Shapes VS. Models VS. MultiPatch

Discussion created by MBuehler-esristaff Employee on Feb 1, 2013
Latest reply on Jul 2, 2013 by MBuehler-esristaff
Hi !

It is still a little confusing to some people to distinguish between Shapes, Models and MultiPatches, when working with CityEngine.

Fundamentals in CityEngine :
1 Shape + 1 Rule File --> Generate --> 1 Model

That means that the RESULT of the work in CityEngine is always supposed to be a Model. So the so-called 'Static Models' are already the Result and thus have no slots for rule file and start rule in the Inspector.

[Note that Shapes can be textured.]

Now in the GIS world, 3d geometries are represented and stored as MultiPatches, so there's no distinction between Shapes or Models.

MultiPatch IMPORT into CE :
If a MultiPatch is imported into a CE scene via gdb, Shapes are created.

MultiPatch EXPORT out of CE :
Premiss :
A Model can only be generated, if a valid rule file and start rule is assigned. If either the rule file contains errors, the start rule is undefined or for other such reasons, a Model can not be generated from the Shape and you'll get a CGA warning during Generation.

So when a Model, which can successfully be generated, is exported to a gdb, a MultiPatch feature class is written or updated in that gdb.

But what happens at the export, when for one of the above reasons, a Model can not be generated ?
Have a look in the exporter's General Settings, under 'Exported Content' :

Default          : 'Export models if generatabla, else export shapes'
Other options : 'Export generatable models' and 'Export shapes only'

So what happens by default is that if no Model can actually be generated, the Shape is exported instead as if it were the Model.

So how can I just create a Model from a Shape without altering it otherwise ?
By just using a very simple CGA rule with the code :
Shape -->

This basically just copies the incoming geometry of the shape (plus textures, if existing) into the final Model geometry.

So what we learn from this is that there's a very important distinction between exporting Shapes and exporting Models.

Rendering of Shapes and Models in the 3d viewport :
Shapes and Models are rendered (= 'displayed') differently in CityEngine's 3d viewport. Shapes are always rendered with little grey wireframe lines, independent of whether the viewport is displayed with wireframes ( toggle by 7 key ) or not.

Use F11 and F12 to toggle the visibility of Shapes and Models individually.

Terminology of Shape Editing Tools ( such as the 'Polygonal Shape Creation Tool' ) :
Since MultiPatches are just a term used in the GIS world and 'MultiPatch' does not actually exist in CityEngine terminology, many people use the term 'MultiPatch Editor' instead of 'Polygonal Shape Creation Tool'. That's not per se a 'wrong term', just a little misused in the context, since all the tool does is edit 'Shapes' within CityEngine.

Hope I did some 'de-inclarification' here. :o

Cheers !