Blender, Maya & MODO: Context-Sensitive Behaviour

In this video I talk about the concept of context-sensitive behaviour and how I personally find it highly beneficial as a UX design concept for facilitating a fluent and intuitive artist workflow. MODO, Maya and Blender have their different approaches and degrees of implementation of this principle but Blender’s modelling tools are where I found myself missing this paradigm the most – maybe others feel similarly and this video can serve as inspiration to further a discussion on this topic. 🙂

Blender and MODO Addendum: Knife vs. Slice

Since I only touched on the most basic functionality of Blender’s Knife tool in my last video I want to append an addendum showing its other features and how they compare in particular to MODO’s Slice tool – which is separate from the Edge Slice tool with the buggy “Multi-Slice” option I demonstrated in video #4.

Okay, enough about knives and slicing for now. 😉

EDIT: I was wrong! I have just been informed that MODO also supports CTRL+LMB clicking on an edge for a mid-edge cut. You don’t have to activate the global snapping menu as I described. I never knew. My entire life has been a lie!

Blender and MODO Quick Take: Knife vs. Multi-Slice

Now so far for the most part MODO and Blender have come out roughly even for me. On some things, MODO had the slight edge, on others Blender had the slight edge. But I just encountered a tool where Blender’s implementation absolutely blows MODO’s out of the water – and that is Blender’s excellent Knife tool.

“Select Next” in MODO and Blender

Comparing “Select Next Active” (Ctrl+Shift+Numpad(+)) in Blender with MODO’s “Select Next” (Arrow Up), MODO very clearly comes out on top.

Blender fails to find a plausible next edge to select way too often – even in cases where the next expected edge is quite obvious.

Vertex Bevel Tool in MODO and Blender: Different behaviours but both useful

In the process of comparing basic tools and workflows between MODO and Blender I came across the different behaviours between MODO’s and Blender’s Vertex Bevel tools.

In MODO, I get this type of nice rounded effect if I use a Round Level of higher than 0:MODO_Vertex_BevelHowever, the resulting n-gons surfaces look artifacty unless I then bevel them in to create some ‘support geometry’:MODO_Vertex_Bevel_SupportGeoBlender’s works differently. You cannot get the same type of rounding effect on the edges as in MODO but the surfaces are clean. Here’s me using Blender’s Vertex Bevel and importing the resulting mesh into MODO:Blender_Vertex_BevelNow on this example, the resulting shape looks just like what you get in MODO with a Round Level of 0. But there is a so-called Profile option in Blender’s Vertex Bevel tool that does make use of the additional subdivisions on the newly created corner surfaces:Blender_Vertex_Bevel_ProfileIt pushes in/out the newly created surfaces. But the edges between the originally selected vertices remain straight.

Personally I find both tools’ behaviour useful and would like to see either tool include the other’s capabilities. If I had to make a choice I’d say that MODO’s tool is probably more versatile though because the nice edge rounding you can achieve with it is something I need more frequently than the bulging in/out effect that Blender’s Profile option does.


Blender, Maya and MODO: Selection Confusion

Before I address any feedback I received on the first video, here’s a quick follow-up where I talk about some component selection-related confusion I came across right after recording the first video. 🙂

I’m trying hard to keep each of these videos to a digestible length.

Now in response to this video someone commented:

about the highlighting of selections. I think it’s actually better, because it better shows what will actually be modified. Just imagine a case where you accidentally extruded the edges. When only edges are highlighted you’ll easily miss the “lose” edges. With Blender you’ll immediately see if the edges actually belong to the polygon.

The thing is, in MODO tools are context-sensitive depending on what selection mode you’re in. So if you are in Edge Selection mode and hit Extrude (or Shift+X), MODO will fire up the Edge Extrude tool.
If you’re in Polygon Selection mode and hit the same button (“Extrude“) or shortcut (Shift+X again), MODO will fire the Polygon Extrude tool instead.

I find this behaviour highly intuitive and clever.
It allows you to achieve exactly the behaviour you want and expect, by using a single button and/or shortcut.
The same goes for other tools like Bevel.
Depending on whether or you are in Vertex, Edge or Polygon (=Face) selection mode, MODO will activate the Vertex Bevel, Edge Bevel or Polygon Bevel tool when you click “Bevel” or hit the B hotkey:


Ed Catmull – A good team

It is easy to say you want talented people, and you do, but the way these people interact with one another is the real key. Even the smartest people can form an ineffective team if they are mismatched. That means it’s better to focus on how a team is performing, not on the talents of the individuals within it. A good team is made up of people who complement each other.