When creating a scene in Blender, there’s nothing better to add detail and interest than pipes, cables, and wires. It seems like there’s a place for these objects in almost any scene. So here’s a brief overview of how to quickly create pipes and wires in Blender.
The best way to do this is to create a path and then extrude your pipe along that path. Even after you’ve extruded the geometry you still have the ability to modify the shape and path of the object.
For our purposes here we’ll use a Bezier curve. So go to the Create tab in the Tools panel and click the Bezier button. A Bezier curve is made up of two points with adjustable handles. When you Tab into Edit mode you have access to these, to move, rotate, or scale them. Modifying these Bezier handles changes the shape of the curve.
In addition, the center points of these handles can be extruded to add new points to the curve. Select the center point of a handle and press the E key and move the mouse to extrude a new point. The shape and size of the new handle will effect the shape of the curve.
So extrude and modify the curve to get your desired shape. Once you’re happy with the shape of the curve, it’s time to extrude the geometry of the pipe. But this isn’t done with the standard Extrude tool that we’ve been using.
You’ll need to select the curve in Object mode and go to the Curve data panel on the right of the screen. Here is where we will adjust the settings of the curve to give it the shape of a pipe.
First, in the Geometry section increase the Depth value under Bevel. This will give the curve some thickness. I’ve increased the Depth value here to 0.2. But that’s just half the solution, literally. All we’re seeing is half of our pipe.
Up in the Shape section, change the Fill pull-down from Half to Full. Now we have an enclosed shape, but it’s very blocky. We need it to be more round, like a pipe.
Back down in the Geometry section, increase the Resolution value to get more of a rounded appearance. I’ve increased the Resolution to 2.
The real power of this method comes when you hit the Tab key and begin to move, rotate, and scale the Bezier handles. You can adjust the pipe now to fit the needs of your scene. You can also adjust the Depth value to get the radius just right.
The last thing that we need to do is convert this to a polygon object so that we can edit it further. To do that, Tab into Object Mode and go to Object > Convert To > Mesh from Curve.
Now you have a polygon pipe or wire that you can continue to edit, add a Subdivision Surface Modifier to, or anything else you need.
For more Blender goodness, check out my Youtube channel for my Blender Character Creation series.