There is a limited set of primitive objects we can use as a starting points when modeling in Blender. Therefore, I wanted to give you a little extra help by explaining the extra objects add-on and how it might be helpful.
What is the extra objects add-on? There are two extra objects add-ons in Blender. One for mesh objects and one for curve objects. Both adds more primitives and ways to add geometry to our scenes. Once enabled, hit Shift+A in the 3D viewport. When we expand the mesh and curve sections, we find the extra objects and generators. Once we added an object, we get access to extra settings to manipulate the shape in the operator panel or by pressing F9.
In this article we will inspect what the mesh edition of the extra objects add-on can do for us. Let’s dive in.
What do we get with the extra objects add-on?
I divided this article into two sections below. One for the simpler objects we can add and one section for the more involved options. But I will start by listing them all here with a brief description.
- Single vert
- Adds an object with a single vertex.
- Round cube
- Adds a cube with beveled edges.
- Torus object
- Three types of torus alternatives with additional settings
- Math functions
- Insert any math function to create a shape from it.
- Pipe joins
- Simple pipe joins, multiple settings.
- Simple star
- Star shaped object
- Step pyramid
- You can think of it as an Incan pyramid shape.
- Honey comb
- A net of flat hexagons.
- Menger Sponge
- A cube with a hole running through it from 3 axis, this can be further subdivided for more detail.
- The classic 3D model of a teapot.
- Rock generator
- Create a low poly rock object with a modifier stack setup
- Beam builder
- Create beam shaped objects
- Wall factory
- Create medieval walls with windows, stairs, crenels etc.
- Create different kinds of gears.
- 3 Different kinds of diamond or gem shapes with
Let’s take a closer look at each one of them.
How can we use these extra objects in Blender?
Before we jump into the features of the extra objects, there is one feature I want to make you aware of. This is the ability to access the operator panel settings again after we have made other operations.
If we select an object created with extra objects and right click, you will find a “change object” entry in the context menu.
This allows us to get the operator panel back for that object after we made other operators. Something that is otherwise not possible.
However, be careful with this feature. Any changes that you may have done to the geometry in edit mode will be lost if we use this. You could say that the object gets reset.
This is a category with a few options. A single vertex in a new object is the most obvious. But we can also create a mesh object with no geometry. Keep in mind that this differs from an empty object. It can still contain geometry.
Then there are two options called “origin and vert mirrored” and “object origin mirrored” These will do the same as the previous options but will also add a mirror modifier to the object.
These objects are there to help us get going quickly when we are modeling something that we build up from scratch. It is common to start with a single vertex. Many people also just add a cube, press alt+M or recently, just M and merge at center to create a single vertex object.
This object adds a cube with beveled edges. I would consider it deprecated since we can easily add a cube with a bevel modifier that gives us much more control and options.
There are three kinds of torus objects we can add. The first one is a twisted torus. This is essentially a regular torus with a twist parameter, enabling us to twist how each segment connects to the next.
The next one is called supertoroid. This kind of torus has two extra parameters that makes it different from a regular torus. These are called “Ring manipulator” and “Cross manipulator”.
The ring manipulator turns the torus into a square shape the lower the number goes. This enables us to blend between a square and circular shape.
The cross manipulator changes the profile of the torus, making it bulge out and become square or bulge inwards.
The last torus variation is the Torus knot. There are three kinds of knots that we can add.
Once added, just set the knot type value to 1, 2 or 3.
The next group of extra objects are math functions. The first two options here are “Z math surface” and “XYZ math surface”. These enable you to use an equation to create geometry based on the Z axis or all the axis.
I will be honest, I am not much of a math guy, so I will leave these for the more math oriented to explore further. But by default the XYZ surface creates a kind of snail shell. For some, that may be a useful shape in some circumstances.
Next we have regular solids. These are the only regular objects that can be created in 3D. If you want to know more about the regular solids, you can learn more on Wikipedia.
External content: Wikipedia: Platonic solids
Next we have an option to create common triangle shapes.
These are a handful of common pipe joints like X T and Y cross sections and a 45-degree angle. If you are working with a pipe system, these may become handy. Personally I find a regular circle and the shear tool to work faster for me.
Related content: More than 30 Blender modeling tools explained
Simple star object
The simple star lives in the extras section. It has a few parameters allowing us to set the number of points and inner/outer radius and height.
