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Using Target Helpers to Organize Your Objects

Author: DanaC78

Tools Needed

* Carrara 5

Support Files



Target Helper Objects are probably the least documented functions of Carrara 5 that I have seen, and what it's been documented for is the least of it true potential. According to the Manual, you can use them as guides for your IK movements, and the manual stopped there. Well, I am going to go a bit beyond what the Manual says they are, and show you what else they can be used for. One term that can be related to this function will be Null Objects. Essentially a Null Object is an object that is not rendered in your image cause it has no facet, no vertex, nothing like any of your models, yet it exists in your 3D space.;) In my mind, that what Target Helper Objects remind me of, and anybody who used them in programs like Lightwave will understand how useful they can be. Anybody who thinks they never used null objects really can't say so if they used Victoria 3 or Michael 3 from DAZ. If you don't know what I am referring to, or think I am referring to IK hands and feet when you turn IK on, you are right, but not what I was truly thinking. Body. Yes, Body is a Null Object. It is something that is not an actual mesh so it is not rendered, yet it exists and controls Victoria and Michael all the same. Simple, yet powerful, eh?:) To clarify, I am not going to discuss how to set up IK because that is a tutorial for someone who knows what they are doing in regards to that. What I am going to show you is how to use Target Helper Objects as Nulls for different purposes, and this tutorial, I am going to show you how you can organize your scene with the help of these unsung heroes.:) This tutorial also assumes you know the basics of getting objects into Scenes.:)

Step 1: Setting up your Scene

For exercise purpose, I want you to create a scene of 10 objects with a variety (spheres, cones, etc), and 6 lights (with variety as well), or you can use the one I made in Support Files. For myself, I shall create three spheres, three boxes, three cones and one cylinder for objects, and 3 bulbs and 3 spots for lights. At this point, you probably are wondering what I am trying to do in 3D Space, but it isn't so much 3D space I am worried about.


Take a look at the Instance Tab, and you can see how cluttering it can be. For note, there is a filter built in, which can be helpful. However, imagine the scene with more objects. For example, say you created a scene that includes a desk with different objects populating it. Wouldn't you like a way to make it so you can easily identify them in the future? Let me show you how.

Step 2: Creating a Target Helper

Here is where the real fun starts. What I would like you to do is to create a target helper by either click on the Target object, and click on the scene, or Insert > Target Helper


What you will see is this thing:


A close look at this, and you begin to wonder what the heck it is supposed to be after creating those other objects. You see a point with arrows all around it, and probably going 'Huh?' That is OK, I can understand the confusion. What you are seeing right now is object that exists in 3D but doesn't 2D, which your final render will be. You can make 100 Target Helper Objects, and have a blank screen when you click on the render button.

As for how they are useful, it allows for things to be done without making them appear in your beautiful works of art. You will see one advantage to them in a moment.

Step 3: Grouping Part 1

This step is more informational then instructional to give you a heads up what we will be doing. Anybody who used Vue probably remembers a function known as Grouping. You select a bunch of Objects, right-click, select group. Pretty awesome feature, yet not available in Carrara in the same fashion. What is available natively is to dragging objects into another as children making them parents, like so in the picture (You can try it if you like)


However, there is a disadvantage to doing it this way. Any changes made to the Parent will affect the children (which is good) but the Parent object is not free to move itself. Say for instance you were working on a room, and you grouped them as mention above, and notice in your rendering that one was slightly off by mistake. Even worse, it is the Parent Object. NOOOOOO! Yes, I literally done that a time or two.:) That means you have to unparent it, make adjustments, and think about reparenting, and to make it explicitly clear, that is just a pretty nasty workflow if you ask me.

But what if there was a way to keep them parented but free from the terror mention about? You know that Target Helper I had you make? That is going to be your new friend in Organizing more effectively. What I would like you to is drag one of your objects into the Target Helper Object making the Target Helper a Parent and your object the child. I know the result will make you go, “So?” Let go to the next step to make these Target Helpers even more functional.

Step 4: Grouping Part 2


To illustrate the functional purpose, I like you to highlight the Target Helper, and in the name field, change the name to something useful for you. For myself, and those using this Car file, I shall name this Target Helper 'Spheres'.


What I would like you to do is create more Target Helpers for each type of object, using either the insert menu, or the Target Button, and repeat the renaming portion of this step. For the Car file, I have Target Helpers name Sphere, Cube, Cone, Spotlights, and Bulbs. Great..more clutter, you are going right now. is a little cluttered, but not for long.;)


Take the objects of similarity and place it into the target helper you named it for, or for the Car file example, drag all the Spheres, and placed drag them to Spheres the Target Helper, and let them become children to that Parent. Repeat for the other Objects and Lights.

Now take a look at your instance panel. Looks nice and organized.


Step 5: Why Groups and Not Filters for Lights?


Yes, I do realize there are Filters built into the Properties tab, and while it is good for showing me only lights, I sometimes found it to be quite limiting. For starters, sure it can show just the lights, but filters can't resize nor reposition them in groups with just one click. With Groups, you can click on one, and adjust the position of them all, and with filters, you need to still select each individual one.. Plus what if you only wanted to work on the bulbs and not the spotlights at any particular time? With groups, you will see the Bulbs, while the Spotlights are tucked away. This is why I prefer the usage of Target Helpers over the Filters.

Step 6: Overview


Here is a render of the scene. It is not the prettiest, I am sure, but look at it. I am not looking at what you see, but rather what you don't. Notice the only thing showing up is the lights and the objects, but nothing where the Target Helpers should be. Like I mention before, this is the coolest aspect of it all. It is so helpful in removing clutter from your scene, yet will not show up in your picture, even if it right in the camera.:)