Creating in uMake: Sketching, Selecting, and Creating Surfaces

Table of Content


Moving around in uMake and in 3D Space may seem a bit tricky with an iPad, but uMake has worked hard to make it easy and intuitive.

Orbit Tool

Orbiting in uMake, or ‘tumbling’ as it is known in other applications is accomplished with the big blue button which is located in the lower left corner of the uMake Editor Interface.
To Orbit in uMake, simply tap and hold on the blue ‘Orbit Button’ with one finger, and then swipe anywhere in the canvas with another finger or stylus, and you will orbit around in 3D space. The initial placement of the finger used to orbit changes the pivot point of the orbit, so sometimes orbiting may require a couple different swipes. Try it out and you will get a hang for orbiting in uMake in no time. For more, you can check out the following video.

Pan, Tilt, and Zoom

In addition to orbiting in uMake, there are three other ways to move around in 3D Space -- Panning, Tilting, and Zooming.
  • Pan: Panning essentially moves the seen side to side or up and down. If you want to move your view point up or down or side to side, place two fingers together on the screen and swip up to move vertically or side to side to move horizontally.

  • Tilt: Tilting is like rotating - you can tilt the scene using two fingers spread apart, and rotating them just like you would in any other iOS application.

  • Zoom: You can zoom in and out of your scene or to an object using the pinch gesture. To zoom in, place two fingers together on the screen and spread them apart. To zoom out, place two fingers spread apart on the screen and pinch the fingers together. This works much the same way as zoom works in other iOS applications.

For more, you may want to see the following video:

Basic Sketching in uMake

uMake is a 3D sketching and modeling application with exceptional power to enable anyone to express their ideas in 3D space. It is unique because it literally enables you to sketch in 3D space. In most other 3D applications, you start by plotting points, sculpting from basic shapes, or starting with primitive shapes and then modifying them. uMake enables you to sketch curves and then create surfaces.

To sketch in uMake, select any of the sketching tools in the top menu and then tap and drag your finger or stylus anywhere on the canvas to create a curve. We recommend using the Pen tool to sketch in uMake for most projects. If you are in any of the orthographic views your curve will appear on the center of plane between two primary axes. For example, uMake opens new files in the Front Orthographic view by default. When you sketch, you are sketching on the plane that goes between the Z and Y axis. If you sketch in the front view you will be creating curves on the plane between the Y and X axes, and if you sketch from the top view you are creating curves on the plane between the X and Z axes.

For now, to get started, start in any standard view (See Views for more) and tap and drag your stylus or finger to create a curve, just like you would to sketch on a piece of paper.

Precision Curves

To sketch precise horizontal, vertical, or straight angled lines, along with perfect circles or arcs, use the Precision Pen tool. Sketch like you normally would but know that the precision curve tool is only capable of straight lines, circles, and arcs. It’s best used in technical drawings which require a level of precision.

Standard Curves

To sketch normal curves in uMake, use the Standard Pen Tool. The pen tool is the middle pen tool in the top menu. This is the tool we recommend for most projects as it creates clean NURBS curves. NURBS Curves can easily be edited and if you export your design to other applications, can be used with other programs. The standard curve tool can also be used to create perfect circles, rectangles and squares. Simply sketch a shape close to a circle, rectangle or square and uMake will try to recognize the shape and correct the shape for you.

Freestyle Curves

If you are looking for a more loose sketching experience where you can truly express your ideas without worrying about precision or the need to edit curves later, try the freestyle pen sketching tool – the third sketching tool in the top menu. The freestyle curves tool lets you sketch curves that are Not NURBS curves and cannot be edited after sketching them. In addition the curves are not corrected or smoothed, however, this is OK if you are trying to just get a rough idea for a project.

Sketch tool settings

Each of the sketching tools - Precision Pen tool, Standard Pen tool, Freestyle pen tool have a settings panel you can use to change the size and color of the curve. Once the tool is selected, tap once more to activate the drop down settings. In this menu you will find the following:
  • **Stroke Sze:**The first setting you will see will be a number. This is your stroke size. Tap on the number and adjust the slider to change the size of the stroke. You can go from 1-100. This changes how thick the stroke appears.
  • Color Setting: Next you will see a color palette where you can choose any color for your stroke. Simply tap anywhere in the color selector to choose a color. You can drag your finger or stylus around to choose a color. Below the color picker, you will see a shade slider, where you can change the shade of the color you choose.
  • Color History: Color history contains the last 15 colors you have used in uMake. This makes it easy to keep colors consistent when working on complex projects.

