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LightWave 3D 7
This publication, or parts thereof, may not be
reproduced in any form, by any method, for any
purpose without prior written consent of
© 2001 NewTek. All rights reserved.
5131 Beckwith
San Antonio, TX 78249
Manual version: 1.1
Software License and Limited Warranty
1. Grant of License
The enclosed computer program(s) (the “Software”) is licensed,
not sold, to you by NewTek for use only under the terms of this
License, and NewTek reserves any rights not expressly granted to
you. You own the disk(s) on which the Software is recorded or fixed,
but the Software is owned by NewTek or its suppliers and is
protected by United States copyright laws and international treaty
The copyright restrictions of this license extend to any further
updates, software patches, or bug fixes made available to you by
NewTek, whether distributed by floppy disc, CD-ROM, or in an
electronic format via BBS, ftp, e-mail, etc.
This License allows you to use one copy of the Software on a
single computer at a time. To “use” the Software means that the
Software is either loaded in the temporary memory (i.e., RAM) of a
computer, or installed on the permanent memory of a computer (i.e.,
hard disk, CD-ROM, etc.).
You may use at one time as many copies of the Software as you
have licenses for. You may install the Software on a common storage
device shared by multiple computers, provided that if you have
more computers having access to the common storage device than
the number of licensed copies of the Software, you must have some
software mechanism which locks out any concurrent user in excess
of the number of licensed copies of the Software (an additional
license is not needed for the one copy of Software stored on the
common storage device accessed by multiple computers).
You may make one copy of the Software in machine readable
form solely for backup purposes. The Software is protected by
copyright law. As an express condition of this License, you must
reproduce on the backup copy the NewTek copyright notice in the
following format “© 2001 NewTek”
You may permanently transfer all your rights under this License
to another party by providing such party all copies of the Software
licensed under this License together with a copy of this License and
all written materials accompanying the Software, provided that the
other party reads and agrees to accept the terms and conditions of
this License.
2. Restrictions
The Software contains trade secrets in its human perceivable
form and, to protect them, YOU MAY NOT REVERSE ENGINEER,
3. Termination
This License is effective until terminated. This License will
terminate immediately without notice from NewTek or judicial
resolution if you fail to comply with any provision of this License.
Upon such termination you must destroy the Software, all
accompanying written materials and all copies thereof. You may also
terminate this License at any time by destroying the Software, all
accompanying written materials and all copies thereof.
4. Export Law Assurances
You agree that neither the Software nor any direct product
thereof is being or will be shipped, transferred or re-exported,
directly or indirectly, into any country prohibited by the United
States Export Administration Act and the regulations thereunder or
will be used for any purpose prohibited by the Act.
5. Limited Warranty and Disclaimer, Limitation of Remedies and
The above limitations will not apply in case of personal injury
only where and to the extent that applicable law requires such
liability. Because some jurisdictions do not allow the exclusion or
limitation of implied warranties or liability for consequential or
incidental damages, the above limitations may not apply to you.
6. General
This License will be construed under the laws of the State of
Texas, except for that body of law dealing with conflicts of law. If any
provision of this License shall be held by a court of competent
jurisdiction to be contrary to law, that provision will be enforced to
the maximum extent permissible, and the remaining provisions of
this License will remain in full force and effect. If you are a US
Government end-user, this License of the Software conveys only
“RESTRICTED RIGHTS,” and its use, disclosure, and duplication are
subject to Federal Acquisition Regulations, 52.227-7013 (c)(1)(ii).
(See the US Government Restricted provision below.)
7. Trademarks
LightWave 3D, LightWave, Video Toaster and Aura are
trademarks of NewTek. All other brand names, product names, or
trademarks belong to their respective holders.
8. US Government Restricted Provision
If this Software was acquired by or on behalf of a unit or agency
of the United States Government this provision applies. This
(a) Was developed at private expense, and no part of it was
developed with government funds,
(b) Is a trade secret of NewTek for all purposes of the Freedom
of Information Act,
(c) Is “commercial computer software” subject to limited
utilization as provided in the contract between the vendor and the
government entity, and
(d) In all respects is proprietary data belonging solely to
For units of the Department of Defense (DoD), this Software is
sold only with “Restricted Rights” as that term is defined in the DoD
Supplement to the Federal Acquisition Regulations, 52.227-7013 (c)
(1) (ii).
Use, duplication or disclosure is subject to restrictions as set
forth in subdivision (c) (l) (ii) of the Rights in Technical Data and
Computer Software clause at 52.227-7013. Manufacturer: NewTek,
5131 Beckwith, San Antonio, TX 78249.
If this Software was acquired under a GSA Schedule, the US
Government has agreed to refrain from changing or removing any
insignia or lettering from the software or the accompanying written
materials that are provided or from producing copies of manuals or
disks (except one copy for backup purposes) and:
(e) Title to and ownership of this Software and documentation
and any reproductions thereof shall remain with NewTek,
(f) Use of this Software and documentation shall be limited to
the facility for which it is required, and,
(g) If use of the Software is discontinued to the installation
specified in the purchase/delivery order and the US Government
desires to use it at another location, it may do so by giving prior
written notice to NewTek, specifying the type of computer and new
location site. US Governmental personnel using this Software, other
than under a DoD contract or GSA Schedule, are hereby on notice
that use of this Software is subject to restrictions which are the
same as or similar to those specified.
Product Marketing
Lead Programmers
Rob “Bubba” Hoffmann
Kriss Schreiner
David Tracy
Allen Hastings
Stuart Ferguson
Special Thanks to:
Senior Programmers
Arnie Cachelin
Matt Craig
Gregory Duquesne
Jamie Finch
Daisuke Ino
Ryan Mapes
Ernie Wright
Additional Programming
Joe Angell
Christian Aubert
Neil Barnes
Robert Gougher
James Jones
Marvin Landis
Mike Reed
Jon Tindall
Steve Worley
Tim Jenison, Brad Peebler, Jason Linhart,
Robin Hastings, Sandi Spires, John Gross, Paul
Davies, Michael Sherak, Taron, Terrence
Walker, Christian Aubert, Sébastien Hudon,
Frédéric Hébert, Michel Langlois, Lee
Stranahan, John Teska, Danny Braet, Fori
Owurowa, Shaan Pruden, David Herrington,
Paul Debevec, Apple Computers, Hollie
Wendt, James Jones, DStorm, Yoshiaki Tazaki,
Andy Frerking, David Warner, the students of
3D Exchange, and, of course, all the Beta
Team members. A very special thank you to
Jacqueline Nakakihara, Taylor Nakakihara,
Lexy, the Palm, the Minstrel, VB6, the Net,
Bruce Winter and Misterhouse, Josie and the
PCs, CZ Jones, J Alba, dougworld.com, Taco
Taco, ICQ and many more—you know who
you are. Also, you can't learn English by
reading a dictionary.
Build and Integrations
Jason Craig
Product Design and Testing
Kenneth Woodruff
Rich Hurrey
Aristomenis “Meni” Tsirbas
Kris Debolt
Douglas J. Nakakihara
Stephanie Barton
Brian Marshall
Product Management
Art Howe
All rendering speed tests rated in cowmarks (based
on the average unladen cow). No cows were permanently
harmed in the creation of this product—with the
exception of one contumacious individual—although I’m
sure the Twist and Pole Evenly tools hurt a bit. Cow
sequences, featuring a herd of thousands (Texas
longhorns), choreographed by someone who should
know better than to morph a cow into a sphere. Any
similarities between the cow object and someone you
know is a tragic coincidence, we would hope.
L I G H T WAV E 3 D 7
Chapter 1: Introduction
About the Manual . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1.1
LightWave Overview . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1.1
Hardware Lock Installation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1.2
Parallel Port Lock (PC)
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1.2
Upgrading From a Prior Version . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1.2
Software Installation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1.2
Registering Your Software
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1.3
Contact Information for Registration . . . . . . . .1.3
Licensing Your Software . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1.3
Running the Program . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1.4
Optimizing RAM Usage . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1.4
LightWave 3D Resources . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1.4
Internet Resources . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1.4
NewTek Web and FTP Sites
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1.4
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1.5
Technical Support
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1.5
Chapter 2: Conventions
Typographic Conventions
Directory Structure
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2.1
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2.1
Typefaces . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2.1
Keystroke Combinations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2.1
Mouse Operations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2.1
Attenti-cons . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2.2
Key LightWave Terms & Concepts . . . . . . . . . . . .2.2
Working with the Interface . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2.8
Chapter 3: Common Interface Items
The Hub . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3.1
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3.2
The Image Viewer
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3.3
The File Menu . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3.4
Image Control Panel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3.4
File Saving . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3.6
The Magnify Menu
The Visual Browser
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3.6
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3.7
VIPER:The Interactive Preview Window . . . . . . . .3.8
Surface Previews
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3.10
When Used With Surface Previews . . . . . . . . . .3.11
Non-Surface Preview Uses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3.11
The Preset Shelf
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3.11
LScript . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3.13
LightWave Panels and Dialogs . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3.13
Math in Input Fields . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3.13
Enter/Tab Keys with Input Fields . . . . . . . . . . .3.14
Yes and No . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3.14
Color Selection . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3.14
Color Pickers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3.15
Standard List Windows . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3.15
Reorganizing Lists . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3.16
Context Pop-up Menus
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3.16
Chapter 4: Plug-ins
Add Plug-ins Command . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4.1
Edit Plug-ins Command (Modeler)
File Grouping Method
. . . . . . . . . . .4.3
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4.4
Plug-ins Configuration File
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4.4
Legacy Plug-ins . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4.4
Chapter 5: Customizing Your Interface
First-Level Menu Items
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5.2
Top Menu Group . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5.3
Adding New Groups
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5.3
Divider Line . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5.3
Renaming Menu Items
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5.4
Automatic More Buttons . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5.4
Adding Commands
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5.4
Reorganizing Menus
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5.5
Default Menu Locations for Plug-in Commands .5.5
Finding Assignments and Commands
. . . . . . . .5.5
Deleting Menu Items . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5.6
Window Pop-up
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5.6
L I G H T WAV E 3 D 7
Maintaining Menu Sets . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5.6
Arranging Menu Tabs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5.7
Keyboard Shortcuts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5.7
Panel-Specific Shortcuts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5.7
Customizing Keyboard Shortcuts . . . . . . . . . . . . .5.7
Finding Assignments and Commands
Maintaining Key Mapping Sets
Generic Plug-ins
. . . . . . . .5.8
. . . . . . . . . . . .5.9
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5.9
Middle Mouse Button Menu . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5.9
Chapter 6: Layout: General Functions
The Toolbar Menus . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6.2
Modeler Access . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6.3
LightWave’s Virtual World
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6.3
World and Local Axes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6.4
Your Point of View . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6.5
Changing Your Point of View . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6.7
Taking Aim
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6.8
Resetting Views . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6.9
Viewport Display Mode . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6.9
Bone Weight Shade . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6.10
The Schematic View . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6.11
Parenting in Schematic View . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6.11
Other Schematic View Options . . . . . . . . . . . .6.12
The Grid . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6.12
The Grid and Relative Camera/Light Sizes . . .6.12
The Grid Square Size Effect on Positioning
. .6.13
Grid Square Size Auto-Adjustment . . . . . . . . .6.13
Content Directory . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6.14
Relative Links . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6.14
Object File Links . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6.15
Ways to Use the Content Directory . . . . . . . .6.15
Production Data Files . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6.16
Scene File Management
Saving a Copy
Recipe for a Scene
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6.16
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6.17
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6.17
Scene Statistics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6.17
Selecting an Item in Layout . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6.18
Selecting Multiple Items . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6.19
Selecting by Name . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6.20
Unselecting Items . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6.20
Layout List Item Pop-up Menu . . . . . . . . . . . . .6.20
General Options . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6.21
Alert Level . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6.21
Content Directory
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6.22
Toolbar . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6.22
Input Device . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6.22
File Dialog and Color Selection
. . . . . . . . . . .6.22
Automatically Creating Keyframes . . . . . . . . .6.22
Parent in Place . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6.23
Left Mouse Button Item Select
. . . . . . . . . . .6.23
Frame Slider Label . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6.23
Frames Per Second . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6.23
Frame 0 Time Code
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6.24
Frames Per Foot . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6.24
Allow Fractional Current Frame . . . . . . . . . . .6.24
Show Keys in Slider
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6.24
Play at Exact Rate
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6.24
Measurement Unit System . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6.24
Setting the Default Unit . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6.25
Generic Plug-ins
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6.25
Comments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6.25
Content Manager . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6.26
Export Scene Mode
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6.26
Consolidate Only Mode . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6.27
FX_... . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6.28
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6.28
MD_Controller . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6.28
Schematic View Tools
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6.28
SelectGroup . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6.29
Skelegons To Nulls
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6.29
Other Generics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6.30
Scene Master Plug-Ins . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6.30
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6.30
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6.31
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6.32
L I G H T WAV E 3 D 7
Global Display Options . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6.33
Viewport Layouts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6.34
Grid Settings
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6.34
Fixed Near Clip Distance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6.34
Dynamic Update
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6.35
Bounding Box Threshold . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6.35
Display Characteristic Settings . . . . . . . . . . . .6.35
Overlay Color . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6.38
Shaded Display Options . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6.38
Camera View Tab
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6.40
Camera View Background . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6.40
Show Safe Areas . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6.41
Alternate Aspect Overlay . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6.41
OpenGL Fog . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6.42
Show Field Chart
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6.42
OpenGL Lens Flares . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6.43
Schematic View Tabs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6.43
Layout Commands
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6.44
LScripts Menu Tab . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6.45
LScript Commander . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6.45
Select Hierarchy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6.47
Select Children . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6.47
Shockwave3D Exporter . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6.47
Export Selection
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6.48
Quality Controls . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6.49
Preview Options . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6.49
Objects . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6.49
Animating Objects . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6.50
Animating Bones
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6.51
Surfacing and Texturing
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6.51
Cameras . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6.52
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6.53
VRML97 Exporter . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6.53
Accurate Translation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6.53
High-Performance Output . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6.54
VRML Creation Settings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6.54
So What is VRML? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6.57
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6.58
Surfaces . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6.58
LightWave VRML Implementation
Performance Notes
Scene Tags
. . . . . . . . .6.59
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6.60
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6.60
Spreadsheet Scene Manager . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6.62
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6.62
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6.63
Filters . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6.64
Mouse Functions
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6.65
The Item List . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6.65
The Property Cells . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6.67
Editing Cells . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6.67
Envelopes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6.69
Timeline . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6.69
Column Sorting
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6.70
Chapter 7: Objects in Layout
Loading an Object into Layout . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7.1
Loading from Modeler . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7.3
Loading a Single Layer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7.3
The Null Object:The Star of Objects . . . . . . . . . .7.3
Saving an Object . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7.4
Saving a Copy
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7.4
Object vs. Scene File . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7.5
Saving a Transformed Object . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7.5
Cloning Items
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7.6
Replacing, Renaming, and Clearing Items
Replacing a Multi-layer Object
Tools and Commands
. . . . . .7.6
. . . . . . . . . . . .7.6
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7.6
Moving an Item . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7.6
Local Axis Adjustments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7.7
Rotating an Item . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7.8
Coordinate System
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7.9
Avoiding Gimbal Lock . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7.10
Scaling Objects . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7.10
Squashing Objects . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7.11
Additive Changes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7.11
Item Handles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7.11
L I G H T WAV E 3 D 7
Numerical adjustments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7.13
Protecting from Changes
Pivot Point
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7.14
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7.14
Moving the Pivot Point . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7.15
Layout or Modeler . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7.16
Why Move the Pivot Point? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7.16
Rotating the Pivot Point
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7.17
Resetting Position, Rotation, and Size . . . . . . . .7.18
Chapter 8: Keyframing
The Frame Slider . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.2
Navigating the Scene
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.2
Keyboard Shortcuts
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.2
Going to a Specific Frame
Playing the Scene
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.2
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.3
Creating Keyframes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.3
Creating and Modifying Keys Automatically . . .8.4
Editing Motion Paths Directly in a Viewport
. .8.5
Deleting Keyframes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.5
Delete Motion Key Generic Plug-in . . . . . . . . .8.5
Delete Mode . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.7
Threshold . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.7
Protection . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.8
Saving and Loading Motion Files . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.8
Creating a Preview Animation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.8
Preview Options . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.9
Undo/Redo Changes
The Graph Editor
Frame Range
The Time Slider
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.10
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.10
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.12
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.13
Panel Layout Adjustments
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.14
Using the Channel Bin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.14
The Channels Pop-up . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.15
Editing Curves
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.16
Edit Mode Selection . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.17
Copying Keys . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.20
Editing Color Channels . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.21
Adjusting the Curve Edit Window . . . . . . . . . .8.22
Zooming and Panning
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.22
The Graph Editor Toolbar . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.23
Toolbar Selection Menu . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.23
Add Layout Selected . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.23
Get Layout Selected . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.23
Clear Unselected Channels . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.24
Clear Channel Bin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.24
Remove Channel from Bin
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.24
Invert Channel Section . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.24
Select All Curves in Bin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.24
Reset Bin Selection . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.24
Filter Curves . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.24
Filter Position Channels
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.24
Filter Rotation Channels . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.24
Filter Scale Channels . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.24
Toolbar Keys Menu
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.24
Create Key . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.24
Delete Selected Keys
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.24
Lock Selected Keys . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.25
Unlock Selected Keys . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.25
Invert Selected Keys . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.25
Snap Keys to Frames . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.25
Set Key Values . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.25
Bake Selected Curves . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.25
Copy Time Slice
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.26
Copy Footprint Time Slice
Paste Time Slice
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.26
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.26
Match Footprint Time Slice . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.26
Copy Selected Keys
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.26
Add to Key Bin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.26
Numeric Move . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.27
Numeric Scale . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.27
Roll Keys Left . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.27
Roll Keys Right . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.27
Reduce Keys . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.27
Toolbar Footprints Menu . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.28
Toolbar Autofit Menu . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.28
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.28
L I G H T WAV E 3 D 7
Autofit Selected
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.28
Autofit By Type . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.28
Fit Values By Type
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.28
Toolbar Display Menu
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.28
Numeric Limits . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.28
Go To Frame . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.29
Reset Graph . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.29
Edit Keyboard Shortcuts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.29
Edit Menu Layout
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.29
Insert Overwrites Keys . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.30
Filter Static Envelopes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.30
Large Autosize Margins . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.30
Allow Fractional Keyframes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.30
Lazy Layout Update . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.30
Track Layout Time . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.30
Allow Passthrough Keys . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.31
Lock Motion Keys in Time
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.31
Move No Keys Sel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.31
Track Item Selections . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.31
Fit Values when Selected . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.31
Show Modifiers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.32
Show Tangents . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.32
AntiAlias Curves . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.32
Show Key Info . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.32
Hide Background Curves
Large Keyframe Points
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.32
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.32
Custom Point Color . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.32
Collapse/Show All . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.33
Collapse/Show Tabs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.33
Collapse/Show Trees . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.33
Other Commands . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.33
Graph Editor Options . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.33
Undo Last Action . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.33
Cancel Changes
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.33
Graph Editor Options . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.33
Channel Bin Pop-up Menu . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.34
Curve Edit Window Pop-up Menu
Key Pop-up Menu
. . . . . . . . .8.36
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.36
Curve Controls . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.37
Multiple Values
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.37
Pre and Post Behaviors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.38
Incoming Curves . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.39
TCB Spline . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.39
Interactive TCB Adjustments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.41
Hermite Spline . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.41
Bezier Spline . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.42
Linear . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.42
Stepped Transition . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.43
Dual-handled Control Points . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.43
Integrated Expressions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.44
Additive Expression
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.44
Libraries . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.45
Expression Syntax . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.45
Bad Expressions
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.47
Subexpressions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.47
Vector References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.47
Expressions Tree . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.47
Graph Editor Exercises . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.48
Channel Motion Modifiers
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.58
AudioChannel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.59
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.59
Cycler . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.59
Expressions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.60
Object References
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.61
Sample Expressions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.66
Oscillator . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.66
NoisyChannel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.67
SetDrivenKey . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.67
TextureChannel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8.68
Chapter 9: Object Properties
Custom Objects . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9.2
Camera Mask . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9.2
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9.4
Frame Rate Meter . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9.5
Item Shape . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9.5
L I G H T WAV E 3 D 7
Level-of-Detail Mesh Refinement . . . . . . . . . . .9.6
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9.7
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9.8
ShowCurve . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9.8
SockMonkey . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9.9
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9.10
VRML97 Custom Object . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9.10
Object Replacement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9.11
Level-of-Detail Object Replacement
. . . . . . .9.11
ObjList . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9.12
ObjectSequence . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9.12
Using SubPatch objects in Layout . . . . . . . . . . .9.13
SubPatch Display and Render Levels
. . . . . . .9.14
Meta-primitive Display and Render Levels
. . . .9.15
Morph Targets . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9.15
Multiple Target/Single Envelope . . . . . . . . . . .9.16
Animating Endomorphs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9.16
Saving Morph Mix . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9.19
Displacement Maps . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9.19
Differences from Surface Textures
Displacement Mapped Objects
. . . . . . . . .9.20
. . . . . . . . . . .9.26
Displacement Mapping Versus Bump Mapping 9.26
Bump Displacement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9.27
Displacement Plug-ins . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9.27
CurveConform . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9.27
Deform Displacement Plug-ins . . . . . . . . . . . .9.29
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9.29
Deform:Pole . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9.29
Deform:Shear . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9.30
Deform:Taper . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9.30
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9.31
Deform:Vortex . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9.31
DisplacementTexture . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9.32
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9.32
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9.33
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9.33
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9.34
Joint Morph . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9.34
Morph Mixer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9.35
NormalDisplacement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9.35
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9.37
SockMonkey . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9.38
Control Item Tab . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9.40
Display Options
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9.40
Batch Operations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9.40
Disabling Deformations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9.41
Clip Mapping
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9.41
Object Dissolve . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9.43
Distance Dissolve
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9.44
Sizing Object Polygons
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9.44
Particle and Line Objects
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9.45
Size and Aspect Scaling
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9.46
Unseen by Rays . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9.46
Unaffected by Fog . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9.46
Unseen By Camera . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9.46
Object Shadow Options
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9.47
Receive Shadows and HyperVoxels . . . . . . . . .9.48
Object Exclusions
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9.48
Polygon Edges . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9.49
Edge Z Scale
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9.50
Sasquatch Lite . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9.51
Designing Fur and Grass . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9.52
Rendering . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9.54
Long Hair . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9.55
Chapter 10: Bones and Skelegons
Bone-friendly Objects . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .10.2
Selecting a Bone . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .10.2
Bones from Another Object . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .10.4
Activating and Recording Rest Position . . . . . . .10.4
Skelegons . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .10.5
Drawing Skelegons . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .10.6
Bank Rotation Handle . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .10.8
Make Skelegon . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .10.9
Editing Skelegons . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .10.10
Changing Skelegon Direction . . . . . . . . . . . .10.11
L I G H T WAV E 3 D 7
Splitting Skelegons . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .10.11
The Skelegon Tree Panel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .10.11
Converting Skelegons to Bones . . . . . . . . . . .10.12
Bone Strength . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .10.13
Scaling the Strength . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .10.14
Using Weight Maps . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .10.14
