Plating Generator and Greebles

by Mark Kingsnorth in Scripts and Addons

Quickly create unique hull plating patterns using existing mesh topology.

One of the most time consuming things I've found is how to create an interlocking plating pattern on meshes such as spaceship hulls.  The most effective method is to manually extrude edge loops over and over, which can be very time consuming. The more detailed you want the mesh to be, the longer it will take.

With a background in software engineering I have created a plugin that greatly speeds up the process, allowing you to quickly create a selection in a plating pattern and and extrude the edges accordingly.

Features:

  • Quickly generate a plating pattern from a random seed. The pattern is an interlocking effect designed to be more advanced than the standard random face selection in Blender.
  • The pattern can be generated on a whole quad based mesh or on a sub selection of quad faces.
  • Control the amount of grooves cut between the plates.
  • Control the depth of the grooves.
  • Control the thickness of the grooves.
  • Option to split the edges on a smooth mesh to ensure the edges are cleanly defined.
  • Option to completely remove the grooves and leave the plates intact.
  • No hidden geometry created, actions are performed directly on the mesh.


New Releases

Version 1.8.0

By request I have added an option to disable updates whilst you are working at high values, which will slow down Blender whilst you change them. Hope this helps people!

Version 1.7.0 - Greebles!

A significant update to the add-on (now add-ons) - Greebles.  See the demo video below:

You can choose to add Greebles to the Plating Generator add-on, or choose to add them as a completely seperate options.  You can also add up to 20 of your own Greeble objects.

Other new features include a completely updated interface with collapsible panels.  See the documentation for mor information:

Do contact me if you have any questions or issues via the 'Contact the Creator' section.

Version 1.6.0

Thanks to the help of my testers, I have now released the Plating Generator 1.6.0 into the wild.  This version includes:

  • Variable Plate Heights: The ability to randomise plate heights starts to create more interesting effects, like city scapes and varied detailing:
  • Tapers to the plates:  This also allows for a wider variety of effects on plates:
  • Performance Improvements: I have also worked to make some of the code more efficient when creating the plating effect, and to pass over the mesh data as few times as possible.  More will come in the next release.

I have used these options combined with the Shape Generator to quickly create sci-fi spaceship models like this.  I plan on putting a video tutorial together on the subject so watch this space:

Version 1.5.0

Several updates in this version:

  • Rivets: by request, you can now optionally add rivets to the plates  
  • You can now bevel the grooves as well as the plates
  • You can now control major and minor corners on all plates

Version 1.4.0

Minor update to the corners feature whilst I work on other features - I've amended the code to handle a better effect in some cases:

This was bugging me so I've updated it! 

Version 1.3.0

A host of new features this time.  If you already have the existing add-on, remove it under Blender User Preferences and download the new file from the same place on this website.  It is now in a zip file.

A video covering the updates is available here:




New Features:

  • A newly designed user interface with more options (see updated documentation):   
  • Ability to create groove patterns based on your own edge selection:

  • Add a bevel to the main corners of your selected faces to create a finished effect:
  • Improved edge splits, that also split the corners of the edges.
  • Option to mark UV seams around the edges of the plates for texture mapping purposes.
  • Better segmentation between side plates and bevels - now less likely to overlap.

  • All existing features remain the same.

  • The add-on is now in a zip file to allow easier porting between versions of Blender.

Next time: Rivets. I promise.

Any questions, let me know :)

Version 1.2.0


Based on requests, I have made some additions to the plating generator which are free to all current users:

  • Define the number of segments on the sides of the plates and within the grooves.
  • An additional option of selecting the faces for the plates as well as the grooves.
  • Add a bevel to the edges of the plates, and define the number of segments.
  • This plugin is also tested on the upcoming Blender 2.79.


A short demo video of the new features is here:




Note that when installing the new plating_1_2_0.py file, remove the existing plugin via the Blender User Preferences window beforehand:

Any questions, do get in touch!

