center your lamp within the Viewport, or click the Zoom Camera
Extents button.
8. Zoom the camera out as needed by ALT + right clicking (Win) or COMMAND +
CTRL + clicking (Mac) on the background and dragging downward.

Create the light fixture with a box primitive


1. Click the Create Box button.

2. Set the object’s Width to 0.300, the Height to 0.100 and Depth to 0.100.

32
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

3. Position the fixture so it sits at the junction of the arm and the hood.

Create the light bulb with a sphere primitive


1. Click the Create Sphere primitive button along the Main Toolbar.

2. Toggle the Scaling Mode button on.


3. Click-and-drag from the edge of the sphere towards the center to scale it down to
light bulb proportions.
4. Select the Scale category from the Properties Toolbar and increase the X Factor
slightly to make it a bit oblong or oval shaped.

5. Click-and-drag on the sphere to position it into the light hood.

NOTE: Since we have been positioning our objects from the Front camera view
only, we are assuring ourselves that the light’s individual pieces are all in align-
ment along the Z axis, and thus our lamp is symmetrical from the side view.

Create a surface for the lamp to sit on


1. Click the Create Plane primitive button along the Main Toolbar.

2. Select the plane in the Top Viewport.


3. Toggle the Scaling Mode button on.
4. Click-and-drag from the center of the plane towards the edge to scale it up.
5. Scale it until it takes up the entire Top Viewport.

33
Chapter 4 | Tutorial

6. From the Top camera view, Shift + right click-and-drag (Win) or Option + click-
and-drag (Mac) down towards the bottom of the Viewport to move the plane
away from the camera, and thus lower in the Front Camera’s view.
7. Go back to the Front Camera view to fine tune the Plane’s position. You may
need to zoom the Front Camera away from the scene by ALT + right clicking-
and-dragging (Win) or COMMAND + CTRL + clicking-and-dragging (Mac) on
the background, or by clicking the Zoom Camera Extents button.

Apply materials to all of the objects in the scene


1. Click on the Reflective materials tab in the Material Gallery.

2. Click-and-drag the Reflective Black material to the base, arm, fixture, and hood.

3. Toggle the Material Drop Surface button to the All Surfaces mode (all red) so you
can drop a material onto the faces, edges and bevels of the arm support all at once.
4. Click-and-drag the Reflective White material to the arm support.
5. Click-and-drag the Reflective Red material to the ground plane.
6. Select the Glossy category from the Material Gallery.
7. Click-and-drag the Glossy Yellow - Light material to the light bulb.

Adjust the properties of the plane’s material


1. Select the plane object and select Material from the Properties Toolbar.
2. Double click on the Material Preview window.

34
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

3. Double click on the Reflection Color selection box.


4. Choose a dark red color and click OK and then OK again.

Adjust Trackball Lights to enhance the scene


1. Click the Add Trackball Point Light button on the Lighting Trackball.

2. With the new light selected, click-and-drag on the Lighting Trackball to position
the new Point Light slightly lower so that it will illuminate the bulb.
3. Click on each of the left default Trackball Lights and position them higher and
further back in the scene so they cast more light onto the top surface of the hood.

Insert and position a Target Camera


1. Click the Create Target Camera button on the Main Toolbar.
2. Activate the Top Camera’s Viewport by clicking anywhere within it.

3. ALT + right click-and-drag (Win) or COMMAND + CTRL + click downwards in


the Top Camera Viewport to zoom out until you can see the new camera you’ve
just inserted.

35
Chapter 4 | Tutorial

4. Select the Viewport Menu button in the left Viewport and set it to Camera01 (the
camera you just inserted). This will be the Viewport that gets rendered when we
get to that point.

Create a camera animation


1. Toggle the Animate button on the Main Toolbar on.

2. Drag the Red Current Frame indicator within the Animation Toolbar to
frame 10.

3. Within the Top Camera Viewport, move the camera so that it’s looking at
the lamp from a 45 degree angle (from original position).

4. Drag the Red Current Frame to frame 20 (or you can also just click on frame 20).

5. Within the Top Camera Viewport, position the camera so that it’s looking at the
lamp from about a 110 degree angle (from original position) and the lamp fills the
Camera 01 Viewport.

6. Toggle the Loop animation off since this is not a looping animation.

36
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

Render your scene to vectors using RAViX III


1. Click the Preview and Export Editor tab along the top of the main interface.
2. Under the General category of Output Options, select Flash Player (SWF) from
the Target File Type dropdown.
3. With Vector selected (since we’re rendering with RAViX first) click the Fills cat-
egory under Output Options.
4. Select Area Gradient Shading from the Fill Type dropdown list.
5. Turn on Include Specular Highlights, Include Reflections and Include Shadows.

6. Under the Render Preview section, click Generate All Frames.

7. When the rendering process is done you can preview your animation by clicking
the Play Animation button within the Playback Controls.
8. Click Export All Frames from the Export To File section.

9. Name your file, choose a location to save it to and click Save.

Render your scene to a raster image using EMO


1. Click the Raster button at the top of the Output Options section.

2. Within the Render Preview section, select the last frame within the Animation
Reel.

37
Chapter 4 | Tutorial

3. Under the Render Preview section click Generate Selected Frames.

4. Click Export Selected Frames.


5. Name your file, choose a location to save it to and click Save.
NOTE: You can also render your animation with EMO by using the Generate All
Frames option. We just did a single frame for the sake of time.

You’re done!
Now that you've been through this tutorial, you should have a pretty firm grasp
of the Swift 3D basics. At this point you could just toss this User Guide by the
wayside and start hammering away on your next 3D project, but I caution you.
Aside from hurting the feelings of an unnamed documentation writer, by not
sticking with your educational regime you may be causing yourself great harm
in the long run. If it's inner vector peace and total Swift 3D consciousness you're
after, you might just find it in the following pages of this User Guide.

38
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

5 viewport properties

Overview
Viewport Properties encompass settings found on the Layout and Environment property pages and in the Viewport
Menu. Consider these settings to be like the interior design settings for your 3D world. Just as if you were designing
your very own living room, you'd be advised to pay attention to some of these details to ensure that you design a com-
fortable 3D space for yourself. You can adjust things like the size of your room (stick with me here, we're in full-bore
analogy mode), the appearance of the furniture, the color of the walls, the background lighting, and even how fast you
move around. These things are important, because as you begin to fill this room with your 3D artwork, it will all be
affected in some way by the properties of the room itself. So break out your Feng Shui manual and let's go to work.

Layout Properties
Layout
Layout is where you designate the size and proportions of your final rendered file.
Within the vector world of RAViX, the dimensions of your scene can have a slight
effect on the accuracy of your rendered file. You will probably only notice a slight
dissipation of line and fill precision when you create a scene that is very, very small
and then increase its dimensions significantly after rendering. Another factor you
may want to pay attention to is the fact that the smaller the dimensions of your scene,
the faster the Swift 3D rendering engine will crank out your final file. Both of these
subtleties are fairly... well, subtle, so don’t go freaking out with the layout settings
unless you’re really bored.
Now if you’re planning on outputting your scene as a raster image or animation
you’ll be advised to care deeply about the Layout settings. As you know, raster
images don’t take too kindly to scaling, so it would behoove you to think ahead about
where your 3D rendering will be finally displayed.

39
Chapter 5 | Viewport Properties

NOTE: The default Layout dimensions can be adjusted by going to View > User Preferences.
Nick's Tips
By default, no matter what size you set your Viewport to, Swift 3D will fit it to your window, keeping the
dimensions in proportion to the height and width you have chosen. If you want to see what the actual size will look
like, go to View > Zoom View Port and change the selection from Fit to Window to Actual Size (100%). If you
are using a larger layout size, you may want to maximize one Viewport (Viewport Menu > Maximize), otherwise you
will get scroll bars since there will not be enough real estate for Swift 3D to show the actual size. If you still need more
space, you can start turning off the various toolbars under the View menu, or if you consistently work with larger View-
ports you may want to consider floating your toolbars. (See information on how to Undock Toolbars under Customiz-
ing Swift 3D Interface in Scene Editor chapter.)
Settings
Nudge Increment - The Keyboard Nudge controls how far your selected object will move when you nudge it with
your keyboard arrow keys. It is set to .10 units. Since each grid represents one unit, using the default setting it will take
ten nudges to move an object from one grid line to the next.
Trace Depth - This setting controls how deep the EMO Ray Tracer will trace for reflections and refraction (through
glass). It is similar to the RAViX III “Reflection Depth” control except that it applies to refraction as well.

Display Modes
From the Viewport Menu button you can access settings that determine what things are going to be shown within the
Viewport and how they will be drawn.
Viewport Display Settings
Swift 3D relies on the OpenGL rendering engine that comes standard with your computer to display the graphical rep-
resentation of your scene within the Viewport. Do not assume that what you see in the Viewport is what you will see in
your final rendered scene. Textures and bitmaps can only be accurately rendered to a bitmap file format using the EMO
ray tracer rending engine.
Texture Smooth Shaded - This is the default display option. When this display option is selected,
objects are shown as smooth, solid shaded objects covered with their designated materials. If tex-
tures or bitmap images are applied to an object, this display option also presents the best representa-
tion that OpenGL can provide. Displaying textures will definitely slow down Viewport rendering
speed, so if you are working with a complex scene switch to a different display option to enhance
performance.
Texture
Smooth Shaded - The major difference between Smooth Shaded and Texture Smooth Shaded is
that Smooth Shaded will not display textures or bitmap images to any degree of accuracy. To view
textures or bitmap materials, change to Texture Smooth Shaded or use the Render Window button
on the main toolbar to activate the Scene Editor’s scanline renderer. Keep in mind that whether you
have a solid material, texture or bitmap applied to an object, the way the Viewport looks in Smooth
Shaded mode is what you will see when you render with RAViX to Mesh Gradient Shading only. Smooth Shaded

40
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

Flat Shaded - This mode of display rendering will show your objects as shaded, but without the
smooth gradients. Instead you will see all of the polygons that make up your objects, each with a
separate flat fill. This setting helps to increase Viewport rendering speed when you're working with
more detailed models.

Flat Shaded
Wireframe - This displays objects as wireframes only, with no shading. In other words, you will
see the polygonal structure of your objects rather than their smoothed surfaces. This mode can be
useful when you have complex 3D models and intricate animation paths since it speeds up the pro-
cess of redrawing your objects every time you make a change in your scene.

Wireframe
Draw Backfaces - By default, Draw Backfaces is enabled in all of the Viewports. What this means
is that the display is showing the "backfaces" or the mesh of the object that is facing away from the
camera. By turning off the display of back facing polygons you can help speed up Viewport render-
ing. In the Advanced Modeler, turning off draw backfaces can also help facilitate the selection pro-
cess since the front facing polygons will become easier to identify.
Backfaces Off
Reference Grid
Reference Grid - This turns the X, Y, Z coordinate reference
grids on and off. All of the numerical coordinates will still exist
when the grid is turned off, but you won't have all of the refer-
ence lines showing within the Viewport. To turn all of the grids
off at once, toggle off the Show Reference Grids option.

Show Options
Animation Paths - Any animation paths that have been applied
to an objects will display as a purple line. These paths can also be
edited by clicking on the Animation Path Mode button on the
main toolbar. Read more about editing animation paths in the
Path Animation section of the Animation chapter.
Hidden Objects - This is used to show or hide objects that have
been designated as Hidden (this is done from the Object page of
the Properties Toolbar). The Show Hidden option is off by default. When this setting is enabled, hidden objects display
with a stippled red effect (and can only be selected through the Hierarchy Toolbar).

41
Chapter 5 | Viewport Properties

Object Bones - Object Bones show the connection between


objects’ pivot points based on parent/child relationships established
through the Hierarchy toolbar. A parent is always connected to all of its
children. These “bones” simple serve as a visual representation of the hier-
archy.
Pivot Points - This option allows you to turn off the display of all object
pivot points in the Viewport.

Environment Properties
Unless you live in a world I’m unfamiliar with, things exist in a place. When I say
‘place’ we’re talking about a setting or the object’s surroundings. Within the world of
Swift 3D we call this setting the Environment. In actuality, the overall Environment is
made up of three things: Background Color, Ambient Light Color and Environ-
ment. By adjusting these three properties you are not actually directly affecting the
objects within your scene, but instead are affecting how they appear based on their sur-
roundings. With this in mind, changes to the environment properties should be consid-
ered global in nature, even though they may or may not have an effect on everything
your scene contains.

Background Color
This setting controls the color that sits behind your scene, sort of like a backdrop. The
importance of your background to your final rendered file varies depending on
whether you are rendering using RAViX III (vector) or EMO (raster).
When using the RAViX III rendering engine to export to a vector file format, the back-
ground color becomes slightly irrelevant if you are planning on importing your ren-
dered file into another 2D vector authoring application like Macromedia Flash or
Adobe Illustrator. If you happen to be exporting to the SWF file format, all Swift 3D
does is add some extra information to your file that tells the Flash Player what color to
use as a background color. The background really has little connection with your 3D scene once it has been exported.
Furthermore, any other application you import your Swift 3D-generated files into, such as Macromedia Flash, will
override your designated background (see chapter on Working With Exported Files for more information on this topic).
This all adds up to the following advice: when exporting to vectors, set a specific background color only if you want to
either visually reference the background color of the project you'll be importing the 3D animation into, or if you will be
playing your 3D vector animation without further editing in another application (e.g., you’re publishing a rendered
SWF directly to the Internet without further editing in Flash.)
When using our EMO Ray Tracer to render out to a raster file you’ll need to be more wary of what the Background
Color is set to for two reasons. First, all of the exported raster files (BMP, JPEG, PNG, TIF, TGA) rendered from EMO

42
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

will include the background in the file. However, PNG, BMP & TGA files that have Color Depth set to 32 bit may
show transparency in certain 3rd party programs. Secondly, although SWF files from EMO do support transparent
backgrounds, you’ll still want to use a similar background as your overall Flash Project due to the antialiasing that
occurs around your objects. Regardless of what your antialiasing settings are (see Rendering With EMO chapter), you
will always get a little bit of the background color showing up around your objects within Flash once it wipes out the
background color of the original rendered SWF file. The only exception I’ve found is when you have the Background
Color set to Black or White, in which case you won’t see the background color around those edges. So if you can plan
ahead with your scene design and know where your files are going to end up you can eliminate any potential back-
ground problems before they occur.

To change the background color:


1. Click on the Environment page in the Properties Toolbar.
2. Double click on the Background Color color box, which by default is always white.
3. Use the Color Palette (Win) or Color Picker (Mac) to choose or make your desired color.
4. Click OK.

Ambient Light Color


Imagine a large sphere surrounding your scene. Whatever color you choose to apply to that sphere is considered your
Ambient Light Color, and any objects with a solid glossy material in your scene will take on a tint of that surrounding
material. If you are utilizing any of the advanced materials that EMO is capable of rendering you will find that the
Ambient Light Color has a negligible effect on objects with those types of materials applied to them.
As for its use, the Ambient Light Color setting can create a nice subtle object coloring effect when used properly, but
for the average 3D scene its scope is limited. The main reason you would adjust this setting is to lend a tint of color to
objects that are default gray or lightly colored, or if you want to lighten or darken your objects overall. If you've
applied medium to dark materials to your objects, any color changes (aside from black or white) you make to the ambi-
ent lighting will have a very small effect.

To change your ambient light color:


1. Click on the Environment page in the Properties Toolbar.
2. Double click on the Ambient Light Color color box.
3. Use the Color Palette (Win) or Color Picker (Mac) to choose or make your desired color.
4. Click OK.

43
Chapter 5 | Viewport Properties

Environment
The Environment setting of your scene is really only important when
you have objects with a reflective finish applied to them. The Environ-
ment could be thought of as being similar to the Ambient Light Color,
but only taking effect on reflective objects. It is similar in concept to
placing a spherical room around your scene and everything within that
room with reflective surfaces will give the viewer a glimpse of what
those walls are covered with.
The real power of the Environment arises when you start using more
than just a simple solid color. Both gradients and patterns will create very cool effects with your reflective objects, and
you can even use imported bitmap images as your Environment, which extends the coolness factor into the realm of
'beyond cool.' Keep in mind that environments created with Raster based materials need to be rendered out with the
EMO Ray Tracer.

To change your environment:


1. Click on the Environment page in the Properties Toolbar.
2. Go to the Gallery Toolbar and click on the Environment button on the left side of the toolbar.
3. Click on your desired Environment and drag it over to the Environment color box in the Property Toolbar.
For more information on Environments, see the section on Environments in the Materials chapter.

Flash Tutorial: Environment Properties

44
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

6 working with objects

Overview
Have you ever had the following experience:
You launch a brand new application you've never used before. It's supposed to be the best tool for doing whatever it is
you need to do, so your confidence is running high. This is going to be fun. After opening a new file, you start clicking
around the interface. You manage to insert a few objects, but they're not where you want them. You try and move them
and they won't budge. You try and edit them and they just sit there. The clicking gets heated. The menus are of no help.
Finally you close the application in a fit of rage.
Two days later you're still under the gun to finish the project and this new application is your only path to completion.
So you pick up the User Guide and start to read. After a few pages you find the words, “Aaaahhhh, that's how you do
it,” muttered from your mouth. You read a little further and it becomes, “Well that makes sense. Cool.” After 30 min-
utes of information gathering you re-open the cursed application and suddenly it's smooth sailing.
Unfortunately, the scenario is all-too-common. We're all 'Button Pushers' at heart with primal instincts that tell us “I
can figure this out on my own.” But learning the finer points of object control can save you from those frustrating
moments where the software fights you tooth and nail. By reading through the following chapter you'll at least under-
stand the techniques that are common to all types of objects within Swift 3D.
Once you have that knowledge in hand, you can tackle the intricacies of each specific object as they come. That
detailed information can be found in later chapters that go into depth on each object's properties and how to control
them. But for now we'll cover the manipulation of objects and their universal properties.

Object Property Page


Every object in Swift 3D has properties that are universal to just about all objects, although mesh objects have smooth-
ing properties that only apply to meshes. When you click on any object, its object properties can be found on the Object

45
Chapter 6 | Working With Objects

property page of the Property Toolbar. The Object properties that are available, depending on the type of object
selected, are as follows:

Name
As your scene grows in complexity, being able to slap a label on an object can be
quite useful. Because both the Properties Toolbar and the Animation Toolbar are
selection sensitive, having the specific name of an object appear in the timeline helps
insure that any changes being made are to the proper object. Please keep in mind that
naming is not required since a default name will be given to any new object placed
into the scene. It's when you have three of one type of object and a half-dozen of
another that object naming really shows its true colors. You can name either a single
object or a group of objects.

To name an object:
1. Select the object.
2. Select Object from the Properties Toolbar list.
3. Type a name in the Name field.
4. Hit ENTER.
You will now see the name of that particular object appear in the upper left corner of
the timeline whenever it's selected.

Hide
On the surface, this feature seems pretty straightforward. Check the box, and your
object becomes hidden. But, you can lose some serious sleep when the time comes to
figure out how to find that object again. From the Viewport Menu you have the
option to Show Hidden Objects. When this option is enabled, all hidden objects are displayed with a stippled red
effect (hidden objects that are also locked will be magenta). Note that Hidden objects can only be selected via the Hier-
archy toolbar. This is designed to facilitate the selection of objects that lie on top of each other in the Viewport.

To hide an object:
1. Insert a Box primitive into your Viewport by clicking on the Box button on the main toolbar.
2. Select Object from the Properties Toolbar.
3. Click the Hide option. Your object will disappear from the Viewport.
4. Click on the Viewport Menu button.
5. Select the Show Hidden Objects option.You will now see your hidden object. Hidden objects can only be selected
from the Hierarchy toolbar.

46
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

Nick’s Tips
There are times when you need an object to be hidden from view until a certain point in your animation. Swift
3D does not come with a Hide Object keyframe option, but you can hide an object from view using the following steps
(see Animation chapter for more details on creating animations):
1. Position the object where you want it to appear in the scene.
2. Go to the object’s Scale property page and change its scale to 0, 0, 0, so it disappears.
3. Turn the Animate button on and move the keyframe indicator to the frame where you want the object to first
appear.
4. Change its Scale properties back to their original settings. A keyframe will appear in the timeline.
5. Hover your cursor over the first keyframe until an arrow pointing right appears, then click-and-drag the right side
of the keyframe forward to the location of the keyframe where the object “appears.” This stops the animation,
therefore preventing any Scale tweening from occurring, so your object will now simply appear at that keyframe,
as though it was hidden.

Lock
The Lock function is primarily designed to circumvent any errant repositioning mishaps. If you feel like you've found
the ultimate resting place for an object, or just want to temporarily render it immobile while you tweak the rest of your
scene, this is how you do it. When you select an object or group of objects and check the Lock option on the Object
page of the Properties Toolbar, the object will change to a blue stippled state in the Viewport (magenta if the object is
also Hidden), and you will not be able to change the position of that object unless you unlock it. Everything else about
that object is still editable while its position is locked. If objects have been associated with one another via the Hierar-
chy system (covered in later in this chapter), you’ll find that locked children will not influence parents, but locked par-
ents will influence children. In order to help facilitate selection, locked objects, like hidden objects, can only be
selected through the Hierarchy toolbar.
NOTE: If you happen to lock an object and then group it together with one or more objects through the Arrange >
Group command, the entire group will then be locked and will stay that way until that object is unlocked. It is also pos-
sible to select an object out of a group of objects and lock it, thus rendering the entire group locked. Only the object
within the group that is locked will display in the blue stippled state, which makes it easy to identify which object is
locking the group.

Refraction Index
This value refers to the amount of refraction that transparent objects exhibit in physics. This feature is detailed in the
Transparency section of the Materials chapter.

Use Texture Coordinates

47
Chapter 6 | Working With Objects

Smoothing
Smoothing is a process that makes the surface area of an object appear to be rounded
even though a hard edge actually exists between each polygon. By default, Swift 3D
automatically applies smoothing between polygons that have an angle of 45 degrees
or less in between them. All mesh objects, which includes models imported from 3ds
or dxf files or models created and/or edited in the Advanced Modeler, come with
these additional smoothing controls:
• Unsmooth: This option turns off all smoothing so that the hard edges that exist
between each polygon are displayed.
• Smoothing Groups: In the Advanced Modeler you can manually define Smoothing Groups for different surfaces
areas of a single mesh. (Refer to the Smoothing Groups section in the Advanced Modeler Chapter for further
information on this topic.) When the Smoothing Groups option is checked, Swift 3D will respect these Smoothing
Groups.
• Auto Smooth: This option allows you to define the angle that Swift 3D will use in order to determine which edges
get smoothed. For example, if the Smoothing Angle is set to 25 degrees, Swift 3D will only smooth the adjoining
edge of two polygons if the angle between those two polygons is 25 degrees or less.

Flash Tutorial: Object Properties

Selecting Objects
Yes, there is an art to grabbing those slippery little devils.

Selecting Individual Objects


Selecting an object would seem to be a pretty straightforward process, and for the most part it is. You click on an object
and it's selected. You'll know it when the object’s rectangular bounding box appears. It will also appear in the Rotation
Trackball, as well as have its name appear in the upper left corner of the Animation Timeline.

Selecting Multiple Objects


To select more than one object, you can hold down the SHIFT key while selecting and each new object you click on
will be added to the list of objects already selected (and you will see each new object join the others in the Rotation
Trackball). As soon as you release the SHIFT key and click on another object, you will de-select any selected objects.
If you errantly add an object, keep holding down the SHIFT key and just click again on the object you want deselected,
and then continue on selected objects.
If you simply want to select all the objects in your scene at once you can use the Edit > Select All command or the
CTRL + A (Win) or COMMAND + A (Mac) shortcuts.

48
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

To select multiple objects:


1. Insert three different primitives into your scene, clicking and dragging each to a separate location. (Use the Zoom
Camera Extents button on the Main Toolbar to readjust the Viewport so that all can be seen.)
2. Holding down the SHIFT key, click on each primitive (watch as each gets added to the Rotation Trackball).
3. While still holding down the SHIFT key, click again on one of the primitives to deselect it.

Selecting Objects Using Hierarchy Toolbar


There are many times when you simply can’t select an object in the Viewport because it is obscured from view by other
objects. When this happens, you will need to select the object from the Hierarchy toolbar. Hierarchy will be detailed
later in this chapter, but for the purposes of selection, just consider Hierarchy as a list of all objects in the scene.

To select an object using Hierarchy:


1. From the Hierarchy Toolbar, scroll through the list and find the name of the object. (If you have not named your
objects you may have a bit of trial and error finding the right one if you have more than one type of object in your
scene.)
2. Click on the object and you will see the object become selected in the Viewports.

Grouping Objects
Much like a 2D drawing program, Swift 3D allows you to group objects together so they can be manipulated and ani-
mated as a single unit. A group is limited to objects and cannot include lights and cameras, but you can link lights and
cameras to objects using the Hierarchy system (read upcoming section on Hierarchy). When objects are grouped a sin-
gle pivot point is assigned to that group at its center.

To create a group:
1. Select two or more objects you want grouped together.
2. Choose Arrange > Group from the Main Menu.
3. Depending how many objects were included in the group, the group will be given the default name of “Group of X
Objects.” You can give the group a more meaningful name by selecting the group and going to the Object page of
the Properties Toolbar.
Once a group is created, it is treated like one object and can be selected like a single object. However, since objects
within the group can maintain their own properties, such as bevels and materials, when a group is selected you will
only see properties that you can adjust for the group as a whole in the Properties Toolbar. This does not mean that once
an object is part of a group that you can no longer access its individual properties because objects can be individually
selected from the group.

Two methods for selecting an individual object from a group:


1. Hold down CTRL (Win) or OPTION (Mac) while selecting the individual object.
2. Go to the Hierarchy page of the Properties toolbar (Win) or bring up the Hierarchy dialog by selecting View >
Hierarchy (Win/Mac) and select the desired object from the list.

49
Chapter 6 | Working With Objects

To ungroup a group:
1. Select the group you want to dissolve.
2. Choose Arrange > Ungroup from the Main Menu.
NOTE: Removing a single object from a group can only be done from the Hierarchy list by clicking and dragging the
object out from under the group. Learn more about using Hierarchy at the end of this chapter.
You should be aware that when you animate a grouped object, and then ungroup the objects, your original animation
will be lost.

Nested Groups
Nested groups (groups within groups) can be created by simply selecting two separate groups and choosing Arrange >
Group from the Main Menu. The only way to select a group within a group is through the Hierarchy system.

Cutting, Copying, Pasting and Deleted Objects


Any object (including lights and cameras) can be cut or copied and then pasted either within the same document or into
a new project.
Cut: To cut a selected object do a CTRL + X/COMMAND + X or go to the Main Menu and select Edit > Cut.
Copy: To copy your object, simply select the object and do a CTRL + C (Win)/COMMAND + C (Mac) or go to the
Main Menu and select Edit > Copy.
Paste: To paste your object, do a CTRL + V (Win)/COMMAND + V (Mac) or Edit > Paste.
Whether you are cutting/copying and pasting your object into the same project or a new project, the new copy will
maintain all of the original object’s properties, including any animation that had been applied to that object. The object
will also get pasted into the same exact location, even if pasted into another document.
Delete: To delete a selected object, hit the Delete key or go to Edit > Delete.

Nick’s Tips
When working with complex scenes, movement around the Viewport can start to slow down to the point where
working on the details of individual objects can get frustrating. Since you can copy and paste objects from one docu-
ment to another without losing their properties or location, it can be advantageous to copy and paste individual objects
into another document where you can work to refine their details. When you are done, simply copy and paste that
object back into your master document and it will go back to the same spot in your scene.

50
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

Positioning Objects
Moving objects around the scene is a common certainty since very rarely do you create an object without the need to
relocate it. Once you have the object or group of objects selected, you have a variety of positioning options. Note that
all of these positioning techniques, including the numeric coordinate system, can be used when changing the location
of lights and cameras as well.

Click-and-Drag
This is the most basic of object positioning procedures and it will probably be the one you use most. It's simply a mat-
ter of clicking-and-dragging on an object and releasing the mouse button when it arrives at its intended destination.
It's important to note that when you use this process, you are only moving the object along two axes at once. To give
you an example of what I mean, let's say that you are manipulating your objects through the Front camera view, which
is shown in the left Viewport by default. Because the Front camera looks directly down the Z axis, your object move-
ments are automatically constrained to the X and Y axis, just like when you move objects in a 2D drawing application.
When you want to move objects closer or farther away from the camera (in the case of the Front camera, along the Z
axis) you use a Shift + right click-and-drag (Win) or an Option + click-and-drag (Mac) to accomplish the task.

Nudge Keys
If you like to keep your hands on the keyboard, then just slide them over to your arrow keys and start pounding away.
The increment by which your selected object will move is by default one pixel. If you find this a bit tedious, you can
increase the distance your object moves each time you hit your arrow key by going to the Layout page in the Properties
Toolbar. Simply type in your desired increment and continue on.

Nick's Tips
The methodology of the click-and-drag object positioning lends itself nicely to using different Camera views to
move objects along certain planes. If I want to create four objects in my scene and need them all to stay on the exact
same horizontal axis, where their Y coordinates always equal zero, I would do all of my object movement from the Top
or Bottom views, thereby only adjusting their X and Z coordinates. I would then use my Front view as my final render-
ing Viewport.

Constrain Axis
There are also times when you want to be able to constrain an object's movements to an individual axis rather than an
entire plane, as is the case with the process of using different camera views to constrain object movement. In this case
we have a solution for you as well. No matter what camera view you're in, if you would like to constrain your object
movements to the horizontal or vertical axis (relative to the particular camera you are looking through) you simply
hold down the SHIFT key while clicking-and-dragging your object. Swift 3D will take the first movement of your cur-
sor as your intended direction and then continue to limit that object’s movement along that axis. As soon as you release
the SHIFT key you will be able to move that object in any direction.

51
Chapter 6 | Working With Objects

To constrain movement along the depth axis, SHIFT + right click-and-drag (Win) or OPTION + click-and-drag (Mac)
upward to move your object forward, and downward to move your object backward.

Numerical Positioning
But the ultimate control comes with the ability to designate your object's position
through the numerical coordinate system. Each object has a center point. The posi-
tion of that center point, and thus the object itself, can be controlled within the Posi-
tion page of the Properties Toolbar. Here you can set the X, Y and Z coordinates of
the selected object as you please. The numbers are all based on the coordinate grid
that you see in the Viewport, with each gridline representing one unit of measure-
ment. Through this method, object positioning becomes more a lesson in math calcu-
lations and less a process of trial and error.
If you have the need to align certain parts of your objects, like if you needed the base
of all your objects to be aligned along a certain axis or plane, you need to adjust your
object's pivot points and then align those pivot points. For more information on this
process, please see the upcoming section on Pivot Points.

To position an object:
1. Insert one of the primitives.
2. ALT + right click (Win) or COMMAND + CTRL+ click (Mac) anywhere in the
background and drag downward to zoom the camera away from your object,
giving you space to work with.
3. Click on the primitive and drag it to a new spot.
4. SHIFT + right click (Win) or OPTION + click (Mac) on the primitive and drag
your cursor downward to move the primitive backward along the Z axis, then
move your cursor upward to move the primitive forward along the Z axis.
5. Click on the primitive, and while holding down the SHIFT key, move your cur-
sor horizontally in either direction, then move your cursor vertically in either
direction. Notice how its movement is constrained.
6. With the primitive still selected, use the keyboard arrow keys to move it around.
7. Go to the primitive’s Position page in the Properties Toolbar and enter in new coordinates.
8. Click on the Reset Position button on the right side of the Rotation Trackball to bring object back to its original
location.

Reset Position Button


This button, found on the right side of the Rotation Toolbar, will reposition your object to its original loca-
tion when it was first created or imported. With the exception of objects created within the Extrusion Editor,
this will place the selected object's center point on the intersection of the X, Y and Z axis.

Flash Tutorial: Positioning Objects

52
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

Pivot Points
When you insert an object into your Viewport, it will automatically have a corre-
sponding pivot point that is represented by a small red, green and blue cross hair
located directly at the center of the object. This is a visual representation of that
object's pivot point. When you rotate the object, this location will be the point around
which your object will spin.
To adjust the pivot point's location you need to first go to the Position page in the
Properties Toolbar. The four buttons along the bottom of the Property Page allow you
to designate your relocation strategy.
• Move Pivot Only will let you move the pivot point without having the object
move, but when you move the object, the pivot point moves with the object.
This setting works well for adjusting the pivot point of an object after it has just
been created, or when the object has already been positioned.
• Move Object Only will let you move the object without having the pivot point
move, but when you move the pivot point, the object will move with the pivot
point. This setting is good when you have established a specific location in 3D
space for your pivot point and then need to position your objects accordingly.
• Move Together will only let you move the object and pivot point together, so
you cannot adjust their locations relative to each other. With this option selected
(default) you won't be able to adjust the object's pivot point, but once you adjust
the location of the pivot point using one of the other settings, this will lock it in
place.
• Move Independently will allow you to move either the object or the pivot
point separately. Although this setting gives you the most freedom in position-
ing, you probably will not want it enabled once you have your pivot point’s loca-
tion established where you want it because it's too easy to change their position by accident.

To turn off pivot point:


If you prefer not to see the pivot point, you can toggle it off from the Show submenu of the Viewport Menu.

Reset Pivot Location


This button located to the right of the Rotation Trackball will re-center your object's pivot location no mat-
ter what you have done with it. It's a nice way to get back to your original starting point. No matter which of
the pivot positioning options you have selected, the object will stay put and the pivot point will reposition
itself to the object's center.

53
Chapter 6 | Working With Objects

To move the pivot point of an object:


1. Insert the Box primitive into your Viewport.
2. ALT + right click (Win) or COMMAND + CTRL+ click (Mac) anywhere in the
background and drag downward to zoom the camera away from the Box, giving
you space to work with.
3. Reselect the Box and go to its Position property page.
4. At the bottom of this page, select the Move Pivot Only button.
5. For Pivot Position, use: X = -.50, Y = .50 and Z = .50.
6. Go to the Rotation Trackball and drag your cursor around in the trackball to see
how the Box is now rotating around its corner.
7. Hit the Reset Pivot Location button on the right side of the Rotation Trackball to
return pivot to its original location.

Flash Tutorial: Working with Pivot Points

Rotating Objects
We briefly mentioned the use of the Rotation Trackball in the Scene Editor chap-
ter, but now I'd like to investigate its functionality more deeply. Once you've
selected an object it will appear within the Rotation Trackball with the same
rotational orientation as it has in the Viewport. As soon as you click-and-drag on
the surface of the Trackball, the object in the Viewport will rotate in the same
direction as you're dragging your cursor.
The basic use of the trackball is fairly intuitive, but being able to refine its move-
ments is critical to laying out your scene just as you want it. This refinement
comes through the use of the Lock Axis buttons along the left side of the Rota-
tion Trackball.
• Lock Horizontal will only allow the trackball, and thus your selected object, to rotate along its horizontal axis.
• Lock Vertical will only allow the trackball to rotate along its vertical axis.
• Lock Spin will only allow the trackball to rotate clockwise or counterclockwise.
• Rotation Increment allows you to choose the degree of rotation.
You can also use the shortcut keys to expedite the process, which is very convenient when you are rotating your objects
along more than one axis. While rotating your objects, holding down:
• SHIFT will lock the trackball on its vertical axis.
• CTRL will lock the trackball on its horizontal axis.
• CTRL + SHIFT will lock the trackball's clockwise or counterclockwise rotation.

54
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

These locking buttons and shortcut keys give you a nice amount of control over what direction you want your objects
to rotate, but you can take it a step further with the use of the Rotation Increment setting. This allows you to keep your
object rotations within known values, which takes the guesswork out of the process.

Reset Rotation Button


This little nifty gadget will undo any rotation that has been applied to an object, no matter when that rotation
was done. It works with any object that is currently selected.

To rotate an object using the rotation trackball:


1. Insert the Torus primitive into the Viewport.
2. In the Rotation Trackball, click on the Lock Horizontal button and drag your cursor horizontally back and forth
across the trackball.
3. Click on the Lock Vertical button and drag your cursor up and down across the trackball.
4. Click on the Lock Spin button and move your cursor in a circular motion along the outer perimeter of the track-
ball.
5. Click the Reset Rotation button on right side of trackball.
6. Click on the Rotation Increment button and select 45 degrees.
7. Click on the Lock Horizontal button and move your cursor across the trackball to the right until the Torus rotates
one turn, which will be 45 degrees.

Numeric Rotation
At times you will require greater accuracy when rotating your objects than can be
provided through the Rotation Trackball. Through the Rotation page of the Properties
Toolbar you can enter in an exact degree of rotation.

To numerically rotate an object:


1. Select the object in the Viewport.
2. Click on the Rotation page of the Properties Toolbar. (Note: A scrollbar will
appear along the right side of the Property list box if the Rotation property has
been pushed down out of the viewable area of the List box.)
3. Type in the exact degree of rotation into any of the X, Y or Z entry boxes.
4. Hit ENTER or TAB to the next field in order for the rotation to take place.

55
Chapter 6 | Working With Objects

Local vs. Global Rotation


By default, the Rotation property page is set to Global, which means that all objects
will rotate around their pivot points according to the main scene’s X, Y and Z axes.
All objects also come with a local Axis Guide around which you can also rotate any
object. Having access to an object’s local axes can be extremely helpful if you have
changed the global rotation of an object but still need to rotate an object according to
its local orientation. To rotate an object locally, click on the Local button on the Rota-
tion property page and then adjust the X, Y or Z rotation values.

Flash Tutorial: Rotating Objects

Scaling Objects
This is where I lose all of the Control Freaks in the audience. Scaling is an obvious feature that everyone is accustomed
to. Unfortunately in the 3D world there is a difference between sizing and scaling. If you're the type of person who
always has to know exactly how big your objects are, you're better off skipping the scale function and sticking to
adjusting your object's size numerically via the sizing controls. But if you are willing to let the numerical control slip
slightly, scaling is a quick and easy way to change the relative size of your objects.
One key thing to consider about scaling is that you can animate this property, and with the ability to scale objects non-
uniformly, you can create some great animations. This is something that cannot be done through the sizing controls
since the sizing property cannot be animated.

Scaling Mode
The quickest method of scaling an object or group of objects is by slipping into Scaling Mode. This is a one
shot deal where you select the button and scale your object either up or down, with equal scaling being
applied to all dimensions of the object or group, and then Swift 3D automatically kicks you out of scaling
mode. This is done to prevent any inadvertent scaling if you forget to turn off Scaling Mode.You'll notice that this pro-
cess does not change the object's numerical size.

To scale an object using scaling mode:


1. Click the Scaling Mode button on the Main Toolbar. The cursor will change to the Scaling Mode
cursor.
2. Click-and-drag on the object you would like to scale. The farther you are away from the center point
when you click on the object, the better control you will have over the scaling process.
3. Moving your cursor towards the center of the object will decrease its scale, while moving it away
from the center will increase its scale.
4. Release the cursor button when you are happy with the scale of your object.

56
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

Scale Property Page


From the Scale property page you have the option to numerically adjust both the
Scale and the Shear of an object.

Numeric Scaling
This process accomplishes the same effect as the Scaling Mode button, but allows for
scaling adjustments of the width, height and depth independently.

To scale an object using numeric scaling:


1. Select the object you want to scale.
2. Select the Scale page in the Properties Toolbar.(Note: A scrollbar will appear
along the right side of the Property List box if the Scale property has been
pushed down out of the viewable area of the List box.)
3. Adjust the values of the X, Y or Z scale factors as needed.

Shear
If you have a picture of a naked sheep in your head right now you might want to consider giving this section a read
since the type of shearing Swift 3D does has nothing to do with sheep. The Shear function allows you to slant an object
from one side to another along a specific axis. A good way to understand this function is to think of a square being
transformed into a parallelogram, where its top and bottom planes remain parallel to each other while the top slides
towards the right and the bottom slides towards the left.

Box Before Shear Box with X Shear Applied

The steps for shearing are identical to the steps provided for Numeric Scaling. As with scaling, Shear can also be ani-
mated.
Nick's Tips

57
Chapter 6 | Working With Objects

Non-uniform scaling and shearing can cause problems when parent/child relationships are established. Just for some
background information, when an object is made a child of another object, Swift 3D makes a one time adjustment so
that the child maintains it position, rotation and scale properties. However, if a parent object is non-uniformly scaled,
any children of that parent will begin to skew when they are rotated because it takes on the parent's local axis coordi-
nates as its global coordinates. In order to avoid this problem, it is highly recommended that all non-uniform scaling be
performed down at the mesh level in the Advanced Modeler. Scaling done at the mesh level will not have any affect on
children that are created at the object level. Further information on editing and scaling meshes can be found in the
chapter on the Advanced Modeler.

Negative Scaling
Negative scaling can be used as a way to Mirror objects in the Scene Editor. Simple
select an object or group of objects and set their scale to negative one (-1.00).

Flash Tutorial: Scaling Objects

Hierarchy
The Hierarchy toolbar serves as a central repository for every object that
exists within your scene, including lights and cameras, listing out those
objects by their name. If you haven’t designated an object’s name you will see
its default name appear in the list. As mentioned earlier, the Hierarchy system
provides for a very accurate method of object selection when the scene starts
getting crowded, but that is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what
this system has to offer.

Creating Parent/Child Relationships


When new objects are created and placed into the scene they are considered
siblings within the structure of the scene, meaning they are all at the same
level of hierarchy. For example, if you simply create four spheres, the Hierar-
chy list will show Sphere01, Sphere02, Sphere03 and Sphere04, all at the first
level of indentation in the list.
These sibling relationships are often all you’ll need to build a scene with Swift
3D. However, there are times that arise when you’ll want to create an orga-
nized structure where the behaviors of certain objects are dependant on the
behavior of others. When a connection is created between two or more objects
whereby one dictates what happens to another, this is a parent/child relation- Hierarchy Toolbar (Undocked)
ships. These relationships can be quite powerful when it comes to animation
(see Animation chapter) but the place where the relationships are created and managed is within the Hierarchy list.

58
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

The only limitations in the hierarchy are that lights and cameras cannot have children, and only Free Lights and Free
Cameras can be children of other objects.

To create a parent/child relationship:


1. Place two objects into your scene.
2. From the Hierarchy toolbar, click-and-drag the name of one of your objects.
3. Drop it onto the name of the other object.
4. The dropped object name becomes indented underneath the other name.
The object that is now indented has become a child of the other object, which is
now the parent of the indented object. This means that whatever you do to the
parent, the same will happen to the child. If you select the parent, the child will
become selected as well. If you move the parent, the child will move as well. Or Object Bones
if you rotate... well, you get the idea.
NOTE: The Show Object Bones setting in the Viewport Menu will provide a visual representation of object hierarchy.
If you designate several objects as children to a single parent object, the same sort of stuff will occur with all of those
children. However, if you select any of the children and change their position, rotation, scale, etc., nothing would hap-
pen to the parent, nor would anything be affected with the other siblings of that object.
Also note that if you bring a parent object into the Advanced Modeler, all of its children will go along for the ride as
well. Refer to chapter on Advanced Modeler for more information.

Groups Within Hierarchy


Although Hierarchy serves as an efficient method of organizing your scene, there are still plenty of times when you
will find the use of groups convenient in manipulating your objects.
When a group is created using the Arrange > Group command, or simply by selecting more than one object and thus
creating a temporary group, you’ll see the newly formed group appear within the Hierarchy list as “Group of (number
of objects) Objects.” This grouping is a type of parent/child relationship where the parent is not a single object, but
rather an intangible entity known as a group. The group becomes the parent and all of the objects within the group
become children of that group.
As soon as the group is broken with an Arrange > Ungroup command, or by deselecting the currently selected objects,
the group within the Hierarchy list will be destroyed and the children that were under that parent group will go back to
their respective places within the hierarchy.

Nick’s Tips
The Hierarchy system will not allow you to select or move more than one listed object at a time (although a
listed object may actually contain many children), but you can accomplish a multiple object move by using a different
strategy. Since you can perform multiple selection of objects within the Viewport, you can create a grouped object
there (either temporary or permanent), and then move the grouped object in the Hierarchy list. All of the originally
selected objects are considered children of that group, so they’ll all go along for the ride. When you have the group

59
Chapter 6 | Working With Objects

associated with the right parent, you can then ungroup the objects and they will assume their new places within the
Hierarchy system.

Flash Tutorial: Scene Hierarchy

60
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

7 primitives

Overview
Primitives are a lazy designer's best friends. There is no quicker way to get 3D elements into your scene than clicking
one of the Swift 3D primitive buttons. It's what geometry class should have been like in high school. No proofs, no
equations, no pi. Just cool looking shapes at your command.
In addition, you can control many properties of each primitive. What this means is that for every primitive button you
see across the top of the Swift 3D interface, there are endless variations of each shape. It's just a matter of clicking and
tweaking.
It's important to also realize that these 3D primitives can be joined together in infinite ways to create more complex
shapes that are only limited by your imagination. If you think of these primitive objects as basic building blocks, you're
going to see well beyond their basic 3D shape into a world you probably learned about with your first set of Legos.

Inserting Primitives
All of the primitives can be accessed from the Main toolbar
with the simple click of the mouse. When they are inserted into
the Viewport they automatically arrive centered on the (0,0,0)
coordinate.
As you peruse the delectable selection of primitives, please note that there are properties specific to each object and
properties that are universal across all objects. Those specific properties are mentioned along with the primitive infor-
mation in this chapter. The common properties are discussed in the Working With Objects chapter.

How to insert a Primitive:


1. Click on the desired Primitive button.
2. Wipe the sweat from your brow and grab some Gatorade.

61
Chapter 7 | Primitives

Sphere
It's round, it has a radius and you can change its shape. The object itself is as simple as it
gets, but once you've inserted the sphere into your scene you can control much more than
just the radius. Within the Properties Toolbar are settings that will take your basic sphere
and squeeze it, stretch it, and adjust its appearance altogether.

Radius
This one is a no-brainer. You adjust the radius setting and the thing gets bigger or smaller. You can accomplish the
same effect using the Scaling Mode button, but you'll find that when you use the scaling technique it will not have an
effect on the numerical radius setting. This is due to the difference between object scaling and object sizing which is
covered in the Scaling section of the Working With Objects chapter.

Segmentation
So now we're going to cross the line from Geometry to Geography. The best way to understand the sphere's segmenta-
tion control is to imagine a globe, complete with all of its lines of longitude and latitude. And for those of you who
were snoozing during Geography class, we'll have a little review. Lines of latitude are the ones that circle the globe (or
sphere) horizontally and the lines of longitude circle the globe vertically. The way I remember the two is that lines of
latitude get smaller as you approach the Earth's poles, but the lines of longitude stay consistently ‘long.’ If that doesn't
work for you then just start changing the numbers and you'll figure it out pretty darn quickly.

GeoSphere
Unlike its relative, the sphere, the GeoSphere has no poles. The screen shot on the right
shows a GeoSphere that has been unsmoothed (in the Advanced Modeler) so that you
can see the mesh. The mesh of a GeoSphere will provide a smoother profile than a
sphere that has the same number of faces.

Radius
As with the Sphere, you can set the GeoSphere's radius.

Subdivision Depth
This setting controls the number of faces the GeoSphere's mesh contains. The range of this setting is limited to four
subdivisions. These numbers correspond to the number of times the original faces of the GeoSphere are subdivided
into four new faces.

62
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

Box (Cube)
Ahhh, the coveted Box. So simple, yet often overlooked. Six sides, 12 edges and no pre-
tense, this primitive is the all purpose utility shape that serves as a great building block
for all things rectangular and blocky.

Sizing
These properties are very straight forward with the Box, so I shan't take this explanation
a step further.

Segmentation
As is the case with a few other primitives, these segmentation settings allow for control over how the Box, or whatever
rectangular shape you turn it into, gets defined on a polygon basis. The default setting for the Box is one segment for
width, height and depth. This means that the Box is defined by 12 polygons—2 per face. As you increase these set-
tings, you will notice no difference in the macro-geometry (ok, I admit to making up that term), but you will see some
slight changes in how the light interacts with the surfaces. But the real reason you'd be messing with these settings
comes when it's time to render the shape. When you choose from any of the per-polygon rendering styles (Outline
Mesh, Full Color and Mesh Gradient) you will generate different output looks and varying file sizes based on the num-
ber of polygons used to create that object.
NOTE: Segmentation settings will have no effect upon your final rendered files if you are planning on using the EMO
Ray Tracer to generate your animation. It’s only relevant to RAViX.

Pyramid
As you effortlessly click the Pyramid primitive button, just ponder how long it took for
the ancient Egyptians to accomplish the same task as Swift 3D just did in milliseconds.
And you didn't even have to flog anyone in the process.