Bone Weight Help
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .10.16
Weight Normalization
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .10.17
Auto Weight Maps with Skelegon . . . . . . . . .10.18
Area of Influence . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .10.18
Falloff Type and Limited Range . . . . . . . . . . . .10.19
Joints and Muscles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .10.20
Chapter 11: Item Motion Options
Parenting . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .11.1
Unparenting . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .11.7
Local Axis Rotation
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .11.7
Parent in Place . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .11.8
Targeting . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .11.8
Where Does It Point? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .11.10
Inverse Kinematics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .11.11
Full or Part-time? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .11.12
Pointing the End of a Chain . . . . . . . . . . . . .11.14
Mix and Match
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .11.14
Setting Your Goals
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .11.16
Dueling Goals . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .11.17
Goal Orientation
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .11.18
Breaking the Chain . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .11.19
Stiff Stuff . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .11.19
Item Motion Modifiers
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .11.25
CurveConstraint . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .11.25
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .11.26
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .11.28
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .11.29
Follower . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .11.29
Gravity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .11.31
Motion Baker . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .11.31
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .11.32
Global Options . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .11.33
Keyframes Tab . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .11.34
Randomizing Keys . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .11.34
Jolting Effect
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .11.35
Using Preset Values . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .11.35
Applying Turbulence
Key Settings
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .11.35
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .11.36
Events Tab . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .11.36
Oscillator . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .11.37
Sun Spot . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .11.38
TextureMotion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .11.39
Rotational Limits . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .11.40
Align to Path . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .11.41
Chapter 12:The Scene Editor
Basic Functions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .12.1
Pop-up Menu
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .12.4
Keyframes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .12.4
Adjusting Channels
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .12.5
Adjusting Hierarchy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .12.5
Effects of Selection . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .12.6
Buttons . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .12.6
Adding Audio . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .12.7
Chapter 13: Camera Basics
Multiple Cameras . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .13.2
Resolution . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .13.2
Pixel Aspect Ratio . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .13.3
Frame Aspect Ratio . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .13.3
Lens Settings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .13.4
Aperture Height . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .13.4
Camera Settings in a Viewport
Rendering a Limited Region
. . . . . . . . . . . . .13.5
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .13.6
Memory Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .13.6
Masking Out a Region . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .13.6
Segment Memory Limit . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .13.7
Antialiasing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .13.7
Antialiasing Using Edge Detection . . . . . . . . .13.8
L I G H T WAV E 3 D 7
Applying a Soft Filter Effect
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .13.9
Motion Blur effects . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .13.10
Blur Length and Real Cameras . . . . . . . . . . .13.11
Rendering Video Fields
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .13.12
Stereoscopic Rendering . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .13.13
Depth of Field . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .13.13
Chapter 14: Backdrops and Image Processing
Gradient Backdrops . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14.2
Background Image . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14.3
Background Plate
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14.5
Environments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14.7
Image World . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14.7
SkyTracer2 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14.8
The Atmosphere Panel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14.9
The Clouds Panel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14.10
The Texture Editor Panel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14.13
The Suns Panel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14.14
Sun Position
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14.15
The Sky Baker Panel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14.15
Texture Environment
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14.16
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14.17
Foreground Images . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14.17
Alpha Images . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14.18
Creating Alpha Images . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14.18
Foreground Fader Alpha . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14.19
Foreground Key
Processing Effects
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14.20
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14.20
Limit Dynamic Range . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14.21
Dither Intensity
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14.21
Animated Dither . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14.21
Color Saturation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14.22
Glow Settings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14.22
Pixel Filters
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14.22
Halftone . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14.22
SasLite . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14.23
Image Filters . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14.23
Anaglyph Stereo: Compose . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14.23
Anaglyph Stereo: Simulate . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14.24
Bloom . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14.24
Render Buffer View (Post-processing only) . .14.24
Chroma Depth (Post-processing only)
. . . . .14.25
Corona . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14.26
Input Settings
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14.26
Effect Settings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14.27
Other Settings
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14.27
Depth-Of-Field Blur (Post-processing only)
Digital Confusion (Post-processing only)
. . .14.28
Extended RLA Export (Post-processing only) 14.31
Full Precision Blur . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14.31
Full Precision Gamma . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14.32
HDR Exposure . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14.32
Soften Reflections (Post-processing only) . . .14.33
Render Buffer Export (Post-processing only) 14.34
TextureFilter . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14.35
Vector Blur (Post-processing only)
. . . . . . . .14.36
Overlapping Objects . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14.37
High Quality Blur
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14.37
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14.37
Video Legalize
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14.38
Video Tap (Post-processing only) . . . . . . . . . .14.39
Virtual Darkroom . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14.39
Basic Settings Tab
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14.40
Spectral Sensitivity Tab
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14.40
Film, Paper, and MTF Curve Tabs . . . . . . . . . . .14.41
WaterMark . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14.42
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14.42
Image Filters . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14.43
Blur Image . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14.44
Sharpen . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14.44
Edge Blend
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14.44
Multi-Pass Edge Blend . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14.45
Using on Rendered images . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14.45
Saturation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14.45
Negative . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14.45
Limit High/Low Color . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14.45
L I G H T WAV E 3 D 7
Posterize . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14.46
Palette Reduce
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14.46
Film Grain . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14.46
Flip Frame . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14.46
Color Filters . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14.47
Contrast . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14.47
MidPoint . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14.47
Gamma . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14.47
Luminance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14.48
Brightness . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14.48
Adjust Color . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14.48
Matte Filters
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14.48
The Affect Tab
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14.49
Affected Areas . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14.49
Preset Shelf . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14.49
Enable/Disable . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14.49
Preview Window . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14.50
Chapter 15: Volumetrics
Background . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .15.1
Computational Issues . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .15.2
About Particles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .15.3
Normal Fog . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .15.3
Volumetric Antialiasing
Volumetric Plug-ins
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .15.5
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .15.5
GroundFog . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .15.5
HyperVoxels . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .15.7
HyperVoxels and Transparent Surfaces . . . . . .15.9
Jump-starting with HyperVoxels . . . . . . . . . .15.10
Exercise: HyperVoxels basics . . . . . . . . . . . . . .15.10
Exercise: HyperVoxel volumetrics . . . . . . . . . .15.13
Exercise: blending HyperVoxel objects . . . . . . .15.15
Preview Options . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .15.17
Use Z-Buffer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .15.18
Sprite Texture Resolution . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .15.18
HyperVoxels Setting Management . . . . . . . .15.18
Object Type
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .15.19
Sprites . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .15.19
Geometry Tab . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .15.20
Stretching and Rotating HyperVoxels
. . . . . . .15.21
Align to Path . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .15.21
Blending HyperVoxels . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .15.21
Show Particles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .15.23
Use ParticleStorm Color
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .15.23
Shading Tab: Surface Mode . . . . . . . . . . . . . .15.24
Shading Tab: Volume Mode . . . . . . . . . . . . . .15.24
Baking HyperVoxels . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .15.25
Volume Mode Advanced Sub-tab . . . . . . . . . . .15.26
Shading Tab: Sprite Mode . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .15.27
Sprite Clip Frame Offset . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .15.29
HyperTexture Tab . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .15.30
Gradient Input Parameters . . . . . . . . . . . . . .15.31
Chapter 16: Rendering Options
Render Frames . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .16.1
Automatic Advance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .16.2
Render Complete Notification
Monitoring Progress
. . . . . . . . . . . . .16.2
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .16.2
Viewing the Finished Image . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .16.3
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .16.3
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .16.3
Rendering Tab . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .16.4
Ray Tracing Options . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .16.6
Ray Trace Optimization . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .16.8
Ray Recursion Limit
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .16.9
Multiple CPU Systems . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .16.9
Data Overlay . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .16.9
Output Files
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .16.10
Special Animation Types . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .16.11
QuickTime Virtual Reality Object Saver . . . .16.12
What is a QuickTime VR Object? . . . . . . . . . .16.12
Object Settings Tab . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .16.12
Animation Settings Tab
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .16.13
Saving Individual Frame Files
. . . . . . . . . . . .16.16
Using 32-bit RGB Formats . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .16.16
Selecting a Filename Format
. . . . . . . . . . . .16.16
L I G H T WAV E 3 D 7
Fader Alpha
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .16.17
Recording Images to Tape
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .16.17
Chapter 17: Particle FX
Partigons . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .17.1
Particle FX Panels . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .17.1
The Start Button . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .17.3
The Save Button
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .17.3
Options Dialog . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .17.3
Real-time Display
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .17.4
Loading/Saving Controllers
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .17.5
Controller Groups . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .17.5
Emitter Controller . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .17.6
Emitter Types . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .17.6
Generator Tab
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .17.7
Particle Tab . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .17.10
Motion Tab . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .17.11
Etc Tab . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .17.12
Interaction Tab . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .17.13
File Tab
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .17.14
Using an Object as an Emitter . . . . . . . . . . .17.15
Wind Controller . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .17.15
Mode Tab . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .17.16
Vector Tab . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .17.18
Gravity Controller . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .17.19
Collision Controller . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .17.20
Using an Object for Collisions
Item Motion Modifiers
. . . . . . . . . . .17.24
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .17.24
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .17.25
FX_Linker . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .17.26
FX_Motion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .17.27
The Mode Tab . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .17.28
The Vector Tab
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .17.28
FX_Link Channel Motion Modifier
. . . . . . . . .17.29
Getting Started . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .17.30
Emitter and Wind . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .17.30
Collision Detection . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .17.34
More Tutorials
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .17.35
Chapter 18: Motion Designer
Elastic Body Models
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18.1
Operating Motion Designer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18.1
Setting Parameters
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18.2
Property Panel: Object Tab
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18.3
Group . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18.3
Target . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18.3
Collision Select . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18.3
Collision-Detection . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18.4
Pressure Effect . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18.4
Fiber Structure . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18.4
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18.4
Collision . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18.4
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18.5
Motion Files . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18.5
Property Panel: Surface Tab . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18.5
Basic Settings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18.5
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18.5
Weight +- . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18.6
Spring . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18.6
Viscosity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18.6
Resistance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18.6
Parallel Resistance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18.7
Back-resistance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18.7
Structure Settings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18.7
Fixed . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18.7
Sub-Structure . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18.7
Hold-Structure . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18.9
Smoothing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18.9
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18.9
Compress Stress . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18.10
Shrink . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18.10
Collision Settings
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18.10
Self Collision . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18.10
Collision Detection . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18.11
Single-sided . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18.11
Skin Thickness . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18.11
Friction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18.12
L I G H T WAV E 3 D 7
Bound Force . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18.12
Action Force . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18.13
Bind Force
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18.13
Other Surface Controls
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18.13
Hide . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18.13
COPY/PASTE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18.14
SAVE/LOAD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18.14
Material Library . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18.14
Property Panel: Environment tab . . . . . . . . . . .18.14
Gravity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18.14
Wind1/Wind2 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18.14
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18.14
Wavelength . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18.15
Wind Mode . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18.15
SAVE/LOAD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18.15
Helpful Tips . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18.15
Options Panel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18.16
Supplemental MD Displacement Plug-ins . . . .18.17
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18.17
Setting Options . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18.17
MD_MetaPlug . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18.18
Setting Options . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18.18
MD_MetaPlug_Morph . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18.18
MD_Scan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18.19
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18.20
Waving a Flag . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18.20
Collision Detection . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18.24
More Tutorials
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18.26
Chapter 19: Distributed Rendering
Rendering Modes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .19.1
ScreamerNet Classic . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .19.1
ScreamerNet II
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .19.2
Using Screamernet II
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .19.2
ScreamerNet Rendering Requirements . . . . . . .19.3
Getting the Nodes Going . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .19.3
Scene Saving Info . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .19.5
Host Machine Setup . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .19.5
Controlling the Network Rendering . . . . . . . . .19.6
Shutting Down Nodes
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .19.7
Aborting a Rendering Session . . . . . . . . . . . . . .19.7
Changing the Number of Nodes . . . . . . . . . . . .19.7
ScreamerNet II Syntax
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .19.8
Batch Render on One Computer . . . . . . . . . . . .19.8
Troubleshooting . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .19.8
Rendering Without LightWave . . . . . . . . . . . . . .19.9
Chapter 20: LightWave 3D Modeling
Components of a 3D Object . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .20.1
Modeling in 3D . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .20.2
Points and Polygons
Editing Objects
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .20.2
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .20.3
Have a Plan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .20.3
The Modeler Interface . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .20.3
Viewport Titlebar . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .20.4
Modeler Menus
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .20.5
Other Interface Areas . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .20.5
Resetting Tools . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .20.6
Four Viewports . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .20.6
Multi-layer Object Standard . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .20.8
Multi-document Environment . . . . . . . . . . . . .20.8
Layout Communication . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .20.9
Layer Navigation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .20.9
Layer Browser Panel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .20.10
Hiding Panels . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .20.12
Loading an existing object from disk . . . . . . . .20.12
Encapsulated PostScript Loader . . . . . . . . . .20.13
Starting a New Object . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .20.13
Saving Object Files
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .20.14
Exporting Objects . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .20.14
Export Encapsulated Postscript . . . . . . . . . .20.14
Closing Object Files . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .20.15
Custom Preferences . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .20.15
User Commands
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .20.15
Maintaining User Command Sets . . . . . . . . .20.17
Execute Command . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .20.17
L I G H T WAV E 3 D 7
Defining a Startup Command . . . . . . . . . . . . .20.17
General Options
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .20.17
Content Directory
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .20.18
Default Polygon Type . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .20.18
Flatness Limit . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .20.18
The Default Surface Name . . . . . . . . . . . . . .20.18
Curve Divisions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .20.19
Patch Divisions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .20.19
Metaball Resolution . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .20.19
Undoing Operations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .20.19
Undoing the Undo
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .20.19
Chapter 21: Points and Polygons
Point Selection
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .21.1
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .21.3
Non-planar Polygons . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .21.4
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .21.5
Polygon Efficiency . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .21.5
Special-Use Polygons . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .21.5
Polygon Selection
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .21.6
Selection With In-line Points/Polygons . . . . . . . .21.9
Symmetrical Selection . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .21.9
Volume Selection Mode . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .21.10
Lasso Volume Select . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .21.11
Selection by Criteria
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .21.12
Surface Normal . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .21.14
Surface Normal Functions
. . . . . . . . . . . . . .21.14
Numeric Panel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .21.15
Chapter 22: Creating Geometry
The Primitive Tools
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .22.1
Tools and the Right Mouse Button . . . . . . . . .22.3
Creating in Perspective
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .22.3
Using the Arrow Keys . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .22.4
Using the Numeric Panel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .22.4
Actions Pop-up Menu . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .22.4
Box Tool Fields . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .22.5
Ball Tool Fields . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .22.6
Disc/Cone Tool Fields . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .22.7
Make UVs Option
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .22.8
Other Primitive Tools and Functions
. . . . . . . . .22.8
The Capsule Tool . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .22.8
The Platonic Solid Tool . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .22.9
The SuperQuadric Tool . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .22.9
The Gemstone Tool . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .22.10
The Equilateral Function
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .22.11
The Gear Function . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .22.11
The Wedge Function . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .22.12
The Toroid Function . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .22.13
The Parametric Surface Object Function . . .22.14
The Plot1D Function
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .22.14
The Plot2D Function
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .22.15
Using the Pen Tool . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .22.16
Using the Pen Numeric Panel . . . . . . . . . . . .22.17
The Text Tool . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .22.17
The Edit Font List Panel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .22.17
Interactively Creating Text . . . . . . . . . . . . . .22.18
Modifying the Template . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .22.19
The Text Numeric Panel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .22.19
The Sketch Tool . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .22.20
Sketching Curves
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .22.21
The Bezier Tool . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .22.22
Spline Curves . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .22.23
The Spline Draw Tool . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .22.23
Creating from Points
Curve Direction
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .22.24
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .22.25
Using Control Points
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .22.25
Smoothing Two Overlapping Curves . . . . . . .22.26
Turning Curves into Polygons . . . . . . . . . . . .22.27
Using Modeling Tools on Curves . . . . . . . . . .22.27
MetaBalls and Skelegons . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .22.28
The Point Tool . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .22.28
The Spray Points Tool
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .22.29
Making a Polygon . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .22.29
Single-Point Polygons
Random Points
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .22.30
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .22.30
L I G H T WAV E 3 D 7
Random Pricks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .22.31
Stipple . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .22.31
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .22.32
Cage . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .22.32
Other Creation Functions
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .22.33
Platonic Solid . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .22.33
Primitives . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .22.34
Teapot . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .22.34
Chapter 23: Modifying Geometry
The Numeric Panel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .23.1
Falloff Mode . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .23.1
Falloff Meanings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .23.2
Setting Linear Falloff . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .23.3
Defining a Specific Range
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .23.3
Setting the Falloff Shape
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .23.5
Flexing an Object on an Arbitrary Axis . . . . . .23.6
Setting Radial Falloff . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .23.7
Setting the Falloff Shape
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .23.7
Defining a Specific Range
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .23.7
The Numeric Panel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .23.9
Symmetrical Editing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .23.9
Action Center Control . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .23.10
The Move Group . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .23.11
The Move Tool . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .23.11
The Snap Tool . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .23.11
The Drag Tool . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .23.12
The DragNet Tool . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .23.12
The Magnet Tool
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .23.14
The Shear Tool . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .23.15
The Rove Tool . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .23.16
Center Data . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .23.16
Center1D . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .23.16
Rest_On_Ground . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .23.16
Aligner . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .23.17
The Rotate Group . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .23.18
The Rotate Tool . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .23.18
The Rotate Numeric Panel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .23.18
The Bend Tool
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .23.19
The Twist Tool . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .23.19
The Vortex Tool . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .23.20
Dangle . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .23.21
RotateAnyAxis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .23.23
RotateHPB . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .23.23
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .23.23
Rotate-Arbitrary-Axis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .23.23
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .23.23
Rotate-To-Object . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .23.24
The Stretch Group . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .23.24
The Size Tool
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .23.24
The Size Numeric Panel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .23.25
The Stretch Tool . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .23.25
The Stretch Numeric Panel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .23.25
Tapering Objects
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .23.26
Taper Take 2 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .23.27
The Pole Evenly Tool
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .23.28
The Pole Tool . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .23.28
Absolute Size
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .23.29
Smooth Scaling . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .23.30
The Spline Guide Tool . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .23.31
Other Stretching Commands . . . . . . . . . . . . . .23.33
CenterScale . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .23.33
CenterStretch . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .23.34
The Deform Group
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .23.34
The Jitter Command . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .23.34
The Smooth Command
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .23.35
The Quantize Command
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .23.36
Chapter 24: Multiplying Geometry
Make UVs Option . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .24.1
The Extend Group . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .24.1
The Bevel Tool
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .24.1
Other Numeric Options . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .24.3
Beveling Tips . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .24.4
The Extrude Tool
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .24.6
The Lathe Tool . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .24.7
L I G H T WAV E 3 D 7
The Rail Bevel Tool . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .24.8
The Smooth Shift Tool
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .24.9
The Path Extrude Command
. . . . . . . . . . . .24.11
The Rail Extrude Command . . . . . . . . . . . . .24.12
Single Curve . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .24.12
Multiple Curves . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .24.13
The Extender Command
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .24.15
The SeaShellTool . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .24.15
The Spikey Tool
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .24.16
The Create Skin Command
. . . . . . . . . . . . .24.17
The Morph Polygons Command . . . . . . . . . .24.18
The Combine Group
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .24.18
The Boolean Command . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .24.18
Single vs. Double-sided Polygons . . . . . . . . . . .24.21
The Drill Tools
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .24.23
The Solid Drill Tool . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .24.26
Faster and Better Drills and Booleans
. . . . .24.26
Patches Menu . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .24.26
The Duplicate Group . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .24.27
The Mirror Tool
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .24.27
Paste Tool . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .24.28
The Array Command
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .24.29
Array Type: Rectangular . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .24.29
Array Type: Radial . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .24.30
Radial Array . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .24.30
The Clone Command . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .24.30
The Path Clone Command . . . . . . . . . . . . . .24.32
The Rail Clone Command
. . . . . . . . . . . . . .24.33
The Symmetrize Command
. . . . . . . . . . . . .24.33
Point-Clone-Plus . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .24.34
Chapter 25: Constructing Geometry
Basic Point and Polygon Maintenance
The Remove Polygons Command
. . . . . . .25.1
. . . . . . . . . . .25.2
The Remove Points Command . . . . . . . . . . . . . .25.2
The Merge Polygons Command . . . . . . . . . . . . .25.3
The Merge Points Command . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .25.3
Collapse Polygons . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .25.5
The Unify Polygons Command
. . . . . . . . . . . . .25.5
The qemLOSS2 Function . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .25.5
Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .25.6
Terminology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .25.6
Using qemLOSS2 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .25.8
The Reduce-Points Command . . . . . . . . . . . . .25.11
The Reduce-Polygons Command . . . . . . . . . . .25.11
Adding Polygon Points . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .25.12
The Knife Tool . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .25.12
The Subdivide Polygons Panel . . . . . . . . . . . . .25.13
Randomizing Options . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .25.13
Faceted Subdivide . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .25.14
Smooth Subdivide . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .25.14
Smooth Subdivide . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .25.15
The BandSaw Command . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .25.16
The Split Polygons Command . . . . . . . . . . . . .25.17
The Triple Command . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .25.17
The Julienne Command . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .25.18
The Split Skelegon Command . . . . . . . . . . . . .25.19
The Triple Fan Command . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .25.19
