Making graptolites! Making a mesh that I can repeat and build a bigger mesh with

Hello all, I am a researcher working on making models of animals, specifically extinct graptolites. These animals are built up of repeating units that were grouped into colony forms. They are hollow, and housed an animal inside. Basically, I want to be able to build colony forms of these graptolites built up of these single units. Attached, I have pictures of single thecae (“thecal struct.jpg”) and colony form examples that I eventually want to construct in a variety of forms (“Monograptid Evolution” and “Picture2.jpg”).

Some questions I have include:

  • Is there an easy way to make hollow meshes in Blender? Basically a thin-walled hollow cylinder that has fancy stuff on the ends of it. I have experience making blobs and basic body shapes and know how to punch holes using Boolean subtract, but modelling internal structure has been a pain. I want to make “Lego” bricks out of the single thecae units.
  • Is there an easy way of building up these “Lego” thecae units up to the colony forms? I have no idea how to make the units repeat themselves and line up with each other consitently so they make a giant colony mesh that I can make a 3D model with.
  • Once I get to the colony forms, is there an easy way to bend them into the spiral/curvy/straight shapes that I want? I have been looking into armatures; is that the way to go?

Any suggestions to help me get started would be great! This is my first time on this forum, so let me know if I’ve broken etiquette somewhere. Thanks a lot!



your description is very general

but you could use vert duplicate
or in some cases may be use particules system!
or even use array modifier which can make some spirals or helix shapes

but do you have a specific example so we can give specific advises!

happy 2.6

always depends on what your trying to do

Array modifier is what you are looking for.

How do this example look? There are other examples on the same site as well. He make those form out of array but I am not sure how he grow them.

Thanks ridix and RickyBlender! Array modifier is just what I needed!