This post is about modelling in Blender using Bezier curves.
Bezier curves can be used for a whole host of different modelling techniques, however, in this example, we will be modelling earphone wires to demonstrate this flexibility.
Bezier Curves & Their Flexibility In Modelling
Right, let’s get stuck right in!
Modelling is only one part of getting your renders looking great, because along with adding materials and lighting, you need to make sure that your model looks realistic in shape, size and proportions… so never underestimate its importance.
Right, but how hard is it to model a wire? Create a circle and extrude it – done!
Was it really worth creating a whole tutorial on this topic?
Yes that is very true, that is the very basics of modelling a wire, but when was the last time you saw earphone wires being perfectly straight? The last time I checked they are all bent, twisted and climbing over each other.
This is precisely what we need to replicate in order to bring some realism to our models (something you would not get if your wires were simply straight and tubular.
So to reiterate what was said a little earlier on, realistic renders is not only about the materials and lighting you add to your scene, but is also about the modelling process as can be seen on this Blender tutorial!
Blender Secrets E-book
Adaptive Modelling That Comes With Bezier Curves
But before we start on the steps to modelling, let us discuss the ability to manipulate and update your model quickly and efficiently. This is paramount for instant editing without spending countless hours tweaking things so that they can look just right.
As a little experiment, I would recommend getting your earphones or headset and resting them on the floor. Now imagine spending several hours modelling the spaghetti junction of wires, but it just does not look right.
So you pick up the headset again and rest it back down on the floor. You notice the wires have moved, but this time you like how they are resting on the ground.
It wouldn’t be ideal to have to remodel everything again, but rather be able to use the existing model of wires and manipulate them quickly to match. This is precisely what Bezier Curves allows you to do.
In essence, it is a type of adaptive modelling!
The Control Bezier Curves Bring To Your Blender Scene
So how exactly do Bezier curves bring flexibility, control and adaptivity to your model?
Basically how it works is like this. Rather than having to work along the length of the whole wire, you actually deal with two 2D sketches that make up the wire.
See this in action by going to timeline 3:18 in the above video!
Remember, the wire is made up of a Circle which then follows a Path.
Quick Steps To Modelling Your Earphone Wires
- Add a Circle (for circumference of wire)
- Add Bezier (for path / length of wire)
- Prompt Circle to follow Bezier (circumference to follow path)
Step 1: Removing Default Cube
(Remove default cube)
The default Blender cube will always appear when loading Blender (well at least it always has up until now). So we will want to remove this in order to clear up our scene.
Left hand click cube -> hit “X” on keyboard -> click “delete”
Step 2: Create Mesh Circle
We now want to create the circumference of the wire and we do this by drawing a 2D sketch of a circle, but not an ordinary circle, but rather a curved one.
Add -> Mesh -> Circle
What you will now see is a 2D circle appearing in your scene.
Step 2b: Convert Mesh Circle To Curve
There’s one more step to take here. We need to convert the circle which is a mesh into a curve.
Make sure circle is selected -> Object -> Convert to -> Curve
The reason for doing this is because we will next be creating a Bezier curve and both items have to be a curve for this process to work.
Step 3: Create Bezier Path
Next, it is time to create the path, which is essentially the length of the wire that the circle will follow.
Add -> Curve -> Bezier
What you will now see is curved line.
Step 4: Combining Object & Path For End Result
(Wire in 3D)
The final step is to get the circle to follow the path (Bezier curve) in order to create the 3D wire.
To achieve this, follow these instructions:
- Left hand click the path created in Step 3
- Click Object Data tab (top right of Blender)
- Under Geometry -> Bevel, click on “Object” and select “Circle”
You now have created your wire!
Notice how the diameter of the circle is following the shape of the Path (Bezier Curve)?
Step 5: Controlling Your Bezier Model
(Adapt length, shape & thickness)
Now here is the best part… being able to control your model after it has been created.
By editing both the Bezier Circle and Path, you are able to elongate, twist, turn, shift & scale the wire with total control & flexibility.
Once again – the quickest way to see this in action would be go to to time line 3:18 on the above video!
Happy modelling everyone!
Closing Thoughts On Bezier Curves
For me personally, the ability of modifying a model after its creation is a strong feature to have on any 3D tool.
However, I am not talking about modifying or manipulating a mesh. This can be very complicated to do, especially of you have hundreds, if not thousands of faces to deal with (high-poly model).
While creating a 2D shape to follow a bezier path, your resulted 3D model can be manipulated easily and quickly by two means.
- Changing the shape of the 2D object in edit mode
- Manipulating the shape of the path using bezier handles or elongating the path.
Blender is extremely powerful, and has other features such as lattice modifier that are designed to help manipulate models in a non-destructive manner. However, as it stand, bezier curve are definitely up there in terms of easy and flexibility.