Sizing
This is the only property you get to mess with on this primitive, so go ahead and have at
it. It's pretty tough to get into trouble with the pyramid.

Nick's Tips
Four triangular sides and a bottom are all you get with the pyramid primitive. If you're looking for a pyramid
with more sides you can use the Lathe Editor to create a cone and then uncheck its Smoothing property and adjust the
number of Radial Segments to equal the number of sides you're looking for. You can also create a 3-sided pyramid
(Tetrahedron) even quicker by inserting a Polyhedron since the default settings yield a Tetrahedron.

63
Chapter 7 | Primitives

Cone
The cone is really just a relative of the cylinder, with the obvious difference that it
comes with a point on top.

Radius
The top and bottom radius settings allow you to turn your cone into something that I
really don't have a definition for. It's sort of like the various forms of progeny that would
be generated if a Cone mated with a Cylinder, not that we condone that type of behavior with our primitives. In fact,
there's a strict fraternization policy implemented within Swift 3D, but these controls allow you to circumvent our man-
dated rules.
You'll also notice that massaging these controls can easily create a cylinder, but I assure you that we also have a strict
rule regarding the cloning of primitives (and massaging for that matter).

Segmentation
Although the two cone segmentation settings work as you'd expect, they will most likely be used for different pur-
poses.

Axial
I guarantee that when you start to adjust the axial segmentation of the cone you're going to mutter, “Now there's a use-
less feature,” but I feel obliged to tell you otherwise. Although you will not be noticing any shape change in the object,
when it comes time to render the object, you may be more interested in this control. As you change this setting, you are
increasing and decreasing the number of polygons that make up that object. When you choose from any of the per-
polygon rendering styles (Outline Mesh, Full Color and Mesh Gradient) you will generate different output looks and
varying file sizes based on the number of polygons used to create that object.

Radial
Although you can use the radial segmentation to control your polygon count just like the axial control, your use for this
control is most likely going to be adjusting the actual geometric shape of the cone. By bumping this setting lower and
lower, you can create a cone that becomes more faceted (made up of more surfaces), which can be very beneficial
when it comes to rendering your scene with certain output styles.

Closed
By choosing to close the Cone, you are telling Swift 3D to place a cap on the bottom of it. If you uncheck this option,
you will be able to see into the cone as if it were created with paper rather than clay. And if you increase the top radius
above zero, you will be able to see right through the object from certain camera angles.

64
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

Cylinder
A variation of the Cone, the cylinder is your all-purpose tube. Great for building DNA
chains architectural columns, and even useful when you want to place something on a
pedestal. Simply defined by a radius and length, they're not quite as powerful as cones,
but certainly convenient when someone asks you to model a roll of toilet paper (hey, it
could happen).

Radius and Length


The radius setting controls how thick the cylinder will be and the length setting controls how long it will be. If you're
looking to adjust both parameters proportionately you're probably better off doing so using the Scale Mode button.

Segmentation
Please see the corresponding section under the cone primitive description because any adjustments you may want to
make here will affect your cylinder's geometry and rendering appearance exactly as they would a cone.

Torus
Torus. Ring. Doughnut. Whatever you want to name this thing, you know what I'm
talking about, even though my spell checker does not.

Radius
The Minor Radius is the distance from the center of the shape to the inside surface of
the torus. If you increase this setting without changing the Major Radius you will make
your Torus more slender.
The Major Radius is the distance from the center of the shape to the outside surface of the shape. If you increase this
setting without changing the Minor Radius you will make your Torus fatter.

Segmentation
The Segmentation Minor Radius controls the number of times the circular lines that define the tubular nature of the
Torus are segmented. If you decrease this number, the shape will become more angular in its cross section.
The Segmentation Major Radius controls the number of times the circular lines that define the roundness of the Torus
are segmented. If you decrease this number, the shape will become more angular in its circumference.

65
Chapter 7 | Primitives

Plane
We threw this ultra-primitive primitive into Swift 3D for one sole purpose—Shadows.
You may very well find other uses for this object, and for that I commend you. But the
bottom line is that planes work great for creating a surface to cast a shadow onto.
Throw one of these bad-boys under your animation, check that Shadow option before
rendering and you've got some big-time eye candy. And, keep in mind that with both
the SWFT and the SWF export file formats you will have access to just the shadows
within an animation as either their own separate layer or as a separate object.

Sizing and Segmentation


Please see the corresponding sections under the Box primitive description because any adjustments you may want to
make here will affect your plane's geometry and rendering appearance exactly as would the surfaces of a Box.

Polyhedron
When primitives are born and start learning their way around the world of 3D objects,
they soon come to the realization that they wished they were a Polyhedron. To be a
Polyhedron is to be anything and everything, while still maintaining its coy demeanor
within the Swift 3D interface. Who would have thought one button could be so power-
ful. The only thing other primitives don't lust after is having the name polyhedron.
If you break down the word to its integral parts, you'll quickly realize that the confus-
ing nomenclature is just a smoke screen for ‘many sided object.’ With this in mind, you can now click on that button
and know exactly what you're getting into—a thing with a bunch of sides. But if you leave it at that you miss out on all
the fun. With just a little bit of extra information you'll find yourself spitting out 22 letter words that will impress your
friends. Or they might just get all glassy-eyed and start considering a quest for new friends.

66
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

Loosely defined, a polyhedron is an arrangement of flat surfaces (polygons) such that


two and only two surfaces meet at any given edge, making it possible to traverse the
surface of the polyhedron by crossing its edges and moving from one surface to another
until all surfaces have been traversed by this continuous path. Whew.
What that really means is that Polyhedra (plural of polyhedron) come in many shapes
and sizes. These geometrical variations can be broken up into polyhedron families,
which I will describe as soon as I can borrow that Geometry textbook from the engi-
neers again.
But the true power of this primitive comes ex-post insert. The versatility of the polyhe-
dron lies within the confines of the Properties Toolbar. With a little bit of tweaking,
you'll be whipping out Rhombicosidodecahedrons in less time than it takes to say Trun-
cated Cuboctahedron.

Polyhedron Families
First, let's discuss the five basic shapes that make up the starting points for all the afore-
mentioned variations of the polyhedron. The Tetrahedron, Cube, Octahedron, Dodeca-
hedron, and Icosahedron (the fabulous five) all share a couple of similar properties.
Their faces are all made up of the same geometric shapes and all of their vertices are
identical. This group of objects is known as the Platonic Solids and you'll recognize
their names in the Properties Toolbar once you place a Polyhedron into the scene.

Tetrahedron
The fundamental shape of a Tetrahedron, the most basic form of polyhedron, is a solid
object made up of four equilateral triangles. It's like a pyramid, but with one less side.
The default geometry for the Tetrahedron family is a tetrahedron (go figure) but you
can create many different shapes with some fiddling of the controls we'll talk about
shortly.

Cube/Octahedron
These two shapes have a distinct relationship and it goes beyond the fact that their
number of sides is divisible by four. The Cube is the default geometry that appears
when you insert the Polyhedron and select this family. To get to the Octahedron shape,
you need to do some adjustments within the P and Q settings, but that's a whole differ-
ent world so for now you can just take my word for it.

67
Chapter 7 | Primitives

Dodecahedron/Icosahedron
Again, we find two distinct shapes with a strong relationship to each other. The default
geometry that appears when you insert a Polyhedron and select this family is the
Dodecahedron, a 12-sided object consisting of faces that are all pentagons. With some
modest adjustments you can quickly turn this shape into an Icosahedron, which is a 20-
sided object made up of all triangles.

Star 1
Now we begin the crazy journey into the realm of Stellated Polyhedra, which are vari-
ations on two of the platonic solids but with star-like characteristics. The default geom-
etry of Star 1 is an Icosahedron that has had each of its faces pulled out from the center
of the object. In other words, if you were to create a vertex in the center of each trian-
gular face of an Icosahedron and drag it away from the center of the object, Star 1 is
what you'd end up with. If you need a term you can remember, try 20-pointed star,
because that's the default construction of a Star 1.

Star 2
Star 2 works under the same principles of Star 1, but its default geometry is based on a Dodecahedron where each face
that the vertex gets pulled from is a pentagon rather than a triangle. In this case you end up with a 10-pointed star. By
the way, don't go asking any Geometry professors for the definition of a Star 1 or Star 2. As best I can tell, the names
were invented by a frustrated U.I. designer who was having a difficult time fitting the word ‘Great Stellated Dodecahe-
dron’ into a dialog box.

Family Parameters
I really had no idea what we were getting into when the Polyhedron was slated for construction within Swift 3D. Little
did I know that one button on our interface could lead to such a communication quandary. It took me two days of
research just to determine that the Family Parameters of a polyhedron (also known as Ps and Qs) were virtually inde-
scribable. But that's not going to stop me from trying.
P and Q
The P parameter is directly related to the number of faces the object has, and the Q parameter is directly related to
the number of vertices that exist on the object. By adjusting either of these two settings, you can generate an
unbelievable amount of variations of the Platonic Solids.
Unfortunately, the P and Q settings are only directly related to the faces and sides of the object, but not exactly repre-
sentative of those numbers. What this means is that instead of setting those parameters exactly as you see fit, your best
bet is to start playing around and see the results. In most cases, the three settings you can actually predict how the
results are going to look like are the two extremes and the midpoint.
There are some basic things you want to pay attention to as you start tweaking your default objects.

68
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

• The range of each setting is between 0 and 1.


• The two values added together cannot exceed 1.
• The two extremes occur when either setting is set to 1 and the other is at 0.
• The midpoint occurs when both settings are set to 0.
Let's say you insert your Polyhedron (which will give you the Tetra) with a default setting of P=0 and Q=1. This is a
100% pure Tetrahedron. As soon as you start adjusting either the P or the Q parameter, you no longer have a tetrahe-
dron, but rather a variation of the tetrahedron shape. Now the interesting thing about this particular shape is that when
you go to the other extreme, where P=1 and Q=0, you also end up with an exact tetrahedron. This is the only family
where this occurs and it's also the reason why there is only one name under this family category.
Moving on to the Cube/Octa, we start out with the same default setting of P=0 and Q=1 and you have a perfect cube.
Now when you choose the other extreme you will end up with the Octahedron, which is the main reason these two
objects are lumped together in a family.
Finally, the Dodec/Icos arrives into the scene with the standard P and Q settings and when you crank the P setting to
equal 1, you change your perfect Dodecahedron to a perfect Icosahedron.

Scale Axis
And now the really dense fog rolls in. The Scale Axis is still based on Ps and Qs with the addition of some Rs for con-
fusion sake. These settings allow you to push and pull faces of your polyhedron in a similar fashion to what the Star 1
and Star 2 do. In fact, if you start from the Dodec/Icos family you can quickly achieve the Stellated Polyhedron default
geometry. But once you start cranking these settings in conjunction with variations of the P and Q Family Parameter
you'll quickly realize that there is no end to the crazy shapes the Polyhedron can generate.
One important thing about the Scale Axis settings is that P, Q and R each control a different type of surface. There can
be three basic surfaces on a Polyhedron: triangles, squares and pentagons. If your shape has one or two types of sur-
faces, only one or two of the Scale Axis settings will have any effect on the faces of the shape. When the shape has all
three types of faces, P, Q and R will all be active.

Radius
Now back to something we can all relate to. Adjust the radius of a Polyhedron and it will get bigger or smaller. And I
didn't even have to research that one.

Flash Tutorial: Working with Primitives

69
Chapter 7 | Primitives

70
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

8 text

Overview
I'm not sure about you, but my first experience with 3D text was when I started going to
see Hollywood movies in the theatres. When I saw a deeply extruded rendition of the
Star Wars title with that extreme perspective that tapered quickly towards the vanishing
point, text suddenly became much more than trying to achieve a perfect cursive letter
‘B’ in 3rd grade. They became art, more like sculptures than a bunch of letters thrown
together, more of an outlet for creativity rather than a model for replication. And with
the massive increase in font selection through the boom in personal computing, sud-
denly you could convey emotions and moods with just the mere visual representation of
your words. Wow, I'm sorry to come across as a total word geek, but that was some cool
stuff for me.
So here we are in the 21st century with Swift 3D, certainly not the first 3D font rendering software, but an exceptional
solution for turning 3D text into vector-based animations. Within Swift 3D, any TrueType or PostScript font you have
installed on your computer can be automatically turned into an extruded and beveled 3D object.

Inserting a Text Object


There is little mystery to getting started with text. Simply click the Create Text button on the Main toolbar
and the word “Text” appears in your scene, which is when the fun begins.

Text Property Page


After you complete the grueling task of inserting the word “Text” into your scene, unless by some cosmic coincidence
you are building a Web site all about text, you will most likely want to do a bit of personalizing to meet your text needs.
This can all be done from the Text property page, which by default is selected after you hit the Create Text button.

71
Chapter 8 | Text

Font
Use the Font dropdown menu to choose the style of text you desire, using the preview
function to guide your selection. The default font can be adjusted by going to View >
User Preferences.

Text
You can replace the text with your own by highlighting the word in the Properties Tool-
bar and typing whatever you like.

Alignment
You can adjust the alignment of your text with the Alignment buttons shown.

Character Map
The Character Map button gives you a display of all the weird characters that come
with each font, but aren't shown on your keyboard. For example, select the Wingdings
font in the font dropdown list, and then click on the Character Map button to see a
ready-made list of symbols.

Nick's Tips
Wingdings are sweet. That's right, Wingdings, Webdings, Dingbats—all cool in my book. They quickly extend
the versatility of Swift 3D by giving you a ton of 2D objects that can be extruded in a heartbeat via the Text button.
And after a quick Web search I found tons of picture-based fonts similar to Wingdings, all for free. Adding these types
of fonts is sort of like building your own personal 2D library.

To work with text properties:


1. Click on the Text object button on the Main Toolbar.
2. Highlight the word Text in the Text box in the Properties Toolbar (by either clicking and dragging your cursor over
the letters or double clicking anywhere on the text).
3. Type in any word.
4. Go to the Font dropdown list and choose a new font.
5. Hit the Character Map button, find the exclamation point and click on it to insert it into the Text box.
6. Click on the 3 different alignment keys to watch your text realign itself in the Viewport.

72
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

Bevels Property Page


Bevels refer to the transition between the front and back surfaces and the side surfaces
of your text. When you are using 3D text, adding bevels will create another surface for
light to reflect off of, thus creating a more interesting effect. Swift 3D allows you to
apply five different types of bevel effects.

Styles
• Square: A 90-degree angle, giving your text only three total surfaces: front, side
and back (i.e. no bevel).
• Beveled: A 45-degree angle, as if you ran a knife along the front corners of your
text. This is the default style.
• Outer Round: A smooth, convex, rounded transition between the front surface
and side surface, as if you sanded the front corners down.
• Inner Round: A smooth, concave, rounded transition, as if you gouged out the
front corners of your text.
• Step Down: As if you glued your text to the front of a larger version of your text.
NOTE: You are not actually removing material from the characters, as you would
when working with wood, but rather you are adding thickness to the areas without the
bevel in order to create them. This means that as you increase the depth of your text
you will be increasing its size as well, which may change the overall character of your
font.

Bevel Gallery
Bevels can also be dragged and dropped onto Text
or Extrusions from the Bevel Gallery.

Nick’s Tips
There are two things I feel obliged to mention at this juncture. First, don’t go typing in your company’s Mis-
sion Statement and expect to have a file that will stream at 28.8 kbs. Text, especially with a fancy font applied, has a lot
of geometrical detail when it’s converted to a 3D object so it can get big, fast. Second, bevels are cool, but they also can
boost your bandwidth consumption. I recommend sticking to the 45 degree bevel because the other ones tend to need a
higher level fill option when rendering in order to be visible.

73
Chapter 8 | Text

Depth
With the Depth control you are manipulating how quickly the text makes your desired transition from front and back
surfaces to side surfaces. The higher the number, the longer the transition, ergo, the more depth you apply to your
bevel, the thicker your text becomes. Get carried away and you've got some funky looking stuff, not that funky is a bad
thing.
If you are significantly increasing the bevel size (around 5.0 or higher), you may stop seeing any changes to your bev-
els until you go and increase the Depth under Sizing.

Face
By default, the bevels are applied to both the front corners and the back corners so you will see the same thing going on
when you view the backside of your text. To control which faces are beveled, choose front, back or both under the Face
options.

To work with bevels:


1. Click on the Text object button on the Main Toolbar.
2. In the Properties Toolbar, select the Bevel Property Page.
3. Click on the Beveled dropdown list and choose a different bevel option (not square).
4. Key in 0.050 in the Depth box (or use the scrollers).
5. In the Rotation Trackball, drag your cursor across the trackball until the back of the text comes into view.
6. Click on the Front Face button. Notice that the backside of the Text is no longer beveled.
7. Click the Reset Rotation button on the right side of the Rotation Trackball.
NOTE: The default Bevel Style and Depth can be adjusted by going to View > User Preferences.

Smoothness
This slider controls how accurately curves are drawn on your text. If you adjust towards Fine, your curves will smooth
out, but the amount of lines it takes to render the text increases, and so does your file size. Adjusting towards Coarse
will make any curves appear more angular and reduce file size. The general rule of thumb is “leave it alone unless you
have a good reason not to.”

Mesh Quality
This control is there to allow you some control over the geometry created when you extrude text and 2D artwork. The
default polygonal construction of these objects typically lead to some very narrow polygons where there are curved
edges. This can sometimes lead to some inconsistencies after rendering and importing into Flash. If you experience any
of these problems, you should adjust this slider to a higher level of Mesh Quality and try rendering again. Another side
effect is that when you jack this setting up, you’ll have more detailed lighting effects when you are rendering with
Mesh Gradient Shading.

74
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

Sizing Property Page


You have five controls over the sizing of Text. Width and Height are pretty straight-
forward. Depth allows you to control how deeply extruded your text objects are. Inter
Character and Inter Line control the distance between each character and each line
of text.
Any numerical changes will use the center of the text as a baseline. So if you increase
the depth, the front of the text will move towards you (if it's facing the camera) and the
back of the text will move away from you.
NOTE: The default Depth applied to Text and Extrusions can be adjusted by going to
View > User Preferences.

Editing Characters Individually


When your create a text object, it is considered one main object that consists of individual grouped characters, but the
characters within the word are considered children and can be somewhat manipulated independently.

To edit characters individually:


1. Click on the Text object button located on the Main Toolbar.
2. Hold down the CTRL key (Win) or OPTION key (Mac) while clicking on the ‘e’ character. Notice that a bounding
box now appears just around the ‘e’, and only the ‘e’ appears in the Rotation Trackball.
3. Once you have that character selected you can apply different properties to it within the Properties Toolbar, so go
to the Sizing page and increase the letter’s height.
4. Go to the Material Gallery and while holding down the CTRL key (Win) or OPTION key (Mac), drag-and-drop a
new material on just the ‘e.’
5. Go to the Animation Gallery and while holding down the CTRL key (Win) or OPTION key (Mac), drag-and-drop
one of the rotation animations on just the “e.”
6. Click on the Play button and watch just the ‘e’ rotate.

Convert Text to Paths


This is a great feature that provides you with the ultimate control over your text. When you click the Convert
Text to Paths button in the main toolbar, your text is no longer a font, but is now treated as an extruded object
that can be edited in the Extrusion Editor. For those of you familiar with programs like Adobe Illustrator or
Macromedia Freehand, this is the same thing as inserting text into those programs and then converting it from a font to
outlines.

75
Chapter 8 | Text

What makes this feature extra sweet is that the mor-


phing of paths is supported by our Animation Timeline.
We go into the details of Path Morphing in the Anima-
tion chapter.
It’s important to note that this conversion is a one way
street, so make sure your text contains all of the letters
you eventually want to work with in the Extrusion Edi-
tor before you click this button.
Also, if you’ve made any changes to individual charac-
ters of a text string, like applying a specific material,
you will lose those changes upon conversion.

Working With Text Objects in Advanced Modeler


Text can be brought into the Advanced Modeler if you want to further manipulate its mesh. This is obviously a great
feature, but one thing you need to realize is that as soon as you click on the Edit Mesh button in the Advanced Mod-
eler, the text is converted to an editable mesh and you no longer have access to the object’s text properties (font, bevels,
etc.). A warning dialog will appear in order to remind you of the implications and to prevent you from inadvertently
converting text into a 3D model. You can use the Undo function in the Advanced Modeler to reverse this action if you
decide to go back to your original text object.

Flash Tutorial: Working with Text

76
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

9 extrusion editor

Overview
Extrusions are a non-3D guru’s best friend, which probably explains why I cozied up to our Extrusion Editor pretty
quickly when it first arrive on the scene. I mean c’mon, would you rather spend your time learning what NURBS and
splines are all about, or would you feel more comfortable grabbing a pen, sketching out a shape and having it instantly
appear in your scene as a 3D object. Not to mention all of the familiar concepts like Bezier curves, control points and a
nice flat surface to draw on. All these things add up to one of the most powerful modeling tools Swift 3D offers.
And for those of you with zero 3D experience, let me throw a quick explanation of what an extrusion actually is. It's
when you take a flat, 2D shape and extend its Z depth. As a most basic example, let's start with a single 8½” x 11”
piece of paper. That's your original 2D shape. Now add 499 pieces of the same size paper to the stack and wrap it so it
becomes a single unit. That's your extruded object. (Actually it's a ream of paper, but hey, I'm trying to prove a point
here.) As you add or subtract pieces of paper to that stack, you are determining how thick your object becomes. That
thickness is its Z depth.
So Swift 3D’s Extrusion Editor may not measure up to an application like Adobe Illustrator and it may not offer total
modeling power like the Advanced Modeler, but man is it a perfect hybrid tool for folks like myself (and maybe you)
who can draw stuff with a Bezier Pen. And with the additional abilities of bringing 2D vector files into the Extrusion
Editor as well as animating paths with the built-in Animation Timeline, you’ve got yourself a great ‘utility player’ in
the big game of 3D modeling and animation.

77
Chapter 9 | Extrusion Editor

How It Works
The basic concept is that once you draw a shape within the Extrusion
Editor interface, the extrusion appears immediately in the Scene Edi-
tor with a default depth of 0.050 units.
The Extrusion Editor merely exists to create the original shape. Once
the actual extrusion appears in the Scene Editor, you will be able to
adjust all of the extrusion's properties like depth, bevels, materials,
etc. through the Properties Toolbar.
You should also take notice of the differences between a Bezier Pen
Tool from other applications and that of Swift 3D. As you begin
drawing, you will need to select what type of point you want created
via the three buttons on the top of the Extrusion Editor Interface: Cor-
ner Point, Curve Point and Tangent Point. But I'm getting slightly
ahead of myself.

Main Toolbar
Pen Tool
It all starts by selecting the pen tool (selected by default when you enter the Extrusion Editor) and choosing
a place on the grid to start drawing. By clicking the Pen Tool you are telling Swift 3D that you are ready to
begin drawing.

Selection Tool
This tool will allow you to select individual and groups of points to further manipulate your shape once it has
been drawn. By clicking the Selection Tool you are telling Swift 3D that you are ready to start editing your
drawing.

Corner Point
When this button is depressed, every point you create will be an Corner Point with no information defining
how the path enters or exits that point. If I create a series of Corner points, they will all be connected with
perfectly straight lines.

Curve Point
The Curve Point has much more information associated with it than the Corner point. Curve points are
defined by something called a Bezier curve whereby you have control over the shape of the line entering and
exiting the point. Although you can control the entry and exit, the two halves of your curve are linked to each
other so positional changes to one half of your point may have an effect on the other half of the Bezier curve.
The typical application of Curve Points is to create two lines that join together at the point in a smooth fashion.

78
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

Tangent Point
These are very similar to the Curve point but they allow you to control each side of the curve's control points
separately. The tangent point is designed to allow your line to enter and exit the point with completely differ-
ent paths. The typical application of Tangent Points is to create two curved lines that join together in an angu-
lar fashion.

Close Shape Button


This button is designed to be a time saver. Although not completely necessary, it's always a good practice to
close your shapes when working within the Extrusion Editor. With that in mind, the Close Shape button
offers a quick way to close your shape when you're ready to create that final line segment. Certainly you can
do it manually by creating your final point directly on top of your very first point (a “+” sign will appear
when you’re directly on top), but the Close Shape button will accomplish the exact same thing.

Magnifying Glass
Just imagine if Sherlock Holmes had licensed his classic investigatory tool to the software companies of the
world. A simple royalty structure would have done wonders for him and Watson. Swift 3D's zoom tool
works like this. Grab the tool, click to zoom in and right click to zoom out. Wherever you click on the grid
determines the area that gets magnified or unmagnified.

Undo Button
Undo can be accessed through the Edit menu or shortcut commands, but if you're a button pusher you can
take a crack at the Undo buttons.

Shape Tools
These buttons provide you with a quick and easy route to some common extrusion
shapes you might be interested in using in your Scene. Or they may be a good starting
point for the creation of something a little more custom. Either way, a click of the but-
ton inserts the proper path into the editing interface with all of the associated control
points.

N-Gon
The N-gon is a more flexible version of these shape tools. The button itself shows a penta-
gon, but by selecting from the dropdown list you can designate the inserted shapes as any-
thing from a triangle to an octagon.

Animate Button
The Animate button must be toggled on in order to activate the Extrusion Editor timeline.

79
Chapter 9 | Extrusion Editor

Working with Extrusions from the Model Gallery


The Model Gallery comes with a library of extru-
sions that you can click-and-drag into the Scene
Editor and bring into the Extrusion Editor for fur-
ther editing. The extrusions that are shipped with
the program reside under the Extrusion Tab and
all start with the default file name “ER Extru-
sion,” which is followed by a dash and the extru-
sion’s name. This is simply a naming convention
that is used to help you identify which models are Extrusions in the Model Gallery and does not need to be continued if
you choose not to. While the thumbnails provide you with a view of the finished extruded object, these shapes are actu-
ally just bezier paths that you can tweak into something all your own or use as is.

To add an extrusion from the model gallery:


1. In the Scene Editor, click on the Model Gallery button and choose an extrusion from the gallery.
2. Click on the preview window and drag the cursor into either Viewport.
3. Go to the Extrusion Editor and the Bezier path of that shape will appear centered around the (0, 0) coordinate.
4. Use any of the Extrusion Editor tools to edit the path.
5. Click back on the Scene Editor tab to view the changes to the object.
You can also save your own extrusion to the Model Gallery so that it is accessible for future use in any open Swift 3D
project.

To save an extrusion to the model gallery:


1. Once you have finished creating or editing an extrusion, return to the Scene Editor.
2. With the extrusion selected in the Viewport, choose File > Save Model.
3. This will bring up the Save Model dialog, from which you can choose a name and location within the Model Gal-
lery for the extrusion. All extrusions stored in the Model Gallery get saved to the .t3om file format.

Editing Gallery Contents


An extrusion added to the Gallery can only be edited in the Extrusion Editor workspace (unless you choose to convert
it to a mesh and edit it in the Advanced Modeler). Once an extrusion is placed into the scene it no longer has any con-
nection to the original stored back in the model gallery, so when you finish editing you must go through the steps for
saving an extrusion to the gallery. If you do not desire two copies of the extrusion, either overwrite the previous extru-
sion by using the same name when saving, or simply delete the previous version from the gallery.
You can right click (Win) or CTRL + click (Mac) on the palette window surrounding the thumbnails to bring up the
Gallery Setup dialog, from which you can delete, rename or relocate any gallery content. For information on how to
share Gallery content and managing Galleries in Swift 3D, see the section on Galleries in the Scene Editor chapter.

80
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

The Grid
The grid is mostly there for reference rather than for numerical sizing or positioning. Each grid line in the editor is set
.05 units apart. When zoomed out you will see black dashed guidelines that represent 1 unit. A relationship does exist
between the location of a path in the Extrusion Editor and where the extrusion is positioned when it is brought into the
Scene Editor. The location of the extrusion in the Viewport will depend on where the object was drawn in relation to
the (0, 0) coordinate in the Extrusion Editor. For example, if the path is centered around X = 0 and Y = 0, the extrusion
will be centered in the Scene Editor as well. If the path is drawn in the lower right quadrant of the grid, the extrusion
will appear in the lower right quadrant of the Viewport.
What is the meaning of all this? This placement issue is only important if you plan to apply a bitmap texture to your
extrusion. The location from which a bitmap image begins to wrap onto an extrusion is dependent upon where the path
was drawn in relation to the (0, 0) coordinate. Specific details regarding bitmap wrapping to extrusions can be found in
the chapter on Materials. It is also notable that any extrusion taken back into the Extrusion Editor for further editing
will always be centered at (0, 0), no matter where it was initially drawn since the Extrusion Editor has no way of
remembering the original location of each extrusion.

Creating Shapes
While it is possible that the shape you’re looking for resides within the Extrusion Gallery, there are definitely going to
be many occasions when you will need to create your own shapes. We might as well start with the easiest way of start-
ing out, which by using one of the shape primitives accessible through the Shape Tools located on the Main Toolbar.

To create an object using the shape tools:


1. Click the button that contains the shape you want.
2. Click the Scene Editor Tab to view the extrusion.
The Shape Tools can’t meet everyone’s needs, though, so let’s move on to the nitty-gritty of how to draw a shape from
scratch using the Pen Tool.

To draw a straight-lined shape (parallelogram):


1. Select the Pen Tool button (on by default).
2. Select the Angle Point button (on by default).
3. Click once on the grid 5 lines above the X/Y intersection.
4. Click again on the grid 7 lines to the right of that point.
5. Click on the grid 5 lines to the right of the X/Y intersection.
6. Click on the grid 2 lines to the left of the X/Y intersection.
7. Move your cursor directly above the first point created and click when you see
the ‘+’ symbol appear next to your Pen Tool (or click the Close Shape button).
8. Click the Scene Editor Tab to view the extrusion.

81
Chapter 9 | Extrusion Editor

To draw a curved-line shape (egg):


1. Select the Pen Tool button.
2. Select the Curve Point button.
3. Click once on the grid 6 lines above the X/Y intersection.
4. Click again on the grid 3 lines to the right of the X/Y intersection.
5. Click again on the grid 3 lines below the X/Y intersection.
6. Click again on the grid 3 lines to the left of the X/Y intersection.
7. Move your cursor directly above the first point created and click when you see
the ‘+’ symbol appear next to your Pen Tool.
8. Click the Selection Tool button.
9. Select your first point and then click-and-drag on the right Bezier handle to make your curve guide run parallel
with the X axis. Position the end square of the right handle on the grid 2 lines to the right of the Y axis, and the end
square of the left handle 2 lines to the left side of the Y axis.
10. Continue around the shape, positioning the Bezier handles as shown in the diagram above until you have a nice
egg shape.
11. Click the Scene Editor Tab to view the extrusion.

To draw a multi-point-type shape (starburst):


1. Select the Pen Tool button.
2. Click the Angle Point button.
3. Click on the grid 4 lines above the X/Y intersection.
4. Select the Tangent Point button.
5. Click on the grid 2 lines to the right and 2 lines above the X/Y intersection.
6. Select the Angle Point button.
7. Click on the grid 4 lines to the right of the X/Y intersection.
8. Select the Tangent Point button.
9. Click on the grid 2 lines to the right and 2 lines below the X/Y intersection.
10. Continue the process to create the left side of your shape, making sure to close
the shape at the end.
11. Select the Selection Tool.
12. Select the first Tangent Point you created and drag each of the two Bezier handles onto the X/Y intersection.
13. Continue that process for the remaining 3 Tangent Points.
14. Click the Scene Editor Tab to view the extrusion.

Nick's Tips
Due to the manner in which Swift 3D lays down Curve Points and Tangent Points, I highly recommend using
the following strategy when creating anything but the most basic symmetrical shapes: sketch it out with the key control
points, choosing your point type as you go. Don't pay attention to the overall shape of the object with your original run
through, because you'll only get frustrated. Once you've laid down the basic shape with your points, then you can go
back through and make all the necessary adjustments to your point locations and Bezier curves, adding and subtracting
points as needed.

82
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

Flash Tutorial: Drawing in Lathe and Extrusion Editors

Editing Your Artwork


There are a variety of ways to edit your paths after they have been created.

Editing Points
Selecting Points
To select an individual point, use the Selection Tool and click on the point. To aid in selecting points, the cursor has a
hover state when it is over a point that is available to be selected.
Once you see the cursor change to this state, simply click down on the point to select it. The point will turn red when
it's selected.
To select multiple points, hold down the CTRL key while selecting individual points. The most recent point selected
will be red and the additional selected points will become black. If you errantly select a point, simply click on it again
while still holding down the CTRL key to deselect it from the group of points you are in the process of selecting.
To perform either of these functions you can also click-and-drag a marquee box around single or multiple points.

Moving Points
To move individual or groups of points around within the Extrusion Editor simply click-and-drag them to a new loca-
tion. Only selected points will move.
If you would like to constrain the axis along which your points move, holding down the SHIFT key before moving
them will constrain their movement along the X axis or Y axis.

Adding and Deleting Points


To add additional points to a shape, select the Pen Tool, choose the point type you would like to add (Point, Curve
Point or Tangent Point) and then click on the existing path where you want that point to be inserted. To delete a point or
multiple points, select them and hit the DELETE key. You can also use the Menu command of Edit > Delete.

Changing Points
To change the point type of individual or multiple points, select the points you'd like to convert, and then select the
point type you'd like to convert them to from either the Main Menu or the Point Properties dialog. Short cut keys exist
for all of the point types, which can be very convenient as well.

83
Chapter 9 | Extrusion Editor

Point Properties
This dialog is for the control freak in all of us. If you need to know that your point is
EXACTLY on the Y-axis this is where you come to for answers. To access the dialog you can
right click (Win) or CTRL + click (Mac) anywhere within the grid area and choose Point
Properties form the context menu, or you can select a point and choose View > Point Proper-
ties.

Type
This section of the Point Properties allows you to alter the Point Type of all the points you
have selected.

Position
The position control allows you total control over the positioning of your points on the X and
Y coordinate grid. If you have multiple points selected, the Position control will show you the
coordinates of the point that is colored in red.

Keyboard Nudge Increment


Within the Extrusion and Lathe Editors you can manipulate selected points and groups of points by using the arrow
keys on your keyboard. Each time you click an arrow it will move the point(s) the number of increments designated
within this Point Properties dialog. If you feel the need for a more or less refined nudge ability, this is the place to make
those related changes.

Editing Paths
Selecting Paths
To select an entire path with all of its points and their related control handles, you can double click on the path itself.
You will see a little icon (it looks like a seagull to me) appear when your cursor is hovering over a selectable path.
Once a path is selected, you can drag it to any spot in the Extrusion Editor.

Scaling Paths
Paths can be scaled by double clicking on the path (with the seagull cursor) and then selecting the Scale
tool from the main toolbar. When the scale tool is selected, a bounding box with sizing handles will appear
that allow you to adjust the overall scale of the selected path. The sizing handles are located on each cor-
ner and in the middle of each side. The path will stretch in whichever direction the handle is dragged. To
uniformly scale the path, hold down the CTRL key (Win) or OPTION key (Mac) while dragging one of
the handles.

84
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

Copying and Pasting Paths


Once a Path is selected, you can copy and paste the path inside of the Extrusion Editor, or you can also copy and paste
the path into the Lathe Editor. Within the Extrusion Editor, only one path can be copied at one time. The path must be
selected by double clicking on the path (using the seagull cursor). Once selected, you can choose to Paste in Place,
which will paste the path in the same exact location or you can do a straight Paste, which will offset the path from its
original location.

To copy and paste a path:


1. Select a path that you want to copy.
2. Go to Edit > Copy or use the CTRL + C (Win)/COMMAND + C (Mac) shortcut keys.
3. To paste the path in the Extrusion Editor, go to Edit > Paste or use the CTRL + V (Win) or COMMAND + V
(Mac) shortcut keys. Or, use the Edit > Paste in Place option, which is SHIFT + CTRL + V (Win) or SHIFT +
COMMAND + V (Mac).
4. To paste the path into the Lathe Editor, click on the Lathe Editor Tab and go to Edit > Paste or use the CTRL + V
(Win) or COMMAND + V (Mac) shortcut keys.
NOTE: The paste function will not work if a path already exists within the Lathe Editor because only a single path can
be present in the Lathe Editor at one time.

Working with complex shapes


Although I threw out the “We’re not Adobe Illustrator” caveat at the beginning of this chapter, there are a few extra
things that you can do within the Extrusion Editor that rank up there in the ‘pretty-cool feature’ category.

Excluding Shapes
You have the ability to punch holes in your extrusions through the process of exclusion.
It's a simple process, really. If you have a shape within another shape, the shape within
will end up becoming negative space inside of that larger shape.
A basic example would be if I draw a circle and then draw a smaller circle within the
larger circle, I would create a ring. Sort of like a torus, but with hard edges. Obviously
you can get much more creative than this, but the basic concept always remains the
same.
It's important to note that as soon as the path of your interior shape breaks through the path of the surrounding shape
you will no longer have an excluded area. Instead, the Extrusion Editor will fill the entire shape using the furthest out-
side path, in this case a combination of the outer shape and the section of the inner shape that protrudes from the outer
shape.

2D Loops
You will probably come across this effect by accident as you play around with the Extrusion Editor. The way Swift 3D
calculates what to fill and what not to fill has to do with complex calculations that I do not care to explain, let alone

85
Chapter 9 | Extrusion Editor

understand myself. My point is that if a path overlaps itself, you're going to get a strange geometric shape created in the
Scene Editor that actually takes on more of a 2D Mobius strip type look, minus the 180 degree twist. Or maybe a bow
made out of ribbon. Honestly, try it for yourself and you'll understand much better than my feeble descriptions. The
only thing I can warn you about is that it's not going to look like you'd expect.

Combining and Breaking Apart


These functions need a touch of explaining to understand why they exist at all. My initial reaction to these features
was, “Isn't that what the Group and Ungroup commands are all about?” When our chief engineer put his hand around
my shoulder and led me into his office I knew that I was sadly mistaken. A half hour later I felt qualified to give this
explanation.
When two extruded objects are grouped, there is nothing more than a loose association between them. They may be
moved together, rotated together, even scaled together. But they can still have different materials applied to them and
their shapes are in no way related to each other.
When objects are Combined, they are related to each other mathematically through their paths. In other words, even
though two or more shapes that have been combined do not share any paths, they are technically one object, meaning
that they must share all of the same properties, like materials, bevels, sizing, etc. Conversely, when these shapes are
broken apart again, they become separate entities completely. Really the Combine function in our program is similar to
the Make Compound Path function in Adobe Illustrator or the Combine > Blend function in Macromedia Freehand.
When two or more paths are drawn into the Extrusion Editor simultaneously they will automatically take on the Com-
bined setting. If you do not want multiple extrusions to have the same properties then you should draw them one at a
time, making sure to leave the Extrusion Editor, deselect the extrusion and then re-enter the Extrusion Editor with a
blank slate.
So you're still thinking “And I'm interested in this information because….?” That's OK, here's the skinny:
• When two or more extruded objects are combined, you can alter all of their Properties at once. For instance, if you
have a multiple-shape extrusion and want to bevel all of the shapes at once, you would need to combine them
beforehand.
• To apply different materials to multiple extruded objects, they must first be broken apart.
• When you want to punch an object out of another extruded object, they need to be combined to accomplish this. If
they are not, they will simply be overlapping objects.
• When you draw two or more objects at once within the Extrusion Editor they will automatically be combined.
• When you combine two or more objects that lie on different planes of rotation, they will all be realigned to coin-
cide with the axis of the first object created.
• When two or more extruded objects that have different Properties assigned to them are combined (for example
different materials, bevels, depth, etc.), all of the objects will assume the properties of the first object created.
• Be aware that if you combine something like imported text in order to make some universal property changes, if
you break them apart again, all of the holes will become solid objects, which might not be your desired result.

86
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

Nick's Tips
With all this combining and breaking apart it's easy to get confused. So I'm going to outline a common scenario
to help you get a grasp on its practical use. Let's say I'm rebuilding the Electric Rain logo in the Swift 3D extrusion edi-
tor. The three factors that I need to deal with are as follows: The right side section has two holes punched through it.
The two sections have different materials applied to them. Both sides need to be extruded and beveled the same
amount. Here's the process I'd use:
1. Create the two main sections with outlines in the Extrusion Editor.
2. Go to the Scene Editor and adjust the Bevel and Depth of the Combined Object.
3. Break the object apart.
4. Select the right side object and go back to the extrusion editor.
5. Insert the cutout sections on the right side section.
6. Go back to the Scene Editor and apply materials.
7. Select both objects and group them together so the logo can be animated as one unit.

Editing Imported AI and EPS Extrusions


Yes, another advantage to having the Extrusion Editor on-board Swift 3D is that you can edit your 2D vector artwork
imported from AI and EPS files. You may have used a 2D drawing program to create the original artwork, but having
the ability to touch something up post import is incredibly convenient.
After importing your 2D vector artwork (please read the chapter on Importing AI and EPS files for more information
on this process) all you have to do to edit the artwork is select your imported image and then go to the Extrusion Editor.
You will see all of the associated anchor points and Bezier control handles and they can all be manipulated just as you
would a native extrusion.

Nick's Tips
While the Extrusion Editor can edit imported AI/EPS files, the Lathe Editor cannot. If you want to bring a path
originally created in another 2D program into the Lathe Editor what you will need to do is bring it into the Extrusion
Editor and then copy and paste that path over to the Lathe Editor.

Path Morphing
Using the Extrusion Editor Timeline you can create animations
where the actual path of the extrusion changes over time. This type
of animation is called Path Morphing. Since the timeline in the
Extrusion Editor works almost identically to the main timeline in the
Scene Editor, the timeline and Path Morphing are covered in detail
within the chapter on Animation.

87
Chapter 9 | Extrusion Editor

Extrusion Properties
Once you take your path back to the Scene Editor your newly extruded object will come with these additional proper-
ties that you can access from the Properties Toolbar.

Bevels
These properties are identical to the beveling of a text object so please refer to the chapter on Text Objects and read the
Bevel section.

Sizing
These controls function as you would expect, allowing you to control the width, height and depth of your extruded
object. If you have an extrusion with multiple objects, they must be combined before you can change all of their sizing
properties at once. Otherwise you can select each object individually and adjust its size.
NOTE: The default Bevel Style, Bevel Depth and Sizing Depth applied to Text and Extrusions can be adjusted by
going to View > User Preferences.

Scaling
This property is fully detailed in the Working with Objects chapter, but it is worth repeating here that Scale can be ani-
mated while Sizing cannot.

Working With Extruded Objects in Advanced Modeler


Once you have brought your extrusion back out to the Scene Editor you have the option of taking it into the Advanced
Modeler if you want to further manipulate its mesh. This is obviously a great feature, but one thing you need to realize
is that as soon as you click on the Edit Mesh button in the Advanced Modeler, the extrusion is converted to an editable
mesh and you no longer have access to the object’s extrusion properties (Bevels and Sizing) and you cannot bring it
back into the Extrusion Editor. A warning dialog will appear in order to remind you of the implications and to prevent
you from inadvertently converting an extrusion into a 3D model. You can use the Undo function in the Advanced Mod-
eler to reverse this action if you decide to go back to your original Extrusion object.

Flash Tutorial: Extrusion Editor

88
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

10 lathe editor

Overview
Did any of you take Shop class in high school? Well I didn't either, but I hear there's this tool called a lathe that spins a
piece of wood like mad and then you use various fiber-rending weapons to sculpt that dead spinning tree into a cool
shape. In fact, my wife still has a lamp that she created with a lathe in 9th grade. It's god-awful ugly, but it was, in fact,
created by a lathe. And now Swift 3D has an implement of creation that works on a similar basis, only in an additive
manner rather than a subtractive. Oh yeah, no sawdust either.
The Lathe Editor is a powerful modeling tool that allows you to create objects that can break through the Z-axis limita-
tions of 2D extrusions. And if you combine it with the Extrusion Editor and Advanced Modeler, forget about it. You'll
be assembling complex models in less time than it takes to even open a high-end 3D application.

How It Works
The short version is this: You draw a path and go to the Scene Editor to see your lathed object. If you've used a Lathe
tool in another program you'll quickly understand how Swift 3D's Lathe Editor behaves. But if you're a newcomer to
the lathe concept, stay with me and we'll go into a little more detail.

Drawing Tools
Before the sawdust starts flying, let’s first point out that the Bezier drawing tools located on the main toolbar are iden-
tical in function to those in the Extrusion Editor. Refer to the Chapter on the Extrusion Editor for information on how
these tools work.

Axis of Rotation
The grid line that you'll need to pay the closest attention to is the dotted and dashed green vertical line that runs down
the left side of the Lathe Editor interface. This line is the axis of rotation and is to be respected at all cost. The reason
for its off-center positioning in the interface is because, in general, you only want to be drawing paths on one side of

89
Chapter 10 | Lathe Editor

your Axis of Rotation. There are exceptions we'll discuss later, but for our purposes we should keep everything on the
right side of the Axis of Rotation.

Think Profile
When you begin drawing your path, it's important to think in terms of a profile rather than a full shape. What you are
doing is creating the outside profile of your object and letting the Lathe Editor do the rest for you. Once you have
defined the profile with your path, Swift 3D is going to spin that path completely around (360 degrees) the vertical
Axis of Rotation. In the process, it will create a smooth surface defined by all of the points in 3D space that your origi-
nal path touched as it was rotated around the axis.

Creating a Lathed Object


There is a classic example we can use to visually demonstrate what is
so hard to verbally explain. Let's walk through the steps we would fol-
low if our final goal were to model a wine glass.
1. Draw the shape to the right using the Bezier pen tool.
2. Notice that my first and last points start on the Axis of Rotation.
3. Go to the Scene Editor to view the finished product (inset image).
This should get across what I mean by drawing a profile and letting
the Lathe editor do the rest. It's important to note what happens when
you draw shapes that are not adjacent to the Axis of Rotation line. You
will end up with a solid shape that has a vertical hole through it. The
further away from the Axis of Rotation, the larger your hole gets.

Crossing the Axis of Rotation


Despite my warnings, no bodily harm will come to you by crossing
that Axis of Rotation with your path. It's more a matter of keeping
things simple. Since the process of lathing involves a 360-degree rota-
tion, any part of the path that extends to the left of the sacred green
line will end up being lathed just as if it were on the right side. In that
sense you can sort of think of the axis line as a mirror and crossing the line will yield the same result as stopping your
path on the axis and reflecting that angle back onto the same side.
It's quite easy to get a little crazy with this tool and start experimenting. In fact, I highly recommend it. There is defi-
nitely some spatial imagination that comes into play, and you can create very complex shapes and even build 3D
shapes within 3D shapes. However, you will quickly notice that all of your shapes have a distinct ‘lathed’ look about
them. Because of this we have added a few features that really give you potential for more object diversity.

Flash Tutorial: Drawing in Extrusion and Lathe Editors

90
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

Working With Lathes from the Model Gallery


If envisioning object profiles is just not your spe-
cialty in life, the Model Gallery comes with a set
of commonly used Lathes that you can simply
click-and-drag into the Scene Editor. Lathes that
are shipped with the program reside under the
Lathe Tab and all start with the default file name
“ER Lathe,” which is followed by a dash and the
lathe’s name. This is simply a naming convention
that is used to help you identify which models are lathes in the Model Gallery and does not need to be continued if you
choose not to. Once the lathe is brought into the Scene Editor, either use it as is or bring the lathe into the Lathe Editor
and modify the path to fit your needs.

To add a lathe from the model gallery:


1. In the Scene Editor, click on the Model Gallery button and choose a lathe shape from the gallery.
2. Click on the preview window and drag the cursor into either Viewport. Click on the Lathe Editor tab.
3. The Bezier path of that shape will appear and you can use any of the Lathe Editor tools to edit the path.
4. Click back on the Scene Editor tab to view the changes to the object.
You can also save your own lathe to the Model Gallery so that it is accessible for future use in any open Swift 3D doc-
ument.

To save a lathe to the model gallery:


1. Once you have finished creating or editing a lathe, return to the Scene Editor.
2. With the lathe selected in the Viewport, choose File > Save Model.
3. This will bring up the Save Model dialog, from which you can choose a name and location within the Model Gal-
lery for the lathe. All lathes stored in the Model Gallery get saved to the .t3om file format.