The Triple Traverse Command . . . . . . . . . . . . .25.19
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .25.20
The Freeze Command . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .25.20
Make... Commands
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .25.20
The Toggle Metamesh Command . . . . . . . . . . .25.20
Judging Distance and Angles
. . . . . . . . . . . . . .25.20
The BoundingBox Command . . . . . . . . . . . .25.21
The PointCenter Command . . . . . . . . . . . . .25.22
LScript . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .25.22
Additional . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .25.22
Chapter 26: Detailing Geometry
The Pivot Point Tool
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .26.1
Layer Settings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .26.1
Flatten Layers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .26.1
Change Surface . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .26.1
Flip Polygons . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .26.2
Spin Quads . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .26.2
L I G H T WAV E 3 D 7
Aligning Polygons . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .26.3
Make 2 Sided
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .26.4
Change Sketch Color . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .26.5
Set Value . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .26.5
Welding Commands . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .26.5
Unwelding Points
Curve Commands
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .26.6
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .26.6
Skelegon and Metaball Commands . . . . . . . . . .26.6
Chapter 27: Display Menu
Viewports Menu Group . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .27.1
Zooming . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .27.1
OpenGL Display Clipping . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .27.1
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .27.2
Automatic Pan and Zoom
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .27.2
View Options . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .27.3
Display Options Panel, Layout Tab . . . . . . . . .27.3
Texture Resolution . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .27.4
Perspective Amount
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .27.4
Background Color . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .27.5
Show Options . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .27.5
Display Options Panel, Viewports Tab . . . . . . .27.8
Perspective . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .27.9
Rendering Style . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .27.10
Upright Rotation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .27.12
Titlebar Shortcuts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .27.12
Independent Options
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .27.12
Independent Visibility . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .27.13
Display Options Panel, Backdrop Tab . . . . . .27.13
Aspect and Video images . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .27.15
Display Options Panel, Interface Tab
. . . . . .27.16
Display Options Panel, Units Tab . . . . . . . . .27.17
Default Unit
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .27.18
Grid Units . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .27.18
Grid Snap . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .27.18
Time Format . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .27.19
Presetting Views . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .27.19
Full-screen Toggle Feature . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .27.20
Selection Menu Group . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .27.20
Point Information . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .27.20
Polygon Information . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .27.22
Expanding and Shrinking Selection . . . . . . . .27.23
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .27.24
Polygon Parts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .27.24
Updating Old Objects . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .27.24
Point Selection Sets . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .27.25
Selection By VMaps . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .27.26
Select by Map
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .27.26
Select By Map Influence
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .27.26
Select Polygons from Selection Set . . . . . . . .27.27
Per-Polygon UV Map Selection Commands
Skelegon Selection Commands
. . . . . . . . . . . .27.27
Radial Select . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .27.27
Visibility Menu Group
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .27.28
Swap Layer States . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .27.28
Chapter 28: Vertex Maps
VMap List Window
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .28.2
VMap Selection
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .28.3
General VMap Commands . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .28.4
Setting Map Values . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .28.4
Copy, Delete, and Rename Commands . . . . . .28.5
Clearing Maps from Points . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .28.5
CullMap . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .28.5
Normalizing Values . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .28.5
Normal Baker
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .28.6
Weight Maps . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .28.6
Weight Tool Falloff . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .28.8
The Airbrush Tool . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .28.8
Using Weight Maps with Modeling Tools . . . .28.10
Vertex Color Maps
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .28.11
Vertex Color Alpha . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .28.13
Vertex Paint . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .28.14
ColorMap Adjust Tool . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .28.14
UV to Weight
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .28.15
UV Map Jitter . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .28.16
L I G H T WAV E 3 D 7
Texture VMap . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .28.16
Bone Weights . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .28.17
Point Color Command . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .28.17
UV Texture Maps . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .28.17
UVs and Projection
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .28.18
Guess Viewport UV Image Command . . . . . . .28.24
Atlas Map Type . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .28.24
Texture Guide
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .28.25
The Make UVs Command . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .28.25
Creating from Command Panels . . . . . . . . . .28.26
Automatic UV Making
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .28.26
Set UV Value . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .28.28
Transform UV Values Command . . . . . . . . . .28.28
Flip UVs
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .28.29
Spread UVs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .28.29
Quantize UVs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .28.30
Discontinuous UVs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .28.30
That Dreaded Seam Problem . . . . . . . . . . . .28.30
Enter Discontinuous UVs
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .28.32
Unweld Command . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .28.35
Merge and Weld Commands . . . . . . . . . . . . .28.36
UVs Outside the Box
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .28.36
UV Mapping in Everyday Modeling . . . . . . . . .28.36
Per-Polygon UV Mapping
Select UV Seam
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .28.38
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .28.39
Editing Polymaps . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .28.40
Using Separate Editing UV Maps . . . . . . . . .28.41
Quad Polygon Maps . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .28.42
EndoMorphs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .28.42
Inserting a Layer into a Morph Map
Merging Morph Maps
. . . . . .28.46
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .28.47
Rotate Morph Function . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .28.47
Scale Morph Function
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .28.48
VertexPaint . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .28.50
Component and Blend Display . . . . . . . . . . .28.51
Rendering Modes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .28.52
Preferences . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .28.54
Default Keyboard/Mouse Operations . . . . . . .28.55
Customizing Keyboard/Mouse Operations
. . .28.56
Modifying Modes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .28.57
Setting the Morph Map . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .28.57
Color Mode Tab . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .28.57
Baking the Color . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .28.58
Point Color . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .28.58
Painting a Point
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .28.59
Painting a Polygon Point Index
. . . . . . . . . . . .28.59
Painting a Polygon . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .28.60
Weight Mode Tab . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .28.60
Rotating Bones . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .28.61
Renaming Bones . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .28.61
Renaming Weight Maps . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .28.62
Copying and Pasting Weight
. . . . . . . . . . . . . .28.62
Clearing Weight . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .28.62
Normalizing Weight . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .28.62
Trimming Weight . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .28.63
Painting Weight Values . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .28.65
Calculating Weight . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .28.65
Scaling Weight . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .28.66
Clamping Weight . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .28.67
Status of Weight . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .28.68
Lights Mode Tab . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .28.68
Show Mode Tab
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .28.69
Selecting Polygons . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .28.69
Show and Hide . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .28.70
Frequently Asked Questions . . . . . . . . . . . . .28.70
Chapter 29: Organic Modeling Tools
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .29.1
Creating a SubPatch Object
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .29.2
Using Weight Maps . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .29.4
Adding More Details . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .29.4
Specific Display Options . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .29.5
Meta-primitive Objects . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .29.6
Metaedges and Metafaces . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .29.7
Radius and Influence Settings . . . . . . . . . . . . .29.9
Converting to Metaballs and Metaedges . . . .29.9
L I G H T WAV E 3 D 7
Metaball Appearance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .29.10
Animating Meta-primitives . . . . . . . . . . . . . .29.10
Editing Meta-primitives
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .29.10
Patch Level and Conversion to Polygons . . . . .29.11
Spline Patching . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .29.12
AutoPatcherMK . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .29.14
Why Spline Patch? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .29.14
Chapter 30: Image Editor
Quick Access to Image Editor
. . . . . . . . . . . . . .30.2
The Image Editor File List Window
File-handling Options
. . . . . . . . . .30.2
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .30.3
The Preview Window . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .30.4
Source Tab . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .30.4
Loading a Sequence . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .30.5
Alpha Channel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .30.5
Interlace . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .30.5
Sequence Digits . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .30.5
Frame Rate
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .30.6
Image Sequence Settings
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .30.6
Edit Tab . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .30.7
Processing Tab . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .30.7
Chapter 31: Surface Editor
Surfacing Objects
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31.1
The Surface Editor Panel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31.3
Surface Edit Modes
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31.4
Object Edit Mode . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31.5
Scene Edit Mode . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31.5
Surface List
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31.6
Mass Surface Changes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31.6
Preset Shelf and VIPER . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31.7
Preview Window . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31.8
Basic Surface Parameters
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31.9
Color . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31.9
Luminosity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31.9
Diffuse . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31.10
Specularity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31.10
Glossiness . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31.11
Reflection . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31.11
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31.11
Refraction Chart Index . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31.12
Translucency . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31.13
Bump Map . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31.13
Surface Smoothing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31.14
Smooth Threshold . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31.14
Sharing Points . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31.15
Using Separation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31.15
Double Sided . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31.16
Comment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31.16
Numerical Settings
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31.16
Envelopes and Textures . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31.17
Texture Editor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31.17
Texture Layers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31.19
Copy and Paste
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31.19
Layer Order . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31.19
Blending Layers
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31.20
Layer Type: Image Mapping . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31.22
Image Map Projection . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31.22
Planar Projection . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31.23
Cylindrical Projection . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31.23
Spherical Projection
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31.24
Cubic Projection . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31.24
Front Projection . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31.25
Fixed Projection . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31.28
Image Properties
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31.30
Texture Placement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31.33
Surface Size, Position, and Rotation . . . . . . . . .31.33
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31.34
Using the Reference Object
. . . . . . . . . . . . . .31.35
Freezing Reference Object/Camera . . . . . . . . .31.35
World Coordinates . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31.35
Texture Guide Tool . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31.36
Layer Type: Procedural Texture . . . . . . . . . . . . .31.37
Texture Color and Texture Value . . . . . . . . . .31.38
Texture Scale . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31.38
L I G H T WAV E 3 D 7
Procedural Texture Settings
. . . . . . . . . . . . .31.39
Brick . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31.39
Bump Array
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31.39
Checkerboard . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31.39
Crumple . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31.40
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31.40
Dots . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31.41
FBM . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31.41
Fractal Noise
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31.42
Grid . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31.43
HoneyComb . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31.43
Marble . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31.44
Ripples . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31.44
Looping Wave Ripples . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31.45
Smoky1, 2, and 3 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31.45
Turbulence . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31.45
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31.45
Looping Wave Ripples . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31.46
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31.46
Veins . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31.46
Wood . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31.47
Additional Procedural Textures . . . . . . . . . . .31.47
Coriolis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31.48
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31.49
Dented . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31.49
FBM Noise . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31.50
Hetero Terrain
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31.50
Hybrid Multi-fractal . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31.50
Multi-fractal . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31.50
Puffy Clouds
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31.51
Ridged Multi-fractal . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31.51
Turbulent Noise . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31.51
Layer Type: Gradient
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31.51
The Gradient Bar . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31.53
The Current Key . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31.54
Changing Key Values . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31.55
Changing Key Positions
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31.55
Smoothing Between Keys . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31.55
Scale and Shift . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31.55
Surface Editor: Advanced Tab . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31.56
Surface Editor: Environment Tab
. . . . . . . . . . .31.58
Surface Editor: Shaders Tab . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31.59
BRDF . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31.60
Edge Transparency . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31.62
Fast Fresnel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31.63
Halftone . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31.65
Interference . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31.66
RealFresnel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31.67
SuperCelShader . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31.68
Defining Color Zones . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31.68
Brightness . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31.69
Colored Lights
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31.69
Specular Highlights . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31.69
Surface Baker . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31.70
Baking Tips
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31.71
Image Mode
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31.72
Object Mode . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31.73
Instant Radiosity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31.75
ThinFilm . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31.77
ZShader . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31.77
Surfacing Ideas
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31.78
Surface Management
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31.78
Chapter 32: Shadow and Light
Not the Real World . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .32.1
Display Size . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .32.2
Exclusions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .32.3
Saving Lights . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .32.3
Light Types . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .32.4
The Distant Light . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .32.4
The Point Light
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .32.4
Intensity Falloff . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .32.5
The Spotlight . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .32.5
Virtual Projector . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .32.7
Spotlight Viewport Display
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .32.7
Linear and Area Lights . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .32.8
L I G H T WAV E 3 D 7
The Cow Light . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .32.10
Light Color and Intensity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .32.10
Light Intensity Tool . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .32.10
Negative Lights . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .32.11
The Envelope Please . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .32.11
Other Light Attributes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .32.11
Me and My Shadow
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .32.11
Shadow Type . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .32.12
Shadow Mapping . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .32.13
Transparent Objects . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .32.13
Cache Shadow Map . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .32.13
Shadow Map Size . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .32.14
Shadow Map Area
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .32.14
Smoothing Out an Edge . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .32.14
Lightening Shadows
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .32.15
Lens Flares . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .32.15
Lens Flare Options . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .32.16
Lens Flare Viewport Preview . . . . . . . . . . . . . .32.17
Fade and Dissolve Options . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .32.18
Glow Options . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .32.19
Central Ring . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .32.19
Anamorphic Distort . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .32.19
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .32.20
Lens Reflections
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .32.21
Volumetric Lights . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .32.25
Light Textures . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .32.28
The VIPER Window and Presets
. . . . . . . . . .32.30
Volumetric Shadows within Lights . . . . . . . . .32.30
Global Illumination Panel
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .32.31
Ambient Light . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .32.31
Shading Noise Reduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .32.32
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .32.32
How Radiosity Is Calculated . . . . . . . . . . . . . .32.35
The Radiosity Settings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .32.37
Lighting Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .32.38
VolumetricRadiosity command
. . . . . . . . . . . .32.38
Radiosity and High Dynamic Range Images . . .32.38
Ambient Light . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .32.39
Using Radiosity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .32.40
Caustics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .32.41
Radiosity and Caustic Caching Considerations 32.42
Macintosh Information . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .App.1
Right Mouse Button Action . . . . . . . . . . . . .App.1
Memory Allocation
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .App.1
Command Line Files
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .App.1
Your Display . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .App.1
Filenames and Extensions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .App.2
Foreign Object Support
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .App.2
Imported Formats
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .App.2
Exported Formats
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .App.3
Image and Animation Types . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .App.4
Images and Memory
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .App.4
High Dynamic Range Images (HDRI) . . . . . .App.5
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .App.6
Internal Compositing
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .App.7
Preview Compression Codec . . . . . . . . . . . . . .App.7
Configuration Files . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .App.7
Custom Configuration Files . . . . . . . . . . . . .App.7
Layout Startup Command . . . . . . . . . . . . . .App.8
Customizing Layout Viewport Navigation
. .App.8
Customizing Camera Presets . . . . . . . . . . . .App.8
LightWave Limits . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .App.8
Measurement Units
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .App.9
Do the Math . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .App.9
Math Functions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .App.10
Functions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .App.10
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .App.10
Other . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .App.12
L I G H T WAV E 3 D 7
hapter 1:
Congratulations on your acquisition of LightWave 3D, a truly powerful
piece of software. This program represents over 12 years of research and
development from a team of insanely dedicated programmers, artists
and visionaries.
The opening chapters of this manual give you an overview of
LightWave 3D, and cover the functions that are common to both the
animation and modeling aspects of LightWave. Following that, there are
chapters that cover how to move your objects, how to set lighting and
render options, and other information on how to create your animations.
The final set of chapters go over how to build your 3-D objects, apply
surface textures, add lighting to your scene, and more.
LightWave 3D is generally divided into two separate environments:
LightWave Layout and LightWave Modeler. (It is a common convention to
refer to the animation and rendering toolset as LightWave, or just Layout,
and to refer to the object creation toolset as Modeler.)
For Layout, the buttons on the toolbar are often shortcuts to controls
that can also be accessed from one of Layout’s many panels. The manual
generally takes a panel and topic-based approach to explaining Layout,
since many controls for certain tasks are grouped together on panels.
Modeler is a little different. All of its tools are accessed from the
toolbar, and panels are used to execute more focused tasks. As such, the
Modeler portion of the manual is generally organized by the order of
tools in the toolbar.
With LightWave, you are the producer, art director, cinematographer
and director, all rolled into one. Your actors consist of objects that you
build in Modeler or import from another program. You place lights to
illuminate them, assign surface colors and values to clothe them, and
then choreograph their movement to animate them. Once you have your
actors in place, a camera records all of their movements, creating images
of their movements that you can compile into animations.
LightWave can create animations and still images for virtually any
use, from tiny 16 x 16 pixel Web graphics, all the way up to a resolution
of 16,000 x 16,000 pixels, and anywhere in between. A multitude of preset
resolutions are also provided, including industry standard D1 and D2
(NTSC and PAL) video resolutions.
You create animations by generating a single frame at a time, then
recording each frame to some type of playback device, like videotape or
a hard-disk playback device, or even film. Frames can also be saved in
computer animation format, like AVI.
If you have a USB hardware lock, you can install it with your machine
running. If you have a Mac ADB hardware lock (from a prior version),
install it with your machine turned off.
Parallel Port Lock (PC)
1 Turn off your computer.
2 Remove any peripherals from the parallel port on which you want to
install the hardware lock. If possible, install the hardware lock on an
unused parallel port.
3 Plug the hardware lock into the parallel port.
4 Plug any removed peripherals into the hardware lock.
5 Restart your system.
If you already have a version of LightWave 3D on your computer, you
may follow the same installation instructions as new users. The
installation will not delete any objects, scenes, images, etc. unless a file
on your system has the same name as a file installed by the installer in
the same subdirectory, in which case it will be overwritten.
We strongly recommend you backup your system before you install
LightWave 3D.
To install LightWave 3D on your system, insert the LightWave 3D CDROM in the appropriate drive. On the PC, run SETUP.EXE and on the Mac,
run the LightWave installer program.
L I G H T WAV E 3 D 7
Follow the instructions for installation as presented. You will be given
options for what to install. A full installation includes optional “content”
data, such as objects, scenes, and images that you can install according
to your interests and available hard drive space—you can delete these
files later if you need to. Note that content data is not required to run
LightWave 3D; however, some files will be required for many of the
exercises and tutorials in the manual.
When the installation is complete, reboot your computer.
Initially, LightWave will only run a certain number of days until you
register the software. Run LightWave to get your hardware lock serial
number—a dialog will appear telling you this information. Write this
number down.
A registration folder should have been installed in the LightWave
start-up menu group. There will be links to a form that must be
completed and sent to NewTek. You must provide your hardware lock
serial number.
Registration is important since it allows you to receive technical
support, upgrades, special offers, new product information, and your
permanent license key.
Contact Information for Registration
1-800-TOASTER (862-7837)
International: 1-210-370-8000
Fax: 1-210-370-8030
Hours (Central time): Mon-Thur: 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM, Friday: 9:00 AM
to 5:30 PM
On-line registration: www.newtek.com
E-mail: cs@newtek.com
NewTek Inc.
Attn: Customer Service
5131 Beckwith Blvd.
San Antonio, TX 78249
Licensing Your Software
Once you obtain your licensing code number, edit the LICENSE.KEY file
using a text editor (e.g., Notepad (PC), Simple Text (MacOS 9.x), Text
Edit (MacOS X), etc.) and add your code. LICENSE.KEY should be located in
your PROGRAMS\LIGHTWAVE_SUPPORT directory. You can have multiple code
numbers in the file, but each one needs to be on its own line.
Make sure you save LICENSE.KEY as a plain text file, not
or other file
LightWave 3D is started the same way as any other program on the
particular platform on which it’s installed. Start LightWave (to start
Layout) or Modeler by double-clicking their respective icons, or by
clicking their icons and selecting Open from the menu. Each program can
be started independently; however, you may also access them by
clicking the appropriate button on their respective interfaces.
If your computer is accessing virtual memory frequently during
rendering, you may find a substantial increase in performance by
installing more RAM on your machine or reducing the amount of RAM
LightWave needs to store the render information.
One of the best ways to minimize the need for RAM is to reduce the
color of the images used for texture mapping effects. Except for those
used as a Surface Color, texture maps usually need to be only 256-level
gray-scale images.
Other ways to reduce RAM usage are to render your animation in
multiple passes or decrease Segment Memory Limit on Layout’s Camera
Properties panel.
Internet Resources
A LightWave-specific newsgroup and mailing list are maintained on
the Internet. Here you can find new users asking questions about using
LightWave and experts answering them. Also, many topics related to
computer animation are discussed in these groups, such as the
performance of various accelerators, CPU speeds, animation recording
devices, and many more. The newsgroup’s Internet address is:
Internet mailing list information can be found at www.tv3d.com.
NewTek Web and FTP Sites
In addition to information about NewTek products, upgrades, and the
latest releases of LightWave software, our World Wide Web sites
(www.LightWave3D.com and www.newtek.com) have tutorials, LightWave
images and animations, technical support FAQs, tech support e-mail link,
and links to related sites.
L I G H T WAV E 3 D 7
NewTek maintains an FTP site (ftp.newtek.com) on the Internet. Here
you can find objects, scene files, images, and other items of interest to
LightWave users.
A unique attribute of LightWave 3D is the LightWave community. It is
rare to find such a fun-loving bunch of hooligans that are so talented and
yet so willing to share their secrets, ideas, and creations. Make certain
you also take a look into the available resources such as local users
groups, training videos (www.DesktopImages.com), and NewTek specific
magazines (www.keyframemag.com and www.newtekpro.com).
Technical Support
The best source for help with installing or configuring software or
hardware is the retailer from whom you purchased your NewTek
product. While we have made every effort to keep your software and
hardware trouble-free and easy to use, you may occasionally need help
right from the source. If you have problems with NewTek supplied
hardware or LightWave doesn’t seem to be functioning as it should,
please contact technical support in one of the following ways:
• By email: tech@newtek.com
• By fax: (210) 370-8030
• By telephone: (210) 341-8444. Technicians are available to answer
questions from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Central Time, Monday through
Thursday, and Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Central Time.
Please supply in your communication or have the following
information handy when calling:
• Your computer’s operating system and version
• The version of LightWave you are using
• The amount of RAM in your computer
• Any relevant specifics about your system (display card type, memory
managers, accelerator type, etc.)
• Your product serial number
Your product must be registered before you can receive support.
L I G H T WAV E 3 D 7
hapter 2:
The following conventions will be used throughout this manual.
Directory Structure
Except for a few system files, all of the software will be installed in a
single subdirectory on the drive you specified during the installation
process. Therefore, subdirectories referred to in this documentation are
located in this main subdirectory. (For example, if the discussion refers
to the Images drawer, the actual path might be C:\LIGHTWAVE\IMAGES.)
Computer keys, directories, device names (e.g., ENTER,
Names of interface menus, fields, buttons, etc. are set in
bold type.
Keystroke Combinations
Simultaneous keystrokes. Hold the first key and press the
second key.
Mouse Operations
Left mouse button
Middle mouse button (if applicable)
Right mouse button
Single-clicking an element with the LMB so that it
becomes active or selected.
Single-clicking an element with the LMB so that it
becomes inactive or unselected.
Selecting an option by clicking on its toggle button.
Unselecting an option by clicking on its toggle button.
Placing your mouse pointer over something and then
pressing a mouse button. This nearly always means the
Right-clicking Clicking an element with your RMB.
Double-clicking Rapidly clicking an element twice.
Selecting an element with your mouse pointer and
continuing to hold the mouse button down as you move
your mouse. This nearly always means with the LMB.
The warning symbol will highlight a discussion that
warns the user about something. You should pay special
attention to text marked with this symbol.
The note symbol will highlight a discussion that is
particularly noteworthy.
The hint symbol will highlight tips and suggestions that
are usually of a time-saving nature.
The following are some common terms and concepts used with
LightWave that you should familiarize yourself with:
Alpha matte/image
Alpha matte/image generally refers to an image
where the brightness of each pixel is used to cut
or partially dissolve out another image. These
are generally grayscale or black-and-white
images, but the brightness values can also be
extracted from a color image.
Animation Channel
Animation Channel refers to the different
position, rotation, and scaling settings an item
can have in Layout. It can also refer to other
envelopeable elements like light intensity. See
also motion channel.
Axis refers to the XYZ coordinates used as the
basis for positioning elements in LightWave’s 3D
space. It is somewhat like the concept of
left/right, up/down, and near/far.
For any object, you can define a skeletal system
composed of bones. By moving bones around,
you can change the shape of an object.
L I G H T WAV E 3 D 7
Bounding Box
Control Mesh
Default unit
A Bounding Box is a six-sided box conforming to
the outer dimensions of an object. It is commonly
used as a quickly drawn stand-in for a more
complex object.
As in real life, a camera records events. Looking
through LightWave’s camera shows you the view
as it will be generated.
Weird. Mixed up. Unusual. Distorted.
See Animation Channel.
See Parenting.
A Control Mesh is a cage of points used to shape
The Default unit is the unit of measure (e.g.,
meter, feet, etc.) that is assumed, usually when
no unit of measure is entered with the numeric
data. In Layout, it is determined by the setting on
the General Options tab of the Preferences panel.
In Modeler, the setting is on the Display Options
An EndoMorph is an object containing one or
more morph maps.
An envelope is a way of setting a particular value
that usually changes over time using a graphical
input mode.
Flatness is used as a threshold in determining if a
polygon is non-planar. A flatness of 0 percent
means the polygon is absolutely flat.
Flatness is computed as percentage deviation
from a triangle (the “ideal plane”) formed from
the first two and last vertices of a polygon. All of
the other points are measured relative to this
plane. The largest deviation is divided by the
total size of the polygon to get a percentage that
is the flatness value.
For example, if a polygon is 1 meter wide, a .5
percent flatness means that no point will be
outside the ideal plane of the polygon by more
than 5 millimeters. (1 x .005)
LightWave works with frames. A frame is one
image out of many that define an animation.
