How to build a simple but nicely looking 3D scene

A Typical Session

What do you do usually within a session with our software products ? ...

Within a typical session with any one of our software products, you either create new scenes or edit existing ones. This is the base for any further work with our applications. And the main goal of this topic is to show you how to do it effectively.

Start the application ...

We assume, you already did read the previous topic User Interface and have a general understanding about the toolbars, combo boxes, and other control elements.

Please start your application, for example 3D Draw Shadows or Shadow Analyzer.

At the beginning it displays all the toolbars and one '3D View' window with a blank scene. The scene has default name "Scene1".

Before to go further, we want to remain you the following basic points.

Get hints ...

Before to do anything, get hints about the functionality of the control elements.

Move the mouse pointer to an element (a button, a combo box, etc.) and see its description that appears in the status line of the Status bar.

See also a small yellow window with a tip that appears near the element. The hint appears even if an element is disabled. So you can become familiar with all the control elements before the session.

A simple rule of the scene management: firstly select, then edit ...

There is a simple background logic of the scene management that is common for all the control elements.

Before to change something in a scene, you need to select what actually you want to change. It looks like a text editing: firstly you select a text fragment, and then you edit it. But the editing of a 3D scene requires usually a more complex multi-level selection: scene => object => attribute. And before to make a subsequent (more particular) selection, you need to make a more general selection.

So keep in mind the following sequence:

The toolbars' order hints you the possible sequence of a multi-level selection of an object's attribute. You make the selections always from left to right, from a more general level to a more specific level.

After you enter a new value of an attribute, you may need to click on a corresponding "edit" button "E", or "parent" button "P", or on the OK button of the Color dialog to apply the new value / color to the selected attribute of the selected object of the selected scene.

If you did not complete the editing of an attribute and change a selection, the control elements usually come to their neutral states. All the particular selections become obsolete when you change more general selection. Therefore, for example, when you did not complete a selection in one scene and click on another scene, each combo box automatically comes to a neutral state and shows its title line like "SCENE", "PAR", etc.

You can read more about the mechanism of the multi-level subsequent selections in the section "Use toolbars" at the end of this page. It is a good idea to return periodically to this description of the toolbars' functionality during your first steps with this online Tutorial.

A note for the future ...

We will work with rather simple scenes in this topic. So we will mostly use the combo box "SCENE" to select an object in a scene.

The combo box "SCENE" shows the list of the scene objects in a sequence, in which they were created. Each line of this list contains only the sequential number and the type name of the object (merely, there is no more place in such a small element like a combo box).

This information is enough to identify an object if a scene is so simple that you can remember all the created objects. But this technique becomes inconvenient for complex scenes with many objects attached one to another, when the "history" of the objects' creation says nothing about the 3D structure of the scene.

To find objects in complex scenes, you can use the tree view pane of the '3D View' window. This technique is described in the topic "Panes of 3D View" of the chapter "Advanced Options" of the full Documentation.


Build a 3D model of an ancient temple in six steps

The session plan ...

Let us imagine the following session with, say, 3D Draw Shadows. Assume, we want to build a 3D model of an ancient temple situated on a small island somewhere in Mediterranean Sea.

An ancient temple of the Greek or Rome style consists of a podium, a colonnade, and a two-plane roof. So we need to prepare these parts, attach them one to another, and put the entire construction on a model of a small island.

We will do this work in six steps:

Build a 3D model of an ancient temple in six steps
Build a 3D model of an ancient temple in six steps.

You can find the corresponding example scenes et030_TS_Step_1.sa1, ... et030_TS_Step_6.sa1 in the folder "Examples". To find this folder on your PC, you can use the command "Folder Architecture" of the File menu.

Try to implement the following first three simple steps just now without a long preparation. Try to 'attack' the software, perhaps it is easier than it looks. Actually, it is more difficult to describe the functionality of the software in words than to use it practically.

1. Open an empty scene, and use the toolbar Factory to create a box ...

Open an empty scene with the leftmost button "New Doc" of the toolbar Document (or use the already opened blank scene).

With the activated empty scene, open the combo box NEW of the toolbar Factory, and select 3D_Box, then click on the button "N".

Congratulations! You created your very first object, the box.

Save the scene in the scene file "Step_1" inside any one of your working folders.

If you use a Trial version of our software (which do not allow you to save scenes in files), then do the following for all next steps. Open the example scene of the previous step and transform it till it will look like the scene of the next step.

