TEXT FORMING FROM STROKES
A 3D Studio Max Tutorial

by Jarek Dukat

The most time-consuming here will be preparing the strokes. As initial object you can use the Text shape, but sometimes it is faster to make letters yourself. The key here is that the stroke must be one, single path. Most Windows fonts produce outlined shapes. So if you start from the Text shape, apply Edit Spline to it. To make the strokes we need all paths in separate objects. Go into subobject/spline, select one spline, and click Detach. Then select next and next and detach them until you have all splines separated. Below you see what I mean:

Now you have to prepare the strokes paths. Select first detached spline - it is Editable Spline object so you don't have to apply Edit Spline to it, just click subobject button and in vertex mode select vertices where you will cut the spline into a few parts. See picture below, this is an example how you cut the "A" letter:

You have to do it, because only one part of the spline is needed. So, when you select the vertices, click Break button. Now switch the subobject mode to Spline and select splines like on picture below:

And hit Delete key. After deleting them you have a few holes in your stroke path. Switch back to vertex mode and click Connect button. Now drag from one vertex to another to connect them and in this way connect two disconnected splines.

The final strokes for A letter should look like these:

As you see sometimes it will be easier to draw these stroke paths yourself instead of preparing them from Text shape. You can use Text just as reference shape instead of base object.

Now it is time to fill the strokes. Create cylinder primitive, pretty high but with small radius. Use about 20-30 height segments. Apply Path Deform modifier but remember to use space warp modifier (it is preceded with an asterisk, it is *PathDeform) and pick path - the first stroke. Then click Move to Path button. You also have to find correct axis for path deform, sometimes you have to rotate the deformed object (Rotation parameter).

When axis and rotation is ok, change the Stretch to 0. Now move the time slider, press Animate button and increase the Stretch, this will fill the stroke. Now if you play the animation you will see the cylinder deforming on the path, forming the stroke.

If you find the cylinder too angular, just increase the Height Segments count.

Now clone the cylinder, pick another path for path deform and adjust the Stretch amount for keyframes.

The final result is below:

For better result you can offset keys for Stretching, and add some visibility tracks. It is all set up in the sample scene, just download it and take a look :)

Big thanx to Karen for suggesting me the idea for this tutorial.

Jarek Dukat
http://www.nautilus.com.pl/jarek

Sample MAX 2 scene ~9 KB

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