modelling climbing walls

Hi there,

I’m looking for a program with features to help me with climbing wall design in plywood and have been recommended blender. Usually in the industry the preferred program is sketch up but I think it’s limiting and there is something better. Iv’e so far done an afternoon of tutorials on blender and although I think it’s great, but i’m not sure it can do what I want. What do you think?

Main points for climbing wall design

  • Quad surfaces must be flat (for manufacturing with plywood). So far if I make a fractal surface with quads for example, it looks like flat surfaces as you don’t see the hidden lines, but when imported into sketch up I can see the surface is actually made up of a load of split polygons with angle changes within the quads between the polys.
  • Number of polygons must be minimal (again for manufacturing you don’t want lots of cut triangles coming to a point)

What would be fantastic is if it’s possible to make surfaces with genuinely flat 4 sided shapes, or if it’s complex, to be able to ‘flatten’ some areas. I’e reduce the number of polygons in some areas of the overall shape. Essentially simplifying the shape is that possible? In this image the surfaces look flat but they are actually made up of lots of polygons and angles changes.

Is it possible to view the angle changes within the quads and is it possible to flatten/simplify areas?

Thanks for your help,



For the quads that have hidden edges, there is a “make planar faces” under the “MESH” >“cleanup” menu along tool bar.
Works with any number of faces selected, and on ngons to.

You can also dissolve edges(delete.option) between several quads so it is a ngon(more than 4 sided) then use the make planar on it to align it.
Will be other methods but off the top of my head the above should work fine for small jobs.
good luck :slight_smile:

The terminology can change a bit between packages and context, but in Blender, any face type = polygon.

Smallest polygon which can describe a surface is a triangle which is always planar (flat), quadrilaterals and n-gons can be non-planar. Latter two still need to be displayed and rendered and they’re automatically converted to triangles for that.

Mesh analysis: distortion can give a preview of such faces.

Colors change based on the two angle settings for minimum and maximum. Mesh -> clean up -> make planar faces can help but it’s not likely to make perfectly flat quads of all of them.

If the faces don’t have to be quads, could use boolean operations to make the forms, or use bisect tool to hack away one slice at a time

BoolTool addon helps to manage boolean modifiers and speed up the workflow, and keep it non-destructive to some degree. Above I translated/rotated/scaled duplicate cubes and substrated those from the main one with ctrl+numpad_-. Relatively fast and the cutting objects can still be moved, and all cuts are completely flat

Then I triangulated, converted triangles to quads to have less triangles, then quickly selected edges on face angles higher than 0 and marked them with seams.

And then used Export Paper Model addon to get numbered templates out

They can export to scale as .pdf or .svg, and can be adjusted further in a vector graphics program.

I use Blender to design climbing walls, cave systems and ropes course on a daily basis for a Climbing wall manufacturing company in the UK, Blender can export out to Sketch up using quads but deselecting triangleulation on the Collada exporter as Sketch up triangulates in the background its a bit pointless but does give a cleaner looking mesh.

I would also use FBX when exporting out to AutoCAD as it has a better output then .dxf mostly it retains the scale much better.

thing to note:

Use Matcap when checking your model as this will highlight any not totally flat planes. Can make installation problematic if the panels don’t match up as you though they should

use normal scaling ( s, z, z, 0) to flatten planes