The step pyramid is like the Incan pyramids. We have a “number sides” parameter dictating how many sides we have at the base followed by the obvious number of steps.
Next is an initial width parameter that, if set low, will create an inverted pyramid on top.
This feature creates a flat pattern of hexagons. These can be time consuming to create without this tool. The settings we have access to is rows and columns and cell diameter and edge width.
This is an interesting shape. It is a cube with a square hole in the middle of each side. This creates a regular shape that can be further subdivided into more detailed sponges.
Keep in mind that going above four iterations can really give your computer a hit in performance. For each iteration there is an enormous increase in geometry added.
Last in this category is the teapot. This is a classic 3D model that historically has been a common exercise to learn how to model. Now you can just add it right in.
How do the generators work?
In the previous section we looked at the simpler objects we can add with this add-on. Here we take a deeper dive into these other objects that we can use to generate more elaborate or advanced shapes. But they are also more specific.
This is a superb way to quickly add procedurally generate rocks. At the top we can enter the number of rocks we want to generate but leave this at 1 until the very end. Adjusting the other settings reset the rock in real-time and having multiple rocks visible at the same time will both make you unable to see what you are doing and slow down the real-time updates massively.
Next we have the settings allowing us to change the size of the rocks. Start with these to change the overall shape of the rock.
Next move on to deform and surface detail settings in the section below. Keep in mind that the “Display detail” setting increase the amount of geometry. Keep this low until you are happy with the overall shape since it takes longer to update any changes with a higher value.
At the very bottom you have a preset drop-down. This is a great place to start. Just scroll through the presets and see if any of them match your scenario.
To texture the rocks afterwards, the best way I have found is to use box projection to avoid any seams. You can read more about box projection texturing in this article.
Related content: Box projection article
Also, if you want a quick way to texture generated objects like these, you can combine box projection with an add-on such as the Extreme PBR Evo add-on. It gives you a vast library of materials to add quickly right inside Blender. It comes with over 1000 ready-made materials.
External content: Extreme PBR Evo materials add-on.
When we completed the rocks, we can still manipulate how they look by changing settings directly in the modifier stack. The original rocks are very low poly and all the extra geometry and deformations are added through the modifiers.
This is one of the simpler generators in the add-on. It adds a beam. We can select a profile such as I, T or L shape.
From there we have a few parameters to change such as thickness, depth, with and height. A very simple generator, but we can quickly add a few different beams we can use to kit bash together things like buildings being constructed or piles of beams.
I am a big fan of modular design. Creating a set of models that we can assemble in infinite ways and then just kit bash to your hearts content is amazing. Just like nature itself.
We can use the wall factory operator to create many wall parts for medieval or caste style buildings. Now, it is not perfect. It creates dense geometry with individual bricks made up of cubes. But it is fast and fun to work with and you can quickly create a large variety of wall parts.
In the operator panel the settings are divided up into sections depending on what part of the wall we are constructing. We can also turn on or off most of these sections.
At first, it may seem very daunting with a lot of sections and settings, but if we break it up, it is pretty simple.
All settings, all the way down to the wall shape section have to do with the wall itself. The position, thickness, length and height, etc.
From the “openings” section and down we can turn on or off these sections. We can add and control these kinds of elements:
- Openings, i.e. windows
- Slots, a kind of ornamental window. Historically used to shoot projectiles at the enemy.
- Cranel, the jagged edge at the top, allowing soldiers to alternate between taking cover and shooting easier.
Unfortunately, this operator does not support operator presets.
Gears and worms
Whenever you need to create machine parts these extra objects are likely to come in handy.
With a few simple parameters we can create many gears. The gear and worm objects work the same.
The easiest way to use this tool is to just play with the settings. It is very easy to get real time feedback of any changes we make in the operator panel.
Diamond and gem shapes
These are like the gears in that they have a few simple parameters to adjust the shape. If you want to create an actual gem or diamond the “brilliant diamond” and “gem” objects are the best starting point. The diamond shape is more of a primitive shape used as a starting point for other objects.
There are quite a lot of extra objects available within this add-on. Some of them can be very helpful when we need something more elaborate to model from than what a simple cube, sphere or torus might give us.
Blender has other built in add-ons to add objects as well such as the bolt factory and extra objects:curves we can also bring in an entire range of free models through the built-in Blender kit add-on.
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