Managing Metaballs
by Erik Ramirez

Introduction The pros of meta are they work very nice with snap, to make a single mesh, they respond with proportional edit, depending what you are working on, they can quickly build models, among a few other things.

A pattern created in one single object. The meta object handle is selected (individual handles are highlighted, a pattern is created in one single object. The meta object handle is selected (individual handles are highlighted together), it means meta sub-objects can only change their pattern through edit mode. In object mode you can scale this pattern but it doesn't scale similar to the way you would expect when scaling a mesh object. Meta object deformation is around their original axes. The handles deform as you scale, if you scale non-uniform, the handles will deform non-uniform and it will affect the influence of meta sub-objects. You cannot separate Meta sub-objects but you can duplicate the original sub-objects and delete the ones you don't want. For better management you must link this meta object selecting its handle and then selecting any helper object that isn't a meta object, and press [Control+P key] to parent.

A scaled non-uniform meta pattern. Note the influence of handles is stronger along the horizontal and weaker along the vertical. Meta object selection is different, if you are selecting the meta object directly, you are selecting the entire meta clan. If you select the handle of any meta object except the first one, you are selecting the sub-selection of the meta object. Yet if the meta object selected is a meta pattern you can select the meta-objects in edit mode.

A pattern created by a group of meta objects can change through Object Mode and Edit mode. The advantage is better than a pattern created by sub-objects, even the objects can be sub-objects patterns. The handles can move to the twenty layers known and do a better performance. But the meta objects should be linked to one that acts as a meta leader. At the same time you should add a helper object to this group and link the meta leader to the helper that isn't a meta object for better management.

If you select the first meta object through its handle, the whole meta clan is highlighted indicating they had a life link with this one, and if you delete it, the whole meta clan will disappear.

Rotating the first meta object will change the structure for the remaining meta objects even if you scale or move this. This is an important feature, you must protect the life of this one and separate it from the other metas.

Maquíng A Mudman

This tutorial demonstrates how I've learned to manage metaballs and how this can help to create very complex patterns used for some exigent details.But metaballs are extremely difficult to manage and require a lot of time. So metaballs features need a lot of practice and training in order to get wonderful features. A powerful PC is required to create with metaballs because the program needs to calculate the coordinates for the crescent number of meta objects, so the more meta object you have, the more your PC starts to slow down.

Unfortunately management of meta objects leaves a lot to be desired, but, I have made an effort to create effective managing methods. I started with a armature (I took and edited it from the frog armature). .

I created cubed geometry for boundaries.The idea is to create an influence reference about features of cross sections (wider, thinner, etc.). Newer geometry is supposed to fit into this boundary.

With enough settings I added a meta object [Add>>Meta Tube] for creating the first meta object. To start with, I wanted to create geometry that fit enough for fingers Meshes created by meta objects.

I created a mud pattern with a group, then I linked this group to a box mesh. I created several copies of this by selecting the box and [Spacebar] Select>>Grou ped>>Immed iate Children.

The body

The set

Wrapping the armature. I had several problems wrapping, it seemed the mud would never fit the space.

Result after several experiments.

The conceptual design for my mudman.

The result wasn't exactly what I wanted, so the metaballs must be managed with better methods.

Face flow resulting by converting meta-objects into mesh. The decimate modifier for reducing vertex quantity didn't work in this case, so I had to use python scripts (to use them you must have python 2.4 installed for newer Blender's versións). Select the Poly Reducer while in Edit mode, Mesh Menu (Header)>>S cripts>>Poly Reducer and a pop up will appear.

Well, redesigning the concept a little like Darth Vader.

Not finished yet, here is my mudman. In this case I applied the multires mode for the mesh, then Sculpt mode for creating a mud texture and metaobjects for details.


The main feature and advantage that meta object give us is creating a fast unión, or a subtraction without much effort, not exactly for creating large geometry. Perhaps it is a lot more helpful in creating superficial patterns, and some very complex patterns.