Welcome to the article, in which we are going to learn about SelfCAD's 3D modeling tool called Flatten. I am going to explain all of its ins and outs and present its general applications. On top of that, I will share a few Tips and Tricks that you could use with Deformations.
Flatten is one of the basic Deformation tools available in SelfCAD, and you will find it in the main Toolbar, in the Deform drop-down list. As its name suggests, it allows you to deform selected figures or their regions by flattening them from the sides.
Deform is a unique category because tools in it rely heavily on the level of the detail of the objects. It means that by increasing their Resolution, you will achieve a much smoother and detailed deformation. On top of that, with the Advanced Settings such as the Symmetry, Origin, and the Local Transformation, you can customize the Flatten even further.
Follow this article to learn all about this tool!
Select the object
The first step of using any modeling tool is selecting the object on which you want to use it. You can select objects by either left-clicking on them in the workspace or by selecting them in the Object Management section, in the right-side panel. The second option has an in-built search engine, which is extremely useful when you are working with multiple objects.
Activate the tool
Once the object is selected, you can activate the Flatten tool by selecting it from the Deform drop-down list or use a shortcut by pressing the ‘D+L’ combination on your keyboard. This way, you’ll open a Tool Setting Panel with all of the customizable options for this tool on the left side of your screen. Activating the Flatten tool will also enable the Gizmo that you can use to Deform the object.
The first option to flatten the selected object in SelfCAD is by dragging the Gizmo mentioned in the previous paragraph. As you can see, it points in different directions, which indicate in which dimension and in which way you can flatten the object.
The second way to flatten the object is by typing the exact values into the text boxes in the Tool Setting Panel. Furthermore, you can use the checkboxes to copy the same values between the text boxes. Each of them refers to one of the axes, whose position you can check on the 3D Coordinates Axis on the bottom right side of the grid.
Select a region
SelfCAD allows you to not only flatten the object itself, but you can also flatten some of its regions. To do so, you need to select them first. In the Right Side Panel, you will find an Interactive Rectangle, where you can enter one of the following selection modes: Face, Vertex, and Edge. Then, you can select the parts of the object that you want to flatten.
Flatten a region
Flattening a region works exactly the same as flattening the object itself does. After selecting a region or regions that you want to flatten, you can either drag them with the help of the Gizmo or type in the values into the text boxes, to flatten the selected region with the typed value.
Flatten a profile
In SelfCAD, there is an option to Flatten the Profiles as well, drawn with the help of the Freehand or 3D Sketch tools. The process is exactly the same as described above. After selecting the profile from the Object Management Panel, all you have to do is Flatten it with either the Gizmo or by typing values directly into text-boxes. Of course, most profiles consist of multiple regions, which means that you can Flatten them individually as well, as explained above.
Symmetry is the first option that you will find in the Advanced Settings of the Flatten tool after expanding the drop-down list. After enabling this feature, as its name suggests, you will flatten the selected object proportionally to the used axis.
Within the Advanced Settings of the Flatten tool, there is an option called Origin. Origin sets the position of the Gizmo. In practice, you can use it to set a point from which the object will flatten. You can choose the point of Origin from the options available in the drop-down list.
Manual gizmo position
Manual gizmo position is an extension to the Origin feature with only a single difference. While Origin allows you to set the vertical position of the Gizmo, here, you can manually set its horizontal position to any place in the workspace.
Local Transformation is another feature available in the Advanced Settings of the Flatten tool, and it is available only when you are flattening the regions of the object. By enabling this option, you will move and rotate the position of the Gizmo, so it's positioned flatly on the selected region, which will allow you to deform it independently from the rest of the model. To use this option, you have to enter a specific Selection Mode and then select the region of the object that you want to flatten. You can go back to Select and Move a region paragraphs for a more detailed explanation.
Individual Transformation is another feature available in the Advanced Settings of the Flatten tool, and it is available only when you are flattening at least two separate regions of the object. As the name suggests, by enabling this option, you will flatten selected parts independently from each other. Again, if you need a reminder on how to select a region, you can go back to previous paragraphs for a detailed explanation.
Minimum Step Size
Minimum Step Size is one of the most useful features when it comes to precise modeling, and you have to operate on strict values. It locks the tool at a specified value, and it will flatten the object by the multiplication of this value. For example, if you set this feature to 80, then you will be able to flatten the object for 80 units from any direction, which will be the first step. When you try to flatten it further, it will do so by another 80 and so on.
You can use up to four Viewports to see the changes made to the model from different perspectives.
And that’s about it for the Flatten. After reading this article, you should know the basics of the Flatten tool and how to use it, know about its different applications and how to implement and customize its advanced settings. Of course, the graphics shown here were just examples, and using this tool on other shapes will give you slightly different effects, but its underlying principles will always stay the same.
That's all I have for you today. I wish you success in your future projects. See you, and stay tuned for more content to come!
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