Once you are done with the settings, simply tap anywhere on the sketching canvas to exit the settings panel.

You can change the colors and stroke of curves before sketching, or after they are already created. Simply double tap to select any curve or curves you would like to modify, and tap the sketching tool to prompt the settings drop down. Make the desired changes and tap anywhere on the canvas to exit the settings panel.

Sketching in 3D Space with Sketch Planes

Sketch planes are the magic behind uMake. They enable anyone to sketch in 3D space, and this is what separates uMake from any other 3D creation app on the market today. Sketch planes change the planes that you sketch on.

When you first open a file in uMake, you will sketch on 1 of 3 planes - the plane between the Z and Y Axes (Side View) the plane between the X and Y axes (Front View) or the planes between the X and Z axes (Top view). Any curves drawn in these views are sketched by default on these planes which intersect each other. This is fine, but it makes it tricky to draw in 3D space. You could select the curves and then move them, but this takes time. So instead, uMake lets you move the plane you sketch on with sketch planes.

Think of sketch planes as a piece of paper you can move around in 3D space. You can sketch curves on that paper, and whatever you sketch will float in 3D space even if you move the 3D paper. This lets you rapidly create amazing 3D designs.

So, here is how to work with sketch planes!

To create a sketch plane, simply tap and hold anywhere on the canvas until you see a red dot with dashed lines. You have now created a 1 point sketch plane – the red dot is called a ‘Sketch Plane Point’. This point essentially resets where the origin point is, and resets where the planes you sketch on are. This means that the plane you sketch on will be moved depending on the orientation of the camera. As you orbit around the sketch plane point, you will see a grid that will change based on the orientation of the camera. As long as the grid is visible, you can sketch on the grid, and any curve you sketch, will remain in place in space.

In addition to this, you can create a 2 point sketch plane – this is very useful for creating curves on angled surfaces. Simply tap and hold any where on the canvas to create 2 sketch plane points. In addition to this, you can place a sketch plane point along any curve or curve end point. You can even use the feature to create a plane between the ends of two curves and connect two curves.

It takes some practice using sketch planes, and while creating them is easy, we recommend watching the following video to help you see how they work in action.


uMake gives you control of curves even after you’ve sketched them with powerful editing tools. You can move curves, rotate and scale them, as well as add and remove control points and move control points around to get the curves exactly the way you want. You can even split curves or connect two curves. These seemingly simple features give you significant control over your designs.

Anatomy of a Curve

A NURBS Curve in uMake is made up of several parts. While you mostly see just the curve, when you edit curves there is more to a curve than just a simple line. Curves have the following parts:

  • Curve: This is what you see most of the time. The curve is black by default or any color the user chooses.
  • Hull: The Hull is the dotted blue straight lines that appear when a curve is being edited. THe hull lines are the ‘framing’ lines for the curve and go between the control points of a curve.
  • Control Points: Control points are the points that dictate the shape of a curve. Moving control points will change the overall shape of the curve. There are three kinds of control points.
  • End Points: The first kind of control points are End Points - These are found at each end of a curve. They are green to display where the ends of a curve are.
  • Standard Control Point: These are the blue and white points found along a curve. These dictate the shape of a curve. Moving a standard control point results in a smooth change in shape between other control points.
  • Merge Points: Merge points are solid blue points that are found usually when a curve has a sharp change in direction. A merge point denotes two separate curves that have been merged together. When merge points are moved they often result in a sharp change in direction in a curve.

How to Edit Curve

Curves made with Precision Curve pen tool or the Standard Pen tool can be edited with ease.

To edit a single curve, simply tap once on the curve to enable the edit mode. When edit mode is enabled on a curve, you will notice the appearance of the curve changes. The curve will change to a blue color. At each end of the curve you will find green control points (end points) Along the curve you will find blue control points and dotted blue straight lines (hull) connecting the control points.

To edit the curve, simply tap and drag on any of the control points (end point or normal control point) and you will see the curve will change shape. Orbiting the camera around will let you move the points in any direction. This lets you take a curve made in only 2 dimensions and transform it into a more complex curve made in 3 dimensions. Dragging points around is the primary way to edit curves and get curves just the way you want. To exit out of the edit mode, simply tap once anywhere on the canvas.