There are approximately 30 frames per second in
NTSC video, 25 frames per second in PAL video,
and 24 frames per second in film.
Short for Geometry Core, the engine that sits
underneath all animation and modeling tools.
Geometry refers to the positional layout of points
and polygons for an object.
High Dynamic Range Image
HDRI is an image with a very large intensity
difference between the brightest and darkest
pixels. In typical 8/24-bit images, the maximum
possible intensity range is 255 times brighter
than the darkest gray pixel (with a value of 1).
Natural scenes and images rendered with
radiosity can have dynamic ranges from 10 to
10,000 times greater than this. Recording this
information requires use of an image format with
higher precision.
Hub, the
The Hub is a message board that LightWave
modules use to synchronize information.
HyperVoxels are volumetric rendering effects.
An item in Layout refers to an object, bone, light,
or camera.
Intelligentities refer to LightWave’s object format.
(Also known as just a key.) A keyframe is a frame
for which you define an animation channel(s)
(e.g., position or rotation) for an item in Layout.
Animations are composed of a beginning
keyframe, an ending keyframe and usually some
number of keyframes in between. See also tween.
A light in LightWave is generally used just like a
light in real life. Lights illuminate a scene and
allow you to see the objects within it.
This is LightWave’s built-in scripting language.
LScripts can be installed and used just like plugins.
A Metaball, Metaedge or Metaface object.
A modal panel must be closed before you can
continue working with the rest of the application.
A non-modal panel lets you shift the focus
between it and another part of the application
without having to close the panel—you can
continue to work elsewhere in the current
application while the panel is displayed.
Modeler’s Numeric panel is non-modal because
you can do other things while it is open. In
L I G H T WAV E 3 D 7
Motion Channel
Null Object
contrast, Modeler’s Display Options panel is
modal because you must close it before you can
continue working.
Motion Channel is generally the same as
Animation Channel, but refers only to position,
rotation, and scale. (i.e., not light intensity.)
Non-planar refers generally to a polygon where
all points do not reside in the same plane and
can occur only with polygons using more than
three points. Non-planar polygons can cause
erratic rendering errors.
A polygon normal is the imaginary line projecting
out perpendicular to a surface at any point
indicating the direction of the polygon. A polygon
surface normal is represented as dashed lines on
selected polygons in Modeler. LightWave sees
polygons or faces of an object only from the
surface normal side. A single-sided polygon (like
a piece of paper) with its normal facing away
from the camera will be invisible to the camera
from that viewpoint (unless the surface is using
the Double Sided option).
A vertex normal’s direction is the average of the
polygon normals it is connected to.
A null object is an object that contains no
geometry and will not show up in a rendered
image. Nulls are useful for tracking, grouping
(parenting), and using with inverse kinematics
functions. They are also commonly used to
control plug-ins.
NURBS are Non-uniform Rational B-Splines.
An object is composed of points and faces.
Points connected together to form a polygon
define a face. Faces joined together form an
The world Origin is the absolute center of the
LightWave universe. A local Origin is the center
of an object. Both are defined by the XYZ
coordinates of 0, 0, 0.
Orthogonal usually refers to a display that has
only two axes at right angles from each other in
the same flat plane.
Parenting refers to LightWave’s ability to set
hierarchical associations between items in a
Scene. Generally, the parent item will have some
Phong Shading
Pivot Point
Ray Tracing
level of influence on its child, whether it is
position, rotation, size, etc. The child can also be
a parent to another item.
Usually refers to animated points used for
sparks, fire, and even liquid. LightWave’s particle
engine is called Particle FX.
Phong Shading is a computer process whereby
faceted object faces are shaded and rendered
with a smoothed over appearance. LightWave
uses a Phong shading algorithm in its rendering
The position in an object that acts as the center
of rotation and position reference.
A pixel is the smallest unit of measurement in an
image and is used to describe the image’s width
and height.
A plane refers to a two-dimensional (i.e., flat and
level) surface. You might want to think of a plane
as a piece of glass that is infinitely large, but has
no depth.
A plug-in is a program that works with and
extends the functionality of LightWave.
POV refers to Point of view.
Radiosity refers to the reflection of light off of
diffuse surfaces.
Ray tracing is a process whereby a “ray” from a
light source is followed as it interacts with
objects in a scene and travels into the camera.
Ray tracing allows for such realistic events as
shadows, refraction, and reflection.
Rendering is the computer’s process of
calculating and generating an image based on the
values you have selected for the different options
in LightWave.
A Scene is a LightWave project defining the
objects loaded and their motions, the number of
lights and their values/motions, the resolution of
the final image, special effects, camera settings,
and so on. This ASCII text file is generally saved
from Layout.
Scrubbing usually refers to the action of dragging
a slider and seeing/listening to its effect on
L I G H T WAV E 3 D 7
Shaded mode
Spline (Curves)
Spline Cage
Spline Patching
V (Vertex) Maps
A session is a single use of an application. A
session starts when you first boot the application
and ends when you exit.
Shaded mode generally refers to a viewport that
has its Rendering Style (Display Options panel or
viewport titlebar) set to something other than
wireframe. These modes show polygon surfaces
with some level of shading.
LightWave uses splines or curved paths between
keys while moving items about. When modeling,
splines refer to open or closed curves.
A spline cage is usually a three-dimensional
object made up of connected spline curves.
Spline patching is the process of adding polygons
to fill in areas outlined by splines.
Subdivided generally refers to the result of
increasing the number of polygons by dividing
existing ones. The overall shape of the
subdivided polygons may or may not change
depending on the method of subdivision.
SubPatch is a modeling mode where polygons
become a cage that controls an underlying mesh
Essentially, the surface is the skin of an object. A
single object can have multiple surface names,
each with its own independent attributes (e.g.,
color), and multiple objects can share the same
surface name(s).
A tangent is a straight line that makes contact
with a single point along a curve.
A texture is an attribute of a defined surface, or
an entire object, in the case of displacement and
clip maps.
Tween is the internal process of calculating the
animation channel values between keys.
A vertex is the point at which the sides of a
polygon intersect.
V Maps is an abbreviation for vertex maps. V
Maps provide additional information associated
with object points (vertices), like weight, UV and
morph maps.
Versatile Interactive Preview Render window that
provides the user with an interactive previewing
Volumetric Lights
Volumetric Lights offer a special light property
that allows you to see the beam of light.
See V Maps.
Crazy. Zany. Mixed-up. Cool.
In no time, you’ll find yourself mastering LightWave’s intuitive
interface. LightWave uses very few picture-icons that may confuse you.
Instead, most functions are listed on the interface panels in plain text.
Listed below are a few other conventions involved with the LightWave
A button refers to an area on the screen that you
click on with your mouse to cause some function
to occur. Generally, only a single click is required.
There are also special types of buttons, like
toggle, pop-up menu, and envelope buttons.
Some buttons become highlighted, indicating a
chosen or active status.
Contextual Pop-ups
This refers to context-sensitive pop-up menus.
Such menus appear when you SHIFT+CTRL+LMB
and are aware of the area the mouse pointer is
See Requester
Drag Button
A drag button is similar in effect to a slider,
except the button does not move. To use, just
click on it and hold the mouse button, then drag
the mouse. Depending on the parameter being
adjusted, the direction and mouse button used
will have different specific effects.
Envelope Button
An envelope button is a small button marked
with an E. Selecting this button will display the
Graph Editor where you can create an envelope
for the setting. A highlighted envelope button
indicates a value has an envelope applied. To
turn off (i.e., remove) an envelope, hold the SHIFT
key and click on the Envelope button.
Ghosted Item
LightWave will ghost out parameters that are not
available to you. This is usually the result of a
certain option not being activated. Selecting a
ghosted item will display a message informing
you why it cannot be used.
Information Field/Display
Information Fields/Displays are text displays
L I G H T WAV E 3 D 7
Input Field
Pop-up Menu
Reset Area
Shaded Display
found throughout the different panels. These
displays cannot be changed directly and simply
provide information and feedback.
Input fields are areas on the screen where you
can enter data.
A mini-slider is a button with two arrows on it,
pointing right and left. Clicking on one and
holding the LMB, then dragging to the right or
left will raise or lower the value of the parameter
next to it. In many cases, however, the slider
does not encompass the entire spectrum of
possible values.
Panels are any one of the windows that open
when you click on a button in LightWave. Many
panels have additional tabbed sections that are
selected when you click on a tab.
Pop-up menu buttons have a downward facing
arrow on their right edge. To use, click on it and
hold the LMB. The menu will pop up and as you
move your pointer over the menu, each item will
become highlighted. When the desired selection
is highlighted, release the LMB.
If you decide not to select an item, simply move
the pointer off the menu and release the LMB.
Certain pop-up menus contain lists of objects,
images, and lights, which are normally listed in
the order they were loaded or created.
A requester is also known as a dialog box. These
appear on the screen for operations like file
loading and saving. This also refers to smaller
windows that appear requesting the user input
data into various fields.
The reset area is a non-active open area (e.g., not
a button) on the Modeler toolbar that acts as a
reset button, much like you might use the ESC key
on other applications.
See Slider
See Solid-Shaded Display.
A slider allows you to modify a setting by
dragging the slider’s button along the bar.
Alternatively, you can click to the right or left of
the button or use the arrow buttons at either end
to incrementally change the setting value. (Also
known as a scrollbar.)
Solid Shaded Display
Texture Button
Toggle Button
Solid shaded display refers to a non-wireframe
display mode where some level of surface texture
detail is visible.
A texture button is a small button marked with a
T. Selecting this button will present a texture
panel allowing you to define a texture for the
chosen parameter. A highlighted texture button
indicates a texture in use for the given parameter.
To turn off (i.e., remove) a texture, hold the SHIFT
key and click on the Texture button.
A toggle button is a small button that becomes
highlighted with a check mark when clicked. This
indicates the adjacent feature is active.
Common Interface Items
L I G H T WAV E 3 D 7
hapter 3:
Common Interface Items
This chapter covers common interface items as well as panels and
dialogs that are shared between modules, panels, plug-ins, and so on.
The Hub is essentially a message board that LightWave modules use
to synchronize information. It contains entries like synced object
filenames and configuration memory blocks. When the same object is
loaded into both Layout and Modeler, changes made to the object are
automatically synchronized. If the object appears in Layout, but not
Modeler, you can quickly load it into Modeler by selecting it from the
object pop-up menu—initially, the name will be ghosted.
If you have modified an object in Modeler (without saving) and then
load the object file into Layout, the modified version will appear—since
it is synced—not the data from the object file.
The Hub runs automatically when you run LightWave. Basically, it is a
background process and you shouldn’t need to directly interact with it.
However, you can bring up its interface by clicking its icon (when
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The Hub interface window
If you expand the Launch Processes menu, you should see
applications that the HUB is aware of (e.g., LWLayout, LWModeler). You
can launch the application by double-clicking it. If you single-click (to
select it) and then press the L key, you will also launch the application. If
you press the DELETE key instead, you will delete the application from the
launch list. (This has no effect on the program files on your hard drive.)
The Launch Processes menu will be empty initially. However, once you
run Layout or Modeler, entries will be added.
Under Windows, the Hub icon will appear in the System tray. You can
right-click on it to access a small menu:
Open Hub window
Close Hub window
Launch applications that the Hub knows about
Set options to quit the Hub after you exit LightWave
Close the Hub program
You can set the Automatic Shutdown to various time intervals, after
which the Hub will shutdown when there is no activity. Note that even
when Layout and Modeler are idle, there is still some minimal
communication activity which will keep the Hub from shutting down.
When Layout or Modeler are running, the Hub will periodically
request that the applications write their recent changes to temporary
files. The frequency of this Automatic Save is set by the Hub option. The
temporary files are located in a LWHUB directory inside your normal
L I G H T WAV E 3 D 7
system temporary directory. The files have names that include the base
name of the object with a numeric prefix. So, if you are editing an object
called MYOBJECT.LWO and you crash after an editing session, you can still
find an auto-saved version of your edits in the temporary directory with
a name like 0012.MYOBJECT.LWO.
If you would like to run Layout and/or Modeler independently, append
-0 to the command (e.g., Lightwav.exe -0.That’s a zero, by the way.) You
will have to load and save objects manually.
The Image Viewer is used throughout LightWave (Render Display,
Image Editor, etc.) to show an image using colors up to the capabilities
of your computer’s display. Once open, you do not need to close the
Image Viewer window. In fact, if you do, any unsaved images may be lost.
From Render Display (Render Options panel)
The Image Viewer can sometimes hold multiple images, depending on
how it is used by LightWave. In such a case, you can select those images
using the Layer pop-up menu.
You can choose to see the regular image or the alpha image, if
applicable, using the pop-up menu in the upper-right corner.
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If you drag your mouse pointer over the image, information about the
pixel beneath the pointer will appear in the titlebar. The first set of
values is the X and Y position. This is followed by RGBA color
information where 100% equals 255 for non-floating-point images. For
floating-point images, 100% equals 1.
Titlebar pixel information
You can adjust the size of the window by dragging the lower-right
corner. Anytime the entire image is not fully visible in the viewer
window, hold the ALT key to scroll around.
The File Menu
Using the File pop-up menu, you can save the current image to a file.
Once you select the format type, a file dialog will appear. Make sure you
add the appropriate filename extension, if necessary (e.g., PICTURE.TGA).
The commands to clear layers are accessed from this menu.
Image Control Panel
A Image Controls menu item also appears on the File menu.
Image Controls
L I G H T WAV E 3 D 7
On the Controls dialog, you can select a foreground image by clicking
in the FG column. You can also blend a foreground and background
image in real-time using the Blend Mode pop-up menu and then dragging
the Blend slider.
Left to right: Horizontal,Vertical and Dissolve blend
Left to right:Alpha and Difference blend
Most of the modes are self-explanatory. The Difference mode shows
the difference between the foreground and background pixels (i.e.,
foreground minus background). If the Blend slider is all the way to the
left, the actual difference is shown. Increasing the Blend scales up the
difference to make it more noticeable. If the foreground and background
pixels are very close, the result looks black.
The Blend slider will have no effect when using the Alpha blend
If you are displaying a high dynamic range image, you can access
special parameters if you activate the Exposure option. This allows you
to adjust HDR data much like the HDRExpose image filter, but in realtime.
The White Point is the input intensity considered to be the hottest
white. Anything above this will be the same white in the output. The
Black Point, expressed as a percentage of the nominal black point
(1/255), is the darkest non-black pixel level in the input image that will
be preserved. Anything darker will come out black. This control is
overridden by the Auto option, which uses the image data to compute a
black point.
When the Image Viewer is the active window, pressing the P key will
display/hide the Control panel.
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File Saving
If you are viewing a high-dynamic-range image, and you use the
previously described exposure controls to adjust the appearance of the
24-bit display, choosing a file format from the Save Exposed sub-menu
saves the adjusted image as a 24/32-bit image. The normal saveRGBA
sub-menu preserves all the color information without any adjustments.
The full precision of the image (i.e., 24/32-bit, floating-point) is saved (up
to the capabilities of the file format).
The Save Resampled submenu allows you to save a 24/32-bit scaled
version of the image. You can set the Width and Height independently or
if Lock Aspect is checked, changing either setting automatically adjusts
the other to maintain the same image aspect ratio.
The Magnify Menu
The Magnify menu has several settings that will affect the
magnification level of the image. You may also press the plus (+) or
minus (-) key to increase or decrease the level of magnification. If the
entire image is not visible in the window, holding the ALT key down as
you drag on the window will scroll the image around.
L I G H T WAV E 3 D 7
Magnified image
You can make the LightWave visual browser the default file dialog for
Layout and/or Modeler by choosing VBFileRequester on the File Dialog
pop-up menu. This appears on the Interface tab of Modeler’s Display
Options panel (Display > Viewport: View Options) and Layout’s General
Options tab of the Preferences panel (Display > Options: General
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The Visual Browser
Most of its features should be self-explanatory. The button above the
list window will toggle between Show Icons and Show Filelist, allowing
you to switch between an icon or list view. Right-click on the list window
or an item in the directory window to display the options pop-up menu.
The Add to Favorites option will add the current directory to the drive
select pop-up button in the top-left corner.
The VIPER system (Versatile Interactive Preview Render) is
LightWave’s sophisticated internal preview engine. VIPER lets you
preview HyperVoxels, volumetric lights, and surface settings with
incredible speed and accuracy. It is accessed using the VIPER button on
Layout’s toolbar or from some plug-in panels.
Basically, the VIPER window updates are nearly instantaneous as you
make changes to settings. This provides valuable feedback to the
animator. When used on surface previews, VIPER uses the internal
render data buffers to make changes to what are typically renderintensive elements in the scene.
L I G H T WAV E 3 D 7
The Draft Mode option will use a lower resolution for faster updates.
Click the Render button to force a refresh. You can press the ESC key to
abort the render. Use the Preview Options pop-up menu to access
display options—these will vary depending on what feature is used in
the window. You can select from various window sizes using the Preview
Size pop-up menu.
For certain features, like surfaces, volumetric lights and HyperVoxels,
clicking Add Preset (or double-clicking the image) will add it to the
Preset Shelf, discussed next.
The Preview pop-up menu operates in a manner similar to its cousin
on the main interface. You can use this function to preview things like
animated procedural textures, volumetric light textures, HyperVoxels,
and so on. Note that objects will not move like they would with a
standard preview animation and pressing the ESC key will abort the
preview creation process. (See Chapter 8 for more information on
making preview animations.) The playback controls will appear when a
preview animation is available. Choose Free Preview from the Preview
pop-up menu and the controls will disappear.
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Playing a VIPER preview
Surface Previews
When LightWave renders an image, it generates much more
information than the red, green, and blue components of the pixels you
see in your images. The color components represent only a small
fraction of the data that is generated during a render. LightWave also
generates, alpha (transparency), z-buffer (depth), luminosity, diffuse,
specular, mirror, shading, shadow, geometry, object, diffuse shading,
specular shading, and even custom surface buffers.
As a result, VIPER can determine not only what color a pixel is, but
also how far back on the z axis a pixel is, what surface it relates to, and
so on. By manipulating this extra data, VIPER can change a surface color
or specularity setting and show the result amongst the rest of the scene
without requiring another full frame render. This will even show the
appropriate shading, scene lighting changes, as well as backdrop color
Because VIPER requires rendering data, it is available for surface
samples only when the Surface Editor is launched from Layout.
VIPER uses information from the last rendered image when displaying
certain things. This includes surface previews and when Use Z-Buffer in
Preview is active on the HyperVoxels panel. However, this information is
normally dumped after a render. To preserve it, the Enable VIPER option
(Render Options) needs to be activated before you render a frame.
L I G H T WAV E 3 D 7
If needed, you will be asked if you want LightWave to activate the
Enable VIPER option for you. However, when rendering, you should
disable this option, since it increases rendering time and memory
When Used With Surface Previews
If you click on the VIPER image, the visible surface will become the
current surface in the Surface Editor.
Since VIPER does not do a full-scene evaluation, there are some things
that are not accounted for, like vertex maps (weight, UV, etc.) on
SubPatch objects, ray-traced effects (reflections, refractions, shadows),
shadow maps, fog, double-sided polygons, radiosity, light falloff, etc. As
such, it is not a replacement for the render preview window. Also, VIPER
will not be affected by moving geometry.
Non-Surface Preview Uses
When using VIPER to preview non-surface preview items, like
hypervoxels and volumetric lights, generally it does not use the internal
render buffers. Thus, there is no need to activate the Enable VIPER
option nor render a frame.
The Preset Shelf is a sizable floating window that holds a list of
previews along with all of the associated settings. It can be used for
settings with surfaces, volumetric lights, hypervoxels, etc. It is accessed
using the Presets button on the toolbar or from some plug-in panels. You
add to the shelf by double-clicking on the VIPER window or preview
window, if one exists on the panel (e.g., Surface Editor). The shelf
survives from session to session.
The shelf can be resized by dragging an edge of the window
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The window is context sensitive, so if you are working on surfaces,
surface presets are displayed, if you are working on hypervoxels, those
presets are shown, and so on.
Each editor has a default library named Workspace—a library is a
grouping of presets for a particular editor. You can create a custom
library by right-clicking over a preview and choosing Library > Create.
For example, using the Surface Editor, you might make a library of Wood
presets, a library of Stone, etc. The Library > Discard Presets menu
clears all of the presets from the displayed library.
To apply one of the presets:
1 Double-click on a preview or select Preset > Open from the RMB popup menu.
2 Click the Yes button on the confirmation dialog.
Preset > Open w/Parameters works with certain preset groups, like
hypervoxels, and allows you to pick which part of the settings you want
to use.
Right-click menu
Choose Set Name to open a dialog box where you can set a Name to
be used for the sample, it appears underneath the sample image. You
can add a longer string of text in the Description field, which appears at
the bottom of the panel when your mousepointer is over a preview.
There are also options to move/copy presets between libraries. The
Delete option removes the sample from the shelf.
L I G H T WAV E 3 D 7
LScript is a high-level wrapper for the LightWave plug-in Application
Programming Interface (API). It encapsulates the complex underpinnings
of the API away from the plug- in developer, allowing them to
concentrate more fully on the task to be accomplished. LScript also
provides added features not available in the plug-in API, making plug-in
development faster.
Because LScript has its roots in the C language, the transition
between scripting and native-language (binary) plug-in development is
eased a great deal. Scripts written in LScript can often be ported into C
with far less effort. This makes it possible to use LScript as a rapid
prototyping tool for plug-in development.
Nearly all of the LightWave plug-in architectures have scripting
capabilities through LScript.
LScripts can be installed in the same way plug-ins are. The LScripts
then become commands that can be added to menus or assigned to
keyboard shortcuts.
LScript also provides a run-time system, allowing scripts to be
compiled into an encrypted binary form that prevents modification or
reverse engineering. Facilities for timed or counted execution are also
provided by the run-time system.
Most important, LScript is a virtual machine system. Scripts written
on one platform should work directly and immediately on any other
platform supported by LightWave. This differs from traditional plug-in
development in that each platform must have its own compiler, and each
plug-in must be compiled and maintained on that platform. LScripts are
platform independent.
See the on-line documentation for more information.
LightWave’s panels and requesters are generally non-modal and can
be left open even while you interact, say, with the Layout window and its
Math in Input Fields
Numeric input fields support basic math operations (+, -, *, /, and ^)
and algebraic equations. You can even mix units. Here is an example:
(12ft+14m)^2+(3/5). The result, 312.3908 m, would appear after you press
the ENTER key. Note that the result is shown using the default unit; here,
it is meters. Also, since we didn’t specify the unit of measure for the 3
and 5, the default is used.
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ENTER/TAB Keys with Input Fields
When your enter values into dialogs that have multiple input fields,
the TAB and ENTER keys have special functions to save you time. Pressing
the TAB key stores the entered/current value and automatically advances
you to the next input field. SHIFT + TAB moves to the previous field. The
ENTER key also stores value, but dismisses dialog, if appropriate.
Yes and No
Whenever a requester asks you a Yes or No question, pressing the
ENTER key is the same as selecting Yes, while pressing the ESC key is the
same as selecting No. Likewise, an Error, Warning or Reminder requester
with a choice of Continue or Cancel can use ESC for Cancel and ENTER for
Continue. For those requesters with only a Continue, pressing either ESC
or ENTER will close the panel.
