Creating Hydraulic or Pneumatic Tubes in Blender 3d Tutorial
By "hooking" points of paths to "empty" objects in blender 3d you can create tubes that move with the objects they are connected to via parenting – in this case, a pneumatic piston used for a robot arm.
This tutorial assumes you are familiar with basic modelling in blender. So I won't go into great detail with basic functions like how to move and rotate objects, parent/child objects, etc.
So how bout some pictures to see the effect at work!
Piston level with tubes:
Piston rotated counter-clockwise:
Piston rotated clockwise:
Looking at the above examples, you can see that regardless of which way the piston is rotated, the tube sticks in place to where its connected. Its a very useful effect for many purposes, and not hard to impliment at all. For this project the piston will be used to move a robot's arm, and to make it realistic, I wanted the tubes running through the mechanical work of the robot, flexing and bowing naturally.
1: So first, in the usual manner, add a UV sphere. That is [spacebar, add, mesh, UVsphere]. See screenshot below.
2: After you've created your UVsphere and hit [tab] to get into object mode, add a path over the same spot. [space, add, curve, path]. I suppose you could use a bezier curve or something, but I use paths because they are less restrictive.
3: Now you end up with this millipede looking thing. Thats a path. All those things comprising the millipede's legs are actually arrows showing which way the path is pointing.
4: Move the path [g] left, so that the tip of the path is somewhere around the middle of the sphere or near its left side. It doesn't matter for this example really, we're just making a rough example to learn from.
5: To make your path into an actual tube type in the values you see here. Make sure you are in edit mode and you will see the little window here holding the values listed below. Change them to what you see in the little screenshot below. If you do it right, you will see it go from a basic path to a tube. Notice as you move points on the path that the tube conforms around it.
Please note I moved the path over a bit so you could see the example better.
6: Here is where the really cool trick comes in. Click on the path and [tab] into edit mode if you are not already there. Click [right mouse button] the last point on the path. Then push [ctrl H] which will bring up this "hooks" window. Select the "add new empty" option to add an empty object.
An "empty object" is simply a placeholder, or an invisible object, which is handy for situations like this. They don't render, but are objects nonetheless. It'll make sence in a few steps.
7: See those arrows pointing in line with the X,Y,Z axis? That is an empty object. True to its name, its empty! Nothing but an invisible place holder. Thankfully we have this handy XYZ arrow thing so we don't lose it. Notice if you move the "empty" the path will always point to it. One more step left!
8: If you didn't already anticipate it, we're going to make the Empty a child of the UVsphere. Do this by selecting the two of them and pushing [ctrl P] where it will ask "make parent" and you select "OK". Now the Empty is a child of the UVsphere object, and wherever you move the UVsphere the tube will go to. Now all sorts of possibilities are running through your mind — like vacuum hoses, exposed arteries on mutant beasts, cables…!
See the screenshots below to see the effect at work:
This ends my simple tubes tutorial. Check back for more how-tos on Illustrator and Blender 3d!
Read and post comments | Send to a friend