Editing Gallery Contents


A lathe added to the Gallery can only be edited in the Lathe Editor workspace (unless you choose to convert it to a
mesh and edit it in the Advanced Modeler). Once a lathe is placed into the scene it no longer has any connection to the
original stored back in the model gallery, so when you finish editing you must go through the steps for saving a lathe to
the gallery. If you do not desire two copies of the lathe, either overwrite the previous lathe by using the same name
when saving, or simply delete the previous version from the gallery.
You can right click (Win) or CTRL + click (Mac) on the palette window surrounding the thumbnails to bring up the
Gallery Setup dialog, from which you can delete, rename or relocate any gallery content. For more detailed informa-
tion on how to share Gallery content and managing Galleries in Swift 3D, see the section on Galleries in the Scene Edi-
tor chapter.

91
Chapter 10 | Lathe Editor

Copying and Pasting from the Extrusion Editor


You also have the option of copying and pasting shapes back and forth between the Lathe Editor and Extrusion Editor.
You might be wondering why this would be helpful since both editors have the same set of drawing tools. The reason is
that some customers feel more comfortable creating their drawings in their own 2D drawing applications. While you
can’t bring an extrusion created by importing an AI/EPS file into the Lathe Editor, you can bring it into the Extrusion
Editor and cut and paste its path over to the Lathe Editor.

To cut and paste a path from the Extrusion Editor:


1. In the Extrusion Editor, select a path that you want to copy by double clicking on the path.
2. Go to Edit > Copy or use the CTRL + C (Win)/COMMAND + C (Mac) shortcut keys.
3. To paste the path into the Lathe Editor, click on the Lathe Editor tab and go to Edit > Paste or use the CTRL + V
(Win)/COMMAND + V (Mac) shortcut keys.
NOTE: The paste function will not work if a path already exists within the Lathe Editor because only a single path can
be present in the Lathe Editor at one time.

Lathe Property Page


Sweep Angle
Once you have the concept of rotation within your grasp, it's time to start messing with
the Sweep Angle settings. In essence, this feature allows you to adjust how far the
Lathe Editor rotates your path. But it opens a whole new world of possibilities and
allows you to break free from that smooth, 360-degree surface that standard lathed
objects tend to exhibit.

Nick's Tips
The ability to adjust the sweep angle of a lathed object should not go unnoticed. This functionality brings a
whole new modeling component to Swift 3D by offering the capability of creating smooth, but asymmetric objects. If
you throw this into the modeling paradigm Swift 3D uses of assembling complex objects from smaller, and more basic
objects, the Sweep Angle provides yet another arrow of creation to throw into your modeling quiver.

92
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

Segmentation
This feature brings a really nice effect to the 3D modeling table. One limitation of a
standard lathed object is that there is no way to avoid creating smooth surfaces. Cer-
tainly you can create edges on your object, but only along the vertical axis. The hori-
zontal axis will be completely smooth until you start adjusting how many line segments
your lathed object consists of.
The setting that will modify your lathed object is the Radial Segmentation. By
decreasing this number you are in effect dividing up that 360-degree spin into larger 32 segments - Smoothed
and larger chunks. To view the effects, you are better off unchecking the smoothing
option before you make the adjustments. The maximum you can set the Radial Seg-
mentation to is 64 and the minimum is 3, since 2 segments would completely flatten
your lathed object into 2D space.

Radial Smoothing
This has got to be one of my favorite Swift 3D features. After seeing the consistently
smooth nature of lathed objects, being able to turn off the object's smoothing setting is
a welcome feature. Now you can reduce the Segmentation of your objects, turn off the 4 segments - Unsmoothed
smoothing and create objects with hard edges and flat surfaces.

Closed
If you choose a Sweep Angle of less than 360 degrees, by default your lathed object will close itself off on the ends that
don’t meet, which creates a solid object. If you would like the ends to be open, simply uncheck the Closed option.

Lathe Path Morphing


The path of a lathed object is capable of being animated in a similar fashion to extrusions. There is a complete Anima-
tion Timeline within the Lather Editor interface, which makes creating a path morph just a matter of adjusting points
over time. Please see Animation chapter for more information on animating the path of a lathed object.

Working with Lathes in the Advanced Modeler


Once you have brought your lathe back out to the Scene Editor you have the option of taking it into the Advanced
Modeler if you want to further manipulate its mesh. This is obviously a great feature, but one thing you need to realize
is that as soon as you click on the Edit Mesh button in the Advanced Modeler, the lathe is converted to an editable
mesh and you no longer have access to the object’s lathe properties (Sweep Angle, etc.) and you cannot bring it back
into the Lathe Editor. A warning dialog will appear in order to remind you of the implications and to prevent you from
inadvertently converting a lathe into a 3D model. You can use the Undo function in the Advanced Modeler to reverse
this action if you decide to go back to your original lathe object.

Flash Tutorial: Lathe Editor

93
Chapter 10 | Lathe Editor

94
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

11 importing AI and EPS

Overview
We respect that you've worked hard to gain your 2D graphic design skills and Swift 3D is certainly not here to deny
you the right to leverage that knowledge to the max. In fact, we welcome those vector files into the application in all
their crisp, scalable glory. If you've got logos, illustrations, typefaces, simple shapes, complex line art, floor plans,
CAD drawings or any other wonderful vector asset hanging out in that flat world of AI and EPS files, bring 'em on in.
Swift 3D will make short work of pushing that 2D artwork through the old extrusion machine and before you know it
you'll be looking at some bang-up 3D objects.
Upon import, all of the vector shapes in the file, including lines and fills, will be identified, given a default depth, re-
colored to match their original hue and placed into the center of the Scene Editor facing the front camera. Once this
conversion to 3D happens you have plenty of editing options available to you, but the hard work of converting your 2D
artwork to 3D objects is officially complete.
One important thing to note is that we have been dropping the "V" word quite often here (that's "vector") for good rea-
son: Swift 3D can do NOTHING with raster-based images contained within those AI and EPS files. So please verify
that your file is 100% vector before you start cursing this feature. There's just no way to extrude pixels, but you do have
some other potential options mentioned later in the chapter if raster artwork is all you can conjure up for import.

How to do it
The first step in the process is having a file ready to import. Swift 3D recognizes AI files up to version 10 (Illustrator
CS files are not yet supported) and all EPS files but will only acknowledge the file's contents if it is constructed of vec-
tors. This frequently leads to confusion because although the Adobe Illustrator and Encapsulated PostScript file for-
mats are vector-based, both support the embedding of raster images. So folks will be working in programs like Adobe
Photoshop or Paint Shop Pro and think that saving their file as an EPS will allow them to turn their image into a 3D
object via the Swift 3D import process. Sadly, this is not the case. But at the end of this chapter, I have included some
information on what to do if a raster image is all you have, as well as some other tips on getting your vector artwork
ready for Swift 3D import.

95
Chapter 11 | Importing AI and EPS

To import an AI or EPS file:


1. With an open document, choose File > Import.
2. Navigate to the file you wish to bring in.
3. Select the file and click OK.
All objects from your original file will enter Swift 3D as one grouped object, whether or not they were originally
grouped in the AI or EPS file. As such, in order to access the individual properties (bevels, sizing, etc.) of any of these
objects in the Properties Toolbar, you must either Ungroup your objects using the Arrange > Ungroup feature, or, leave
them grouped and CTRL + click (Win) or Option + click (Mac) on an object to select it from the group.

Nick’s Tips
Upon import, it is always recommended that you cross-check the original number of objects in your AI/EPS
file (remember to count outlines and fills separately) with the number of objects in your Swift 3D document. In Swift
3D, you can determine this number by clicking on your grouped object and looking in the Selection Window of the
timeline. (It will say Group of “X” Objects.)

Materials of Imported AI and EPS Files


When AI and EPS files are imported, Swift 3D will convert any previously applied colors into their RGB equivalents.
Since Swift 3D materials are much more than just colors, here are some other components that go into creating these
new materials.
• The calculated RGB color will become the new material’s base color, which is the color you see in the Color
Selector box in the Color area of the Material Editor.
• A slightly darker version of the base color will be used as the material's Ambient Color.
• The Reflective color will be set to black, meaning it will have no reflective properties.
• The Highlight Strength and Size will be set to medium, giving it a fairly glossy look.
What all this amounts to is that you will end up with a glossy version of the original color that was imported, or at least
something very close. You can adjust the properties of the converted materials afterwards using the Material Editor,
and you can always replace the imported colors with something from the Material Gallery. (See chapter on Materials
for additional details on this subject.)

Flash Tutorial: Importing AI/EPS Files - Basics

Layers (Depth Progression)


It is likely that your 2D artwork will consist of more than just one object. In the world of 2D, you can arrange your lay-
ers, sending the bigger ones to the back so that the smaller ones can be seen. In the world of 3D, however, the only way
to see the different layers is by manually giving each a different depth. This is something that Swift 3D now automati-
cally takes care of for you during the import process.

96
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

When you import any file into Swift 3D, each consecutive object in that file will be given an increased depth by a fac-
tor of .001. So the first object that is imported (as a general rule of thumb it is the largest object) will be given a depth
of .050 (under Sizing in the Properties Toolbar). The next object is set to .051, and so forth.
What this all means is that when you have artwork with multiple fills and strokes, you need to be aware that this depth
progression will take place upon import. Keep in mind that the sole purpose of this depth progression is to allow you to
see all of your objects immediately upon import; it is not an exact science and we cannot guess at what your true inten-
tions are as far as the final look goes.

Nick’s Tips
When you are working with complex 2D artwork, it is very important to keep it organized. For example, con-
sider a 10 character string of text that you have converted to outlines (see upcoming section on Text), meaning that you
now possess a file with 10 separate objects. With the new depth progression feature, when you import this file into
Swift 3D your first character will be given a depth of .050 and the tenth character will have a depth of .059. This can be
avoided by making your text into a Compound Path before importing. (This is a capability that all 2D drawing pro-
grams possess, although they might use slightly different terminology for this feature.) Objects joined in this manner
are considered to be one object, and must share all of the same properties, so when a compound path is detected upon
import all objects in that compound path are given the same depth.
While you can also join objects in this manner in Swift 3D by using its Arrange > Combine function, I still recommend
having all of your artwork well-organized before you even bring it into Swift 3D so once it is imported you can begin
working on it and not worry about the depth issue.

Editing Your Imported AI and EPS Artwork


Swift 3D allows you to edit your original AI/EPS artwork within the Extrusion Edi-
tor. So when you need to make that slight adjustment to a curve or a little tweak of
an angle, you won't even need to leave the Swift 3D interface. To bring your
imported artwork into the Extrusion Editor, select the extrusion in the Viewport and
click on the Extrusion Editor tab. See Extrusion Editor chapter for information on
how to use the drawing tools to edit your paths.

NOTE: While AI/EPS artwork cannot be brought into the Lathe Editor
directly, you can copy and paste your Bezier path from the Extrusion Editor to the
Lathe Editor. See Extrusion or Lathe Editor chapters for steps on copying and past-
ing paths.

Path Morphing
Path morphing is fully applicable to any imported AI/EPS artwork because of the aforementioned ability to edit your
original artwork in the program’s Extrusion Editor. Read all about Path Morphing in the Animation chapter.

97
Chapter 11 | Importing AI and EPS

Tips for building vector artwork


The conversion from the 2D world to the 3D world can sometimes be a less-than-seamless process due to differences
that are not always obvious. As you construct your 2D artwork in a third party application, it's important to understand
how Swift 3D is going to treat your files upon import. This section deals with how to address those differences before
the problems arise.

Text
Typically, when you type text into a 2D vector drawing program it enters the scene as a font rather than pure vector art-
work. Before that text can be imported into Swift 3D successfully you must convert that font into outlines. It's a simple
process in any application, but definitely a crucial one.
NOTE: When you convert your text to outlines, you have now created an individual object for each character of your
text string. Since Swift 3D now imports each subsequent object with a slightly different depth, it is highly recom-
mended that you combine your text into one object so that they enter Swift 3D at the same depth. You can also use
Swift 3D’s Arrange > Combine command to combine your text characters after they are imported into the program

Strokes and Fills


All 2D drawing programs give you the option of drawing your shape with just strokes, fills or both. As you would
expect, fills comes in as solid filled objects and strokes come in at the thickness of the stroke. Now, even though
strokes will import into Swift 3D, I must recommend that you avoid importing strokes at all cost. The reason is because
strokes do not get imported as one object. For example, a square will import with each side as a separate line segment,
while a stroke that has any curve will get imported as a series of tiny line segments. (And keeping in mind our previous
discussion on Depth Progression, you can see how this can get ugly, fast.) Since it is very easy in any 2D drawing pro-
gram to convert a stroke to outlines, which removes the stroke and applies just a fill the thickness of the stroke, there is
really just no reason to bring in strokes.

Excluded Shapes
If you happen to be building a 3D model of a slice of Swiss cheese, you're going to have to learn how to punch holes in
stuff. And believe it or not, there are other situations where your 2D extrusion is going to end up more complex than
just a filled shape. The nice thing about 2D drawing applications is that you are primarily concerned with how some-
thing looks, rather than how it's actually built. Swift 3D, however, cares deeply about the construction of your artwork
because it's attempting to convert every piece of vector artwork into a 3-dimensional object.
So if we take a piece of Swiss cheese as an example, you can build it quite easily in the 2D world by drawing a pale
yellow rectangle and then drawing a bunch of irregular white circles on top of that rectangle. Print that thing out and it
looks great. Save it to a GIF and it's the same. Bring it into Swift 3D and you'll have an extruded pale yellow rectangle
with a bunch of extruded white circles in it. Now you don't have to be from a small country in Central Europe to realize
that you would expect to see through those holes rather than having them be solid objects. But you can't blame Swift
3D for trying.
When we go back to our original artwork, you can easily rectify the problem. All you have to do is exclude those
shapes from the original rectangle so that there is no fill within the circles and the paths that define those circles are

98
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

associated with the rectangle rather than the circles. There are several ways to accomplish this depending on your 2D
drawing application, and you'll know you've got it when you can click on the holes and nothing gets selected. This indi-
cates that your cheese is truly Swiss.
Breaking free from this cheesy analogy, you can start to understand how various other 2D situations can pose problems
for Swift 3D. But if you keep in mind that construction is critical and Swift 3D sees all vector artwork, even if it's ren-
dered invisible in the 2D world through color selection, you should have a smooth transition from 2D vectors to 3D
meshes.

3D Drawings
This one is a little weird, and it has to do with understanding how an extrusion actually works. Rather than re-hashing
my earlier description of the extrusion process, I'll throw out an example of what some users have done in the past.
Let's say I want to build a model of my desktop monitor. If I have absolutely no prior 3D experience and I'm a good
illustrator, I might try drawing a perspective view of what my monitor looks like. I accurately depict the slight curva-
ture of the screen, the beige box that tapers as it heads towards the vanishing point, the detailed ventilation grille that
sits obliquely from my vantage point. When it's all said and done, I've got a nice simulated 3D drawing of my monitor,
and the next logical step would be to import it into Swift 3D so I can have a true 3D model to animate.
I'm sorry to say it just doesn't work that way. An extrusion is just an extrusion and never more. There is no way for
Swift 3D to interpret the 2D vector information I'm throwing at it, as accurate as it may be, and determine what a mon-
itor looks like from every possible angle. You're much better off using the modeling tools within Swift 3D to build
yourself a real monitor.

Bitmap Images (Rasterized Artwork)


Despite the fact that Swift 3D does not extrude raster imagery, you are not completely out of luck if that's all you have.
There are two options that could be potential solutions. The first is hand tracing. This may be a bit on the tedious side
but once you're done, you're done forever. The vector artwork that you create through the tracing process can be used in
many applications and it's always wise to have a vector version of your artwork anyway since it's much more versatile.
To trace your raster image, bring it into a 2D drawing program through an Import or a Place command. Create a new
layer above that image and start going to town with your pen tool. Once you've traced all of the distinct edges in your
image with nice clean vectors, you can fill the areas with the appropriate colors. Once you're happy with your tracing
and you've addressed all the aforementioned factors, you can delete the raster image and save your file. At that point
you should be ready for a smooth vector import into Swift 3D.
Before you try this, you may also want to look into a bitmap-tracing program. Macromedia Flash actually has this
function built in, or products like Adobe Streamline or Corel Trace could serve your purpose as well. The basic concept
is that these technologies will attempt to automatically trace your raster image, much like you would do by hand. I say
'attempt' because the results are not always what you would hope for. Basic images that have very distinct differences
in colors along fairly clean edges do just fine. But the more complex bitmap image you throw at a bitmap-tracer, the
more chaos begins to rear its ugly little head. For example, if you were to trace a raster version of the Electric Rain logo
it would come through pretty clean. But if you throw a JPEG picture of your Aunt Bessie into the mix you'll be asking
for some serious vector trouble.

99
Chapter 11 | Importing AI and EPS

Troubleshooting AI/EPS Import Problems


If you are trying to import a file that contains information that Swift 3D
can't recognize, you will be faced with the following error dialog:
The most common causes of this error message are:
1. The text in the file has not been converted to outlines and still remains
as a font.
2. The AI or EPS file contains raster artwork.
3. You are trying to import an Illustrator CS file. At print time, Swift 3D
did not support the Illustrator CS file format. If you are using Illustra-
tor CS you must save down to an earlier version of Illustrator (Illustra-
tor 8 is recommended). Since Swift 3D will only import fills and outlines, you will not be sacrificing any of
Illustrator CS's new features by saving down.
Swift 3D can also appear to stall when importing an AI/EPS file (if you are patient, a dialog will eventually appear ask-
ing if you want to continue the import process).
Elements contained in an AI/EPS file that will stall the import process are:
1. Gradient Fills: A gradient fill is a graduated blend between two or more colors or tints of the same color, so a gra-
dient can literally be made of hundreds of fills. All Swift 3D knows is that it needs to extrude every fill, so it is lit-
erally sitting their trying to process through the gradient. Remove the gradient from your object and replace it with
a solid fill to fix this situation. You can use the lighting in Swift 3D to replicate the gradient as best as possible, but
keep in mind that some output options do not use gradient fills at all.
2. Strokes: While strokes will import into Swift 3D, if any sort of curve is applied it imports as tiny separate line
segments. More complex strokes will therefore bog down the import process. Convert any strokes to fills in order
to solve this problem. See previous section on Strokes and Fills for more information.
If an object from your AI/EPS file does not get imported there are two common reasons:
1. A fill associated with an unclosed stroke (i.e., a stroke with 2 open or unjoined end points) will not import. When
this happens, only the stroke will import since a stroke does not have to be closed to import. Again, it is highly
recommended that you do not import strokes to begin with.
2. Fills must have more than 2 anchor points in order to import. Most 2D programs have an “Add Anchor Point” fea-
ture that makes it easy to add some extra points.
If none of these solutions help you to create a file that can successfully import into Swift 3D, please email the file to
support@erain.com.

Flash Tutorial: Importing AI/EPS Files - Complex Artwork

100
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

12 importing 3DS and DXF

Overview
Although Swift 3D is quite the scrappy upstart contender in the modeling world, we're humble enough to acknowledge
that there are a few big-boy applications that have a bit of a head start on us, and a few more modeling features as well.
(We had to build an entire wing onto our office to accommodate the manuals for those high-end apps.) So out of
respect for the 3D industry as a whole, and in an effort to provide you access to the efforts of the highly-skilled 3D art-
ists of the world, Swift 3D offers the ability to import 3DS and DXF files, the two most popular 3D file formats in the
industry.
The terrific thing about these two file formats being so popular is that there are literally tens of thousands of 3D models
available on the Web for free or for purchase. Additionally, every 3D application I know of has the ability to export to
at least one of these formats. So if you, your company or your clients have existing 3D assets, you're virtually guaran-
teed that they can be imported, further edited and rendered to a vector or raster file using Swift 3D.

3DS File Format


The 3DS file format originated with earlier versions of 3D Studio, the high-end modeling and animation package that
currently leads the 3D market. It is an open-spec format that most other 3D software applications can export to. For the
most part, the file will contain all of the information pertaining to the model itself, otherwise referred to as the 'Mesh.'
But if the file was created with 3D Studio MAX, now going by the name of 3ds max, there may be some other relevant
information that comes along with the file as well.

Model Mesh - From Any Application


This is a definite. No matter whether you create the file within 3ds max, or any other application, the file will contain
the geometry of the model itself. All of the polygons will arrive within Swift 3D safe and sound, along with any infor-
mation on how the object's surfaces are smoothed. A word of caution is that some 3D applications do not write the
most accurate 3DS files, so there are no guarantees as to the integrity of the model if it has been created by a 3D mod-
eling program other than 3ds max.

101
Chapter 12 | Importing 3DS and DXF Files

Materials/Textures - From Any Application


Swift 3D will import any colors or textures associated with your 3DS file. For textures to be imported, those textures
must exist in the same folder as the 3DS file. Textures imported with a model can be saved to the Material Gallery for
use with other models. To save a texture, select the model and go to the Material property page. Select the texture’s
name from the Surface list and then drag and drop the texture from the Material Display ball to the Material Gallery.

Animations - From 3ds max


If the imported 3DS file contained animation before it was exported from 3ds max, all of the relevant keyframes will be
respected and appear within the Swift 3D timeline after import. Please realize that the 3DS file format is pretty ancient,
so any advanced animations that involve mesh deformation (alteration of the object's geometry) will not be written into
the 3DS file in the first place.

Cameras - From 3ds max


If the original file was created in 3ds max, Swift 3D will read any targeted camera information that is included in the
3DS file. Once you have imported the file, you'll find the related cameras in the Camera View dropdown list. The prop-
erties of the cameras will no longer be accessible to you however, so the best bet is to have them all just the way you
want before exporting from 3ds max.

Lights - From 3ds max


Lights will also come along for the ride, and appear within Swift 3D after the import of a 3DS file, provided they were
written into the file in the first place. The 3DS lights will appear directly within your scene and be represented by the
appropriate Swift 3D icons. If you do not create any lights within 3ds max, your file will have Swift 3D's default light-
ing configuration applied to it.

How to import a 3DS file into Swift 3D:


1. Select New From 3DS from the File menu.
2. Navigate to the 3DS file you wish to import.
3. Select the file.
4. Click OK.
You'll notice that this process is different than a standard Import command. The reason is that if a 3DS file contains
more than the model itself, Swift 3D has to actually rebuild the entire scene with lights, cameras, animations, etc. Since
this is more conducive to a New command, we've excluded this function from the Import options and included it in the
File menu. The limitation of this is that you cannot open multiple 3DS files into the same file. The workaround for
accomplishing this is to bring each 3DS file into separate Swift 3D files, and then copy and paste the models from one
file to the next.

3DS Properties
Any model meshes brought into Swift 3D in a 3DS file will have some smoothing controls associated with them that
appear in the Object page of the Properties Toolbar. The Auto Smoothing checkbox tells Swift 3D to use the default
3ds max smoothing parameters. This typically yields nicely smoothed objects. If you uncheck this option, you can then

102
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

manually choose the Smoothing Angle Swift 3D should use on the 3DS objects. The way this setting works is that
when you increase the angle (90 degrees maximum), your object gets smoother, and when you decrease the angle, your
objects will be more faceted and angular.

Nick's Tips
If you're working with 3ds max and have exported a 3DS file that doesn't seem to be importing into Swift 3D
properly, you should re-import the 3DS file into 3ds max. This will demonstrate if all of the associated information is
being properly translated into the 3DS file format. Swift 3D can only read the information in the 3DS file, so if it's not
getting in there, you need to go back to the drawing board in 3ds max. If it is all there, you’ve got yourself a bona fide
tech support issue and we’d love to see that file.

DXF File Format


This file format has its origins with another very popular application, AutoCAD. Although not specifically designed
for 3D animation, AutoCAD is the industry-leading computer aided design software that is used in everything from
designing buildings to machine equipment parts. DXF is the file format that AutoCAD uses when engineers and archi-
tects need to create an actual 3D model from their design.
Since AutoCAD is such a heavily used application, its file format has become ubiquitous as well. So it's not that we
expect you to be designing machinery with Swift 3D, but rather the fact that every 3D application we've ever come
across has the ability to kick out DXF files. Unlike the 3DS file format, DXF files will never contain any more infor-
mation than the model itself. But that's OK, because Swift 3D has got enough animation power to get you the rest of
the way.
It is important to note that Swift 3D will only import models that contain a mesh. Any 2D lines associated with your
DXF file will not import into our program.

How to import a DXF file into Swift 3D:


1. Choose File > Import.
2. Select DXF from the list of file import formats supported.
3. Navigate to the DXF file you want to import.
4. Select the file.
5. Click OK.
Since this process does not involve building a new scene, you can import a DXF file into an existing scene, as well as
import more than one DXF file into the same scene.

Flash Tutorial: Importing 3DS and DXF Files

103
Chapter 12 | Importing 3DS and DXF Files

104
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

13 advanced modeler

Overview
Would you like to play with LEGOs or Clay today?
I have to admit I was always a LEGO guy. There was something about seeing all the individual pieces laid out in front
of me that fostered a sense of creativity, comfortably leading my brain down the road of creation. In comparison, when
the teacher set that big amorphous lump of clay in front of me and said "create," I just wasn't sure what to do next. It
was as if the limited set of shapes contained within my LEGO collection helped jump-start the creative process, where
the limitless potential of the clay seemed to transform my creative juices into a somewhat more viscous state.
Since its inception, Swift 3D has offered a modeling process that's similar to the LEGO-style approach of assembling
more complex objects from basic building blocks, which is one reason the software is so popular with people delving
into 3D design for the first time. Since we've all used building blocks of some form or another, it's a pretty easy transi-
tion into the world of modeling with Swift 3D. The one limitation with this creation method is that occasionally you
find circumstances where the exact building block you need for your model simply doesn't exist. And although it's
often possible to find some sort of workaround using a combination of other shapes or just settling for a less-than-
what-you-had-imagined model, neither of those solutions is ideal.
Well… welcome to the limitless world of polygonal modeling, or what I like to refer to as the "clay approach" to object
creation. In this world you still have those basic building blocks to start with, but instead of being made out of rela-
tively inflexible molded plastic, these blocks are totally malleable, just like the lumps of clay we were doled out in art
class back in school. But since we couldn't cram actual organic clay into the code-base of Swift 3D (we tried, but the
compiler wasn't too happy) the material you'll be working with in the Advanced Modeler is a polygonal mesh, which is
essentially a pliable fabric made of adjoining triangles.
Now for those of you who are like me and enjoy the ease of the assembly approach rather than the seemingly more
daunting task of molding a lump of polygons into something worth looking at, fear thee not. The Advanced Modeler
should be seen as a complementary tool to the traditional Swift 3D modeling workflow rather than a replacement.
Think of this area as your building block construction zone where you can fabricate the exact pieces you need to com-
plete whatever project you're working with back in the Scene Editor of Swift 3D.

105
Chapter 13 | Advanced Modeler

And for those of you who are looking forward to getting your hands directly on that underlying polygonal mesh and
fully embracing the power of creation from scratch, welcome to nirvana. With the Advanced Modeler you can push,
pull, slice, deform, extrude, twist and tweak your lump of clay to make whatever it is you want in a totally unrestricted
environment.
In the end, the Advanced Modeler is just another tool (albeit a very powerful tool) within Swift 3D and it's up to you to
use it as needed. Which brings us to a final introductory point: How do you decide when to use the Advanced Modeler
(which will usually require some additional time and energy on your behalf) and when should you stick with the more
basic (yet very speedy) modeling tools supplied in the Scene, Extrusion and Lathe Editors? Well, here are my personal
recommendations on that subject:

When to use Swift 3D's standard modeling tools:


If the object you're modeling can be broken down into a bunch of fairly simple geometric shapes, you'll want to use the
standard modeling tools such as text, primitives, extrusions and lathes. For example, as I gaze around my desk it's
pretty easy to identify which items fall into this category: Paper Clip = Extrusion. Highlighter = Lathe. Coffee cup =
Lathe + Beveled Extrusion. Cordless telephone = Beveled extrusion with lots of spheres, smaller extrusions and text
stuck to the front. Go ahead and take a gaze around your surroundings with the same analytical eye and you'll quickly
see what I mean.

When to use Swift 3D's Advanced Modeler:


If the object you're modeling is made up of geometric shapes that are not symmetrical or contain non-planar (organic)
surfaces, you'll want to use the Advanced Modeler. Again we can scan the desk for some examples: Scissors = Smooth
curvy handles + Long tapered blades. Mouse = Irregularly molded case with gently arched buttons. Keyboard cord =
Thin undulating cylinder. Long-stem rose from my adoring wife = Rough crooked stem with lots of wavy petals (OK, I
made that one up - the rose anyway). The more modeling experience you gain, the more your eyes will develop a keen
sense of structure, and it will become very apparent that you simply can't do your dog Fido justice with a bunch of
cones, boxes, spheres and cylinders.

When to use them both:


Chances are that many objects you'll be modeling will be comprised of a combination of standard and custom shapes,
and often times it comes down to the level of accuracy you need for your particular project. As veteran users of Swift
3D can attest, before the Advanced Modeler came along you could go quite a long way by substituting stock shapes
into a model in place of those that just couldn't be created with the software. And that's the beauty of having both
options available within Swift 3D because you have the flexibility to decide for yourself exactly how much detail and
accuracy you need to build into your projects. So when it comes to the question of LEGOs or Clay, you can emphati-
cally say, "BOTH!"

3D Terminology 101
Before we start delving into the basic elements that make up a mesh, it is important that we first take a step back so that
there is a solid understanding regarding the difference between Scene Editor objects (Text, Primitives, Extrusions and

106
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

Lathes) and the meshes that are created or edited in the Advanced Modeler. The difference is subtle, since the basis for
all objects in Swift 3D is a mesh. Turn the Viewport display mode to outlines in the Scene Editor and you can clearly
see that any object in the Viewport is made up of a mesh.
The crucial difference lies in the fact that Primitive, Text, Extrusion and Lathe objects actually exist at a higher level
than just a mesh, and are more accurately described as parent objects that are derived from a basic mesh. At all times in
the Scene Editor you are working at an object level, not the mesh level, and have access to object level properties
through the Properties Toolbar, which control different aspects of the mesh for you. When you change these values,
such as bevels in the case of text and extrusions, and segmentation values in the case of lathes and primitives, Swift 3D
simply deletes the previous mesh and regenerates a new mesh. In many ways this is why Swift 3D continues to be such
a great program for 3D novices because the program creates all of the changes to the mesh for you.
There comes a time, however, when a model is required that cannot be created by any other means than getting your
hands dirty and manually manipulating its mesh. Once this point is reached, you must sever the relationship that Swift
3D has so nicely provided between the parent object and its mesh. This relationship ends as soon as you click on the
Edit Mesh button in the Advanced Modeler. While the Edit Mesh button will be discussed in detail in one of the
upcoming sections, what this button does is convert the object to an editable mesh. For example, if you bring an extru-
sion into the Advanced Modeler and click on the Edit Mesh button, the extrusion is converted and no longer maintains
any relationship to its Bevel or Sizing properties, and it can no longer be edited in the Extrusion Editor. A warning
message is provided as a reminder that this conversion is taking place, but that will be discussed further in the upcom-
ing section on Moving Between the Scene Editor and Advanced Modeler.
Once you have crossed over the border into the land of meshes, you must leave behind the blissful ignorance that Swift
3D’s object level architecture has afforded you and inhale a bit of brain food because it is now time to start understand-
ing the elements that make up that 3D mesh.

Polygons
So, without ado, let's introduce the star of the show, best known by its fans as
the polygon. A polygon consists of a number of points joined by lines to create
a planar face (i.e. all points of the face exist on the same plane). While poly-
gons can consist of an infinite number of points, Swift 3D uses only 3-sided
polygons, a.k.a. triangles.
In the Advanced Modeler you can modify the object's triangular mesh, which
is made up of three elements:
Vertex: a point in space
Edge: a straight line that connects two vertices
Face: a triangle formed by three vertices
All of these elements together form a polygon. Slap all of your polygons
together and you have a polygon mesh. Begin pushing, pulling and twisting
that mesh and you're modeling. It's as simple as that.

107
Chapter 13 | Advanced Modeler

Normal
Before we start learning how to edit the mesh and make some cool stuff, there is
one last concept we need to tackle, and it is called the "normal" of a polygon. A
normal is the direction that a face points and is considered to be its front or outer
surface. Swift 3D uses normals to determine whether a polygon is front facing or
backfacing, which you will find is important to the selection process (see Ignore
Backfaces feature). Since Swift 3D only uses three-sided polygons, keep in mind
that these points always lie on a flat plane, which means all parts of that polygon
must face in the same direction. So you can think of the normal as a conceptual line
in space that maintains a 90° angle to all points on any particular face. If you
encounter a situation in which you cannot select a certain face it is likely that its
normal is facing inward. Use the Transform > Flip Normals feature to reverse the
direction of the normal.
Normals of an Octahedron
The Advanced Modeler will automatically smooth normals so that surface areas
maintain a nice, smooth shading instead of showing the hard edges in between each
polygon. This type of smoothing is achieved by averaging what is referred to as the vertex normals. Vertex normals are
calculated by averaging the normals of all of the triangles (faces) that come into a single vertex in order to smooth out
their edges. (Vertex normals are also used to determine the brightness of a surface when interacting with light.) When a
mesh is unsmoothed, or viewed with the Viewport Display Mode set to Flat Shaded, Swift 3D is only calculating each
individual face normal.
In terms of modeling objects, normals also serve as a constraining point for extruding faces, meaning that you can
extrude a face in the direction that its normal is facing (see the section on Extrude later in this chapter for more infor-
mation).
So that is the foundation you need to know in order to bravely move forth and begin whipping those polygons into
shape. At the very least, I'd say that we have prepared you to impress just about any anyone with your new found 3D
terminology. But if you start using face normals to give directions to the local pub, you might have gone a tad too far.

Moving Between Scene Editor and Advanced Modeler


While moving back and forth between the Scene Editor and the Advanced Modeler is as simple as clicking the respec-
tive tabs, as we discussed in the previous section on 3D Terminology, you do need to be aware of changes that will be
made when certain objects are brought into the Advanced Modeler.

Scene Editor to Advanced Modeler


To move into the Advanced Modeler with the intention of creating something from scratch, make sure that no objects
are selected in the Scene Editor before clicking on the Advanced Modeler tab. When the Advanced Modeler interface
appears you will have a blank slate to work with.
And yes, you can also bring objects from the Scene Editor into the Advanced Modeler and edit their mesh.

108
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

Objects that are part of a parent/child relationship


All children of parent objects are brought into the Advanced Modeler along with their parents. This allows you to edit
the mesh of an object while still being able to observe its relationship to other objects in the scene.
NOTE: When you bring objects into the Advanced Modeler that are linked through parent/child relationships, the
object at the very top of that hierarchy is required by the Advanced Modeler and therefore cannot be deleted while in
the Advanced Modeler. That object can only be deleted back in the Scene Editor. Objects that are children of that par-
ent object can be deleted in either the Advanced Modeler or Scene Editor.

Advanced Modeler to Scene Editor


When you return to the Scene Editor from the Advanced Modeler, any objects in the modeling interface, whether they
are selected or not, and regardless of their state of completion, will get placed back into the main scene. All objects get
placed with the same position and orientation held in the Advanced Modeler.
NOTE: You can save your work from within the Advanced Modeler by doing a File > Save.

Modeler Default Settings


All settings within the Advanced Modeler can be saved and used as the default doing a File > Save Modeler Default
Settings. Note that these default settings are only used when you enter the Advanced Modeler in order to create a new
mesh. Models in progress or saved will always retain the last settings used when you leave and return to the Advanced
Modeler.

Working With the Viewports


While there are some differences between the Viewports in the Advanced Modeler and the Scene Editor, for the most
part you will find a lot of the same settings that have already been documented in either the chapter on Viewport Prop-
erties or Cameras. This section on Viewports will therefore only cover information about Viewports that are unique to
the Advanced Modeler.
Probably the biggest difference that you will notice between the Advanced Modeler and the Scene Editor is that the
default layout of the Advanced Modeler comes with four Viewports instead of just the two that you may have become
accustomed to. If you are wondering why the jump in real estate, for now let's just say that having access to more than
two Viewports will definitely come in handy during the modeling process. However, you do have the ability to custom-
ize the layout of the Viewports in order to meet your own needs.

Customizing Viewport Layout


The default layout of the Advanced Modeler is with all four Viewports displayed. You can customize the Viewports
using the following arrangements: 3 Viewports, 2 left, 1 right or 3 Viewports, 1 left, 2 right. This Viewport layout can
be adjusted from the View menu. As in the Scene Editor, Viewports can be Maximized through the Viewport Menu.

109
Chapter 13 | Advanced Modeler

Viewport Menu Button


Just like in the Scene Editor, each Viewport has a menu button in the upper left corner that contains different Viewport
options. Many of the menu options are the same as in the Scene Editor, but there are also settings that are specific to
just the Advanced Modeler Viewports. Since the features included in this menu encompass a variety of topics, they will
be covered individually in the upcoming sections on the Viewport.

Reference Grid
While the Reference Grid can be displayed along three different planes: XY, YZ and ZX, the 2D Orthographic View-
ports are limited to showing just one plane, so this option only applies to the Perspective Viewport in the Advanced
Modeler. As in the Scene Editor, the display of these grids is controlled through the Reference Grid option in the
Viewport Menu.

Axis Guide
In the Advanced Modeler Viewports there is an Axis Guide that provides you with a visual ref-
erence point for the orientation of your scene at all times. This Axis Guide is always displayed
right smack in the middle of each Viewport. The axes are colored the same as in the Scene Edi-
tor so that X = Red, Y = Green and Z = Blue, and each axis also comes with an X, Y or Z label.

Turning Axis Guide On and Off


If at any time this tool gives you a hard time and you need to remind it just who's boss, you can Axis Guide
2D View
turn off the Axis Guide by going to the Viewport Menu and toggling off the Show > Axis
option.

Constrain Axis
In addition to being a visual aid, the Axis Guide can be used as a constraining tool as well. Cer-
tain functions, such as moving meshes, can be constrained along the X, Y or Z axis.
Axis Guide
To constrain an axis: Perspective View

1. CTRL + SHIFT + click on any of the axes on the actual guide (the red, green or blue
lines or their end points). You can also choose Transform > Constrain > X, Y or Z [CTRL +
SHIFT + X, Y or Z] from the main menu.
2. The selected axis will turn white in all of the Viewports, and the point at the end will turn into an
arrow, indicating that it is the constraining axis.
3. To turn off constraints, either click back on the axis or choose it again from the menu.
For more detailed information on axis constraint please see the Constrain Axis portion of the upcoming section on
Transform Tools.

110
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

Viewports
Just as a warning, we're about to go into some territory that strays from what you've probably already learned about
Viewports. It's not because we love messing with your brain, but rather because there are some additional features
required in this interface to provide a useful modeling experience.
In the Advanced Modeler, all of the standard views (Front, Back, Top, Bottom, Left and Right) are shown in fixed 2D
Orthographic Viewports. In addition, just like in the Scene Editor there is one Perspective View that allows you to look
at your scene from all different angles. One of the harder things to get used to within this interface is working with a 3D
model within a purely 2D view. We will try to make that transition as easy as possible for you in the upcoming sections,
but also realize that you might need to take some time orienting yourself using basic models before you tackle building
your own personal concept car.
NOTE: Unlike the Scene Editor, camera views in the Advanced Modeler can be open in more than one Viewport at
one time. So if you need two Perspective Viewports available at the same time, by all means, set yourself up.

2D Orthographic Viewports
The 2D Orthographic Viewports provide many advantages when it comes to 3D
modeling. These are a few reasons why:
1. In an orthographic view, all objects are shown straight on and maintain their
right angles and parallel lines, thus reducing the chance that you will move,
rotate, scale, etc. your selection in an unintended direction. You can think of
this as sort of an "alignment safety zone." Perspective Viewport

2. All objects, regardless of the distance between them along the Z axis (actually,
the relative Z axis for each Viewport), will appear at their actual size. This is
important because when modeling objects you often want to be able to compare
exact sizes of things and the orthographic view eliminates any distortion that
prevents making accurate comparisons.
3. When working in an orthographic view you are confined to manipulating
meshes along two out of the three axes, or a single plane, which allows for Same Scene - 2D Viewport
greater precision. And, thanks to the Axis Guide you have a constant reminder
of just which two axes you have to work with in each Viewport.

Panning and Zooming the Orthographic Camera


Keep in mind that like the Scene Editor, you must hold down the ALT key (Win) or the COMMAND key (Mac) to
enter into Camera Mode. Panning and zooming the Orthographic Viewports are identical to panning and zooming the
Standard Cameras in the Scene Editor. Refer to the chapter on cameras for steps on panning and zooming.
Additional controls that facilitate zooming in or out on particular areas of your scene can be found in the Viewport
Menu:
• Frame All: All objects in the Viewport will be framed in the camera view.
• Frame Selection: Any selected objects, vertices, edges or faces will be framed.

111
Chapter 13 | Advanced Modeler

• Reset View: The default view will be restored.

Perspective Viewport
Working with the Perspective Camera in the Advanced Modeler is identical to the Perspective Camera or the Target
Camera in the Scene Editor. Refer to the chapter on Cameras for information on working with the Perspective Camera.
The Perspective Camera also comes with the same Frame All, Frame Selection and Reset View options as the Ortho-
graphic Viewports.

Viewport Display Modes


The graphical display of object meshes in the Advanced Modeler is similar to the Scene Editor. From the Viewport
Menu button each Viewport can be set to Texture Smooth Shaded, Smooth Shaded, Flat Shaded or Wireframe, as
well as the option to Draw Backfaces. (Refer to Display Modes section of Viewport Properties chapter.)
Objects and their meshes take on different display states during the selection process, which is discussed in the upcom-
ing section on Selection. Also, when you are editing a mesh, all other objects in the Viewport will take on a gray stip-
pled display, which means they cannot be edited while the Edit Mesh button is enabled.
The Advanced Modeler also comes with these two additional display modes:
Show > Wire Overlay: When the Show Wire Overlay option is turned on, the wireframe of the
mesh is shown over the top of the Flat Shaded, Smooth Shaded or Texture Smooth Shaded modes.
(Note: Showing the Wire Overlay makes it difficult to see the results of any function that serves to
smooth a surface area.)
Wire Overlay
Show > Materials: Through the Show Materials option you can choose to turn off the display of
any materials that have been applied to your models. Note that when this option is turned on, the
wireframe will take on the color of the applied materials. Turning off the display of materials can help to enhance
Viewport rendering speed.

Flash Tutorial: Advanced Modeler Viewports

Edit Mesh Button


The Edit Mesh button is located on the right side of the Main Toolbar. When this button is dis-
abled (gray), the Advanced Modeler exists in a mode that is similar to the Scene Editor, meaning
you can only select the mesh at the object level. As soon as you click on the Edit Mesh button,
the button’s state changes to Editing Mesh (red), which allows you to begin editing the mesh of
the selected object.
Edit Mesh
Button States

112
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

Object Mode
When the Edit Mesh button is disabled you can only select the mesh at the object level, and you can only select one
object at a time. Once the object is selected, either click on the Edit Mesh button to edit that object’s mesh, or make use
of any of the various tools in the Advanced Modeler that are accessible at the object level. Throughout this chapter,
modeling tools that can only be used while in Editing Mesh mode will be clearly designated. Tools that do not carry
this disclaimer can be used as documented, whether you are working at the object or mesh level. Keep in mind that
when you are working at the object level of a mesh, if you adjust its position, rotation or scale these values get updated
in relation to the scene’s global coordinate system.
A final thing to mention about object mode is that primitive meshes get inserted into the Viewport as separate object
meshes when the Edit Mesh button is not depressed. This is crucial to understand if you plan on eventually animating
the different parts of a model. More on this will be discussed in the next section on the Editing Mesh mode.

Editing Mesh Mode


Once you have an object selected in the Viewport you can begin editing its mesh by clicking on the Edit Mesh button.
Keep in mind that Scene Editor objects (Text, Primitives, Extrusions, or Lathes) are converted to an editable mesh as
soon as you click on the Edit Mesh button. When this happens, a dialog will appear that warns you of this pending
conversion. (A checkbox provides the option to turn off this warning dialog. You can also turn this warning on or off
by going to Setup > User Preferences.) This conversion can be undone by performing a File > Undo in the Advanced
Modeler. For further information on why this conversion occurs, please see previous section on 3D Terminology 101.
Once in Editing Mesh mode you will notice that all of the mesh selection tools that were previously grayed out on the
main toolbar become enabled. These tools will be discussed in detail in the upcoming section on Selection, but for now
it is just important to note that through these tools you can begin selecting the vertices, edges, faces and defined surface
groups of the mesh.
While in Mesh Editing mode, any changes made to the mesh only take place at the local mesh level. For this reason do
not use Mesh Editing mode to orient an object’s mesh in relationship to other objects in the scene. When you select an
entire mesh and move, rotate or scale it, those operations are only being calculated in relation to the object’s pivot
point. A good way to understand this is to visualize the object as a “container” for its mesh. The container’s position,
rotation and scale are all based around the object’s pivot point, which remains stationary in relation to the scene’s glo-
bal coordinate system. So if you move an entire mesh and then take a look at the coordinates of that object from its
Position property page, the coordinates will remain unchanged because the mesh has simply moved around within the
object’s container, the container has not budged. Note: If you happen to move an entire mesh in Mesh Editing mode
you can always go back to the Scene Editor and use the Reset Pivot Location button, located to the right of the Rotation
Trackball, to reset the pivot back to the center of the object, but that is not really the best workflow to follow.
When you create a new mesh by inserting a Primitive into the scene while in Mesh Editing mode, that primitive mesh
will get added to the existing mesh as a separate Surface Group (refer to section on Surface Groups later in this chap-
ter). So even though the meshes appear to be separate from each other, the meshes actually are contained within a sin-
gle object (and you can certainly orient those meshes in relation to each other since they both exist within that object
“container”). To add a primitive mesh to the scene as a separate object you must turn off Mesh Editing. However, if
you know you will never have any reasons to select different parts of a model for animation purposes you can certainly
go ahead and work with the primitive meshes to create your entire model in Editing Mesh mode.

113
Chapter 13 | Advanced Modeler

Combining and Breaking Apart Meshes


You can use the Combine With Selection or the Break Out Selection features to either combine separate objects into a
single mesh or break meshes apart into separate objects.

Combine With Selection


The Combine With Selection feature allows you to join separate objects into a single mesh.
This function is only available in the Advanced Modeler when the Edit Mesh button is not
depressed. There are many benefits to working with a single mesh, including the ability to
combine extrusions, lathes and primitives into a single object. After objects are combined
into a single mesh you can choose to weld them together or simply keep the two meshes
apart as separate surface areas.

To combine objects into a single mesh:


1. Bring two objects (e.g., an extrusion and a lathe) into the Advanced Modeler.
2. In object editing mode, select one of the object's meshes.
3. Hover the mouse over the object you wish to combine with that mesh and right click (Win) or CTRL + click (Mac)
on the second object.
4. From the context menu that appears, choose the Combine With Selection option.
5. Both objects will now exist as a single object, but can still be selected or edited as separate surface groups when
the Edit Mesh button is pushed.

Break Out Selection


The Break Out Selection feature allows you to take an area of a single mesh and break it
out into a separate object. Note that this feature is only available in Editing Mesh mode.

To break out mesh into a separate object:


1. Select an object and click on the Edit Mesh button.
2. Use one of the Selection tools to select the part of the mesh that you want to break out
into a separate object.
3. Right click (Win) or CTRL + click (Mac) on the selected area.
4. From the context menu, choose the Break Out Selection option.
5. The display of the selected mesh will automatically turn to the gray stippled effect that indicates it can no longer
be edited as part of the selected mesh, since it now exists as a separate object from its original mesh.

Starting with Gallery Models or Primitives


Before we go any further, let's talk about the models and primitives that come with Advanced Modeler because you
can't perform any modeling heroics until you first have a mesh to work from. The reason why is that you cannot draw a
mesh from scratch in the Advanced Modeler, which means you always need to have some sort of building block in the

114
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

Viewport to begin with. We've already discussed bringing Scene Editor objects into the Advanced Modeler, so let's
now look at two other resources, the Model Gallery and Primitive Meshes.

Model Gallery
The Model Gallery provides you with 3D models
to use as is, or as a starting point for your model-
ing project. As with all of the other galleries in
Swift 3D, the Model Gallery works on the drag-
and-drop premise. Models will always get
inserted as separate objects whether you are in
Mesh Editing or Object Editing mode, and if they
contain hierarchy, their animations and hierarchy
will also be maintained.

To insert a model from the model gallery:


1. In the Advanced Modeler, select the Model button on the left side of the main Gallery Toolbar to bring up the
Model Gallery. (Note: Models can be accessed from the Scene Editor as well.)
2. Go through the tabs and choose a model.
3. Click-and-drag the model to any location within any of the Viewports. The model will get inserted at the coordi-
nate from which it was originally saved into the gallery.
The Model Gallery can also be used as a repository for your own models that
you create in Swift 3D.