Color Selection
Where you must select a certain color (e.g., surface color), there will
be a three-number color component display and a color swatch box. You
can also drag your mouse on each color component to change its value.
By default, the standard RGB color space is displayed; however, if you
right-click on the display, you may also use the Hue, Saturation, and
Value (HSV) color space, if that is more familiar to you. HSV is based on
the artist concepts of tint, shade, and tone. There are 16.7 million
possible color combinations.
Unlike RGB, HSV color components are not independent. For
example, if Value is 0 (i.e., brightness is 0), you will not be able to
change Hue (color) nor Saturation. Similarly, if Saturation is 0, you will
not be able to change Hue. Moreover, reducing one component may
cause another component to decrease.
LightWave will attempt to display the selected color to the best of
your display’s capabilities.This will generally result in an approximation
of the color if you are using less than a 24-bit display mode.
L I G H T WAV E 3 D 7
Color Pickers
Clicking the color swatch box will open a color selection requester
that is standard for your specific platform or the built-in color picker.
Windows color picker
The LW_ColrPikr color picker is a color selector with more features,
such as a wavelength and temperature-guided layout of color. For
Layout, select this on the General Options tab of the Preferences panel
(Layout > Options > General Options). For Modeler, go to the Interface
tab of the Display Options panel (Modeler > Options > General
LightWave color picker
Standard List Windows
Windows that contain lists of items (surfaces, scene items, menu
items, etc.) all have a slider bar to scroll through the list. If the list is
hierarchical in nature, there will be arrowheads to the left of item names.
If the arrowhead is facing to the right, then they are subordinate items to
this parent item. Clicking the arrowhead will make it face down and also
reveal the subordinate items.
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Left: List is collapsed for both entries. Right: Light entry is uncollapsed
If selection is appropriate, you can click on an item to select it. CTRL +
click will select non-contiguous items and SHIFT + Click will select a range
of items.
List windows that are hierarchical in nature can be reorganized by
dragging items around in the list. Where appropriate, multiple selection
is supported.
Reorganizing Lists
In some list windows (e.g., menu configuration), you can reorganize
entries by just dragging them in the window. Place your pointer over the
entry and drag it up or down. You will see a thin line appear as you drag.
This is the insert point. Releasing the mouse button will drop the entry
Now, if your pointer is at a position where the dropped item could be,
say, a sub-item of an entry, the same level as the entry, or even the same
level as the next entry, you will see the line change its length as you
drag. The position of the left end of the line determines the level of the
Left: Same level drop. Right: Sub-level drop
Context Pop-up Menus
Both Layout and Modeler have special “context” pop-up menus that
you display by holding CTRL + SHIFT and clicking your LMB, MMB, or RMB
with your mousepointer over a viewport—there are different menus for
each mousebutton. These can be customized as discussed later in this
L I G H T WAV E 3 D 7
Left: Modeler LMB menu. Right: Layout LMB menu
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L I G H T WAV E 3 D 7
hapter 4:
Plug-ins can greatly increase the available features in LightWave 3D. A
single plug-in file can contain multiple commands. Some plug-in
commands are tools, and as such, they can be active or inactive just like
a standard built-in tool. All of the plug-ins that come with LightWave
should already be installed and available. However, you may sometimes
need to re-add one because of an update or just to add a new third-party
Generally, plug-in files are stored in various subdirectories in the
LIGHTWAVE6_5\PROGRAMS\PLUGINS subdirectory. Some plug-ins work only in
Layout or Modeler, while others work in both. You can even install an
LScript as a plug-in! It becomes a command that can be used like any
other command and assigned to a menu or keyboard shortcut.
To add plug-ins from Modeler, choose Modeler > Plug-ins >
Add Plug-ins. From Layout, choose Layout > Plug-ins > Add Plug-ins.
(Hold the SHIFT key to select a range. Hold CTRL to select multiple noncontiguous files.) Generally, it doesn’t matter from which application you
add the plug-ins.
In Layout, an informational dialog will appear telling you how many
plug-in (commands) were added. In Modeler, the Add Plug-ins panel
appears after you select the .p file(s).
The number of individual plug-ins found will appear in an
informational dialog. Then, the added plug-ins, their type and related .p
filenames are listed in the window.
Add Plug-ins Panel
Re-adding a plug-in that is already added will not do any harm.
To add additional plug-ins from the Add Plug-ins panel:
Click the Add Plug-ins button and select one or more .p plug-in files
from a directory.
A single plug-in file can have many functions, some internal and not
directly accessible by the user.Thus, when you add one, it may report
back that it has added more than one plug-in.This is normal.
To add a directory of plug-ins:
You can quickly add all of the plug-ins in a directory (including
subdirectories) using the Scan Directory button. (It may take a few
seconds to scan all of your plug-in files. Be patient!)
You can get immediate access to the Scan Directory feature on the
Edit Plug-ins panel, discussed next.
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Use the Edit Plug-ins command to review and delete plug-ins that
have been added. In Modeler, choose Modeler > Plug-ins > Edit Plug-ins.
In Layout, choose Layout > Plug-ins > Edit Plug-ins.
Category Grouping Method
To delete a plug-in command:
You can delete a plug-in command by selecting it and clicking the
Delete button. (Other commands from the plug-in will continue to exist.)
Click Clear to delete all plug-ins listed. These operations have no effect
on the actual files stored on your hard drives.
To rename a plug-in command:
You can rename a plug-in command’s name by selecting it, clicking
the Rename button and entering a new name.
You can also add plug-ins on this panel.The Add Plug-ins and Scan
Directory buttons operate the same as they do for the Add Plug-ins
panel, discussed earlier.
File Grouping Method
If desired, you can list the plug-in commands by their .p plug-in
filenames. Just select the File Grouping Method button at the bottom of
the Edit Plug-ins panel.
File Grouping Method
Plug-ins configuration information is centralized and shared between
applications. The file is named LWEXT3.CFG. Adding plug-ins from Layout
or Modeler automatically makes them available to all LightWave
Some plug-ins are included in the LEGACY_PLUGINS folder for
transitional purposes. These should be used only when needed for the
support of older scene files. Generally, the functionality of these tools
has been integrated into the new system and, as such, the LightWave
native tools should be used for any new content creation.
Customizing Your Interface
L I G H T WAV E 3 D 7
hapter 5:
Customizing Your
We strongly suggest that you keep the default menu organization
intact. Otherwise, technical support and using the documentation may
become difficult. A better solution is to create a new menu tab and/or
groups and place your frequently used tools in them.
Some custom menu configurations have been included on the CD.Try
them.You might like ‘em!
LightWave menus are customizable. You can add, remove, group, and
reorganize commands.
Choose Layout > Interface > Edit Menu Layout or Modeler >
Interface > Edit Menu Layout to open the Configure Menus panel. In the
(left) Command window, a list of available commands will appear. These
will be grouped by type.
In the (right) Menus window, several main sections have sub-items,
which are indented to show the hierarchical relationships. Top Menu
Group contains the items that are always visible no matter which tab is
selected. Main Menu items are the main tabs and related buttons for the
main interface toolbar. Bottom Edge is for Modeler only and relates to
the controls along the bottom edge of the screen. Left, Middle, and Right
Mouse Button Menu (when available) are the menus that appear when
the SHIFT + CTRL keys are held down along with the corresponding mouse
button. There may be other menu sections defined.
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Layout Configure Menus panel
In the Menus window, dots
indicate commands while arrows
indicate groups of commands/sub-groups beneath it. If the arrow points
to the right
, the group’s sub-menu items are collapsed and not
visible. To reveal the sub-menu items for a collapsed group, simply click
on its right-facing arrow. To collapse an open group, click on its
downward-facing arrow
Menu items on the first-level must always be a group. Commands and
sub-groups may exist on the second menu level. On the toolbar, a Main
Menu group’s name will appear as a heading above the grouped
command buttons. If the group name is blank, no heading will appear. On
the next menu level, commands or sub-groups can also be used. If a subgroup is used, it will appear as a pop-up menu on the interface.
The hierarchy would look like this:
• Section Type (e.g., Main Menu)
• Group (Group name appears on row of horizontal tabs on the
main interface)
• Command/Sub-group (If a group, its name, if any, appears as a
header above the next group of commands)
• Command/Sub-group (If a group, its name appears on popup button)
L I G H T WAV E 3 D 7
Note that top items of the toolbar are constant no matter which menu
tab is selected. These are contained in the Top Menu Group. This gives
you immediate access to basic file operations, global settings, major
editors, and so on.
Constant menus for Layout (left) and Modeler (right)
If you select a collapsed group when you click the New Group button,
it will be added at the same level as the group. If you select an
uncollapsed group when you click the New Group button, it will be
added inside the group.
Group added to collapsed group
Group added to uncollapsed group
Clicking the New Divider button will add a dashed line below the
selected menu item. This is displayed as a dividing line between menu
items when it appears in a pop-up menu group.
Left: Divider line added. Right: Divider line visible in pop-up menu
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You can rename any menu item (including commands) by selecting it
with your mouse and then clicking the Rename button.
The command name is not always what is displayed on a button. If the
command uses a shorter name, the button may use the exact or a
similar name. However, the button name can be very different in some
cases. Of course, you can always rename the displayed name.
If an interface (e.g., Layout or Modeler) is sized too small to fit all
toolbar buttons, a More pop-up button will appear at the end of menu
groups and contain the hidden buttons. Note that sometimes the menu
names can be different depending on whether they are listed on the
toolbar or listed in a pop-up menu.
To add a command, select it in the (left) Command window and select
the target position in the (right) Menus window. Then click the Add
button. The command will be added under the selected target—inside
the group if a group was selected. Alternatively, you may drag the
command to the Menus window.
Command and menu location selected
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Command added to menu
Commands that are already added to a menu appear ghosted in the
Command window. That just indicates that the command already
appears somewhere in your menus. However, the same command can
still be added more than one time. Since Modeler plug-in commands are
automatically added to the Middle Mouse Button Menu, their commands
will always be ghosted.
See Chapter 3, “Reorganizing Lists” for information on how to
reorganize entries.
To place the group/command at a specific point in a group, make sure
the group is uncollapsed before you begin dragging.
The plug-ins that come with LightWave have default (Layout or
Modeler) menu locations for their commands. However, when you add
plug-ins, the commands will be placed in their default menu locations
only if you are using the default menu. (You are using the default menu, if
you have never customized the menu configuration or have chosen
Default from the Presets pop-up menu.)
Modeler places commands without default menu locations in the
Construct > Utility: Additional pop-up menu. For Layout, you must
manually assign such commands to menus.
Finding Assignments and Commands
If you have a command selected in the left window and click Find, the
command, if any, on the right will become selected. Selecting a command
in the right window and clicking Find will select the matching command
in the left window.
Since a command can be assigned to more than one menu location,
successive Find clicks will show the next assignment, if more than one
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Clicking Search allows you to type in a search phrase to find a
command. Note that this will only find the first instance and it is case
If you know the keyboard shortcut, but want to find the
corresponding menu location, use the Find function on the Configure
Keys panel to determine the command name.Then, use the Find
function on the Configure Menus panel to see where it is assigned.
To delete a command/group, select it and click the Delete button.
The Window pop-up menu lets you select different menus to edit
(e.g., Graph Editor), if available.
The Load and Save buttons let you retrieve and store menu sets that
you develop. To restore the default menu configuration, choose Default
from the Presets pop-up menu. If you’d like to have a menu set similar to
LightWave 6.0, choose 6.0 Style. (For Layout, you can even choose 5.6
Menu presets
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In Modeler, you can use Modeler > Preferences > Revert to
Startup Preferences to restore your initial settings; however, any
changes since you first ran the application will not be reflected.
You can reorganize the main menu tabs by simply dragging them left
or right on the main interface. Before you release the mouse button you
will see an insertion point market appear.
Keyboard shortcuts are displayed on the right side of buttons, if
applicable. Keystrokes that need the SHIFT key are displayed in uppercase
if they are letters. (e.g., A) Unshifted keystrokes are displayed in
lowercase. (e.g., a) For example, M is SHIFT + M and & would be SHIFT + 7.
This manual, however, always explicitly indicates when the SHIFT key
should be used.
You need to be aware of the state of your CAPS LOCK. If this is active,
it can affect upper and lowercase keyboard shortcuts.
Panel-Specific Shortcuts
Some panels have their own special keyboard shortcuts. To use them,
you must have that panel active. (Click on it, if it isn’t already active.) If
the panel is not active and that shortcut has another meaning for
LightWave in general, the general function will be run. Moreover, if the
panel is active, but doesn’t use the keyboard shortcut, it will be passed
to the main interface.
We strongly suggest that you keep the default keyboard mapping
assignments and make new assignments only to unmapped keys. (Most
of the function keys are open.) Otherwise, technical support and using
the documentation may become difficult.
Like the menus, keyboard shortcuts can be configured to suit your
own needs. To display the Configure Keys panel, choose Layout /
Modeler > Interface > Edit Keyboard Shortcuts.
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Modeler Configure Keys panel
The window on the left contains a complete list of all assignable
commands grouped by type. The right window shows a complete list of
all keystrokes and assigned commands, if applicable.
To assign a command to key:
1 Select a command in the left window.
2 Select the target key in the right window. (You can hit the desired key
or keystroke combo to quickly select the key.)
3 Click the Assign button. This will overwrite any existing assignment.
Alternatively, you may drag the command to the right window.
To unassign a command to key:
1 Select the target key in the right window.
2 Click the Unassign button.
Finding Assignments and Commands
If you have a command selected in the left window and click Find, the
command, if any, on the right will become selected. Selecting a command
in the right window and clicking Find will select the matching command
in the left window.
Clicking Search allows you to type in a search phrase to find a
command. Note that this will only find the first instance and it is case
L I G H T WAV E 3 D 7
Keyboard shortcuts can be assigned to only one command. Assigning a
command that is already assigned to a different key will assign it to the
new key, but remove it from the old one.
Maintaining Key Mapping Sets
The Load and Save buttons let you retrieve and store key mapping
sets that you develop. The Clear button clears out all assignments, so
use with caution.
In Modeler, you can use Modeler > Preferences > Revert to
Startup Preferences to restore your initial settings; however, any
changes since you first ran the application will not be reflected.
Any available preset key mapping sets can be chosen from the
Presets pop-up menu. The Window pop-up menu lets you select different
menus to edit (e.g., Graph Editor), if available.
Generic Layout plug-ins (Scene > Utilities: Generics) will appear in
the Plug-in commands group. Thus, they can be added to menus or
mapped to keyboard shortcuts.
The context menu for the middle mouse button exactly mirrors the
group structure for commands, as found in the menu and key editing
dialogs—including any plug-in commands added to the system. If you
know where a command is located in the master groupings, you can find
it in the middle button menu.
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Layout: General Functions
L I G H T WAV E 3 D 7
hapter 6:
Layout: General
LightWave’s Layout has been designed to provide the most efficient
interface possible for your 3-D animation work. By default, there is a
single large viewport, but you can display multiple viewports if you
desire. A viewport provides you with visual feedback about the virtual
world you are creating. How well this corresponds to what the final
output will look like is completely configurable by the user. This can
range from bounding box stand-ins to wireframe representations, all the
way to textured and solid-shaded displays. How you view your creations
will vary depending on their complexity, your machine’s capabilities, and
other factors.
Default single viewport layout
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1 Top, 3 Bottom viewport layout
The vertical menu along the left is the toolbar. The toolbar contains a
set of buttons, and each button can bring up control panels, tools,
activate settings, and so on. The buttons can also be pop-up menus. The
active tab along the top of the interface determines which set of buttons
is visible on the toolbar.
Many of the buttons are shortcuts to controls that can also be
accessed from one of Layout’s many panels.
An option on the Preference panel’s General Options tab (Display >
Options: General Options) lets you place the vertical menu on the
right or left side of the interface, or hide it altogether.
You can select several predefined menus by clicking on the tabs
above the viewports.
You have absolute control over these menus. See Chapter 5 for
information on how to customize your menus.
L I G H T WAV E 3 D 7
Major Layout interface functions
If the Hub is running (and connected), a Modeler button will appear
in the upper-right corner of the Layout interface.
LightWave’s world is defined using three axes: X, Y, and Z. Here we’ve
loaded the ANIMALS\COW.LWO object and haven’t rotated it. At its default
position, from front to back, the cow’s body is aligned along the Z axis
and is facing the the positive Z direction. The X axis runs left to right,
with right as the positive side. The Y axis runs up and down, with up as
the positive side.
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Viewing from different angles
It is common to see objects that have a front and back (e.g., vehicles,
spaceships and animals) facing in the positive Z direction. As you will
understand later, this orientation works best with LightWave’s motion
The center of the world, called the Origin, is defined by the XYZ
coordinates 0, 0, 0 and represents the intersection of all three axes. Any
position in LightWave’s virtual world can be defined by positive and
negative XYZ values. The cow is standing right over the Origin. (The Size
and Stretch tools also use XYZ (scaling) values along those axes.)
The Origin and world axes
World and Local Axes
Objects in a scene also have axes and, thus, an Origin, called the local
Origin. When an object is first loaded, its local Origin is lined up with the
world Origin. Moreover, its local axes are lined up with the world axes.
L I G H T WAV E 3 D 7
However, once you move or rotate the object, this is no longer the case.
LightWave provides functions that let you move and rotate items using
global or local axes. Now, most of the time you’ll use World, but
sometimes using local will be invaluable.
Local axes vs. world axes
To illustrate the difference, let’s say you are standing in the middle of
a one-room house facing the front door. If you held your right arm
straight out, it would point to the right side of the house, and your left
arm would point to the left side of the house.
Now, let’s say you turned 90 degrees clockwise. (You’d be facing the
right side of the house.) If I told you to point your right arm towards the
house’s right side (global axes), you’d move it straight out in front of
you. However, if I told you to point your right arm to your right (local
axes), you would point to the back of the house. Get it? Now sit down at
your PC before someone sees you.
By default, Layout uses a single viewport. Later on in this chapter,
you’ll learn how to use up to four simultaneous viewports! Anyway, you
can choose between several different points of view (POV) for each
viewport using the View Type pop-up menu at each viewport’s top-left
corner. Manipulating items in virtual 3-D space on a 2-D display (i.e., your
monitor) can be difficult at times, so you will switch between nearly all
of these as you edit your scene.
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View Type pop-up menu on titlebar
It is sometimes easier to work in just two dimensions at a time. The
options with the axis notations (e.g., Top (XZ)) are the “orthogonal”
views, which let you move items in only two dimensions (horizontally or
vertically), along the XY, XZ, or ZY axes. The (none) setting blanks out
the viewport. Note that there are two options for each axis set. This
allows you to look in either direction along the perpendicular axis (e.g.,
Top (XZ) and Bottom (XZ). For these, Y is the perpendicular axis.)
The Perspective view is a forced-perspective view. That is, it gives you
a three-dimensional look at your scene.
The orthogonal and the Perspective views are dependent on each
other. Changing the position of one will affect the other.
Left: Back. Right:Top
Left: Right. Right: Perspective
L I G H T WAV E 3 D 7
There are also pseudo-physical POVs. When setting up a light, you’ll
often want to look through it to see exactly what it points at. In such a
case, you’ll use the Light view to look through the current light. You’ll
always want to see your scene from the Camera view at some point since
that is the perspective used in your rendered images.
Left: Light View. Right: Camera View
Changing Your Point of View
With the View Control drag buttons located on the upper-right edge
of a viewport, you can interactively alter the orthogonal and perspective
POVs. The buttons obviously have no effect when you use the Light or
Camera views, since those are based on their respective item’s POV in
the scene itself.
Continuously centers the viewport on the selected item.
You may also activate the Center Current Item option on
the pop-up menu next to the view selector.
For an object, the centering is based on its pivot point,
which is discussed later. This is not always the center of
an object. If you deactivate this mode, the existing POV
position will remain until changed. As such, you can use
this feature to establish a starting point if the need
Orthogonal view: Moves your POV horizontally when you
drag left or right and vertically when you drag up or
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Perspective view: Moves your POV horizontally when you
drag left or right and farther/closer when you drag up or
down with the LMB. Moves your POV vertically when
you drag up or down with the RMB.
Keyboard shortcut: SHIFT + ALT
Since you are changing your POV, the scene items will appear to move
in the opposite direction of your mouse movements.
Orthogonal views: not applicable.
Perspective view: Rotates your POV’s heading when you
drag left or right and its pitch when you drag up or down
with the LMB. Rotates your POV’s bank when you drag
left or right with the RMB.
Keyboard shortcut: ALT
ALT is the same as SHIFT + ALT (i.e., Move) when used in an orthogonal
All views: Zooms in and out when you drag left and right.
(You can also use the < and > keys.)
Keyboard shortcut: CTRL + ALT
Taking Aim
Both the orthogonal and perspective views are based on a single
aimpoint. In other words, you are always looking at the same point in 3D
space no matter which of the views you use (except Light and Camera
view, of course.) It is also the center of the view rotation. That’s why, if
you move around in the Back view, it also affects the other views, like
L I G H T WAV E 3 D 7
The position, rotation (affects only Perspective mode), and zoom of
each viewport can now be specified numerically using the Set View...
menu items in the viewport titlebar.
If you are using multiple viewports, each has its own independent set
of position, rotation, and zoom values.
Resetting Views
Also on the pop-up menu, above, are options to reset a view’s
position (Move), rotation, and zoom to default values.
Viewport Display Mode
You can also set the display mode used by the viewport using the
Viewport Options pop-up menu next to the View Type selector. This is
much faster than using the Scene Editor panel, discussed in Chapter 12.
Maximum Render Level menu
Left to right: Bounding Box,Vertices, and Wireframe
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Left to right: Front Face Wireframe, Shaded Solid,Textured Shaded Solid
Activating Bone Weight Shade in the Viewport Options pop-up menu
will show the selected bone’s influence range in any shaded viewport.
The influence coloring is based on each bone’s color, which can be
changed in the Scene Editor. A bright yellow is used for the currently
selected bone. Note that the bone must be active to see this effect. This
mode will override the normal texture display.
Bone Weight Shade menu item
Bone Weight Shade
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The Schematic viewport type is a two-dimensional view showing all
items in the scene as rectangles that can be selected and moved into any
arrangement. You access this mode by selecting Schematic from the
Viewport Options pop-up menu on a viewport’s titlebar.
The Schematic view
Each rectangle appears in the associated item's wireframe color, and
hidden items are shown as outlined instead of filled rectangles. Solid
lines link children to their parents and end effectors are connected to
their goals with dashed lines.
Also see the display options and Schematic View Tool generic plug-in,
discussed later.
Navigation is consistent with other 2-D viewports (e.g., ALT/ALT+SHIFT
=move, CTRL+ALT=zoom, Center Current Item, etc.). Press the A key to fill
all items into view or G key to center.
Parenting in Schematic View
Parent items can be assigned by holding your CTRL key down and
clicking on the desired parent for the current item. CTRL-clicking in a
blank area unparents the item.
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Other Schematic View Options
When you right-click an item, it displays a pop-up menu. This menu
can clear, clone, rename, open the properties panel for the item, and set
the item's wireframe color.
