Modeling with Spline & Lathe

By Stealth Snake | 3D Studio Max | Beginner

There are so many ways that you can use to transform a 2D drawing into a 3D model using 3D Studio MAX. This tutorial is going to teach you how to use Spline and Lathe to achieve this goal, but before we start, you are required to be introduced to what Spline and Lathe mean. Spline is a drawing method that enables you to draw basic lines or shapes in the same way that you would use the Pen Tool in Adobe Photoshop or Macromedia Fireworks, while Lathe is a feature that enables you to create a 3D object by rotating a shape or a line around an axis. This tutorial will teach you how to effectively use these techniques to create a vase placed on a decorated carpet as in this picture:

Stage 1 - Creating our 3D models

1- You start by accessing the Create panel and choosing the second icon from there for Shapes, and from there choose line. We'll start by drawing only half the vase only. I like my vase to look small and slim, but you can draw it in any way you wish. You might need to experiment a little bit with spline so that you get a grip of how to draw different shapes.

2- After completing your half-drawing, click on the spline and change the selection to vertex on the "Modify" panel then select the bottom left vertex as indicated by the image below. While the vertex is selected, select lathe from the drop menu of the modify panel.


This should show you the actual function of lathe in 3D Studio max, you have created a 3D object by rotating a spline around an axis of selected vertex.

Simple vase modeled from Spline & Lathe

If you are unsatisfied with the final out come, you can still modify the spline by choosing the line you wish to modify it by accessing the modify panel and changing the selection to Vertex to be able to start moving the vertex points once more.

Selection options for spline are vertex, segment and spline

- You can modify the way the lathe is generated by accessing the lathe parameter rollout menu from the modify panel. To try it out, change the "Segment" to 30. These give the vase more/less polys. The bigger the number segments the higher number of polys you have in the model.

Lathe parameters rollout

Our vase is almost complete, we now have to add a carpet below it as the vase cannot just be floating on air. To do this access the "Create" panel first, then click the first icon for Objects, choose Plate, and while holding CTRL, drag the mouse to draw the plate in the top view, then move the plate below the vase, use the"front/left" view to place it at the right place. Make the second plate the same way, move it down then rotate it.

After making the plates, we now have to copy or old vase, you do that by holding shift and moving the object while you continue to hold the button, accept the warning message and you should get yourself another copy. You then need to rotate the object. To do this, you click on the rotate button which is located next to the move button. You simply use the three view panels then to rotate the object to the desired position.

A simply yet good looking scene!

You can try to render the scene if you want to, if it does not come out clear enough, you might want to try to render it with the background and enable force 2-Sided on the render option.

Stage 2 - Texturing the models

A) Vase material: Shinning silver
- Open the Material Editor by pressing the letter "M" on your keyboard, now follow these steps to apply the texture to your vase:

  1. First click on "Standard", in Material/Map Browser select Raytrace as your base material. Use Raytrace if you want your model to reflect Ray light.
  2. Change the Diffuse color to sliver. I used Red:188, Green:188, Blue:188.
  3. Click on the box next to Reflect, and in Material/Map Browser select Falloff, then change Falloff Type to Fresenl. (this last is step makes the model surface reflect the surrounding objects.)

While the Material Editor is still open, select the both vases and assign the material it by clicking on in Material Editor.

B) Carpet texture: Custom made bitmap
I created the textures for my carpet on my own, you can download these textures or create your own textures using any image editor of your chose, alternatively, you can download any ready-made image and just use it as a texture. Click on the image below the download the zip file containing the two JPG files of these textures.

Carpet texture created by Macromedia Fireworks

Click on the box next to Diffuse to open up the Material/Map Browser and select Bitmap, browse to where the carpet image is and select it. You then have to assign the texture to one of the plates. Repeat these steps to texture the second carpet by using the second image provided.


Material Editor with materials/textures for the scene.

- To complete the model close the Material Editor and add skylight to the scene (Create Panel > Lights > Standard > Skylight). The default settings are good enough, but you can use the same settings we used in my other tutorial 'making clay render with skylight' to get a much developed effect. Once you're done, click on Render.

Final render with skylight enabled

You can now use a image editing program to enhance the look of the design or just to add your personal final touch to the work. Check out my current wallpaper for this week.

Click to enlarge edited render with Macromedia Fireworks

I hope that you learnt something new about spline and lathe and how to model. If you have any question please post them in the Forum to get instant feedback. I'd would be more than happy to hear suggestions or answer you questions.