Surface Continuity

@StudioClues and I had an interesting discussion over Twitter about the merits of curvature and surface continuity in product design. While we designers and CAD sculptors geek out on the technicalities of making G2 happen, it’s important to remember that curvature continuity is not a design goal in and of itself, merely a modeling problem for the capture of design intent.

Thomas’ main concern was valid, “can end users really tell the difference between a painstaking sculpted G2+ surface and a radial fillet?” Maybe. Maybe not. I certainly can. Always makes me wonder why the designers let it slip when I see bad curvature breaks. Low quality surfacing implies low quality product, IM(v)HO.

Here is a pretty good description of what we’re talking about:

I’m also happy to see that Autodesk Alias 2011 will have G3 continuity built in:

For some insight on why we actually care about curvature continuity, have a look at this: On Form, Curvature, and Emotion.

Comments are happening on the new Form Loves Function Discussion Forum.

On Form, Curvature, and Emotion

Gray Holland of Alchemy Labs has a great article up on Core77 about the relationships among form, surface curvature, and emotion. You can argue some of the technicalities around class-A surfacing and “C” versus “G” continuity definitions, but his insight into the fundamentals of form is quite enlightening.

He also has a great perspective on the now-decaying debate of “engineering” versus “design.”

When we speak of product development, we frequently look at the domains of Design and Engineering separately, evaluating them in different ways. Engineering, at its core, is a measurable process; Design, for the most part, is not. This gives the former an inherent advantage: engineering efforts are easily quantifiable, and this provides them with authority. Design is intuitive, working on the non-verbal levels of our experience, sometimes triggering our most subversive emotional states; this makes it difficult to evaluate empirically. Lacking an analytical vernacular, Design is labeled subjective, when it is actually the agent of universal truth through form.

Curvature Evolution