Creating 3D Surfaces in .NET

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Creating 3D Surfaces
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n this chapter, you learn to create all types of surfaces, also called meshes. Surfaces have a great advantage over 3D wireframe models because you can hide back surfaces and create shaded images for easier visualization of your models. Surfaces also enable you to create unusual shapes, such as for topological maps or freeform objects. Figure 23-1 shows a lamp created using surfaces.
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Figure 23-1: A lamp created with surfaces
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Drawing surfaces with 3DFACE and PFACE Creating 3D polygon meshes Drawing standard 3D shapes Drawing a revolved surface Creating extruded, ruled, and edge surfaces
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You cannot obtain information about physical properties, such as mass, center of gravity, and so on, from surfaces. Such information can be obtained only from 3D solids, which are covered in the next chapter. AutoCAD approximates curved surfaces by creating a mesh of planes at varying angles. You see the planes because AutoCAD displays them using a web of intersecting lines. AutoCAD defines the mesh by its vertices where the lines intersect. Figure 23-2 shows a mesh with its vertices.
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Part IV Drawing in Three Dimensions
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Figure 23-2: A surface mesh
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When working with surfaces you may want to display the Surfaces toolbar, shown in Figure 23-3. Right-click any toolbar and choose Surfaces.
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Edge Surface
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Figure 23-3: The Surfaces toolbar
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Two-dimensional objects are often used to create three-dimensional models. In 21, I discuss how you can use 2D solids (the SOLID command), wide polylines, and circles to make horizontal surfaces when you add a thickness to them. In fact, the SOLID command is so useful in 3D that you can find its icon on the Surfaces toolbar.
23 Creating 3D Surfaces
You can also use regions in 3D drawings. While regions are 2D objects and cannot be given a thickness, when you use the HIDE command, AutoCAD displays the region as a surface. When the drawing is regenerated to a wireframe display, the region is displayed as a wireframe again, losing its surface properties. Another option is to use 3DFACE, which is a true 3D command. 3DFACE creates three or four-sided surfaces that can be in any plane. You can place surfaces together to make a many-sided surface. While AutoCAD draws lines between these surfaces, you can make the lines invisible to create the effect of a seamless surface. You define the surface by specifying the points that create the corners of the surface. As a result, a 3D face cannot have any curves. 3DFACE only creates surfaces you cannot give a thickness to a 3D face. However, you can create a 3D solid from a 3D face using the EXTRUDE command. 3D solids are covered in the next chapter.
Using the 3DFACE command
To create a 3D face, choose 3D Face from the Surfaces toolbar. AutoCAD prompts you for first, second, third, and fourth points. You must specify points clockwise or counterclockwise, not in the zigzag fashion required by the 2D SOLID command. When creating a 3D face: Press Enter at the Specify fourth point or [Invisible] <create three-sided face>: prompt to create a three-sided surface. Then press Enter again to end the command. To create a four-sided surface, specify a fourth point. AutoCAD repeats the Specify third point or [Invisible] <exit>: prompt. Press Enter to end the command. To create surfaces of more than four sides, continue to specify points. AutoCAD repeats the third and fourth point prompts until you press Enter twice after a third point or once after a fourth point. As you continue to add faces, the last edge created by the third and fourth points becomes the first edge of the new face so that adding a face requires only two additional points.
It often helps to prepare for a complex 3D face by creating 2D objects for some or all of the faces. You can then use Endpoint object snaps to pick the points of the 3D face. Place these 2D objects on a unique layer, such as Frames or Const.