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Learn the Shape Maker. Basic concepts.

Updated: Mar 24, 2020

The main elements of the Shape Maker mathematical model are points, lines, and surface patches. The lines begins and ends at points. Lines can be connected to each other at points, forming a closed loop. The surface patch based on lines closed contour, the lines are the boundary lines of the surface patch, the points are the corner points of the surface patch. Each element in Shape Maker has unique name - digit value, This name can't be assign with another element in same project.

All components of the project, starting from the hull surface, decks, bulkheads and ending with equipment, structural elements and pipelines, are built on the basis of a set of points of lines and surfaces.

To modeling complex constructions, such as surfaces of revolution, pairing of lines with a radius, surfaces edges rounding, control elements are used - drivers. Drivers are also used to model pipes and profiles. Drivers are a combination of basic elements: points, lines and surfaces, regularly changing depending on guides and forming elements. If necessary, the driver can be converted into a set of basic elements - points of lines and surfaces.

To structure the elements of the project blocks are used that combine the various elements of the mathematical model into groups. Each element belongs to a block, and only one block. Blocks form the structure of nested blocks in the form of a tree. Each of the blocks has a set of properties that allows you to control the visibility of elements in the block, turn on and off elements of a certain color. The blocks themselves can also be turned on/off for visualization, or locked for editing. Shape Maker allows you to create a tree of blocks of unlimited nesting and move blocks within the tree. Blocks are a convenient tool for structuring information within a project.

Since the elements have topological connections, Shape Maker allows you to make changes to the project at any design stage, while all the necessary rebuilds of the project elements are automatically performed.

Coordinate system and model.

Work with the project is carried out in a rectangular (Cartesian) coordinate system. In this case, the X axis is directed along the length of the vessel, the Y axis is directed along the width of the vessel, and the Z axis is height. The directions of the coordinate axes, the point of origin of the coordinate system and the numbering of the frames are selected when defining the grid. As a rule, this depends on the coordinate system used in the industry. The program supports any option for setting the coordinate system.

When modeling the surface of the hull, there is no need to create both sides of the model if they are symmetrical about the diametrical plane. By default, a port side surface is created. The same rule applies to catamarans and other multihulls.

Coordinate system.


The main unit of measure in Shape Maker is meter. The user can enter coordinate values with arbitrary accuracy; the entered coordinates are displayed in the query line with an accuracy of tenths of a millimeter.

Some values (for example, the thickness of the sheet part) in the corresponding dialogs can be indicated in millimeters.

Coordinate grid.

The position of the origin of the coordinate system and the direction of the axes is determined by the grid. Regions of permanent spacing are defined as a grid. The beginning of each new region should coincide with the end of the previous one. Regions are specified in increasing coordinates.

Grid dialog window.
Grid dialog window.

Work plane.

The mathematical model is three-dimensional. But when entering a point from the screen, you can set only two coordinates. To determine the third coordinate, the work plane is used.

In general, in isometrics, the work plane is always parallel to one of the main planes or the screen plane. In the Front, Side, or Plan views, the work plane is parallel to both the corresponding main plane and the screen plane (unless an isometric projection is set).

The work plane always passes through the work point. By controlling the position of the working point, one can thereby control the position of the working plane in depth on the current projection.

We will call the depth of the working point its coordinate along an axis perpendicular to the working plane. On the Front, Side or Plan projections, this will be the coordinate along the axis directed "deep into the screen." In isometric view, the work plane is visualized on the screen in the form of a grid lying in the work plane. When you change the position of the depth of the working plane, the grid changes its position in depth. This is clearly visible in an isometric view.

The following illustration shows the current position of the work plane in the Side projection.

Side work plane.
Side work plane.

As mentioned earlier, the work plane always passes through the work point. The operating point always takes on the value of the last entered or modifiable point. Therefore, the work plane always coincides on the projection with the current depth of the entered point. This allows you to set, for example, broken lines in different planes without interrupting input, changing only the position of the current plane. As shown in the following illustration:

3D polyline.

Secant plane.

To visualize surface sections, the concept of the current cutting plane is used. As a rule, on orthogonal projections, the secant plane coincides with the working plane. Thus, the buttocks are represented on the Side projection, the frames on the Front projection, and the waterlines on the Plan projection. When rendering the model in isometrics, only sections defined by the secant plane will be displayed. You can change the secant plane either by going to one of the main projections - Front, Side, or Plan.

Projection model.

The program does not provide for the existence of separate windows for various projections of the model. Switching between different projections of the model is performed by one of the following Front, Side, Plan, Izometry or 3D Views commands.

Manage the visual representation of the model.

Zooming (zooming in / out) on the projections is carried out using the mouse wheel.

You can shift the model on the screen by changing the position of the cursor with the mouse wheel pressed. In addition, on the Izometry or 3D Views projection, you can rotate a three-dimensional model by moving the cursor while holding down the Ctrl button and the mouse wheel.

Representation of model elements.

Due to the fact that the whole model consists of points, lines and sections of the surface of the visualization of the model, it mainly concerns these elements.


Points in the model are represented as line's ends and surface corners. Sometimes bright points interfere with the correct perception of the shape of lines or surfaces. A large number of points also interferes with the perception of the entire model. Turning off the Point option in the dialog box will disable the visualization of points in the model’s working window. It is important to note that if a point is turned off for visualization, it cannot be selected by the cursor in editing mode.


Lines are visualized in the working window if the Line option is enabled in the dialog box. Note that lines can be rendered in whole or in part. If the Cuttings option is enabled in the dialog box, only uncut lines or part of the lines left after cropping are displayed. If this option is turned off the line is always rendered as a whole. If the line is off, it cannot be selected for editing.

The surface.

Surface visualization is of most interest. Surfaces can be represented as a grid of an equal parameter line (Surface), as a set of orthogonal sections of this surface (Sections), as a shaded surface (Rendered Surface), as well as a surface with an orientation (Oriented Surface). The orientation of the surface is shown in different colors of the outer side - red and the inner side - blue. In addition, as with lines, surfaces can be rendered cropped and uncut depending on the Cuttings option. A surface can always be selected for editing even if all surface views are turned off.

All other visualization options are currently not of interest and will be considered later. Below is a representation of trimmed and untrimmed lines, and surfaces.

Visualization of the working volume of the model.

As a rule, smoothing of the ship surface occurs at the extremities. At the same time, both the lines and sections of the nasal extremity and the aft limb will be visible on the Front projection. This represents a certain inconvenience in the work. To quickly highlight the area in which the user is going to work, a simple apparatus for allocating the working volume of the model is provided. So, to highlight the nasal extremity, it is enough to select the nasal extremity with a window using the Volume command on the Side projection:

Volume definition from Side view.
Volume definition from Side view.

In principle, this is very similar to enlarging objects by selecting a window with the only difference that in this case, the volume is allocated. This is easy to see when switching to one of the isometric views.

Selected volume in 3D view.
Selected volume in 3D view.

The visualization area corresponds to the volume selected by the window frame. All objects that do not in this volume will be hidden. This allows you to more conveniently work with the selected area. So, the l