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Clarify auto-smooth angle and custom normals
Needs ReviewPublic

Authored by Sybren A. Stüvel (sybren) on Oct 17 2019, 10:28 AM.

Details

Reviewers
Bastien Montagne (mont29)
Group Reviewers
User Interface
Summary

The tooltip for the Auto Smooth Angle field mentioned that it is unused when "custom split normals data" is available. However, this is not entirely correct, as one can use the Alt+N menu to merge normals (so they're no longer split), but this still keeps mesh.has_custom_normals = True.

To clarify this situation, I changed the tooltip to just mention "custom normals" rather than "custom split normals data". I also added an explanation in the UI indicating why the Auto Smooth Angle property is disabled.

This is especially important when working with Alembic files (for example as in T69182), because then, rather than hand-edited the custom normals can come from the Alembic file (so not directly visible to the user)

It's not common in GUIs in general, and the Blender UI is no exception, to explain why things are disabled. However, doing so can significantly clarify a situation.

PS: I noticed that the operator to remove those custom normals is also called "Remove Custom Split Normals Data". Is "split normals" still how we want to name these things, given that this data is also used for merged custom normals?

Diff Detail

Repository
rB Blender
Branch
wip-sybren-custom-normals-clarification
Build Status
Buildable 5400
Build 5400: arc lint + arc unit

Event Timeline

I would keep the term 'split normals', even 'merged' ones can actually be partially split, when you have sharp edges, you still get several different normals for a single vertex. Don’t have really strong opinion here, though, if UI team wants to simplify that name to (less accurate) 'custom normals', so be it… But then please do it all over our codebase for user-visible messages.

I would keep the term 'split normals', even 'merged' ones can actually be partially split, when you have sharp edges, you still get several different normals for a single vertex.

I'm not an artist, so I don't know exactly what the expected behaviour here is (also looking at other softwares). In the code the naming is CD_CUSTOMLOOPNORMAL, BKE_mesh_has_custom_loop_normals() etc., so without the word "split" in there. To me it was just confusing to have "Split" and "Merge" operators in the Normals menu, and after a Merge operation the Auto Smooth angle was still disabled because of "split custom normals".

Don’t have really strong opinion here, though, if UI team wants to simplify that name to (less accurate) 'custom normals', so be it… But then please do it all over our codebase for user-visible messages.

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