Installation

  1. Go to File -> User Preferences.
  2. Select the Add-ons tab at the top.
  3. Select the Install Add-on from File... button along the bottom.
  4. A file dialogue will pop up. Navigate to the file location where you downloaded the plating_generator_greebles.zip file and double click it.
  5. Search for the add-on by typing "Generate" in the search box if it does not already appear. Make sure the checkbox next to the Add-on (Mesh: Generate Plates with Greebles) is ticked.
  6. Click the Save User Settings button to make sure the add-on is installed next time you open Blender.
  7. Close the User Preferences dialog box and enjoy!

Using the Plating Generator

In Object Mode

With the object selected, either:

  • Navigate to Object -> Generate Plates in the Object menu of the 3D viewport.
  • Press the Space key and start typing "Generate Plates" in the pop-up menu that appears.

In Edit Mode

With a set of faces selected, either:

  • Navigate to Mesh -> Generate Plates in the Object menu of the 3D viewport.
  • Press the Space key and start typing "Generate Plates" in the pop-up menu that appears.

Generate Plates Parameters

A set of expandable panels appear in the Toolbar window (press 't'):

This allows you to add plates and/or greebles.  Here are the top  sections expanded:

Plates Section

The first section describes how to generate the plates effect:

This has the following sections:

Plating Pattern

Configure how the plating pattern is created.

  • Mode - Choose between:
    • Generated - Automatically generate a hull plating pattern. In Generated mode, the following options apply:
      • Amount - the amount of plate cuts generated.
      • Random Seed - generate a different selection based on the whole number given here.
    • Selected Edges - Use the edges that have been already selected.

Plates

Configure how the plates are created.


Plate Taper

  • Amount: This will shrink the tops of the plates.  By increasing the amount, the plates should become smaller.  You can also use negative amounts to make the plate tops larger.

Plate Heights

These options will vary the heights of each plate at random, which should allow you to create more varied effects:

  • Min Height: The minimum height of plates*
  • Max Height: The maximum height of the plates*
  • Random Seed: This will vary the random pattern that the heights are set at, without changing the plating pattern.

* note that the Min Height can be higher than the Max Height!

Plate Bevel

Add a bevel effect around the plates:

  • Amount - How bevelled are the top of the plates.
  • Segments - How many segments the plate bevel has.
  • Plate Bevel Type - The type of Bevel to apply. See the bevel documentation.

Grooves

This section controls the grooves between the plates.

  • Clamp Groove Width - prevent the grooves from overlapping geometry.
  • Width - the width of the grooves between the plates.
  • Depth - The depth of the grooves between the plates.
  • Groove Segments - Number of segments inside the grooves.
  • Side Segments - Number of segments on the side of the plates.

Groove Bevel

Add a bevel effect around the grooves:

  • Amount - How bevelled are the groove edges between the plates.
  • Segments - How many segments the groove bevel has.
  • Groove Bevel Type - The type of Bevel to apply. See the bevel documentation.

Corners

For each corner of the plates, you can also add a curved bevel to give a more finished effect.

Major Corners

Major corners are the surrounding corners of the original face selection:

  • Amount - bevel width of the corners.
  • Segments - the number of segments in the bevel.
  • Major Corner Bevel Type - The type of Bevel to apply. See the bevel documentation.

Minor Corners

Control the opposite to major corners:

  • Amount - bevel width of the corners.
  • Segments - the number of segments in the bevel.
  • Minor Corner Bevel Type - The type of Bevel to apply. See the bevel documentation.

Rivets

You can add spherical rivets to the corners of the plates.  The shapes are standard ico spheres.

  • Use Rivets - whether to add rivets or not.
  • Distance from Corner - this will determine the distance of the rivets from the corners.
  • Diameter - diameter of the spherical rivets.
  • Subdivisions - level of detail for the rivets.
  • Material Index - the index of the material slot to use for the rivets.  -1 will not automatically assign a material.

Selection

  • Select Groove Geometry - select the created groove faces.
  • Select Plate Geometry - select the created faces for the plates.

