Blender bows with new geometry

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This tutorial will show you how to add new geometry to an existing bow model so it will work with the morphing sequence (the difference between the bow at rest and when fully drawn).

All required software can be found at TESNexus.


Software used in the creation of this tutorial:

  • Blender 2.49b
  • Blender NIF Scripts 2.5.5
  • Python 2.6.2
  • PyFFI 2.1.6


When adding new parts to a bow, the main consideration is placement which will determine how much more work you will have to do. When looking at the bow when morphed (pulled back), you will see that the middle section around the grip does not change / move. If you add objects around this area and is not affected by the bow being drawn back, you do not have to fiddle with the morph. However, if you add objects where it will require moving with the bow, you will need to include it in the morph sequence.

  1. Select and import an existing bow that works.
  2. Press numpad 7 for Top View and split the screen so you have the 3D View on the left and UV Image Editor on the right.
    Image 1
  3. With the bow in the "at rest" position (Shape Key = Base), select the bow and press TAB to enter Edit Mode.
  4. Add a UVSphere (SPACEBAR) with 12 segments and 12 rings. Size (S) and position (G) the sphere to fit nicely over one of the spikes.
  5. Since the new geometry has no UV map or material assigned, it will need to be done now. In the UV Image Editor, select the existing image that the bow is using.
    Image 2
  6. To keep this simple, we will create an overly simplistic UV map. With the sphere's verticies still selected, press U and select Project from view
  7. In the UV Image Editor window, select the sphere's UV "island" by hovering the mouse over one of the vertices and pressing L
  8. Now scale (S) and position (G) the UV over the image in an acceptable location.
    Image 3
  9. We have added a sphere object, created a UV and assigned the bow texture to it. In the 3D View window with the sphere vertices still selected, press SHIFT + D to duplicate the sphere and move it to the next spike. Do this for all 6 spikes to resemble the following image:
    Image 4
  10. Press TAB to exit Edit Mode. On the Shapes panel, press the Next Shapes Key button to the left of the key name "Base" (looks like a Play button).
  11. You should now be looking at the "BowMorph" shape key which shows the bow model in the fully-drawn position. Notice how 2 of the 6 spheres look out of place now.
    Image 5
  12. With the bow selected, press TAB to enter Edit Mode. Press A until everything is deselected. Move the mouse over the top sphere and press L to select the entire object. Press G to grab the sphere and move it where it should be connected to the spike. Do the same for the bottom sphere.
    Image 6
  13. Press TAB to exit Edit Mode. Now when you click the Next Shape Key button to toggle between Base and BowMorph, you should see the outer spheres remain attached to the bow while the inner four spheres remain stationary with the stationary part of the bow.
  14. Export the bow to NIF format and make sure it works in NifSkope and then put it in the game!

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