Usually these releases start with a bang and a formal launch. This release was done differently allowing for permeation in a pre-launch state while final refinements were concluded. As a result we can more optimally ensure this update improves upon the previous and also gets refined to a proper conclusion.
It is without further ado that I announce the launch of:
This release aims to start small and familiar and get more interesting as it continues.
Shoutout to the tireless work of Loof, Proxe, AR and everyone else involved.
A video was prepared for this update as well.
Hard Ops / Boxcutter currently supports:
Backwards compatible is as far as API changes will allow. But no matter the version of blender chosen ensure it is the up to date version.
We are always aiming to speed up custom cutter and our drawing systems in general. Due to the changes to the systems underneath Boxcutter should now perform faster than previous with certain operations. Boolean slowdown is still subject to the computer used and the constraints with the user’s system but in ideal conditions the speedup can definitely be felt.
View Extrude Adjustments
View extrude was an alternative system of extrude I refer to as “Extrude System B”. The goal was to allow for extrusion to more easily be adjustable from head on matrix viewing of shapes (ie: front view). While the initial solution solved the issue to a reasonable extent it was deemed to be too overbearing and forceful with users. For that reason it has been dialed back to make it easier to interact with.
In the event this system is affecting you and you need to toggle:
Tapping alt during extrude will toggle between system A and B on the fly if needed.
In the above example the cursor movement is read differently on system A and B. This will be further refined as time goes on to feel more natural but awareness is also useful for getting the most out of it. With the tap of alt the system is reverted back to classic for the rare occasions it might be required to revert.
View extrude can allow for a different type of working when used in those rare cases where you just don’t want to adjust your view but also adjust the depth of the extrude without rotation.
Smart World Grid
When using grid without selection it defaults to world. To see the grid on the floor a setting called World: Z is used. This is a fallback so users shouldn’t have to toggle any settings for it.
While grid works great for the floor in this fashion it does not work in side view or front view. Instead it shows up as a line due to being flat and oriented with a different axis. This has always driven me crazy and in this update we sought to make the world setting smarter.
Having the users adjust the world parameter on the fly was inorganic and we sought to change that.
Notice above how now the grid will reposition to face the correct view even if the view is set to Z under world and toggled back to object. Users shouldn’t even have to familiarize themselves with this panel and should make working with the grid much easier.
Shoutout to Loof. He’s an integral part of the team. He was lead behind this alternative grid we call static. Proxe was final approval and integration. First and foremost this grid is primed towards speed and increased performance.
Up till now the grid used in Boxcutter is referred to as infinite. It was designed to be used without limit or boundaries. It also is intended to show a grid only near the cursor and to avoid distracting with grid in areas not needed. Users over time requested something more “contemporary” from us so this grid “static” is born. The base controls are similar to classic but expand in a few major departures.
Activating grid is as easy as toggling grid in the topbar then holding ctrl while hovering over the mesh or off. Click and dragging over a point will snap via grid making it as effortless as possible.
After activating static a new grid is activated which will play by different rules than those known up to now with our previous grid.
Ctrl – Spawn Grid
Tab / Space – Lock / Unlock Grid
Ctrl + RMB / E – Extend
Ctrl + Shift + RMB – Free Extend
General transformation controls are supported as well.
- G – Grab
- S – Scale
- R – Rotation
- E – Extend
- Shift + G – Drop Grid as Mesh
Dropping the grid as a mesh is an odd one for the moment but will make more sense as time goes on.
Additional Static Grid Settings
Static grid deviates just a little from infinite as you can see and as a result some special options for the new grid are also available.
Dot Preview – Allows for dots to be rolled via MMB into a grid. Dots also will turn to squares to show alignment if that dot is used. This can be handy for pre-positioning grids utilizing dots. This is more useful with the alignment method nearest or non-local.
Toggle Grid Overlay – Hides the blender grid during the boxcutter grid. This can help focus and reduce the confusion with seeing Blender’s grid on the grid from boxcutter.
Always In Front – keeps grid in front of mesh. Toggled off allows for solid geometry to obscure the grid which can help with gathering awareness and bearings. During testing having always in front off showed to be more useful but cases can occur where seeing the grid is more important.
Auto Transparency – reduces transparency of the grid when drawing is active. This prevents the grid from getting in the way of the operation at hand.
Grid mode color is also supported. A boxcutter classic.
Repeat (Vgroup) Improvements
Repeat has been a focal point of the last few releases and it continues to improve this version. Previously undo would fail when vertex groups were involved. This breaks repeat for bevel as shown below.
In the above example we can see the subsequent repeats fail to show correctly. This was not an acceptable resolution so this update seeks to rectify that.
This makes repeat just a little bit more predictable and much more reliable.
Face Fit – Alignment Mode
Boxcutter supports 4 different alignment systems.
- Local (default)
- Nearest Edge (locates nearest edge for alignment)
- Longest Edge (utilizes longest edge to align)
- Face Fit (utilizes face under ray for orientation)
The added benefit of Face Fit is with static the grid will attempt to fit the face which is an interesting new behavior of static grid. Of course alignment modes remain integral to the pre-positioning of the shape prior to draw or even cut.
Static grid is new to 718 but will grow into something irreplacable as time goes on. I am proud of all the work that has been put into this new addition.
In the behavior panel under input is simple pie.
This pie is the foundation of a new pie we will be experimenting with. The options should be more static making it more applicable to users who need a particular behavior to memorize.
With every release there is fine print.
2.92 / 2.93
If using 2.92 w/ mac “static” grid might be more stable than infinite as a grid at this time. Use infinite with caution.
We managed to resolve it in 718_3b but for 2.92 it persists due to being an older build. We’re still checking into the issue but the issue is resolved in 2.93 for now which is an improvement.
2.93 appears to play sound effects once and cease. This is exclusive to 2.93 and we’ll have to see how it plays out.
293 might be more unstable at this time but its something we are aware of and are keeping an eye on.
Blender will be Blender.
Dots “Infinite vs Static”
Dots behave differently in static vs infinte. For example dots can be paused across subsequent cuts if needed in static.
In this update dots went from a 2d system to a 3d system unlocking possibilities that will be unleashed over subsequent updates.
Active Only Improvements
Active only is a classic and at this point a relic. However that doesn’t mean we don’t want it at its best. Improvements were made this release to get it to play nicer with dots and the alignment systems.
Ngon Cyclic Bevel
Bevel and ngon cyclic was getting messy and this was also addressed in this update. Now bevel should behave properly when it comes to ngon and cyclic / non-cyclic behavior.
Ngon Help Updated
The N panel contains all the help for boxcutter at this time. When it comes to remembering hotkeys that is why the N panel is made the way it is. When it comes to ngon the hotkey of backspace was missing as was alt toggling the extrude method. This has been updated for this release as well.
w/ Backspace Added
It was important to somehow mention backspace and while small it was needed. Otherwise it was understandable for users to now know about it. Now that has been solved for users to read when it comes to getting used to Boxcutter.
Small stuff and fine print. But its important to me. Our work must go on.
Boxcutter starts the 718 era at _3 but rest assured there is so much more in the pipe to be processed and added. Our work with Boxcutter continues. I remain grateful for all who continue to use our product and am pleased to see Boxcutter continue unto 2021. There is still so much planned and I can’t wait to come back with what comes next.
When it comes to learning Boxcutter playlists are added to often to assist with user understanding. While 718 is new at this moment, a playlist will be created for it as well. There is more than enough content to get users acquainted with what Boxcutter has to offer.