Nice bevel or radius on surface of Chinese characters

 From:  Michael Gibson
2799.14 In reply to 2799.11 
Hi Joe,

> Producing surface maps is one of the things I
> need to do. My CAM program produces cut path
> information based on a surface map.

Sorry, I'm not quite sure what this part means --- the 3DM file that I attached previously that was generated with ZSurf also had a surface in it.

Was that surface not suitable for you, or were you looking for a different style result or something?

> Is there a way in MOI that I can trace around the character, Copy
> the closed outline or outlines, then raise them along the Z axis (like
> the bathtub tutorial), shrink the copy(s) and then loft between the
> two or more character outlines.

Yeah, I think you would want to use the Construct / Offset command to go through this procedure.

Say for example you have a curve like this:

If you select it and then run Construct / Offset, that will let you build an offset curve which will give this result:

You can repeat that a few times if you want to produce multiple offsets.

The offset curve will follow the shape of the original curve but maintaining a constant distance away from it, that's usually what you want for the kind of thing you are talking about, rather than just a direct scaled copy.

Then you can select the offsets and switch to a Front or Side view and use Transform/Move to move them to be on different Z positions before lofting between them.

However, in your case you have pretty complex blobby-ish outlines with some parts having narrow squeezed areas - that will tend to cause problems because the offset will kind of run into itself in narrow zones. That can cause problems in trying to match up the pieces when doing a loft all at once, you may need to split complex outlines up into some smaller chunks before lofting the pieces, so that you can control how things are connected during the loft better.

The Z-Surf approach is probably a better fit for the kind of shape that you have here.

If you want to have more control over how the side parts are shaped in the Z-Surf method, that is possible by introducing some blending and gray scale gradients into the image before running it through Z-Surf.

- Michael