A grid of squares—cleverly known as the grid—is visible in any of the
orthogonal views, as well as the Perspective view. The grid serves as a
visual reference when you move items around, but it will never render in
a final image (no matter how much you wish it to). The grid lines are
darker every tenth square for visual reference. The Origin is located at
the center of the grid.
You can find the current size of the grid squares in the information
field at the very lower-left corner of the screen. The size of each grid
square is adjustable as is its overall size on the Display Options tab of
the Preferences panel (Display > Options: Display Options).
The Grid and Relative Camera/Light Sizes
The size of lights and cameras (that is, how they appear in the
viewport) are relative to the size of the grid squares. If you have very
large grid squares, you will also have very large lights/camera compared
to objects, and vice versa.
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Left: 1m grid. Right: 5m grid
The size of the lights/cameras do not affect their functionality.
The Grid Square Size Effect on Positioning
The Grid Square Size (Display > Options: Display Options) also
determines the incremental change as you drag your mouse. Thus, a
smaller size lets you edit your object’s position with greater accuracy
than using a larger one. If you find that you can’t edit an object with the
accuracy required, try lowering the Grid Square Size. However, this will
also affect the orthogonal and Perspective view modes.
Grid Square Size Auto-Adjustment
When you start creating a new scene, your Grid Square Size will
automatically adjust itself upwards only, if necessary. This can be
problematic when you use objects that differ significantly in relative size,
like planets and spaceships. Objects may seem to disappear, when in
reality they are just too small or too big to see in the viewport.
5m grid
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500m grid
Once you manually set the Grid Square Size or save and reload a
scene, the automatic sizing adjustment is deactivated. As such, you may
want to load the smaller objects first and then manually change the Grid
Square Size to the same value. Then, load the larger objects.
Before we get into how you create a LightWave scene, you need to
understand an important concept called the Content Directory. LightWave
defaults to looking in certain directories under the Content Directory
when you load scenes, objects, surfaces, images, envelopes, motions,
previews, etc. This is usually the directory you installed the LightWave
software into. The Content Directory is LightWave’s master directory;
LightWave expects to find all of the appropriate subdirectories within
this master directory.
The Content Directory allows you to create a truly portable
LightWave scene, including all object and image files. It essentially acts
as a pseudo root directory. By saving all your object and image files in
subdirectories below the Content Directory, your LightWave scene and
related files can be moved from drive to drive, from system to system,
and even platform to platform, and still load properly.
Portability is important because LightWave scenes are often rendered
on multiple machines or shared for education or fun.
If you use LightWave in a network environment, it is imperative that
you use the Content Directory correctly.
Relative Links
When you save a scene, LightWave tries to save only a relative link to
image and object files. So an object stored on your hard drive as
Directory was C:\MYPROJECTS\STRETCHPRINCESS, would be saved in the
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If you use objects/images outside of the Content Directory, those links
are hard-coded (e.g., F:\STRETCH\PRINCESS\JO.LWO). If you never move the
scene and support files to another computer, the scene will load fine, but
this isn’t the way you should do it.
If you load a scene where an object/image file cannot be found, a file
dialog will appear, letting you manually locate the file.
Let’s say your weird carnival-ride-operator-friend had this screaming
rendering monster that you could use. Well, you just copy all of the files
in the STRETCHPRINCESS directory to your zippy removable disk and trudge
over to your friend’s place next to the fun house. All you do is insert the
disk, set the Content Directory to his zippy removable disk, seamlessly
load the scene, and render the scene. Now that’s portability!
Object File Links
Like scenes, objects can also have linked files. These are usually
image maps used for surface textures. The Content Directory concept is
also relevant here. Using image files below the Content Directory will
avoid loading problems.
If you make any changes to object surfaces, you must save the object
file—a step separate from saving a scene.
To set the Content Directory:
Open the General Options tab of the Preferences panel (Display >
Options: General Options) and click the Content Directory button. You
can also change it in Modeler, on the General Options panel. (If the Hub
is active, Layout and Modeler will sync any changes to this setting.)
Ways to Use the Content Directory
Here are a few ways you might utilize the Content Directory feature:
• Use a separate directory as the Content Directory for every project.
You’ll need to create subdirectories for OBJECTS, IMAGES, and SCENES
beneath it. All files relevant to the project would be stored here. As
you change from project to project, you must also change your
Content Directory. (Note that your project could contain a multitude
of scenes.)
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• Create subdirectories called MYPROJECTS in the OBJECTS, IMAGES, and
SCENES subdirectories that are created when you installed LightWave.
\MYPROJECTS, etc.). Then, for each project, create identically named
subdirectories in each of the MYPROJECTS subdirectories and store
your files accordingly.
Production Data Files
Subdirectories other than IMAGES, OBJECTS, and SCENES (e.g., SURFACES,
MOTIONS, etc.) are generally important only during the production stage.
The information from these files is incorporated in the scene or object
files and is not tracked independently. For example, when you apply that
cromulent silver surface file to your spaceship’s skin, the settings are
saved in the object file. The surface is not referred to again, unless you
use it again.
The generic plug-in Content Manager, discussed later in the chapter,
can be used to collect a scene’s supporting files and ensure correct
compliance with your content directory.
To load an existing scene:
1 Make sure the Content Directory is set properly.
2 Choose File > Load > Load Scene and use the file dialog to navigate to
the desired scene file. When the scene is loading, a progress dialog
will appear. You may abort the load operation by clicking the Abort
button; however, this may result in a partially loaded scene.
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To save a scene:
1 Make sure your Content Directory is properly set.
2 Choose File > Save > Save Scene to save a scene. Save Scene As lets
you save the current scene using a different name.
Remember that this operation does not save any loaded object files.
That must be done as a separate step.
Saving a Copy
Choosing File > Save > Save Scene Copy will let you save a copy of
the current scene using a different name, without affecting the current
LightWave animations (or still images) always start as a Scene—
basically, a collection of objects, lights, cameras, and images, which can
move and change over some specified length of time. Creating a basic
LightWave scene involves the following steps:
• Adding items (e.g., objects and lights) to a scene
• Setting the starting position for all items in the scene
• Setting the length of the scene
• Placing items in key positions at certain points in time
• Previewing the motions of the items
• Setting and testing render settings
• Rendering the final animation
Scene Statistics
Pressing the w key will display the Scene Statistics panel, which
provides various information about the current scene.
Scene Stats
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Usually, you work on one item at a time, the current item, and you
need to tell LightWave which item it is. But before you learn how to do
that, you need to know that Layout items are grouped into four different
types: objects, bones, lights, and cameras. When you work on any item,
the edit mode buttons along the bottom (i.e., Objects, Bones, Lights or
Cameras) are set to the current item’s type.
To select an item:
There are several ways to select an item in Layout:
• Click on the item in a viewport;
• Click on the item’s name in the Scene Editor panel (Scene Editor); or
• Manually select the edit mode and then select the item from the
Current Item pop-up menu. Note that you cannot select a locked item
(a little lock icon appears next to name). (See Chapter 12 for
information on locking items.)
• Use the ItemPicker master plug-in, discussed later.
You can use your UP and DOWN ARROWKEYS to cycle through the
Current Item list.
All items, except objects, are highlighted in yellow when selected.
When an object is selected, a dotted-yellow bounding box will appear
around it.
Cow is selected
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You can select a bone by clicking near its midpoint, rather than its
pivot point, making it possible to pick different bones that branch from
the same point in a hierarchy.
Selecting Multiple Items
You can select multiple items of the same type, like all objects or all
lights, and perform edits on them simultaneously.
To select multiple items:
Holding the SHIFT (or CTRL) key will allow you to select multiple items
of the same type.
If you select multiple items, many operations will be applied to all of
them. This can save a lot of time under the right circumstances. Such
operations include Move, Rotate, and Size, as well as certain item
properties, like Unseen by Rays, Unseen by Camera, Self Shadow, Cast
Shadow, Receive Shadow, Bone Active, Affect Diffuse, Affect Specular,
Affect Caustics, Affect OpenGL, and so on.
Of course, these aren’t the fingers that were bent when this was shown to me.
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If the toolbar command is a state-type command and the selected
items have mixed settings, the button will be shaded diagonally. Clicking
the button will toggle the state of the current item and make all other
selected items the same. Clicking again will toggle the state of all items.
Bone Active button showing mixed selections
Selecting by Name
Pressing the apostrophe (‘) key launches a special selector dialog.
Simply type-in a few characters that uniquely identify the desired item
and click OK. You can select any type of item.
Unselecting Items
In Layout, one item is always selected. It becomes unselected when
you select a different object.
For lists in Layout like surface shaders, image filters, etc., a special
pop-up menu appears when you right-click on an item in the list. Here
you can bring up its options panel, as well as remove the item from the
list. (Note that choosing Options is the same as double-clicking the
item.) The Copy option copies the selected item along with its settings
to a memory buffer. The Paste option will add the item to the list. This
memory buffer is independent for each list window.
Layout List pop-up menu
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Choose Display > General Options to bring up the General Options
tab on the Preferences panel.
General Options tab
Alert Level
The Alert Level setting controls how error, warning and informational
messages are displayed. When set to Beginner, these messages are
displayed as dialog boxes, which the user needs to manually dismiss.
The Intermediate level moves warning and information messages to an
information line near the bottom of the interface and Expert moves all
Layout information line
Modeler has its own Alert Level setting on the Interface tab of the
Display Options panel.
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Modeler information line
Content Directory
Use the Content Directory button to set this previously discussed
and very important setting.
The Left or Right settings determine on which side of the interface
the toolbar appears. (If you are left-handed, select Right.) If you are a
keyboard shortcut god, you can activate the Hide Toolbar option, which
makes the toolbar invisible.
To redisplay the toolbar, press the letter
Options tab of the Preferences panel.
key to bring up the General
Input Device
The Input Device pop-up menu lets you select either a Mouse or
Tablet as the primary input device. When you choose the input device,
the default system drivers for the appropriate device are used.
File Dialog and Color Selection
The File Dialog and Color Picker pop-up menus let you use custom
LightWave dialogs for file loading/saving and picking colors. (See
Chapter 3 for more information.) Selecting Default will use your standard
system dialogs.
The Color Format setting determines the scale used where the color
selector appears. Integer uses values 000 to 255, Float uses .00 to 1.00,
and Percentage uses 0% to 100%.
Automatically Creating Keyframes
The Auto Key button on the lower part of the main interface turns
the overall auto key mode on or off. When active, existing keys are
automatically adjusted if an item is modified. The pop-up menu on the
General Options tab has three settings:
Off will modify only the settings of an existing
keyframe for the current item.
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All Modified Channels All Modified Channels creates a keyframe, but
for only the modified motion channel group
(e.g., XYZ or HPB). So, for example, if you
change only an item’s heading, a key is created
only for the current item’s heading, pitch, and
bank at the current frame.
All Motion Channels
All Motion Channels creates a keyframe for all
motion channels.
This feature can be a nice time-saver when composing still images or
initial keyframes, but can be a detriment when changing a feature like a
position, as a test to see if you like it.
Parent in Place
When Parent in Place is active, an item will maintain a constant
position, size, and orientation when it is parented or unparented. (See
Chapter 11, “Parent in Place.”)
Left Mouse Button Item Select
When Left Mouse Button Item Select is active, you may click on an
item with the LMB to select it in a viewport. (Those of you with threebutton mouses can always use the MMB.)
Frame Slider Label
The Frame Slider Label pop-up menu lets you choose a type of
measurement on the frame slider, which is the ruler-like control on the
main interface. You can select between Frame Number (the default),
SMPTE Time Code (HH:MM:SS:FF, where HH is hours, MM is minutes, SS
is seconds and FF is frames), Film Key Code, or Time in Seconds.
Left: Frame. Right: SMPTE Time code
Left: Film Key Code. Right:Time in Seconds
Frames Per Second
The Frames Per Second rate is specific to the calculation of texture
velocities and other internal information that can be accessed by
LightWave’s plug-in architecture. If you had based a moving texture
velocity so that it appeared to repeat every 30 frames, but your output
was going to film (at the film rate of 24 frames per second), you would
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want to set this value to 24 so that the repeating nature of the pattern
repeated properly. Change this frame rate if you are working on film or
another medium that has a frame rate different than video (30 fps).
Frame 0 Time Code
Enter a starting SMPTE time code for frame 0 in this input field if it is
other than 00:00:00:00. This can be important, even if you are not using
SMPTE Time Code as your Frame Slider Label, but are using it in the
Data Overlay setting on the Render Options panel (Rendering > Render
Frames Per Foot
When using Film Key Code, you can specify the Frames Per Foot.
Allow Fractional Current Frame
When Allow Fractional Current Frame (formerly Allow Fractional
Frames) is turned on, the frame slider can be placed at non-integral
frame values, either by adjusting the frame slider, jumping to the
previous or next key, or typing into the Go to Frame requester.
Keyframes are based on time so they're always allowed to lie on
fractional frames.
Show Keys in Slider
When Show Keys in Slider is active, a white line will appear in the
slider where a keyframe exists for the selected item(s).
Play at Exact Rate
Play at Exact Rate causes forward and reverse playing of the scene to
ignore the frame step and instead play in real-time, waiting or skipping
frames as needed. It has no effect on preview animation playback.
Measurement Unit System
LightWave supports several units of measurement. You can choose to
work in different notations; however, you may input a value using a unit
of measurement other than the default, and it will be converted on the
fly. For example, you may be using meters, but if you type in “5 ft”
LightWave converts it to 1.524 m. (Metric is basically the same as SI
except that it also uses centimeters.) The Unit System setting
determines what units of measurement Layout uses and displays.
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SI is the International System of Units. (SI is the abbreviation
of the French “Le Système International d’Unites.”) Unit
measurements in Layout will now use a base system of
meters. Grid sizes and distances can be measured in
megameters, kilometers, meters, millimeters, micrometers,
and nanometers.
Metric is the same as SI with the addition of centimeters.
The English system refers to measurements in miles, feet,
and inches.
We strongly suggest that you use SI or Metric since that measurement
type is generally assumed for exercises and tutorials.
Setting the Default Unit
If a unit is not specified in an input field, the default is used. You can
select the default unit using the Default Unit pop-up menu.
We strongly suggest that you use the SI or Metric Unit System and
meters as the default unit. Use other settings only for special
situations. Both systems are based on 10, which will make your
modeling and animation life easier.The Default Unit of meters is
assumed for exercises.
Generic plug-ins are miscellaneous type plug-ins that more or less
stand on their own. These can range from small utility modules to fullblown applications. They are selected on the Scene > Utilities: Generics
Generic plug-ins have the unique ability (among Layout plug-in
commands) to be added to menus and keyboard shortcuts (they appear
in the Plug-in command group when configuring menus and keyboard
shortcuts). See Chapter 5 for more information.
The Comments panel lets you add several lines of comments to an
item in the Scene. The comment text is saved with the scene file.
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Comments panel
Content Manager
Content Manager lets you collect a scene and its support files (i.e.,
object and images) and copy them to another location. It also has an
option to just pull support files into the Content Directory (for those rare
occasions, right?).
Export Scene Mode
When the Mode pop-up menu is set to Export Scene, Content
Manager will copy the scene and support files to the New Content Dir.
You may edit the scene name in the Scene Name field if you want to
change the name. You may reload the exported scene when the
processing is finished by activating the Load Exported Scene option.
Otherwise, the current scene will remain untouched.
Export Scene mode
When you close the initial Options panel, the main interface will
appear. The list window will show all of the objects and images in your
scene. The Status column will show Local (the exported file will be
within the content directory) or External (the exported file will be
outside the content directory).
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Content Manager interface
The Source column shows the location of the objects and images. If
the files are local, only the path relative to the content directory (e.g.,
OBJECT\JOEY.LWO) is shown. If the files are external, the full path (e.g.,
C:\PICS\DC\PACEY.JPG) is shown.
The Destination column shows where those files will be copied. The
destination and source are the same for local files. The destination will
be blank for external files and needs to be specified by the user. You can
change the destination of local files, if you desire.
Consolidate Only Mode
The Consolidate Only mode moves files in the current scene into the
current content directory. If you activate the Allow Overwrite option,
Content Manager will automatically save the scene and objects.
Consolidate Only mode
To change the destination:
1 Select the file(s) with your mouse. (Note: The Externals button will
select all external files.)
2 Click the Set Path button.
3 Enter the path in the dialog or use the pop-up menu to select
standard directory names.
4 The destination will be local and show a relative path.
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Click the OK button to execute Content Manager based on your
See Chapter 17 for information on the FX_Browser, FX_Linker, and
FX_Property commands.
ImageLister outputs a text file with a list of the currently loaded
See Chapter 18 for information on MD_Controller.
Schematic View Tools
This panel contains some tools to help you organize the scene items
when using the Schematic View.
Schematic View Tools panel
The Tree View button will organize a hierarchy in a “tree” fashion.
You must select the parent item before clicking the button. If Move
Parent is active, the parent will be repositioned along with the children.
If inactive, only the children are moved.
After using Tree View
The Skeleton View button will organize a hierarchy based on the
positions of the items at frame 0, from the perspective set on the
Projection pop-up menu. You must select the root item before clicking
the button.
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After using Skeleton View with Front Projection on a walking robot
Snap Selection to Grid will snap the selected items to the specified
Grid Size. Snap Hierarchy to Grid is similar, but only works on the
hierarchy from the selected root item. Snap All Items to Grid snaps
Before (left) and after (right) using Snap All Items to Grid
SelectGroup selects all child items of currently selected scene items.
Skelegons To Nulls
Skelegons2Nulls converts skelegons from the object selected on the
Object to Convert pop-up menu into null objects. It can optionally
generate a hierarchy based on the skelegon relationships if Apply
Skelegon Hierarchy is active. If Apply Skelegon Hierarchy is inactive,
the nulls will be positioned relative to the Origin.
If you activate Place near object (Apply Skelegon Hierarchy must be
inactive), the nulls are created in place. That is, wherever the object is
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located in 3D space. The object should also be positioned off the Origin
and un-rotated for this option to make a difference.
Use this plug-in if you want to use SockMonkey instead of bones,
based on your skelegon set-up.
Other Generics
Sasquatch Lite, Shockwave3D Export, Spreadsheet, and Export Scene
as VRML97 are discussed at the end of this chapter.
Choose Display > Utilities: Master Plug-ins to display the Master Plugins panel. Use the Add Layout or Scene Master pop-up button to add
global-type plug-ins.
Master Plug-ins panel.The ProxyPick plug-in’s options are visible on the lower portion of the panel
In some cases, plug-ins will be listed on the pop-up menu that are not
meant for direct use, but are used internally.
ItemPicker displays the Quick Pick panel. You can instantly select
frequently used items in your scene by just clicking on the item’s name
in the list.
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ItemPicker interface
Use the Add Item pop-up menu to add an item from the scene to the
list. To delete an entry, select it and click Remove.
The Scene Editor can also be used as an item picker. See Chapter 12.
The MasterChannel lets you create a user-defined channel, which will
appear in the Scene list of the Graph editor under the entry MC. You can
keyframe the channel and use it as you would any channel.
MasterChannel dialog
To create the master channel, add the plug-in and enter a name into
the Channel Name field of its options dialog. The Type setting
determines the units of measure for the channel. You can add the plug-in
more than once to create multiple master channels.
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Custom channel added to MC group
ProxyPick translates the selection of one object, known as the
“proxy”, into the selection of another, known as the “target.” This is
useful for picking small but crucial items out of complex, crowded
The Apply Label button uses the selected Proxy Object and Target
Item to apply the ItemShape custom object to the proxy. The name of
the target is used in ItemShape’s Label setting and its Draw Line To
option is set to the target. If a previous proxy was used, this button will
clean up the settings. This is an optional step.
Remember to disable this plug-in when you want to actually select
the proxy rather than the target, as it is not yet telepathic.
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ProxyPick using null as proxy and cow as target
The Display Options tab on the Preferences panel (Display > Options:
Display Options) controls the settings for display options that are global
in nature.
Display Options tab
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The display always uses OpenGL; it is not an option. Also, many of the
display options are approximations and your actual rendered results
may be different.
Viewport Layouts
You can display more than one viewport by changing the Viewport
Layout pop-up menu. All of the normal viewport options can be set
independently and all viewports will update simultaneously.
Click the Save as Default button to use the selected Viewport Layout
for future sessions. Otherwise, it will affect only the current session.
You can customize the relative sizes of multiple viewports by
dragging the borders between them.
Grid Settings
Use the Grid Type pop-up menu to set the size of the overall grid or
turn it off. Adjust the Grid Square Size to change the size of each
square. The Grid Antialiasing option will smooth out jaggies when
Fixed Near Clip Distance
The near clipping distance is the point at which surfaces disappear in
your OpenGL display. Normally, the distance to the near clipping plane is
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set automatically to one-tenth of the grid size, multiplied by the camera
zoom factor. You may change the base value by activating the Fixed
Near Clip Distance option and entering a value in the input field.
If near clipping becomes a problem for you, you may find it easier to
just adjust the grid size using the [ and ] keyboard shortcuts.
The near clipping distance only affects your OpenGL display and has
no impact on your rendered images.
There is also a far clipping distance that is always set to 10,000 times
the near clipping distance. Normally you never see its effects unless
you zoom out extremely far or have very distant objects, like stars.
Dynamic Update
The Dynamic Update pop-up menu affects how the Layout window is
updated with respect to changes on various panels. Interactive will
continuously update the Layout window while changes are made.
Delayed will update the Layout window when you release the mouse
button. Off will update the window only when you close the panel.
Which setting you use will depend on many factors, like your
processor speed, available processing resources, scene complexity, and
so on. You may want to try Interactive and then back off to a lower
setting, if updates become too sluggish.
Bounding Box Threshold
This value is an absolute limit for the number of points or polygons
an object must have for it to automatically change to a bounding box
during editing (move, rotate, size, etc.). For example, if the value is set to
5000, any object that has fewer than 5000 points or polygons will remain
in solid or wireframe mode even as the object is manipulated. This can
result in jerky movements depending on the speed of your computer and
the quality of the video card. Any object with more points or polygons
than the limit will automatically switch to bounding box mode so that
the object can be manipulated smoothly. You should experiment and find
a level that your computer can display at a decent rate and then leave
that as your default.
Display Characteristic Settings
The Show Motion Paths option toggles the visibility of the motion
path and keyframes for the current active item in Layout.
A motion path looks like a line with small white (+) symbols at each
keyframe. Motion paths are subdivided into smaller segments
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corresponding to the number of frames between keyframes. With Show
Motion Paths active for an object that is stationary during an animation,
the graph will display a single keyframe symbol only, indicating that this
is its only keyframe position. It has a stationary motion path.
Motion path
When you want to see the extent of your fog’s Max Distance and Min
Distance on the Volumetrics tab of the Effects panel (Scene > Effects:
Volumetrics), activate the Show Fog Circles option and use one of the
orthogonal views. You will see circles representing the two fog radiuses,
a result of the minimum and maximum fog values. Just as the backdrop
gradient sphere is centered about the camera, so is fog.
Fog circles
If you activate fog and the Show Fog Circles option, but do not see
the indicator, check for the following factors:
• Verify that Fog Type on the Volumetrics tab of the Effects panel is not
set to Off.
• Verify that you are using an orthogonal view.
• Verify that you should be able to see the fog circles. Are you too close
or too far from the camera for the circles to be visible? Use the grid
as a guide.
