Hemesh : a 3D mesh library for Processing

UPDATE : He_Mesh has grown enough to give it its own site: http://hemesh.wblut.com/. In time, the new site will con­tain tuto­ri­als and in-depth explanations.

Coded, recoded, lost, recoded and recoded … hemesh, the half-edge mesh library for Processing has slowly accreted to a state that war­rants a release. A release in more than one way. In ret­ro­spect, the cur­rent func­tion­al­ity looks depress­ingly small, espe­cially com­pared to the hun­dreds of hours that already went into cod­ing it. But like a broke home-owner with a base­ment and a half-finished first floor, I com­fort myself with the thought that at least it holds poten­tial for growth.

What is hemesh?

hemesh is an imple­men­ta­tion of a half-edge datastructure for manip­u­lat­ing 3D meshes in Processing. Basically it’s a toolset to extend my Processing sand­box to a proper playground.

Generating and dis­play­ing a mesh requires noth­ing more than a list of ver­tices and a list of faces con­nect­ing them. This hardly requires a spe­cial dataset. However, manip­u­lat­ing a mesh in any but a triv­ial way requires a lot of con­nec­tiv­ity infor­ma­tion: neigh­bor­ing ver­tices, neigh­bor­ing faces, shared edges,… Keeping track of this in a sim­ple facelist type struc­ture is dif­fi­cult. Hence the need for a datas­truc­ture that incor­po­rates con­nec­tiv­ity infor­ma­tion in an effi­cient way: the half-edge mesh.

What can hemesh do?

The library is cur­rently focused on the stuff I coded it for: 3D voronoi and ran­dom plane divi­sions. So with hemesh we can cre­ate 3D meshes. Several prim­i­tives are built-in, but any kind of 2-manifold mesh can be turned into a half-edge mesh from its ver­tices and facelist. The weight of the imple­men­ta­tion lies in closed meshes but open sur­faces are han­dled as well.

Creating meshes is cool (for a given amount of cool) but destroy­ing them is cooler. Several mod­i­fiers are pro­vided, either as part of the basic mesh func­tion­al­ity or as sep­a­rate mod­i­fier classes. Subdividors are a spe­cial class of mod­i­fier ori­ented towards sub­di­vi­sions. (The names might not be orig­i­nal but I guess it’s eas­ier to remem­ber than quaghot and umpsink.)

What hemesh can’t do…

The half-edge datas­truc­ture has a few limitations in itself. In prac­tice, each edge in a mesh can be shared by at most two faces. The imple­men­ta­tion is strongly face-based, iso­lated ver­tices and edges are not sup­ported and will lead to ouchie.

The ini­tial intent of hemesh was to build a sys­tem to pro­to­type geo­met­ric play. So large-scale sys­tems were never a goal. Several imple­mented algo­rithms are O(n²) and use a lot of stor­age. Connaiseurs and lec­tors in com­pu­ta­tional geom­e­try are advised to avoid perus­ing the code, bleed­ing eyes often offend. On the pos­i­tive side, there’s room for improvement…

Getting hemesh

The library is main­tained at code.google.com. hemesh is cur­rently at beta ver­sion Download and extract the archive inside the Processing ‘libraries’ folder. The ‘hemesh’ sub­folder con­tains sev­eral exam­ples. A Processing ver­sion sup­port­ing JAVA 1.5 syn­tax is rec­om­mended, Rev 180 or higher. In the com­ing days, I’ll post some tuto­ri­als and spiel­erei to illus­trate fur­ther use.


At this time, the library reflects my cur­rent inter­ests. If you want it to do some­thing else, have a sug­ges­tion or hemesh goes hay­wire on you, let me know! One major addi­tion is already planned: boolean mesh oper­a­tions. This is a small step away from completion.

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import processing.opengl.*; import wblut.hemesh.*; import wblut.geom.*; HE_Mesh box; void setup(){ size(600,600,OPENGL); hint(ENABLE_OPENGL_4X_SMOOTH); HEC_Box boxCreator=new HEC_Box(this) .setWidth(400).setWidthSegments(10) .setHeight(200).setHeightSegments(4) .setDepth(200).setDepthSegments(4); boxCreator.setCenter(100,100,0).setAxis(1,1,1); box=new HE_Mesh(boxCreator); HEM_Lattice lattice=new HEM_Lattice().setDepth(10) .setWidth(10).setFuse(true).setThresholdAngle(HALF_PI); box.modify(lattice) } void draw(){ background(120); lights(); translate(300,300,0); rotateY(mouseX*1.0f/width*TWO_PI); rotateX(mouseY*1.0f/height*TWO_PI); noStroke(); box.drawFaces(); stroke(0); box.drawEdges(); }