Wings3D Bucky Ball Tutorial
(Requires GeoDome Plugin)

This tutorial is for those who are interested in geodesic structures. It is easy to follow and is well suited for beginners who want to try their hand at simple geometric modeling.

A bucky ball is a polyhedron that always has 12 pentagons, and 20 or more hexagons. For a more concrete example, a soccer ball can be classified as a frequency three bucky ball. My model of the time travel device from the TV series Seven Days is also based on this form.

This tutorial requires an external plugin, which can be found on my plugins page or Follow the easy steps below to model a bucky ball (v0.98.20b)

  1. Create a geodome. This primitive can be found under More in the object creation menu. Make sure to click on the option box and enter the values shown in this image. Keep in mind that bucky balls can only be created from icosahedron-based domes with frequencies that are divisible by three. So make sure to select a resolution of 3, 6, 9, 12, etc. in the Resolution box. Use 6 for this example.
  2. Create 12 pentagons. Select the vertices (12 in total) at the center of each pentagon. If you are having trouble visualizing this, choose Select>By>Vertices With>5 edges from the Select menu. Now simply delete or collapse them.
  3. Now we need to select and delete the vertices at the center of each hexagon. Since there are 110 of them, you may think that a lot of tedious mouse clicking needs to be done. Here's where Wings3D's powerful range of selection tools—especially Select>Similar—comes into play.
  4. Create 60 hexagons. Select one vertex directly across from an edge of any pentagon. Then press 'I' to automatically select 60 verts. Now delete them. If you did this correctly, you should start to see the basic shape: 12 pentagons, each one surrounded by 6 hexagons.
  5. Create 30 hexagons. Select one vertex that is exactly halfway between any two pentagons. Then press 'I' and the readout should state "30 vertices selected." Refer to the screen shot in step 1. Delete these and we're almost done.
  6. Create 20 hexagons. Select any vertex that has 6 edges emanating from it (there's no menu option available for this selection), press 'I' to select all 20 similar verts, then delete or collapse them.

So now you have a frequency 6 bucky ball. At this point, you can select and triangulate or quadrangulate all faces to see some interesting patterns emerge. You can also select similar faces, edges, or verts and apply vertex colors. And just for practice, you should try to make a high resolution ball by using a higher frequency. I've gone as high as 18.

An alternate method exists that allows for any frequency. First, disable the Spherize option. Then bevel all edges to the maximum extent and inflate all verts to 100%.

If you found this useful, I would appreciate any comments or suggestions. And let me know if there are any errors or omissions.

This page was last revised on March 6, 2004
Copyright © 2004 Anthony D'Agostino
All rights reserved.