When using SubPatch objects, you may want to see the SubPatch
cage. Activate Show SubPatch Cages, if this is the case.
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SubPatch cages
The Show Handles option will display reference handles for the
current item when you are moving, rotating, or stretching. These are
based on the item’s local axes at its pivot point. (See Chapter 7 for more
Rotation handles
The Show IK Chains option will display a solid line for the IK chain
and a dotted line for the direction of the item reaching for the goal
IK chains
The Show Target Lines option turns on/off the line that connects to
targeted items.
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Overlay Color
The color of the overlays for the field chart, limited region, fog
circles, and so on, can be set to any of the standard wireframe colors
using the Overlay Color pop-up menu.
Shaded Display Options
The following options affect the shaded OpenGL display
In the Max OpenGL Lights field, enter the maximum number, up to
eight, of light sources you want used in the display. This lets you see
their effect right in the viewport in real-time.
OpenGL light
Activate OpenGL Textures to show image-mapped textures (not
procedural) in the viewports. Use the size pop-up menu to select the
pixel resolution (e.g., 128 x 128). Lower settings will update faster and
use fewer system resources.
Left: 64 x 64. Right 512 x 512
Usually the first Color or Diffuse image map layer is shown in the
Texture mode viewports. Enable Show Current Texture Editor Layer to
show the Texture Editor's current layer instead, if applicable.
The OpenGL Pixel Blending option will activate a smoothing display
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OpenGL Pixel Blending. Left: Off. Right: On
The OpenGL Reflections option lets you see the effects of imagemapped reflections (not ray-traced) in a Layout window.
OpenGL reflection
The reflection mapping will be visible only when the surface Reflection
value is greater than 50 percent.
The Faster Highlights option makes the display of (specular)
highlights faster, but less accurate. Note that the difference may not
always be visible and will vary depending on circumstances.
The OpenGL Transparency option activates a surface transparency
feature in viewports. This lets you see through transparent surfaces in
shaded viewports! (Of course, this is only an approximation of your
actual rendered result.) This setting also controls Modeler’s display of
transparent surfaces, if the Hub is running. Modeler will remember the
last used setting, if you aren’t using the Hub.
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Camera View Tab
Camera View tab
Camera View Background
LightWave lets you choose how you want the Layout interface
background to appear when using the Camera view (only).
Blank is the default choice and will show nothing but the normal
blank gray background. Backdrop Color uses the color selected as the
Backdrop Color on the Backdrop tab of the Effects panel (Scene >
Effects: Backdrop).
This setting is independent of how the background will appear in a
rendered image.That is, if the Backdrop Color is orange and there is
a Background Image set, the viewport background will still appear
orange if this option is set to Backdrop Color.
Background Image lets you see the image set as the Background
Image on the Compositing tab of the Effects panel (Scene > Effects:
Compositing) in the Camera view. You can use it to help you align
objects that need to be positioned properly with respect to the
background image. It will also show when you make preview animations
using the Camera view.
Background image
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LightWave also allows you to use a preview animation as a
background, if use the Preview option. This requires that you to have a
preview animation loaded into memory of course. This can be one that
was just generated or one that was loaded.
Creating and loading a preview animation is discussed in Chapter 8.
The preview animation will load starting at the upper-left corner of
the Layout window. Make sure to use the same size interface as you did
when you generated the preview for easy reference. It will also load
beginning at frame 0 no matter what the frame was originally when the
animation was created.
This feature is invaluable for creating moving composite shots and
mattes. Using an image sequence composed of live footage as the
background image, create a preview animation of that sequence with no
objects or grid. Save the preview and load it in later when you need it.
The preview animation will update much faster than using the original
images as a background.
Show Safe Areas
If your animation will be viewed on a television, be aware that
viewers will not see the entire image. Select Show Safe Areas to toggle
outlines in a Camera view that indicate the safe text (the inner border)
and safe action areas (the outer border) for television. To allow for the
display differences of different brands and designs of television sets, you
should use this guide to ensure that text and action elements in your
animations remain on screen when it is important that they be seen.
Safe areas
These are reference guidelines and are not absolute positions.
Alternate Aspect Overlay
The Alternate Aspect Overlay setting lets you overlay the borders of
an alternate frame aspect ratio, within the normal frame in camera
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viewports. This information-only display mode can be used to
simultaneously compose shots for both film and television, for example.
The default alternate aspect ratio is 1.85.
Alternate Aspect Overlay
OpenGL Fog
If you have the OpenGL Fog option active, you can see an
approximation of your fog settings from the Camera View as well.
OpenGL fog
Show Field Chart
The Show Field Chart option turns on a crosshair chart similar to a
12-field chart as used in the film industry. It divides the camera view into
quadrants, with each quadrant having 12 segments.
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Field chart
OpenGL Lens Flares
The OpenGL Lens Flares option lets you see lens flares right in a
viewport while you use the Camera view. If you have the Lens Flares
Options panel open you can interactively make changes to the settings.
OpenGL lens flares
Schematic View Tabs
Several display options for the Schematic view appear on the
Schematic View tab.
Schematic View tab
Link Style. Left: Straight. Right: Right Angle
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Link Direction. Left:Vertical. Right: Horizontal
Show Goal Links active
If the Drag Descendants option is active, moving a parent will move
all its children as well.
If the Show Plug-in Links option is active, motion dependencies from
motion and channel modifier plug-ins are shown as dotted black lines.
Here, Cyclist has been added to Talk on Corner.The Cycle Controller for the plug-in is ControllerNull.Thus,Talk on Corner’s
motion is dependent on ControllerNull.
The Layout interface is built on a command system. Buttons, keyboard
shortcuts, plug-ins, etc., essentially submit commands to the underlying
Layout engine, which performs the actual operation. You can view a list
of the last commands that were executed by choosing Layout >
Commands > Command History.
Command History window
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You can execute a single command by entering it—with any required
parameters—in the input field at the bottom of the Command History
panel. Clicking an entry in the list will automatically copy it to the input
field—you can edit the command before hitting the ENTER key.
Click an entry to select it
Alternatively, you can choose Layout > Commands > Command Input
and enter a command into the dialog that appears.
You can save a list of commands to a file by choosing Layout >
Commands > Save Command List.
Obviously, using the user interface to execute commands is far easier,
and most users do not need to use these functions. However, you might
use the information from command history to reproduce or document
the exact operations you made interactively. Moreover, some commands
are not available to menus and keyboard shortcuts, thus, running them
directly is the only way to execute them.
To execute commands in a programmatic fashion, use LScript. The
documentation for LScript is included on the LightWave CD.
The LScript menu tab contains tools for creating and running
LScripts. as well as some actual LScripts that you can use in Layout. See
the on-line LScript documentation for more information.
LScript Commander
LScript Commander can be used to create a command sequence or an
actual LScript for Layout. A command sequence is merely a list of
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commands that can be executed in order from top to bottom. An LScript
is similar, but more powerful. In an LScript, for example, you can have
programming type commands like loops and so on.
The LScript Command panel
The top black area is the session window and can contain either a
command sequence or an LScript. You can type directly into this window
or copy commands from either of the bottom two tabs.
The Events tab contains a list of commands from operations that
have occurred in Layout. The Command Sequence tab contains a list of
all available commands. You can copy commands from either list by
selecting them (multiple selection is supported) and then right clicking
on the list. Once copied to the session window, you can edit the lines as
You can execute single commands by entering them in the Command
You can define and use multiple sessions. The left Session pop-up
menu contains controls to start a new session, load an existing one, save
the current session to file, and close the current session. The Clear
Session option erases all of the commands in the current session. Also
on this menu are options to convert a command sequence into an
LScript and convert an LScript into a command sequence.
The pop-up menu to the right is used to choose the current session, if
there are more than one.
Click the Execute button to run the current command sequence or
L I G H T WAV E 3 D 7
Clicking the Install button will add the script to the Macros group on
the LScript menu tab.
Select Hierarchy
This LScript will select the entire hierarchy that the currently
selected item belongs to.
Select Children
This LScript will select all of the children (and their children) of the
currently selected item.
The Shockwave3D Exporter (Scene menu tab) allows the user to
export Layout's current scene as a Macromedia® Shockwave® file (.W3D).
This encapsulated file contains all of the information needed to recreate
objects, surfaces, and animation, as well as the image files used in the
scene. The exported file can then be integrated into Macromedia®
Director® as a Cast Member. With this exporter, the user can combine
the content creation toolset of LightWave with the interactive
functionality of Macromedia Director, creating an integrated solution for
distributing multimedia content.
Although the exported file can be previewed in LightWave, you must
have Macromedia Director in order to create files for distribution.
More information on Shockwave and Director can be found at
Macromedia's website: http://www.macromedia.com/software/director/.
Also, be sure to check out NewTek's Shockwave3D discussion in the
NewTek discussion forum at http://www.newtek.com/discuss.
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The Shockwave3D Exporter Interface.
The top portion of the panel contains controls for the export
selections, quality controls and preview options for the exported file.
The options for these items can be found on the tabs located on the
lower portion of the panel labeled Objects, Animation, Textures, and
Cameras. The file location is determined when the Ok button is pressed
and the file dialog appears.
Some things should be considered when modeling and animating a
scene that will be exported with Shockwave3D. Because this media is
meant for distributing large multimedia files, many of the exporter's
features and options keep performance issues in mind. Please take a
moment to read through this section and familiarize yourself on how
LightWave and Shockwave3D are compatible with each other. It could
save you a considerable amount of time on your next Shockwave3D
Export Selection
This list of items determines which portion of the scene will be
exported into the .w3d file. The Scene Structure option preserves the
parenting hierarchy of your scene, while Cameras, Lights, Surfaces,
Objects, Animations, and Texture Maps all control which elements of
the scene will actually be exported. Simply activating these checkboxes
will include these items in the file.
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Selecting which items to be exported.
Quality Controls
For three of the item export parameters, Objects, Animations, and
Texture Maps, there are additional controls to adjust the quality of the
assets used in the .W3D file. Since the .W3D file is encapsulated, these
adjustments will have no effect on the items or settings within your
LightWave scene. Only the data within the exported file will be affected.
If you are concerned about download times, or performance issues,
modify these parameters to create smaller or faster playing files.
Adjusting the quality levels.
Preview Options
On the Microsoft Windows platform, the Shockwave3D Exporter has
the option of playing a Shockwave-enabled preview window. You can
simply choose the resolution of the preview window, and on export, a
separate window will open displaying the exported file. This
representation of the exported scene is how it will appear as a Cast
Member in Macromedia Director.
Selecting the Preview window size.
The Shockwave3D Exporter exports polygonal models and frozen
SubPatch objects from the scene into a .W3D file. To increase
performance, Shockwave3D also creates multiple Level Of Detail (LOD's)
objects. These features are automatically enabled and their parameters
can be controlled in Macromedia Director. Unfortunately, object
morphing is not supported in Shockwave3D.
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The options tab for Objects
By activating the Enable Toons and SDS (cel shading and subdivision
surfaces) feature, the objects are exported with the neighboring mesh
information needed by these features in Director. Since this option
increases the size of the exported file, deactivate Enable Toons and SDS
if these features won't be utilized in Director. (Note that the SDS modifier
must be added in Lingo.)
The Crease Angle determines how much of an angle is allowed
between neighboring normals before polygons are joined together. This
parameter is used as a geometric smoothing angle when objects are
being optimized. Normal Deviation sets a limit that normals can deviate
from when the exporter creates any LOD's. The smaller the number, the
less likely the reduced model's normals will be drastically different than
the original object.
The Shockwave3D Exporter will remove very small triangles from
your models and does not support 1 or 2 point polygons. Base vertices
are points that will be removed last during any compression or polygon
reduction during the export. To use the base vertices feature, create a
Point Selection Set in Modeler named base verts. Any points included
within this set will be given priority when the exporter does any of its
optimization functions, and will be reduced last.
Animating Objects
All items (lights, cameras, objects, and surfaces) should have unique
names. Also, only two of LightWave's scene items are capable of being
animated with Shockwave3D, objects and bones. Thus, you cannot
directly animate cameras or lights. However, you can animate a null
object and parent the camera or light to the null object and achieve the
same effect. Hierarchy controls exported from LightWave include both
item parenting and pivot point manipulation.
The options tab for Animation.
The user can select the range of the animation to be exported by
defining the Start and End fields located on the Animation tab. By
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default, these initial values will match the start time and end time of the
current scene. These options are not available if Force Sampling is not
In LightWave, animation is created using keyframes. The exporter
takes the motion defined by these keyframes and all the motion's
modifiers from a single frame and creates what is called a Sample. This is
much like freezing the motion curves of an item, but for that single
These samples are then used in Shockwave as the keyframes of the
animation. By adjusting the sample Interval, you control how often the
exporter samples the animation. For example, a value of five will export
a sample every fifth frame. This is very similar to LightWave's Frame
Step parameter.
The smaller the Interval is, the more samples the exporter will
create. In order to store this information, a larger file is created and will
take longer to download and store in memory. Having the sample
Interval set as high as possible will reduce the overhead needed to play
the animation. However, having an incredibly high value won't solve all
your problems either.
The Shockwave3D Exporter will rotate an item based on the fastest
route from angle A to angle B. Obviously this is not how LightWave
works. For this reason, it may be necessary to export a scene using a
much smaller sample Interval. This will give the Shockwave player more
keyframes to rotate an item with and will match the LightWave scene
more accurately.
Animating Bones
Animating bones is one of the more advanced features of the
Shockwave3D Exporter. However, one thing to keep in mind is that
Shockwave uses a different bones system than LightWave. The major
difference between the two systems is how points get bone influences
assigned to them. The animator should make all influence adjustments in
weight maps as opposed to LightWave's bone setup options. For this
reason, all bones must have a weight map assigned to them. Any point
not assigned to a weight map is assigned to a null bone located at the
root of the hierarchy. Also, unlike LightWave, a Bone's rest position is
determined on frame 0.
Surfacing and Texturing
Surfacing is converted from LightWave to Shockwave as closely as
possible. This includes, Color, Luminosity, Diffuse, Specularity,
Glossiness, Reflection and Transparency. However, because the
rendering methods (rendering vs. OpenGL) used in these two
applications are setup differently, some tweaking may be needed to these
settings in order to get the desired effect.
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All surface mapping is converted to UV mapping when exported.
However, Shockwave does not support the use of layered textures.
Therefore, any surface channels that use layered textures must be
flattened and turned into a single texture by using LightWave's surface
baker. Texture mapping in the diffuse, glossiness, reflection, or
specularity channels also works a little differently than LightWave. Any
maps used in these channels are projected environmentally in
Shockwave3D, thus ignoring any user-defined mapping.
Double-sided surfaces are not supported in Shockwave and must be
created using actual double-sided geometry.
The options tab for Textures.
The image resolution values.
By overriding the texture size, you can force the Shockwave3D
Exporter to globally reduce the image size of the textures in the .W3D file.
For example, if you had 512 x 512 images, you could reduce them down
to 64 x 64 by simply selecting Override Size and choosing 64. Disable
Alphas simply disables the alpha channels on all the images.
The options tab for Cameras.
The Selected Camera values.
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The Camera pop-up menu lets the user decide which camera should
be exported. If All cameras is selected, the camera data for all the
cameras will be embedded within the exported file. Switching between
cameras is handled within Macromedia Director.
The Fog pop-up menu lets the user choose which camera will have
the fog settings attached to them. Fog settings exported include, Fog
Type, Fog Color, and Fog Falloff.
The Backdrop drop-down menu lets you determine which camera will
have the scene's backdrop color setting attached to them.
Take note of the aforementioned animation limitation when animating
Shockwave3D supports many of LightWave's internal Light types,
Distant, Spot, and Point, as well as ambient light. The lighting parameters
supported by Shockwave3D include Light Color, Light Intensity, and Spot
Take note of the aforementioned animation limitation when animating
The VRML97 Exporter plug-in (File > Export > Export Scene as
VRML97) creates a VRML97 World based on the current scene. The VRML
output complies with the ISO-VRML97 specification. The objects in the
scene may be saved as separate files into the Content Directory or an
alternate path. The following list shows some highlights:
Accurate Translation
• Keyframed hierarchical animation
• Light intensity envelopes, including ambient
• Non-linear fog
• Color image texture mapping using projection or UV maps
• Solid, non-linear gradient and image backgrounds
• Support for SkyTracer warp image environments
• Particle animation with single-point-polygon object to PointSet node
• Two-point-polygon object to IndexedLineSet node conversion
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• SubPatch object morph capture (for capturing morph, displacement
map and bone effects on SubPatch objects).
High-Performance Output
• 3-D Sounds
• Level-of-detail object replacement animation
• Object instancing
• Vertex color and lighting support
• Multiple custom viewpoints
• Custom VRML nodes
• Touch activated behaviors
• Viewer proximity activated behaviors
• Object visibility activated behaviors
• Objects output as prototypes (PROTO) definitions (optional)
• Scene object ignore
• Standard object viewpoints (optional)
• Optional embedded objects for single file scene output!
• Optional lowercase conversion for embedded object/image filenames
• Direct avatar navigation speed control
• Improved compliance for export to VRML97 editors, including
conversion of illegal VRML97 names (like 2LEGS or MY LIGHT), and
reflection of illegal negative scaling
VRML Creation Settings
Output .wrl is the file path for the VRML97 World.
Author is comment text to embed in the file.
Use Prototypes is used to define and use objects in the VRML scene
more efficiently. Some older importers may not like this, but it is
required for morph capture.
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When Lowercase Filenames is enabled, the filenames used in the file
can all be converted to lowercase. This can be helpful on UNIX-based
Web servers, where filenames are case sensitive, and links with
mismatched cases will fail.
Use Embed Objects to include the geometry for all meshes in the
main VRML97 World file. This may be more convenient, but for complex
worlds, or reusing objects, it is less efficient. Using external object files
allows the main world to load faster, and display bounding boxes while
the objects are loaded. This option must be off for morphing objects as
well as LOD objects (loading them all at once would defeat their
If Overwrite Objects is enabled and the Embed Objects option is not
used, external object files will be created for objects in the scene. If the
objects already exist, this option must be enabled to overwrite the
objects, thus updating surface or morph changes.
Local .wrl Path is the file path on your machine where external VRML
objects will be found and/or saved. This will default to the current
LightWave Content Directory.
VRML Object URL is the URL where browsers will search for external
objects, this should be the web equivalent of the local path (e.g.,
Text entered into the Texture URN field will be pre-pended to texture
map image filenames, as an alternate texture location. This should
facilitate work with libraries like the Universal Media textures. This
information, when specified, will appear in addition to the regular URL
On the Scene Item pop-up menu, select a scene element to which you
want to apply the settings on this tab.
The Sensor Type is the sensor used to start the item's animation.
For some sensor types, like Proximity, a distance range is required.
When the viewer approaches the item within the Range, the animation is
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Alternate Trigger is an alternate item to serve as the animation
trigger for this item.
On the Object pop-up menu select an object whose settings will be
edited on this tab.
The Ignore Object option will exclude a selected object and its
children objects from export.
Use Attach Sound to add a sound effect, triggered with the selected
object's animation. Enter the URL for the audio file triggered in the URL
field. You can also set the volume and whether the sound should be
looped once it has started.
The Record Morph option saves a Morph Object—a special animated
Proto object—in place of the standard external object files. This requires
that the exporter step through the animation and capture the deformed
mesh at different times. The deformed positions are used in a
CoordinateInterpolator node hidden in the morph object. This currently
works for SubPatch objects.
First Frame is the starting frame for the Morph Object animation. Last
Frame is the final frame in the morph capture for this object. Frame Step
is the number of frames between captured morph keys. Making this too
small results in huge objects; making it too large results in an animation
that is not smooth or points with motion that is too linear.
Enable Loop to repeat the morph animation, once it has been
Enable the AutoStart option to make the animation start as soon as
the world is loaded.
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Use the Navigation Mode pop-up menu to set the initial navigation
mode for Web browsers.
Enable Headlight for good defaults in dark places.
Standard Viewpoints creates extra ViewPoint nodes (top, left, etc.)
for scene and external objects.
Avatar Size lets the browser set appropriate movement for the
dimensions of your world.
Global Light Scale globally scales all light intensities.
Environment Images are warp images generated by SkyTracer. These
map nicely to VRML's idea of environment mapping. Enter only the
basename portion of the image files. (For example, if you had
Note that any panoramic images should be compatible, provided they
are renamed to match the SkyTracer filenaming convention.
The text in the Image URN field will be pre-pended to the image
filename and added to the list of URLs for the environment image.
So What is VRML?
VRML, also known as ISO-VRML97 (ISO/IEC 14772-1:1997), stands for
Virtual Reality Modeling Language. It is a standard for describing 3D
objects and scenes via the Internet.
Like HTML-based web pages, VRML worlds can contain links to
remote files. However, rather than using text or images for links, VRML
uses 3D objects. As a result, the Web browser for VRML resembles a 3D
animation program or video game more than a word processing
VRML worlds can be embedded in HTML pages and vice versa. VRML
models are based on either primitives, like spheres, cubes, and cones, or,
more likely, sets of points and polygons. Since the latter is basically the
approach used by LightWave 3D's polygonal models, there is a pretty
good match between LightWave scenes and VRML worlds.
Before you can view any of your VRML creations, you'll need to get a
VRML 97 Browser. The VRML files produced by LightWave are text files
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that follow LightWave's style of separate object and scene files. This is
not a requirement of VRML, but a powerful feature that lets a VRML
scene include objects from different files, even from some remote library.
These external objects in the scene file consist of a file URL, a
bounding box, and a set of position, rotation and scaling
transformations. The bounding box information is used by browsers to
render stand-ins while the objects are loaded.
VRML scenes also include multiple point lights, directional lights, and
spot lights with adjustable cones. The VRML equivalent of the LightWave
camera is a viewpoint. The exporter will add a named viewpoint for each
camera in the LightWave scene, which browsers can use to jump
between points of interest or standard views. In addition, VRML objects
created by LightWave may include a set of standard viewpoints for the
Objects in your LightWave scene that have keyframes in any motion
channels will be given linear motion keys in the VRML file, through
PositionInterpolator and OrientationInterpolator nodes.
The Pre Behavior and Post Behavior set for the channels in the
LightWave motion has a critical influence on the VRML behavior of an
object. If the Pre behavior is set to Repeat, the motion will begin when
the world is loaded and keep on playing. Otherwise the motion will begin
when the item is triggered. If the Post behavior is set to Repeat, the
animation will loop until re-triggered, otherwise it will stop after playing.
The default triggering is a click (TouchSensor) on the object that
causes the animation to run from the beginning. Currently, the
TouchSensor switch is placed on the highest-level animated object in a
hierarchy, and triggers the animation of all the children simultaneously
(as one would expect).
Morphing in VRML uses a CoordinateInterpolator node. The node is
part of the Proto in the object file, if morph data has been captured. For
this reason, Prototypes should be enabled and embedded objects
disabled for morphing worlds.
Currently, double-sided surfaces are not supported in VRML97. Thus
LightWave 3D objects with polygons whose surfaces are double-sided are
translated as if they weren't double-sided. VRML objects that seem to be
missing polygons may actually have double-sided surfaces that need to
be either flipped or aligned in Modeler. If the surface is truly meant to be
double-sided, you will need to model the geometry with double-sided
If your model has a texture map image associated with it (color only,
not diffuse, specular, etc.), there are a few tricks that can minimize the
L I G H T WAV E 3 D 7
nuisance of hand-editing your VRML models. Since some browsers will
have to load the image named in the object, that image name, saved in
the LightWave object, is critical.
