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Review: Plancher FloorBoard Addon

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Ethan J. Biller takes a look at Michel Anders' 'Plancher FloorBoard' addon, a tool to create diverse types of floor structures.

Introduction

Plancher, (floor in French), is an addon for Blender that makes creating simple, or even complex, wood/tile floors incredibly easy. A newer “rival” to the older and more reliable ‘Floorboards Addon’ by Michel Anders, this is a feature-rich addon that might just be a little too powerful. Read on for the full details.

User Experience

Starting from the installation, the end-user experience of Plancher is very enjoyable. The addon installs like most do (User Preferences>Addons>Install from file) and is very easy. The addon’s menus’ location is in a fixed position on the Toolbar (Shortcut ‘T’), which means it’s tab will always be present, even when no ‘Plancher Objects’ exist in the scene. To add a new floor, or edit an existing one, you must go to the aforementioned tab and tick the only, (unless a previously created floor is present), available button: “Add a new floor”. Upon creating this new object, the user is presented with a somewhat extensive, but still understandable, set of options. Now, it is upon adjusting the before said settings that things get a little bit rocky.

Learning Curve

I will continue the discussion from above here, as I feel it is more relevant to this section of the review. The settings featured here are completely at default:

And as you can see, there are many options to play with. The settings are laid out in a very orderly fashion, and upon thoroughly reading the titles of each slider, it is easy to see that they are organised nicely too. However if you’re looking to just brush-read over settings and start sliding things, you’re going to end up with some strange results:

If you do that, then you’ll also probably notice that the more you tweak, the fewer settings you have available: well that’s not your imagination, it actually is happening.
Here’s a list of settings that, when enabled/disabled, will remove/add certain options:

Gap>Gap Y >> Opens additional options, as well as “Interval” section:

Gap>Gap Y>Shift >> Removes the “Chevron” option:

Gap>Gap Y>Interval>Unlock >> Removes the additional settings from the “Gap” feature:

Herringbone >> Removes “Gap” feature:

(In Edit Mode, to setup UVs) Random Color >> Removes “Phase Color”:

Phase Color >> Removes “Random Color”:

Most of these are understandable, after you think about the functions that each one serves: (to phase a color at a set interval (1, 2, 3 etc) would clearly not be possible if “Random Color” was selected); it would however, be a little easier to regain these “lost” (temporarily disabled) functions if they were simply grayed out, with a definition displayed on rollover of why you can’t use it at that time. E.G. “‘Intervals’ cannot be used unless ‘Gap Y’ size is set to a value of 1 or more”. (Lengthy but you get the idea)

It’s also worth mentioning that any changes made in Edit Mode would be lost if the main Plancher settings were changed after the fact. This, however, is displayed as a warning at the bottom of the main panel. Very nice!

Overall

Even with its finicky settings, for a free addon you can’t beat its capabilities. I’m pretty sure that you could create any type of floor you needed with this addon, and save time doing it. The fact that it creates UV maps (with the option of randomising the results) also saves a lot of time. This addon comes highly recommended from me: next time you need a floor, Planchers is your man!

Overall: 7.5
User Flexibility: 5.5
Speed of Use: 7
Realism: 8
Value for Money: 9

7.4 Awesome

You can't beat the capabilities of this free addon.

  • Overall 7.5
  • User Flexibility 5.5
  • Speed of use 7
  • Realism 8
  • Value for money 9
  • User Ratings (12 Votes) 7.6

About Author

Ethan J. Biller

Currently based in the U.S.A, Ethan Biller is a freelance generalist, (CGI odd job man), with a 4 year history in Blender, and a 10 year history in the digital arts. When not hunched over the computer, he can be found taking extended walks in the rain.

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