Monday, May 12, 2008

The answer wasn't blowing in the wind

MLCadMLCad, a popular modeler

(fair use claimed)

Image via

I found a nifty gadget, and I have a rather intractable problem to thank.

Many LEGO fans do it virtually, and have since 1995 when James Jessiman released the first software and parts library for LDraw. Since that time the LEGO Community has modeled almost all the parts LEGO has ever developed as part of the LEGO System, and there have been quite a few freeware or shareware tools developed, addressing parts modeling/authoring, model capture and development, rendering, instruction generation, animation and other aspects of virtual LEGO. The parts themselves are licensed under an open license (although getting there has been a bit of a struggle, perhaps a story for another blog post)

The LEGO company was a bit late to the game with their offering, Lego Digital Designer (or LDD), designed to be more kid friendly but widely derided as far harder to use by most serious modelers. It has the very significant advantage of being tied to official parts, and of being tied to the sales apparatus, things designed in it, if designed using a subset, can be bought from the factory.

So anyway... LDraw is great at modeling LEGO elements and constructions. These tend to be rigid or at least solid for the most part, and amorphous elements are rare... While there is a string generator out there, one thing that hasn't been addressed by this community is cloth. String at least is essentially a two dimensional problem, as most strings can be modeled as combinations of shape adhering sections, and catenary or parabolic curves that lie in a plane. But cloth has no such strictures.

Recently, there was a thread about modeling cloth. Don Heyse, long involeved in the LDraw community, was writing about the difficulties of modeling cloth in the LUGNET newsgroup lugnet.cad ... as part of explaining why it was so hard to model cloth he presented this little gadget. It lets you model cloth, and see the effect of wind and gravity on drapings, in real time. I found it quite enjoyable, and educational. Just a nifty little time waster. Hope you like it too!

So that is my serendipity story of the day, I guess.

Got any good serendipity stories?

No comments: