Loft Objects

Using Loft objects in Boxshot you can create custom shapes from scratch by providing a number of cross–sections along the vertical axis. Each cross–section is a closed curve and together they form a solid object of the shape you need. This tutorial provides step–by–step instructions on using Loft objects.

Loft Editor

Let’s start with adding a loft object to the scene. Find the Loft object in the CAD section of the shapes panel at the left and drag it to the scene:

Creating loft object in Boxshot

You will see a simple cylinder and Edit Loft button at the right. Click it to open Loft Editor window:

Loft editor mode in Boxshot

From left to right you see:

There is also a toolbar at the top of the window that lets you do most common things with loft objects. More controls are available at the right click menu of the blueprint panel:

Loft editor window layout menu

Here you can choose between front and side views of the loft, decide what to do for horizontal or vertical dragging of layers and also zoom the shape to fit the preview area.

Let’s Make It Square

So far our object looks pretty simple, let’s make it slightly more complex. For instance, let’s make it square. Locate “Square” shape at the collections panel at the left and drag it onto the top layer of the loft object in blueprint panel:

Making the lathe object top square

When you drop it you’ll see that the top part of our cylinder became square. That’s how loft objects work. Do the same for the bottom layer:

Making the lathe object bottom square, too

You can also drop shapes into the space between layers, just move them to the line that connects two layers and Boxshot will highlight the dropping place:

Adding middle square layer to the shape

Let’s add one more square layer so there are 4 of them and select the top two by holding left mouse button and dragging around them as you usually select objects in any other 2D graphics editor:

One more layer and selecting the top two

Now hold left mouse button over one of the control points of selected layers and move it to the right:

Moving the top two layers of the loft object

You see the changes in 3D preview: the top part of the shape gets smaller. You might also note that both width and length of the shape were affected by the move. You can change this using right click context menu, there is a section called Horizontal Movement there that controls what happens when you move layers left or right. Let’s switch it to Scale on visible axis:

Adjusting the layer scaling option

This means that moving control point left or right will only affect the visible side (Front, as you may see in the popup menu). Let’s now move the selected control points slightly left:

Scaling just against the visible axis

You see that our square top became rectangular, as it was resized along just one axis. Now if you switch between front and side views using the context menu, you will see they are different.

There are more options like this in the popup menu:

There are also options for vertical movement, but they are much simpler and only let you define if you want vertical movement to change the height of selected layers or not.

Curvy Lofts

Let’s cancel the current changes and start with a brand new cylindrical loft. Then add another circle layer somewhere in the middle and click Make Curvy button in the toolbar:

Clicking the curvy button in the toolbar

This button updates all the selected layers and sets their curve radius to “40”, making them non–flat:

Non-flat side edge after making it curvy

The button itself became inactive, but the shape has been modified and now doesn’t look like a flat cylinder. Also note the yellow dot on the edge in the blueprint panel. By dragging this dot you can control the curve.

Now make the bottom layer curvy, as well and drag the yellow dots to make this shape:

Making a more complex loft shape with curvy edges

Also select the middle layer and uncheck Hard edge box in the parameters panel to make the edge soft. The shape now looks pretty much like a beer glass, except there is no space for beer itself. Lets fix that by clicking the special button in the toolbar:

Making the inner geometry of the loft shape

Magic just happened! When you click the button, Boxshot checks if the shape is simple enough (basically, each new layer is above the previous one) and automatically generates the inner part of the shape to make it hollow.

Let’s add a final touch and make the glass slightly more complex. Select all the layers in blueprint editor, then find “Polygon 4” shape in the shapes collection panel and drag it onto the selected layers:

Applying a different shape to the layers

You see the glass got edges. You can make it even more interesting by adding a circle near the top and make the very top edge circular, as well:

Adding details to the loft shape

You can add more layers, adjust their size and positions, make them flat or curvy, hard and soft to make a perfect design.

Do not close your beer can model yet, there is one more thing to do.

Saving Lofts

Although you can simply click OK and get the loft object added to the scene, it might worth saving it for further usage by itself. Boxshot lets you do so, as it has a collection of loft objects. Click the Lofts button at the toolbar to see them:

Lofts panel in the Boxshot Loft editor

Scroll down to see sample lofts that come with Boxshot. You can use them as a starting point for your own ones, or simply use them “as is”. The main thing is that you can add your own loft there by clicking Save Loft button in the toolbar:

Saving loft object to the left panel

Enter the name you want and click Save, then find your shape saved to the collection:

Loft object has been saved to the left panel

Anytime later you can simply drag that loft into the blueprint to get it loaded instantly.

