I need to animate a tetrahedron
February 8, 2013 5:56 PM   Subscribe

I have Illustrator and intend to make an animated GIF. A tetrahedron is a pyramid with a triangle base. I can't make the 3D extrusion on CS4 agree that I want a pyramid shape. It gave me a triangular prism, though I followed an online tutorial (but that had a square base - which might be part of the problem, and it was for CS3). (No, I don't want to use Flash or download a trial version of Maya but thanks for the thought) So, online free 3D software where I can capture a number of positions of a tetrahedron, and redraw them from within Illustrator? I will need to also place text on each face, so if I can do it in one program only, I'll be happier.
posted by b33j to Media & Arts (7 answers total)
You can do it easily in Blender, but only after you grovel through the miserable learning curve of a tremendously powerful Free Software program whose developers outpace the documentation contributors.
posted by spacewrench at 6:03 PM on February 8, 2013

TinkerCad is an online 3D editor, free for one model and low on the learning curve.
posted by coevals at 6:17 PM on February 8, 2013

I originally posted "pipe cleaners and a digital camera" but the mods must have thought it a silly suggestion. Let me expand on it. Since you want to trace over the the image, as you are just looking for an easy way to get the angles/geometry correct, physically making the tetrahedron and photographing it would give you what you want. This is essentially how they simulated computer graphics in "Escape From New York"
or try this or this or this
Illustrator's envelop warp will let you get the text looking correct on the faces
posted by anon4now at 6:26 PM on February 8, 2013

Can you just make four 2d triangles in 3d space?
posted by nickggully at 6:32 PM on February 8, 2013

Looks like you have an answer, but I was curious if illustrator understood 3d .pdfs? My SolidWorks can create them. I can also export .dwg/.dxf, but I've never tried from a 3D model. .SAT, .IGS or .STP would be sure fire if you can read them.
posted by tinker at 7:59 PM on February 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

I can't help on the software question, but I can offer a simple description of the vertices of a regular tetrahedron: take half the vertices of a cube.

For example: a cube with main diagonal from (0,0,0) to (1,1,1) has vertices at
(0,0,1) *
(0,1,1) *
(1,0,1) *
(1,1,1) *
The ones I've marked with an asterisk are the vertices of a tetrahedron.

(Google {tetrahedron in cube} for images and such.)
posted by stebulus at 11:18 AM on February 9, 2013

Many thanks to tinker for completely solving my problem.
posted by b33j at 1:36 PM on February 11, 2013

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