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MLCAD Submodel Tutorial


36 replies to this topic  – Started by ZCerberus , Feb 20 2007 09:26 PM

#1 ZCerberus

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Posted 20 February 2007 - 09:26 PM

The use of his idea was approved by Mr. Phes.

To see and discuss his Sentry Box, go here.   Phes's Imperial Sentry Box

Several users who are just beginning with MLCAD may find it annoying to have to move 100 pieces just because you forgot a brick in the middle of the model, or to try to rotate 100 pieces in the same direction, but fear not, because a solution awaits you!  I found that one of the greatest things in MLCAD is submodel or multi-part builds.  This little tutorial is to show you how to use that feature!


First things first, what is a submodel?  It is a model inside a larger model.  Think about when you are working on a LEGO set and the instructions have a small breakout box with a submodel, like a wing on a TIE Fighter, or a cannon on a pirate fort, that is a submodel!

The advantages to the submodels are at least 4 fold.
1) They are easier to work with because they are smaller.
2) Submodels that are inserted into a larger model are a 'single piece', so it can be moved and rotated as a single unit.
3) If you use an item consisting of several pieces multiple times, you need only build it once. *like the torches on the Sentry Box
4) Once a submodel is inserted into a larger model, if you change something in the submodel, it will instantly be reflected in the larger model.

When you first enter MLCAD, there is a blank workspace.
From here you can drag pieces into your workspace and move the parts around to make the model.

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Even a relatively small model like the Sentry Box can benefit from being built with submodels.  
In the case of Phes's Sentry Box, I know I am going to want at least 4 submodels based on the reasons listed above.

I want the base of the model, or the actual Box itself except the roof, to be one submodel, the minifig to be another, the torches to be a third and the roof itself to be a fourth.

I selected the multipart menu and selected 'new model'.  

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MLCAD asks for a name and a description.  The submodels can have the same description, but must have unique names.

I entered a name and description and selected okay.  At this point I could have started making a submodel, but since I knew I was going to need several submodels, I just repeated the process and made names and descriptions for all the submodels I would need.

After all the names and descriptions for all submodels were created, I was ready to start building the submodels.  I needed to select the submodel to work on, so I clicked on the 'Multipart' menu, then selected 'Active Model'.  A list of all the submodels I made appeared.

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I selected the first one, which I had named 'base'.

I then just dragged the pieces I wanted to make the base model.

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Once I was done with the submodel, I selected 'Active Model' from the 'Multipart' menu list and went on to my next model.  

Once I was finished with all the submodels, I decided it was time to assemble all the submodels into one single big model.  When I first started working, and selected to make my first submodel, I actually already had one submodel in my list.  You will see it was titled 'untitled'.  This is just the default/first model when you enter MLCAD.  If you never click on the 'Multipart' menu, or make another submodel, this will be the default submodel and your entire creation will be in this single submodel.  Since it was already blank, I decided I would use it to assemble all my submodels into one larger model.  You could create a new submodel from the 'Multipart' menu list and name it 'complete' or 'sentry box' or something, but since I already had a blank model to use, I just used it.

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Here is the key to using Multiparts and submodels!!

Once I selected the the model that I was going to assemble all the submodels in, I scrolled down the left hand side of my parts list to the section titled 'Documents'

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As you can see, all the submodels are there!

All I had to do was drag the individual submodels into the workspace as if they were a single part!

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Here is Phes's box.

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Now here is where all this submodel stuff becomes VERY useful.  Let's say that I wanted the roof to look different, but I didn't want to delete all the hard work just to find the new roof didn't wasn't what I wanted.  Since I have made submodels, all I have to do is delete a single piece, the roof submodel, off my finished model and make a new submodel of a new roof to add onto the sentry box.  If I don't like that roof, I can easily go back to the old one since it is its own submodel.

Here is a quick example of making a quick change to the roof using a new submodel.  As you can see over on the left, I still have a submodel for the old roof, so I could change it back whenever I wanted!  I called the new roof something intelligent like 'roof2', and inserted it into the finished model.

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I hope you found this useful!

Note:
I am not going to export any of the models into picture form, because this is Phes's creation! Also, any instructions will also be up to him, I just wanted to show everyone the use of the submodel construction and its advantages!


MLCAD also had a brief tutorial which can be view by clicking the link below.

MLCAD Tutorial Link

Also additional parts for MLCAD can be found at the link below.  Make sure to follow the instructions to ensure the parts are added to your library!

Parts Tracker Library Link

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#2 Mister Phes

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Posted 20 February 2007 - 10:52 PM

Thank you so much for taking the time to create this tutorial Mr ZCerebus!  *y*

And for everyone else if you want to discuss the MOC used in the example then do it in the Imperial Sentry Box thread.

This thread should ONLY be used for MLCAD Pirate MOC related questions!!!


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#3 Bonaparte

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Posted 21 February 2007 - 12:35 PM

I can't thank you enough Mr. Z.
This is exacltly what I needed to help me get started!