Right click saved lofts to reveal their saved location or delete them.

Shape Editor

Boxshot provides quite a limited shapes editing functionality and the suggested way is to make shapes somewhere else and import them as SVG files by dragging and dropping them into the shapes collection panel. However, sometimes it is needed to make a small modification of the shape or make it non–flat and here comes the built–in loft shapes editor.

Let’s start with a simple cylindrical loft object and add a circle shape to its middle:

Adding a circle shape to the loft object

Do this, then click Edit Selected Shape button in the toolbar to open the shape editor:

Starting the shape editor for the circle shape

The main part of the window is shape preview area, there is a toolbar at the top and parameters panel at the right. From the top to bottom at the right there are:

Selection Types

Loft shapes editor has three types of selection:

There is another field Selection Range that lets you enter the numbers of selected points instead of manually selecting them with your mouse. Shapes usually have 512 points, so in order to select half of them you can type “0–255” into the field.

Let’s Make It Wavy

Let’s make the shape wavy, so it height varies. To do so, we need to select the first and third quarters of the points. You can do so with your mouse, or by entering “0–127,255–384” into the selection range field:

Range-based selection in the shapes editor

Now switch to “Soft Inner” selection mode and see the difference:

Soft inner selection in the shape editor

You see the color of selected points changed. The more reddish they are, the more they will be affected by the changes we’ll make. The more blueish they are, the less they will be affected.

Now go to the Z field of the “Move Selected” section, enter “1” there and press “Enter”:

Moving the selected vertices up

Rotate the shape with right mouse button and see the selected points moved up, and their offset depends on the selection level. The most selected one in the middle now has its Z coordinate of 1, the other ones have lower Z values from almost 1 to almost 0, depending on their distance from the center of selection.

Now we need to do the same for the rest of the points, but move them down. Select the other quarters of the shape by clicking Invert Selection button in the toolbar, then enter “–1” into the same Z field:

Inverting selection and moving the selected vertices down

We’ve got a nice wavy shape that we can use in our loft object. We’ll need it more than once, so click Save Shape button and save it under “My Wavy Circle” name:

Saving the new shape

Now you can click OK to close the shape editor and get your shape updated in the loft editor.

Using The Edited Shape

You will see your saved shape in the shapes collection. It is also applied to the currently edited loft object, but it is not visible, as it is still round:

The new shape in the loft editor

Let’s add the newly selected shape above and below the middle layer:

Two more layers added to the loft object

The shape contour is still not visible, so we need to make one last move. Select the middle layer and move it slightly right to scale it down:

Scaling the middle layer down to reveal the new shape

And here it is! You see all the three middle layers are now visible and make a nice wave around the shape, like you see on the plastic bottles.

Let’s add some final touches by making the middle layer soft–edged and make both segments curvy:

Adjusting the loft shape to make the middle part looks smooth

Note that Boxshot displays such “non–flat” shapes differently in collection: it displays both top and side views in preview, so you can see the shape is non–flat.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why don’t I see loft object in Boxshot?

You need the Ultimate edition of Boxshot to use loft objects. Consider upgrading your license if you have Home or Professional editions.

Can I add my own shapes to Loft Editor?

Boxshot lets you import SVG files and use them as shapes in Loft Editor. In order to import a file, open the Loft Editor window, select shapes collection at the left and drag your SVG file there. Boxshot will convert SVG files to its internal format and displays them in the shapes collection.

Can I make shapes non–flat?

Yes, shapes may have height and you can configure that in Loft Shapes Editor window. Select a shape in blueprint panel of the Loft Editor window and click Edit Shape button in the toolbar to open the editor. Read the shape editor topic above for more details.

How to assign materials to loft object?

Open loft editor and select the layer below the segment you want to assign material to. See the parameters panel at the right of the blueprint editor. There will be Material field at the bottom. You can type the material name there, or use the existing one from the drop down list.

Exactly as with lathe objects, Boxshot will join sections with same materials and make shared UV mapping for them.

How to avoid adding top and bottom caps to loft object?

Boxshot automatically adds top and bottom caps to loft objects and the only case when it doesn’t do so, is if the heights of both first and last layers of the loft object are the same. In that case Boxshot doesn’t add caps and you can make objects like thick pipes.

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