An ellipsoid with a lot of holes

I want to make what seems conceptually simple enough, an ellipsoid with several hundred parallel holes “drilled” into it. (It’s meant as a missile tube battery for a spacecraft.)

My first thought was to make a cylinder, use the array modifier twice to get a grid of them, and apply said modifier so I could remove individual cylinders, then use the boolean modifier to subtract that mesh from an ellipsoid. However, the boolean operation hangs, guzzling CPU for hours on end with no result.

I then thought I’d do one cylinder at a time, on a 30 degree wedge of the ellipsoid, duplicating the first cylinder rather than using the array modifier so I got separate objects. Again, however, the first two were fine, the third one seemed to take half a minute or so to do the boolean operation, and the fourth too long to wait for.

I can apply the modifier to the cylinders instead, which gets me cylinders truncated by the surface of the ellipsoid, but that’s in a sense the opposite of what I want. I suppose I could join the ends of the cylinders and then into the rest of the ellipsoid…but that seems like an awful lot of work.

I’ve tried the shrinkwrap tool, thinking it would project a set of flat circles back onto the surface of the ellipsoid, which it does - but projects them to something distinctly non-circular!

There are I know ways to make circular holes in a mesh, that I could then extrude inwards, but the holes in the surface won’t all be circles, they’ll be ellipses of various eccentricities.

Any thoughts on how to do this without a huge amount of manual work?

I’ve yet to try any of the proportional editing tools, I know there’s a sphere falloff which I’m thinking might let me deform a plane with suitable circular holes in it into a hemisphere, keeping the holes circular as seen from “straight on”.

Just an idea: maybe it (the long calc time) has to do with how the ellipsoid has been designed? I have designed a pretty complicated body from nurbs curves and “drill” many (10 so far?) cylindrical holes into it (boolean, difference) (but 1 cyl at a time), with no problems.

“Several hundred”, wow. Perhaps you could have more pods?


When I started Blender I noticed I was on version 2.61, which has the old Boolean operations. The latest version on Ubuntu Precise is 2.62, which uses the new Carve library. I upgraded, and now Boolean operations work brilliantly. There’s a little slowness, but we’re talking seconds to do what spent hours not doing before.

(The ellipsoid, for what it’s worth, is just a UV sphere stretched twice in one direction.)

Ah, good, it is better than the earlier code.