..::scattering objects on a sphere::..
from the author:
This article was written with 3ds max 3.x in mind. Due to software
improvements, bug fixes, user interface amendments and added features,
some items listed below may not apply to 3ds max after version 3.x...
way to remember is that the scatter compound object is only as good
as the distribution object. If you are looking for an even spread,
design the distribution object to have an even spread of vertices
and faces. Faces are not recommended as the distribution method
due to there being two triangular faces per square polygon, so even
though a distribution surface may look perfect, often the amount
of objects will be double than what you initially expected!
ideal distribution object would not be any normal sphere primative
as the faces and vertices are pinched at the top and bottom, therefore
a sphere with no pinching should be created. Create a box primative
of equal length, width and height with, say, five segments per side,
then add a spherify modifier. Increase the amount of segments to
refine the geometry if required, but keep each side's amount equal.
the geometry to be scattered selected, create a scatter compound
object and select the 'box' as the distribution object, with 'perpendicular'
and 'all vertices' as the distribution method. Granted, this isn't
perfect due to there being some pinching still in the distribution
object, so some manual rotating and removal of scattered objects
may be required by adding an Edit Mesh Modifier. Alternatively,
instead of using a refined box as the distribution type, try using
a geosphere primative as these have equally-spaced vertices. Again,
some manual adjusting may be required due to the distribution pattern
of the geosphere primative.
such an array is tricky due to the shape if the object to scatter
and the distribution object shape; you may end up with gaps where
corners do not always meet. Also, if a layered pattern around the
distribution object is required, the amount of scattered objects
across the distribution object's 'equator' is greater than further
towards the 'poles'. To do this, take a step back and use snapshot
instead of scatter. Create circle splines the correct width and
distance apart up and down a sphere primative (as reference), or
by extracting edges as splines from the sphere using an Edit Mesh
modifier, assign a path motion controller to the object to scatter
and select the circle as the object's path (some tweaking of rotation
may be required to align the object with the contour of the reference
sphere). With 'constant velocity' and 'follow' checked, use the
Snapshot tool to clone the object over it's full rotation of the
path, increasing the amount of cloned objects to fit. Repeat the
procedure for more circles up and down the reference sphere until
it is totally covered. This way you have more control over the amount
of objects and their placing.
there is a freeware Scatter Utility plugin available at www.max3dstuff.com
which is very handy for this task...
an object on a path can give you more control on how objects
are placed around the sphere, manually avoiding intersections.
can have more control over the distribution of the scattered
objects by using a Scatter Utility plugin, which even allows
for multiple objects!
World website, June 2000.
Draper, June 2000. Reproduction without permission prohibited.