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Lattices as a Corrective Modeling Aid

  • Software:Blender 2.72  ·
From the wiki: A lattice consists of a non-renderable three-dimensional grid of vertices. Its main use is to give extra deformation capabilities to the underlying object it controls (either via a modifier, or as its parent). Objects to be deformed can be meshes, curves, surfaces, text, lattices and even particles.

When it comes to the lattice there’s a couple of things to keep in mind. The first is that its non-destructive and in short lessens the amount of work needed to make shape changes by consolidating it to a 3-dimensional matrix.

There's also the Mesh Deform which we won't be using today. This modifier is defined as “The Mesh Deform modifier allows an arbitrary closed mesh (of any closed shape, not just the cuboid shape of a Lattice modifier) to act as a deformation cage around another mesh.“

The advantages to mesh deform is the fact the shape doesn’t have to be a cube, however, the binding step is one that can be taxing on the scene as well as cause unnecessary bloating of the blend file. The lattice is preferred due to it being the easiest on the scene and the system, while also keeping a blend file at an acceptable size and being more non-destructive than the mesh deform, which requires a binding step.

If you use a nice simple lattice, your work is consolidated to moving just a couple of vertices. Also, extra spans can be added after the initial shaping and will help in smoothing out the transitions while also giving you more room to make subtle changes. Lattices are stackable and able to be used in conjunction with other modifiers. They are an excellent practice to utilize and assists in optimizing the scene while reducing work.

The workflow

The general workflow for using a lattice is you use the add option in the 3d view (Shift + A), add lattice, scale it to fit around the model (in object mode not edit mode). Now to add it you have 2 choices.

  1. Go to the object you want to deform and add a lattice modifier and point it at it through the modifier options.
  2. Select the object then the lattice and Ctrl + P and choose lattice deform. This will parent it as well as put the modifier and fills in the parameters.

The second option is my favorite because it does all the work for us, reducing the number of clicks by possibly 5. I handle blender a bit efficiently and strive to find ways to reduce the amount of clicking to do repetitive tasks.

Lattices are non-destructive meaning they can be turned on and off at will. A non-destructive workflow allows for more customization at every level of the creative process by leaving the past available to be back tread at any time.

The alternative is the destructive workflow, which is straight ahead modeling and making every move count. There are more powerful techniques available to destructively working, because every movement is made with intent. I find that jumping between the two works best for me and I often use destructive for some pieces while keeping full customization on others.