Something fancy with Sculpted Surface.
Imagine a bunch of paper plates (these are the cross sections) then imagine a straightened wire coat hanger (the spine) going right through the center of each plate. Pretend like we put each plate 1/2 meter away from the next moving up the wire. A side view might be like...
--|--|--|--|------ <spine ^ Cross section
Ok, you can do a couple of things. You can bend the wire or you can scale each cross section larger or smaller. This alone will make an interesting shape.
To get more dramatic, you can change the outline of each cross section and come up with something very unusual.
Here I made several cross sections. from the bottom up, there is a diamond, then roated (square shaped), then I scaled it down small, then the next cross section I made like a four pointed star which I scaled up (times 2), the next star I scaled down and then rotated 90 degrees.
Wire Frame: Vertical = spine | Horizontal = Cross Sections
Ok, here I rotated (or tilted from horizontal) some of the cross sections, and translated a few from the center position.
See below for a tip on tilting
TIP: In the properties panel, I clicked Spine Fusion: Forward
This causes all the sections above to tilt when I tilt one of them.
You tilt them in the top view window, and observe them in the side view window.
Just for fun, I clicked the NURBS button to make something smooth and organic looking out of the same shape. I usually use the 2x2 tesselation, it makes for smaller files and tends to look as good.
Here are the 3 examples, same sculpted surface. The 1st is just straight or linear. The 2nd, I rotated some cross sections, and bent the spine by translating a few from the zero position. The 3rd, is exactly the 2nd one, except I clicked the NURBS option.
The .SPZ file
View the .WRL file
NOTE: If you use NURBS, Contact 5.1 users will get a warning message unless you add these lines at the top of the file under the VRML header.
#VRML V2.0 utf8 EXTERNPROTO NurbsSurface[ field SFInt32 uDimension field SFInt32 vDimension field MFFloat uKnot field MFFloat vKnot field SFInt32 uOrder field SFInt32 vOrder exposedField MFVec3f controlPoint exposedField MFFloat weight exposedField SFInt32 uTessellation exposedField SFInt32 vTessellation exposedField SFNode texCoord field SFBool ccw field SFBool solid ] ["urn:inet:blaxxun.com:node:NurbsSurface", "http://www.blaxxun.com/vrml/protos/nurbs.wrl#NurbsSurface", "nodes.wrl#NurbsSurface"]