Recently, the founders of BlenderDiplom (http://blenderdiplom.com/) initiated a unique modeling contest that limited modeling to the use of only basic mesh primitives (planes, spheres, cubes, etc). While no additional sculpting or editing of those primitives was allowed, the creative use of dynamic modifiers was highly encouraged.
Needless to say, this contest intrigued me. I was curious to know how far dynamic modifiers could non-destructively “push” a simple mesh without ever editing any vertices. So I decided to throw my hat in with the crowd. After some experimentation with what was turning out to be a very dissatisfying beach scene with an unfolding palm tree, I started fresh and built “The Scrapling”…
The animation features several scrap wires and conduit all joining together to form a small sapling tree. It also includes a snippet of industrial music, heavy use of camera defocus, and some flickering light to help establish mood. But the most interesting aspect is that which is unknown to the viewer – the entire scene is made up of simple mesh primitives (circle, sphere, cylinder, and torus) that have had a heap of modifiers generously applied to “fake” additional detail.
As an example, the rock upon which the entire scene takes place is, in actuality, a simple sphere. However, after adding a series of dynamic modifers including a Lattice Deformer, Displacement, Subdivision Surface (level 3), and another Displacement, the sphere has been completely transformed. All of those modifiers are working in a non-destructive manner leaving the sphere’s original vertices intact. The wires, conduit and chain are all simple shapes which make smart use of Array modifiers, Curve Deformers and sometimes Screw modifiers to achieve their length and curve.
The entire animation took only two days to set up (not including render time) – but the lessons learned during those two days regarding use of modifiers is invaluable. If you haven’t spent some time experimenting with Blender’s dynamic modifiers, go do it. You may just create something amazing.