To save a model to the model gallery:


1. Models can only be saved to the gallery from the Scene Editor, so click
on the Scene Editor tab to bring the model back into the Scene Editor.
2. If the model is not already selected, click on it to select.
3. From the File menu, choose "Save Model..."
4. From the Save Model dialog, choose a name and location within the
Model Gallery for your model.
5. Click Save.

Editing Models in the Gallery


A mesh model added to the Model Gallery can only be edited in the
Advanced Modeler workspace. Once a model is placed into the scene it no longer has any connection to the original
model stored back in the gallery, so when you finish editing you must go through the steps for saving a model to the
gallery. The original version will remain untouched in the gallery. If you do not desire two copies of the model, either
overwrite the previous model by using the same name when saving, or simply delete the previous version from the gal-
lery.

115
Chapter 13 | Advanced Modeler

You can right click (Win) or CTRL + click (Mac) on the palette window surrounding the thumbnails to bring up the
Gallery Setup dialog, from which you can delete, rename or relocate any gallery content. For information on how to
share Gallery content and managing Galleries in Swift 3D, see the section on Galleries in the Scene Editor chapter.

Primitive Meshes
As discussed in our earlier section on 3D Terminology, Primitives in the Scene Editor are parent objects that are
derived from a mesh. In the Advanced Modeler, this type of parent relationship is not possible, so the primitives made
available here are simply meshes based on the primitive shapes that you find in the Scene Editor. As a result, you only
have access to each Primitive’s property page before that primitive gets inserted into the Viewport.
Let’s look at it this way. You’ve inserted a sphere-based mesh
into the Viewport, and using your impressive, new-found mod-
eling skills have molded that sphere into a dolphin. That dol-
phin does not in any way resemble the sphere it spawned from, so you can’t possibly to go back and change any of the
sphere’s original properties and expect Swift 3D to have a clue as to what you expect to happen.

Inserting Primitives
So, as you have probably guessed, inserting a primitive in the Advanced Modeler
will not be the same as that nice, simple click of the mouse that you can use to
achieve such greatness in the Scene Editor, but it is not rocket science either. When
you click on one of the Primitive buttons in the Advanced Modeler, all you have
achieved is opening that primitive’s property page in the Properties Toolbar. This is
your key that you must first set the segmentation properties of the primitive, or sim-
ply leave the settings at their default values if you so choose. (Refer to the chapter on
Primitives for information regarding the segmentation values of each primitive.)
After adjusting these settings, click and drag out the primitive in the Viewports until
you are happy with its size. (Holding down the CTRL key as you drag out the primi-
tive will keep its size proportional.) The Torus and Cone primitives are the exception
as they still include some size settings (the top and bottom radius of the cone, and the
major and minor radius of the torus), which can’t be adjusted when dragging out
these primitives. These settings exist as ratios, however, instead of exact units used
by those same primitives in the Scene Editor.

To insert a primitive:
1. Set the Editing Mode button to its Mesh Editing or Object Editing state depend-
ing on whether you want to add the mesh to an existing mesh or create a separate
mesh object. If you do not have an existing mesh in the scene, the state of this
button will not matter.
2. Click on the Primitive button of your choice from the main toolbar.

116
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

3. The properties specific to that primitive will appear in the Properties Toolbar. (See the chapter on Primitives for
detailed information on all of the properties available to each primitive.)
4. Make any changes to the default settings. Use the preview window to determine when you have the correct set-
tings since once the primitive is inserted you cannot go back and change these settings.
5. In any of the Viewports, click and drag the cursor until the primitive reaches the size you require. Hold down the
CTRL key if you want to maintain the primitive’s proportions as you size it.
When you drag out a primitive in one of the Orthographic Viewports, the starting position of the primitive will always
depend on where it was drawn. Primitives created in the Perspective Viewport will always get inserted around the (0, 0,
0) coordinate.

General Properties
Modeler Options
The following two settings are strictly intended to help increase internal rendering performance while working in the
Advanced Modeler.
Auto Smoothing - Swift 3D will automatically smooth surface areas of a mesh
unless you otherwise define smoothing groups (see the section on Smoothing Groups
at the end of this chapter). As you work with a mesh, pushing and pulling various
parts, it requires additional internal rendering power for Swift 3D to constantly
update the display of surface smoothing. By default, this feature is therefore turned
off. Note: If the Show Wire Overlay option is enabled you will not notice any differ-
ence to smoothing.
Redraw All Viewports - By default, as you move, rotate, scale, etc. a mesh, that
action only takes place in the active Viewport. Once the action is complete, the other
Viewports will then update their views as well. However, if you need to see the
action take place in all of the Viewports as it is occurs, check the Redraw All View-
ports option. Again, by only having the redraw take place in one Viewport at a time,
performance is enhanced.

Settings
Nudge Increment - This setting controls how far your selected object will move
when nudged with the keyboard arrow keys. It is set to .10 units. Since each grid rep-
resents one unit, using the default setting it will take 10 nudges to move a selection
from one grid line to the next.

Object
Name - This grayed out area shows the name of the object currently selected in the
Viewport. This name can only be edited from the Object property page in either the
Scene Editor or the Advanced Modeler.

117
Chapter 13 | Advanced Modeler

Statistics - The statistics provided on this page show the total number of vertices, edges, faces and surface groups of
the mesh at the object level. So even if just a single vertex of a mesh is selected, these statistics will display the totals
for the whole mesh that the vertex is a part of. If you are selecting individual areas of a mesh in Mesh Editing mode and
need to see the total number of vertices, edges, and faces in that currently selected area, these statistics are provided in
the status bar located along the bottom of the interface. If a mesh is not selected, the status bar shows the total statistics
for the entire model currently being edited.
Polygon Limitations - The Advanced Modeler has a limitation of 65,535 total vertices or faces.

Selection
No, still not to the fun stuff yet, but I can guarantee that unless you master the fine art of selecting vertices, edges, faces
and surface groups (and not just any ones, mind you, but the ones you intended to select) you will get extremely frus-
trated when you start modeling. So stay focused and we'll get through this fast.

Select Tools
The selection process in the Advanced Modeler works differently than in the Scene Editor because selection can be
done on five levels: vertex, edge, face, surface group and object. There are separate selection tools for each of these
elements that are accessible from the main toolbar or the Select menu.
Soft Select Select Faces Select Object

Select Vertices Select Edges Select Surface Groups

The following shortcut keystrokes are also available for each Select tool: Select Vertices: V; Soft Select: T; Select
Edges: E; Select Faces: F; Select Surface Groups: G; Select Object: O.

Object Selection
The Select Object tool is the only select option available when you are working at the object level. As soon as you click
on the Edit Mesh button the Select Object tool becomes disabled. When objects are selected they are tinted a blue color
as a reminder that the mesh is being selected at the object level. In Editing Mesh mode, the object that is currently
selected will turn orange, the mesh selection color, and all unselected objects will take on a gray stippled shading.

Mesh Selection
When in Editing Mesh mode, you have access to the Select Vertices, Soft Select, Select Edges, Select Faces and Select
Surface Groups tools. Each mesh element has a different visual representation in the Viewport when selected. A vertex
is always indicated by a square icon; an edge by the straight line that forms the side of a triangle, as well as its two end

118
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

points (vertices); and faces and surface groups by all three edges of the triangle (and shaded interior if the Viewport is
set to a shaded display mode).

Select Vertices Select Edges Select Faces


Whether you are selecting an object or mesh element, one of these Select tools is enabled at all times. (NOTE: The
Move, Rotate, Scale or Extrude transform tools can be enabled at the same time as any of the Select tools. If both are
enabled, the cursor will move back and forth between a selectable state or transform state depending on what area of
the mesh the cursor is over. For example, if the cursor is over a mesh element that is already selected, it will show the
Move, Rotate, Scale or Extrude cursor, depending upon which of those tools is also enabled. If the cursor is over an
element that is not yet selected, you can continue selecting. See upcoming section on Transform Tools for further infor-
mation.)

Select Cursor
Since the Advanced Modeler is very mode oriented, many of the functions come with their own cursor
icons in order to serve as a visual reminder of which mode or tool is currently being using. The Select
tools are all represented by the default pointer cursor. The Select cursor can also have a plus sign or
minus sign next to it that indicates if part of the mesh is being selected or deselected.

Mouseover (Editing Mesh Mode Only)


In holding with our goal to make Swift 3D an intuitive experience, we have done our best to make the selection process
as easy as possible. The Advanced Modeler therefore comes with a selection feature called Mouseover that highlights
the mesh in yellow when you are in Editing Mesh mode. Mouseover shows what would be selected if you decide to
click down with the mouse. Note that I emphasize “would be” because the selection that is highlighted in Mouseover
cannot take on any applied functions. Once the cursor moves away from a selectable mesh element, that element will
no longer remain highlighted.

Multiselect in Mouseover
You can hold down the SHIFT key while moving the cursor to multiselect elements in mouseover so that instead of los-
ing a highlighted area as the cursor moves off of an element the highlight is maintained. Clicking down will then serve
to select these elements.

119
Chapter 13 | Advanced Modeler

Turning Off Mouseover


In addition to being mesmerizing, the Mouseover selection state is computationally intensive, so if you are trying to
acquire as much speed as possible turn off Mouseover from the Selection property page. By default, Mouseover is also
only shown in the active Viewport in order to enhance performance. If you want to see the Mouseover state drawn in
each Viewport, check the Redraw All Viewports option on the General property page.

Selecting and Deselecting


To select an area of the mesh or the object that is highlighted in Mouseover, simply click down to “lock” the selection.
Note that when you click down a plus sign will appear next to the cursor indicating the mesh is being selected and not
deselected. When not in Edit Mesh mode, selected objects will turn blue. When working in Mesh Editing mode,
selected surface areas and faces will turn orange, while selected vertices and edges will turn red. (NOTE: The vertex
that is selected first will always turn green in order to indicate that it is the vertex used as the reference point for Soft
Select, Weld and Flatten, features that will be discussed in upcoming sections of this chapter. The vertex that is selected
first is not detected when marquee selection is being used so all vertices selected this way will remain red.)
After a selection is made, you can switch from one selection tool to another and still hold onto the selection, but the
selected area will switch to that type of element. For example, if you select some faces and then choose the Select Ver-
tices tool, those same polygons will remain selected, but by their vertices instead of faces. If you are switching from
vertex or edge selection to face selection, only faces that have three vertices or two edges selected will get selected.
You cannot move from vertex, edge, or face selection mode to surface group selection mode and maintain a selected
area unless all of the vertices, edges and faces of a surface group are selected.
Deselecting is done by holding down the CTRL key (Win) or OPTION key (Mac) while clicking on selecting elements
or drawing a marquee box. Note that as soon as you hold down the CTRL or OPTION keys a minus sign will appear
next to the cursor that indicates you can only deselect mesh elements while those keys are depressed.

To select an object, surface, face, edge or vertex:


1. Depending on whether you are in Editing Mesh mode or not, choose either the Select Vertices [V], Edges [E],
Faces [F], Surface Groups [G] or Object [O] tool from the main toolbar.
2. Move the cursor over the element of the mesh that you want to select.
3. When that element becomes selectable it will turn yellow, which is its mouseover state.
4. Click to select the element.

To deselect an object, surface, face, edge or vertex:


1. Hold down the CTRL key (Win) or OPTION key (Mac) and click back on any selected element to deselect it.
(Note that since the cursor still hovers over that element it will turn back to the yellow mouseover state until the
cursor moves away from it.)
2. Click anywhere in the background to deselect all current selections.

Multiple Selection (Editing Mesh Mode Only)


When in Object Editing mode you can only select one object at a time; therefore, all of the following multiple selection
processes only apply when you are in Editing Mesh mode and selecting surface groups, faces, edges or vertices.

120
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

To select multiple surfaces, faces, edges or vertices:


1. Choose either the Select Vertices [V], Edges [E], Faces [F] or Surface Groups [G] tool from the main toolbar.
2. Click on that element in the Viewport, and continue to click on other elements of the same type until you have all
the desired elements selected. (Note: You do not have to hold down the SHIFT key to multiple select.)
3. If you make a mistake and need to deselect a selected element, hold down the CTRL key (Win) or OPTION key
(Mac) and click back on that element to deselect it. Click in the background to deselect all current selections.
OR,
1. Choose either the Select Vertices [V], Edges [E], Faces [F] or Surface Groups [G] tool from the main toolbar.
2. While holding down the SHIFT key, drag the cursor over the elements you want to select (without clicking down).
As the cursor moves, all of the elements it rolls over become held in Mouseover state.
3. When you are done highlighting, click down to lock the selection and then let go of the SHIFT key.

Marquee Selection
Marquee selection is the process of clicking down the mouse and dragging a bounding box around areas of the mesh
that you wish to select or deselect. Parts of the mesh do not have to be completely within the drawn marquee box to be
selected or deselected. Surface groups, faces, edges and vertices will be selected or deselected if the marquee box
touches any portion of their structure. Marquee selection also does not detect which mesh element is selected first,
which is crucial to the Align To > Surface tool, and plays a role in helping to fine tune the Flatten and Weld commands.

To select multiple surfaces, faces, edges or vertices using a marquee box:


Click-and-drag a marquee box around the area of the mesh you wish to select.

To deselect using a marquee box:


While holding down the CTRL key (Win) or OPTION key (Mac) click and drag a marquee box around the elements
you wish to deselect.
NOTE: Marquee selection will always select or deselect any front facing polygons that are captured within its bound-
ing box, not just the polygons closest to the front of the Viewport. For example, if a front facing mesh is located
directly behind the mesh you are trying to select, its front facing polygons that are captured within the marquee box
will also get selected. If this is not desirable you will need to use one of the other multiple select options offered, such
as holding down the SHIFT key while in Mouseover

Additional Selection Options


From the Edit menu you also have access to a few more selection options when in Mesh Editing mode only:
Select All will select all objects in the Viewport. The CTRL + A (Win) or COMMAND + A (Mac) shortcut keys can
also be used to perform this function.
Select Inverse allows you to reverse the current selection so that all vertices, edges, faces or surface groups that were
not selected become selected, while the current selection becomes deselected. The CTRL + I (Win) or COMMAND +
I (Mac) shortcut keys can also be used to perform this function. (This function is only available in Editing Mesh mode.)

121
Chapter 13 | Advanced Modeler

Troubleshooting Selection Problems


Flip Normals
If you encounter a situation in which you cannot select certain areas of a mesh it is likely that the surface normals are
facing in the wrong direction. Use the Transform > Flip Normals feature to reverse the direction of the surface nor-
mals. (Note: To select the back facing polygons, either go to the Selection property page and turn off Ignore Back-
faces, or select all of the surfaces with outward facing normals first, and then use the Edit > Select Inverse option to
select just those surfaces with normals facing inward.)

Orthographic Viewports
When working in the Perspective Viewport or any of the camera views in the Scene Editor, if you zoom in too far on an
object it is very clear when the camera lens bumps into an object and begins to pass through an object. The same does
not hold true for the Orthographic Viewports, so if you are zoomed in on a mesh and find that you cannot select any of
its elements, try zooming back out a bit and try again.

Selection Property Page


The Selection property page provides additional features related to the selection process.

Enable Mouseover
Although Mouseover serves as an extremely helpful selection aid, it also requires
more computation time. You can turn off the Mouseover feature from the Selection
property page by unchecking the Enable Mouseover option.

Ignore Backfaces (Editing Mesh Mode Only)


By default the Ignore Backfaces option is disabled, which means that both front and
back facing polygons are available to be selected. If you do not want back facing
polygons to be selected, turn this feature on. This obviously takes a bit of pressure off
of the whole selection process because you do not have to worry about accidentally
selecting any elements lurking in the background.

122
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

To select backfaces: Ignore Backfaces = Off


1. From the Viewport Menu choose Draw Backfaces. Note:
You do not have to turn Draw Backfaces on in order to
select backfaces. This is just a convenience if you choose
to use it, and might not make any difference depending on
the angle the object sits in relation to the camera.
2. From the Selection property page, uncheck the Ignore
Backfaces option.
3. In the Top View, draw a cylinder of average size.
Vertex Selected in Front View Showing
4. Choose the Select Vertices tool. Top View Back Vertices Selected
5. In the Top View, click on one of the vertices located on the
front outer edge of the Cylinder.
6. Once the vertices are selected, take a look in either the Left or Front Viewport and notice that all of the vertices
that lay behind that one vertex, and were therefore obscured from view in the Top Viewport, have also been
selected.

Enable Multiselect (Editing Mesh Mode Only)


The Enable Multiselect option turns on and off the ability to select all front or back facing polygons, whether the poly-
gons are in view or not. By default this option is turned off. When Multiselect is turned on, all polygons located behind
a selected area (visualize an arrow piercing straight through a mesh and striking any meshes that lie directly behind)
will get selected as well. To change this feature to select only front facing polygons, make sure the Ignore Backfaces
option is enabled. (Note: Marquee selection ignores the state of Enable Multiselect and will always select front facing
polygons that are captured within its bounding box.)
Nick's Tips
When selecting vertices, edges, faces or surface groups it never hurts to give the Perspective View a spin just to
make sure that you have not inadvertently selected something you had not intended to include. Just ALT (Win) or
COMMAND (Mac) click-and-drag in the Perspective Viewport to rotate the camera around the object. If you find an
unexpected element did indeed become selected, simply choose the appropriate selection tool and deselect the element.
A quick glance at the Orthographic Viewports can be revealing as well.

Soft Select (Editing Mesh Mode Only)


(Using Soft Select requires concepts talked about later on in this chapter, so you may just want to give this section a
quick read for now and come back to it after you have learned more about transforming objects and manipulating their
mesh.)
Soft Select allows you to create what is essentially a magnetic field surrounding a single vertex. As with a magnetic
field, the rate at which the intensity or strength of the pull that exists within the field decreases the further away you are
from its magnetic source. In the Advanced Modeler, when you use Soft Select to select a single vertex, a range of ver-
tices radiating out from this vertex become selected as well, which you can envision as the magnetic field. So when
you push, pull, rotate or scale from the original vertex, the degree to which the surrounding vertices are drawn along

123
Chapter 13 | Advanced Modeler

with that vertex lessens the further away from the original point they are located. This feature is extremely cool
because it allows you to quickly create a smoother, more natural looking transformation on the surface of the object.

Entering Soft Select Mode


The Soft Select option can be accessed from the set of Select tools located on the
main toolbar, through the Select menu, or by using the shortcut [T]. Once you enter
Soft Select mode your first order of business is to choose the center of the magnetic
field, which will be a single vertex. Along with that vertex, a default range of vertices
surrounding that single vertex will become selected as well. As you roll the cursor
around the object you will see all of the vertices in the current Soft Select range high-
lighted in yellow (read next section on Vertex Radius for information on how to
adjust the size of this area). The Soft Select area will not become permanently locked
until you click on a vertex.
As soon as you click down, the center vertex from which the soft select area is deter-
mined will turn green and the rest of the vertices included in the soft select will turn
red. In addition, the mouse will automatically turn into the Move tool, but you can
also Rotate or Scale the Soft Select area by switching to those tools as well.

Adjusting Vertex Radius


Within the Selection property page you have the option to redefine the size of the sur-
face area included in your Soft Select by adjusting the Vertex Radius slider. Moving
the slider to the left will decrease the area included in the Soft Select, while moving
the slider to the right will increase the range. Before the Soft Select area is locked
down you can move this slider to its different settings (2 through 10) and as the cur-
sor moves over the mesh you will see the changes in the size of the Soft Select area.
Once the Soft Select area is permanently selected you can no longer adjust the Vertex
Radius unless you deselect the Soft Select by clicking in the background and going
back into Soft Select mode.
If you are not able to refine your selection accurately enough, you may need to create
additional faces within the desired Soft Select area so that the Vertex Radius control has more vertices to choose from.
This can be done through the Subdivide feature, which is discussed later on in this chapter.
Also keep in mind that the way your mesh is balanced and the direction that edges are turned will have a major impact
on which vertices are included in the Soft Select region. See Balance Mesh (under Subdivide) and Turn Edge for
details on these using these features.

124
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

Choosing Curve Type


The next decision to make in the Soft Select process is
whether you want the pull or push of the Soft Select field to
take on a nice, smooth rounded shape or more of a sharply
pointed shape. A smooth curve is achieved by choosing the
Parabolic Curve Type, while the Exponential Curve Type
results in a sharper curve.

Form Factor
Soft Select = Parabolic Soft Select = Exponential
The intensity or falloff of the Curve Type can be controlled
through the Form Factor slider. This slider ranges from
.01 to 1.00, with .01 representing the gentlest curve and 1.00 the steepest. And if there is any doubt, the graph located
above the slider serves as a great way to visualize what type of falloff each value will generate.

To soft select:
1. Insert a Sphere primitive mesh into the Viewport.
2. Go to the Selection property page and make sure that Enable Mouseover is on.
3. Choose the Soft Select [T] tool from the main toolbar.
4. Roll the mouse over the sphere to detect the range of vertices that will be included in the Soft Select.
5. Adjust the Vertex Radius slider until the area encompassed by the Soft Select is as desired.
6. Click on a vertex to lock the Soft Select range. Note that the cursor will automatically turn into the Move cursor,
but you can switch to the Rotate or Scale tool as well.
7. From the Soft Select property page, set the Curve Type to be Parabolic or Exponential.
8. Adjust the Form Factor slider to control the intensity of the curve's falloff.
9. Use the Move, Rotate or Scale tools to manipulate the selected area.

Edit Menu
These additional selection-related functions can be found under the Edit menu:
Hide/Unhide: Mesh can be hidden from view by either choosing Edit > Hide Selection [CTRL + E (Win) or COM-
MAND + E (Mac)], which will hide your current selection, or Edit > Hide All [CTRL + H (Win) or COMMAND + H
(Mac)], which will hide all mesh currently contained within the Viewports. To view a mesh that has been hidden,
choose Edit > Unhide All [CTRL + U (Win) or COMMAND + U (Mac)]. An option also exists on the Surface Groups
property page for hiding individual surface groups. Refer to the Surface Groups section at the end of this chapter for
further information. As in the Scene Editor, the Object property page also has an option for hiding entire objects.
Duplicate Selection: In the Advanced Modeler you can only duplicate or delete a mesh or object, so you will not find
the traditional cut, copy or paste functions. A duplicate of the selected mesh (faces and surface groups only) or object
can be made by going to Edit > Duplicate on the main menu or by right clicking (Win) or CTRL + clicking (Mac) to
bring up the object context sensitive menu. You can choose to have the duplicate appear adjacent to the original object
along the X, Y or Z axis.

125
Chapter 13 | Advanced Modeler

Delete Selection: When you choose Edit > Delete Selection, all selected meshes or objects will be deleted. (Note: The
exception is that you cannot delete the base object, or the object at the top of the hierarchy in the Advanced Modeler.
That object can only be deleted from the Scene Editor.) When in Editing Mesh mode, the mesh must be selected using
either the Select Faces or Select Surface Groups tools in order to be deleted. You cannot delete selected vertices or
edges.
Undo: Edit > Undo [CTRL + Z (Win) or Command + Z (Mac)] is accessed through the Edit menu or
the button on the main toolbar. The Undo stack (list) in the Advanced Modeler is kept separate from the
Scene Editor Undo stack; however, once you leave the Advanced Modeler its Undo stack is cleared as
soon as an undo-able function is performed in the Scene Editor. (The Scene Editor Undo stack is always Undo/Redo
Buttons
maintained no matter which editor you are in.) It is important to understand that a complete copy of
your model gets placed into the Undo stack each time the model is altered, which can definitely use up a lot of memory.
Once you’ve reached a point where you are sure you no longer need access to the Undo stack you can manually clear it
using the Edit > Clear Undo function.
Redo will redo any action you have undone, so it will not become enabled until you first Undo an action. This function
is accessed by going to Edit > Redo [CTRL + Y (Win) or Command + Y (Mac)] or clicking the Redo button on the
main toolbar.

Flash Tutorial: Advanced Modeler Selection

126
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

Surface Groups (Editing Mesh Mode Only)


The polygons or triangular faces that make up a mesh also serve to create the surface
area for that model. Polygons can be grouped together with other polygons in order to
define a specific surface area. The two primary advantages to forming surface groups
are:
1. It allows you to quickly select areas of your model that you will frequently be
manipulating as an entire piece.
2. It allows you to apply different materials to different surfaces of your model.
The concept of Surface Groups can easily be understood by considering the box
primitive. When you insert a box primitive into the Viewport and drag a material onto
it, the material gets applied to the entire box mesh. The reason is because all six sides
of the box belong to the same surface group. Using the Advanced Modeler's Surface
Groups feature you can break down the box so that each side consists of its own sur-
face group. Not only does this make it easier to select the individual sides of the box,
but separate materials can now be applied to each side since the they have been made
into separate surface groups.
An important concept to understand is that no hierarchy exists between surface
groups. Surface groups all exist at the same level and polygons cannot be a part of
two different surface groups. In addition, surface groups do not need to consist of
groups of contiguous polygons. For example, going back to our box, if you want to
apply the same material to the top and bottom of the box, these areas can be incorpo-
rated into the same surface group.

To create a surface group:


1. Insert a box primitive mesh and click on the Edit Mesh button.
2. Using the Select Faces tool, select the two polygons that serve to make up one
side of the box.
3. Select Surface Groups from the Properties Toolbar.
4. Click on the Group Selection button. Selected areas can also be grouped by right clicking (Win) or CTRL + click-
ing (Mac) on the selection and choosing Group > Selection from the context menu.
5. The new surface group will be given the name "Regroup01" by default.
Nick's Tips
You might not realize it, but you have already been introduced to surface groups in the Scene Editor. Extru-
sions and Text objects automatically contain three separate surface groups: face, bevel and edge. Since selection in the
Scene Editor can only be performed at the object level, these surface groups are only accessible when applying materi-
als. However, when you bring an Extrusion or Text object into the Advanced Modeler you can select each of these sur-
face groups separately using the Select Surface Groups tool.

127
Chapter 13 | Advanced Modeler

Surface Groups List Box


The List Box located at the top of the Surface Groups property page displays the names of the surface groups currently
present in the Viewports of the Advanced Modeler. If you have not yet defined any surface groups, the default name for
the mesh in the Viewport will appear in the list. For example, when a sphere gets inserted, the default surface group of
"Sphere01-All Surfaces" will appear in the list box.
Once a new surface group is defined, the name of that surface group will appear in the list box with the default name of
"Regroup01." The polygons defined in the new surface group will be removed from their previous surface group since
polygons can only be a part of one surface group at a time.

Naming Surface Groups


Surfaces groups can be given more meaningful names by simply selecting the default name from the list box and typ-
ing a new name in the field located just below the list box.

Selecting Surface Groups


Once a Surface Group is defined, that surface area can now be selected as a whole. Use either of the following two
methods to select surface groups:
1. From the Surface Groups property page, click on the name of the Surface Group you wish to select in the list box.
2. Click on the Select button. All of the faces in that Surface Group will now become selected in the Viewport
or,
1. Choose the Select Surface Groups tool [G] from the Main Toolbar.
2. Click on any of the faces that are a part of the Surface Group you wish to select.
3. All of the faces included in the surface group will become selected.

Group All and Ungroup All


The Group All and Ungroup All features can only be accessed by right clicking (Win) or CTRL + clicking (Mac) on
the mesh to bring up the context sensitive menu.
The Group All command will select the entire mesh and place it into a new group (Regroup0X).
The Ungroup All command will ungroup all surface groups and return them to the first surface group listed in the Sur-
face Group list box.
While there is an Ungroup All feature there is no way to ungroup specific surface groups because there is no object
level surface group that the polygons can be returned to. Therefore, when you want to remove an existing surface
group what you need to do is group those polygons into another surface group.

To delete an existing surface group:


1. Select the surface group from the list box and click the Select button so that the polygons included in this surface
group become selected in the Viewport.

128
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

2. From the list box, highlight the surface group you want to group the selected polygons with and click on the Select
button again.
3. Click on the Group Selection button. Note that both surface groups get joined into a new surface group so it may
be necessary to rename the group.

And Separate Selection


And Separate Selection is an advanced use of the Surface Groups feature because not
only does it create a surface group, but it separates or cuts that surface group from the
mesh. This feature can also only be accessed by right clicking (Win) or CTRL + click-
ing (Mac) on the mesh to bring up the context sensitive menu.

Hide/Show Surface Groups Half a Cylinder Grouped


and Separated
Surface Groups can be hidden from view using the Hide and Show buttons found in the
Surface Groups property page.

To hide/show surface groups:


1. Select a surface group from the list box.
2. Click on the Hide button located under the list box. Selected areas can also be hidden by going to Edit > Hide
Selection or Edit > Hide All.
3. To show (unhide) a hidden surface, select the surface group from the list box.
4. Click on the Show button.
All hidden areas can also be shown all at once by going to Edit > Unhide All.

Materials
From the Surface Groups property page you also have access to each group's Material properties. When you select a
surface group from the list box, the name of the material applied to that group is displayed and its material appears in
the Material Preview Window. Since this area of the Surface Groups property page works identically to the Material
property page of the Scene Editor, please refer to the chapter on Materials for further information on this feature.
Flash Tutorial: Surface Groups

Transform Tools - Move, Rotate, Scale and Extrude


The Transform tools talked about in this section refer to the Move, Rotate, Scale and Extrude commands only since
there are a lot of common elements to using these transforms. So instead of repeating this information four times, we
are going to cover it all here. Specific information regarding each transform tool will be detailed in the upcoming sec-
tions.

129
Chapter 13 | Advanced Modeler

Selecting Transform Tools


The Transform tool buttons, located on the main toolbar, remain disabled until a vertex,
edge, face, surface group or object is selected. Once one of the transform tools is selected
that function can be performed ONLY when the cursor is over a selected mesh element.
The cursor will turn into one of the transform cursors shown below in order to indicate
when that function is available. Since the main state of the cursor is its selection state, if the mouse is not over a
selected element the cursor will remain as the normal pointer cursor, allowing you to continue selecting mesh elements.
This workflow greatly facilitates the ease of moving back and forth between selecting and moving, rotating, scaling or
extruding mesh elements since you can be in both a selection and transform mode at the same time.
In addition to clicking directly on the Transform buttons on the main toolbar, you can also select these tools using the
following two methods:
1. By right clicking (Win) or CTRL + clicking (Mac) on a surface and
selecting the desired transform tool from the context sensitive menu.
Using this method gives you the option to choose different constraints,
such as the X, Y or Z axis. Options available to each transform tool are
detailed under each tool.

2. Through the Transform menu on the main menu bar, or using the
shortcut keystrokes designated in this menu. I highly recommend
memorizing the shortcut keys as they will definitely help to facilitate
your modeling workflow. The shortcut/hot keys for the transform tools are as follows: Move - M; Rotate - R;
Scale - S; Extrude - X.

Transform Cursors
Once any of the Transform tools have been selected, the cursor will change in order to give you a visual representation
of when that tool is enabled (i.e., when the cursor is over a selected mesh element).

Move Rotate Scale Extrude

Since you will often find yourself in a workflow that jumps back and forth between selecting and transforming, these
cursor icons are extremely helpful at reminding you which tool is currently selected. With tool in hand, you are now
ready to click in any of the Viewports and manually perform that function.

130
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

Transform Tool Property Pages


When you select one of the Transform tools, the property page specific to that trans-
form tool will appear in the Properties Toolbar. The Transform Tool property pages
all provide you with the ability to perform that transform in numeric increments, as
well as the option to constrain those movements to a particular axis. In addition, any
default properties essential to these functions will be contained within these property
pages. Details specific to each property page will be discussed in the upcoming sec-
tions.

Constraining Transforms in Orthographic Viewports


When you use one of the Transform tools in any of the Orthographic Viewports that
transform is automatically constrained to just the two visible axes or that single
plane. In addition to the constrain features offered by the Axis Guide (refer to earlier
section on Axis Guide), you can also constrain a transform using any of the following
methods:
1. Hold down the SHIFT key while performing the transform. Faint constraining
lines will appear as a visual aid.
2. When choosing a transform tool from the context sensitive menu, indicate along which axis you would like the
transform to be constrained.
NOTE: Any constraints specific to the Viewport in which you are performing a transform will automatically override
constraints chosen through the context sensitive menu. For example, if you choose to constrain movement of an object
to the Y axis by selecting Move > Y from the context sensitive menu, if you then try to move the object in the Top or
Bottom viewport, which is automatically constrained to just the X and Z axes, you will not be able to move the object
along the Y axis. The exception to this rule is rotating, which can be performed around any axis in any Viewport.

Constraining Transforms in the Perspective Viewport


In the Perspective Viewport a transform can be performed along the plane of the camera’s current rotation. As you
rotate the camera around, that plane will change. Unlike the Scene Editor Viewports, however, objects cannot be
moved towards the camera or away from the camera, which means you cannot Move along the axis that is pointing per-
pendicular to the camera. If the axis pointing towards or away from the camera is the axis along which you need to per-
form a transform, you must rotate the Perspective view so that you can transform either up or down, or left or right
along that axis. To constrain the transform to just one or two of the axes use any of the methods outlined previously for
the Orthographic Viewports.

Move
Objects and meshes can only be moved by selecting the Move tool. This differs from the Scene Editor where you can
just click and drag on any object. Remember that when you are Editing Mesh mode, if you move an entire mesh that
movement occurs in relation to the object’s pivot point only and not the global coordinate system.

131
Chapter 13 | Advanced Modeler

Move Tool
The most common and quickest way to move a selection is by choosing the Move tool and
dragging the selected mesh to a new location directly within the Viewport. By default, the
Move tool is set to Free until you choose a constraining axis or axes.
Note that once the Move tool is selected it only becomes enabled when the cursor is over a
selected mesh element.

To move a selection manually:


1. Select the object, surface groups, faces, edges or vertices that you want to move.
2. Select the Move tool [M] from either the main toolbar or the context sensitive menu.
3. The cursor will change into the Move cursor.
4. Set any axis constrains if necessary.
5. Click in any of the Viewports and drag the selected area to a new location.
The keyboard arrow keys can also be used to nudge a selection left or right, or up or down.

Move Tool Property Page


As soon as the Move tool is selected, the Move property page will become visible in
the Properties Toolbar. The precise positioning of selected meshes along the X, Y and
Z axes can be achieved from the Move property page.
Note that the values entered on this page represent the amount of movement to be
performed along that particular axis; they do not represent the numeric coordinate
that the object will be relocated to. The world coordinates of an object’s mesh can
only be accessed through the Position property page. You can compare it to entering
a nudge increment and then having your mesh nudged in that direction by the number
of units entered. Every time you click the Move button the object will move the dis-
tance entered.
As you would expect, a positive number will move the selection to the right along the
X axis, upward along the Y axis and forward along the Z axis. A negative number
will move the selection in the opposite direction along those axes.

To move a selection numerically along the X, Y or Z axis:


1. Select either vertices, edges, faces, surface groups or object.
2. Choose the Move tool [M] from the main toolbar.
3. From the Move Tool property page, input a number into any of the numeric
input boxes.
4. Click on the Move button.
The X, Y or Z buttons located below each numeric entry fields can be enabled or disabled to constrain movement along
any particular axis. By default, the buttons are all turned off, which means movement can occur along all of the axes.
Obviously if you only have a value entered in the X box, your object will only move along the X axis, so these buttons

132
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

only come into play if you need to make precise adjustments. For example, if you want to move a mesh 5 steps along
the Y axis and 2 steps along the Z axis, and repeat that process several times, you can enter the numbers at the start and
then switch back from constraining movement to just the Y and then just the Z without having to re-enter the numbers
each time.
The Clear button exists only to reset the numeric entry fields back to zero; this button does not reset the position of the
mesh.

Rotate
"Wait, there's no trackball? How can I possibly rotate an object without a trackball?" Now, now, calm down (and did I
hear a sigh of relief from all of those trackball detractors?), I promise it will be OK. While there is no trackball in the
Advanced Modeler, there is a built-in virtual trackball that allows you to rotate your object directly in the Viewport
using the Rotate tool. When you are Editing Mesh mode, if you rotate an entire mesh that rotation occurs in relation to
the center of rotation (the yellow dot) set in the Rotate Tool Property page, not the object’s pivot point (although the
two may correspond.)

Rotate Tool
When the Rotate tool is selected from the main toolbar its default state is set to Free until
you choose a constraining axis or axes.
Note that once the Rotate tool is selected it only becomes enabled when the cursor is over a
selected mesh element.

To rotate a selection manually:


1. Select the object, surface groups, faces, edges or vertices that you want to rotate.
2. Choose the Rotate tool [R] from either the main toolbar or context sensitive menu.
3. The cursor will change into the Rotate cursor.
4. Click in any of the Viewports and drag the cursor in the direction you want the selection to rotate.

133
Chapter 13 | Advanced Modeler

Rotate Property Page


The Rotate property page can only be accessed by first selecting the Rotate tool.

Rotation Center
Use these options to specify the point around which you want the rotation to occur.
The point of rotation is designated by the yellow dot icon that appears when you
click down in the Viewport with the Rotate tool. Note: When in Editing Mesh mode,
this rotation point is local to the selected mesh.
• Center of Selection: This option, the default and most commonly used, will
rotate the selected area around its center. When working at the object level, the
Center of Selection corresponds to the object's pivot point, which may or may
not reside in the center of the object anymore.
• Origin: This option makes the selected area rotate around the center of the
scene at (0, 0, 0).
• Specific Point: This final option allows you to set the exact point around which
the selected area will rotate.

To set a the specific rotation point:


1. Choose the Rotate tool [R] from the main toolbar.
2. Select the Specific Point option from the Rotate Tool property page.
3. Enter the coordinates along the X, Y or Z axis to set the rotation point. Click
down with the Rotate tool in any of the Viewports if you need a visual of where
the rotation point is located while adjusting its X, Y or Z location.

Rotation Angles
Precise angle of rotations can be achieved from the Rotate Tool property page. As
with the Move Tool property page, you are entering an increment of rotation, so every time you hit the Rotate button,
the selection will continue to rotate by the degree entered. For example, if you enter 25, to rotate by 25 degrees, and
click on the Rotate button, then decide you want to actually rotate it by 28 degrees, you must Undo the 25 degree rota-
tion and then enter 28, or enter 3 to get those 3 extra degrees. Keep in mind that positive numbers will rotate an object
to the plus side of an axis and negative numbers will rotate an object towards the negative side of the axis.

To rotate a selection numerically:


1. Select the object, surface groups, faces, edges or vertices that you want to rotate.
2. Choose the Rotate tool [R] from the main toolbar.
3. From the Rotate Tool property page, enter the degree of rotation into any of the X, Y or Z entry boxes, depending
upon which axis you want the rotation to occur.
4. Click the Rotate button.
The Clear button exists only to reset the numeric entry fields back to zero; this button does not reset the rotation of the
selected mesh.

134
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

Scale
You can scale vertices, edges, faces, surface groups or objects. Scale can be performed freely (along any axis), uni-
formly (the scale is applied equally to all dimensions of the selected mesh), or constrained to the X, Y or Z axis.

Scale Tool
When you select the Scale tool from the main toolbar, its default state is Uniform Scaling
until you choose a constraining axis or axes. Note that once the Scale tool is selected it
only becomes enabled when the cursor is over a selected mesh element.

To scale a selection manually:


1. Select the object, surface groups, faces, edges or vertices that you want to scale.
2. Select the Scale tool [S] from either the main toolbar or context sensitive menu.
3. The cursor will change into the Scale cursor.
4. Click in any of the Viewports and drag the cursor away from the object to increase its scale and
towards the center of the object to decrease its scale.

135
Chapter 13 | Advanced Modeler

Scale Tool Property Page


The Scale Tool property page can only be accessed by first selecting the Scale tool.

Scale Center
Use these options to specify the point from which you want the scale to occur. The
point of scale is designated by the yellow dot that appears when you click down in
the Viewport with the Scale tool. Note: When in Mesh Editing mode, this scale point
is local to the selected mesh only.
1. Center of Selection: This option, the default, will scale the selected area out or
in from its center. When working at the object level, the center of the selection
will always correspond to the location of the object’s pivot point, which might
not necessarily be located at the object’s center anymore.
2. Origin: This option causes the selected area to scale from the center of the scene
at (0, 0, 0).
3. Specific Point: Allows you to set the exact point from which the scale will
occur.

To set the specific scale point:


1. Choose the Scale tool [S] from the main toolbar.
2. Select the Specific Point option from the Scale Tool property page.
3. Enter the coordinates along the X, Y or Z axis where you want the center of the
Scale to occur from. Click down with the Scale tool in any of the Viewports if
you need a visual of where the scale point is located while adjusting its X, Y or
Z location.

Scale Amount
When a mesh enters the scene it automatically has a scale of 1.0, so the numeric input boxes in the Scale Tool property
page all have a default value of 1.0, meaning this is the original scale of the mesh. To reduce the mesh by half of its
original scale enter 0.5, while 2.0 would represent double the original scale. If you scale anything by zero the object
with disappear because multiplying anything by zero results in zero, and obviously negative numbers are not allowed.
It is important to remember that as soon as a mesh is scaled, the value 1.0 gets reset to that new scale. Therefore, the
next time you click on the Scale button the mesh will Scale numerically based on its current scale, not its original start-
ing scale.

To scale a selection numerically:


1. Select the object, surface groups, faces, edges or vertices that you want to scale.
2. Choose the Scale tool [S] from the main toolbar.
3. From the Scale Tool property page, enter the amount of scale that you want into either the X, Y or Z input boxes,
depending upon which axis you want the scale to occur along. To achieve a uniform scale you must enter the same
amount in each box.
4. Click the Scale button.

136
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

The Clear button exists only to reset the numeric entry fields back to zero; this button does not reset the scale of the
mesh back to its original starting point.

Extrude (Editing Mesh Mode Only)


If you have made it this far with Swift 3D you probably reached the understanding that the term "extrude" means to
take a 2D object and increase its depth. In the Advanced Modeler, however, you are starting off with objects that are
already 3D so extrude takes on a slightly different meaning. Using the Extrude feature you can select faces of the mesh
and extrude those faces outward or inward. What happens is that a new set of faces are formed that connect the original
faces back to the mesh those faces were extended from.

Box with Faces Selected Faces Extruded OUT Faces Extruded IN

You can choose to extrude those faces freely (without any constraints), along the X, Y or Z axis, or along the direction
the faces are pointing, which is the normal. Note that we are talking about faces only here; you cannot extrude vertices
or edges, so in order for the Extrude function to work you must start with at least one selected face.

Extrude Tool
Before you grab the Extrude tool and start pulling faces away from your objects, one
important detail must be noted. Once you release the mouse click to finish the extrude, you
have completed the formation of a new set of polygons. If you did not extrude the faces out
or in far enough, you must employ the aid of the Move tool to move the faces to the correct
location. If you try to move the faces further outward or inward by clicking down again with the Extrude tool still
enabled you will precede to extrude another set of faces, which may not be your intention.
When you select the Extrude tool from the main toolbar, its default state is to extrude along the normals. Set the axis
constraints or choose Extrude from the context sensitive menu to select a different option. Note that once the Scale tool
is selected it only becomes enabled when the cursor is over a selected mesh element.

137
Chapter 13 | Advanced Modeler

To extrude faces manually:


1. Select the faces or surface groups to be extruded.
2. Select the Extrude tool [E] from the main toolbar or context sensitive menu.
3. The cursor will change into the Extrude cursor.
4. Click-and-drag the cursor away from the mesh to extrude the faces outward or in toward the center
of the mesh to extrude the faces inward.
NOTE: The new set of faces formed automatically get placed into a separate surface group. If you prefer to maintain
one surface group, go to the Surface Group property page and regroup the surface areas back into a single group. Refer
to the section on Surface Groups for detailed information on this process.

Extrude Tool Property Page


With Move, Rotate and Scale we talked about how these numeric operations are one
shot deals, and the same goes for the Extrude Tool property page. With Extrude this
takes on even further meaning because if you click the Extrude button for a second
time you will be adding a new set of faces. So if you extrude once, and don't like the
location where the faces ended up, you must move them to the desired location or
undo the operation and try again.

To extrude numerically along the X, Y or Z axes or Normal:


1. Select the faces or surface groups to be extruded.
2. Select the Extrude tool [E] from the main toolbar.
3. From the Extrude Tool property page, choose the Normal or Direction option.
4. Type a number into any of the numeric entry boxes.
5. Click Extrude.
The Clear button exists only to reset the numeric entry fields back to zero; this but-
ton does not reset the mesh back to its original starting point.

Flash Tutorial: Move, Rotate, Scale and Extrude

Align To
The Align To function allows you to align selected surfaces to either an axis or another surface area. Align To is acces-
sible from the Position menu or by right clicking (Win) or CTRL + clicking (Mac) on a surface area to bring up the
context sensitive menu.

Align To Axis
The Align To > Axis feature aligns the center of the selection to either the X, Y or Z axis.

138
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

Align To Surface (Editing Mesh Mode Only)


The Align To > Surface feature can be used with Surface Groups only. The surface
to which other surfaces are being aligned to is referred to as the target surface. You
have the option of aligning other surfaces to a target surface’s X, Y or Z position.
You will always be aligning the center of a surface to where the center of the target
surface lies along the X, Y or Z axis.

To align surfaces: Before Align To Surface


1. Begin by selecting the target surface, which will serve as the alignment point
for other objects.
2. Continue the selection process by selecting the surface(s) that you want to have
aligned to the target surface.
3. Go to Align To > Surface from either the main menu or by right clicking (Win)
or CTRL + clicking (Mac) on a surface to bring up the context menu.
4. Select to align the center of the selected surfaces to target surface’s X, Y or Z
center.
Align To > Surface > Z Axis

Mirror
(IMPORTANT: The Mirror function will automatically convert to mesh Extrusions, Lathes, Primitives or Text that
have been brought into the Advanced Modeler from the Scene Editor. If you want to hold onto their object properties,
use Negative Scaling in the Scene Editor to mirror the object.)
As the name suggests, the Mirror function provides a the mirror image of the
selected surfaces or object. Mirror can be performed in three different ways: mir-
rored along an axis, duplicated and mirrored along an axis, and duplicated so that
the mirrored object’s edge vertices align. The first two features will mirror the mesh
in the opposite direction along an axis and maintains the location of the mesh in
relation to that axis. So if the center of a mesh is located at X = 5, it mirror image
will appear at X = -5 when mirrored along the X axis.

Object Mirrored Along X

139
Chapter 13 | Advanced Modeler

The final mirror feature, which is referred to as Mirror > Align Duplicate, is
designed to facilitate the process of modeling one side of a model and then mirroring
that side with the intention of welding the two sides together. (This mirror option is
only available in Editing Mesh mode.) It works by abutting the side around which
the mirror is performed and lining up the vertices. The Align > Duplicate has six
mirroring options:
• Front to Back and Back to Front: Mirrors the object currently selected along
the z axis. Half a Mesh Mirrored
• Left to Right and Right to Left: Mirrors the object currently selected along the Front to Back
x axis.
• Top/Bottom and Bottom to Top: Mirrors the object currently selected along the y axis.

To mirror:
1. Select the surface that you want to mirror.
2. Select Transform > Mirror from the main menu or by right clicking (Win) or CTRL + clicking (Mac) on a sur-
face to bring up the context sensitive menu.
3. Select either the Axis, Axis Duplicate or Align Duplicate option and choose the axis or direction along which you
want the mirror to occur.
4. A mirrored duplicate of the object will appear along the axis you selected.
When modeling a single side of an object with the intention of mirroring and then joining the two sides together, verti-
ces can be quickly joined by using the SmartWeld function that is detailed in an upcoming section.

Flatten
Flatten is somewhat of a dual purpose tool. Its primary purpose is to flat-
ten the selected mesh to either the X, Y or Z axis. However, when used on
selected vertices, Flatten will align those vertices into a single row along
the X, Y or Z axis. When aligning vertices, the alignment is based on the
first vertex that is selected, which is indicated by its green selection state
(as opposed to the normal red selection state). Note that marquee selection
does not detect which mesh element is selected first, so if you use this Selected Vertices Vertices Flattened
method to select multiple vertices to flatten, the vertices will flatten to an to Z Axis
average location.
While this feature is accessible when working at the object level, really all it can do is take the entire mesh and flatten
it like a pancake.

140
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

To flatten:
1. Select the surface area that you wish to flatten.
2. Choose Transform > Flatten from either the main menu or by right
clicking (Win) or CTRL + clicking (Mac) on a surface to bring up the
context menu.
3. Choose whether you want the surfaces to flatten the X, Y or Z axes.