If you use the full version of our software or 3D Message Free, then do not change the original example scene files. Instead, copy them into your working folder, and then work with the copies.

To observe the scene from different sides, you can use the arrow keys (LEFT, RIGHT, UP, and DOWN) of your keyboard. Also, you can use the Spin controls "Viewpoint Elevation" and "Viewpoint Azimuth" of the toolbar 3D View.

2. Use the toolbar Scene to transform the box into a platform ...

Open the combo box SCENE, select the object "1 - 3D_Box". Open the combo box "PAR", select "dX". Use the Spin control to increase the value of dX to 36. Then, increase dY to 26 and decrease dZ to 1. You transformed the box into a flat platform. Save the scene in the file "Step_2".

To change the light direction, press the "space bar" key of your keyboard, then use the arrow keys (LEFT, RIGHT, UP, and DOWN) of your keyboard. To return the keyboard in the "Viewpoint" mode, press the "space bar" key again. Also, you can use the Spin controls of the toolbar 3D View (see the corresponding section of the topic User Interface for more details).

Use the "zoom in" / "zoom out" options -- press the keyboard keys "PAGE UP" / "PAGE DOWN", or rotate the wheel of your Wheel mouse, or use the Spin control "Zoom In/Out" of the toolbar 3D View.

3. Change the platform color, make two copies of the platform, put them one onto another, and resize them to make a podium ...

As usual, start the selection from the combo box SCENE. Open the combo box SCENE and select the object "1 - 3D_Box".

Then, use the toolbar Color to change the platform color to white. Open the combo box COLOR, select "surface", click on the button "C". This action calls the Color dialog. In the Color dialog, select the white color, and click the button "OK".

Use the toolbar Document (its Copy/Paste buttons) to make the copy of the platform. The object "1 - 3D_Box" should be selected in the combo box SCENE. Click on the button "Copy Object". It creates the copy of the object "1 - 3D_Box" in the computer memory. Then, click on the button "Paste Object". It transfers the object from the computer memory to the scene. The line "2 - 3D_Box" appears in the combo box SCENE. However, you see only one platform in the 3D View window, because both objects (box 1 and box 2) have the same size and location -- they occupy the same volume. The program does not prevent collisions between objects -- they can pass one into another.

Use the toolbar Parent to put the box 2 onto the box 1. We assume that the line "2 - 3D_Box" is selected in the combo box SCENE. Open the combo box "REF CS", select the line "1, 1", and click on the button "P". The line "1, 1" means: first object, first face -- the top side of the box 1.

We say: the box 2 is the child of the box 1; or the box 1 is the parent of the box 2; or the box 2 (child) is attached to the box 1 (parent). The sense of this relationship is that the child follows the parent, if we move the parent. Moreover, if we make a copy of the parent, the child is copied too. Thus two boxes behave as a compound solid body consisting of two parts. We will use this property in the step 6.

To see which box is number "1" and which one is number "2", click on the button "##" ("Object Numbers") of the toolbar 3D View. The number of the corresponding parent object is shown in parentheses after the number of the child object. If the numbers overlap, use the "zoom in" / "zoom out" options.

Now, make the copy of the box 2 -- you get the object "3 - 3D_Box" in the combo box "SCENE". Then, open the combo box "REF CS", select the line "2, 1", and click on the button "P". The line "2, 1" means: second object, first face -- the top side of the box 2.

Afterward, all three boxes will behave as a compound solid body (and the box 1 will play a role of a handle to this body).

Note that the copying of the box 2 provide one box -- the box 3. While the copying of the box 1 would provide two boxes, because the box 1 has a child (box 2), which is being copied together with its parent (box 1).

Now, select the object "2 - 3D_Box" in the combo box SCENE, and increase its dX, dY dimensions. Then, increase dX, dY of the object "1 - 3D_Box".

You get a simple podium. To make sure that it is a multi-parametric compound body, try to play with the parameter dZ of the box 1, then return its value to 1. Do the same with the parameter dZ of the box 2.

Try an interesting option. Select the object "1 - 3D_Box" in the combo box SCENE. Click on the "Copy" button of the toolbar Document, but do not click on the "Paste" button. Then, open a new blank scene (with the leftmost button "New Doc"), and only then click on the "Paste" button -- the entire podium appears in the new scene.

