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Model a Rope Bridge

Blender 3d tutorial

Rope Bridge

One of the many things I've thought would be cool to create is one of those rickety rope bridges with wooden planks. It turns out that modeling a basic rope bridge, like the one you see here, is incredibly simple.

To create this simple rope bridge in Blender 3D, we will model the basic components and use a combination of modifiers, including the array, curve, solidify, and displace modifiers, to create a easily editable bridge to cross a gap of any size.

The Wooden Plank

If you've just opened Blender, delete the pre-made cube and replace it with a plane (Shift-A, Mesh, Plane). This plane will become the wooden planks of our bridge. To make it more of a plank shape, go into edit mode (important!) and scale the plane along the Y axis by a factor of 0.2.

Now we just need to give the plank some depth. For this we will use the solidify modifier. You can find this in the Object Modfiers section of the Properties Panel. Click on the Add Modifier button and select Solidify under the Generate column. Change the Thickness setting of the new modifier to 0.0500. Lastly, change Offset to 0.00 so that the thickness the modifier added is centered on the plane we created. With that, our plank is all done.

The Ropes

The rope that will support the planks will be a pair of cylinders placed on either end of the plank. Add a cylinder to the scene (Shift-A, Mesh, Cylinder). Before doing anything else, we need to go to the Cylinder section in the Add Cylinder section of the tools sidebar (Press T). To keep the vertex count down I gave the Vertices setting a value of 8 so the cylinder only has 8 sides. I also changed the radius setting to 0.050 and the Depth setting to 0.20. Lastly, change Cap Fill Type to Nothing.

To position our rope correctly, go into Edit Mode and rotate the cylinder on the X-Axis by 90 and move the cylinder along the X-Axis until it is positioned on one end of the plank. To make the other rope, select all of the vertices (Press A), duplicate the cylinder (Shift-D), and move along the X-Axis to the other end of the plank.

Shape of the Bridge

Before creating the hand holds, we will create the shape of the bridge. To do this, add a bezier curve (Shift-A, Curve, Bezier). Go into edit mode, select all (Press A), rotate on the X and Z axis by 90 degrees. In side view (Numpad 3), create a curve that resembles a hanging bridge. This will become the shape of the bridge.

I don't give specifics because there is no need to be exact here. Plus, it's not all that simple to describe in words without confusing people. So, just go with what looks right to you. You can always edit this later if it doesn't look right later on. Feel free to use the image here for reference.

Array and Curve Modifiers

Now we can add modifiers. Select the plank. Back in the Object Modifiers section, add an Array modifier. Change Fit Type to Fit Curve and for the Curve setting, select the curve we created for the bridge shape. Lastly, change Relative Offset to 1.500 on the Y-Axis only.

At this point, the array of planks should be in a straight line. This is because the Fit Curve setting only goes by the length of the curve, not the shape. To get the correct shape, click on Add Modifier and select Curve Modifier. In the Object selector, choose the bridge shape curve.

If the planks do not follow the curve at this point (as they should), try changing the Deformation Axis setting in the curve modifier. If none of these work, try rotating the plank by increments of 90 degrees in object mode. I had to rotate by -90 degrees along the Z-Axis to get it right.

Finally, repeat these steps with the rope cylinders. However, make sure Relative Offset is set to 1.000 instead of 1.500 so that there are no gaps in the rope.

Handholds

The rope for your hands is nearly identical to the rope holding up the planks, so they are really easy to create. All we need to do is select the rope holding up the planks in Object Mode and duplicate it (Shift-D). Then move the new handholds along the Z-Axis by about 1.5 units.

Easy!

Posts

To create the posts, add a new cylinder (Shift-A, Mesh, Cylinder), give it 16 Vertices, a radius of 0.100, and a Depth of 2.000.

Since we want a post for each handhold, go into Edit Mode (important!) and move this post along the X-Axis until it is goes through one of the handholds. Then select all vertices (Press A), duplicate the post (Shift-D), and move the new post to the other handhold. Finally, with all vertices still selected, move your posts along the Z-Axis by 0.80 units. This is necessary so that the posts will line up with the handholds in the next step.

To get your posts on either end of the bridge, rather than floating in the middle, go back into Object Mode, select the handholds for our bridge and go into its Object Modifiers, and in the Array modifier we worked with previously, change Start Cap and End Cap to the posts we just made. This should make your posts appear on both ends of the bridge.

Tweaks and Final Changes

First, select the floating posts in the middle of our scene and move them to another layer so they are hidden from view (Press M, select a different Layer).

Now to fix the gaps between the posts and the ropes, I simply changed the Relative Offset setting for the handholds to 0.800. This will cause overlap of the rope pieces, but it's an easy alternative to detailed modeling of the posts.

Lastly, we want to dirty up our planks. To do this, select our planks and, once again, go to the Object Modifiers panel. This time, add a Displace modifier. Click on the Add Texture, change Direction to X, and change Strength to 0.500. The default cloud texture, works just fine, so there is no need to edit it.

Scalability

Before you go add materials and textures to your bridge, I'd like to point out a big advantage to using modifiers for this rather than hand modeling everything:

This bridge is scalable. This means you can select the Bezier curve that shapes our bridge and scale it up and down to change the size of the bridge. You can also edit the curve to change the shape. No need to fiddle with the bits and parts we've already made.

With that, I'll let you play with materials and textures for your bridge!

Keep Learning!

No single tutorial will cover everything, so if you want to dig deeper, here are some resources for you to check out. If you have other resources you think I should add to this list, feel free to let me know!

Blender Docs

Tutorials

Books

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Comments

  •  irascibleone / 2552 / AAA
    Can only make a guess without seeing your blend file, but it might have something to do with where the center of the plank object is and the curve object (or the center of the plank object and the plank mesh?). I can't remember exactly, but sometimes if the centers aren't right, it will throw the array modifier off and you don't get what you wanted.

    If you post your blend file in the forum, we can certainly try to give you a more concrete answer.
  •  caverx / 0 / unranked
    Hello I know this tutorial is an old thread but I am having issues when creating the array....I only get four planks generated? The ropes seem to fill
    the Bezier curve but the planks cut of at 4? If I slide it along the axis it creates more planks but I don't think this is how it should be as it run off
    the Bezier curve and starts a straight line of planks?
  •  irascibleone / 2552 / AAA
    I think so. If you can apply a soft body to the curve, I think that would be the easiest way, since everything else follows it. Although, I am not sure how well the curve would react to a character or if it would react to a character at all.
  •  anonymous / 39 / rookie
    Is it possible to make this bridge move as a character walks across it such as a soft body?
  •  anonymous / 39 / rookie
    Nice and easy.. Awesome tutorial.