Selected Faces Faces Flattened


Roundness to Z Axis

Roundness is the process whereby selected polygons are rounded outward (increased) or inward (decreased) by mov-
ing the vertices of the selected area out or in from a central point. In order for Roundness to have any noticeable affect
on a selected area, the function requires a fair amount of vertices and surfaces to work on. For example, if a box with
just two faces per side is inserted into the Viewport, when Roundness is applied to that box you will see no discernible
difference. However, if you subdivide the box’s faces a couple of times and then apply this feature, the box will begin
to round outward or inward.

Subdivided Box Increased Roundness Decreased Roundness

There is no exact science to using this feature so you can’t just look at your object or set of faces and determine exactly
what the results will be when you round. It is the type of feature that you apply once, and if you are happy with the
results, great, but if you want more or less roundness you give it another shot. Or, if you do not receive the results you
need, you might try subdividing the faces an additional time and then trying the Roundness operation again. Some-
times modeling is all about a little experimentation.

To round:
1. Insert a Cylinder primitive into the scene.
2. Choose Transform > Roundness from either the main menu or by right clicking (Win) or CTRL + clicking (Mac)
on a surface to bring up the context menu.
3. Choose Roundness > Increase to push the surface area of the cylinder outward.
4. Choose Roundness > Decrease to pull the surface area of the cylinder inward.

Subdivide
The Subdivide feature includes Balance Mesh, Flat Subdivision or Smooth Subdivision.

141
Chapter 13 | Advanced Modeler

Balance Mesh
The Balance Mesh feature can be used to create a symmetrical mesh.
This is a one time function that can be applied only to an entire mesh.
Maintaining a balanced mesh can be very crucial when models
become complex. Balanced meshes will also achieve more expected
results when using features like Soft Select.
NOTE: This feature will only work on meshes created in the
Before Balance Mesh After Balance Mesh
Advanced Modeler; it will not work on imported 3ds files.

Flat
Subdivide is a process that divides faces into 3 or 4 additional faces. This process does not change the existing flat face
of an object but simply creates a denser mesh. The primary application for this feature is to provide additional polygons
to a certain area of a model in order to allow for more detailed manipulation of the mesh.
Subdivide can be performed on whole surfaces or just
selected faces. If you do not first have a surface selected in
the Viewport this option will be disabled.
NOTE: Unless you have a reason for needing a face
divided in three, you should try to rely primarily on the
Subdivide Flat 4 option as it will always provide cleaner
and more reliable results. No Subdivision Flat 3 Face Flat 4 Face

To subdivide:
1. Select a face or surface using the Select Face or Select Surface tool.
2. Choose Transform > Subdivide from either the main menu or by right clicking (Win) or CTRL + clicking (Mac)
on a surface to bring up the context menu.
3. Select either the Flat 3 Face or Flat 4 Face option.

Smooth
Smoothing is a process that first takes a surface area and
subdivides it by 4. It then adjusts the sharp corners of the
original mesh by pulling in their associated vertices, while
at the same time pushing out the vertices of the newly cre-
ated faces. All this works towards creating a new shape
that is smoother than the previous shape, so you can liter- No Subdivision Flat 4 Face Smooth
ally start with a box and smooth it out to a sphere.

142
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

There are two options for Smoothing: Subdivide Smooth Exclude Border
and Subdivide Smooth Include Border. When smoothing an object that is
a closed shape, meaning it has no exposed borders, it does not matter which
of these options you choose as they will both provide the same results.
These two options come into play when you are smoothing a shape that has
borders. The Exclude Border option will maintain the integrity of that out-
side edge so that it is not taken into consideration during the smoothing pro- Exclude Borders Include Borders
cess. The Include Border option will take into account the border when it
calculates smoothing. While the Include Border option will result in a perfect subdivision, and therefore the smoothest
surface possible, it produces undesirable results on outside edges by pulling them in, which gives a very jagged appear-
ance to that outside edge.

Delete Empty Faces


As you work with your model performing numerous subdivisions, empty faces get created that allow you to pull newly
subdivided faces, edges and vertices away from existing meshes without creating holes in the mesh. While these poly-
gons are necessary to prevent holes from occurring in the mesh, it can lead to empty faces that are not being used and
are therefore adding unwanted size to your mesh. These empty polygons can be deleted by going to Transform >
Delete Empty Faces. While subdividing is the most common way to create empty polygons, other actions, such as
clicking on the Extrude tool and not moving them out, will also lead to empty polygons.

Edge (Editing Mesh Mode Only)


The Divide Edge and Turn Edge features allow you to manipulate the mesh of your model in several distinct ways.

Divide Edge
The Divide Edge function works by dividing the faces that the edge has in common into two additional faces. While
the Divide Edge function can be applied to multiple edges at a time, it is recommended that you do not select edges that
share the same face. For example, if you have two edges of one face selected, once the program divides the first edge a
new set of edges now exist that will determine how the second edge will get divided, and so forth. As you can imagine,
it becomes virtually impossible to predict what type of results will occur.

To divide an edge:
1. Use the Select Edges tool to select an edge or multiple edges.
2. Choose Transform > Edge > Divide Edge from either the main
menu or by right clicking (Win) or CTRL + clicking (Mac) on a sur-
face to bring up the context menu.

Turn Edge Divide Edge Before Divide Edge After


(4 Edges Selected)
The Turn Edge feature allows you to change the direction of an edge to the
opposing vertices of its two adjoining faces. (This function can only be
applied to one edge at a time.) Depending on whether those two adjoining faces exist on the same plane, the Turn Edge

143
Chapter 13 | Advanced Modeler

function may or may not affect the outward appearance of the model. In the first set of screen shots below, notice that
the Turn Edge operation was performed on an edge that separates two faces that exist on the same plane. What this
operation did was simply change the direction of the common edge these faces share. In the next example, since the
selected edge adjoins faces that exist on different sides of the box, the Turn Edge operation actually resulted in a notch-
ing out the surface.
The ability to notch out a surface has obvious advantages, but a beginning
modeler might be inclined to overlook the more advanced uses of this fea-
ture when it comes to the maintaining the symmetry of a mesh. While a
cleaner mesh will always be easier to work with as a model progresses in
complexity, it is important to realize that an unbalanced mesh will not
maintain its symmetry when advanced functions like smoothing are
applied to it. In addition, depending on the rendering option you choose,
Planar Edge Selected Turn Edge After
an untidy mesh might provide undesirable rendering results. Again, this is
fairly advanced stuff, and when working with simple models it might not
even matter. But if you plan to take your modeling to a higher level this
type of attention to the structure of your mesh eventually needs to be
taken into consideration.

To turn an edge:
1. Use the Select Edge tool to select an edge. Corner Edge Selected Turn Edge After
2. Choose Transform > Edge > Turn Edge from either the main menu
or by right clicking (Win) or CTRL + clicking (Mac) on a surface to bring up the context menu.

Weld (Editing Mesh Mode Only)


Performing the Weld command on two or more selected verti-
ces will collapse those vertices into a single vertex. If you click
to select the vertices to be welded together, the first vertex
selected will serve as the alignment point for the rest of the ver-
tices. An average of all vertices can be obtained by marquee
selecting the vertices to be included in the weld since marquee
selection does not detect which is the first vertex to be chosen.

To weld vertices:
1. Select two or more vertices using the Select Vertices tool. Vertices selected on Vertices collapsed to a
half of a sphere single vertex
2. Choose Transform > Weld from either the main menu or
by right clicking (Win) or CTRL + clicking (Mac) on a
surface to bring up the context menu.
3. The selected vertices will now be merged into a single vertex.

144
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

SmartWeld
Welding vertices can be a tedious process if you have more
than one set of vertices that need to be joined. This process can
be greatly simplified by employing the SmartWeld feature.
When SmartWeld is used, any vertices that are currently
selected look to see if there are any vertices nearby (within a
given tolerance) that are also selected, and if so they join and
merge. Let the co-mingling begin.

To smartweld vertices:
1. Select a group of vertices. Selected vertices of Vertices joined using
two unjoined objects SmartWeld
2. Choose SmartWeld from either the main menu or by right
clicking (Win) or CTRL + clicking (Mac) on a surface to bring up the context menu.
3. Any vertices that lie within a certain range of each other will be joined.

SmartWeld Tolerance Slider


You can set the tolerance level for the detection of available vertices using the Smart-
Weld Tolerance slider located on the Selection property page. As this setting
increases, SmartWeld will weld selected vertices located across a greater range into a
single vertex, therefore making this operation less accurate, or more encompassing.

Nick's Tips

When welding vertices that are located close together it is often difficult to deter-
mine if anything actually happened. I recommend that when you select vertices to be
welded, always check the status bar to make sure the correct number of vertices are
selected to begin with. After the Weld or SmartWeld function is performed, recheck the
number of vertices to make sure it has been reduced by the proper amount.

Flash Tutorial: Advanced Modeler Tools

Smoothing Groups (Editing Mesh Mode Only)


If you recall from our discussion of 3D terminology, the face of a polygon is planar (a.k.a. flat). However, you may
have noticed that when you create something with a curved surface area, like a sphere, it is displayed in the Viewport

145
Chapter 13 | Advanced Modeler

(and rendered) as one continuous, smooth surface instead of a series of segmented, flat surfaces. The reason is because
surfaces are automatically smoothed, which works by removing the hard edges in between surfaces, blending them to
produce one smooth surface.

Unsmoothed Smoothed Smoothing Group Assigned

NOTE: In order to see the changes made to the surface of your model you must have your Viewport Display Mode set
to Smooth Shading and have the Show Wire Overlay option turned off.

Assigning Smoothing Groups


In the Advanced Modeler, you can assign Smoothing Groups to different surface areas in order to define where you
want Swift 3D to place hard edges. (Surface areas can be assigned multiple smoothing groups.) Smoothing groups are
simply numbers ranging from 1 to 32, although in reality you have access to far more than 32 Smoothing Groups since
the numbers can be assigned to more than one surface. As long as surfaces do not share an edge, smoothing group
number assignments can be reused as many times as you want.
Now, if you are like me and can't remember what you ate for breakfast, you might be
staring at those 32 numbers wondering how you can possibly keep track of groups
that are solely defined by numbers. Keep in mind that the purpose of Smoothing
Groups is primarily to place a hard edge in between two adjacent surfaces. It does not
matter if the two surface areas are assigned Smoothing Group numbers 1 and 2 or 7
and 16; it only matters that the numbers are different. So sometimes you can get away
with simply alternating between two Smoothing Group numbers, while other times,
depending on your goals, you might have reasons to keep each Smoothing Group in
their own separate numbers. Really, the key is that if you think you might need to
change the smoothing properties of a particular surface area, then keep that surface
area to its own Smoothing Group number.

To assign a smoothing group:


1. In Editing Mesh mode, insert a sphere into the Top Viewport.
2. From the Selection property page, turn off Ignore Backfaces.
3. Using the Select Faces tool, in the Right Viewport draw a marquee box to select
the entire right side of the sphere.
4. Select Smoothing Groups from the Properties Toolbar.
5. Click on Assign to enable the Smoothing Group number grid.
6. Click on number 2 to assign the right side of the sphere to Smoothing Group 2.

146
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

7. In the Perspective Viewport, change the display mode to Smooth Shaded, making sure to turn the Show Wire
Overlay option off as well. Notice that there now exists an edge, which is shown by a clear difference in the shad-
ing, between the two halves of the sphere.

Selecting Smoothing Groups


When your model begins to get complicated, the potential to lose track of just
which surface areas have been assigned to which Smoothing Groups can defi-
nitely start to occur. Fortunately, the Smoothing Group number grid has two
states to it, Select and Assign. As the name indicates, when the Select button is
chosen you can click on a number and the surface areas associated with that
Smoothing Group number will all become selected in the Viewport. Notice also
that only those numbers that have been assigned to surfaces are enabled in Select,
so this is also a great indicator of which Smoothing Group numbers are still
available for use.
You can also go about detecting Smoothing Group assignments from the mesh itself. If you hover over different parts
of the mesh in the Viewport with either the Select Faces or Select Surface Groups tools (make sure Mouseover is
enabled on the Selection property page), you can see the Smoothing Group assignment for each surface because that
number will temporarily become depressed. If you actually click down to select a surface, the depressed state of that
number will lock until that surface area becomes deselected again.

To select smoothing groups:


1. Start with the sphere created in our previous steps on assigning a Smoothing Group.
2. From the Smoothing Group property page, click on the Select button. When Smoothing Groups are assigned those
numbers become enabled, so in the case of our sphere Smoothing Groups 1 and 2 should be enabled.
3. Click on Smoothing Group 1 in order to select that surface area.
4. Click back on Smoothing Group 1 in order to deselect that surface area.
5. Next, deselect any surfaces that may be selected and then choose the Select Faces tool.
6. Go to the Perspective Viewport and hover the mouse over any of the faces included in Smoothing Group 1. Notice
how Smoothing Group 1 becomes depressed in the Properties toolbar, which is a great way to quickly ascertain
smoothing group assignments.

Clearing Smoothing Groups


Since surfaces can be assigned multiple smoothing groups, the only way to clear a smoothing group is to deselect the
Smoothing Group number(s) assigned to a particular surface area.

To clear a smoothing group:


1. Select the surface area that you wish to clear of its smoothing groups.
2. Go to the Smoothing Groups property page and click the Assign button.

147
Chapter 13 | Advanced Modeler

3. Click on any of the Smoothing Group numbers assigned to that surface area to clear those numbers. (Note: This
only clears that Smoothing Group number for the selected surface area. It does not clear this smoothing group for
any other surface areas that might be assigned to this number.)

Unsmoothing Surfaces
Up until now we have been working on the assumption that we actually want our Smoothing Groups to be nicely
smoothed. Using the Unsmooth Selection or Unsmooth All buttons you can create hard edges between every single
polygon in your model. Unsmooth Selection will unsmooth just the currently selected faces, while Unsmooth All will
unsmooth everything in the Viewport, whether selected or not.
Once a surface area is unsmoothed, it is no longer associated with any smoothing groups. Unsmoothed portions of a
mesh can be selected by clicking on the Select All Unsmoothed button.
If you want to resmooth an unsmoothed surface, simply reassign that surface to a Smoothing Group.

Using Smoothing Groups to Control Rendered Outlines


Probably one of the coolest features that comes along with
Smoothing Groups is the ability to control exactly where
outlines get rendered. For example, in the screen shots
shown to the right, you can see that different Smoothing
Groups have been assigned to each horizontal slice of the
cylinder. Upon rendering to Outlines using RAViX, the
hard edge is detected between each of these slices, which
allows you to customize where outlines get rendered. For
more information on rendering to Outlines, see the chapter
on Rendering With RAViX.
Smoothing Groups Cylinder Rendered to
Assigned to Each Slice Outlines

Flash Tutorial: Smoothing Groups

Bitmap Texture Mapping


Another handy feature within the Advanced Modeler is Bitmap Texture Mapping. With this feature you can apply a bit-
map material from the Material Gallery to a surface or surface group of a mesh, and then control how the material is
mapped to the surface. For more information on creating bitmap materials, refer to the next chapter on Materials.

To add a texture to a surface group:


1. From the Viewport menu, be sure Texture Smooth Shaded and Show > Materials is enabled.
2. In Editing Mesh mode, insert a box primitive.
3. Using the Select Faces tool, select the two front facing polygons that make up the front side of the box.
4. Select Surface Groups from the Properties Toolbar.
5. Click the Group Selection button to make a new surface group. It will be given the name "Regroup01" by default.
6. Choose a bitmap material from the Material Gallery and drop it on the selected surface group in the Viewport.

148
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

7. Since the surface group is in a selected state, you won't be able to see the texture applied to your surface until you
deselect the surface group by clicking on the background. You should now see the bitmap on one side of the box.

Control Mapping of Textures


Once you have applied a bitmap material to a surface group, you can then click the 'Edit Texture Mode' button
on the main toolbar to enable specific mapping tools. This sub-mesh editing mode specifically allows for fur-
ther control over how the texture is mapped (positioned and displayed) on the mesh surface.
Since textures are only applied to surfaces or surface groups, Edit Texture Mode will only enable the
Face Selection and Surface Group Selection tools. You must select the surface or surface group that the
texture has been applied before you can use the editing tools below.
NOTE: While in Editing Mesh Mode only, the Viewport displays textures only when faces are deselected. However,
once in Edit Texture Mode the reverse occurs in that textures will only display on selected faces in the Viewport, ready
for manipulation and control.
Activating 'Edit Texture Mode' enables you to access the Move, Rotate and Scale tools so that
you can adjust the texture and its appearance on the surface to best fit the object.
Right clicking (Win) or CTRL + clicking (Mac) on a textured surface will bring up the context
menu and allow access to additional texture mapping commands:
• Reset Commands: Will reset your Move, Rotation and Scale mapping adjust-
ments to their untransformed state.
• Automap Box Coordinates: Attempts to automap the texture to fit the six
faces of a box.
• Automap Cylindrical Coordinates: Attempts to automap the texture to fit
the surface of a cylinder.
• Automap Solid Coordinates: Applies the texture to the mesh as if it were a
solid object, which will extrude the texture through the mesh from front to
back.
• Automap Spherical Coordinates: Applies the texture in a wrapping fashion
that best fits textures to rounded objects.

149
Chapter 13 | Advanced Modeler

150
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

14 materials

Overview
In the world of Swift 3D, we use the term Materials to describe our colors, and it's not just to be fancy. The reason is
that within the 3D world colors are conditional rather than absolute. By that I mean colors can exhibit different charac-
teristics depending on how light is being cast upon them. And unlike the world of 2D vector graphics, within Swift 3D
you can control how the surfaces of your objects interact with light; for instance, designating whether a surface is
glossy or flat.
It is important to note that colors within the world of 3D-to-vector conversion are even more conditional than normal
because of the full spectrum of output styles offered by RAViX III. You may create the most amazing colors that
exhibit exquisite highlights and convey subtle tones of warmth, but if you render the objects in your scene using a basic
output style like Cartoon Average Color Fill you'll be a bit disappointed to say the least. But on the other hand, if the
sky’s the limit when it comes to file size, Mesh Shading will make it all worthwhile.
The EMO rendering engine is capable of handling all of the vector-based materials in Swift 3D, but can also do won-
derful things with raster-based materials like Bitmap and Procedural Textures. Add to that the ability to have reflective
objects interacting with Environments (see section on Environments in this chapter) and you’ve got some crazy stuff
going on. It's also important to realize that both the vector and raster materials can be rendered with either rendering
engine, but you will find that the RAViX rendering engine will not render out raster materials with any accuracy. So for
all you graphic designers out there who may be used to print media and the precision inherent in color selection, it's
time you let your hair down and play around a bit. When you factor in all of the conditions that go into the final colors
shown in your rendered file, there's just no way to be as accurate as you're used to.

The Material Gallery


The Material Gallery is where you go to access the world of color. Swift 3D comes with a great selection of materials
to choose from, and they are all stored under the different categories in the gallery. Since you can also create your own
materials in Swift 3D, or import bitmap images, you also have the ability to add your own materials to this gallery.

151
Chapter 14 | Materials

The Material Gallery can be accessed from both


the Scene Editor and the Advanced Modeler. You
can drag and drop all materials in either editor, but
precise placement of bitmap materials can only be
attained using the Advanced Modeler’s Bitmap
Texture Mapper.
In order to get the most out of your materials, let’s
first take a good look at what constitutes a vector
material versus a raster material.

Vector Materials
There are a whole slew of materials that have been built with vector export in mind. These materials are more conven-
tional in nature, which is why they export well using the RAViX III vector rendering engine. All materials can be ren-
dered by either rendering engine, but the Vector Materials are the ones that hold up the best and create the nicest
looking vector output.
These materials have been broken up into some general categories that come installed with the application. These cate-
gories are the Flat, Glossy, Reflective and Transparent tabs you see along the top of the Material Gallery. Since RAViX
III can easily handle the properties of these colors they are considered Vector Materials. When rendering to vector, the
output style chosen will dictate the final look of your material, so read carefully through each Fill Option detailed in the
Rendering With RAViX chapter.

Raster Materials
Raster materials are bitmaps and textures that are best rendered out using the EMO Ray Tracer. Set the Viewport Dis-
play Mode to Texture Smooth Shaded to view applied textures, or use the Render Window buttons on the main toolbar
to activate the Scene Editor’s scanline renderer.

Bitmap Textures
There's just no way around it, bitmap textures are cool. These materials are created through the process of bringing in a
raster-based file created outside of Swift 3D and “wrapping” it onto the surface of your objects. To get a better idea of
what I'm describing, let's travel back to our childhood and think about one of those art projects we used to work on in
Elementary school. Let's say we've built a small cardboard cube and the teacher asks us to decorate that cube with
some pictures from a magazine. Once we've found that perfect picture (imagine it's of bunnies or a monster truck,
depending on what kind of kid you were), you proceed to cut it out of the magazine and glue it onto your cube.
Now those of you who tended to do a little better than the rest of the kids in art class are probably thinking “Yeah, but I
don't want to wrap it like a present because then I'd be folding part of the picture under another part of the picture and
that wouldn't yield me a smiley face at the end of the day.” Right you are, and Swift 3D is always out to help you obtain
that smiley face, so we've come up with four ways to wrap that picture onto your various objects: Planar Solid, Planar
Wrap, Planar Spherical and Cylindrical. (See more details on these properties in this chapter’s section on Creating and
Editing Bitmap Textures).

152
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

Bitmap Textures that come standard with Swift 3D can be found under just one tab in the Material Gallery, and that tab
is appropriately named Bitmap. While Bitmap materials can be applied to objects in the Scene Editor, you do not have
a whole lot of control over how bitmaps get placed on objects in the Scene Editor. Accurate positioning of bitmap
images to an object must be done by using the mapping tools located in the Advanced Modeler.

Procedural Textures
Procedural textures are a whole different beast than bitmap textures—a beast with a slightly more complex personality.
Procedural textures do not accomplish their mission through the use of imported raster files, rather they go about their
job of texturing in a more mathematical manner. This texturing style calls upon a series of predefined mathematical
calculations that in turn create a very wide variety of changes in the surface of your object. These calculations can be
imparted upon the color of your objects, or they can be told to take affect on the surface of the object itself.
Unfortunately, our art class discussion falls short in trying to describe procedural textures. Instead, I'd like to take a
visit to a car repair shop of the future. (I know, I'm reaching in the whole metaphor department, but this is some funky
stuff.) Let's say you've taken your car in to be 'resurfaced' because you're just tired of that smooth, uniform silver that it
came from the factory with. This shop specializes in two types of resurfacing: Color and Texture.
As you enter the color room, your car is sitting in the middle and the technician has a computer that allows him to
choose from any color in the palette and then also choose from a variety of patterns those colors can be applied with.
The computer drives a whole bunch of spray nozzles that are told to spray their respective colors in their respective pat-
terns across the entire surface of the car. So you tell the technician that you'd like your car to look like a brick wall, only
with the brick color being blue and the mortar color being green. The technician punches in your color values, selects
the pattern to 'Brick' and the nozzles start flying around your car. Before you know it, the computer has painted your
car to look like a blue and green brick wall.
Next we head to the texture room where a second computer sits. You tell the technician that smooth is so ‘20th century’
and you'd like to go with the new Golf Ball look that's so hot these days. Sure enough, a couple of settings are tweaked
and a whole bunch of robotic arms appear and begin pounding away on your car with ball peen hammers. In short order
you're driving away from the shop in a car that has been colored to look like a brick wall and dented to look like a golf
ball. You're plenty pleased with the results, but slowly it dawns on you that you still have to explain this new look to
your spouse who sort of liked your silver Audi the way it was.

Applying Materials
All materials, whether vector, bitmap or procedural, work under the principal of drag-and-drop, so everything in the
Material Gallery can be applied much like you would apply paint to a canvas. Materials can be applied to surface areas
in either the Scene Editor or the Advanced Modeler. The surface area of a Primitive or Lathe object is considered to be
one single surface area, which means only a single material can be applied to those objects. Objects like Text and
Extrusions are automatically created with predefined surface areas (face, bevel and edge), so these objects can accept
three different materials on each of these surfaces.
Through the Advanced Modeler you also have the ability to group different portions of an object’s mesh together in
order to define your own custom surface groups. Refer to the Surface Groups section of the Advanced Modeler chapter
for detailed information on this process.

153
Chapter 14 | Materials

To drag-and-drop a material from the material gallery:


1. Select the Show Materials button from the left side of the Gallery Toolbar.
2. Use the category tabs and scroll bar to choose an appropriate material for your object.
3. Click-and-drag from the material preview window into your scene.
4. As soon as you see the 'Plus' sign appear next to your pointer icon it means you're over a surface area. There may
be a pause before you see the plus sign if the material was created from a high resolution or very large bitmap file.
5. Release the mouse button and that surface will accept that material.
NOTE: If you’ve applied a raster material, go to the Viewport Menu and choose Texture Smooth Shaded in order to
view these textures. In the Scene Editor you also can use the Render Window or Render Rectangle features on the
main toolbar to activate the scanline renderer.

Material Drop Surface Target


The Material Drop Surface Target button, located to the left of the Material Gallery, determines whether a
material gets applied to each individual surface group of an object or the entire surface area of the object or
mesh. The default state of this button (indicated by its red, white and blue bands) is toggled off, meaning that
materials will apply only to individual surface areas. When the Material Drop Surface Target button is tog-
gled on (indicated by an all red state), materials will only apply to the entire surface area of an object or mesh.

Applying a Single Material to Multiple Surfaces


A single material can be applied to multiple surfaces at one time as long as those surfaces all share the same current
material. The reason why is that when a material is applied to a surface, a copy of that material is stored in the scene
and is linked to that object. Once that initial copy is made, all surface areas to which that material is subsequently
applied will reference that one copy in order to conserve on file size. The nice thing about this scenario is that if one
material is applied to multiple surfaces, in order to adjust that material it does not have to be reapplied to each surface
area. Since all of the surface areas are linked to one material, you can apply the new material to all of these objects at
the same time by holding down the SHIFT key while you click-and-drag the new material onto one of the objects (it
does not matter which one).

.Flash Tutorial: Applying Drag-and-Drop Materials

Material Property Page


Within the Material page of the Properties Toolbar resides the Material Surface List, which lists all surface areas
associated with the selected object in the scene. When a surface is selected from the list, the material applied to that
surface area is displayed in the Material Preview Window. While Primitives and Lathes only have one surface area,
Text and Extrusions get created with three surface areas, Faces, Bevels and Edges. And, if Surface Groups are defined
in the Advanced Modeler, these will also be displayed in this list box, so this list can get quite lengthy.

154
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

Applying Materials to Specific Surfaces


There are times when dropping a material onto a surface can be difficult, especially if
the object is very small or far away from the camera. As an alternative, the Material
property page can be used to apply a material to a specific surface of an object.

To apply a material to a specific surface from the material prop-


erty page:
1. Select a surface in the Material Surface List of the Materials property page.
2. From the Material Gallery, drag and drop a material onto the Material preview in
the Material property page, rather than onto the object’s surface area in the View-
port.
NOTE: When working with objects that have multiple surface groups defined, the
Material Drop Surface Target button, on the left of the Material Gallery, must be tog-
gled off for individual surfaces to accept separate materials.

Applying a Material from One Object to Another


You can drag-and-drop materials directly from the Material Preview Window onto any
object in the scene, which can save you from the process of searching the Material Gal-
lery for the exact material you may have applied earlier.

To drag-and-drop a material from the material property page:


1. Select the object that has the material you want to apply to another object.
2. Go to that object’s Material property page.
3. Drag-and-drop the material from the Material preview window onto the other object.

Editing an Instance of a Material


The Material property page allows you to customize a material that has already been applied without having to change
the original material. This is often referred to as editing the instance of a material since you are not actually making
any permanent changes to the original material that resides in the Material Gallery. Permanent changes can only be
made through the Material Editor.

To edit the instance of a material:


1. Select a surface area from the Material Surface List and double-click on the Material Preview Window.
2. From the Edit Material dialog, adjust the material’s properties. (See Creating and Editing Materials section under
Material Editor for information on this dialog.)

Saving Materials to the Material Gallery


A material brought into the program from an imported 3ds or dxf file, or another .t3d file, can be permanently saved to
the Material Gallery by dragging and dropping it from the Material Preview Window of the Materials property page to

155
Chapter 14 | Materials

the Material Gallery. The material will automatically get placed under the category tab that is showing and will main-
tain the name it was given before it was brought into Swift 3D. (If the name already exists under that category tab, a [1]
will get appended to the end of the file name.) Once the material is stored in the gallery, you can change any of this
information using the Material Editor, just like you would any other gallery content.

Material Editor
While Swift 3D comes with a good base of both vector and raster materials, our goal is to simply give you a fair idea of
what types of materials are possible. With the Material Editor, we are providing you with a powerful editor that allows
you to edit these existing materials or create your own. The possibilities are only limited by your imagination.

Creating and Editing Materials


The Material Editor is accessed by clicking on either the Add
Material or Edit Material button from the Gallery Setup dialog,
or by double clicking directly on a material in the Material Gal-
lery. From the Material Editor you can view and edit the prop-
erties of existing materials or create new materials.

Name
The least daunting of all the features within the Material Editor
is the Name, which is the name that gets displayed within Swift
3D when you roll over each material within the Material Gal-
lery. This is the material's common name and you should try
and use descriptive names so you can more easily recognize
what materials you have stored in the Gallery. You'll notice that
all of the materials that come with the program have the prefix
of ER. In order to differentiate between vector and raster mate-
rials we have further refined the names by adding an ER Vector
and ER Raster to the beginning of each name. You are of
course free to use any file naming convention you choose.

Preview Window and Generate Preview


Button
This is where you can test out your various concoctions before
actually leaving the Material Editor. Although there's nothing
like a real world test to see if you've stumbled upon a super-
sweet material, you can at least get a glimpse of what it might
look like when applied to some sample objects. Also, when you click the Generate Preview button you'll be creating
the thumbnail that gets inserted into the Material Gallery when it's all said and done.

156
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

Now that you know how to name and preview your material, it’s time to learn how to create, which is where things
really start to get involved. In order to keep things as simple as possible, I thought the best way to attack the Material
Editor was by breaking it down into how each setting can be used to create and/or edit these six type of material cate-
gories: Solid (Vector) Colors, Bitmap Textures, Procedural Color Maps, Procedural Texture Maps, Transparent materi-
als and Reflective materials. Keep in mind that separating these materials into categories is for teaching purposes only
since you can mix and match all of the different material properties to get whatever type of material you want.

Solid (Vector) Colors


Finish
All of these settings have to do with how the material, and thus the object’s surface, interacts with light.
Ambient Color refers to uniform reflected light. Even if an object has no direct light cast upon it, it's usually illumi-
nated by ambient light since those crazy light rays are always bouncing around and coming at us from every angle.
Therefore, the color of the surfaces this ambient light is reflecting off of can have an effect on the color of an object.
For example, if you place a yellow ball in a blue room, the ball will still be yellow, but it will have a slight blue tint
from all of that blue ambient lighting. The darker the material's base color, the less the Ambient Color will affect the
overall material characteristics.
Reflection Color defines the material’s reflective abilities. Anytime a material has its Reflection Color set to a color
other than pure black it will begin to take on reflective properties. The lighter the Reflection Color, the more reflective
it becomes. If you are trying to maintain the base color of a material you'll want to stay with shades that fall in between
black and white, but you have the freedom to apply any color you want to the Reflective Color. Just keep in mind that
lighter Reflection Colors will begin to supersede the base color of a material. (Read more details on creating reflective
colors in upcoming section on Reflection.)
Highlight Strength and Highlight Size relate to the glossiness of a material. When either Trackball Lights or Scene
Lights cast their light rays onto objects, they have the ability to create highlights, or hot spots, on the objects upon
which they shine. These highlights can be controlled with the Strength and Size sliders. If you are trying to create a
totally flat finish to your material (no highlight at all) you want the two sliders to be all the way to the left. As you
increase the settings of the sliders to the right you will find the highlight growing in intensity and size respectively.
Double Illuminate has to do with some complicated things Swift 3D does when it determines how to shade each indi-
vidual polygon in an object. Basically, by creating a material that's double illuminate, you are telling Swift 3D to apply
that material to both sides of every surface, even if they aren't visible. For example, if you make a cube and place your
camera inside that cube, with a double illuminate material you will be able to see the inside surfaces. Without a double
illuminate material you would just see black.

Color
These settings all have to do with the material's base color. This would be akin to the Diffuse Color that previous ver-
sions of Swift 3D have used.

157
Chapter 14 | Materials

Pattern should be set to Procedural Solid when creating a standard color. This simply designates the material as a
solid material without any additional bells and whistles. For more information on the available whistles and bells,
please see the upcoming section on Procedural Textures.
The Color Selector, the colored rectangle, is where you actually designate the base color of the material you're creat-
ing. If you double click on the window you will access the Color Palette (Win) or the Color Picker (Mac). From here
you can delve into the wonderful world of hues, saturation, luminosity and the like, all of which won't be covered in
this User Guide.
The Transparency slider allows you to adjust the opacity of a material. The higher you set the slider, the more trans-
parent the material becomes. If you crank it all the way to the right you will create a material that is completely trans-
parent, much like glass. (Read more details in upcoming section on Transparency.)
Brightness is a fairly straightforward property. The slider simply controls how light or dark the material is.

Texture
These settings are covered under the following section on Procedural Textures. Suffice to say the Pattern setting
should be set to the Procedural Solid option when creating standard colored materials.

To create or edit a solid (vector) color material:


1. Select Setup > Materials.
2. Select the Category under which you would like to Add a new material or navigate to the material you would like
to Edit. (You can also make a copy of an existing material using the Copy Material button if you want to work
from a starting point.)
3. If you are adding a new material, click on the add Material button, and if you are editing an existing material, click
on the Edit Material button.
4. Type in a new Name (or leave existing name if editing a material).
NOTE: These first four steps will be the same for all of the How-to descriptions in this chapter.
5. Double click on the Ambient Color box and choose the ambient color you desire.
6. If you want your material to be reflective, double click on the Reflective Color box and choose a light color, such
as light gray.
7. Adjust the Highlight Strength and Size sliders to the right to make a glossier material and to the left to make a flat-
ter material.
8. Under the Color area, double click on the Color Selection box and choose your base color.
9. Slide the Brightness slider to the right to brighten up your color, and to the left to darken it.
10. Click on the Generate Preview button to see your results.
11. When you are happy with your new color’s settings, click OK.
12. If you created a new material, the Display Name will appear under the Category that was highlighted.
13. Click OK to close the Gallery Setup dialog, and your new color will be added to the Material Gallery under the tab
with the corresponding category name.

158
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

Flash Tutorial: Creating and Editing Vector Materials

Bitmap Textures
Bitmap Textures are created by importing an external file into the Material Editor, whereby Swift 3D will turn that flat
raster image into a wrappable texture. File formats supported for importing Bitmap Images to create textures are BMP,
JPEG, PNG, TIFF and TGA.

To import a bitmap texture:


1. Click on Setup > Materials.
2. Select a Category from the list on the left side and then click on Add
Material.
3. Type in a Display Name.
4. From the Pattern drop down list under the Color area, scroll down to
the very end and choose Bitmap Image.
5. Navigate to the bitmap image you would like to import and click
Open. A preview of your bitmap image will appear in the Color area.
6. To import a different image, you can now just click on the Browse
button. This will replace the previously imported image.

Tiling
Bitmap textures come with tiling options that you can set indepen-
dently along the horizontal (X) or vertical (Y) axes. (Note that since
bitmaps are two dimensional a Z option is not applicable.) Tiling
allows an image to be repeated when scaled. A great example of why
turning off tiling can be helpful is if you are applying a bitmap that will
serve as a label.
Tiling Turned On Tiling Turned Off
for X and Y for Y
Wrapping Bitmaps
Bitmaps can be applied to objects in either the Scene Editor or the Advanced Modeler. Upon initial application, all bit-
maps are automapped according natural texture coordinates that are built into each object. The automap options that
come with Swift 3D are as follows:
• Automap Box Coordinates: Attempts to automap the texture to fit the six faces of a box.
• Automap Cylindrical Coordinates: Attempts to automap the texture to fit the surface of a cylinder.
• Automap Solid Coordinates: Applies the texture to the mesh as if it were a solid object, which will extrude the
texture through the mesh from front to back.
• Automap Spherical Coordinates: Applies the texture in a wrapping fashion that best fits textures to rounded
objects.

159
Chapter 14 | Materials

When applying bitmaps in the Scene Editor, these automaps are automatically applied to objects based upon the wrap
that makes the most sense for the object. Here is what you can expect when applying bitmaps to objects in the Scene
Editor (see online help system for additional screen shots):
• Extrusions: Bitmaps are automapped using Solid Coordinates, with the bitmap centered onto the face of the
extrusion.
• Text: The Solid Coordinates option is also used, but Swift 3D maps the bitmap across all of the characters that
make up a text string.
• Primitives: The box, plane, and pyramid use Box Coordinates; the sphere, geosphere and polyhedron use the
Spherical Coordinates; and the cylinder and cone use the Cylindrical Coordinates. Since the torus has such a
unique shape, it is the exception to the rule so bitmaps are applied with “John’s special wrap.” Imagine taking a
photograph and wrapping it around the outside perimeter of a torus so that the side edges of the photograph meet.
Then, take the top and bottom edges of the photograph and wrap them around the tube. That is the torus map.
• Lathes: Like the torus, bitmaps are wrapped to lathes according to a special wrap.
If you have more specific mapping requirements, use the Bitmap Texturing System (in the Advanced
Modeler, click on the Edit Mesh button, then the Edit Texture button) to further refine the automap-
ping and placement of the bitmap. Using the Bitmap Texturing System you can experiment with apply-
ing different automaps, which are accessible by right clicking (Win) or CTRL + clicking (Mac) on the Edit Texture
Button
mesh while in Edit Texture mode, as well as moving, scaling, and rotating the applied bitmap. Read
more about working in Edit Texture mode in the section on Bitmap Texturing at the end of the Advanced Modeler
Chapter.
NOTE: As soon as an object is converted to mesh by clicking on the Edit Mesh button in the Advanced Modeler, the
natural texture coordinates that get created with that object are lost. The wrap will remain unchanged until you go in
Edit Texture mode and begin to move, rotate or scale the placement of the bitmap. You can always re-automap the Box,
Cylindrical, Solid or Spherical wraps since these are wrapping types that come with Swift 3D, so this is not a big deal
for most objects. However, with the torus and lathes, which use custom texture coordinates, you will never be able to
get that original wrap back without creating a new torus or lathe in the Scene Editor and reapplying the bitmap.

Flash Tutorial: Creating Bitmap Textures from External Files

Procedural Color Mapping


This technique of material creation allows you to generate very complex colors maps that will occur across the surface
of your objects. You have control over the colors that go into the material, and also the pattern by which those colors
will be applied.

Color
The Pattern setting allows you to choose from a variety of pre-determined schemes that will take any colors you
choose and mix them across object surfaces. The first option in the list is Procedural Solid, which is what we used ear-
lier to create our standard materials. The last option in the list covers Bitmap Images, which we've also already dis-
cussed earlier. All of the other items listed cover the gamut of methods Swift 3D can blend a variety of colors to create

160
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

your materials. We won't go through every one of the options because they are fairly descriptively named, and once
you start messing with the Scale, Noise and Colors of each one they quickly become infinitely indescribable.
The Scale property has to do with how many times the pattern of colors you've chosen is applied across the surface of
an object. By default it is set to 1, and you'll note that the Scale box is unchecked. To adjust the amount of times the
calculation gets applied you'll need to check the Scale box and then begin messing with the slider control.
NOTE: When you first check the Scale box you will not have applied any different settings yet. Thus, if you click the
Generate Preview button you will not see any change in the material.
The scale slider is fairly sensitive, and the further to the left you slide it, the more times you're pattern of choice will be
repeated across an object. All of the materials pretty much slip into a realm of homogeneity once you get the slider too
far to the left because the pattern is repeated on such a small scale it turns very finely speckled. Conversely, you'll find
that sliding the Scale control too far to the right will not yield any new cool materials because it simply doesn't change
after a certain point.
The Noise setting is the big disrupter, just like a dog barking when you're trying to get to sleep. It takes an organized
pattern like the one you've chosen and begins to scramble it in a random fashion. By default, the Noise control is dis-
abled, but as soon as you uncheck the box you enter the world of disturbance. The further to the right you slide the con-
trol the more interference or disruption you will be adding to your material. Every material will react differently to the
Noise setting, so just start fiddling and you'll quickly realize when and how you want to utilize this feature.
The Color Selector box takes on a new aspect when you choose any of the Procedural Color options other than Solid.
Yes, this is the big one, because without more than one color to play with, Swift 3D won't be able to create anything
more complex than a standard color. All of the Patterns except for Procedural Solid and Bitmap Image need to have at
least two colors, even if ever so subtly different, to work their magic.
The way to add a color to your spectrum is to single click anywhere inside of the Color Selector box or in the gray area
just below the color selector.
This will add a control arrow to your color selector with the default color as
its reference. You can add as many control arrows as you'd like just by click-
ing along the color window in new locations, and all of their default settings
will be based on the color that is just above where the control arrow is
inserted. To change the color setting of the control arrows you simply dou-
ble-click on the arrow itself and you will open the Color Palette (Win) or the Color Picker (Mac). From here you can
manipulate the controls to get your desired color and click OK, which will insert that particular color into your spec-
trum just above the color control arrow.
To adjust the position of the color along the spectrum, simply click-and-drag on the arrow and release the button when
you've hit the desired spot. Control arrows can be dragged across one another without a problem. To delete a control
arrow, and thus the color associated with it, simply select the arrow with a single click (it will turn black) and press the
Delete key on your keyboard.

To create or edit a procedural color map (ex. Marble):


1. Use the first four steps mentioned earlier depending on if you are creating or editing a material.
2. In the Color area, click on the Pattern drop down list and choose Procedural Marble.

161
Chapter 14 | Materials

3. Click about a third of the way over from the left within the Color Selector box (or anywhere along the gray area
just below the box) to add a control arrow.
4. Double click on the control arrow to bring up the Color Palette (Win) or Color Picker (Mac), choose a color and
click OK.
5. Add another control arrow about two thirds of the way over from the left, double click on that control arrow,
choose a color and click OK.
6. Check the Scale checkbox and move the slider about a third of the way across to the right.
7. Check the Noise checkbox and move it about a fourth of the way across to the right.
8. Click on the Generate Preview button to see your results.
Again, you can also change any of the other settings previously mentioned in this section, as well as the Procedural
Texture setting covered in the next section when making a Procedural Color Map.

Flash Tutorial: Creating Procedural Color Maps

Procedural Texture Mapping


This is a very interesting realm of material application because with texture mapping you are able to alter the surface of
your objects without actually changing their geometry, or how they're constructed. Procedural Texture Mapping is the
process of applying mathematical properties to a surface such that the surface interacts with light as if it were not
exactly smooth. In some cases you can apply Procedural Textures that turn your material into something entirely unrec-
ognizable from what it was before.

Texture
The Pattern categories of Procedural Texture Mapping are identical to those of Procedural Color Mapping with the
exception that you cannot import a bitmap file and apply it as a texture. Each of these categories applies their own
unique properties to the surface of a material, and they all are customizable with the same two settings we discussed in
the Procedural Colors section: Scale and Noise.
Both Scale and Noise work within the same constraints as previously mentioned, with the difference being that they
impart their will upon the texture of the material surface rather than the color. They also share the same sensitivity as
well as behaviors as you get too far to the right or left.
With Procedural Textures you have the additional control of the Amount setting. This slider-based control simply
increases the intensity of the texture being applied as you slide it to the right. The Amount control is not as sensitive as
the Scale and Noise, and you can think of it as increasing the depth of the textures as you increase its value (move it to
the right).

To create or edit a procedural texture (ex. Bumps):


1. Use the first four steps mentioned earlier depending on if you are creating or editing a material.
2. Under the Texture area, click on the Pattern dropdown list and choose Procedural Bumps.
3. Check the Scale checkbox and move the slider so that it is just about a fifth of the way over.
4. Double click on the Color Selector box in the Color area and choose a light color, like orange.

162
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

5. Click on the Generate Preview button to see your results.


The Procedural Texture settings can be mixed and matched with any of the settings previously mentioned in this chap-
ter.

Flash Tutorial: Creating Procedural Textures

Transparent Materials
The transparency setting is located in the Material Editor. It comes in the form of a slider so that you can fine tune the
opacity of your material based on your particular modeling needs. If the slider is resting all the way to the left this
means that your material is completely opaque. When the slider is moved all the way to the right, you now have a
totally transparent object. Anywhere in between gives you an in between material.
Really the easiest way to create a transparent object is by clicking on the Transparent tab in the Material Gallery and
dragging-and-dropping one of the preset transparent materials onto your object. Done.
So that was the easy way. If you want to use the Material Editor to make a transparent material from scratch, or take an
existing material and add transparency to it, then we totally grant you permission to go for it.

To create a transparent material or add transparency to an existing material:


1. Use the first four steps mentioned earlier depending on if you are creating or editing a material.
2. Under the Color area of the Material Editor, move the Transparency slider all the way over to the right if you want
a completely transparent object, or somewhere in between if you want just a slightly transparent object.
3. Click on Generate Preview to see your new transparent material.
NOTE: Transparency is a very complex property to calculate in the world of Ray Tracing. When you create a material
that is even partially transparent you should be prepared to wait for a bit while Swift 3D generates the Preview Image
for the Material Gallery. This includes when you're simply saying OK to the current settings because a preview must be
generated in order to close the Edit Material dialog box.

Refraction Index
Found on the Object Properties Page, this value refers to the amount of refraction that transparent objects exhibit in
physics. In effect, it defines how much the light rays bend as they enter and exit a new medium. It is the reason why
when you stick a long pole into a swimming pool, it looks like it bends at the surface of the water. The higher this
value, the more the light bends, but also the longer it takes to trace through the material. This means that if you crank
this setting up to its maximum you’ll see longer rendering times. The Refraction Index can be scrolled between a value
of 1.000 (no bending of light) to 1.5000 (extreme bending of light). This setting is only relevant to your objects if you
plan on rendering your scene with the EMO Ray Tracer.

163
Chapter 14 | Materials

To use the refraction index:


1. Insert the Sphere primitive.
2. Go to the Transparent tab of the Material Gallery and drag the Transparent Gray
material onto your Sphere.
3. Insert a Text object. In the Front Viewport, right + click (Win) or CTRL + click
(Mac) on the text and drag your cursor downward until the word “Text” is behind the
Sphere.
4. Select the Sphere and click Object in the Properties Toolbar.
5. Scroll the Refraction Index down to 1.000 (you can only scroll; numeric input is dis-
abled).
6. Click on the Render Window button on the Main Toolbar.
7. Go back to the Refraction Index and scroll it up to 1.500.
8. Click on the Render Window button (you’ll see the difference in rendering speed).
Notice the distortion of the text after rendering.
NOTE: Transparent objects that are rendered with EMO will yield very realistic output since refraction is supported
through ray tracing. RAViX III does not support refraction so objects with transparent materials applied to them will
render out with the appropriate alpha settings, but will lack the surface details you might expect to see with those
objects.

Flash Tutorial: Creating Transparent Materials

Reflective Materials
Like transparency, Reflection is just a simple setting that resides within the Material Editor.
Reflection Color defines the material’s reflective abilities. Anytime a material has its Reflection Color set to a color
other than pure black it will begin to have reflective properties. The lighter the Reflection Color, the more reflective it
becomes. If you are trying to maintain the base color of a material you'll want to stay with shades that fall in between
black and white, but you have the freedom to apply any color you want to the Reflective Color. Just keep in mind that
lighter Reflection Colors will begin to supersede the base color of a material.
Obviously, the easiest way to make your object reflective is to go to the Material Gallery, click on the Reflective tab,
and drag-and-drop one of the pre-made reflective materials onto your object. If you want to create your own reflective
material, or edit an existing material to make it reflective, this can be done through the Material Editor.

To create a reflective material or make an existing material reflective:


1. Use the first four steps mentioned earlier depending on if you are creating or editing a material.
2. Double click on the Reflection Color color box to bring up the Color Palette (Win) or Color Picker (Mac).
3. Choose a light gray color. Click OK.
4. Click on Generate Preview to see your new material.