Other Options


  • Mark UV Seams - mark UV Seams around the plates for texture mapping purposes.
  • Edge Split - this will split the groove edges to make sure the outer plates remain smooth.
  • Remove Grooves - completely remove the grooves and just leave the plates. Useful with Solidify modifier.
  • Edge Selection Only - only select the edges, without the mesh being edited.  Useful if you want to perform custom operations on the selection.

Greebles Section

The Greeble objects are aligned randomly onto quad faces. The overall shape of each greeble is deformed to follow the face it is being placed on.

The add-on has the following sections:

General Parameters

  • Greeble Amount: The number of objects to be put onto the selected faces.
  • Random Seed: Changing the number changes the pattern of the objects on the surface.
  • Min Width: The minimum width of a greeble object relative to the face it is on.
  • Max Width: The maximum width of a greeble object relative to the face it is on.
  • Min Length: The minimum length of a greeble object relative to the face it is on.
  • Max Length: The maximum length of a greeble object relative to the face it is on.
  • Min Height: The minimum height of a greeble object relative to the face it is on.
  • Max Height: The maximum height of a greeble object relative to the face it is on.

Default Greeble Objects

There are several basic objects supplied as default to create Greeble effects from.  You can choose to add squares in different patterns, L shapes, T shapes, or cylinders.  

The Coverage parameter allows you to adjust the relative amount each object has on the total number of greeble objects.  For instance, if you have 50% L shapes and 100% T shapes, the effect will roughly have half as many L shapes as T shapes.

Custom Greeble Objects

The add-on allows you to add your own custom greebles from objects (up to 20).  

By clicking on an empty box you should be able to select from other objects you have created in your scene.  Once selected, the objects will be added as Greebles.  You can adjust the Coverage of these objects as before. 

The objects will be added to a face relative to the same direction as the z-axis of the original object.

Apply Updates Section

This section has an option to disable the updates to the mesh whilst you change parameters.  This is particularly useful when changing large parameters which may slow down Blender:

Any Questions?

If you have any questions, clarifications, or issues, do get in touch with me via the 'Contact the Creator' option on Blender Market.

What sorts of meshes do the addons work best with?

The addons works best on meshes containing quad faces - that is, faces with 4 edges each. This doesn't mean your whole mesh has to be made of quads, as you can operate the addon on a sub-selection of faces.  Other mesh topologies may work but are untested.

I have a new feature suggestion or issue with the addon. Who do I contact?

You can either contact me through the website or contact me through twitter @markkingsnorth.

Item Rating

This item has an average rating of 5 from 17 ratings by the community.

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  • hitman17528 about 1 month ago

    5 stars, a great product for fast sci-fi props prototyping!

  • firman ryan lim about 2 months ago

    simple and best addon.

  • Yasef 3 months ago

    An excelent addon, amazing for doing cities, spaceships or microdetails on hard surfaces, this kind of tools will save you a lot of time in your creative process.

  • sekever 5 months ago

    Hidden gem on net ...I finaly created spectacular Metro Sci-fi City and many other styles of Greebles. Ideas are just keep coming by itself and now Im enjoying exploring the unknown geometry world...

  • Kade Markoux 5 months ago

    Whenever I buy a product from someone I am always looking at it's Usage, Benefits, and if there's any sort of Support or Continued Updates and Mark has excelled at this on his Plate & Greeble Generator by a long shot. I would highly recommend buying from him on any of his products in the highest respect.