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#4 Mister Phes

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Posted 21 February 2007 - 01:04 PM

I've also added a link to this tutorial on the Tutorials Page of the Pirate LEGO Portal.


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#5 ZCerberus

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Posted 21 February 2007 - 08:13 PM

View Postbonaparte, on Feb 21 2007, 06:35 AM, said:

I can't thank you enough Mr. Z.
This is exacltly what I needed to help me get started!

Now you can use this info on the Stockade file I sent you!

Unfortunately, the Harbor was my second MLCAD creation, so I didn't make as good a use of the submodels on the stockade as on some of my other creations.  The stockade only has about 10 submodels, the whole harbor has more, but the Sienna, for example, has 20 submodels by itself while the Arbiter II has 65(!) Submodels!!

Anyhow, happy CAD-ing!

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#6 Mister Phes

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Posted 21 February 2007 - 08:52 PM

I followed the tutorial and now I can do sub models!  So head over to the Imperial Sentry Box thread and checkout the end result.


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#7 Bonaparte

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Posted 21 February 2007 - 11:44 PM

I also made a version of the Phes-Sentry-Box with MLCad.
This is really an excellent way to learn how to work with the program.
Tomorrow I will import the Stockade file which Mr. Z provided me some time ago.

View PostMister Phes, on Feb 21 2007, 09:52 PM, said:

I followed the tutorial and now I can do sub models!  So head over to the Imperial Sentry Box thread and checkout the end result.

Just wanted to inform you that the link is incorrect.

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#8 Mister Phes

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Posted 22 February 2007 - 12:03 AM

Aaaaaaargh the bleedin buzzards!  You're right Mr Bonaparte!  And its been fixed in my original post and in your reply post. You're on the ball!  Its a wonder you're not a Moderator around here :-D

Anyway, are you going to post your version of the Sentry Box?


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#9 Bonaparte

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Posted 22 February 2007 - 12:29 AM

View PostMister Phes, on Feb 22 2007, 01:03 AM, said:

Aaaaaaargh the bleedin buzzards!  You're right Mr Bonaparte!  And its been fixed in my original post and in your reply post. You're on the ball!  Its a wonder you're not a Moderator around here :-D

Anyway, are you going to post your version of the Sentry Box?

I don't plan to post my version since it is exactly the same as yours  :-D
I'm just using this to learn MLCad. Now I'm struggling to extract the building instructions for the Sentry Box (I hope that is possible).
I can already get an image per submodel, but these are not really instructions. I guess I better read the MLCad manual first...
Anyway, it will be for tomorrow. I'm going to bed.

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#10 Mister Phes

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Posted 22 February 2007 - 12:49 AM

You should post your version, just like Phred posted his version as its interesting to see other's interpretation.


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#11 ZCerberus

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Posted 22 February 2007 - 02:32 AM

View Postbonaparte, on Feb 21 2007, 06:29 PM, said:

I can already get an image per submodel, but these are not really instructions. I guess I better read the MLCad manual first...

There are "Step" buttons in the MLCAD program.  I personally have only used MLCAD to design the models, and haven't really experimented with "instructions"

The button for a step is the little 'S' with the arrow next to it...

Hmm... maybe you SHOULD read the manual instead of listening to me!

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#12 Bonaparte

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Posted 22 February 2007 - 11:35 AM

View PostZCerberus, on Feb 22 2007, 03:32 AM, said:

There are "Step" buttons in the MLCAD program.  I personally have only used MLCAD to design the models, and haven't really experimented with "instructions"

The button for a step is the little 'S' with the arrow next to it...

Hmm... maybe you SHOULD read the manual instead of listening to me!

I will read the manual and listen to you  ;-)
Just did a quick experiment during my lunch break with the "steps".
Now I get the instructions the way I want them. So thanks again Mr. Z.
Printed the official manual. I'll read it tonight during my train trip home.

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#13 Mister Phes

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Posted 22 February 2007 - 08:50 PM

View PostZCerberus, on Feb 22 2007, 01:32 PM, said:

Hmm... maybe you SHOULD read the manual instead of listening to me!
Yes, reading the manual before using the problem is the probably the most important and overlooked step to learning it!


View Postbonaparte, on Feb 22 2007, 10:35 PM, said:

Just did a quick experiment during my lunch break with the "steps". Now I get the instructions the way I want them. So thanks again Mr. Z.
We'll need a tutorial for the steps soon!


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#14 Bonaparte

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Posted 22 February 2007 - 09:51 PM

View PostMister Phes, on Feb 22 2007, 09:50 PM, said:

Yes, reading the manual before using the problem is the probably the most important and overlooked step to learning it!
We'll need a tutorial for the steps soon!

Here is the direct link to the MLCad Tutorial.
It is only 7 pages and you can learn everything while building a small space MOC.
Explains also the use of submodels (explained a bit different) and how to use the steps for making instructions.
It's interesting to know that the steps can by added at any time. Even when the model is finished.
And you can see the different steps while in "View Mode" (normally you are in "edit mode").