164
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

Include Reflections
Once you have applied a reflective material to your object, you obviously need other objects in your scene, or you need
to apply an Environment (see upcoming section in this chapter on Environments) in order to get something for your
reflective material to reflect. Then one of the most crucial steps occurs in the Preview and Export Editor. If you choose
to render out with EMO, reflections will come along as part of the deal. But, if you are rendering out to vectors using
RAViX III, reflections are only rendered if you check the Include Reflections option under the Fill Options page of
the Preview and Export Editor Properties Toolbar. Detailed information on the Include Reflections option can be found
in the Rendering with RAViX III chapter.

Flash Tutorial: Creating Reflective Materials

Environment
Although Environments are not materials that get applied to your
objects, they can have a big impact on how certain materials behave.
They are also constructed very similarly to materials, which is why
they are included here within the Materials chapter. Environments
have a direct impact upon reflective materials and they are best uti-
lized when rendering raster output using the EMO Ray Tracer,
although RAViX III will do its best to render them as well. The best
way to think of an Environment is as if it was a material you apply to
an imaginary room your 3D scene sits within. The reason why they
only affect reflective materials is because those are the only ones that can give the camera a glimpse of what that imag-
inary room looks like because Environments are never actually directly rendered.
Much like the materials we’ve already discussed, you can use a standard Solid Color to define an Environment, or you
can use a Procedural Color Map to define something a little more interesting. You also have the ability to import a bit-
map image file and use it as your environment, in which case it will use the Spherical wrapping model to stick that
image to the walls of the spherical room that holds your scene.

To apply an environment:
1. Select the Show Environments button from the left side of the Gallery Toolbar.
2. Find an Environment you’d like to apply to your scene.
3. Click-and-drag from the Preview window into your scene.
4. Release the mouse when your cursor is over the background (not over any objects).
5. If your entire scene is obscured by objects you can also select the Environment category in the Properties Toolbar
and then drag from the preview window onto the Environment Display window in the Properties Toolbar.
Once you’ve dropped an Environment into your scene you may or may not see a change. First of all, you’ll never see
the background of your scene change because the Environment doesn’t act like the background, nor is it ever rendered.
The best way to know what Environment is currently applied to your scene is to click on the Environment category in
the Properties Toolbar.

165
Chapter 14 | Materials

Secondly, only the reflective materials within your scene will be capable of showing the effects of an applied environ-
ment. If you have reflective materials within your scene you may want to perform a Render Window or Render
Rectangle to get a realistic display of how that Environment is affecting your scene. If you don’t have any reflective
materials applied to objects, nor do you intend on including any, then don’t bother messing with the Environment set-
ting at all.

To create or edit an environment (ex. gradient):


1. Use the first four steps mentioned earlier depending on if you are creating or editing a material.
2. Choose Procedural Gradient from the Pattern dropdown.
3. Click anywhere within the Color Selector box to add a control arrow.
4. Double click the control arrow and choose a color from the Color Palette (Win) or Color Picker (Mac) and click
OK.
5. Drag the control arrow all the way to the left.
6. Add another control arrow by clicking in the Color Selector box, double click on its control arrow, choose a color
and click OK.
7. Check the Scale box and move its slider a little to the left.
8. Check the Noise box and leave the slider at its default starting point.
9. Click Generate Preview to see what you’ve created.
10. If you like what you see then click OK.

Flash Tutorial: Creating and Editing Environments

166
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

15 lighting

Overview
I don't want to get personal here, but has this ever happened to you? You're trying on clothes in a department store and
you look faaaaaantastic. Then you get home and put on the same garment for the first time in real life and you feel like
suing the store for defamation of character.
Ok, here's another one for you. There's a Hollywood actor that you know pretty well, and in prior movies his body has
never been something you'd refer to as 'ripped.' Then you see him starring in an action flick, or a boxing movie or
something where obligatory sans-shirt scenes are abundant, and your jaw drops. Suddenly the guy looks like he's got a
Batman Suit on.
Both of these scenarios set your mind to pondering the forces at play in the world of self-image. Does everyone's phys-
ical appearance really vary to the degree we perceive? I'd make you guess what's going on in both of these situations,
but you'd just cheat and look at the title of this chapter.
Lighting is a crucial component in the process of interpreting our visual surroundings, and this holds true in the world
of 3D graphics as well. Once you've laid out your 3D scene, a crucial step in the design process is to determine a light-
ing scheme that complements your creation. If you're trying to make something look warm and handsome you might
use the same concepts that department stores use in their dressing rooms. If it's a heavily contrasted and shadowy effect
you're shooting for, then the bare-chested fight scene in the movies might be a better model to use. Whatever the case
may be for you, Swift 3D provides a variety of different lighting tools and techniques to help make your scenes stand
out.

Nick's Tips
Before you spend tons of time designing the ultimate lighting scheme, you should consider what types of Out-
put Options you will be using to render your final scene. The accuracy of your lighting scheme when rendering with
RAViX III depends completely on the Fill Option you choose, so it may not benefit you at all to create a detailed light-
ing setup, only to find that your chosen style of output does not do it justice. I highly recommend spending some time
reading the chapter on Rendering with RAViX so you understand the forces that will be at play in your scene come ren-

167
Chapter 15 | Lighting

der time. As a general rule of thumb, the higher the fill quality you render your scene with, the more accurately your
lighting scheme will be depicted. And if you plan on making the jump to raster output using the EMO rendering
engine, lighting becomes even more important due to the photorealism EMO is capable of producing.

Types of Lights
There are two main types of lights that can be applied in Swift 3D. Depending on what type of effect you're trying to
achieve, you can use either Point or Spot Lights, or mix and match as you see fit.

Point Light
Point Lights are akin to a standard incandescent light bulb hanging from a cord in a room. This light will send rays in
all directions and illuminate anything in the path of those rays. Point Lights create an effect of general illumination and
cast more light than a Spot Light, but in a broader area. These lights work well for the majority of 3D scenes since they
more closely resemble the types of lighting we see in our daily lives.

Spot Light
Spot Lights behave like a flashlight, thus their representative icon within Swift 3D. They cast a focused beam of light
in a specific direction. Although you can adjust how that beam behaves (discussed in the Lighting Properties section)
they do not cast any light outside of that beam. These lights are best designed for creating very specific types of effects
like a light moving across the face of an object, or several objects, each with their own specific lighting.

Lighting Gallery
By far the easiest way to light a scene is by mak-
ing use of the Lighting Gallery. The Lighting
Gallery contains a variety of pre-made, drag-
and-drop lighting schemes that come in the form
of stationary lighting or animated lighting.
Lighting schemes that reside in the gallery can
only contain Trackball lights, so any scene lights cannot be saved to the gallery.

To apply a drag-and-drop lighting scheme:


1. Click on the Lighting button on the left side of the main Gallery Toolbar to bring up the Lighting Gallery.
2. Choose a lighting scheme (previewing the animated schemes by clicking in the preview window).
3. Click-and-drag the lighting scheme anywhere in your Viewport. (Repeating the process replaces the previous
scheme.)
4. Use the playback controls located under the Animation Timeline to preview a lighting animation after it is applied.
You can also create and save your own lighting scheme to the gallery as well. You can either save it under an existing
tab within the gallery, or create a new tab through the Gallery Setup. All lighting schemes get saved to the .t3l file for-
mat.

168
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

To save your own lighting scheme to the lighting gallery:


1. Design a lighting scheme using Trackball Lights only.
2. Go to the File menu and choose “Saving Lighting...” to bring up the Save
Lighting dialog.
3. Choose the category under which you want the new lighting scheme to
reside in the gallery. You can click on the New Category button if you
wish to create a new category.
4. Invent a Name and Display Name for the lighting scheme. The Name
gets used as the base file name while the Display name is what gets
shown beneath the thumbnail in the gallery.
5. If the lighting scheme is animated, use the Set Display Frame controls to
choose which frame of the animation to show in the preview window.
6. Click OK.
A lighting scheme added to the Gallery can only be edited by clicking and dragging it back to the Viewport. Once the
scheme gets placed back into the Viewport it no longer has any connection to the original scheme stored back in the
Gallery, so when you finish editing you must save a new copy to the Gallery. Either overwrite the previous scheme or
go back and delete it. For further information on how to share Gallery content and managing Galleries in Swift 3D, see
the section on Galleries in the Scene Editor chapter.

Trackball Lighting
Swift 3D’s Lighting Trackball is fast, intuitive, and for most scenes completely
effective. Before you jump into its use, you should understand what those lights on
the trackball represent and how they relate to your scene.
It's fairly easy to envision lights on that trackball shining into the center of your
scene. The difficult part is realizing how big that sphere is. If you imagine that the
sphere of lights is as close to the objects as possible, while still encompassing all of
the objects within the scene, and then double that imaginary radius you'll be there.
This means that as your scene grows in spatial scope, so does your lighting scheme.

Nick's Tips:
If you've created a scene where all of the objects stay within a certain area, or if you've got an object spinning
in the center of your scene without any movement at all, the lighting trackball is really a nicely functioning unit. But if
you have a scene where objects are coming and going from your Viewport with a lot of motion involved, you will prob-
ably want to go with a lighting scheme where your lights are placed directly into the scene (read on for information on
that process).

Positioning Trackball Lights


The Lighting Trackball is selection sensitive, so you can only move one selected light at a time. To select a light, click
on it once and you will see it turn into a red wireframe, indicating that it is selected. To position your Trackball Lights

169
Chapter 15 | Lighting

you'll be using the Lighting Trackball just as you would the Rotation Trackball. You'll notice that as the lights move
from the front of the Trackball to the back, and visa versa, they grow bigger and smaller to give a visual clue as to
which side of the trackball they are on. You should also note that the Lighting Trackball displays your lighting scheme
according to whichever camera view (Standard and Perspective only) you have active.
For information on how the trackballs function, please refer to the Rotation Trackball section in the Working With
Objects chapter. Remember that as you work with these lights, they are always going to point into the center of your
scene. If you get to a point where you just can't get the effect you're trying to achieve, it's probably time to start using
the Scene Lights.

Adding and Subtracting Trackball Lights


Adding and Subtracting lights is a very simple process of using the buttons located to the right
of the Lighting Trackball. You can add up to 16 total lights to your scene, but you may find that
after adding a few additional lights you don't really need any more. Once a light is selected, you
can delete it by clicking the Remove Trackball Light button.

Scene Lights
The advantage to working with lights directly in the scene is the additional control you gain. Although the trackball
lights function very well, there are situations when positioning a light in the scene is very nice, if not necessary. The
first case that comes to mind is when you need a light to shine in a specific direction or onto a specific object. Another
situation is if you need to create a complex lighting animation, or if you need to animate two or more lights indepen-
dently.

Free Lights
Free Lights come in the form of either a Point Light or a Spot Light and can be controlled like
any other object in your scene. When you select them, they will appear in the Rotation Track-
ball as an object, and animation is done just as you would an object, with the only difference
being that this particular object is casting light.

Target Lights
Target Lights are also available in Point or Spot Light form. You gain the most control with
Target Lights because they come complete with a pivot point. In this case we'll refer to that
point as the Target point because a Target Light will always point directly at that point. The
beauty of this system is that you do not have to fuss with the aiming of the light. All you need
to do is place the target point where you want that light to shine and you’re done.

Selecting Scene Lights


In a best case scenario, lights can be selected in the Viewport by a simple click of the mouse. Selected lights turn red to
indicate their selected state. Selecting Scene Lights can start to get a little tricky when working with a complex scene

170
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

because the lights are often obscured from view by other objects. When this happens, the best thing to do is simply
select the light from the Hierarchy toolbar.

Positioning Scene Lights


Positioning lights in the Viewport is no different from positioning objects so we won’t
spend too much time rehashing what has already been talked about in the chapter on
Working With Objects. You can either click-and-drag the light to a new position in the
Viewport, or all Scene Lights can be positioned through the Light Position page of the
Properties Toolbar, which allows for precise control over a light’s position in the scene.
Control over a light’s position is treated just like those of any object within Swift 3D—
you can assign a number to the X, Y and Z coordinates.
You also have the ability to position the target point of a Target Light. The positioning
of the light’s target point, unlike that of regular objects, can only be done independent
of the light. This means that when you move a light, the target point will always remain
in the same spot, and when you move the pivot point, the light will always stay in
exactly the same spot. Once again, you can control the position of the light and its tar-
get point by clicking and dragging either with the mouse or using the numeric coordi-
nate system found under the Position Property Page.

To add and position a free light:


1. Click the Create Free Point Light or Spot Light button and it will appear at its
default location in the Viewport.
2. Use your mouse to click-and-drag the light to a new location.
3. With the light selected, go to the Light page of the Property Toolbar and key in the exact coordinates of where you
want it to move.
4. With the light selected, use the nudge keys to move the light to a new location.

To add and position a target light:


1. Click the Create Target Point Light or Spot Light button and your light will appear in the Viewport.
2. Position the target light using the same techniques outlined under the Free Light section, but notice that the light
moves independently of the target.
3. Click on the target point and drag it to a new position. Notice that the target point moves independent of the light.
4. Click on the target point and go to the Light Position page of the Properties Toolbar and key in new coordinates
under Target Position.

Flash Tutorial: Free and Target Lights

171
Chapter 15 | Lighting

Light Properties
Once a light is selected, you can view that light's characteristics in the Properties
Toolbar.

Naming
As with objects, you can name your lights, which is a great way to keep track of mul-
tiple lights. When you rename a light, its new name will appear above the animation
timeline as well. Since lights are also listed in the Hierarchy system, and it is likely
you will have more than one light in your scene, unless you are remarkably good at
remembering which light is 01, 02, 03, etc. it is highly recommended that you give
your lights more recognizable names.

Color
You also have control over the color of each light. By double clicking on the Color
window you access the Color Palette (Win) or Color Picker (Mac), which allows you
to choose from pre-made colors or create custom colors of your own. Light color can-
not be animated.
The intensity of a light is controlled by its color as well. To reduce the intensity of the
light, choose a darker shade of gray. Because the default color of all lights is white,
you cannot increase the amount of light without adding an additional light, so mess-
ing with the light colors is always going to be a subtractive process. You can also cre-
ate cool effects by coloring your lights rather than applying materials to the actual
objects.

Active
The Active checkbox allows you to turn the selected light on or off, so you can play with lighting schemes without hav-
ing to keep adding and deleting lights.

Hide
To hide a light from view, click on the Hide option. Hidden objects can only be viewed by choosing Show Hidden
Objects from the Viewport menu. Once a light is hidden it can only be selected again from the Hierarchy Toolbar.

Lock
The Lock option when enabled will prevent a light from being moved.

Shadows
By default, the Shadows option is turned on for every new light added to the trackball or scene. You can designate up
to 32 lights as shadow casting. If you are planning on using shadows in your final output, but only want certain lights

172
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

to cast those shadows, you need to make sure to go through each light that will not be casting shadows and uncheck the
Shadows option.
When rendering to vector, designating which lights will cast shadows is only step one in the process of getting shadows
to render out. Once you have all of your shadow settings covered in the Scene Editor, when you head over to the Pre-
view and Export Editor, under the Vector Fill Options you also need to check the Include Shadows option. Shadows
will also be covered in more detail in the Rendering with RAViX chapter. When rendering to raster, the EMO Ray
Tracer will automatically honor the shadow options set in the light’s property page so no further steps are required.

Flash Tutorial: Shadows

Specular
As with Shadows, you now have the option to make more than one light cast specular highlights on your object, and
this is controlled through each light’s Property Page. All trackball and scene lights by default are specular, which refers
to the light’s ability to create a bright spot on glossy surfaces. If you check the Include Specular Highlights in the Pre-
view and Export Editor, you must uncheck this option for those lights that you do not want to cast specular highlights.
Again, more detail on Specular Highlights will be supplied in the Rendering with RAViX III chapter.

Spot Light Options


With Spot Lights, you have three additional options that control the characteristics of the light's beam. Fade Angle
adjusts how wide the spot light will shine. Cutoff Angle refers to how wide the spot light's hot spot is. Tightness con-
trols how quickly the light's intensity transitions between the hot spot and the fade angle. The higher the number, the
quicker the light dims.

Flash Tutorial: Lighting Properties and Trackball Lights

Hierarchy
All lights are included in the Hierarchy system, which is accessible through the Hierarchy toolbar. Using the Hierarchy
to select lights provides a great advantage when scenes start to get crowded. But what will really come in handy is that
Free Lights can be made a child of any object (Target Lights cannot be children). When an object is made a child of
another object, whatever you do to that parent object will be done to the child as well. Obviously the huge benefit is
that if you animate an object, the light will follow that object along its animation path. Another thing to note is that nei-
ther Free Lights or Target Lights can have children. Read more about establishing parent/child relationships in the sec-
tion on Hierarchy in the Working With Objects chapter, and about creating Hierarchical Animations in the Animation
chapter.

173
Chapter 15 | Lighting

174
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

16 cameras

Overview
Shut your left eye.
I'm serious, go ahead and shut it. Now place your face right up against this page (or your screen if you're reading the
electronic version). Now move your head around and look at some different things in the room. Hey, what else do you
have to do right now… just do it. Ok, now get up out of your chair, run into the next room, spin around 3 times and
then stand on your head. No? All right, forget it. The point is you've got two well-used cameras already built into your
head, so there's not too much mystery involved with cameras.
You can open your left eye now.
Most of the cameras within Swift 3D work in a similar fashion to your eyes. You can look at different things by moving
your head around. You can see things up close and from far away by altering the space between your eyes and your
subject matter. And if you're not pleased with your view, you can get up and reposition your cameras somewhere else.
These cameras all show a Perspective view, where the laws of physics decide how large objects are in relation to the
camera. One example of this perspective effect would be a set of railroad tracks that disappear over the horizon. With
the human eye, these tracks will converge to a single vanishing point. In addition, objects that are farther away from the
camera will appear smaller than those objects closer to the camera. In the Advanced Modeler, you will also find Ortho-
graphic views, where these laws are disregarded. (For information on these Orthographic Viewports, please refer to the
Advanced Modeler chapter.)
The cameras within Swift 3D can be used in two primary ways. First, they can be used as frames of reference. In other
words, used to look into the world of Swift 3D from different perspectives while creating your 3D scene. Second, they
can be used to record any action that takes place in your scene. If you've got a scene with no movement, think of your
camera as a single-frame picture camera, and if you've got any sort of animation then consider it more of a video cam-
era. And just like a video camera, certain Swift 3D cameras can be physically moved around and pointed at things as
you record the movement in your scene.

175
Chapter 16 | Cameras

Standard Cameras
There are six Standard Cameras that come with Swift 3D. I use the term ‘come with’ because you don't have to do any-
thing to create them. The Standard Cameras are Front, Back, Top, Bottom, Right and Left. It might help to think of a
big cube that surrounds your scene and each one of these cameras exists on the outside of that cube, looking in on the
Swift 3D world. These cameras can serve as simple reference views or as integral parts of your animated scene. Each
of these cameras can be used as the view that gets rendered upon export, but they cannot be animated themselves. Any
camera animations need to be performed with the Free and Target Cameras or using the Perspective Viewport.
You can change the camera view of each Viewport by clicking on the Viewport Menu button in the upper left hand cor-
ner of the Viewport and choosing an available camera from the list. In the Scene Editor only one camera can be active
at a time, which means you can’t have both Viewports set to the same camera view.

Camera Mode
To maneuver any camera view within Swift 3D, you must hold down the ALT key (Win) or the COMMAND key
(Mac) to enter into Camera Mode. The cursor will change to the Camera cursor to indicate you are in this mode.

Panning
The Standard Cameras are most beneficial when your animation does not involve any camera movement, but rather
just the movement of objects. The limitation in panning the Standard Cameras is that they always face the exact same
direction, as if they could only move along the surface of that imaginary cube I mentioned earlier. For example, the
Front Camera always looks exactly along the Z axis. When you pan these cameras, it's more of a sliding motion (left,
right, up and down) rather than a pivoting motion (as if you were standing in one place and pointing your camera in
different directions).

To pan a standard camera:


1. Hold down the ALT key (Win) or COMMAND key (Mac) to enter Camera Mode.
2. Drag anywhere in the Viewport. The cursor will change appearance to indicate that you are panning the
camera. If you have the reference grid turned on you will see the grid lines, as well as any objects moving
around in the Viewport, but remember it is actually the camera that is moving.
3. As soon as you release the mouse button, the camera pan icon will disappear.

Zooming
Zooming a Standard Camera in or out will actually move the camera's location in 3D space. Because the camera is
essentially the Viewport you are looking through, you don't see the camera actually moving. Instead, your scene
appears to move closer or farther away from you. If you were to compare this process to using a regular picture camera,
it would be akin to physically walking closer to or farther away from whatever it is you want to take a picture of. This
differs from the terminology of picture cameras because zooming with a picture camera is actually done by changing
the length of the lens. You can create a similar effect to zooming by changing the Lens Length (see the previous section
on Lens Length under Camera Property Page), but there are other changes that happen to the view of your scene.

176
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

To zoom a standard camera:


1. Hold down the ALT key (Win) or COMMAND key (Mac) to enter Camera Mode.
1. Right click-and-drag (Win) or CTRL+ click-and-drag (Mac) anywhere in the Viewport. The cursor
will change appearance to indicate that you are zooming the camera.
2. Drag the cursor upward to zoom in and downward to zoom out.

Additional controls that facilitate zooming in or out on particular areas of your scene can be found in the
Viewport Menu:
• Frame All: All objects, lights and cameras in the Viewport will be framed in the camera view.
• Frame All Objects: All objects only will be framed in the camera view.
• Frame Selection: Any selected objects will be framed.
• Reset View: The view will be reset so that the camera will again be focused at the center of the scene. Any zoom-
ing that has taken place will not be restored. If you want to look at it mathematically, it repositions the camera so
that its coordinates are X = 0 and Y = 0, while Z remains the same. This function only works with the six Standard
Cameras.

Zoom Camera Extents Button


Located on the main toolbar, the Zoom Camera Extents button has the same functionality as the Frame All
Objects feature that is located in the Viewport Menu. A simple click will position the camera directly in
front of all of your objects while zooming either in or out so that all of the objects are visible with only a
slight buffer of space around the edge of the Viewport.

Reset Camera Location


This control, located on the right side of the Rotation Toolbar, has the same functionality as the Viewport
Menu’s Reset View option.

Perspective Camera
The Perspective Camera is a hybrid between the Standard Cameras and the Target Camera. The big advantage the Per-
spective Camera has over the Standard Cameras is that it can be aimed. If you remember the earlier cube analogy, the
Perspective Camera can be positioned anywhere on the surface or within the cube, and aimed in any direction. The dis-
advantage of the Perspective Camera over the Target Camera is that any camera manipulation has to be done through
the Viewport rather than moving the actual camera.

Panning
Since the Perspective camera has a target point, the only way to pan the camera up, down, left or right is by clicking
directly on that target point

To pan the perspective view:


1. Hold down the ALT key (Win) or COMMAND key (Mac) to enable the camera. The camera’s Target Point will
appear in the center of the Viewport. The Target Point designates where the camera is aimed.

177
Chapter 16 | Cameras

2. Click on the camera’s Target Point to activate the Camera Pan cursor.
3. Drag the cursor to pan the camera in any direction.

Zooming
Like the Standard Viewports, zooming is the process of physi-
cally moving the camera closer or farther away from its target
point. Zooming can therefore be done by clicking anywhere in
the background.

To zoom the perspective view:


1. Enter into Camera Mode.
2. Right click (Win) or CTRL + click (Mac) on the camera’s
Target Point to activate the Camera Zoom cursor.
3. Zoom in by dragging upwards and zoom out by dragging
downwards.

Rotating and Rolling


In addition to panning and zooming, the Perspective View can also be rotated and rolled. Rotating the camera literally
moves the camera 360 degrees around the camera’s Target Point. Rolling the camera is the process of tilting the camera
left or right.

To rotate the perspective view:


1. Enter into Camera Mode.
2. Click anywhere in the Viewport except on the camera’s Target Point. A thin gray circle will appear as a visual
indicator of where you must click in order to rotate or roll the camera.
3. Click-and-drag anywhere within the circle to rotate the camera. NOTE: If you rotate the camera so that it is look-
ing straight up or down the Y axis, the camera’s rotational movement becomes very sensitive.

To roll the perspective view:


1. Enter into Camera Mode.
2. Repeat step 2 from “To rotate the perspective view.”
3. Click-and-drag anywhere outside the circle to roll the camera.
When you roll the Perspective Viewport, you’ll also notice a single green arrow
within the Rotation Trackball that indicates which way the top of the camera
points. You can use this arrow as a nice visual aid if you lose track of how the
camera is tilted in the Viewport, or you can also control the roll of the camera by
rotating the camera directly in the Rotation Trackball (note that the Lock Spin
button within the trackball is locked on.)
In addition to panning, zooming, rotating and rolling the Perspective View, you also have access to the same Frame
All, Frame All Objects and Frame Selection options as the Standard Viewports. These options are located in the
Viewport Menu.

178
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

Scene Cameras
Now we're talking some serious cameras. With both the Free Camera and the Target Camera,
the cameras themselves actually show up in the Viewport and can be manipulated as objects.
This allows for much better camera control and facilitates camera animation like you wouldn't
believe.

Adding Cameras to the Scene


When you click the Create Free Camera or Create Target Camera buttons from the Main Toolbar, you will see a light
blue rectangular-looking object appear in the Viewport (Target Cameras also come with a blue target point). This rep-
resents the camera, but in order to actually view what the camera is seeing you must first change the view of one of the
Viewports. New cameras get assigned a default name of Free or Target Camera01, Camera02, etc. and they can be
selected from the Viewport Menu. You can create multiple Free and Target Cameras, but you may want to start naming
them to keep track since cameras are all represented with identical icons in the scene.

Free Camera Target Camera

Selecting Scene Cameras


Selecting Scene Cameras can be done by choosing the Free or Target Camera from the Viewport Menu and clicking
within the Camera's Viewport, like a Standard Camera, or by clicking directly on the camera icon itself in any other
Viewport. Once you select the camera its icon will turn red.
You also have the option to select the camera via the Hierarchy toolbar. This is a simple process of scrolling through
the Hierarchy list and clicking on the corresponding camera’s name. If there is more than one camera in the scene, this
is when giving cameras meaningful names will come in handy because it might come down to trial and error figuring
out which camera is Free Camera01 vs. Free Camera06. Once a camera is selected in the Hierarchy list it will turn red
in the Viewports indicating that it is ready to be worked with.

Free Cameras
Free cameras are named as such because they can be pointed in any direction.

179
Chapter 16 | Cameras

Positioning (Panning and Zooming)


Free Cameras can be positioned using any of the following three methods:
1. Once the Free Camera is inserted, you can move it around by dragging the cam-
era icon in the Viewport, just like a regular object.
2. You can also control its movements (panning and zooming) through the Free
Camera's Viewport, much like you would a Standard Camera.
3. Through the numeric coordinate system found under the Camera Position prop-
erty page.
You can choose which method is most appropriate, but I find that using the Free
Camera's view for zooming and the secondary view for camera positioning works
pretty well.

Rotating
The Free Camera can be rotated using either of the following two methods:
1. Select the Free Camera icon in one of the Standard Camera Viewports.
2. Notice that the Free Camera icon now appears in the Rotation Trackball. Use the
Rotation Trackball as you would with any object to rotate the Free Camera in any
direction.
Or,
1. Using the Viewport menu, select the Free Camera to be active in either of the
Viewports.
2. Click anywhere in the background of the Free Camera Viewport.
3. Notice that two arrows appear in the Rotation Trackball. These arrows are used as
references that show which way the camera is pointing (blue arrow) and which direction the camera's vertical axis
is (green arrow). This is also where you would aim the Free Camera.

Target Cameras
Better known as ‘The ultimate Swift 3D camera,’ Target Cameras give you the same control over the cam-
era's positioning, but add the ability to aim the camera at specific locations in the scene via the target point.

Positioning
As with the Free Camera, the Target Camera can be positioned by clicking on the camera icon in one of the Standard
Camera views and dragging it to a new location. This is the equivalent of panning or zooming a Standard Camera.
Notice that the Target Camera moves independently of its target point. This means that when you move a Target Cam-
era, the target point will always remain in the same spot, and when you move the target point, the Target Camera will
always stay in exactly the same spot.You can also animate the positioning of the Target Point separately from that of
the camera itself.

180
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

Because the Target Camera has the addition of its Target Point, its Camera Position page also allows you to numeri-
cally position both the camera and its target point.
A final way of positioning the Target Camera is by selecting it from the Viewport Menu. The panning and zooming of
a Target Camera view is identical to that of the Perspective Camera.

Rotating
Rotating the Target Camera can be done by clicking on its Target Point and dragging it to a new location, as discussed
in the previous section. In addition, when the Target Camera is selected as an active Viewport, it can be rotated using
the same method as rotating the Perspective Camera.

Rolling
Use the same methods for rolling a Perspective Camera to roll the Target Camera.

Nick's Tips
We've all got preferences in life, and here's mine. When working with Free or Target Cameras, I like to use the
left Viewport as my camera view and use the right Viewport as my scene view, keeping it set to the Top view most of
the time. My rationale is that the left Viewport is always the one that gets rendered upon export, and when I'm doing
camera animations the likelihood is high that I'll want to render what that camera actually sees. As far as the Top view
goes, I feel this particular view gives you the best reference of where things are in the scene, much like a Plan view in
architectural drawings. Of course this can vary depending on how your scene is constructed.

Camera Property Page


Name
If you are using one of the Standard Cameras, this option will be grayed out, but you
can rename any Free or Target Camera that you insert into your Scene.

Lens Length
I really don't want to bore you with the intricacies of lenticular optics. (Actually, I
have no idea what lenticular optics means, but the “I don't want to bore you with”
stuff sounds so much more intelligent than the “I have no idea what” stuff. But I'm
going to fake it anyway.)
When you lengthen the lens of a camera, it magnifies the image. Because it magnifies
the image, you must move the camera farther away from your scene to get an all-
encompassing view of your objects. An additional side effect of having a very magni-
fied view is that the camera's field of view becomes very concentrated. In other words, the longer the lens, the smaller
the scope of what can be seen through that lens.

181
Chapter 16 | Cameras

When you shorten the length of a camera lens, you are getting a very broad view of your scene. In the process of broad-
ening your view it will seem as if your camera is moving away from the scene, even though that is not the case. To get
the scene to fit the scope of the Viewport, you must move the camera very close to the scene's center. In doing this, you
will find that in the shortened lens' efforts to show a very wide field of view, distortion begins to occur around the
edges of the camera view. It's important to recognize the difference between adjusting the lens length and zooming the
camera. Remember, when you zoom a camera in or out on your scene, the camera actually physically moves, not the
lens length.

Nick's Tips
Optics, schmoptics, you just want to know how to use this setting. OK, here's the skinny. Shorten your lens
length if you want to create a cool 'fish eye' effect where objects are distorted as they move around within the camera
view. I find that somewhere in the teens (11 to 19) works great. Lengthen your lens length if you're doing any tight fly-
through animations because you will be less likely to experience objects coming through the clipping plane (essentially
busting through the front of the camera). You can also simulate an orthographic view by using a very long lens because
as you increase the length, you lose the sense of a perspective view.

Options
Hide - This option is only available for Scene Cameras. When hidden, the icons representing the Free and Target Cam-
eras are hidden from view. To unhide the Cameras, go to the Viewport Menu and select Show Hidden Objects. Once
the camera icon is displayed, select it and uncheck the Hide option.
Lock - All cameras, including Standard and Perspective Cameras, can be locked to prevent them from being moved.

Hierarchy
Free Cameras can be made a child of any object in the scene, which is particularly helpful when your goal is to have a
camera follow an object around the scene through the course of an animation. Note that Target Cameras cannot be
made children, so only exist at the top level of the Hierarchy system, and neither Free or Target Cameras can have chil-
dren. Read more about Hierarchy and creating child/parent relationships in the Working With Objects Chapter, and
about creating Hierarchical Animations in the Animation chapter.

Rendering Camera Views


When it comes time to render your scene, the camera that you should eventually be most concerned with is the one that
is showing in the left Viewport. During the process of laying out a scene you can use any camera in either of the two
Swift 3D Viewports, but when you move into the Preview and Export stage of the design process, Swift 3D will only
render what is currently showing in the left Viewport (or the only Viewport if you just have one showing), regardless of
which camera is currently active. Swift 3D can only render one camera view at a time, which means you cannot render
your animation from multiple camera views. If rendering from more than one camera is required by your project, ren-
der each camera view separately and then composite the files in Flash.

Flash Tutorial: Cameras

182
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

17 animation

Overview
Animation is really what it's all about. Not to exclude you folks that have a yearning for single-frame images, but Swift
3D is always ready to rumble when it comes to applying movement to your scene. In fact, it feels slightly cheated when
denied the opportunity to prove to the world that vector animation doesn't have to be a flat experience. Which leads us
to our next discussion.
Swift 3D has solved the confounding problem of creating quality 3D images in a vector-based file format. Swift 3D has
terrific creation and animation tools that allow you to create dynamic scenes. But Swift 3D is NOT the panacea of the
low-bandwidth 3D world. By that, I mean that just because you can export vector files from Swift 3D does not implic-
itly indicate that every animation you crank out of the software will be Web-friendly.
But maybe you bought Swift 3D for the sole purpose of creating animations for the Web. Don't panic. You've got the
perfect tool, but you just have to use it the proper way to keep your exported files within reasonable size proportions.
Understanding the limitation of how 3D converts to 2D vectors is very important when designing your scenes. On the
other hand, if you have no limitations on file size, for instance if you're creating CD or DVD presentations, or some-
thing that will be viewed over a network or on a local machine, you don't necessarily have to pay attention to any of
this low-bandwidth gibberish I'm spouting.
When displaying 3D animations in a 2D environment (like the Flash Player for example) it is always a process of
sequential keyframes. That means that if you have a 100-frame animation within Swift 3D, when you render your file
you will have 100 keyframes to work with. Since neither the Flash Player nor the SVG Viewer supports native 3D
objects, Swift 3D has to tell these plug-ins exactly what to show for each frame of your animation.
And what does this mean to your average Web designer, you ask? Use 3D wisely! When creating animations for the
Web, Swift 3D is best suited for creating short animations that become part of a larger scene or movie. Not to say that
you can't create long and detailed self-contained animations that look great, but you might not be able to stream them
to a 28.8 kbs modem too well.
So let's take a look at Macromedia Flash, a popular vector graphics editor that you will probably be using your 3D ani-
mations in conjunction with. Flash too can create exciting animation, and its strongest selling point is the ability to do

183
Chapter 17 | Animation

so without creating large files. So realizing what you can do best in Swift 3D and what you can do more efficiently in a
vector editing application is very important as you start designing your scenes.
Two-dimensional vector editors do a great job of moving objects around in 2D space, and making them change shape
over time. What these editors can't do well is spin, rotate or flip objects in 3D space. These are the features that Swift
3D specializes in. So, with that said, try to keep in mind what types of movement are best done with Swift 3D—rota-
tion animations—and what things you'll be better off doing in your 2D vector editor of choice—scale and position ani-
mations.

Animate Button
This all-powerful toggle button located on the Main Toolbar slips you in and out of animation mode.
When this button is toggled off, nothing you do to your scene or the timeline will affect your animation.
When it is toggled on, any changes you make to your scene will be recorded as keyframes in the time-
line and thus affect your overall animation. The best way to use this button is to set up your entire scene
first, turn the Animate button on, and then proceed to develop your animation using the techniques covered within this
chapter.

Animation Timeline Toolbar


This toolbar is where you control all aspects of animation in your scene. The timeline is divided into frames, much like
the individual frames of a movie. The more frames, the longer the movie, unless you start to mess with the Frames Per
Second control that will be discussed in a moment. You can either create animations by changing each of the individual
frames (takes awhile—don't bother), or create several keyframes and let Swift 3D interpolate or ‘tween’ the animation
in between (definitely the way to go).
Selection Window Current Frame Indicator Timeline Scale bars

Playback Controls Loop Toggle Button Keyframes

Frames Per Second Control

184
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

Selection Name
The Selection Name window of the animation timeline displays the name of your currently selected object. Since the
Animation Timeline is selection dependant, the timeline shows the animation properties for whichever object, camera
or light is selected, and thus displayed in the Selection Name window. To better organize your more complicated
scenes, you may find the naming process covered in the chapter on Working With Objects useful.

Current Frame Indicator


The Current Frame Indicator shows what frame your scene is currently in. By default, the Current Frame Indicator is
on frame zero. Once you toggle the Animate button on, you can slide the Current Frame Indicator to a later frame,
make changes, and these changes will create keyframes in the timeline, thus animating your scene.
Once an animation has been created, you can use this red bar to preview your animation or move to a specific frame for
further editing. The dark gray bar behind the current frame indicator shows the total number of frames in your anima-
tion.

Animation Properties
There are several properties of an object that can be animated, and all of those properties are listed along the left side of
the timeline. Although certain types of objects can have certain types of animation properties, here is a list of all the
possible properties that can be animated:
1. Position: This property pertains to any animations involving objects that change their location on the X, Y, Z
coordinate grid.
2. Pivot: Any object that has an associated pivot point can have an animated Pivot property.
3. Rotation: If an object has its rotation animated, this is where it will show up. This could be any object except for
the Target Cameras and Target Lights.
4. Scale: When objects change their scale over time, this property will reflect that change.
5. Shear: When objects change their shear over time, this property will reflect that change.
6. Material: The material property will be designated by listing out all of the surfaces that have been defined for
that object. This could be a fairly lengthy list if numerous surface groups have been defined in the Advanced Mod-
eler. Note: Color applied to lights cannot be animated.
7. Shape: The only object that can animate its shape is the Tetrahedron.
8. Scale Axis: This is also a Tetrahedron-specific animation property.
9. Roll: This property only applies to Target Cameras and Target Lights, and it indicates when a camera or light is
rolled to the left or to the right.
10. Path: If you have animated the path of an extruded or lathed object, the animation will appear here.

Playback Controls
These control buttons allow you to view your animation, as well as jump around in the timeline.
Play: Does just that.
Stop: The opposite of play.
First Frame: Moves the scene to the first frame of your animation.

185
Chapter 17 | Animation

Previous Frame: Moves the scene back one frame.


Next Frame: Advances scene to the next frame.
Last Frame: Advances scene to the last frame of your animation.

Frames Per Second


The Frames Per Second Control allows you to adjust how quickly the frames of your animation will play after export-
ing to a file. The more frames that get viewed each second, the more smoothly your animation will play. But the more
frames that get exported to a file, the larger that file will be, so there is always a subjective decision to get made here.
The default of 12 frames per second has proven itself to be very effective for use on the Web but it's important to note
that when you import Swift 3D files into Flash, it will override any adjustments you make in Swift 3D and revert back
to its default setting.
NOTE: The default Frames Per Second setting can be adjusted by going to View > User Preferences.

Loop Animation
This little button determines how Swift 3D will render your final file with regards to creating looping animations. If
you are creating a linear animation where your last frame is not the same as your first frame, you want to turn this but-
ton off. If you're attempting to create a seamlessly looping animation where your first frame is identical to your last
frame, you should turn this button on (default configuration). You see, when your last frame is the same as your first
frame and you loop the entire animation, you'll end up with two identical frames in a row, which will manifest itself as
a pause in your final animation. When you toggle the Loop Animation button on, Swift 3D automatically skips the ren-
dering of your final frame so that you don't end up with that unsightly pause.
This will in no way affect whether or not your animation loops when played in the Flash Player or when imported into
Flash. By default, all SWF animations rendered from Swift 3D will automatically loop when played in the Flash
Player, and all SWF files imported into Flash will not loop unless told to do so with specific Flash commands.
NOTE: The default state of the Loop Animation button can be adjusted by going to View > User Preferences.

Animation Gallery
The drag-and-drop animations are the easiest
way to get your scene moving. We've supplied
you with some common animations within the
Animation Gallery that cover the basics. You
know, spin right, clockwise spin, 45-degree right
spin. The typical animations you might want to
apply. To preview the animations just click on
the thumbnail image and you'll see a small-scale
rendition of the action. To apply them to your
image just click-and-drag from the Preview Window onto whatever object you wish to be animated. When you apply
an animation from this gallery, the Animate toggle button does not automatically turn on so if you want to edit the ani-

186
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

mation you need to first toggle on the Animate button. The default length of the drag-and-drop animations is 20
frames, but that can be easily adjusted using the techniques covered later in this chapter.

To apply a drag-and-drop animation:


1. Click on the Show Animations button in the Gallery Toolbar.
2. Choose an animation that you like.
3. Click-and-drag from that animation's preview window.
4. Move your cursor over the object or group of objects and release the mouse button.
5. Click the Play button on the Playback Controls to view your animation.

Applying more than one drag and drop animation


You can apply a spin, deformation and fly by animation all to one object if you so choose. However, you cannot apply
two animations from the same category, such as two different types of Common Spins. If you try to do this the second
animation applied will simply override the first animation.
You can, however, create a nested animation by applying one animation to an object, then group that object with other
objects, and then apply a second animation to the grouped object. In this case, the original object will carry out its first
animation while partaking in the second animation as well. You can nest these animations several layers deep.

Animation Drop Target


This feature only applies to Text or Grouped objects. When this button is off, any drag-and-drop animations
will be applied to your entire text object or grouped objects as a whole. When this button is toggled on,
drag-and-drop animations are applied to each of the characters in a text object individually or each individ-
ual object in a group. For example, if you drop a spin onto your text while the Drop Target button is toggled on, each
individual character will spin around their respective axis.
If you want to apply a drag-and-drop animation to just one character, hold down the CTRL button while dragging the
animation to the desired character. Make sure the Animation Drop Target button is not toggled on.
Scenes can get very confusing when you start to animate individual characters in text objects. I wouldn't do much more
than apply spins to characters since changing their paths really creates chaos. If you need to delete an animation for an
individual character or individual object within a group, hold down the CTRL key as you select that character or
object. Its animation properties will appear in the animation timeline and you can delete the animation by right clicking
(Win) or CTRL + clicking (Mac) on the timeline and selecting Delete All Key Frames.

Saving an Animation to the Animation Gallery


As you become more familiar with Swift 3D and start generating some cool animations, you may come across some-
thing you'd like to save for later. Not the image, mind you, but the animation scheme. Swift allows you to take your
self-created animations and turn them into drag and drop animations for easy application at a later date.
To create your own drag-and-drop animation:
1. Design an animation you like.
2. Select the object that has the killer animation you want to preserve.

187
Chapter 17 | Animation

3. From the file menu, choose “Save Animation...”


4. This will bring up the Gallery Setup dialog, from which you can choose a name and location within the Animation
Gallery for your scheme.
5. Use the Set Display Frame controls to choose what frame of your anima-
tion to show in the preview window.
6. Click OK.
An animation added to the Gallery can only be edited by clicking and drag-
ging it back onto an object. Once an animation is placed back into the scene it
no longer has any connection to the original animation stored back in the
Gallery. If changes are made to the animation it must be saved back to the
Gallery. If you do not desire two copies of the animation simply overwrite the
previous animation or go back and delete it from the Gallery.
You can right click (Win) or CTRL + click (Mac) on the palette window sur-
rounding the thumbnails to bring up the Gallery Setup dialog, from which
you can delete, rename or relocate any gallery content. For more detailed
information on how to share Gallery content and organizing/managing Gal-
leries in Swift 3D, see the section on Galleries in the Scene Editor chapter.

Flash Tutorial: Applying Drag-and-drop Animations

Keyframe Animation
Understanding keyframes and how they work is an important step in creating animations quickly. Sure, you can tell
Swift 3D exactly what you want your scene to look like in every frame, but you'd be better off using the built-in tween-
ing functions associated with the Animation Timeline. Basically, keyframes represent points in an animation where
you can make important changes take place. In between the keyframes, Swift 3D will make all the decisions on how
your scene changes automatically. The keyframes simply give Swift 3D reference points to work from while it decides
how to create the transitional frames using the tweening process.

To create a basic keyframe animation using the timeline:


1. Create a scene with at least one object.
2. Toggle the Animate button on.
3. Click-and-drag the Current Frame Indicator to the desired frame number, setting your animation length.
4. Manipulate your object(s). For each Animation Property that you change there will be a corresponding keyframe
added to the timeline.
5. To view your animation, press the Play button.

Start and Stop Keyframe Controls


Within the Animation Timeline, each keyframe has a Start Animation and a Stop Animation control. Within one frame
the controls are set to the same value so there is no pause. Adjusting these controls allows you to stop one aspect of an
animation for as long as you want. For example, you may want a spinning text object to pause mid-spin so it's easier to

188
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

read. We've used the universal “Green equals Go, Red equals Stop” color scheme to make it obvious when an object is
going to move, rotate or change size, and when it is going to stop doing those things.

To pause an animation:
1. Toggle the Animate button on.
2. Position your cursor over the left half of the keyframe bar.
3. When you get the Left Directional Arrow, click-and-drag to where you want your animation to begin its pause.
4. If you want to adjust the Animation Start Time, do the same on the right half of the keyframe.
5. To adjust the location of the pause, position your cursor over the Red Bar in between the start and stop animation
control bars and click-and-drag to reposition the entire keyframe.

Adjusting Animation Length


This feature is a big time saver because it allows you to scale your animations without having to adjust every single
keyframe involved. The first technique involves scaling an entire animation at once. In this case, every single keyframe
of every single object, camera and light will be adjusted in proportion with each other simultaneously.

To scale an entire animation:


1. Toggle the Animate button on.
2. Click-and-drag on the bar located just beyond the last frame of your animation in the upper section of the timeline
where the frame numbers are displayed.
3. Move the marker to your desired ending frame.
4. Release the mouse button.

To scale the animation of an object:


1. Select the object whose animation length you would like to alter.
2. Toggle the Animate button on.
3. Click-and-drag on the long bar at the end of your object's Animation Properties (e.g. Position, Scale, Rotation,
etc.).
4. Move the marker to your desired ending frame.
5. Release the mouse button.

Linear Frame Spacing


Linear Frame Spacing has to do with how much your objects move between each frame as they transition through a
keyframe. This feature can be adjusted on a per keyframe basis and is accessed by right clicking (Win) or CTRL +
clicking (Mac) on individual keyframes in the Animation Timeline. Linear Frame Spacing is listed in the context menu
that appears, with its on and off state indicated by the checkmark placed in front of it in the menu.
The default is to have this feature turned off (unchecked), which allows Swift 3D to automatically ease objects into and
out of a keyframe. This is accomplished by adjusting the distance an object travels between frames as it approaches and
leaves a keyframe. Since this is an automatic setting that slows an object down as it enters a keyframe and speeds it up
as it leaves the keyframe, you do not have any control over how fast or how slow objects enter and leave keyframes.

189
Chapter 17 | Animation

When Linear Frame Spacing is turned on (checked), Swift 3D will move the object at a consistent speed throughout the
animation, meaning the object moves the same amount of distance between each frame of the animation.
NOTE: This setting is only applicable to path animations, where objects are moving from one point to another.

Editing Keyframes and Animations


Swift 3D provides you with some really easy-to-use techniques for working with your animations once they have been
created.

Copying and Pasting Keyframes


If you have the need to create a keyframe identical to an existing keyframe, you can use the Copy/Paste Keyframe
function. The most common use of this is when you have an animation that you would like to loop; having the same
starting and ending keyframes insures a smooth loop in your animation. (See the section on the Loop Toggle button
earlier in this chapter for more information on looping animations.)
Keyframes cannot be copied from one project to another, but if you copy an animated object from one project to
another, its animation will come along for the ride.

To copy and paste a keyframe:


1. Select the object whose animation you would like to edit.
2. Toggle the Animate button on.
3. Right click (Win) or CTRL + click (Mac) on the keyframe you would like to copy, and choose Copy Keyframe
from the context menu.
4. Move your cursor over the frame you would like to paste the keyframe into.
5. Right click (Win) or CTRL + click (Mac) on that frame and choose Paste Keyframe from the context menu.

Nick’s Tips
The copy and paste keyframe feature can also be helpful when you want to reverse your animation. For exam-
ple, if you are creating an animation that has a text string and you want each letter of that text to start out of view and
then fly into the center of your Viewport, it is easiest to start creating the animation with your text already in place in
the center of the Viewport. From there, you can move the keyframe indicator over and move each letter so that they fly
away from the center of the Viewport and out of sight. Now all you need to do is copy the first keyframe to a spot
beyond your final keyframe, and then copy the final keyframe into the first frame. Adjust the new final keyframe back
to where you want the animation to end, and you have reversed your animation. Another option is to export your initial
animation and use Flash’s Reverse Animation feature.

Deleting Keyframes
There are a few different methods of deleting parts of your animations depending on how much of the animation you
would like to get rid of.

190
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

To delete an individual keyframe:


1. Select the object whose animation you would like to edit.
2. Toggle the Animate button on.
3. Right click (Win) or CTRL + click (Mac) on the keyframe you would like to delete.
4. Choose Delete Keyframe from the menu.

