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   * Subject: Easy Puddles
   * Date:    Saturday, 31 December 1994 12:57:07 [57]
   * From: (Shinobi)

Here's a technique for making dead-easy puddles. You know, the kind of puddle of a thick solution such as mercury, oil, blood...anything that has a meniscus that rises above the surface the puddle lies on.

First, add an axis, and make sure you are in the TOP view. Copy and paste this axis roughly in a circular shape. Use as many as you like. Rotate each axis to a different angle. These axes will be used to make a closed loop.

Next, select each axis in turn around the circumference of your puddle-to-be. Usually, I group the whole bunch and save it as PUDDLE_OUTLINE.GROUP just to be on the safe side. Select MAKE CLOSED PATH. Instantly, you have an outline of your puddle. Now is the time to make any changes to the shape of your puddle. Try to stay away from very thin "fingers" as they may cause you trouble in the next section. Rename the object to PATH, to make life easy for us in the Extrude requester.

Move to the FRONT view and add a disk. Choose PICK POINTS. Delete the center point and all the points for three-quarters of the circle. What you should be left with is a quarter-circle like the diagram on the left:

   ____          Z            ._________          Z
       \         |                      \         |
        \        +---X                   \        +---X
         |                                |
         |                                |

(Pardon the lousy diagram)

Add one more point to the top-left line segment, so that your shape now looks like the figure on the right. Save this object as something like CIRCLE.OUTLINE.

Next, bring up the EXTRUDE requester. Select FOLLOW PATH, and ALIGN Y TO PATH. Make as many sections as you like.

Now you have a nice, smooth shape that follows the contour of your puddle-path. But what about the center?

Here's the good part. It's so easy, I could have kicked myself for not thinking of it earlier.

Make sure your selection method is set to both CLICK and LOCK. This will cause every point you drag to snap to a grid intersection.

Provided you started out with a clean workspace, the 0,0,0 location should be right in the middle of your puddle (approximately). Change the grid size to something outrageous, like 1000. Select DRAG POINTS.

Now, simply click once on each of the points that sticks out. After you click, the point will immediately jump to the nearest grid the center of the puddle. In a few moments, you'll have all the points in the center, and the top of your puddle will have these wonderful faces.

As a final step, make sure to MERGE the object so that you don't have a lot of extraneous points on top of one another.


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