    This Plate/Greeble Generator is by far the most super useful addon I have come across to date in blender and I use it in at least roughly every other project I work on. Well done and I cannot wait to see what else Mark makes. :D

    You can see an example of his Plating Generator used on my UFO here: https://skfb.ly/6xZzJ

    • Mark Kingsnorth 5 months ago

      Great to hear Kade, glad to be of service and thanks for the great review! :)

  • Marvin Breuer 6 months ago

    Very good tool! It does a lot of work in seconds!
    I have just a request: can you add some further properties to generate more chamfer variations?
    Example: I add a grid plane > select all faces > than i deselect randomly by % > than i triangulate them > than i deselect randomly by % again > then i rotate edges (CW or CCW) > than i execute generate plane.
    This order of events that i have to do right now. I think this could be a automatic task in your addon.
    Maybe it would also be good to add something like "shrink selection or deselect border faces".
    It could avoid extrusion issues with triangulate faces on the border.

    • Mark Kingsnorth 5 months ago

      Hi Marvin thanks for the review - contact me by the 'contact the creator' button and send me some screenshots, I'll see what I can do!

  • speed777777 6 months ago

    One of the best around!

    • Mark Kingsnorth 5 months ago

      Superb thank you!

  • linograndi 6 months ago

    What an awesome tool! Instant sci-fi!!!!

    • Mark Kingsnorth 5 months ago

      Great that was definitely the goal!!!

  • juha heikkinen 6 months ago

    Finally decent greeble generator for Blender! Thank you for your great work. And goodbye 3DSMax.... :)

    • Mark Kingsnorth 5 months ago

      Not a problem I long wanted this feature in Blender myself!

  • Chris McKay 7 months ago

    This plugin is awesome, it is very useful and saves really a lot of time. I have changed to Blender after almost 20 years with Cinema4D, and I find some things in Blender quite time-consuming. Generating plates was one of those things until I found the Plating Generator.
    I'm looking forward to updates and would gladly pay for them.

    Great addon, please keep up working on it!
    Thanks, Christina

    • Mark Kingsnorth 5 months ago

      Thanks Christina I shall continue to keep it alive!

  • David Kelly 12 months ago

    Very good, though sometimes the edge selection choice seems a little peculiar. Definitely a useful addition though.

    • Mark Kingsnorth 12 months ago

      Thanks, contact me if you think there's anything I could do to make the edge selection better for you.

  • plrang 12 months ago

    I use it all the time now, great work

    • Mark Kingsnorth 12 months ago

      Thanks! If you've any example images do send them over.

  • Rikatty about 1 year ago

    Wonderful and Amazing tool.
    You can save the time.

    • Mark Kingsnorth about 1 year ago

      Thanks again Rikatty, glad I saved you some time.

  • Bodo Sallmann about 1 year ago

    easy to use - rigth that what I was looking for - wonderful !!!

    • Mark Kingsnorth about 1 year ago

      Good to hear thanks!

  • Mark over 1 year ago

    I've just started to use it and it works great. Its useful for adding detail to large objects and environments or even as cutout shapes. It would be cool if there was a way to add rivets along the seams automatically to suggest panels. Noticed that the random number doesn't create as many variations as you would think. Especially if you use lower numbers. Would definitely recommend it though. Wish more products here were as reasonable in price.

    • Mark Kingsnorth about 1 year ago

      Thanks very much for your positive feedback arghpics - rivets would be tricky but possible and I'll look into it for a future update. The random number generator should in theory not be an issue as I am using the standard built in Python library...perhaps this is might be changed in future Blender versions?

  • ohsilentone over 1 year ago

    Brill!!

    • Mark Kingsnorth about 1 year ago

      Thanks very much!

  • Predrag over 1 year ago

    So, I just wanted to comment on this great product, first for me on the Market. It really makes these kind of things simpler, even with the occasional hiccup (not always perfect result complex meshes, but not a big issue). I wanted to ask if it would be possible to add the edge loop option, to choose how many edges you'd like to fit inside the chosen depth of the grooves? Similar to how you can choose when doing a bevel? Just a thought, it would make further customization way easier.

    Either way, thanks for making this addon, I hope you'll continue with making it even better.

    Sincerely, Predrag

    • Mark Kingsnorth about 1 year ago

      Thanks for the great review Predrag! I have just added an update following your suggestions. It should be available for download from the same place. Let me know if this was what you were looking for.

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