Use a circular envelope and adjust the control handles.
Thanks for that Doug
but doesnt do the job that I was after. Using a circle as an envelope does not alter the edges significantly enough to create a ball effect. The dots at the very edges of the objects should be very flat ellipses and this method does not allow that to be altered, So it ends up looking curved but not enough to look like a pattern printed on a ball.
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As I say, you might want to see what impact adjusting the length of the control point handles has. Let me be more specific:
1. Select the mesh tool after you've made your elliptical envelope and click in the exact center (use guides if you have to)
2. Now start extending and retracting the north, south, east and west handles... I mean the ones that were created when you added a mesh center point. When you begin to adjust the handles that extend inward toward the center of the envelope, note the changes to those ellipses at the edge of the envelope.
3. Also play with the four handles of the center point. These adjustments should help you flatten your edge ellipses to taste.
This really is very helpful. I have been trying out your method and another one I found using 3D revolve. (The 3d revolve method seems to need a rectangular object (with a map like projection to begin with.
I have one question and wonder if you might know - Does using just the central and edge control points allow the sort of distortion you would see on a sphere (ie nearly flat in the centre moving to very steep at the edge) as a curved variation rather than as a linear one?
I will continue playing and may be able to answer this for myself.
I have played and found.
After following the method described
By pulling out the nodes at 45,135, 225 and 315 degrees and adjusting the handles you can reform the dots back into a large circle
You can alter the mesh from the centre and 0,90,180,270 degrees and have a curved type variation
You can get the change between the centre and edges to work as if the dots were on a curve. BUT this is not very effective because the changes do not take place around the whole of the arc equally - ie the ellipses at 0 and 90 degrees are the same shape (although rotated) but the ellipses between (say at 45degrees) are not, fixing this by adding and adjusting nodes at 45 degrees minimises the issue but leaves the ellipses in between (say at 22.5 degrees) uncorrected (although the error is smaller).
The script is just what I was looking for before I made the images (and didnt find). Now I have made them flat and am trying to find a way to curve them - I cant face going back to the drawing board. I suspect that once I have overcome my immediate problems I will try and redo the images based upon the script.