Selecting Control Points

When you tap on a control point you will notice that it changes color to yellow to indicate it is selected. Taping once on a control point will select the point. You can tap once on more than one control point to select more than one point at a time. Any movement of points will move all selected points. To deselect any single point, simply tap on a selected (yellow) point once to deselect it.

In addition to tapping on each control point, you can select multiple control points by using the ‘Multi-Select Tool’ to select multiple points at once. In addition to selecting multiple points, if you tap and hold on the multi-select tool and draw a small circle in empty space, this will deselect all control points.

Editing Multiple Curves

Sometimes it may be necessary to edit multiple curves at the same time. With uMake, this is a relatively easy process. Simply select the curves you wish to edit, and then tap 'Edit' in the side menu. All selected curves will go into edit mode, and you will be able to work with the control points of multiple curves.

Moving Control Points

Moving control points is easy. Simly select one or more points, and then either drag on a point in any direction, or use the small arrows to move points along specific axes.

Adding Control Points

If you need more points on a curve to make the curve even more complex, you can add control points. To add control points, simply tap and hold on the dotted line (hull) where you want to add a control point. A small dialog to add a point will pop up. Tap on Add and you will add a point on the curve. Each point you add will change the shape of the curve.

Deleting Control Points

If you have too many points or wish to remove points from a curve, tap and hold directly on a control point until the dialog for 'Delete' pops up. Tap on delete to remove the point. When you delete points, the curve will change.

You can delete multiple control points by tapping on multiple points or using the multi-select tool to select several points, and then tap and hold on any selected point until the delete option appears. Tapping on delete will delete all selected points.

Splitting curves

Curves can be split into smaller curves by using the 'Split' tool. To split a curve, simply tap and hold on any point along a curve (directly on the curve) until the 'Split' dialog appears. Tap 'Split' to split the curve into two curves at that point. You will now have two separate curves.

Merging Curves

Curves can be merged using the merge tool. If you have two curves you would like to merge, first move the end points of curves so that they are touching one another or overlapping. You can use the snap tool to snap the ends of curves together to make this easier. When the ends of two curves are snapped together, you may see a 'Merge/Blend' dialog pop up at the intersection of the two curves. If this does not automatically pop up, select the two end points (the easiest way to to do this is to use the Multi-Select tool) and then tap and hold on one of the points. When the Merge/ Blend dialog comes up, tap 'Merge'. Merging two curves makes a single curve out of two curves. You can merge more than two curves by repeating the merg process. Merging two curves DOES NOT change the shape of the two curves. It simply connects them at their end points, and creates dark blue 'Merge Point' control point.

Blending Curves

Curves can be blended as well. Blending is different from merging in that it takes two curves and blends them into one curve, often resulting in a changed shape or a curve. For example, if you blend two curves that connect at an angle, the new blended curve will have a smooth arced curve to change the direction. To blend a curve, first move the endpoints of curves so that they are touching one another or overlapping. You can use the snap tool to snap the ends of curves together to make this easier. When the ends of two curves are snapped together, you may see a 'Merge/Blend' Dialog pop up at the intersection of the two curves. If this does not automatically pop up, select the two endpoints (the easiest way to to do this is to use the Multi-Select tool) and then tap and hold on one of the points. When the Merge/ Blend dialog comes up, tap 'blend'. The new blended curve will be the sum of the previous two curves and look quite different.

Disconnect Curves

In some cases, it may be necessary to disconnect merged curves. To disconnect merged curves, locate the merge point (dark blue control point). Next tap and hold on this point, until the Delete | Disconnect point pops up. Simply tap "Disconnect" and the two curves will be disconnected.

Intersecting / Overlapping Curves

When you sketch curves in uMake, sometimes you may sketch over another curve. If this other curve is on the same plane, or if the curve intersects another curve, this will automatically split 1 or both curves. You can use this to your advantage as a way to easily split curves, but keep in mind that curves that overlap one another ON THE SAME PLANE will split into multiple curves. for example, two curves overlapping on the same plane will now be 4 separate curves. Keep this in mind when sketching as it can be both helpful at times, and create issues at other times.

Selecting Objects in uMake

Selecting objects in uMake is very easy. Simply double tap on any curve or surface to select an object. Once selected an object will turn to a blue color. Double tapping on more than one object will select multiple objects. Double tapping on an object that has already been selected will deselect the object. To deselect all objects, simply double tap anywhere on the canvas and all selected objects will be deselected.