To delete the selected object, camera or light animation:


1. Select the object or camera whose animation you would like to delete.
2. Toggle the Animate button on.
3. Right click (Win) or CTRL + click (Mac) anywhere in the timeline.
4. Select Delete All Keyframes from the context menu.

To delete all object animations:


1. Choose Edit > Delete Object Animations.
2. When the warning message appears, click OK.

To delete all animations:


1. Choose Edit > Delete All Animations.
2. When the warning message appears, click OK.

Nick’s Tips
The easiest way to conserve on file size is to make your animations as short as possible, while still meeting
your overall design goal. Two techniques of accomplishing this are as follows:
1. If you have a symmetrical object, like a box for instance, with a rotation animation applied to it, you can export
just a section of the rotation and then loop the animation to simulate a full turn. In the case of the box, it's got four
sides, so a quarter turn is all you need to get a seamless rotation.
2. If you have a logo or spinning text, you can render only the frames where the artwork is facing the camera and
then loop the animation. This will give you the effect of a full 360-degree spin while never having your logo or
text facing backwards.

Flash Tutorial: Basic Keyframe Animation

Editing the Animation Path


All animation paths of objects, lights and cameras can be edited by clicking on the Animation Path Mode
button located to the left of the Animate button on the Main Toolbar. This button will not become active
until you first click on the Animate button to go into Animating mode. Once the Animation Path Mode but-
ton is selected, if there is an animation path present it will become visible in each Viewport. Since you can

191
Chapter 17 | Animation

enter into Animation Path Mode at any time during the animation process, if you have not yet created an animation
then the path will not become visible until you start adding keyframes.
Each keyframe in the path is represented by a square red icon, which is called the Keyframe Control Point. This icon
can be moved to a new location anywhere along the x, y or z axis just like you would move an object. You will also
have access to each control point's Bezier control handles, which are designated by green squares. In order to move an
entire path to a new location, this is done by relocating the object itself.
NOTE: When Animation Path Mode is turned on, if you position an object by clicking on the Keyframe Control Point
(which is also the object's pivot point) a new keyframe will not get added to the timeline. Clicking on the Keyframe
Control Point only adjusts the position of that keyframe, regardless of whether or not the red keyframe indicator is
moved to a new point on the timeline. Therefore, to insert a new keyframe you have to click on a surface area of the
object that is away from the Keyframe Control Point and then drag the object to a new location.

Bezier Path Properties


Once in Animation Path mode a new page will appear in the Properties Toolbar called
Bezier Path.

Point Type
Each keyframe control point can be designated as a Corner, Curve or Tangent point.
When you create an animation each keyframe control point will be a Curve Point by
default. You can either change the point type after the animation is made, or if you
know ahead of time which type of point you want you can choose the point type before
you create each keyframe.
A Corner Point does not contain any information that defines how the animation path
enters or exits that point since these points are always connected with perfectly straight
lines. Adjusting the Bezier handles of Corner Points therefore has no impact on the ani-
mation path.
The Curve Point is defined by something called a Bezier curve and therefore comes
with handles (the green squares) that provide control over the shape of the animation
path entering and exiting the point. Although you can control the entry and exit, the two
halves of your animation path are linked to each other so positional changes to one half
of your point may have an effect on the other half of the Bezier curve.
The Tangent Point is very similar to the Curve point but it allows you to control each
side of the curve's control points separately. The tangent point is designed to allow your
animation path to enter and exit the point with completely different paths.
NOTE: If the Bezier handles for a Curve or Tangent Point are not displayed, CTRL
(Win) or OPTION (Mac) + click and drag on the green control point to pull the Bezier handle out for display and edit-
ing.

192
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

Position
If you need precise control over the exact location of each keyframe control point you can adjust the X, Y and Z posi-
tion of the points by entering the exact coordinates.

Orient to Path
You can choose the orientation of the object to the animation path through this option. From the Reference dropdown
list you have the option to orient the object by its X Axis, -X Axis, Y Axis, -Y Axis, Z Axis or -Z Axis. The X Axis
option will move the object with its right side facing forward, while the -X Axis option will orient the object to the left
side; the Y Axis to the top of the object, the -Y Axis to the bottom; and the Z Axis to the front of the object, the -Y Axis
to the back of the object. You will find the local Axis Guide always shown within the Rotation Trackball is an
extremely helpful reference when choosing which axis to orient the object along. Once an axis is chosen, a yellow
guide point will appear that indicates which direction the object will be facing as it travels along the animation path.

Cone set to Y Axis Cone set to -Y Axis

NOTE: If you add a rotation to the object in addition to using the Orient to Path setting, the rotations will get added
together.
The orientation of the object is dependent on the location of the pivot point, so you can also move the pivot point in
order to control which point of the object is pinned to the animation path.

Setting Other Objects to the Path


If you want to set other objects in your scene to this animation path you must first save the path to the Animation Gal-
lery. After the path is saved, you can apply it to other objects in the scene. Once the path is applied, you can click on the
object and go to the Bezier Path property page to set how you want that object to orient to that path. Any other adjust-
ments to the path can also be made using any of the previously discussed path editing techniques. If you edit that path
keep in mind that if you want to be able to apply the newly edited path to a different object you need to save it as a new
animation to the Animation Gallery.
Flash Tutorial: Editing Animation Path

193
Chapter 17 | Animation

Animating Scale
Swift 3D allows you to animate either uniform or non-uniform scale of an object. The first step in understanding non-
uniform scaling is to know that every Swift 3D object has three different Scale Axes: width, height and depth. When
you select an object and go to the Scale page of the Properties Toolbar you will see the object's default settings of 1.00,
1.00 and 1.00. These are the three settings that you can animate, and the process is different than changing the sizing of
an object (covered in the Scaling section of the Working With Objects chapter).

To animate uniform scaling of an object:


1. Toggle the Animate button on.
2. Select the frame you would like your scaling animation to end.
3. Click the Scaling Mode button.
4. Click-and-drag on the object to rescale it proportionately.
5. Release your mouse button when it's the correct size.
NOTE: The Scaling Mode button is a one-time deal, so if you want to make further scaling adjustments you'll need to
click that button each time.

To animate non-uniform scaling of an object:


1. Toggle the Animate button on.
2. Select the frame you would like your scaling animation to end.
3. Select the object you would like to scale.
4. Click on the Scale page in the Properties Toolbar.
5. Adjust the Scale Axis you wish to animate, or change all three.

Animating Materials
The animation of materials is basically the process of telling Swift 3D what you want your object's color to be at the
start of your animation and at the end of the animation, and letting the program do the rest for you. As soon as you ani-
mate a material, you will see the related keyframes appear in the Animation Timeline under the Material animation
property.

To animate materials:
1. Apply a material to your object in the first frame of an existing animation.
2. Toggle the Animate button on.
3. Move the Current Frame Indicator to the frame you'd like your material animation to end.
4. Apply a second material.

Animating Lights
A very slick feature in Swift 3D is the ability to animate your lighting scheme. You can accomplish this feat by either
animating Trackball Lights or by animating Scene Lights.

194
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

To animate trackball lights:


1. Create a scene with at least one object.
2. Adjust your Trackball Lights as desired.
3. Toggle the Animate button on.
4. Move the Current Frame Indicator to the end of your desired lighting animation.
5. Adjust your Trackball Lights as desired.
Your lights are now animated, with their positions being tweened from the start frame to the end frame. You can track
their movement by watching the lighting trackball while the animation plays.

To animate scene lights:


1. Create a scene with at least one object.
2. Insert the desired lights into the scene and adjust their positions accordingly.
3. Remove any Trackball Lights as needed (not required).
4. Toggle the Animate button on.
5. Move the Current Frame Indicator to the end of your desired lighting animation.
6. Change the location of your Scene Lights as desired.

Animating Cameras
In Swift 3D you can only animate Free and Target Cameras and the Perspective Camera; you cannot animate the Stan-
dard Cameras.

To animate the perspective camera:


1. Create a scene with at least one object.
2. Use the Camera Dropdown List to select the Perspective Camera.
3. Position the Perspective Camera (pan, zoom or rotate) where you want the camera animation to start.
4. Toggle the Animate button on.
5. Select the frame you would like your camera animation to end by moving the red Current Frame Indicator.
6. Adjust the position of the Perspective Camera by either panning or zooming the camera in the Viewport or by
using the Rotation Trackball to point the camera in a different direction.

To animate a free or target camera:


1. Create a scene with at least one object.
2. Insert a Free or Targeted Camera.
3. Position your camera where you want the camera animation to start.
4. Toggle the Animate button on.
5. Select the frame you would like your camera animation to end by moving the red Current Frame Indicator.
6. Adjust the position of your camera.
You can create as many keyframes as you'd like to insure your camera animation is just as it should be. You can also
animate any objects and lights in conjunction with your camera animations.

195
Chapter 17 | Animation

Flash Tutorial: Advanced Keyframe Animation

Hierarchical Animations
The universal scene properties contained within the Hierarchy system can play an integral part in creating more com-
plex animations. The same parent/child and sibling relationships that can help you organize your scene effectively can
be the key to unlocking some amazing animation capabilities.
The basic principles of parents and children that work for object manipulation within your scene will hold true for
objects, lights and cameras when they are in motion. For example, if you create a sphere that is the child of a box, when
you animate that box you will also be animating the sphere based on their relationship with each other.
The best example I can think of to demonstrate this technique of relational animations would be creating a 3D scene
that shows how the moon rotates around the earth while the earth rotates around the sun. Since the earth is stuck in
orbit around the sun, it would be considered its child. And in turn, since the moon is in orbit around the earth, it’s con-
sidered a child of the earth.

To create a “solar system” animation using Hierarchy:


1. Add three spheres to the scene that represent the Sun, Earth and Moon.
2. Go to the Hierarchy toolbar.
3. Create the relationships between the three objects, making the earth a child of the sun and the moon a child of the
earth.
4. Create an animation of the moon rotating around the earth, and then the earth rotating around the sun.
By establishing the relationships ahead of time you can simplify the animation process and allow yourself some more
creative animations.
If you decide to change the relationships between objects, you will not notice any differences in the animation unless
you decide to further animate the objects. Once those relationships are broken, Swift 3D will retain the animation
information for the objects, but will no longer be able to relate those objects with one another since they would have
been disassociated with one another.
For additional information on establishing parent/child relationships, read section on Hierarchy in Working with
Objects chapter.

Flash Tutorial: Parent/Child Relationships

196
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

Path Morphing
The ability to animate paths in the Extrusion Editor or Lathe Editor is
referred to as Path Morphing. Both the Extrusion and Lathe Editors include
their own animation timeline that behaves the same way as the main time-
line in Swift 3D. The only difference in these timelines is that only the paths
of either your extrusion or lathe object will appear within the layer area,
rather than the properties of those paths. This way you can keep track of
multiple paths without having to select each one individually.

To animate a path:
1. Toggle the Animate button into animate mode.
2. Adjust the Current Frame Indicator to the place you want to insert a
keyframe.
3. Move the point or points you want to animate.
4. Swift 3D will automatically insert keyframes accordingly.
When you return to the Scene Editor you will notice when you select the extrusion a Path animation now exists in the
Main Animation Toolbar timeline. You will probably have to enlarge the Animation Toolbar in order to see the Path
animation in the timeline.
NOTE: You cannot change the types of points over time. For instance you can’t turn a Tangent Point into a Curve
Point part way through an animation. Also, if you delete or add points to an extrusion or lathe partway through an ani-
mation, those points will either be deleted or added to the extrusion for the entire animation of that path.

Flash Tutorial: Path Morphing

197
Chapter 17 | Animation

198
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

18 preview and export

Overview
Why have just one rendering engine when you can have two? Well, our engineers asked the very same question and
couldn't come up with a reason NOT to double our output power by including both a vector renderer - known to many
as RAViX III - and a raster renderer - a.k.a. EMO. These two powerhouses are responsible for taking your beautifully
crafted scene and turning it into an actual file that you can use. And the wonderful thing about this flexibility is that
your single scene can have many afterlives once it leaves the world of Swift 3D. Use RAViX for your lightweight Flash
work. Use EMO for your high-bandwidth video production. Or use them both together for insane effects that are super
realistic, yet small in size.
But I'm getting ahead of myself since both of these rendering beasts have their own chapters to brag about their output
capabilities. We're here to learn about the workflow of the Preview and Export Editor since it is similar regardless of
the renderer you're using. You can then delve into the subsequent chapters on Rendering with RAViX and Rendering
with EMO in order to find out how to get the most out of the two different engines.

Previewing vs. Rendering vs. Exporting


There is a definite workflow to the Preview and Export Editor that needs to be discussed in order to make sure there is
a firm understanding of just how you go about previewing your work and then getting your work to file. For new users,
probably the most confusing point is just when the rendering takes place. Really, the most important thing to realize is
that you cannot preview or export your scene until you first render it.
So here's the workflow—love it or leave it. First you choose your output options. Then you render a preview. Finally, if
it all looks good, you export to a file. That's our story and we're sticking to it.

How to render a preview and export a file:


1. Click the Preview and Export Editor tab.
2. Choose either Vector or Raster and set your Output Options.

199
Chapter 18 | Preview and Export

3. Click Generate Selected Frames or Generate All Frames.


4. Watch RAViX III or EMO render your preview.
5. Click Export Selected Frames or Export All Frames.
6. Name your file and click Save.
Now this is obviously an overview of the many things you can accomplish within the Preview and Export Editor, so
you will most likely want to continue reading.

Render Preview
As previously mentioned, this section of the Preview
and Export Editor is where you actually perform the ren-
dering of your animation, but it also allows you to have
much more control over the individual frames of an
entire animation, pre- and post-render.
The three main uses for the editing feature of the pre-
view system are as follows:
1. Choosing which frames of your animation you would like RAViX III or EMO to render. This is very useful when
you just want to sample some different output options and get a feel for what it will look like after the entire ani-
mation is rendered. Also, there are often situations where you only need to have certain parts of an animation ren-
dered and exported to a file.
2. Viewing sections of a rendered animation. For example, if you'd like to see what your animation would look like if
you only exported every second frame. Or maybe there are certain frames that seem unnecessary but you want to
view the animation with and without them to make sure.
3. Choosing which frames of your animation you want included in the final exported file.

Generate All Frames


If you were to imagine RAViX III or EMO as wild, toothy beasts locked up in a cage, seething with boundless energy
waiting for the opportunity to sink their rendering fangs into your animation, this button is the key to that lock. Or you
can just think of this as the Generate All Frames button. One way or the other, a click of this button will begin the ren-
dering process. Due to the nature of 3D animation, your 3D scene will get rendered one frame at a time to create a
series of images that, when played sequentially, make up an animation.
As the rendering takes place you will see a few things happening. Along the bottom of the interface the Status Bar will
show the progress of each frame and there will be a Cancel button that stops the rendering process. If you choose to
cancel the process of creating a preview, all of your Output Option settings will remain as you left them and the already
rendered frames will be available for viewing and export. You will see each frame displayed within the Preview Editor
as well as within the Preview Window. The images displayed in the editor are merely thumbnails of your actual file,
but the image displayed in the preview window is the real deal. It's basically an exact replica of the images that your
final file will consist of.

200
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

Generate Selected Frames


This feature allows you to apply a special flavoring to selected frames so that when you unleash RAViX III or EMO
they will only ravage those designated frames before returning to their cage. To choose certain frames of your anima-
tion, please refer to the upcoming section on selecting frames. If you need to refer to your animation to determine
which frames you want rendered, you can move back and forth between the Scene Editor and the Preview and Export
Editor without de-selecting frames already slated for rendering.

Select Every Nth Frame


Often times you'd like to see what your animation would look like if it had less frames. Since 3D in Flash is done with
a series of frames, being able to reduce the number of frames exported from Swift 3D can help save dramatically on
file size. By selecting every Nth frame you can save time in rendering or save file size in exporting, while still knowing
exactly what the animation looks like before you create a file.

Selecting Frames
The process of selecting frames is integral to using the Preview Editor. Fortunately, it's really easy. Clicking on a frame
will select an individual frame. Holding down the CTRL key while selecting will allow you to select multiple frames
that are not in a sequence. Holding down the SHIFT key will allow you to select all of the frames in between the last
frame you selected and the one you select next. Once you have the frames selected, if you click on an unselected frame
without the appropriate key depressed, you will end up de-selecting all of your frames and just selecting the individual
frame you just clicked on.

Lock Selected Frames


When messing around with the selection process, it's easy to errantly erase a carefully selected set of frames, so the
Lock Selected Frames button will disallow you from selecting, or even seeing the frames that are not selected.

SmartLayer and Swift 3D Importer Note


If you are planning on using the SWFT file format to bring your rendered scene into Flash MX or MX 2004 via the
Swift 3D Importer and have chosen to separate stationary and moving objects within the General section of the Output
Options, there is one thing you’ll want to watch out for.
You see, the process of knowing what objects are stationary and what objects are moving from frame to frame is
dependant on knowing exactly what’s happened in the frame before the one that’s being rendered. When you render out
your scene, RAViX III tracks the activity from frame to frame so it can write all of the proper information that Flash
will need into each frame of the final SWFT file. But once you start selecting unrendered frames from a pre-rendered
sequence the concept of knowing what happened in prior frames gets a little shakey.
So, once you’ve rendered a specific series of frames, you can export them as long as you don’t select any unrendered
frames before you proceed to the Export step. If you do, the rendered frames will be cleared and will need to be re-ren-
dered in order to be able to export them.

201
Chapter 18 | Preview and Export

But if you are simply rendering out your entire animation and then exporting it, or even selected pieces of it, this will
never even affect you. And if you do not have the Separate Stationary and Moving Objects option turned on, there will
be no selection restrictions and the Preview and Export Editor will work just as it always has.

Playback Controls
Once you have rendered a preview, these controls allow you to view the results. They function just like the controls
associated with the Animation Timeline in the Scene Editor.
NOTE: After you have rendered a preview of your animation, that rendering will be available for export to file until
you either render another preview or go back into the Scene Editor and change anything about your scene. At that point
your preview will disappear and you will need to render another preview before exporting to a file.

Export To File
The final step in creating output from Swift 3D is the Export to File function. At this point
you should be happy with the scene or animation you see within the preview window, because
that is exactly what your final file will consist of. The process of exporting to a file is very
quick, so don't freak out and imagine you have to wait through the rendering process again.
All you're doing at this point is naming your file and having Swift 3D write the pre-rendered
information to a file. This typically takes a few seconds, but with very large files it may take a
minute or longer.

Export All Frames


This will create a file that contains every single rendered frame of your animation. If you have chosen to only render
certain frames of your original animation via the Render Preview step, those are the ones that will go into this file.
There is no way to export frames that are a part of your original animation without first rendering a preview of those
frames.

Export Selected Frames


This option lets you export only the frames that you have selected in the Preview Editor.

How to export a file:


1. Make sure you have first rendered your scene via the Render Preview step.
2. Choose the Export button you would like.
3. Name your file and choose where you want it to be created.
4. Click Save.

Flash Tutorial: Preview and Export Editor - Overview

202
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

19 rendering with RAViX

Overview
Swift 3D was built around the concept of rendering 3D scenes to vectors, and the enabling technology that drives that
vector rendering process is RAViX. This proprietary technology is now in its third version and still going strong so our
users can rest assured that they have the best vector rendering technology under the hood of their application.
The process of creating vector-based 3D animations is very complex from the program's side of things, but really pretty
easy to understand from the user's perspective. When RAViX III renders out a scene that you've built within Swift 3D it
looks at all of the objects and determines what the best approach is to turn it into a vector rendition of those same
objects. You could think of RAViX as an artist looking at a scene. There are many ways to draw that scene based on the
artist's goals and skills. Depending on which approach the artist decides to take you can end up with a fairly wide vari-
ety of drawings. The big difference with Swift 3D is that all animations are built one frame at a time. Much like a hand
cartoonist creates the old-time flip books of image after image, RAViX renders out frame after frame of your animation
so it looks to be animated when played back at your desired speed.

Nick’s Tips
The process of converting your 3D scene to vectors is very memory intensive—there’s just no way around it
(at least none that we’ve discovered to date). For this reason, I don’t recommend attempting to render incredibly long
animations of complex scenes. When you start throwing 1,000+ frame animations through RAViX you are likely to
start encountering out of memory errors. If you absolutely have to create very long animations with complex scenes
(50,000+ polygons) you may consider rendering them out in smaller chunks and then stitching them back together in
Flash. But keep in mind that Flash might not be particularly thrilled about your big files either.

Vector Output Options


This is really where the big-time decisions get made. We built Swift 3D to give designers serious control over what
their output looks like. Depending on the desired effect, file size, application, etc. of your final vector file, the choices
are all contained within this section of the rendering dialog.

203
Chapter 19 | Rendering With RAViX

It is well worth your while to read through each option carefully so you truly understand what sort of forces are at work
on your rendered file. It could mean the difference between a post-render exclamation of “What the... that looks nasty,”
and “OOOOHHHHH...me likey!”

General
The Output Options can be broken up into three primary categories, and of course Gen-
eral is where we put all the controls that didn't belong in the other two categories. It cov-
ers the basics of file types, and how you want RAViX III to treat certain aspects of the
rendering process.

Target File Type


Depending on what your publishing goals are, you have five different file formats to
choose from. It is important to note that the rendering process for each of these file types
is different, so if you render with the File Type set to SWFT and decide you need an
SWF file you will need to render again. By default, the Target File Type is set to the
SWFT file format, but if you have a certain file type that you typically render to you
might want to consider changing the file type Swift 3D defaults to by going to View >
User Preferences.

Swift 3D Flash Importer (SWFT)


The SWFT file format is Electric Rain’s proprietary format that can be read by the Swift
3D Importer, which is installed with Swift 3D if you happen to have Flash MX or Flash
MX 2004 on your machine.
The main advantage that you gain by using the SWFT file format (again, it’s only rele-
vant to users of Flash MX or Flash MX 2004) is the ability to render your scene using our SmartLayer Technology.
This unlocks the ability to bring in your animations with various components broken out into separate layers within
Flash.

Separate Stationary and Moving Objects


This checkbox is only available when the SWFT file format is selected as the Target File Type. When it is turned on,
RAViX III will automatically render out a separate layer for the stationary and moving objects in your scene. You will
still create a layered SWFT file when it is turned off, but there will be no separation of moving and stationary objects.
SmartLayers are covered in more detail in the chapter on Using Exported Files.

Macromedia Flash (SWF)


The ubiquity of the Flash Player has allowed the SWF file format to become the de facto standard for vector graphics
on the Web. It has become the low-bandwidth solution for creating animations, interactivity and now 3D to be dis-
played across multiple platforms and devices.

204
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

One limitation of Flash is the fact that there is no support for 3D natively within the Flash Player (i.e., an internal ren-
dering engine). Of course, Swift 3D would probably not exist if this were the case, so it's not really a limitation for
Electric Rain. What Swift 3D needs to accomplish in order to translate your 3D animation to 2D vectors is to write out
exactly what Flash should be displaying in each and every frame. In other words, we have to export a keyframe for
every frame of your animation.
And therein lies the limitation. Since Flash doesn't know how to tween 3D objects between keyframes, very long ani-
mations can be quite large in file size. Your 3D scene may only be 5K when you render out one frame, but if you have
an animation that's 100 frames long, you're going to be looking at a final file that's approaching 500K.
Now a relevant consideration is where you're going to be publishing this file. If it's going on a CD or displayed locally
on a network, file size is not an issue. But most users are using Flash to display their 3D content over the Web, in which
case file size plays a big factor in deciding on a design.
I highly recommend taking a look at the section on Output Options to gain crucial information on how to balance your
3D animation quality with your file size concerns.

Adobe Illustrator (AI)


Swift 3D can render your 3D files accurately enough so that when you import it into a 2D vector drawing program, it's
like it was hand drawn. The implications of this are subtle, but deep. The ability to create scalable 3D images is a pow-
erful option, since bitmap 3D exports have their limitations.
Let's say you want to create a 3D version of your logo. With Swift 3D, you can export to AI or EPS and you'll have a
scalable version of that logo so you don't have to mess with pixels, resolution and other assorted complexities of raster
graphics.
You'll notice that when you choose AI as an export option, the two gradient shading fill options, Area and Mesh,
become unavailable. This is due to the fact that RAViX III does not currently support Level 3 EPS. The most detailed
output option you can attain without rendering gradients is the Cartoon Full Color Fill.

Encapsulated PostScript (EPS)


If you are going to be using EPS renders for print media, please see the explanation under Adobe Illustrator (AI). EPS
export has the same Level 2 restrictions as AI, so you do not have access to the two gradient shading options.
If you're exporting an animation to the EPS file format, upon export you will end up with a series of EPS files labeled
‘filename001.eps’, ‘filename002.eps’, etc. You will want to avoid using any numbers in your file name since they will
end up wreaking havoc on the sequential naming process.

Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG)


Is SVG going to be the next vector graphics wave of the future? I have no idea. But I do know that Swift 3D exports to
SVG, so at least you have the option if you need it.
Upon writing to the SVG file format, you have a couple of extra options to think about. As soon as you choose SVG
from the Save As Type dropdown list, the Animation Level and Compressed menu items will become active.
Aside from those features, your Output Options are identical to those of SWF, AI and EPS exports.

205
Chapter 19 | Rendering With RAViX

File Level
This feature is applicable only when you're exporting to the SWF file format. Although all of our rendered vector files
are fairly homogenous, we had to include a little bit of extra information in the Flash 4 files due to a bug in the Flash 4
authoring tool. So when you export to Flash 4 using the Area or Mesh Gradient Shading option, you will end up with a
dummy frame at the beginning of your animation. Once imported into Flash, you just need to delete the extra frame
and save your project.
Aside from that, the three file types are all the same. No matter what you save your file as, it will play back in any com-
patible version of the Flash Player, and will import into a version of the Flash authoring tool that is equal to or greater
than the level you choose.

SVG Options
As I mentioned earlier, when you are rendering a file to the SVG file format, you have a few extra options to consider.

Compressed
Compressed does just that—squash your final file eight to nine times what it would be if left uncompressed. The obvi-
ous advantage is that it's easier to publish to the Web when compressed. The disadvantage is that you lose editability,
so if you're looking to incorporate your SVG animation into another SVG file, you'll want to leave it uncompressed
until you have a final product.

Animation
Animation Level refers to how you want your SVG files to be built. The two options you have are Native and Script.
Native means that the scripting that drives your animation is included within the SVG code itself.
Script will generate two files for you: one SVG file that contains the frames of your animation and one HTML file that
contains JavaScript that drives your animation.
One difference you may want to pay attention to is if you have a long animation (more than 40 frames or so) you will
start to see the file size increase when exporting with the Native Animation Level.

Detail Level
Crank it up! Wait, don't crank it up! Wait, it all depends.
I'm always hesitant to put these types of controls into a user interface because the tendency is to crank it up as high as
possible because obviously detail is a good thing. Unfortunately, by doing this you end up with slower rendering times
and larger files.
This is one of those case-by-case controls that may need to be fooled around with to get the best results. And just when
you think you've figured out what the best setting is, you throw a new scene in and it's a whole new ball game.

206
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

Nick's Tips
Despite the fact that our default setting for Detail Level is Automatic, I'd advocate trying the Low setting until
you get output that doesn't look good. It speeds up rendering time by a bunch, and I usually don't see any flaws show-
ing up on Low that I don't also get with it set on Automatic. By using Low first, you can get a quick rendering that will
most likely be of good quality. And if you see any significant flaws, you probably would have had to go to the Medium
or High settings anyway.
In addition to this Detail Level decision, you can also alter your rendering times and output accuracy by using smaller
or larger dimensions in the Layout setting of your scene. If you're really trying to increase the speed of RAViX III, you
can make your scene really small and set the Detail Level to Low. But if your file comes back all funky, don't say I
didn't warn you because there is no guarantee of rendering quality when you start tweaking both settings at once. Cer-
tainly there is plenty of room for experimentation here, and you'll most likely find your own comfortable balance
between rendering speed and file quality.

Curve Fitting
The elegant curve… so supple… so smooth. So file size friendly! That's right, curves are good for more than just art,
they're good for bandwidth too. You see, since vectors are drawn mathematically, it takes more pieces of information to
draw 10 line segments than it does one continuous curve.
So why the slider, you ask? Don't I always want to draw curves? Not exactly.
Although, in theory, curves should give you better results, in practice it's not always the case. There's something about
the way Flash geometry is calculated that often results in irregular curves. If you take a semi-smooth object in Flash
and optimize its curves as much as possible, chances are you'll get some distortion of your outline. Unfortunately the
same holds true for our vector output.
There are really two things you can play around with when it comes to balancing accuracy and file size. The first is this
Curve Fitting slider and the second is the Detail Level. Again, it's tough to give you an exact formula that works for
every model. If that formula existed we would have hard-coded the settings, but it really varies from model to model
and animation to animation.
All I can do is make a recommendation. Leave the slider where it is unless you don't like your output quality or file
size. If your file is too fat (file size wise), crank it on up towards Curves and see if you get good image quality. If your
image quality is not to your liking or your animation is a little jumpy where you have got curves, crank it down towards
Lines and see if it helps.
Swift 3D is a bit like a musical instrument; you've got to practice it a little before the subtleties become readily appar-
ent. That's the melodramatic way of saying, “Try some different stuff and see what works for you.”

Combine Edges and Fills


This little feature got one of those “it does what?” (along with a right-side face scrunch) reactions when the engineers
first described it to me.
Basically, RAViX III can export your lines and fills with two forms of construction. If you choose not to Combine
Edges and Fills, when you import your vector file into Flash you will have lines and fills that can be separated without

207
Chapter 19 | Rendering With RAViX

breaking the object apart. If you choose to Combine Edges and Fills (the default setting), your lines and fills can't be
separated from each other in Flash unless you break apart your object.
The advantage to having them combined is that your files will be smaller. Plus, most of the time you won't need to gain
control over each individual line segment. The advantage to having them uncombined is that you can separate your
outlines and fills without having to break them apart.

Flash Tutorial: Vector Output Options - General

Fill Options
Here's a little analogy for you...
Creating solid objects with clay is pretty straightforward. You mold it, you bake it, you're
done. But creating them with vectors is a little more involved—sort of like applying the glaze
to your clay model. It brings out the next level of artistry. Well, Swift 3D gives you seven dif-
ferent types of ‘Glaze’ to work with, and then throws in a couple of ‘Glaze Effects’ for you to
have fun with.
And now I'm done with that lame analogy.
You can break up the eight different styles of fill rendering into two main categories: Flat
Fills and Gradient Fills. Although there are five Flat Fill options, they all have one thing in
common: only flat colors get applied to your objects. The big difference between the five is
how many shades of flat colors get used in the process. The two Gradient Fill options apply
vector gradients to your objects, and the difference between the two is how detailed the gra-
dients get.

Cartoon Single Color Fill


This option is Swift 3D's most basic fill export type. Although it exports
very small files, the quality of resulting animations is very simplistic.
What RAViX III does to render this fill option is take the diffuse color for
each object in your scene, and applies that color to the entire object. There
are several situations where the Cartoon Single Color Fill is appropriate to
use.
• If you have models that are broken up into several smaller sections
with differing materials applied to them, the colors can often give you
a better sense of shape without needing to define your edges.
• If you are exporting with outlines, this fill level is greatly enhanced
because the outlines will define the surfaces, while the fills will give
the image its solidity.

208
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

• If you're looking for the true ‘cartoony’ look, this can be an effective output style. However, you may find that
exporting outlines is necessary to give your characters and objects more definition.

Cartoon Average Color Fill


Hi, my name is Nick, and I'm a Cartoon Average Color Fill freak!
Seriously, since the inception of this rendering option, I have exported more
animations using Average Fill than all the other fill options combined. In my
humble, non-designer opinion, it gives you just the right combination of
eye-pleasing 3D effect and modest file size.
Let me explain how it works. When you choose to export an animation
using the Cartoon Average Color Fill option, RAViX III will separate your
objects into groups of polygons that occur on similar surfaces and apply a
flat fill to each one of the surfaces based upon its angle towards your light
sources.
The true beauty of Cartoon Average Color Fill shines through when you ani-
mate an object. RAViX III will recalculate each surface's brightness for
every frame of your animation. When you play the animation back, your eyes are tricked into seeing gradients when
none are actually present.
Of course there are situations where Cartoon Average Color Fill does not do objects justice. With fairly smooth,
organic models there are very few surfaces defined by hard edges and the power of the Cartoon Average Color Fill is
lost. In those cases you might as well be exporting with Cartoon Single Color Fill.

Cartoon Two Color Fill


This export format is the next step up in quality from the Cartoon Single
Color Fill (duh) and you can see that the addition of another color begins to
really define the 3D shape. In this case, RAViX III is calculating the angles
of your lights and determining which parts of each surface should be lighter
and which should be darker.
Because there is more vector information going into the file (additional col-
ored fills), your files will be larger than the Cartoon Single Color Fill option,
but if you compare them side-by-side, you may find the sacrifice to be very
worthwhile.
On the other hand, if you're dealing with geometric shapes that consist of
many flat planes (a box for example), you won't find much benefit exporting
with two, four or full color fills because it appears a little unnatural to have
flat surfaces broken into several shades of a single color. With those types of objects, the Cartoon Average Color Fill
would be appropriate.

209
Chapter 19 | Rendering With RAViX

Cartoon Four Color Fill


With four colors being applied to each surface, you will see some realism
coming into your models. Unfortunately, file size begins to become an
issue. Depending on the length of your animation and target audience, you
may find Cartoon Four Color Fill to be a little too heavy. But if bandwidth
is not an issue or your project is going to be distributed via CD, DVD,
locally on a network, or in print media, the details that start to come out
with this output option are nice.

Cartoon Full Color Fill


This export format is about as realistic as you can get without actually
applying gradients. What RAViX III does here is apply a custom shade of
the applied material to every single polygon of each surface. It's still apply-
ing flat fills, but in a very detailed manner. Due to the detail involved, the
higher the polygon count in your models, the bigger the exported file.
In my honest opinion (shhh, don't tell the engineers), if you're looking for a
high level of detail and file size is not an issue, the Mesh Gradient Shading
is a better option than this. But if you're going to be rendering an AI or EPS
file, this format gives you the highest quality possible since you can't export
gradients with those formats.

Area Gradient Shading

I remember a time long ago when I was pushing the Area Gradient Shading
export option pretty heavily. It was before we released a version of RAViX
that had the Cartoon Average Color Fill option. Now that they're both in my
life, the choice becomes a little less clear cut, but they are both very power-
ful fill styles when it comes to creating a good level of realism without jack-
ing your file size through the roof. But first let me explain how the bloody
thing works.
When you choose to export an image or animation using the Area Gradient
Shading feature, RAViX III looks for groups of polygons that occur on sim-
ilar surfaces and applies one radial gradient to each surface. It determines
those surfaces by the presence, or lack thereof, of hard edges in your model.
By applying a limited number of gradients to your file, RAViX can generate
some nice looking content in a pretty tight manner.

210
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

Models that work well with this export option tend to be more faceted (created from many distinctly defined surfaces)
in nature. I find that scenes with a combination of flat and smooth surfaces work the best with Area Gradient Shading
because the curved surfaces will exhibit nice gradients while the flat surfaces will maintain a more even appearance.
When objects are mostly smooth, the gradients can become a little overbearing.

Mesh Gradient Shading


This is the Grand Pooh-Bah of fill options. At this point in time, there's
nothing better in the world when it comes to vector rendering quality. What
it accomplishes is nothing short of amazing, but then again, I'm not a 3D art-
ist and can be easily impressed, so you can judge for yourself.
If you choose to render your file with Mesh Gradient Shading, each polygon
in your scene receives a linear gradient fill. That means that high polygon
models will get really big, really fast. And even low poly models with short
animations can generate files too big for reasonable use on the Web.
So what's the point, you ask? Scalability. With the vector output, you can
show your detailed renderings at any size and they will always look identi-
cal. Not true with any bitmap formats. Besides that there are often cases
where you only need one detailed image for the Web, thus avoiding the
compounding effect of sequential keyframe animations. And then there are all those cases where you might be using
Swift 3D for multimedia presentations that are not distributed through the Web.
So I'll leave it up to you to decide if Mesh Gradient Shading is useful for your design purposes. But much like a V-12
engine, whether you use it or not, it's always nice to know you've got the power under the hood.

Include Specular Highlights


Specular Highlights are really just a way to trick the eyes into thinking
something is 3D when it's not. When we walk around in our every day life
we are subject to these glints or gleams off of shiny surfaces, and the Spec-
ular Highlight option in Swift 3D is a way to re-create those visual cues
without having to use a heavy rendering style. Now you can create 3D
looking objects and animations using a combination of cartoon shading and
specular highlights and maintain reasonably sized files.
By default, all lights within Swift 3D are created with the option to create
Specular Highlights turned on. Often you’re better off choosing only one or
two lights to create highlights on your objects, so you must turn this feature
off in the light’s Property Page of the Properties Toolbar.
Specular Levels: The number of specular levels you want to render your scene with will control how abruptly the
shading goes from the base color to the brighter color shown in the specular highlight. The settings go up to eight but
typically if you set it to two or three you'll see a very nice softening of the speculars that goes a long way to convince a
casual observer that you've got some photorealistic stuff going on when you actually don't.

211
Chapter 19 | Rendering With RAViX

Nick's Tips
When using the specular highlight option you should pay close attention to the segmentation settings on any
primitive objects within your scene. The reason is that the shape of your specular highlights often suffers when the seg-
mentation settings are too low. If you find irregular looking highlights showing up in your scene, the first thing to do is
double check the segmentation settings (number of polygons that make up the primitive).

Include Reflections
Ooohh, baby, this one's cool. Since we live in a world rife with reflections,
so too should our world of 3D vectors. At least that's the way our engineers
feel about it. So now that Swift 3D includes materials that have reflective
properties, RAViX III can calculate realistic reflections that occur in objects
with reflective materials. Basically, any material that has its reflection color
set to something other than black will exhibit reflective properties if this
option is turned on when rendering with RAViX III.

Reflection Depths
This number corresponds to the number of times reflections can be bounced
back and forth between objects. Have you ever looked in a mirror and seen
something that you wouldn't expect to see, and when you look closer you realize that it's a reflection of another reflec-
tion? RAViX III has the ability to calculate up to eight of these reflection depths, but realistically you probably want to
stay in the one to three range for two reasons: 1) rendering time increases every time you increase this setting because
more calculations have to be accounted for; and 2) file size increases because there's more detail being written into
your final file, and most often you won't be seeing a noticeable increase in file quality.

Nick's Tips
Be very judicious in your application of reflective materials if you're concerned with file size. By all means use
them because it's a damn fine feature, but think about where the reflections are going to add real value to your image or
animation. There tends to be certain surfaces where reflection really makes objects pop off the screen. Most small
detailed surfaces don't need to be reflective and they'll only slow rendering speeds and increase file size when desig-
nated as such.

Flash Tutorial: Vector Output Options - Fills

212
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

Include Shadows
Shadows take 3D to the next level of realism. Now obviously, they're not for
every situation, but in certain instances they can make a scene really come
to life. Upon export, if you turn on Include Shadows, every light within your
scene designated as shadow casting (read about this lighting property in the
Lighting chapter) will interact with the objects and cast realistic shadows on
a variety of surfaces. Also, when shadows are cast upon one another (over-
lapping) RAViX III has the ability to calculate realistic shadow densities
where those shadows intersect. These are the places where you might find
shadows being cast in your scene:
Object Shadows: In scenes where there are multiple objects, shadow cast-
ing lights can create very cool shadows that fall onto other objects within
the scene. A popular use of shadows is placing a plane object beneath your
scene and designating a few of your overhead lights to cast shadows.
Self Shadows: With more complex objects, when you choose to render shadows you can get some nice effects gener-
ated when parts of your object get in between the shadow casting light and the rest of the object. These are called self-
shadows.

Flash Tutorial: Shadows

NOTE: You can expect to see your render time increase when exporting with shadows. Also, since there will need to
be more vector information written into your files with shadows, you will see an increase in the size of your files as
well.

213
Chapter 19 | Rendering With RAViX

Edge Options
Edges, edges and more edges. We learned our lesson after first releasing Swift 3D—edges
mean different things to different people. So we went ahead and beefed up our edge render-
ing options to make sure our users could get exactly the look they wanted.
It's important to mention that you can export edges only, or combine them with any of the
fill options. And remember that the additional edge information being written into your vec-
tor file is going to beef up your file size over whatever it would be with just fills.

Edge Type
You have two options when choosing the Edge Type feature: Outlines and Entire Mesh.

Outlines
I like to call this one 'Hard Edges' because that's what RAViX III looks for
when it's detecting where to draw the outlines. If you need RAViX to pick
up any further details you can use the Detail Edge control to do a bit of fine
tuning. Read more about Detail Edge in the upcoming section.
Outlines can also be defined by creating Smoothing Groups in the
Advanced Modeler. Refer to the section on Smoothing Groups in the
Advanced Modeler chapter for information on this process.

Entire Mesh
When you think 'Wireframe,' RAViX III thinks Entire Mesh. Essentially
what's going on here is Swift 3D is exporting the outlines of every single
polygon in your scene. The tighter the mesh is, the more polygons RAViX
III will export, and the larger the final file size becomes.
The only way you can alter the detail of your exported image is to either
reduce or increase the number of polygons in your scene. You can control
this by using the Segmentation settings within each object's Properties Page,
or by bringing objects into the Advanced Modeler and editing their mesh.
Very smooth (high-poly) objects can turn almost black with lines and very
rough (low-poly) objects will begin to look like they were exported using
the Outlines option.

214
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

Include Hidden Edges


This feature is a variation of the wireframe concept in that it exports the front and the back
edges of your model, giving it a transparent look. The best way to describe it is visually. The
first image on the right is a box without the hidden edges exported and the second has the
hidden edges included.
That should pretty much clear things up for you. Just remember that you will be increasing
your file size with the Hidden Edges being drawn because you're creating more information
in that final vector file. And unless you have a very low polygon model, I wouldn't recom-
mend using this feature with the Entire Mesh outline option because you will probably see
way too many lines show up upon rendering.

Include Detail Edges


There are obvious places to find edges and less obvious places, and the
Include Edge Detail control allows you to delineate where that line is
drawn.
The lowest level of edge detection comes when you are only looking for an
outside edge - essentially an outline around your objects. But there is typi-
cally much more to an object that you want to define such as all of the inte-
rior lines that really bring out the detail and third dimension of an object.
By choosing to turn this feature on, you are telling RAViX III to start look-
ing for those interior edges. The next decision comes with choosing how
much detail you want to call out, which gets decided through the Detail
Angle control.

Detail Edge Angle


This function allows you to adjust how sensitive RAViX III is to the Detail Edge detection. The way it works is the
lower the threshold angle, the more edges will be detected, and conversely the higher you go, the less edges will be
detected. Sort of counter-intuitive, but hey, it's the geometry, not us.
It all hinges upon the angle differences between the different faces of your objects, so there's not really a good way to
describe which edges will be detected under which angle settings because it really depends on how your objects are
constructed. The best bet is to mess around until you get the appropriate number of edges being detected and rendered
out.

215
Chapter 19 | Rendering With RAViX

Line Weight
This function allows you to designate the weight of your lines upon rendering. There's a range from hairline to 10
point.

Line Color
This one is pretty much a no-brainer. Double click on the color box, choose your color, and bingo, your edges will be
that color. Since I'm completely unqualified to go into color theory, that's about as far as I'm going to take that one.

Flash Tutorial: Vector Output Options - Edges

216
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

20 rendering with EMO

Overview
Although Swift 3D has its roots in vectors, it has evolved to also become
fluent in the realm of raster output. Flash users have been expanding their
repertoire beyond pure vector content and are commonly incorporating ras-
ter images and animations into their projects. For this reason, we include a
secondary rendering engine within Swift 3D that is geared to satisfy users
looking for richer looking 3D content. This rendering engine is named
EMO (short for Electric Motion) and it's at your disposal.
EMO uses a specific technique known as Ray Tracing to turn your scene
into a raster file. Ray Tracing is a rendering technique whereby complex
mathematical calculations are performed to determine how the lights, colors
and objects within the scene affect the overall appearance of the scene. I
don't want to bore you with too many details regarding the insane equations
that govern this rendering process (which means I have no clue how EMO's
Ray Tracing actually operates behind the scenes in Swift 3D). Suffice to say that by calculating how real light rays
would naturally interact with the objects in your scene EMO is able to render incredibly realistic files.
Aside from more realistic rendering, EMO opens some more doors in the creation environment as well. Because EMO
is able to analyze the interaction of light with a surface more accurately than RAViX III, you have the ability to apply
textures to your objects in the form of Bitmap and Procedural Textures (see chapter on Materials for more information
on these concepts).

217
Chapter 20 | Rendering With EMO

General
Target File Type
Here you can decide what file format you want to export your final rendering to. By default,
the Target File Type is set to the SWF file format. You can change the file type Swift 3D
defaults to by going to View > User Preferences. It’s important to note, however, that no
matter what file type is chosen, the rendering process will be identical. For this reason you
can render a scene once and then export it to a variety of raster files without having to render
the scene again.
Flash Player (SWF) - Although the SWF file format started out as a vector format, it now
supports raster imagery as well. Swift 3D has the ability to render frame-by-frame raster ani-
mations and place all of the frames into a single SWF file that can then be imported into
Flash.
Windows Bitmap (BMP) - BMPs are bitmap files that use the common Windows file for-
mat for storing color images. This file format is the native format for Microsoft Windows
and many Windows programs support this format.
JPEG Format (JPG) - JPEG files are a standard supported by almost all applications,
browsers, media players, etc.
Portable Network Graphics (PNG) - PNG (Portable Network Graphic) is a non-patented, lossless compression for-
mat for creating graphics.
Tagged Image Format (TIF) - TIF is one of the most common graphic image formats. TIF files are commonly used in
desktop publishing, faxing and 3D applications.
True Vision TARGA (TGA) - TGA files are another standard Windows format that support both 24 and 32 bit colors.

File Level
These three Flash file types are all pretty much the same. No matter what you save your file as, it will play back in any
compatible version of the Flash Player, and will import into a version of the Flash authoring tool that is equal to or
greater than the level you choose.

Bitmap Compression
This option is activated only for JPEG, PNG and SWF formats. The slider goes from Size, which provides the smallest
file, to Quality, which creates the nicest image. It's important to realize that if you are going to be importing your ren-
dered files into Flash for inclusion into a larger project, then Flash will do the final compression on your raster images.
This means that you should be rendering using at least the default compression settings so you don't end up precluding
Flash's compression abilities. On the other hand, if you are not going to be doing any post-production work on your
rendered files then you might want to pay extra attention to the Bitmap Compression settings because there is a very
wide range of output quality associated with the two extreme settings.

218
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

Color Depth
This setting has to do with the number of colors the rendered file is capable of including. All of the formats support 24
and 32 Bit colors, except JPEG, which only supports 24 Bit, and SWF, which only supports 32 Bit. Obviously 32 Bit
colors are more rich, but there is little difference between them and the default settings should work fine for you.

Antialias Quality
Antialiasing is a process whereby pixels along the boundaries of two different colors are averaged together in order to
smooth out edges to the viewer's eye. It's a fairly common process performed by most applications and players, and it's
at your beckoned call when rendering scenes with EMO. The process involves blowing up the image a certain number
of times, then averaging the pixels and finally shrinking it back down to the original size. Thus the settings are None,
2x2, 3x3 and 4x4, with the numbers representing how many times the image is blown up in size. Each level of magni-
fication results in a higher quality file but also increases the overall render times.

Nick’s Tips
EMO can create some wicked output, but depending on your scene it can be slow to do so. Being a Ray Trac-
ing rendering engine, it goes about its business by calculating what all of the light rays within your scene are up to at
any given moment. There are a couple of materials that make this process slow down because of what those materials
do to the millions of rays bouncing around. Reflectivity is one material property that can have a slowing effect because
EMO needs to calculate all of the different light rays that are hitting the reflective surface. Another property is trans-
parency. Allowing light to simply pass through an object is not a big deal, but EMO can also figure out how that light
is refracted by the transparent surfaces in such a way that scenes look incredibly realistic. So be forewarned, reflectiv-
ity and transparency can have adverse effects on render times, and when you add them together you really need to be
patient to get the super-cool results. I guess that’s why they made computers so they never have to sleep.

