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Home >> The MODO Toolbox >> Creating Geometry >> Pen

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The Pen tool allows users to create geometry vertex by vertex by clicking in the 3D viewport. One can use the Pen tool to create Polygons (default), lines, vertices, spline patches or subdivision surface polygons.


The Pen tool is found in several locations within the default interface. It can be found under the 'Basics' subtab of the modeling layout toolbox as well as under the Polygon subtab. It is also found in the 'Topo' layout toolbox. LMB+clicking the tools icon will activate the tool. Next, clicking in the 3D viewport will set the Pen tool in to interactive mode. Depending on the 'Type' option selection, slightly different components will draw in the interface. When the tool is active, users can also click directly on any of the vertices it has created in the current session and drag them in 3D space for direct editing, they'll turn yellow when the mouse is directly over them. Dragging them onto any previous vertex will weld them together. Clicking away from a vertex will create a new vertex in that location.
To start a new line without dropping the tool, press Shift+LMB+click. To insert a vertex between two existing, highlight a previously created one, and click away from it and the new vertex will be inserted after the selected vertex. When creating Quad Strips with the 'Make Quads' option enabled, an occasional triangle can be created by pressing the 'Ctrl' key. When the tool is active, the following options are available in the tools properties panel-

Pen Tool PanelPen--

Type: This pop-up button allows you to select between different modes-
Polygons-- In Polygon mode, users can draw individual polygons vertex by vertex. The first click of the mouse creates a new vertex and each subsequent click will continue adding vertices to the active polygon face. Pressing 'Shift' will start a new polygon.
Lines-- The 'Line' type will create a continuous string of two point polygon line segments.
Vertices-- The Vertices mode will simply create new vertices with each click leaving you with a vertex (point) cloud.
Spline patches-- Spline patch mode acts exactly like Polygon mode but creates polygons of type Spline Patch.
Subdivision Surfaces-- When using 'Subdiv' mode the pen tool simply creates polygons tagged as SDS.
Polyline-- When using the Polyline mode, the pen tool will create a string of 'polylines', similar to curves in many ways but made out of straight line segments. These are used as long hair guides.

Current Point: You can change this setting to change the current vertex to be edited by the numeric values listed as Position X, Y, Z. Since the tool may have created several vertices, it is useful to be able to choose one numerically. The vertices are numbered in sequence as they are generated by the tool. Clicking on any vertex in the 3D viewport (from the current Pen tool session) will also display its numeric value in the sequence.

Position X/Y/Z: This numeric entry field allows you to precisely edit each vertex created by the tool. Simply set the Current Point value to the vertex you wish to edit and enter the numeric values for the X, Y and Z positions. Clicking any vertex in the 3D viewport will also display its current position.

Flip Polygon: This option will simply invert the surface normal of the polygon(s) created.

Close: The 'Close' toggle will automatically draw a line between the first and last vertex created making a closed loop.

Merge: The 'Merge' function will automatically 'Merge' or combine vertexes within close proximity to each other when created.

Make Quads: This option will automatically place vertices to create quads with each new click after the first two vertices have been set. This mode makes it very simple to create polygon strips. Pressing the 'Ctrl' key will create a single triangle. Option is only compatible with the 'Type' > 'Polygons' setting.

Wall Mode--

Wall Mode: With mode type set to 'Polygons', Wall mode will allows the user to draw out polygon strips that look like a building floor plan. effectively creating the foundation for rooms. There are 4 settings, 'Off', disables wall mode, 'Inner' will draw the wall segment on the inside of the polygon edge line, 'Outer' will draw the wall segments on the outside of the polygon edge line, 'Both' will extend the wall segments on both sides of the polygon edge line. Once the tool is dropped, the resulting wall mode polygons can be 'Thickened' into upstanding walls.

Offset: The Offset value represents the thickness of the wall, when in wall mode. Note then when wall mode is set to both, that offset will be doubled. This value can also be set interactively with the RMB+click in the viewport, much like adjusting brush size for painting.


Inset: When 'Wall Mode' is enabled, this option allows each new vertex to be beveled into multiple segments for quickly flattening or rounding corners.

Segments: Only available when Inset is non-zero this value determines how many vertices to create in order to facilitate the inset value. Increasing this value makes more complex and rounded corners. Using a value of one results in flattened corners.


Show Angles: Toggles the display of corner angles between opposing edges in degrees, drawn in ghosted form over active geometry.

Show Handles: Toggles the display of tool handles offering users the ability to adjust the previously created vertex by axis.

Show Numbers: Toggles display of the vertex point order values in the viewport.

Select New: Toggles the selection state of the most recently created polygon while the tool is still active.


Make UVs: When enabled this setting will automatically make UVs for the created geometry further defined by the 'Project To' setting.

Project To: Determines the way that the UV map is created
Action Axis-- With this setting, the Pen tool determines the UV map projection axis based on the current Work Plane for the created polygon. UVs are created in space relative to where they are drawn in 3D space, so only points drawn with the 0m to 1m world space will appear within the 0-1 UV space.
Backdrop Item-- Useful for drawing polygons over a Backdrop item, the UVs are projected onto the backdrop item to match position. So, for instance, if you created a polygon over the tire of car backdrop image, the new polygon would inherit the UV position of the tires location in the image relative to UV space.
U/V Direction-- When in 'Wall Mode', this setting will automatically generate a row of regular quad UV coordinates for the polygons along either the U direction (horizontal) or V direction (vertical) as specified.



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