Multi-Select/ Lasso

To select multiple objects at once, you can use the Mulit-Select/ Lasso tool located next to the Orbit Button. Simply tap and hold on the multi-select button and then drag a selection around the objects you wish to select. All objects (that are not on locked layers) - surfaces and curves - that are in the 'selection area' will be selected and turn blue. You can double tap on any objects you don't want to select by double tapping them.

Double tap on the canvas to deselect all objects once you are finished.

The Selection Bounding Box

When you select any item or items in uMake, you will notice that not only will the color of the item selected change, but a light blue 'bounding box' will surround the item indicated by dashed lines. The edges of the bounding box are slightly shaded to show where the bounding box is in space. Depending on the angle that you are viewing selected objects, the bounding box will have some arrows and curved arrows around the corners of the box. These arrows are used to move, scale, and rotate the selected objects. In addition to this, you may notice some dark blue dashes along the edges of the box - these are used to scale a specific edge enabling 'non-uniform scaling' of objects.

Moving Selected Objects

To move selected objects, use the two arrows at the lower corners of the bounding box. The directions you can move selected objects depends on the angle you are viewing these objects. Orbiting around will change the directions you can move the object.
In addition to moving selected objects with the arrows, you can also tap and drag in the center of a selected object to move it freely without having to use the arrows. The arrows are good for moving objects along specific axes, whereas this method is great to move objects around freely.

Scaling Selected Objects (Uniform)

When you select an object, you will notice a small set of diagonal arrows in a circle - this is your 'Uniform' scaling tool. Tapping and dragging on this will scale selected objects in all 3 axes and maintain the proportions of the objects.

Scaling Selected Objects (Non-Uniform)

When an object is selected, the face of the bounding box closest to the angle of the camera will feature large dark blue 'handles' along the edges of the bounding box. Tapping and dragging on these will scale the selected object in just one direction, or along one axis. This will change the proportions of the selected object. This is one way you can easily transform a square shape into a rectangle, or a circle to an ellipse.

Rotating Selected Objects

When an object selected, you will find two sets of curved arrows on the corners of the bounding box. These can be used for rotating the selected object around 2 axes, depending on the angle you are viewing the selected object, and which curved arrow you use. To rotate the object, simply tap and drag one of the curved arrows, and the object will rotate around the axis indicated by the arrows.

Creating Surfaces in uMake

There are several ways to create surfaces in uMake, enabling you to create a multitude of interesting objects.

Planar (Flat) Surfaces

Planar surfaces are flat surfaces, or surfaces that are only on one 'plane'. Planar surfaces can be crated by selecting 1 closed curve, or 2 or more curves on the same plane that create a 'closed' shape and then creating a surface between these curves. When you select curves, they will either be blue or green. When curves are green that means that a surface can be created between these selected curves. You will see a small symbol in the middle of the selection indicating you can create a surface. The resulting surface will be flat, and the curves will form the edges of the surface.

Push/ Pull Surfaces

uMake allows you to create 3 dimensional objects from a single planar surface. Simply create a planar surface to start. Then either tap and hold on the surface, or tap once on the surface to bring up the push/pull arrows. If you tap and hold on the surface, when it turns blue, you can drag with your finger or stylus and create a 3 dimensional shape. If you tap once, the surface will turn blue and display a set of arrows. Drag in either direction with these arrows. The push/pull function is similar to the extrude function in that it extrudes the surface instead of the curves. You can also use Push pull to create holes in planar surfaces. Draw another curve on a surface, then use the push/pull function to either create a protrusion from the surface, or a hole.

Lofted Surfaces

Think of a lofted surface as a piece of fabric stretched between wires. To create a lofted surface, select two or more curves. These curves do not need to be on the same plane, and can be any shape. Once selected, as long as the curves are green, you can create a surface between these curves. You will see a small symbol indicating a surface can be created when the curves are green. Tap on this symbol to make a lofted surface. Unlike a planar surface, a lofted surface may change in all three axes and be 3 dimensional.

Revolved Surfaces

A revolve surface is a surface created using one curve that is 'revolved' around a specific axis. This is perfect for creating simple shapes like bottles or vases, or complex shapes such as the rim of a car or bike wheel. To create a revolved surface, sketch a curve. The curve can be simple or complex. This curve is known as a 'profile' curve and will dictate the shape of the revolved surface. Think about a profile curve as if you were to cut a round object in half-- what would the shape of the cross section look like? Once you have your profile curve, tap 'revolve' in the Editor side menu. Two handles will appear, and a dashed line will appear between these two handles. This will be the axis of revolution. Moving this axis will change the shape of the revolved surface. As mentioned in the 'Revolve' tool, you have some options when creating a revolved surface regarding how many degrees you want the surface to cover.

