An Artist's Guide to All Deformers: The Twist Deformer

Photo of Edna Kruger

Instructor Edna Kruger

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Learn how to use the Twist deformer!

This video shows how to apply the Twist deformer to an object or generator, and then set its Angle attribute, and resize and move the deformer to alter its effect.



In this video, we're going to take a look at how to use the Twist Deformer, which progressively rotates an object in one direction. It's one of the simplest deformers to use, but it's also one of the most popular, because it does one thing very well. You can animate it to create effects like these flower petals gracefully twisting as they open up, or use it for cartoony things, like simple twisty shapes, or this text that has lots of character. And it's a real help for modeling things like DNA strands or even Twizzlers. So, let's first see how to use the Twist Deformer on this text object, which we'll select. Then open the Deformers Palette and press the SHIFT key as you click the Twist icon. And there's the Twist Deformer, which fits perfectly to the word because it's a child of it. Dragging the orange handle here, it changes the angle, which is really the only attribute. There's not much else to it. This gives an interesting effect on our word here, but it's not twisting in the direction that we want. So, all we do is rotate the deformer here on its z-axis, which looks kind of like it's the wrong thing to do, but this will work, honest. And we'll make it an even 90 degrees in the Coordinates Manager. Now, open the Twist Attributes and click Fit to Parent, to snap the deformer to its correct position again. And now we can set the angle to whatever we want. Now, let's see how to create this simple object. This little ball has its origins in this video by Donovan Keith, and you can go onto create some cool dynamics with it later, if you like. But here, we're just going to focus on using Twist to create the ball. So, we already have a sphere and a circle, and we want to twist this circle around this sphere. So, we'll select it and press the SHIFT key and click the Twist icon. We'll drag the orange handle here and twirl it around the sphere, a couple of revolutions. Now we need to add some thickness to the circle, so we'll use a Sweep Generator, and make it a child of the sphere. Then, we'll add an inside spline for the profile, and make it a child of the Sweep. Finally, we need to make the circle a child of the Sweep, below the inside spline. So, the Sweep that's generated is huge, because the spline is too big in relation to our objects. So, we'll take it down a whole lot to about 0.2. The edges are pretty sharp here, so we need to increase the number of sides to around 10 or 12, to make it smoother. You can see that the whole twisty part here is sunken into the sphere, and that's because our circle doesn't have enough points to create a nice-looking twist. So, we'll go into its attributes and change the intermediate points to Sub Divided. This lets us control the angle, which we'll gradually lower to see what looks good. And it needs to go all the way down to one. Lowering the Max Length can also help to give it a smoother look, and we need to take it down to 0.1. Just to note that these settings depend on your object, so you might not always need to go to this extreme with these values to get a good look. The more points, the better the deformation. But this can come at a cost of slowing down the display and rendering speed, so you should always test out these values to get the look that you need. Now, you can add materials to create a holiday ornament or a chocolate truffle, if you're feeling peckish, or maybe something that you'd find at Tim Burton's place. So, that's the Twist Deformer. It's the easiest thing in the world to use, but it gets results like no other deformer can. Make sure to watch the other videos in this series to learn some basics and to see what you can do with all the other deformers.
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