Save the scene in the file "Step_3".

Discussion 1:  Plan the sequence of your actions with objects, but be flexible in the sequence of your learning ...

We started step 3 from the change of the platform color, but not from the copying, because it is easier to set all of the attributes once for one object than to repeat the same settings for many copies. Therefore, plan the sequence of your actions to work effectively. Sometimes, it is easier to delete the incomplete copies, complete the editing of the object to its final version, and then make copies again.

When you create a compound aggregate of objects, remember that it is a multi-parametric body -- you can reuse it later in other scenes making a few changes of its parameters. Therefore, find the handle of the aggregate, copy it into to the computer memory, then paste it from the computer memory into an empty scene, and save the scene in an intermediate file. To find a handle, you can use the command "Scene Structure" of the 3D View menu. Also note that the handle numbers are prefixed by underscores "_", when you use the button "##" ("Object Numbers"). We will return to this theme later in the section "Discussion 2".

If you had some difficulties with these first steps, try again and follow the hints in the Status bar -- the practice is the best teacher. Or open example scenes "et030_TS_Step_1.sa1", ... "et030_TS_Step_3.sa1", find objects in the combo box SCENE, select their parameters in the combo box PAR, and read their values in the Edit control.

Also, you can read more about the toolbars in this topic (see "Use toolbars" below). Or return to the topic User Interface. Or read next topics of the chapter "Getting Started" of the downloadable full Documentation, where you will find the very detailed explanation on how to create objects, set their parameters and colors, attach one object to another (set a parent object), etc.

Try to find your personal "equilibrium point" between the reading and the practical training with our software products.

If you decide to continue, let us make the next step to learn how to deal with the object's coordinates and how to apply textures to the object surfaces.

4. Create a column, place it on the podium, apply textures ...

Open the file "Step_3.sa1" of your previous work (or load the scene "et030_TS_Step_3.sa1" from the folder "Examples"). Use the menu File / "Save Scene As" to save the scene in the file "Step_4".

Open the combo box NEW of the toolbar Factory, and select 3D_Cyl_nH, then click on the button "N". The object "4 - 3D_Cyl_nH" appears in the combo box SCENE. You created a cylinder. Put it onto the podium: select line "3, 1" in the combo box REF CS, and click on the button "P". Now, the podium together with the cylinder constitute a compound body that consists of 4 objects. The object "1 -- 3D_Box" is the handle of this body.

Resize the cylinder: select "rt" (top radius) in the combo box PAR, type 0.8 in the Edit control, and click on the button "E", then set "rb" (bottom radius) to 1. Use the combo box COLOR and the button "C" of the toolbar Color to change the color of the cylinder "surface" to white. You get a white column that stands in the middle of the podium.

Use the toolbar Location to move the column to a corner of the podium. We assume that the line "4 - 3D_Cyl_nH" is selected in the combo box SCENE. Open the combo box "CS", select the big letter "X". Use the Spin control to set X = - 15. Then, set Y = - 10. You can check the buttons "oC", "pC" of the toolbar Show (and open-close the combo box REF CS) to see how the own coordinate system of the column moves relatively its parent coordinate system that corresponds to the top face of the object "3 -- 3D_Box".

Click on the "Save Doc" button of the toolbar Document. Do it each time, if you are satisfied by the result of your work. If you did a mistake (for example, if you have deleted an object occasionally), close the scene without the saving, and then reopen it. Note that the product does not have the "Undo" option: it does not store the sequence of your actions in a temporary files -- do it by yourselves.

Although you did not yet read the topic Textures, try some of the texture options to get the first feeling what you can do with textures. You can find information on the toolbar Texture below in the section "Use toolbars" at the bottom of this page.

Now, before the copying of columns, apply textures. We assume that the line "4 - 3D_Cyl_nH" is selected in the combo box SCENE. Open the combo box COLOR, and select the line "zone 2" -- it is the lateral side of the column. The combo box TEX of the toolbar Texture becomes enabled. The Static control to the left of the combo box shows that no texture is applied to "zone 2". Open the combo box TEX, and select the line "File". The button "TT" becomes enabled. Click on the button "TT". It calls the dialog "Open Texture File". Find the folder Textures inside the installation folder, select the file "tx_MatMarble23.jpg", and click on the "Open" button of the dialog. The texture appears on the lateral side of the column. To see it better, use the "zoom" option.