Extruded Surfaces

Extruded surfaces are surfaces that are extruded, or 'pulled' from a single curve. Create a curve you would like to extrude- as with revolved surfaces, this curve is also a profile curve. Then double tap and select the curve you wish to extrude. Tap the 'extrude' function in the Editor side menu, and then drag the yellow handle to create an extruded surface.

Extrude Along Path

Extrude along path is a powerful tool that lets you create complex shapes along a path. It requires two curves to work. To start, select both curves -- one curve will be the 'path'- the curve that you will extrude along, and the other curve will be the 'profile curve' this will dictate the shape of the surface being extruded. Once both curves are selected, tap extrude from the editor side menu, and then tap 'along path'. A yellow handle will appear on one of the curves. Be sure the yellow handle is at one of the ends of the 'path curve' so you get what you want. If it is not, you can tap 'switch curves' in the options in the editor side panel. Once the yellow handle is on the path curve, simply drag along the curve to create the extrusion. Tap 'done' when finished.

Editing Surfaces in uMake

Once surfaces are created in uMake, you can still edit the color and shape of them after they have been created.

Changing a surface color or material

To change the color or material of a surface, simply double tap on the surface to select it. Once selected, the top menu will change to reveal options to change the color and material of a surface.

uMake lets you add materials to a surface to give projects a bit more realism. To change the material tap on the shiny ‘ball’ in the top menu and choose from the pre-made materials. This will change the appearance of the surface to look more like the material you choose, be it metal, plastic, chrome or painted.

To the right of the materials, you can change the color of the material by tapping on the color icon. This will open up a color palette where you can change the color and shade of materials. Tap on the desired color and your surface will change to that color.

Changing the shape of a surface

To change the shape of a lofted, planar, extruded, or revolved surface, simply change the shape of the edge curves it was formed from. Tap once on a single curve, or select multiple curves and tap 'edit' from the Editor side menu to edit the curves. Editing these edge curves will change the overall shape of the surfaces.

NOTE: These edge curves will only change a surface if they have not been split or modified from when they created the surface. If they have been split or changed, the surface will detach from the edge curves. In this situation, you may need to make a new surface.

Tips & Tricks

Tips for creating curves

When creating curves in uMake there are two primary ways you can do this. The first is to simply sketch a curve, and while this is great for initial sketching, this may not always result in the most accurate curve.

One way to create curves is to sketch a straight line curve, and then add points to the curve. Keep in mind the fewer points you have along with a curve, the cleaner the contours of the curve will be- less is more in the case of NURBS curves.

To create smooth rounded corners, we recommend using 5 points, two evenly before the corner, and then 3 evenly spaced to form the corner. See the example below.

Working with symmetry and mirroring together

If you forgot to create a design with symmetry turned on, don’t worry. You can always use mirroring with symmetry turned on to create a symmetrical design. Simply select the objects you want to reflect, then turn on symmetry. Tap Mirror, and then choose the axis to reflect over. As long as symmetry remains on, the curves reflected during the mirroring process will be updated if you edit the original curves. This makes uMake very powerful because you can focus on working on just one side of a design and then reflect that over an axis and tweak it with symmetry turned on.

Tips for working with revolved surfaces

When creating revolved surfaces you can move the axis around and away from the initial curve to create complex designs. Moving the axis around is will completely change the overall result of the revolved surface. One tip you may want to know is that if you want to create a revolved surface around an axis, use the grid to center the axis of revolution around. This can be very helpful when creating rims for wheels, or even housing for jet engines, for example.

Tips for working with complex Surfaces

If you have a complex surface, we recommend trying to simplify the surface and break it up into several smaller surfaces. In order to get clean surfaces, try to keep surfaces to have 4 bounding curves. This can be a challenge in some cases but will result in cleaner designs.

How to share your work

Have you created something awesome in uMake? We love to see what uMakers are creating and are always happy to see your work. If you share your work, use the #uMake hashtag. In addition, feel free to send it to [email protected], or you can post it in our forum as well.

Contact Us

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We hope to hear from you!