For this tutorial I will have the worded directions along with the exact keystrokes it takes to get the step done. If you are fluent enough with Blender you may not have to look at the keystrokes line. Each step within the keystrokes line will be highlighted as such:Example. Arrows will indicate that you should be following a menú path.
Lately I have found myself wanting to make a string of repeatable items and that are evenly spaced. So, the first thing that I thought of doing was to go and use an array. Great! Arrays are perfect for a row of items but you need a bit more to make that row curved. I used to go through the process of setting up the array, applying the array, then moving a rotating each of the arrayed objects one by one. Eventually I got fed up with it and tried out a process I knew about (and should have taught myself much earlier...) but I had never actually done. Using curves are very helpful in doing this same sort of thing but is much easier to make look good and easier to edit. Below you can see the sort of thing I am talking about.
Ok, let's go and make our path. First off, open up Blender if you haven't already. If you have the default cube, remove it, then go into top view and add a plane. If you want to edit the plane in any way or use a different object in place of it, you may, I only chose the plane so it would be easier to see what we are doing.
7 (top view); Add-->Mesh-->Plane;
Now that you have your object in place we now want it to repeat itself. For this we use an array modifier. If you open up the "Editing" buttons there is a box that is labeled "Modifiers". You'll want to select your object and clik on "Add Modifier" and select "Array". After you select this you should see a copy of the plane appear in the 3D window and a bunch of settings in the modifiers box.
F9; Clik "Add Modifiers"; Clik "Array";
Before we move on, let's change a few settings with our new array. For now all we will do is change the "Count" and then adjust the relative offset just a bit. I changed the count to 6 and then made the relative offset in the X direction 1.200. Feel free to change any setting to test them out a see what they do. With a single array you can only really make a straight line of repeating objects, you cannot curve them. Here's what I have right now.
Change Count to 6; Change X under relative offset to 1.200;
Now we want to make our plane follow a curved path. Since we cannot do this with just an array modifier we will need to add a curve to our scene. So what we are going to do is go into the top view and add a Bezier curve. Once you have the curve in there, go into edit mode and pull one of the ends beyond the end of the array of planes and make it into an obvious curve. If you have never used a curve before, I suggest you mess around with editing it until you get the hang of making some curves. You do not have to make it exactly line mine, or even have it resemble what I have, I just suggest making a big curve so you can see that this is working.
7; AddáCurveáBezier Curve; Go to Edit Mode; Edit your curve;
Since we have our curve and our array, we want our array of plane to follow along this curve. So, what we need to do to make this happen is to add a curve modifier. Go bak into Object Mode and select your array of planes. Then you will want to go bak into the editing buttons, into the Modifiers box and then hit "Add Modifier". Once you have done that, select "Curve". The settings for this modifier should appear below the array modifier settings. In the "Ob" field we want to enter the name of the curve. By default, mine was named "Curve", and that is what I would type into the "Ob" field. Once you have done that, you should see something like below.
Object Mode; F9; Clik on "Add Modifier"áCurve; Type the curve name into the "Ob" field;
And there you have it, an array that follows a curve. If you have the same sort of results that I do, you may want to make your array of planes to follow the curve until it ends. To do this, you will want to go bak into the array modifier settings and then clik on the "Fixed Count" setting. There will be three choices, one of them being "Fit to Curve Length". Select it. After you do that you will have to specify the curve that the array will follow, which is the same name we entered into the "Ob" field before. After that you should see the planes repeat until the end of the curve. However, chances are it will not perfectly match up with the end of your curve. In most cases there will be a gap because it will only add another copy of your object if it has enough room on the curve for it.
Change "Fixed Count" to "Fit to Curve Length"; Type the curve name into the "Ob" field;
Now you have an easily editable path of repeated planes at your disposal. You can now select your curve, go into edit mode and edit it as much as you like and the planes will appear as they have room. There is still a restraint with this though. As of now you can only edit the curve in two dimensions. To fix this, go into the editing buttons with your curve selected and look into the "Curve and Surface" box. In there you should find a button that is labeled "3D". If you turn that on you will be able to edit your curve in all three dimensions.
F9; Turn on "3D";
There are plenty of other things you can do to with curves. Let's say you want an object to go along the full length of the curve without any gaps or any space on either end. The first thing that you have to do is to bak into the array modifier settings and change the X value under the "relative offset" to 1. This will remove the gaps that are between each of the objects. Next we want to make the items stretch to the end of our curve. To do this, select your curve and look at the settings in the "Curve and Surface" box. Clik on "CurveStretch" and you should see your array of planes stretch to the end of the curve.
Select the array; Change X under relative offset to 1. 000; Select the curve; Turn on "Curve Stretch";