Go to Create > EP Curve Tool > Option Box. Click the Reset Tool button and in the Front viewport create a curve with the following CV placement. Start by holding down the x key on your keyboard and click the Left Mouse Button in the origin (x=0, y=0, z=0). (The CV's will snap to the grid while holding down the x key.) Move the cursor and place a CV up 3 units in the y axis, and -1 in the x axis (x=-1, y=3, z=0). Continue in the same manner and keep placing new CV's according to the image to the right. (-1.6.0 = x.y.z) You will end up placing a total of 13 CV's.
Make sure the curve you've just created is selected, right click and hold and select the Control Vertex button that appears.
This next step is also to be done with holding the x button on your keyboard down. It should be easiest to do in the side view, but can also be done in the perspective view. Select CV's 3, 6, 9 and 12. Then move them back -1 unit in the z axis.
Repeat step 2 but this time select CV's 2, 5, 8 and 11, push and hold the x key and move them 1 unit in positive z direction.
Right click the curve and choose Select from the hotbox that appears.
Go to Edit > Duplicate > Option Box. In the Duplicate Options window, go to Edit > Reset Settings. Then type in 6 in the Translate Y field, and set the Number of Copies to 2. Click Duplicate. Your Front and Side view should now look something like this.
Go to Create > NURBS Primitives > Circle > Option Box. Click Edit Reset Settings. The only thing to change here is to set the Number of Sections to 6 and hit Create. Now you shall have a Nurbs circle placed at the origin. Move it away from the origin in the x axis just to get it out of the way for later use.
Now open the Modeling menu set. There are several ways to achieve this. You can select it from the Menu selection in the upper left corner of the UI, push the F3 key on your keyboard or push and hold the h key on your keyboard then Left Mouse Button clicking in a viewport and then selecting Modeling. You can also access the different menu sets in the hotbox while holding down the space key on your keyboard. Either way is fine, it just depends on what works for you and your workflow.
Select the Nurbs Circle and Shift select one of the curves you've created. Click Surfaces > Extrude > Option Box. Click Edit > Reset Settings. Now under Result Position check At Path. Under Pivot check Component and hit Apply. Use the same Nurbs circle and repeat this process for the last two curves. Push 5 on your keyboard to switch to Shaded mode. Your scene should now look like the image to the right.
If you want you can adjust the thickness of the extruded surfaces simply by scaling the Nurbs circle. I will keep it at 1 for this example.
Now we will make the surfaces "loopable" so we can make the braid longer. From the Outliner (Window > Outliner), select the extruded Surfaces. Then in the main window click Edit Delete by Type History. Back in the Outliner, select the curves and the Nurbs Circle and hit Delete on your keyboard. Close the Outliner. Select the three extruded surfaces in your scene.
Click Modify > Convert > NURBS to Polygons > Option Box. In the Convert NURBS to Polygons window, click Edit > Reset Settings. Under Tesselation Method check Control Points. Hit Tesselate.
Three new polygonal objects is now selected in your scene. Shift select over your scene to select the unselected objects. Hit Delete on your keyboard to delete the old extruded Nurbs surfaces. The only things left in your scene should now be three polygonal surfaces. You should now have something like the image to the right.
Select the three polygonal shapes and click Polygons > Combine.
Now the three objects has been combined into one object. This is done for easier editing of the braid. Select the combined object, right click and hold. Select Face. Click and drag a marquee selection (click, hold, move mouse) to select the faces like the image to the right. Here we can see that the braid will be loopable after deleting these faces. Hit Delete. Then you will be left with something like the image on the right.
Right click and hold over the object and choose Select from the hotbox.
With the Braid (polySurface1) selected go to Edit > Duplicate > Option Box. Reset the settings and hit Duplicate. A new copy of the braid will appear right on top of the other one. Move the copy 18 units in the positive y direction by typing 18 in the translate Y field in the channel box (Display > UI Elements > Channel Box / Layer Editor). Now the copy
is placed over the other to make the braid twice the length. Now select both the surfaces and Combine them like with the three individual shapes in step 8. Select the combined object, right hold click and select Vertex. Now Marquee
select all of the vertices and click Edit Polygons > Merge Vertices > Option Box. Set the Distance to 0.1000 and hit MergeVertex. This welded together the seem between the two combined objects. If you want the braid to be longer, you just repeat this step. But then you'll have to double the value of the Y translation (from 18 to 36) because of the braids length. Now right hold and click the braid and choose Select. Now there's only left to smooth it. (Polygons > Smooth) and there you go!
Hint: To separate the individual strands of the braid again, select the object and go to Polygons > Separate. Happy modeling!
If you are interested; here is a zip'ed scene-file used in the tutorial. You can download WinZip from winzip.com to unpack it. Enjoy!
The rings in the top banner are made using the same technique as the tutorial. The additional features are another copy of the braid to make it longer, then adding a Nonlinear Bend (Animation menu set (F2) > Deform > Create Nonlinear > Bend (Default Settings).). You will get the same result after just a couple of minutes tweaking it.