Click on the "Save Doc" button of the toolbar Document.

Once the line "4 - 3D_Cyl_nH" is selected in the combo box SCENE, and the line "zone 2" is selected in the combo box COLOR, the combo box TPAR becomes enabled -- now, you can select and change the texture parameters.

Do the following using an additional empty scene. Copy the object "4 - 3D_Cyl_nH" from the scene "Step_4" into the computer memory, and then paste it into the new empty scene. The single object "1 - 3D_Cyl_nH" appears in the combo box SCENE. Select the line "zone 2" in the combo box COLOR. Open the combo box TPAR, select the parameter "MagnY". Read its descriptions in the Status bar. See its value 1.0 in the grayed (read only) Edit control. Use the Spin control to decrease the value to 0.2. Then, select the parameter "Repeat", and decrease its value to 0. Then, select the parameter "Rot_A", and change its value to rotate the texture. Try also the parameter "MoveY".

The texture parameters are divided into two categories: the standard parameters that are common for all types, and the specific parameters. Standard parameters are listed in the top part of the list of the combo box TPAR, and their names begin from big letters. Specific parameters are listed at the bottom of the list, and their names begin from a small letter. For example, a texture of the type "File" has the specific parameter "link" that plays a role of an indicator. If the texture file is found, the value of the "link" is 1, otherwise it is 0. It is a non-editable parameter, you cannot change its value. However, when you select it, you can see the path to the texture file in the Status bar. Also, you can use the commands "Textures' Statistics" and "Links to Texture Files" of the Edit menu to get more information about the textures of the active scene.

Well, you see that the textures have many parameters. Do you need to adjust all the parameters each time when you apply a new texture? No, you do not. First of all, the default settings can be enough for your work. Also, you can copy textures of one object and apply them to other objects. For example, you can reuse the textures of the example scenes from the folder "Examples". Scenes with textures begin their names with the prefix "et ...". Scenes from "et101_Flags_TxPar.sa1" to "et216_WallOrnamentsColor.sa1" contain many simple objects with different textures.

Let us use the example "et030_TS_Step_4.sa1". Open the file. Use the command "Tile" of the menu Window to see both scenes "et030_TS_Step_4.sa1" and "Step_4.sa1". Close other windows.

Now, use the same procedure for the bottom platform of the podium.

Note that the last copied texture stays in the computer memory. Use it again.

Now, you can close the scene "et030_TS_Step_4.sa1".

Note that we applied textures to the top faces of the boxes (we selected "zone 1" instead of "surface"). We did so, because we can reuse the texture inside some objects to use less system memory (not to apply the same texture many times to different color zones). Such objects have the parameter "mapT" in their parameter lists.

In the scene "Step_4", select "1 - 3D_Box" in the combo box SCENE. Select "mapT" in the combo box PAR. Read its description in the Status bar. Set its value to 2. Do the same with boxes 2 and 3.

You completed your work with textures in Step_4. Click on the "Save Doc" button of the toolbar Document.

You are ready to copy the column to make a colonnade. You can start this task now or left it for the next step 5.

5. Build the colonnade on the podium, build the roof ...

Open the file "Step_4.sa1". Save the scene in the file "Step_5".

Copy the column a few times to make a colonnade.

The object "4 - 3D_Cyl_nH" should be selected in the combo box SCENE. Click on the button "Copy Object" of the toolbar Document (this command is also duplicated in the Edit menu). It creates the object copy in the computer memory. Then, click on the button "Paste Object". It transfers the object from the computer memory to the scene. The line "5 - 3D_Cyl_nH" appears in the combo box SCENE. Unlike the case of a texture, the object copy does not stay in the computer memory -- the button "Paste Object" becomes disabled. However, the button "Copy Object" stays enabled, because now you can copy the object 5.

You see only one column in the 3D View window. This time, two columns do not occupy the same volume. The column "5 - 3D_Cyl_nH" is situated a little bit lower than the column "4 - 3D_Cyl_nH". The object 5 keeps the coordinate X, Y of the object 4, but now the coordinates are defined relatively the coordinate system of the scene. To see it better, open-close the combo box REF CS (the line "scene" appears into it). Also, check the button "e", uncheck the button "f", and check buttons "oC", "pC" of the toolbar Show. You can also hide the landscape -- check the button "h" of the toolbar Scene.

