As part of an experimental game project I’ve been trying to use the Functy rendering routines to visualise network structures. At the moment it’s at a very early stage, but has - I think - already generated some interesting results.
The screenshot below shows a network of 60 nodes, each one rendered as a spherical co-ordinate function, joined together using links rendered as curves. I just plucked some simple functions out of the air to see what the results would be like but am hoping to extend it with more interesting shapes as things progress.
The various parts of the network are a little hard to discern with a static image, but when I tried to capture a video the result was a mess of fuzzy artefacts (I think there must be something going wrong with my screen capture software), so I gave up on that.
The next step, after neatening up the code, is to arrange better animation of the nodes and links, with dynamic movement based on things like the forces between the nodes. I’m hoping this will produce some really nice effects, and if anything comes of it I’ll put a bit more effort into getting a successful video capture.
This afternoon a very exciting (at least for me!) parcel arrived all the way from Eindhoven in the Netherlands. The first ever ‘real’ 3D function generated using Functy and printed by Shapeways using a 3D printer.
I’m really pleased with the results. Shapeways were not only able to print out the rather convoluted function in 3D, but they also printed it in full colour too.
Here’s a screenshot and some photos of the final result.
The colouring is really great - much more vivid than I’d expected - and it’s not as delicate as I’d feared (it survived the journey through the post, at any rate!). This is a spherical function, which is the easiest to print (they generate meshes without holes automatically, which are needed for 3D printing). Hopefully the next step will be to attempt a parametric curve print.
If you want to play around with the model yourself, you can download the Functy definition file, or if you’re feeling flush, order your own 3D printed version from Shapeways. Such is the beauty of 3D printing!