Flash Tutorial: Raster Output Options - General

219
Chapter 20 | Rendering With EMO

220
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

21 using exported files

Overview
So you've got this great looking output and you're wondering “What's next?” Well, since we hate to leave you com-
pletely out in the cold, we've got a few answers for you. Chances are you're creating your 3D animation to incorporate
into a larger project. We realize that Swift 3D is more of a tool than an application, meaning that designers like yourself
utilize Swift 3D to accomplish a certain part of their overall production goals. And now you've got this red hot render-
ing and you're itching to integrate it into whatever bigger picture you have envisioned.
The first question is what type of file did you end up creating from Swift 3D? There are really three main answers to
that question: SWF, SWFT or any raster format including raster-based SWF. There is somewhat of a divergence of
strategies based on which exported format you’ve created, so let’s look at your options.

Publishing SWF files directly to Web


Although the majority of Swift 3D users are creating 3D animations to augment their Flash design, we realize that there
are plenty of people who have no need to do any further SWF editing within Flash. Swift 3D creates SWF files that are
ready for direct publishing to the Web or distribution to anyone who has the Flash player on their computer or handheld
device. For this reason you can use any number of HTML editing applications to incorporate your SWF files into
HTML-based Web sites.

SmartLayer SWFT Files using MX Importer


We were pretty pumped when Macromedia asked us to do an importer for Flash because we knew it would open some
new doors for us and for our RAViX III rendering engine. Those new doors come in the form of our SmartLayer tech-
nology that enables Swift 3D to write layering information into the proprietary file format we use to transfer 3D infor-
mation from Swift 3D to Flash. No longer are we handcuffed by the SWF file format, and by unshackling our files, we
can pass the power and flexibility on to you, the designer.

221
Chapter 21 | Using Exported Files

This new format is the SWFT file that was a part of your listing of Target File Type options back in the Output Options
section of the Preview and Export Editor. If you chose to use the SWFT file format to get your content from Swift 3D
to Flash MX or MX 2004 then you’re in the right place.

Swift 3D Importer
When you install Swift 3D, if you have either Flash MX or MX 2004 installed on your machine then the Swift 3D
Importer was automatically installed for you so you should be all set to begin importing SWFT files. If you installed
Flash MX or MX 2004 after you installed Swift 3D you can also manually install the Swift 3D Importer yourself.

How to manually install the Swift 3D Importer for Flash MX and MX 2004:
1. Make sure Flash is not currently open.
2. Navigate to the folder where Swift 3D is installed on your computer.
3. Open the “Version 4.00” folder.
4. Open the “Flash Importer” folder.
5. Copy the file “Swift3DImporter.” (This is a .dll file on Windows.)
6. Navigate to the .../first run/importers folder of your Flash MX or MX 2004 installation.
7. Paste the “Swift3DImporter” file into that folder.
Now the next time you fire up Flash MX or MX 2004 you will have the Swift 3D Importer enabled, allowing you to
bring in SWFT files from Swift 3D.

How to import a SWFT file into Flash MX or MX 2004:


1. After rendering your file using RAViX III (EMO is unable to use the Swift 3D Importer), open up Flash MX or
MX 2004.
2. Choose File > Import to Library.
3. Choose “Swift 3D Importer (*.swft)” from the “Files of type” dropdown list.
4. Navigate to your exported SWFT file and click OK.
That's it. Our importer will handle everything else for you. The Swift 3D Importer takes that SWFT file and automati-
cally creates an individual movie clip within your current movie's Library, naming it after the file name.

Layers
When you open up the Movie Clip in Flash you'll see that RAViX III has written you a series of layers that all combine
to make up the entire animation you rendered from Swift 3D. Here are the potential layers that will be created within
Flash, working our way up from the bottom of the stacking order:

Colors Layers
These layers make up the foundation of the basic fill style you chose before rendering your file. For example, if you
opted for the Cartoon Average Color Fill style, you'll find all of the colored shapes RAViX III created upon rendering
within these layers.

222
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

Colors (Stationary): Often things aren't always moving in your scene. Unfortunately, since 3D in Flash is a frame-by-
frame process we've had to draw out every object in every frame. With the ability to write information to separate lay-
ers we're not forced to draw every object for every frame. The big deal with this feature is that you can conserve on file
size by only including a single frame for objects that aren't moving over time.
Colors (Motion): As the name implies, these layers include information about all of the objects that change in appear-
ance from frame to frame. There's nothing novel about how we're doing this because it's the same as it's always been.
But if you look to the various aspects of your file we've written into the layers of Flash you'll see some additional flex-
ibility available to you.

Outline Layers
If you turned on the Include Edges option within the Output Options area before rendering, you will have at least one
layer of outlines appearing in your Flash file after import.
Outlines (Stationary): As is the case with the Colors layers, in many Swift 3D files there are objects that do not move
for a series of frames, and this layer will consist of the outlines of those objects. You will find a keyframe that marks
the start of those objects’ existence followed by a series of static frames.
Outlines (Motion): Anytime objects are moving from frame to frame, this layer will include the motion of the outlines
of those objects, represented by a series of keyframes.

Shadows Layer
If you chose to include shadows in your file, a layer will be created that contains all of the shadow information grouped
together. To gain access to the actual fills of the shadow objects you can break apart the group and adjust the fills indi-
vidually.

Highlights Layer
These layers are created when you turn on the Include Specular Highlights option within the Fills category of the Pre-
view and Export Editor. These highlights will be grouped together and will include the number of gradations specified
within the Output Options of Swift 3D.

Reflections Layer
Any objects that had a reflective materials applied to them within Swift 3D will end up in this layer. It's important to
note that it's not the object itself showing up in this layer, but any other objects in the scene that are reflected off of the
surface of the original object.

Transparent Layer
Materials that have a transparency setting of anything above zero will reside in this layer. The colors you see within
this layer will all have alpha settings less than 100% within Flash, and this layer should remain on top of the stacking
order since they are meant to show other layers beneath them via their alpha settings.
If you choose to import the SWFT file directly onto your stage or into an existing Movie Clip via the File > Import pro-
cess, you'll find that all of these layers simply get stacked up on top of whatever layers are already included on the

223
Chapter 21 | Using Exported Files

main stage. If you choose to do a File > Import to Library, you will find that a Movie Clip (or symbol if it’s a single
frame rendering) has been placed into the Root of your Library and has been named using the file name.

Now the Fun Begins - Utilizing SmartLayer Technology


Now I'm no Flash guru, so I'll tell you straight up that chances are you can come up with way more novel ways of uti-
lizing all of this flexibility inherent in these layers available to you. But I can certainly stick out my neck and get the
ball rolling with a couple of scenarios that immediately come to mind.
Scenario 1: You've rendered a scene with shadows, and you'd like to soften them up a little to match the rest of your
Flash design. With the shadows being on a layer you can quickly do an Edit Multiple Frames and tweak their alpha set-
tings in one fell swoop.
Scenario 2: You're trying to create an effect where objects transition between a wireframe state and a fully shaded
state. With Color and Edges on separate layers this becomes a cinch using a similar process as the Shadow scenario.
Scenario 3: Your client is stressing about download times and wants you to bring down the file size of your movie as
far as is humanly possible. With each of these components of your rendering accessible, it's very easy to go through
each layer and delete out any unnecessary garbage that's not actually doing much for the overall animation quality.
Scenario 4: You'd like the objects in your scene that aren't moving to be rendered out using a more realistic shading
style since they will only be included in your FLA as a single keyframe. With this new layering system you can render
your scenes several times using several different fill styles and then recombine different layers from different files in
Flash as you see fit.
That's really just scratching the surface, but I'll leave it up to the real geniuses of Swift 3D (that's you) to push this great
feature to the limit.

Flash Tutorial: Working with SmartLayers in Flash MX or MX 2004

Updating Imported SWFT Files


If you go back and change your Swift 3D file in some way and would like to re-import your freshly rendered SWFT
file into Flash, you will be notified if the file name is the same. If this is the case, Flash MX or MX 2004 will ask you
if you'd like to overwrite the existing Movie Clips in your Library. You can choose the appropriate response depending
on your situation.

SWF Files From RAViX III — Standard Import


We certainly realize that not everyone has upgraded to Flash MX or MX 2004 yet. With those folks in mind, we’ve
taken strides to make sure the new RAViX III SmartLayer features don’t go unused by all of our customers. Since we
can’t utilize the layering information we write for the Swift 3D Importer for Flash MX or MX 2004, we've taken a dif-
ferent approach for the non-MX users. Most of the crucial information is still contained within a Flash 3, 4 or 5 file,
you'll just need to access it in a different way than with the Swift 3D Importer.

224
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

To import a SWF file into Flash:


1. Open the version of Flash you are using.
2. Choose File > Import.
3. Navigate to the file you wish to import and click OK.
At this point the animation will appear on your main stage, but you can always bring the file directly into your library
with the File > Import to Library command.
NOTE: If you are using the Flash 4 File Level when exporting gradients from Swift 3D, you'll need to delete the first
dummy frame of the animation. This process exists due to a bug in the Flash 4 authoring environment where very little
of your animation is even viewable within the application. It plays just fine in the Flash Player, but working with invis-
ible objects is no fun so we include some extra information in that frame to overcome the bug. Flash 3 and Flash 5 do
not exhibit this problem.

Breaking Out to Layers


Now you just have to break apart the frames of your image to gain access to the objects that Swift 3D would have writ-
ten into different layers using the importer. If you're dealing with a single frame it's very easy, but if you have a longer
animation the process of separating out the different layers is a little more time consuming.

To break apart a single frame SWF:


1. Select the imported object on the stage.
2. Do a CTRL + B to break apart the object.
3. Begin selecting the objects that are now available.
You'll see that each layer that would have been created within the SWFT file is still accessible as groups of objects
sharing the same characteristics. Your transparencies are all grouped together, as are your shadows, your speculars and
so on. It's just a matter of a few commands in Flash to get those object groupings separated out onto their own layers.
If you do have a longer animation, you can at least use the Edit Multiple Frames command within Flash to help break
your frames apart all at once. After that it's going to be a tedious process of getting each group of objects onto a sepa-
rate layer across multiple frames. You also won't get the benefits of being able to separate stationary and moving
objects when you use the SWF file format to get your Swift 3D renderings into Flash.

To edit multiple frames in Flash:


1. Click the Edit Multiple Frames button along the bottom of the Timeline.
2. Drag the End Onion Skin bracket to the end of your animation.
3. Drag a marquee box around the entire scene to select all the objects in all the frames.
Once you have done this all of the imported artwork is selected, but you must do a Modify > Break Apart command to
actually be able to edit the lines and fills of your artwork. Once the frames are broken apart you can edit the images as
you would any other objects in Flash.
If you have brought your animation in as a movie clip, you may want to center your animation within the movie clip
stage so that when you place the clip into your main scene it will appear centered on where you drop it. To do this you

225
Chapter 21 | Using Exported Files

just go through the same process of selecting all of the frames of your animation and then click-and-drag them all at
once to the center of your movie clip, represented by the small cross-hatch in the center of the stage.

Flash Tutorial: Working with SWF Files in Flash 3, 4 and 5

Optimizing in Flash
As you probably know, Flash has an optimize function that converts lines to curves, thus lowering file size by reducing
the amount of mathematical information needed to draw the vector lines and fills. With a little tweaking, you can get
your file to tighten up, but there is definitely a point where things start to lose their original shape.

To optimize your vector files in Flash:


1. Click the Edit Multiple Frames button along the bottom of the Timeline.
2. Drag the End Onion Skin bracket to the end of your animation.
3. Drag a marquee box around the entire scene to select all the objects in all the frames.
4. Select Modify > Break Apart.
5. Choose Modify > Curves > Optimize (Flash 4) or Modify > Optimize (Flash 5 and MX) or Modify > Shape >
Optimize (MX 2004).
6. Play with the slider and see how much you can tighten the belt of your final SWF file.

Raster Files from EMO — Standard Import


If you've utilized the EMO Ray Tracer to generate your rendered file then there is only one process for bringing your
file into Flash, and it's the straightforward File > Import command.

To import raster files (JPEG, BMP, TGA, PNG, TIF and SWF) into Flash
1. Choose File > Import.
2. Navigate to the file(s) you exported from Swift 3D and click OK.
3. If you've rendered sequential files (animation) choose the first file of the sequence.
If your file consists of a single frame image then it will appear on a new layer within Flash. If the file was the first of a
sequence of files then Flash will prompt you with a dialog asking if you'd like to import the entire sequence. You can
choose the appropriate option, and if you choose to import the sequence then you'll get a series of keyframes for each
frame of your animation. After that, the images will behave just like any others you've worked with in Flash.
Of course there are plenty of other uses for EMO’s raster output depending on what you're trying to create, but since
Swift 3D is primarily geared for people who use Flash we'll leave the logistics of integrating your exported files into
other applications up to you.

“Hey, it’s been fun. See you in V5!” - Nick

226
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

Appendix A: Menus

Scene Editor Menu System


File
• New, Open, Close, Save and Save As are all standard functions you'll see on most program.
• New From 3DS is a command that lets you build a new scene based on an imported 3DS file.
• Save Animation allows you to save an animation to the Animation Gallery.
• Saving Lighting allows you to save a lighting scheme to the Lighting Gallery.
• Saving Model allows you to save an extrusion, lathe or mesh to the Model Gallery.
• The Import command allows you to bring in Encapsulated PostScript (EPS) or Adobe Illustrator (AI) files and
turn them into three-dimensional objects. You can also import DXF files, a popular 3D model file format.
• The Recent Documents line will list the recent Swift 3D documents you have been working on.
• Exit is computer-speak for Vaya con Dios.

Edit
• Unlimited Undo is music to my ears. No matter how good you are, you'll eventually mutter the words, “Whoa,
what happened?” It's times like these I reach for the Undo button and say a prayer to the RainMaker.
• Clear Undo will clear out the Undo stack (this will free up memory and increase performance).
• Another prayer can be said to the Rainmaker for the ability to Redo any of my unwanted Undos.
• The Delete command gets rid of unwanted objects by erasing whatever is selected in your scene.
• Cut, Copy and Paste behave like normal, but they only work for objects within Swift 3D, not items from the
clipboard that were created in other programs.
• Delete Object Animations will delete any animation applied to the 3D objects in your scene, while leaving
untouched any lighting or camera animations.
• Delete All Animations wipes your animation slate completely clean.
• Scaling Mode is a backup of the Scaling button, giving you the option of resizing an object.
• Animating Mode is what you need to be in when creating animations within your scene.
• The Primitives list allows you to insert any of the Primitives found on the Main Toolbar.
• The Lights list allows you to insert the Scene Lights from the Main Toolbar.
• The Cameras list allows you to insert either of the two cameras from the Main Toolbar. You can also reset the
position of any of your standard cameras.
• The Reset options will return your objects to their original state within each of the categories listed.
• Select All will select every object in your scene.

View
Changing the look of the interface isn't something you really need to do unless you are looking for some additional
space to enlarge your Viewport. This becomes important when working on a small screen or with low resolution.

227
Appendix A | Menus

• The Status Bar is the thin row of information that runs along the bottom of the Swift 3D screen. It's useful when
you're exploring the interface and when it comes time to export your image since it displays the progress of the
rendering process.
• Property Tools displays or hides the Properties Toolbar.
• Trackball Tools displays or hides the Rotation Toolbar.
• Gallery Tools displays or hides the Materials and Animations Toolbars.
• Lighting Tools displays or hides the Lighting Toolbar and associated buttons.
• Edit Tools shows or hides the Main Toolbar across the top of the screen.
• The Animation Timeline is a window that's necessary if you are doing any animation editing, but if you are
making a still scene, ditch the sucker because you won't need it.
• Hierarchy displays or hides the Hierarchy toolbar.
• Show All Viewports will return both Viewport into view if one has been Maximized.
• Zoom Viewport allows you to change the size of your Viewport. You are not actually changing its dimensions
like you would in the Layout Properties, rather, just its size relative to the interface.

Animation
• Stop Playing Animation and Play Animation turn the animation off and on.
• First Frame and Last Frame reset or advance the animation to the beginning or the end.
• Previous Frame and Next Frame allow you to move your animation back or forward by a single frame.
• Loop toggles the Loop function on and off, determining how your animation gets exported.

Setup
• Animations opens the Gallery Setup dialog, from which you can manage and organize the Animation Gallery.
• Materials opens the Gallery Setup dialog, which allows you to edit existing materials and create new materials
from scratch.
• Environments opens the Gallery Setup dialog, which allows you to edit existing environments and create new
environments from scratch.
• Lighting opens the Gallery Setup dialog, from which you can manage and organize the Lighting Gallery.
• Models opens the Gallery Setup dialog, from which you can manage and organize the Model Gallery.
• From the User Preferences dialog a variety of default settings for features found throughout Swift 3D can be
adjusted.

Arrange
• The Group and Ungroup commands allow you to control associations between objects.
• The Combine and Break Apart commands have to do with extruded objects and how they are related with each
other.

Window
• Next will move you to the next open Swift 3D document.
• Open Windows shows you what Swift 3D documents you currently have open. By selecting from this list you
will activate that document and your current document will disappear but remain open.

228
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

Help
• Online Help will launch a Flash Help system based on this User Guide. The advantage to using the Online Help
is that it is fully searchable and always accessible, and it may contain additional information on features that were
implemented after the User Guide went to print.
• User Guide (PDF) will launch Adobe Acrobat and open up a PDF version of the User Guide. This is
mostly there for folks who downloaded Swift 3D and would like to print out the User Guide.
• About Swift 3D will give you a listing of relevant information like who the software is licensed to, the product
ID number, what version you own and what build number you're working with. Some of this information is very
pertinent to getting prompt and accurate email tech support since we need to know exactly what version of the
software you have to answer certain questions.
• Register Online is how you get your copy of this program registered. We have not included a registra-
tion card in the box so the only way you can register Swift 3D is electronically. Hopefully you have already regis-
tered your copy with us during the installation.
• Electric Rain Web Site opens your Web browser and brings you directly to our main site where you can find out
more about our company and our other products.
• Technical Support Site will launch your default browser and take you to the support portion of our
Web site where you can gain the quickest access to answers for most technical support issues.
• Web Tutorials Site will launch your default browser and bring you to our online tutorials area. If you
have the CD version of Swift 3D, most of the available tutorials are included on the CD itself. As needs arise,
however, we will be creating new tutorials so you should check in once and awhile.
• Product Updates will give you information on any product updates and access to the most recent
build of Swift 3D. You must be a registered user to access this Web site.

Extrusion and Lathe Editor Menu System


View
• Zoom allows you to physically choose what magnification you'd like to be viewing your extrusion paths at, rang-
ing from 25% to 800%. This is a backup for the Magnifying Glass tool.
• Point Properties will open the corresponding dialog where you can control the style, position and nudge prefer-
ences of each point of your path.
• Animation Timeline displays or hides the Animation toolbar.

Edit
• Undo works as it should. This is the menu equivalent of CTRL + Z (Win) or Command + Z (Mac) and clicking
the Undo button on the Extrusion Editor toolbar.
• Add Point Tool allows you to add points to an existing object.
• Shape Tool allows you to adjust point positions.
• Zoom Tool allows you to zoom in or out from your drawing.
• Corner Point Mode puts you into a mode in which all the points added will be Corner Points. (This is the default
setting.)
• Curve Point Mode puts you into a mode in which all the points added will be Curve Points.

229
Appendix A | Menus

• Tangent Point Mode puts you into a mode in which all the points added will be Tangent Points.
• Close Shape will close the path you are currently working on.
• Create Circle, Rounded Rectangle Path, Star Path, Plus Sign Path, Arrow Path, N-Gon Path will all
insert the corresponding pre-made path.
• Delete gets rid of whatever is selected. This is redundant to hitting the Delete key.
• Copy will copy the selected path.
• Paste will paste the copied path.
• Paste in place will paste the copied path in place.
• Select All selects all of the points in your extrusion.

Window
See Scene Editor Menu System for explanation of options.

Help
See Scene Editor Menu System for explanation of options.

Advanced Modeler Menu System


File
• Save and Save As will save the entire .t3d file.
• Save Modeler Default Settings will save all of the modeler's settings as the default for when you enter the
Advanced Modeler to create a new model.

Edit
• Editing Mesh puts you into a mode for editing an object’s mesh.
• Texture Mode allows you to edit bitmaps textures applied to a mesh.
• All of the Primitives available through the Advanced Modeler can be inserted into the Viewports from this menu.
(Note: Inserting Primitives in the Advanced Modeler differs from the one step process of the Scene Editor. See
section on Primitives in the Advanced Modeler chapter for specific steps on carrying out this function.)
• Undo is unlimited and will undo just your modeling efforts. Camera movement is not included.
• Redo will redo any action you have undone.
• Clear Undo will clear out the Undo stack (this will free up memory and increase performance).
• Duplicate serves to make a copy of the object or elements currently selected in the Viewports.
• Delete Selection will delete your currently selected objects or elements.
• Hide Selection will hide from view currently selection objects or elements.
• Hide All will hide all objects currently contained within the Viewports.
• Unhide All will bring back into view any objects that have previously been hidden.
• Select All will select everything in the Viewports.
• Select Inverse deselects the current selection and selects all of the vertices, edges or faces that had not been
selected. So it basically reverses the selected area of an object.

230
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

Select
• Vertices enables the Select Vertices tool.
• Edges enables the Select Edges tool.
• Faces enables the Select Faces tool.
• Surface Groups enables the Select Surfaces tool.
• Object enables the Select Object tool.
• Soft Select enables the Soft Select tool.

Transform
• Constrain Axes allows you set the X, Y or Z axes as constraining axes.
• Move enables the Move tool and allows you to refine axis constraints.
• Rotate enables the Rotate Tool and allows you to refine axis constraints.
• Scale enables the Scale tool and allows you to refine axis constraints.
• Extrude enables the Extrude tool and allows you to refine axis constraints.
• Mirror will provide a mirror image of your object. See chapter for explanation of options available.
• Flatten will flatten the mesh of the selected area.
• Roundness will round your selected object or faces outward or inward.
• Subdivide will subdivide the selected object or faces by 4 or by 3, as well as subdivide and smooth.
• Weld will collapse selected vertices into a single vertex.
• SmartWeld will weld selected vertices to those vertices within a certain tolerance region as defined through the
Selection property page.
• From the Edge option you can Divide an edge (with two vertices selected, the faces that both vertices have in
common are divided into two faces) or turn an edge (with two opposing faces selected the Turn Edge function
changed the direction of the shared edge).
• Flip Normals will reverse the direction the surface normals are facing.
• Delete Empty Faces will delete any polygons whose surface area is within a given tolerance of zero in order to
clean up a mesh.

Position
• Align To allows you to align selected surfaces to an axis or other selected surface areas.

Setup
See Scene Editor Menu System for explanation of options.

View
• Gallery Tools turns the Gallery Toolbar off or on.
• Property Tools turns the Properties Toolbar off or on.
• Status Bar turns the Status Bar off or on.
• Viewports allows you to arrange the setup of the Viewports.

231
Appendix A | Menus

Help
See Scene Editor Menu System for explanation of options.

Preview and Export Editor Menu System


File
• Save and Save As do just that.
• Export All Frames will export all frames that have been generated.
• Export Selected Frames will export only those frames selected in the Render Preview area.

View
• The Status Bar is the thin row of information that runs along the bottom of the Swift 3D screen. It tells you how
many polygons are being rendered and let’s you keep track of where the rendering is at, all very useful informa-
tion, especially when rendering long, complex animations.
• Property Tools displays (when checked) or hides the Preview and Export Editor’s Properties Toolbar.
• Animation Reel displays or hides the Render Preview toolbar.

Animation
• Stop Playing Animation and Play Animation turn the animation off and on.
• First Frame and Last Frame reset or advance the animation to the beginning or the end.
• Previous Frame and Next Frame allow you to move your animation back or forward by a single frame.
• Generate All Frames renders out your entire animation.
• Generate Selected Frames renders out the frames you have selected in the Render Preview area.

Window
See Scene Editor Menu System for explanation of options.

Help
See Scene Editor Menu System for explanation of options.

232
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

Appendix B: Keyboard Strokes/Shortcuts

Scene Editor
Menus
File
CTRL + N (Win)/Command + N (Mac) - Open New File
CTRL + 3 (Win)/Command + 3 (Mac) - Open New File from 3DS
CTRL + O (Win)/Command + O (Mac) - Open Existing T3D File
CTRL + S (Win)/Command + S (Mac) - Save File

Edit
CTRL + Z (Win)/Command + Z (Mac) - Undo
CTRL + Y (Win)/Command + Y (Mac) - Redo
CTRL + X (Win)/Command + X (Mac) - Cut
CTRL + C (Win)/Command + C (Mac) - Copy
CTRL + V (Win)/Command + V (Mac) - Paste
CTRL + A (Win)/Command + A (Mac) - Select All

Animation
> (Win)/Command + > (Mac) - Next Frame
< (Win)/Command + < (Mac) - Previous Frame
Right Click (Win)/CTRL + Click (Mac) on Keyframe - Keyframe Context Sensitive Menu
CTRL (Win)/Option (Mac) + click and drag - Pull the Bezier handle away from green control point

Arrange
Alt + G (Win)/Command + G (Mac) - Group
Alt + U (Win)/Command + U (Mac) - Ungroup
Alt + C (Win)/Command + M (Mac) - Combine
Alt + B (Win)/Command + B (Mac) - Break Apart

Viewport
Object Selection
Click - Select object
Shift + Click - Select multiple objects by clicking while holding down Shift key
CTRL + Click (Win)/Option + Click (Mac) - Select an individual object from a group

233
Appendix B | Shortcuts

Object Position
Click-and-Drag - Move object to new location in scene
Arrow Keys - Nudge selected object to new location in scene
Shift + Click-and-Drag - Constrain object movement horizontally or vertically
Shift + Right Click (Win)/Option + Click (Mac) and Drag Down - Move object back along Z axis
Shift + Right Click (Win)/Option + Click (Mac) and Drag Up - Move object back along Z axis

Standard Cameras
Alt (Win) or Command (Mac) - Camera Mode
Alt (Win) or Command (Mac) + Click-and-Drag in background - Pan Camera
Alt + Right Click (Win)/Command + CTRL + Click (Mac) and Drag Down in background - Zoom
Camera Out
Alt + Right Click (Win)/Command + CTRL + Click (Mac) and Drag Up in background - Zoom Cam-
era In

Rotation and Lighting Trackball


Shift and Drag - Lock Vertical Axis
CTRL and Drag - Lock Horizontal Axis
CTRL + Shift and Drag - Lock Clockwise or Counterclockwise

All Galleries
Right click (Win)/CTRL + click (Mac) on thumbnail - Gallery Context Sensitive Menu

Material Gallery
SHIFT + click-and-drag - Replaces all objects sharing one material with the new material.
Double click on thumbnail to bring up Material Editor.

Extrusion and Lathe Editors


Menus
Edit
CTRL + Z (Win)/Command + Z (Mac) - Undo
A - Add Point Tool
S - Add Shape Tool
Z - Magnify Tool
Click - Zoom In
Right + Click (Win)/Option + Click (Mac) - Zoom Out
C - Corner Point Mode
U - Curve Point Mode
T - Tangent Point Mode

234
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

L - Close Object
CTRL + C (Win)/Command + C (Mac) - Copy
CTRL + P (Win)/Command + P (Mac) - Paste
Shift + CTRL + Z (Win)/Command + Z (Mac) - Paste in place
CTRL + A (Win)/Command + A (Mac) - Select All

Point Position
Shift and Drag - Constrain point(s) movement along horizontal or vertical axis
Arrow Keys - Nudge selected point(s) to new location
Right + Click (Win)/CTRL + Click (Mac) - Context Sensitive Menu

Path Selection
Double Click - Selects entire path with all control points and control handles

Animation Timeline
Right Click (Win)/CTRL + Click (Mac) on Keyframe - Keyframe Context Sensitive Menu

Advanced Modeler
Menus
File
CTRL + S (Win)/Command + S (Mac) - Save File

Edit
CTRL + Z (Win)/Command + Z (Mac) - Undo
CTRL + Y (Win)/Command + Y (Mac) - Redo
CTRL + V (Win)/Command + V (Mac) - Duplicate
CTRL + E (Win)/Command + E (Mac) - Hide Selection
CTRL + H (Win)/Command + H (Mac) - Hide All
CTRL + U (Win)/Command + U (Mac) - Unhide All
CTRL + A (Win)/Command + A (Mac) - Select All
CTRL + I (Win)/Command + I (Mac) - Select Inverse

Select
V - Select Vertices
E - Select Edges
F - Select Faces
G - Select Surface Areas
O - Select Objects

235
Appendix B | Shortcuts

CTRL (Win) or OPTION (Mac) - Deselect selected Vertices, Edges, Faces or Surface Areas

Transform
CTRL + Shift + X - Constrain > X
CTRL + Shift + Y - Constrain > Y
CTRL + Shift + Z - Constrain > Z
M - Move
R - Rotate
S - Scale
X - Extrude

2D Viewports
Alt (Win) or Command (Mac) - Camera Mode
Alt (Win) or Command (Mac) + Click-and-Drag in background - Pan Camera
Alt + Right Click (Win)/Command + CTRL + Click (Mac) and Drag Down in background - Zoom
Camera Out
Alt + Right Click (Win)/Command + CTRL + Click (Mac) and Drag Up in background - Zoom Cam-
era In
CTRL + Shift + Click on Axis Guide - To constrain any of the X, Y or Z axes

Perspective Viewport
Alt (Win) or Command (Mac) - Camera Mode
Alt (Win) or Command (Mac) + Click-and-Drag on Camera Target Point - Pan Camera
Alt + Right Click (Win)/Command + CTRL + Click (Mac) and Drag Down in background - Zoom
Camera Out
Alt + Right Click (Win)/Command + CTRL + Click (Mac) and Drag Up in background - Zoom Cam-
era In
Alt + Right Click (Win)/Command + CTRL (Mac) Inside Arc - Rotate Camera
Alt + Right Click (Win)/Command + CTRL + Click (Mac) Outside Arc - Roll Camera
CTRL + Shift + Click on Axis Guide - To constrain any of the X, Y or Z axes

Preview and Export Editor


Menus
File
CTRL + S (Win)/Command + S (Mac) - Save

Animation
> (Win)/Command + > (Mac) - Next Frame
< (Win)/Command + < (Mac) - Previous Frame

236
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

Render Preview
Click - Select frame
SHIFT + Click - Select multiple, sequential frames
CTRL + Click - Select multiple, nonsequential frames

237
Appendix B | Shortcuts

238
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

Numerics Model Gallery 115 Select All 121


Move 131 Select Cursor 119
3DS Files 101, 102
Move Property Page 132 Select Edges 118
Animations 102
Move Tool 132 Select Faces 118
Cameras 102
Move Tool Select Inverse 121
Format 101
Numeric Positioning 132 Select Object 118
Importing 102
Normal Select Surface Groups 118
Lights 102
Extrude 138 Select Tools 118
Materials 102
Flip Normals 108, 122 Select Vertices 118
Model Mesh 101
Overview 105 Selection Property Page 122
Properties 102
Polygon Soft Select 123
A Limitations 118 Troubleshooting 122
Primitive Meshes 116 Smoothing
Adobe Illustrator 205 Inserting 116 Auto Smoothing 117
Advanced Modeler 3, 19, 105 Properties Toolbar Subdivide Smooth 142
3D Concepts 106 Extrude Tool 138 Smoothing Groups 145
Normal 108 Move Tool 132 Assign 146
Polygons 107 Rotate Tool 134 Clear 147
Edge 107 Scale Tool 136 Rendered Outlines 148
Face 107 Selection 122 Select 147
Vertex 107 Smoothing Groups 146 Unsmoothing 148
Align To 138 Surface Groups 127 Soft Select 123
Axis 138 Redo 126 Curve Type 125
Surface 139 Rotate 133 Exponential 125
Bitmap Texture Mapping 148 Numeric 134 Form Factor 125
Edit Texture Mode 149 Rotate Tool 133 Parabolic 125
Default Settings 109 Rotate Tool Property Page 134 Vertex Radius 124
Delete Empty Polygons 143 Rotation Control Points 134 Subdivide 141
Duplicate Selection 125 Setting Rotation Point 134 Flat 3 Face 142
Edge 143 Roundness 141 Flat 4 Face 142
Divide Edge 143 Scale 135 Smooth 142
Turn Edge 143 Numeric 136 Exclude Border 143
Edit Mesh Button 112 Scale Center 136 Include Border 143
Editing Mesh Mode 113 Scale Tool 135
Extrude 137 Surface Groups
Scale Tool Property Page 136
Extrude Tool 137 And Separate Selection 129
Selection 118
Extrude Tool Property Page 138 Creating 127
Delete 126
Normal 138 Deleting 128
Deselecting 120
Overview 137 Group All 128
Enable Multiselect 123
Extrusions 88 Hide 129
How To 120
Flatten 140 List Box 128
Ignore Backfaces 122
General Property Page 117 Materials 129
Locking Selection 120
Auto Smoothing 117 Name 128
Marquee Box 121
Nudge Increment 117 Select 128
Mesh Selection 118
Object Statistics 117 Select Surface Groups Tool 118
Mouseover
Redraw All Viewports 117 Show 129
Enable Mouseover 122
Hide 125 Ungroup All 128
Mouseover Selection 119 Transform Tools 129
Lathes 93 Multiple Selection 121
Mirror 139 Axis Constraint 131
Object Selection 118

239
Index

Cursors 130 Lights 194 C


Location 130 Materials 194
Camera Mode 21, 176
Overview 129 Path Morphing 197
Cameras 175
Property Pages 131 Scale 194
Animating 195
Undo 126 Show Animation Paths 41
Camera Mode 176
Clear Undo 23, 126 Starting and Stopping 188
Free Cameras 179
Unhide 125 Timeline 184
Positioning 180
User Preferences 113 Animation Gallery 186
Rotating 180
Viewport Drag and Drop 187
Hide 182
Display Modes 112 Animation Palette
Hierarchy 58, 179, 182
Show Materials 112 Drag and Drop
Lens Length 181
Wire Overlay 112 Creating 187
Lock 182
Perspective 112 Saving 187
Naming 181
Viewport Menu 110 Drop Target 187
Perspective 177
Viewports 109, 111 Animation Path Mode 191
Panning 177
2D Orthographic 111 Animation Properties 185
Rolling 178
Axis Guide 110 Animation Timeline 184
Rotating 178
Constrain Axis 110 Animation Palette 186
Zooming 178
Changing Views 111 Animation Properties 185
Property Page 181
Customizing 109 Current Frame Indicator 185
Rendering 182
Reference Grid 110 Frames Per Second 186
Reset Camera Location 177
Viewport Menu 110 Loop Animation 186
Scene 179
Weld 144 Playback Controls 185
Adding 179
SmartWeld 145 Selection Name 185
Selecting 179
Wire Overlay 112 Animation Toolbar 24
Standard 176
Workflow With Scene Editor 106 Antialiasing 219
Standard Cameras
AI and EPS Import 95 Area Gradient Shading 210
Panning 176
Depth 96 Axis of Rotation 90
Zooming 176
Editing 97 Target Cameras 180
Layers 96
B Positioning 180
Materials 96 Balance Mesh 142 Rotating 181
Strokes and Fills 98 Bevels 73 Targeted Cameras 180
Tips 98 Bevel Gallery 73 Zoom Camera Extents 177
Troubleshooting 100 Bitmap Compression 218 Cartoon Average Color Fill 209
Angle point 78 Bitmap Images 99 Cartoon Four Color Fill 210
Animation 183 Bitmap Texture Mapper Cartoon Full Color Fill 210
Adjusting Length 189 Use Texture Coordinates 47 Cartoon Single Color Fill 208
Animate Button 23, 184 Bitmap Texture Mapping 148 Cartoon Two Color Fill 209
Cameras 195 Bitmap Textures 152 Children 58
Deleting 190 Importing 159 Close Shape Button 79
Drag-and-drop 186 Tiling 159 Color Depth 219
Editing Animation Path 191 Wrapping 159 Combine 86
Hierarchy 196 Bitmaps 148 Combine Edges and Fills 207
Keyframe Animation 188 Mapping 148 Compressed 206
Keyframes 184 Box 63 Cone 64
Copying and pasting 190 Segmentation 63 Closed 64
Deleting 190 Sizing 63 Radius 64
Editing 190 Break Apart 86 Segmentation 64
Linear Frame Spacing 189

240
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

Axial 64 Copy and Paste 85 Lighting Gallery 168


Radial 64 Corner Point 78 Model Gallery 115
Create Curve Point 78 Naming Conventions 26
Cameras 22 Deleting Points 83 Saving Content 27
Lights 22 Extrusion Gallery 80 GeoSphere 62
Objects 22 Magnifying Glass 79 Radius 62
Creating a new document 16 Moving Points 83 Subdivision Depth 62
Cube 63, 67 Path Morphing 197 Gouping Objects
Current Frame Indicator 185 Pen Tool 78 Selecting Groups 58
Curve Fitting 207 Point Properties 85 Grouping Objects
Curve Point 78 Nudge Increment 84 Hierarchy 58
Cylinder 65 Position 84
Radius and Length 65 Type 84 H
Segmentation 65 Selection Tool 78 Hidden Edges 215
Shape Tools 79 Hidden Objects 41, 46
D Sizing Handles 84 HIde 182
Depth Tangent Point 79 Hide 41, 172
Bevel 74 Undo Button 79 Hierarchy 58, 196
Detail Edge Angle 215 Using 78 Animation 196
Detail Edges 215 Extrusion Gallery 80 Cameras 182
Detail Level 206 Extrusions Groups 59
Double Illuminate 157 2D Loops 85 Lights 173
Draw Backfaces 41 Bevels 88 Object Bones 42, 59
DXF Files 101, 103 Creating 81 Parent/Child 58
Importing 103 Excluding Shapes 85 Selecting Objects 49
Sizing 88 HTML Help 11
E
Edge Type 214 F I
EMO Ray Tracer 4, 217, 226 Face, Bevel 74 Importing 2, 102
Encapsulated PostScript 205 File Level 206 3DS Files 101
Entire Mesh 214 Fill Options 208 AI and EPS Files 95
Environment 42 Flat Shaded 41 Lathe Editor 97
Ambient Light Color 43 Frames Per Second 186 Tips 98
Background Color 42 Free Cameras 179 Troubleshooting 100
Creating and Editing 165 Bitmap Textures 159
Environment 44 G DXF Files 103
Render Window 166 Gallery Setup 25 Installation 8, 9
Export To File 202 Category List Box 25 CD-ROM 9
Export Entire Animation 202 Content List Box 26 Download 9
Export Selected Frames 202 Gallery Toolbar 2, 25 Full Release 9
Exported Files Maintenance Builds 10
Working with 221 Sharing Content 28 System Requirements 9
Exporting 199 Animation Gallery 186 Interface 16
Extrusion Editor 19, 77 Bevel Gallery 73 Customization 17
Adding Points 83 File Formats 27 Screen Resolution 16
AI and EPS Files 86, 87 File Locations 27
Changing Points 83 Gallery Management 25 K
Close Shape Button 79 Gallery Setup 25 Keyframe Animation 188
Combining and Breaking Apart 86 Lathe Gallery 91 Keyframes 184

241
Index

L Spot Light 168 Applying Materials 153


Options 173 Material Drop Surface Target 154
Lathe Editor 19, 89
Trackball 169 Saving Materials 155
Adding Points 83
Adding and Subtracting 170 Materials 151
Axis of Rotation 89, 90
Positioning 169 Animating 194
Changing Points 83
Type 168 Applying Materials
Copy and Paste 92
Point Light 168 Material Property Page 155
Copy and Pasting 85
Spot Light 168 Multiple Surfaces 154
Deleting Points 83
Line Color 216 Applying to Multiple Objects 155
Drawing Tools 89
Line Weight 216 Bitmap Textures 152
Importing 2D Paths 92
Linear Frame Spacing 189 Creating and Editing 156
Moving Points 83
Lock 172, 182 Bitmap Textures 159
Path Morphing 197
Locking Objects 47 Procedural Color Maps 160
Point Properties 85
Loop Animation 186 Procedural Texture Mapping
Properties 92
162
Segmentation 93 M Reflective Materials 164
Smoothing 93
Macintosh Solid (Vector) Colors 157
Sweep Angle 92
Toolbars 17 Transparent Materials 163
Using 89
Macromedia Flash 204 Drop Surface Target 154
Lathe Gallery 91
Importing EMO Files 226 Editing
Layers 222
Optimizing 226 Instance 155
Layout 39
Working with 221, 224 Environment 165
Settings 40
Magnifying Glass 79 Gallery Setup
Nudge Increment 40
Main Toolbar 22 Add Material 27
Trace Depth 40
Material Editor 156 Move Material 27
Lighting 167
Accessing 156 New Category 25
Lighting Gallery 4, 168
Color 157, 160 Remove Material 26
Lighting Toolbar 24
Brightness 158 Material Drop Surface Target 154
Lights 167
Color Selector 158, 161 Material Editor 156
Animating 194
Control Arrow 161 Material Gallery 151
Hierarchy 58, 171, 173
Noise 161 Procedural Textures 153
Lighting Gallery 168
Pattern 158, 160 Property Page 154
Lighting Property Page 172
Reflective Color 164 Applying Materials 155
Active 172
Scale 161 Raster 152
Color 172
Transparency 158 Render Window/Rectangle But-
Hide 172
Finish 157 tons 154
Lock 172
Ambient Color 157 Saving 155
Naming 172
Double Illuminate 157 Surface Groups 129
Shadows 172
Highlight Size 157 Vector 152
Specular 173
Highlight Strength 157 Menu 29
Point Light 168
Reflection Color 157 Menu System 227
Positioning 171
Generate Preview Button 156 Mesh Gradient Shading 211
Properties 172
Preview Window 156 Mesh Quality 74
Scene Lights 170
Texture 158, 162 Mirror
Free Lights 170
Amount 162 Negative Scaling 58
Target Lights 170
Selecting 170 Noise 162
Shadows 172 Pattern 162 N
Specular 173 Scale 162 Negative Scaling 58
Material Gallery New Document 22

242
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

Normal 108 Reset Pivot Location 53 Publishing to Web 221


Nudge Increment 40, 84 Pivots Points Pyramid 63
Show Pivot Points 42 Sizing 63
O Plane 66
Object Bones 42 Segmentation 66 R
Objects Sizing 66 Raster
Box 63 Playback Controls 185 Materials 152
Cone 64 Point Light 168 RAViX III 4, 203
Copy and Pasting 54 Polygon Ray Tracing 217
Copying and Pasting 50 Limitations 118 Redo 23
Cylinder 65 Polygons 107 Reference Grid 41
Deleting 50 Polyhedron 66 Reflection
Grouping 49 Families 67 Depth 212
Hiding 46 Cube/Octahedron 67 Include 212
Locking 47 Dodecahedron/Icosahedron 68 Reflective Materials 164
Naming 46 Star 1 68 Include Reflections 165
Parent/Child Relationships 58 Star 2 68 Refraction Index 47, 163
Pivot Points Tetrahedron 67 Render Preview 200
Reset Location 53 Family Parameters 68 Generate All Frames 200
Polyhedron 66 P and Q 68 Generate Selected Frames 201
Position Scale Axis 69 Lock Selected Frames 201
Reset 52 Radius 69 Playback Controls 202
Positioning 51 Positioning Objects 51 Select Every Nth Frame 201
Primitives 61 Click and Drag 51 Selecting Frames 201
Property Page 45 Constrain Axis 51 Swift 3D Importer 201
Pyramid 63 Nudge Increment 40 Render Rectangle 23
Rotating 54 Nudge Keys 51 Render Window 23
Rotation Reset 55 Numeric Input 52 Rendering 199
Selecting 48 Reset Position 52 Edge Options 214
Sphere 62 Preview and Export Editor 199 Detail Edge Angle 215
Text 71 Workflow 20, 199 Detail Edges 215
Working With 45 Previewing 199, 200 Edge Type 214
Open Existing Document 22 Primitive Objects 61 Entire Mesh 214
Outlines 214 Procedural Color Maps 160 Hidden Edges 215
Smoothing Groups 148 Procedural Texture Mapping 162 Line Color 216
Procedural Textures 153 Outlines 214
P Properties Toolbar 21 EMO Ray Tracer 217
Parent Objects 58 Bevels 88 Antialias Quality 219
Parent/Child Relationships 58, 196 Bevels Property Page 73 Bitmap Compression 218
Path Animation Bezier Path 192 Color Depth 219
Bezier Path Properties 192 Cameras 181 File Level 218
Orient to Path 193 Environment 42 General 218
Point Type 192 Layout 39 Target File Type 218
Position 193 Material 154 Fill Options 208
Setting Object to Path 193 Object 45 Area Gradient Shading 210
Path Animation Editor 4 Position 52 Cartoon Average Color Fill 209
Path Morphing 197 Scale 57, 88 Cartoon Four Color Fill 210
Pen Tool 78 Sizing 88 Cartoon Full Color Fill 210
Pivot Points 53 Sizing Property Page 75 Cartoon Single Color Fill 208

243
Index

Cartoon Two Color Fill 209 Reflections Layer 223 Inserting 71


Mesh Gradient Shading 211 Separate Stationary and Moving Overview 71
Output Options Objects 204 Sizing 75
Adobe Illustrator 205 Shadows Layer 223 Text Property Page 71
Animation 206 Transparent Layer 223 Alignment 72
Combine Edges and Fills 207 Smooth Shaded 40 Character Map 72
Compressed 206 Smoothing 48 Convert Text to Paths 75
Curve Fitting 207 Auto Smooth 48 Font 72
Detail Level 206 Smoothing Angle 48 Text Box 72
Encapsulated PostScript 205 Unsmooth 48 Texture Smooth Shaded 40
File Level 206 Smoothing Groups 48 Textures
General 204 Specular Highlights 173 Bitmap 152
Macromedia Flash 204 Sphere 62 Procedural 153
Scalable Vector Graphics 205 Radius 62 Tiling 159
SVG Options 206 Segmentation 62 Toolbars 17
Target File Type 204 Spot Light 168 Hide 17
SmartLayer Technology 221, 224 Standard Cameras 176 Resizing 17
System Requirements 9 Star 2 68 Undocking 17
Rotating Objects 54 Subdivide Torus 65
Lock Axis Buttons 54 Balance Mesh 142 Radius 65
Numeric Rotation 55 SVG 205 Segmentation 65
Reset Rotation 55 Animation 206 Major Radius 65
Rotation Trackball 54 Compressed 206 Minor Radius 65
Rotation Toolbar 24 Options 206 Transparency 163
SWF 204 Refraction Index 47, 163
S Raster SWF 218, 226 Tutorial
Save 22 Swift 3D 1 Desk Lamp 29
Scalable Vector Graphics 205 Interface 16 Tutorials 10, 28, 44, 48, 52, 54, 56,
Scaling Workflow 2 58, 60, 69, 76, 83, 88, 90, 93, 96, 100,
Negative Scaling 58 Swift 3D Importer 5, 201 103, 112, 126, 129, 138, 145, 148,
Scaling Mode 23 System Requirements 9 154, 159, 160, 162, 163, 164, 165,
Scaling Objects 56 Rendering Performance 9 166, 171, 173, 182, 188, 191, 193,
Numerical Scaling 57 Video Cards 9 196, 197, 202, 208, 212, 213, 216,
Scaling Mode 56 219, 224, 226
Shear 57 T
Scene Editor 15, 20 Tangent Point 79 U
Selecting Objects 48 Target Cameras 180 Undo 23, 79
Selection Tool 78 Target File Type 204 Use Texture Coordinates 47
Shadows 172 Technical Support 11 User Preferences 18
Include 213 Email Support 12 Advanced Modeler Default Set-
Shape Tools 79 Tetrahedron 67 tings 109
Shear 57 Text 71 Bevel Depth 74
Shortcut Keys 233 Bevels 73 Mesh Conversion Warning Dialog
Sibling Objects 58 Depth 74 113
SmartLayer Technology 4, 204, 221, Face 74 Sizing Depth 75
224 Mesh Quality 74 Target File Type
Colors Layers 222 Smoothness 74 Raster 218
Highlights Layer 223 Styles 73 Vector 204
Outline Layers 223 Editing Individual Characters 75

244
Swift 3D V4 User Guide

V
Vector
Materials 152
Viewport Menu
Display Modes 40
Reference Grid 41
Show Options 41
Viewports 20
Display Mode 40
Draw Backfaces 41
Flat Shaded 41
Smooth Shaded 40
Texture Smooth Shaded 40
Wireframe 41
Reference Grid 21, 41
Rendering 182
Viewport Menu 21
Zoom View Port 40

W
Web Assistant 13, 20
Wireframe 41

Z
Zoom Camera Extents 23, 177

245
246