Topic Summary:

Class 11: Modular Building Techniques


This week's class is aimed at having a bit of fun with prims, and using some quick and simple building techniques to create some interesting and intricate patterns. Both these techniques have been covered in previous classes, but this time, we will use them as modular building tools.

I will show you how the basic modular building technique works, then give you some ideas on how you can use the same processes with some slight variations to create many other intricate objects

This class was inspired by the building techniques on display at the Ivory Tower of Primitives.

This is the most amazing place for every builder to visit. Everything you wanted to know about prims and building techniques can be found here. There are many, many demonstrations, with information notecards at every step of the way. You can even follow the demos and build right there, next to the demos.

The very first object I EVER built was the chair on Level 3!

Go and visit The Ivory Tower of Primitives

Modular building techniques

By Modular Building, I mean that we will be creating one template prim, then using it again and again in our build. The main focus in this building technique is getting that first prim shaped exactly as we want it to be. Of course, you can always change your prims after you have built your object, but it's a lot easier to change one prim before you build rather than 9 prims after you build!

To create the building patterns we will be copying the first prim, then rotating it in one direction. The shape of the prim and repetition are what creates these patterns.

Another benefit of using this modular technique is that this is a FAST building method. Once you become familiar with the pattern of this building method, all the samples from this page can be built in one minute! Yes, one minute building!

So, lets see how to use these building techniques as we make a Flower Panel design.

Flower Petal Panel

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Make Template Prim

The template prim, or the master prim is the first prim we will make for our modular design. Getting this prim right is important as we will be copying it 8 more times to make this design.

Rez a cylinder

Rez a Cylinder

In the General Tab name it: Flower Petal 1

In the Object Tab, make the following changes:

Shape the template prim

At this point, you can texture your template prim so that all subsequent copies are textured too. Or, texture the finished object at the end.

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Shift Copy is your Friend

Now we will use the first modular building technique:

Shift Drag a Copy of the Template prim

As you may recall from Class 3 , to copy a prim, we select it, place the cursor over the top of one of the red, green or blue arrow heads, hold down the Shift key on your keyboard as you drag the prim on one of the 3 directions - red, green or blue.

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Ctrl + Z is your BEST Friend!

PS - Cmd + Z is the Mac equivalent for this step.

The second important technique in modular building is using Ctrl + Z to snap-back the copied prim back down to its original position.

Snap back copied prim

The Ctrl + Z is the Undo option in SL, so it undo's the upwards move we made to the prim as we copied it.

This is a very important step as we want all the prims to be in perfect alignment before we start to move and rotate them. Ctrl + Z (Cmd + Z) snaps-back the copied prim on to the previous prim.

If you think about it - we now have 2 identical prims in the identical position. Also notice that the prim we just copied and snapped-back is the selected prim and is outlined in yellow

Rotate the prim

The final step in the modular building technique is to rotate the copied prim. In this project, we will be rotating the Flower Petal prim along the Z direction 20 degrees each time.

The first prim has a rotation of Z: 0.00, so adding 20 to that number means that the new Z Rotation for the second prim will be Z: 20.00

Rotate the copied Prim

That's it! We have just completed the basic 3 steps that we will use to create this intricate Flower panel:

  1. Shift-Copy selected prim
  2. Ctrl + Z to snap-back prim
  3. Add 20 degrees to the Z Rotation number

Let's repeat these steps to create Flower Petal Prim 3.

Flower Petal Prim 3

You now have 3 Flower Petal prims. Repeat it 6 more times until you have 9 Flower Petal prims in total. If your pattern of prims does not look summetrical, check your Z rotations:

9 Flower Petal prims

Do you have more than 9 prims?

You make have Shift-Copied and forgotten to rotate before you shift-copied again. check the rotations of each prim and see if you can find the duplicate prim and delete it.

Select all the 9 prims and press Ctrl + L (Cmd + L on Mac) to Link

Link Flower Petal Prims

Here's your chance to be creative - texture with your favourite textures.

Here are some textured samples to give you some ideas

Lots of flowers

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As well as using textures to make your Flower Panel unique, you can also create some interesting variations by making some changes to your template prim

Starburst Panel
Rez a Box
Size: X = 2.000, Y = 2.000, Z = 0.2000
Hollow: 95.0
Hollow Shape: Square
Rotation: Z = 20.00, then add 20.00 to previous number with each repeat
Make 9 prims in total


Flower and Glass Window Panel
Rez a Box
Size: X = 3.000, Y = 0.500, Z = 0.1000
Hollow: 90.0
Hollow Shape: Circle
Rotation: Z = 20.00, then add 20.00 to previous number with each repeat
Make 9 prims in total

Glass Window Flower Panel

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Wrap Up

We have learned how to use basic building techniques to create some very intricate and detailed designs.

The basic steps to modular building are: Shift-Copy, Snap-back and Rotate

Spend the time to get the first prim right, and the rest of the project can be created in about one minute.

Click on the image link below to go to the Project Page to make a Spiral Staircase using the skills we have learned in the class.

Spiral Stairs

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Next class: 12. Playing With Particles

Previous class: 10. Adding Scripts to Prims.

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