Put the column "5 - 3D_Cyl_nH" onto the podium. The column should be selected in the combo box SCENE. Open the combo box "REF CS", select the line "3, 1", and click on the button "P". Just now both columns occupy the same volume. Use the toolbar Location to move the column along the podium (select the X, Y coordinates in the combo box CS, and change them).

Make more copies of the column. Each time, put a new column onto the podium, and move it. Keep the step between columns equal to 5. Complete the colonnade along the perimeter of the podium. Return the buttons of the toolbar Show in their original state. The scene start to look like an ancient temple.

Now, build the roof. Create a new object of the type "Bld_42", resize it, change the color of its "surface" to white, attach it to the top face of the box 3, increase its Z coordinate to 10, and apply textures.

You can simplify this task, if you open the scene "et030_TS_Step_5.sa1", select the object "24 - Bld_42", copy it into the computer memory, and then paste it into the scene "Step_5". Then, you need only to attach the object 24 to the top face of the box 3. After that, you can examine the types and parameters of textures that are applied to the roof.

You built the temple. Note that it is a compound body, and the box 1 is its handle. Next time, you can copy the box 1, and paste the entire temple into another scene. Click on the "Save Doc" button of the toolbar Document.

6. Put the temple on an island ...

Firstly we need to create a simple island.

Open a blank scene. Open the combo box NEW of the toolbar Factory, and select 3D_CylE, then click on the button "N". The object "1 - 3D_CylE" appears in the combo box SCENE. It is a cylinder that is built on the elliptical polygon.

Use the combo box PAR and the Spin control to set the following parameters: n = 7, rxt = 35, ryt = 30, xt = 4, rxb = ryb = 40, h = 15.

Use the combo box COLOR and the button "C" to set "zone 1" to green, and "zone 2" to white color.

For "zone 2", crate the texture from the file "tx_NatRock96.jpg" located in the 'Textures' folder. Set the texture parameters: NPixX = NPixY = 256, MagnX = MagnY = 0.2.

In the toolbar Scene, use the button "Set Landscape Color" to set the landscape color to blue. Then, use the button "Set Spot Color" to set the spot color to white, and check the button "r".

You created a simple 'sea landscape'. Save it in the file "MySeaLandscape.sa1" to use it in your next work.

Now we can put the temple on the island.

Open the file "Step_5.sa1". Select the object "1 - 3D_Box" in the combo box SCENE. You remember that this object is the handle to the entire temple. Click on the button "Copy Object" of the toolbar Document to copy the temple into the computer memory.

Return to the window "MySeaLandscape" (click on it to make it active). Click on the button "Paste Object" to transfer the temple from the computer memory to the scene "MySeaLandscape". The object "2 - 3D_Box" appears in the combo box SCENE.

Open the combo box "REF CS", select the line "1,1" (it is the top face of the island), and click on the button "P".

Congratulations!!! You completed the scene. Save it in the file "Step_6.sa1".

Creating the scene "et030_TS_Step_6.sa1" for this Tutorial, we changed the order of our actions in compare with what you did in Step_6. We did not use the intermediate scene to create the island, and did all in the same scene. Therefore, the island 3D_CylE get another sequential number in our scene.

Read more about the scene structure in the following discussion.

Discussion 2: The scene structure ...

Creating a scene, you can see the progress of your work using the command "Scene Structure" of the 3D View menu.

The following two screen shots illustrate the scene structure at the end of the Step_3 and after a few copy actions in the Step_5. The first one reflects the structure of the podium. The second one represents the podium with 4 columns standing on the box 3.

On the second screen shot, the box 3 is already the parent object of the columns 4, 5, 6, 7, and in turn is a child of the box 2. Therefore its number is marked by a suffix dash "-" in the record "2{3-}" that shows not all but only the immediate children of the box 2.

On the first screen shot, the box 3 did not have any children, therefore the same record was written as "2{3}". In these records, we use numbers (digits) as digital names (identification numbers) of objects (their sequential numbers in the scene).

The box 1 is a root handle -- it has children, but it does not have a parent. The total number (amount) of its children are shown in records "1[2]" and "1[6]". In these records, the digit "1" means the digital name of the box 1, and digits "2" and "6" denote the number (amount) of children (but not their sequential numbers in the scene).