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#15 Mister Phes

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Posted 22 February 2007 - 11:37 PM

Now where's that Imperial Sentry box you've been telling us about, Mr Bonaparte?  X-D


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#16 Bonaparte

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Posted 22 February 2007 - 11:48 PM

View PostMister Phes, on Feb 23 2007, 12:37 AM, said:

Now where's that Imperial Sentry box you've been telling us about, Mr Bonaparte?  X-D

Here is a small picture of it. But as I mentioned, it is not different than yours.

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#17 CopMike

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Posted 22 February 2007 - 11:49 PM

Hi guys!

One fast (maybe silly :S) question: you write about MLCAD but Ive only come across LDRAW, is that the same stuff or what? I can see that they have different names  :'-) but when I read some topics I get it mixed up!

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#18 Mister Phes

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Posted 23 February 2007 - 01:55 AM

View Postbonaparte, on Feb 23 2007, 10:48 AM, said:

Here is a small picture of it. But as I mentioned, it is not different than yours.
Its a work of art!  I couldn't have done better if I'd made it myself.   :-D


View Postcopmike, on Feb 23 2007, 10:49 AM, said:

One fast (maybe silly :S) question: you write about MLCAD but Ive only come across LDRAW, is that the same stuff or what? I can see that they have different names :'-) but when I read some topics I get it mixed up!
The only silly questions are the ones you DON'T ask!  I downloaded MLCAD quite some time ago but when I did so, I download a complete package which included LDRAW, MLCAD POVRAY and several other programs.

I think I got it from the official Mike's LEGO CAD Webpage.


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#19 CopMike

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Posted 23 February 2007 - 09:28 AM

Thanks for the answer!

This is the page that I used to but here the confusion starts :S! Is LDRAW & MLCAD to different programs? Ive used LDRAW with LBU & POVRAY but the parts that are in the LDRAW libary isnt nothing to what you have showed, mostly minifig wise. Is the another partslibary than LDRAW & Parttracker?

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#20 ZCerberus

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Posted 23 February 2007 - 02:33 PM

View Postcopmike, on Feb 23 2007, 03:28 AM, said:

This is the page that I used to but here the confusion starts :S! Is LDRAW & MLCAD to different programs? Ive used LDRAW with LBU & POVRAY but the parts that are in the LDRAW libary isnt nothing to what you have showed, mostly minifig wise. Is the another partslibary than LDRAW & Parttracker?

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Ah, I can see the confusion...

Here is the thing, LDRAW is also a LEGO modeling program.  It is not as advanced as MLCAD.  MLCAD used the LDRAW parts library, but added the additional abilities to be able to view the creation from multiple angles, add minifigures and hoses and the like.  Since MLCAD is designed to used most of the LDRAW parts, that is where the confusion may be setting in.  Basically we are using MLCAD, which is an off-shoot of LDRAW.  MLCAD uses LDRAW parts, in fact one of the very first things you have to do after loading MLCAD is link it to the LDRAW library!!, so that is why you see the LDRAW parts even though you are using MLCAD!

Anyhow, you can download all the unofficial parts as well as the official parts.  The unofficial parts will add the Imperial torsos at least, but there are still parts missing, even after getting the whole unofficial parts library.  Some can be found in an uncertified form, but might not be perfectly accurate!  If you do download all the parts, make sure to follow the instructions given on the page to ensure the new parts will be added to the library!

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#21 Mister Phes

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Posted 23 February 2007 - 09:56 PM

Where do we download these "unofficial parts"?  

And what about official parts like the Redcoat Imperial Guard flag (as pictured in ZCerberus's signature) which for some reason has been excluded from MLCAD?


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#22 ZCerberus

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Posted 23 February 2007 - 11:58 PM

View PostMister Phes, on Feb 23 2007, 03:56 PM, said:

Where do we download these "unofficial parts"?  

And what about official parts like the Redcoat Imperial Guard flag (as pictured in ZCerberus's signature) which for some reason has been excluded from MLCAD?

Here is the links to the parts library:

Parts Library

Even with the library though, there are still some parts missing...

Red Imperial Flag, Door frane for jail door, rowboats and a few other random pieces I have wanted!

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#23 Mister Phes

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Posted 24 February 2007 - 07:07 PM

View Postbonaparte, on Feb 23 2007, 08:51 AM, said:



View PostZCerberus, on Feb 24 2007, 10:58 AM, said:

Both these links should probably also be added to the first post of this thread.


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#24 ZCerberus

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Posted 24 February 2007 - 07:34 PM

View PostMister Phes, on Feb 24 2007, 01:07 PM, said:

Both these links should probably also be added to the first post of this thread.

Well Since I have edit powers on my own first post... maybe I will!!... or will... haha

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#25 Mister Phes

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Posted 24 February 2007 - 07:42 PM

You could leave it for Mr Tiber to do.  He'd love the extra work :-D


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