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How to Use the FFD Plugin in SketchUp to Create Amazing Shapes




If you are looking for a way to deform and sculpt your 3D models in SketchUp, you might want to try the FFD plugin. FFD stands for free-form deformation, and it is a technique that allows you to manipulate a mesh using control points. In this article, we will show you how to install and use the FFD plugin in SketchUp, and give you some examples of what you can create with it.




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What is the FFD Plugin in SketchUp?




The FFD plugin in SketchUp is a free extension that was originally created by Chris Phillips, and is now maintained by mind.sight.studios. It is based on the concept of free-form deformation, which is a method of transforming a shape by moving a lattice of control points that surrounds it. By adjusting the position and orientation of the control points, you can deform the shape in any way you want.


The FFD plugin in SketchUp allows you to add a grid of control points to any group or component, and use it to deform another group or component. You can also create a custom patch with control points, and apply it to any surface. The plugin gives you the ability to lock edges, subdivide and dice models, and preview the deformation before applying it.


How to Install the FFD Plugin in SketchUp?




To install the FFD plugin in SketchUp, you have two options: you can either download it from the Extension Warehouse, or from the SketchUcation PluginStore. Both options require you to have a free account on their respective websites.


If you choose to download it from the Extension Warehouse, you can simply open SketchUp, go to Window > Extension Warehouse, search for SketchyFFD, and click on Install. Alternatively, you can download the RBZ file from the website, and then go to Window > Extension Manager > Install Extension, and select the file.


If you choose to download it from the SketchUcation PluginStore, you can either use their SketchUcation Tools extension to install it directly from SketchUp, or download the RBZ file from the website and follow the same steps as above.


How to Use the FFD Plugin in SketchUp?




To use the FFD plugin in SketchUp, you need to have two groups or components: one that contains the mesh you want to deform, and one that contains the control points. You can create your own control points using the plugin's tools, or use an existing group or component as a control point grid.


To create your own control points, you can use one of these tools:


  • Create NxN Patch: This tool allows you to create a rectangular patch with a specified number of control points along each edge. You can use this tool on any flat surface or face.



  • Create NxN Grid: This tool allows you to create a cubic grid with a specified number of control points along each edge. You can use this tool on any group or component.



  • Create NxN Sphere: This tool allows you to create a spherical grid with a specified number of control points along each edge. You can use this tool on any group or component.



To use an existing group or component as a control point grid, you need to make sure that it has at least 8 vertices (corners), and that they are not coplanar (on the same plane). You can also subdivide or dice your group or component using the plugin's tools, to create more control points.


Once you have your control point grid ready, you need to select both groups or components (the mesh and the control points), and then go to Extensions > SketchyFFD > Apply Deformation. This will create a copy of your mesh with the deformation applied. You can then edit your control points using the Move or Rotate tools, and see how your mesh changes accordingly. You can also lock some edges of your control point grid by selecting them and going to Extensions > SketchyFFD > Lock Edges. This will prevent them from moving when you edit your control points.


When you are happy with your deformation, you can finalize it by selecting your deformed mesh and going to Extensions > SketchyFFD > Finalize Deformation. This will remove the control point grid


What Can You Create with the FFD Plugin in SketchUp?




The FFD plugin in SketchUp can help you create amazing shapes that would be otherwise difficult or impossible to model with the native tools. You can use it to create organic forms, abstract sculptures, complex curves, and more. Here are some examples of what you can create with the FFD plugin in SketchUp:


  • A twisted torus: You can create a torus (donut shape) with the Follow Me tool, and then apply a NxN sphere grid to it. By rotating some of the control points, you can twist the torus into a spiral shape.



  • A wavy wall: You can create a flat wall with the Rectangle and Push/Pull tools, and then apply a NxN grid to it. By moving some of the control points up and down, you can create a wavy effect on the wall.



  • A deformed sphere: You can create a sphere with the Circle and Follow Me tools, and then apply a NxN grid to it. By moving some of the control points in different directions, you can deform the sphere into an irregular shape.



  • A curved pipe: You can create a pipe with the Circle and Follow Me tools, and then apply a NxN patch to one of its ends. By moving some of the control points along a curve, you can bend the pipe into any shape you want.



These are just some of the possibilities that the FFD plugin in SketchUp offers. You can experiment with different shapes, grids, and control points to create your own unique designs.


Conclusion




The FFD plugin in SketchUp is a powerful and versatile extension that allows you to deform and sculpt your 3D models using control points. You can use it to create amazing shapes that are otherwise hard to model with the native tools. You can also use it to add some variety and realism to your models, by creating subtle or dramatic deformations. The FFD plugin in SketchUp is easy to install and use, and it offers a lot of flexibility and creativity. If you want to take your SketchUp modeling skills to the next level, you should definitely give it a try.


How to Learn More about the FFD Plugin in SketchUp?




If you want to learn more about the FFD plugin in SketchUp, you can check out some of the online resources that are available. Here are some of them:


  • The official website of mind.sight.studios, the current developer of the FFD plugin. Here you can find the latest version of the plugin, as well as some tutorial videos and examples of what you can create with it.



  • The SketchUcation PluginStore, where you can download the classic version of the FFD plugin, created by Chris Phillips. Here you can also find some user reviews and comments, as well as a forum thread where you can ask questions and share your feedback.



  • The SketchUp Essentials website, where you can find a detailed video tutorial on how to use the FFD plugin in SketchUp. Here you can also learn some tips and tricks for modeling with the FFD plugin, and see some examples of different shapes you can create with it.



These are some of the best sources of information and learning for the FFD plugin in SketchUp. You can also search for other online tutorials and videos that showcase the FFD plugin in action. e8c252e31a


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