The scene structure at the end of the Step_3 The scene structure after a few copy actions in the Step_5

The command "Scene Structure" of the 3D View menu and its windows shown above give you only the general information of the scene structure. A more detailed information about the "child-parent" relationships between the scene objects is represented by the tree view pane of the '3D View' window. The tree view pane is described in the topic "Panes of 3D View" of the chapter "Advanced Options" of the full Documentation.


A 3D-model and its 2D-image

3D versus 2D

With our products, you can work and communicate directly in 3D. A scene file is very short, but it contains much more information than a set of 2D pictures. You can send scene files as email attachments. And your recipients will be able to observe your 3D messages dynamically from various positions and under different light conditions. They will be able to reedit your scenes and express their answers also in the 3D form. In other words, our products are targeted to 3D, and we would like the 3D functionality to become your everyday habit.

However, sometimes you might prefer a 2D image (for example, to show the scene from the best vantage point). In such cases, you can use the following options.

Copy a window into Clipboard

If you want to insert a 2D image of a particular 3D view into any document that accepts 2D graphics, you can copy the image of the 3D View window into the Clipboard using the command "Copy 3D View to Clipboard" of the Edit menu, then activate your editor application (like MS Word, MS PowerPoint, or MS Photo Editor), and paste the image into the document, which you are editing. Then, you will get (inside your document) something like the following image.

A picture copied from the '3D View' window into this HTML page
A picture copied from the '3D View' window of 3D Draw Shadows.

When you use 3D Message as a 3D communicator, or when you use 3D Draw Shadows as a 3D illustrator, the scenes and perhaps their 2D images are the final products of your work. When you use Shadow Visualizer simply to decide where to put a solar umbrella near a table in your garden, or a solar tent above the vitrine window of your store, the 2D images also can be useful to fix the characteristic cases.

When you work with Shadow Analyzer on your solar project, you create 3D scenes at the beginning of your work, use them in your calculations, and also can use them for the dynamic presentation of your project. While the 2D images could be inserted in the text of your printed report. Shadow Analyzer has also an additional options to save 2D images of "solar" windows (use the command "Copy 'Solar' Window to Clipboard" of its Edit menu). You can see such an image below.

A picture copied from a 'solar' window into this HTML page
A picture copied from a 'solar' window of Shadow Analyzer.

Note also that there is another more general option that you can use with any application under Windows. If you want to make a screen shot of the entire main window of an application (together with the menu bar, toolbars, and view windows opened inside the main window) you can press (and hold) the "Alt"-key, and simultaneously press the "Print screen"-key on your keyboard. The image will be copied in the Clipboard, and you will be able to insert it into another editor. The image will look like many screen shots that we made for the common Help file of our products.


Use toolbars

The guide for your work with the toolbars ...

The following is a guide for your work with toolbars. It is a good idea to return periodically to this guide of the toolbars' functionality during your first steps with this online Tutorial.

We do not describe all the control elements of the toolbars here. You can find all such the descriptions by yourselves at the time of your work with our applications: move the mouse pointer to an element (a button, a combo box, etc.) and read its description in the Status bar. It is easy.

Instead, we describe here the sequence of your frequently repeated actions and typical tasks, which you implement by means of the toolbars.

This section is an addition to the section "Toolbars and their control elements" of the previous topic "User Interface".

The sequence of toolbars ...

Toolbars of the user interface of Shadow Analyzer
Toolbars and their control elements, if none object is selected.

Toolbars of the user interface of Shadow Analyzer
Toolbars and their control elements, if an object is selected.

We repeat here the text fragment and the screen shot from the previous topic "User Interface". None object is selected in the scene.

Then we show the alternative screen shot, where an object is selected in the scene. Compare these screen shots to see the difference in the disabled (grayed) and enabled control elements of the toolbars.

The toolbar names are listed in the 'Toolbars' menu:

Note: the toolbar Sun is available only in Shadow Analyzer.

The sequence of toolbars stays the same even if you hide some of them or resize the main window so that each toolbar occupies one level.

The interaction of control elements ...

The most important feature of the user interface is the interaction between the control elements of the toolbars. This interaction is connected mainly with the mechanism of multi-level subsequent selections, which you use to find and edit the object properties.

The selection mechanism works like the address system of the postal service. Before to send a letter by mail, you need to write the proper address on the envelope. A postal address is a multi-level record, which consists of a few parts: a country-name, a town-name, a street-name, and a house-number. The postal address says to the postal service the actual location of the recipient of your message. Your letter is the message for the particular recipient. And the address is the message for the postal service. The address describes the path to the recipient.

