Creating a Spiral Staircase Rail with Flowify – SketchUp Extension Tutorials

This tutorial will teach you to use the flowify extension to create a spiral staircase rail in SketchUp.
In this SketchUp tutorial, I’m going to run through how to use flowify to create a spiral staircase rail, so let’s just jump into it.
So the first thing I want to talk about is how flowify works, because it requires a very specific workflow. Basically, it requires 3 groups – a target mesh, lines to your target mesh, and a projection grid. These 3 groups must be inside another group.
An important thing to note is that this is designed to work with quad objects, or objects that have 4 corners. You sometimes have to be creative on how to get your target mesh to be a quad shape.
The best way to do this is to draw your 3 objects, then go up to flowify in your menu bar and select “impose grid.” If you’ve set everything up properly, flowify will add grid lines to your projection grid, showing how your projection face maps onto your target mesh. If you get an error, you need to go in and fix some stuff.
Now that we’ve done that, I’m going to show you how to create your stair rail.
To start off, you’re going to have to create a target mesh that works for flowify.
To do that, we’re going to do a couple things. First off, we’re going to draw a 12 sided circle. Set the radius to be the width of the stair you’d like to draw.
Then, we’re going to create one piece of this circle as a component. Erase the rest of your line, then copy your component in a circle so you have 12 of them.
Extrude them until you have some depth (set your depth to be the height between each step).
Now, select all your objects and copy them up 12 times. Now, go through and select your steps incrementally (the ones that go up in a spiral). Once you have all of them selected, put them in a group and delete the others. This gives a basic spiral.
Now we’re going to create our target mesh. To do this, draw a line up from the corner of each step to a fixed length, then copy these lines all the way around your spiral. Draw lines between them in order to create your face.
Once you’re done completely, put all these faces in a group.
Off to the side, draw a rectangle roughly the length of 12 steps the same height as your rail height and put it in a group.
Now, draw 2 lines to the corners of your target group and put them in a group.
Put your two lines, your target mesh, and your projection face in a group.
Now, go up to flowify and select “Impose Grid.” If you’ve done everything properly, flowify will impose the grid on your projection face.
Now all we have to do is model our rails. Remember that this is a principle video – you can take this principle and model much more in-depth things than this, but this is just to teach you how it works.
Draw 5 wires and a top rail on this face, then put them in a group. Remember that flowify looks for raw geometry in this group, so don’t leave any groups nested inside this group.
Finally, select your rail geometry group and your flowify group, then go up to the flowify toolbar and select flowify.
This should bend your rail along your face, creating a spiral staircase rail.
If you want, you can go in and add vertical pickets to your step components, as well as adjust the thickness and add a center post to make your staircase look complete.
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