Analogically, when you edit a scene by means of our 3D applications, you should to say to the application installed on your PC the proper "address" of the desired editing action. In our case, the "address" is expressed by a particular combination of the multi-level subsequent selections, which you set in a few combo boxes of several toolbars.

Like the postal service verifies the address written on the envelope before to deliver your letter to the next sorting post office, the 3D application verifies all the possible actions, which you can implement on each intermediate level of a particular selection. The 3D application automatically enables all the corresponding elements of the user interface, while other elements (representing invalid actions) stay to be disabled (grayed).

Such a hint helps you to understand each possible further mouse-click. It concerns also to a mouse-click on a next combo box for a further subsequent selection. You need to remember only that the selection mechanism works from left to right.

The most frequently faced case of the interaction between the control elements of different toolbars is the selection of an object in the combo box SCENE of the toolbar Scene. Just this case is illustrated by two screen shots above.

The toolbars' functionality in general ...

We summarize the toolbars' functionality in the following general definitions:

It is usefully now to consider each toolbar individually to remember better how the general functionality is realized in their control elements, and where to find a needed element.

Reference: the toolbars' control elements from left to right ...

In the section "Toolbars and their control elements" of the previous topic "User Interface", we considered the control elements sorted by their types: Combo boxes, Edit controls, Spin controls, and Static controls.

In the text above, describing the toolbars' functionality in general, we were focused on the interaction between the control elements, on how they are working together.

Below we consider the same user interface again, commenting each control element individually, and following the toolbar sequence from left to right. So you can use this description as a reference for this online Tutorial to find any needed element in one place.

And remember: it is difficult to explain all things at once from the very beginning. If the functionality of any element is still unclear, you can find the explanation of its usage later in the chapter "Getting Started" of the full Documentation.

Document   The toolbar Document

Use the toolbar Document to create / open / save documents with scenes, and to copy / paste the scene objects.

Use the next toolbar Factory to populate the scene with objects.

Factory   The toolbar Factory

Use the toolbar Factory to create new objects and add them to the active scene.

Scene   The toolbar Scene

Use the toolbar Scene to select objects before to change their parameters and properties.

Manage the landscape background:

Location   The toolbar Location

Use the toolbar Location to change the location / orientation of the object selected in the combo box SCENE.

Parent   The toolbar

Use the toolbar Parent to make a more complex setting of the object location. Keep in mind the following hierarchy of the coordinate systems. The shape of each object is defined (according to the object type and parameters) in its own coordinate system. The position / orientation of the own coordinate system of an object can be defined either relatively the scene or relatively another object (the "parent" object). The "parent" object can provide several reference coordinate systems for its "child" object. One of them is associated with the "parent" object itself -- it is the own coordinate system of the "parent". Other systems can be associated with some elements of the "parent" object (for example, with its faces).

Color   The toolbar

Use the toolbar Color to change the object color scheme by selecting 'points' / 'edges' / 'surface' or a face group (a 'color zone') in the combo box COLOR and calling a color dialog box clicking on the button "C" of the toolbar Color.

To understand the functionality of other buttons "h", "r", "sm", and "sr", read the topic "Set Object Colors/Filters" in the chapter "Getting Started" of the full Documentation.

Texture   The toolbar Texture

Use the toolbar Texture to apply a texture to the entire surface or to a face group (a 'color zone') that is selected in the combo box COLOR. If the texture is already applied, you can manage its parameters.

Show   The toolbar Show

Use the toolbar Show to manage several filters of the active scene that show / hide points, edges, faces, shadows, etc.

Note, the filters of the toolbar Show are working together with (but are applied after) the filters of the toolbar Color.

The button "F" works together with the settings of the "far" attributes of the toolbar Location.

3D View   The toolbar 3D View    The toolbar 3D View

Use the toolbar 3D View to manage the view parameters in the active '3D View' window: the viewpoint position, the zoom factor value, etc. Please read "Toolbar 3D View ..." in the previous topic "User Interface" for more details.

Sun   The toolbar Sun

The toolbar Sun opens 'solar' windows in Shadow Analyzer.

Use the following buttons to open the corresponding "solar" windows:

The toolbar Sun and 'solar' windows are described in details in the chapter "Your Solar Project" of the full Documentation.