It pays to use LightWave's Content Directory system properly, so that
the image path will be relative to that content directory (i.e.,
IMAGES\WOOD.JPG rather than C:\NEWTEK\IMAGES\WOOD.JPG). You may also
want to move the image to the Content Directory so that the name in the
object will have no path, and browsers will seek the image in the same
directory as the object.
In any event, wherever the VRML object finally resides, you will want
a matching directory hierarchy where the browser will find the image or
you can just edit the VRML file.
Another image issue is that of file format. JPEG and GIF images are
almost universally supported on the Web, but the PNG format is gaining
acceptance as a modernized, yet unencumbered, replacement for GIF.
JPEG images are nice and small, and compression artifacts should be
virtually invisible at Web/VRML resolutions. If you have nice high quality
texture images for your rendering work and want VRML versions, make
smaller JPEG versions of the images for the Web. Large textures may be
limited by the browser's rendering engine in most cases anyway. When
you install the VRML model, just use the smaller JPEG image or edit the
VRML file.
LightWave VRML Implementation
The organization of LightWave's VRML object output follows that of
LightWave's own object format. A list of XYZ coordinate triples describe
the vertices in the object. For each surface, there is also an
IndexedFaceSet node that holds the polygons with that surface,
described as a number for each point in the polygon, which refers to an
entry in the main list of point coordinates. There may also be an
IndexedLineSet node or a PointSet node containing any two-point and
one-point polygons.
If the original LightWave object had a color texture map image, there
will be an image file name and a set of texture coordinates. Texture
coordinates, also known as UV coordinates, are 2-D pixel positions in an
image. They describe how the image lies on the 3-D surface by pinning
certain pixels to each polygon's vertices. These values can be calculated
from LightWave's mapping and texture size settings.
In the case of planar UV mapping, U and V are simply x and y, (for Zaxis planar). Spherical UV mapping yields U and V coordinates
somewhat analogous to longitude and latitude, with the U's all bunching
up at the poles. Cylindrical mapping uses U's from the spherical case,
then the V's are the coordinate lying along the texture axis. If the
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LightWave texturing is using UV mapping already, then these coordinates
are used, since VRML texture coordinates are defined in a per-polygon
fashion (i.e. discontinuous UVs).
The entire object may be embedded in a VRML Anchor, which makes
it an active link on the Web. If you supply a URL for the object when you
create it, then anytime that object appears in a scene, it will act as a
clickable link to some other page. This should be used sparingly, as it
can be quite annoying to keep jumping around the web when you're just
inspecting an object.
The uses for URLs in your objects can range from booby traps or ads
for your favorite Web site, to inventory data for some widget. A very nice
example is a VRML origami site, where each step in the folding of a
paper menagerie has a simple model with a link to the next stage. This is
similar to the VRML level-of-detail mode, where multiple models are
grouped together and the viewer's distance determines which model, if
any, is actually rendered.
Performance Notes
Although the VRML format is capable of describing complex scenes,
current 3-D browsers are limited by the real-time rendering capabilities
of their underlying computers. Thus, exquisitely crafted models with
painstaking detail, suitable for those print-res close-ups, may fail
painfully when they enter the realm of VRML renderers. To avoid the
twin perils of long download times and slow rendering, remember: the
first key to VRML success is efficient, low-polygon count modeling.
Similarly, elaborate layers of diffuse, specular, and luminosity
textures, whether images or algorithmic, will not survive any conversion
to VRML. Don't even ask about bump maps, displacement maps, or
surface shaders. Love it or leave it, VRML supports a single image map
for a color texture, as well as diffuse color, specular, and transparency
values. Since that texture image may very well have to fly through a
modem, you'll probably want to keep it small.
Elaborate textures and lighting can be baked into a model's 'image
map however, and lighting effects and coloring can also be baked into
vertex color maps.
PointSet objects are stored most efficiently if there is only one surface
per object. Otherwise, duplicate references to the vertices are required.
For large scenes, this could be significant.
Scene Tags
Many of the VRML attributes set in the exporter UI are stored in the
Lightwave scene file as comments. These comments can be viewed and
edited on an item-by-item basis with the Comments (Layout Generic)
plug-in. These Comments should be formatted as <Tag>=<value> where
the Tag is one of the following:
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Tag Name/Usage Description
URL=<url> (URL="http://etc.")
Item URL, overrides object and children's URLs.
SOUND=<url> [<volume> <loop?>]
Sounds can be added to objects. Currently these are
triggered with any animation.
Trigger when mouse is over object (mouse grope).
Trigger if viewer enters active region (WxHxD).
Trigger when viewer sees object.
Dump contents of file directly into output.
Skip this object and its children.
Other object for sensor.
VRML=nodeName{node fields}
Node creator, dump node from comment into file.
Create text node.
MORPH= <start> <end> <step> <loop?>
Morph animation capture. Creates external
LOD=<objectfilename> [<range>]
Level of Detail node. Use multiple tags in order of
decreasing complexity (increasing range).
Tag Name/Usage Description (stored in first
camera in scene)
NAVIGATE=<type> [<speed>]
NavigationInfo Type is one of NONE, WALK,
EXAMINE, FLY, or ANY. Browsers may restrict user
navigation with this.
Override scene background image with URLs for
front, back, left, right, and top images named like
basename__front.jpg, etc.
NavigationInfo Headlight on, if present.
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Often you want to edit certain properties of an item, and luckily,
changing the values and properties of items is simple in Layout. But
what if you need to change the properties for 20 objects? The
Spreadsheet Scene Manager (Scene > Utilities: Generics > Spreadsheet)
organizes these properties and lets you edit a wide range of values
quickly and easily.
The Spreadsheet Scene Manager interface.
The Spreadsheet Scene Manager has six sections: Workspaces, Filters,
Items, Properties, Timeline, and the Edit Controls. Many of these areas
have Expand and Collapse controls, so you can adjust which sections are
currently displayed. A message bar above the Edit Controls informs you
about the tasks performed.
You can use the Spreadsheet to customize settings and options that
are displayed in the Manager’s panel.
Whether creating a workspace makes editing easier for you or saves
you time, you can configure almost every aspect of the display with this
Customizing the Workspace.
Settings are defined in the Spreadsheet as a Workspace. You create a
library of commonly-used displays by using the Create Workspace and
Delete Workspace commands. These two commands are found in the
drop-list beside the Workspace name.
The Workspace drop-list.
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Creating a workspace:
1 Customize the Workspace to fit your display needs.
2 Apply a Name to the Workspace by entering text in the Workspace
name field.
3 Select the Create Workspace command in the drop-list menu.
Once a Workspace is created, the name of the Workspace appears in
the top portion of this drop-list menu. To revert to the settings saved in
this Workspace, simply select its name from the drop-list. This will load
the settings for the selected Workspace and reconfigure the interface to
match the saved parameters.
To remove the current Workspace from the drop-list, select the Delete
Workspace command from the drop-list. A confirmation dialog will ask
whether you want to delete the Workspace from the scene file. Once you
delete it, the Workspace name is also removed from the drop-list.
Workspaces are saved with the scene file.
The Spreadsheet Scene Manager has options for customizing how the
Spreadsheet tools function and how information is displayed. A checklist contains a list of General, Display, and Workspace options for the
The Options drop-list menu.
You can use this check-list (shown above), or you can access the
tabbed interface by selecting the first item in the list, labeled Options.
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A complex animation might have dozens, if not hundreds, of items
within the scene. Searching through this almost endless list to find a
particular group of items can often be frustrating.
Using the Spreadsheet’s filtering options, you can narrow the list
down to make it easier to navigate, so you can get to your items faster.
You activate the Spreadsheet’s filtering tools with the Filter check
box. Then you enter the characters for your search in a text field so that
you can search through the item names in your scene. The filter
parameters determine how the search is conducted.
The Filter’s parameters drop-list
To use a Filter:
1 Create a scene with three nulls named leftLeg, leftArm, and rightArm.
2 Select Scene > Generics > Spreadsheet.
3 Activate the Filter option.
4 Enter the word “Left” in the text field.
5 Select the Containing filter parameter.
The Manager then searches through the items listed in your scene,
looking for names with the word “Left.” The resulting list of items reads,
leftLeg and leftArm. Because the item rightArm doesn’t contain the word
“Left,” it is omitted from the filtered list.
Activate the Case option to refine the search parameters; Case
includes the upper or lowercase characters of your entry in the search.
In the example above, activating the Case option results in no items in
the filtered list because the search characters contain an uppercase “L”
in the word “Left.” The item names use a lowercase “l” and since they
don’t match, they are omitted from the filtered list.
The filtering tools are not available in the Hierarchy listing mode.
After you create a working filter, you can add it to a favorites list by
selecting the Create Favorite… command in the Favorites drop-list.
L I G H T WAV E 3 D 7
The “left” Favorite in the Favorites drop-list.
This command prompts a dialog window that requests a name for
your search parameters. Later, you can quickly reselect the filter and its
settings by name. The new filter is placed at the top of the drop-list,
above the Favorite commands.
Replacing and Deleting Favorites from this menu is as easy as
selecting a filter name from a list. This list of Favorite filters is saved
within the animation’s scene file.
The section of the Spreadsheet Scene Manager that contains the filter
controls can be minimized by using the expand and collapse button.
Mouse Functions
The mouse has several different functions in the Spreadsheet Scene
LMB: Selects and highlights a field.
SHIFT + LMB: Range selection.
CTRL + LMB: Non-continuous selection.
RMB: Opens the cell’s Options menu.
In the Items List:
Double-click: Selects the object in Layout
The Item List
Items in a scene are displayed in the Spreadsheet Scene Manager’s
Item list window.
The Items list portion of the Panel.
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Items in this list are determined by any active filters and by the
current Display Mode. Use the plus (+) and minus (-) icons to open and
close an item’s channel lists.
The Display Mode drop-list.
By selecting a Display Mode you specify the items for the
Spreadsheet to include and also how the Spreadsheet is displayed. The
Hierarchy display mode lists the items by creating collapsible trees of
parent and sibling items. The All Items mode lists every item in the
scene, while the Objects Only, Bones Only, Lights Only and Cameras
Only modes refine the list to include only certain types of items.
The Sort Order mode determines how the items are actually listed in
the window.
The Sort Order drop-list.
The Natural and Reverse Natural modes list the items in either the
order or the reverse order that they were loaded or created in the scene.
Alphabetical and Reverse Alphabetical will display the items in a
fashion that is easy to locate individual items.
In the Selected Items display mode, you have two additional sorting
modes: Selected and Reverse Selected. These modes refer to how the
items were selected in Layout.
The Item Selection options menu.
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The Property Cells
The Property Editor is where you find most of the Spreadsheet’s
functionality. Here you can select and edit an item’s individual value or
groups of values for multiple objects. This list of cells is organized using
rows and columns, much like a spreadsheet used in business
applications. That is why this plug-in is called the Spreadsheet Scene
The Property Editor.
Listed in the columns, left to right, are the item properties supported
by the Spreadsheet Scene Manager. These properties are organized in
lists of related attributes called Banks. You can select which banks are
currently displayed by selecting them from the Banks drop-list.
The Banks drop-list.
You can view more than one Bank at a time. You can add and delete
different Banks from the Property Cells by using the plus (+) and minus
(-) button located by the Banks drop-list. Use the slider-bar at the
bottom of the Property Cells to adjust which bank(s) are currently
displayed in the viewing area.
Editing Cells
The Property cells contain the values for each of the properties, for
all items. The values range from numerical values to file names,
depending on which property you are editing. Because the Spreadsheet
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is a non-modal interface, when a value displayed in a cell is changed, the
item’s property is updated instantly. This lets you interactively change
the properties of each item and see their results in Layout’s viewport.
You can define this level of interaction from the Options check-list.
Enable Apply Quick Edits Immediately to make changes as soon as the
mouse button is released. Otherwise changes are delayed until you hit
the Apply button.
There are two ways to edit the values displayed in an item’s property
cell. The first method is to edit the values directly in the cell.
1 Select a cell or group of cells to edit. This can include cells from
multiple columns, as long as they are of the same type. The interface
will not allow you to mix value types.
2 Using the LMB, edit a selected cell. Once you let go of the mouse
button, the values for all selected cells will adjust accordingly.
The second method is to use Edit controls.
1 Select a cell as you did above.
2 Use the Edit controls located at the bottom of the interface to adjust
the values in the cells. These controls reflect the type of value you
are editing, so they vary from cell to cell. The image below shows
numerical data (integers, percents, distances, angles, time and floats)
but it gives you an idea of how the editing controls work.
Controls for numerical data:
The Edit controls used for numerical data.
The Edit controls allow you to edit the property cell’s values in
absolute or relative mode. You enter a value in the Change Value To field
and choose an edit effect from the Effect drop-list. The effect selects how
the cell’s value will be altered when the edit is applied.
The available Effect options.
The Replace edit mode lets you make absolute changes to the cell’s
values. That is, when you apply the edit to the selected cells, the new
value will replace the current values. For example, you select ten cells
with various values in each cell, and in the Change Value To field you
enter a value of 2.0. When the edit is Previewed or Applied, the cells will
now all read 2.0.
The Add, Subtract, Multiply, and Divide functions are all relative
editing modes. They adjust the cell’s values relative to their original
values. In the example above, if you select the Add edit mode, all cells
will add the value 2.0 to their original values when you apply the effect.
L I G H T WAV E 3 D 7
By pressing the Apply button, you commit to the edit. You cannot
undo these edits. For that reason, you can use the Preview and Reset
buttons to view the effect of the edit without actually applying the edit. If
you like the results of the previewed changes, simply press the Apply
button and the changes are made to the item’s properties.
The Spreadsheet Scene Manager will notify you when you are editing
in Preview mode by highlighting the Items, Property Cells, and Timeline
The Use Step field lets you increase the values in the selected cells by
an exact increment. Simply put the increment in the field, select an edit
mode, and Preview or Apply the changes.
The Spreadsheet Scene Manager also lets you edit any parameters
that can support envelopes. Like in Layout, these parameters are
indicated by a small E button in the cell itself.
Envelopes can be edited in cells using the E button.
You can add envelopes by group selecting the cells and pressing the E
button. You can also use the SHIFT+E combination to remove envelopes
from properties.
If the cell has envelope information stored in the channel, a keyframe
divot appears on the left edge. If a keyframe is located at the current
frame, the divot turns yellow, and the value becomes editable. Otherwise
this value is ghosted.
Clicking this divot will create a key, and SHIFt+clicking will remove a
The Spreadsheet’s timeline has much of the same functionality as
LightWave’s Scene Editor. You can edit an object’s motions by simply
adjusting an animation bar located on the timeline.
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The Timeline Editor.
The long bars let you adjust the first and last frame for both the
Render and Preview ranges. The fifth bar in the image above shows the
position of the current frame. By sliding these bars around, the
Spreadsheet updates the settings in Layout dynamically.
You can adjust the Start Time and End Time by dragging the black
arrows beneath the frame hash marks.
The different colored bars display the frame range of the item’s
motion. Small plus signs (+) within the bars represent the keyframes for
motion. To change the start and end time of the motion, you must select
the middle of the bar; you can then slide the bar to the left and right. To
scale the motion, you drag the left or right handles of the bar.
The slider located at the bottom of the Timeline both zooms and
scrolls the viewable area.
Column Sorting
You can change a column’s sort order by selecting the area under the
column’s header name.
The flags lets you determine the new sort order.
As you select columns, numbered flags appear that reflect the sorting
order. By defining this order, you can sort the item list according to its
properties. For example, you can sort by an object’s Subpatch level,
which will put all the items at level three at the top, and everything at
level one at the bottom.
Objects in Layout
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hapter 7:
Objects in Layout
When you set up a new scene, you will need to load the appropriate
objects into the scene. There are several ways to load objects into a
To load an object file into a scene:
1 Make sure your Content Directory is properly set. This will help with
any images that are referenced in the object file.
2 Select Items > Add > Objects > Load Object (or File > Load > Load
Object) and use the file dialog to navigate to the desired object file.
(Note: Multiple objects may be loaded when more than one is
selected in the file dialog.)
Alternatively, you can press the + (plus) key on your numeric keypad,
which adds the appropriate item based on the active edit mode
selected at the bottom of the screen (i.e., Object, Bones, Lights or
If the object contains multiple layers of geometry, each layer will be
loaded as a separate editable item in Layout. (See Chapter 20, “Multilayer Object Standard.”)
As discussed in the prior chapter, an object is initially loaded so that
its local Origin is at the global Origin and its local axes line up with the
world axes.
Object loaded at Origin
When you move an object, you are repositioning its local Origin
relative to the world Origin. The local Origin provides a single point of
reference for an object’s position in 3-D space. The object’s geometry is
then applied relatively to the local Origin’s new position.
Actually, an object’s (numerical) position is first determined by its pivot
point, discussed later, which can provide an offset amount to the local
Origin’s position. However, the pivot point is usually located at the
local Origin, by default.
Object moved off the Origin
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An object’s local Origin is established when it is modeled and is most
easily seen when the object is viewed in Modeler—the local Origin is at
the point where all axes meet (i.e., equal to 0).
The location of the origin
Loading from Modeler
For information on how to load an object directly from Modeler, see
Chapter 20, “Layout Communication.”
Loading a Single Layer
Choose Items > Add > Objects > Load Object Layer to load a specific
layer from a multi-layer object. A dialog will appear allowing you to
define which layer to load.
Null objects are special objects that can be used for many different
purposes in LightWave. Generally, they are used any time you need a 3-D
point that can be referenced. Nulls can act as a spot for lights or the
camera to watch, or a handle to help in manipulating a group of objects.
They are often used with object/bone hierarchies to group major
components and with Inverse Kinematics to act as goals for items to
reach for.
Null objects appear in the Layout window as six-pointed stars or
jacks; however, they never render in an image. Null objects, like the
camera and lights, will appear to grow or shrink in relation to objects as
the grid size is changed. They can be moved, rotated, scaled, and so on,
just like any regular object.
A null object
To add a null object:
1 Select Items > Add > Objects > Add Null.
2 Enter the name you wish to use for the null object in the dialog that
appears or accept the default name of “Null.”
When there are multiple items of the same type with the same name,
a numerical suffix is added automatically (e.g., Null (1), Null (2), etc.).
Null objects are created by LightWave on a scene-by-scene basis and
are not real objects that can be saved to disk. They remain part of the
scene file, however, and will reload with the scene.
You should always save objects after you have altered their surface
To save an object:
1 Make sure your Content Directory is properly set.
2 Select the object you want to save.
3 Select File > Save > Save Current Object to save...you guessed it...the
current object.
You can also use the File > Save > Save All Objects function to save
all objects in the current scene.
Use Save All Objects with caution. Be sure it is what you really
want to do!
Saving a Copy
Choosing File > Save > Save Object Copy will allow you to save a
copy of an object using a new name, without affecting the object used by
the scene.
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The important difference between loading an object directly versus
loading from a scene lies in what is stored in an object file versus what is
stored in a scene file. The object file contains only the object geometry
and surface settings—what the object looks like in its most basic state.
There is no movement information in an object file. Loading objects from
a scene is accomplished using File > Load > Load Items From Scene.
Note that this will load all of the objects (and optionally the lights) in the
Movement information is saved in the scene file. However, this is not
only movement in the normal sense, like moving an object from point A
to point B, but also includes movement of the points in their positional
relationship to each other.
Moving points can change the shape of an object, sometimes
dramatically. However, generally, the number of points and polygons, as
well as their relationship, remains the same.
Understanding object and scene files is fundamental to understanding
For example, say we had a flag object that was really just a flatsubdivided rectangle. In Layout, we could make the flag wave using
something called a displacement map—essentially this animates the
points in the object. The displacement map settings are saved in the
scene file. The underlying flag geometry and surface settings are stored
in the flag object file.
Choose File > Save > Save Transformed Object to save an object with
any changes of location, rotation, scale, morph, skeletal deformation,
displacement map, and so on. The new object is also saved relative to
the Origin. The current frame in Layout controls the state of the saved
There is a unique quality to an object that uses displacement mapping
with an image (planar, cylindrical, or spherical) as well as surface color
mapped with an image.With the displacement map altering the object’s
shape, the color map is also bent to follow the contours of the
transformed object. However, if you save this reshaped object with
Save Transformed Object, it will now be permanently reshaped and
the surface color mapping will no longer match.
If you want to use an item that is already in your scene, you can just
choose Items > Add > Clone Current Item. The new item will inherit all
of the source items properties and motion. As such, this can be a real
time saver.
The command in the Items > Replace menu lets you replace the
current object with another object or a null object. You might use this
feature to animate a very complex object by inserting a stand-in object
with a low-polygon count and then replacing it when it is time to render.
You can rename items, like cameras, bones, and lights, but not
objects, using Items > Replace > Rename Current Item.
You can use commands on the Items > Clear menu to remove
selected items or all of the items of a specified type from a scene.
Replacing a Multi-layer Object
When replacing a multi-layer object, select the first layer before
replacing. The first layer will be replaced with the first layer from the
new object file. Subsequent layers—belonging to the same original
object—will be replaced if their layer numbers match those found in the
new object file.
You can also use Items > Replace > Replace With Object Layer to
replace an object with a single layer from a multi-layered object. A dialog
will appear to let you specify the layer.
In Layout, tools operate in a manner similar to Modeler tools. Once
they are selected, you need to select another tool to stop using it.
However, unlike Modeler, one tool is always selected. You are familiar
with the Move and Rotate tools, but there are many others like the
Adjust Limited Region tool. You can use the SPACEBAR to cycle through
the main tools.
You can see a list of tools in the Tool group when setting up shortcuts
and menus.
When you move an (unparented and unrotated) item in Layout,
generally your mouse movements have the following effects:
L I G H T WAV E 3 D 7
Left/Right LMB
Up/Down LMB
Fwd/Back(3D*); Up/Dn(orthogonal)
Left/Right RMB
*3D=Perspective, Light, and Camera views
For parented and rotated items, see also the subsequent discussion on
Coordinate System.
You generally use a viewport’s arbitrary horizontal and vertical axes
to adjust an item’s position (Move tool). As such, no matter how much
you have rotated a Perspective view, dragging your mouse left or right
will always move the item left or right on your display. Dragging your
LMB left/right in the Right view would move an object along the Z axis.
The same mouse movement in the Back view would move it along the X
To move an item in a scene:
1 Select the item(s).
2 Click Items > Tools: Move.
3 Drag your mouse as described previously.
Local Axis Adjustments
Sometimes you may want to move an item using its local axes
instead. You can do this by simply holding the CTRL key as you drag. The
movement will be along the object’s local axis, no matter what view is
you use (or how much you rotate the item).
(Ctrl) Move
Left/Right LMB
X axis
Up/Down LMB
Z axis
Left/Right RMB
Y axis
When you adjust rotation, in contrast to adjusting position, the action
is relative to the global axes around the item’s pivot point (discussed
later). By default, the pivot point is at the item’s local Origin.
Rotation uses a similar three-coordinate system: Heading, Pitch, and
Bank. (These are rotations around each of the axes: Y, X, and Z,
respectively.) You can think of heading as the movement in shaking your
head “no.” Pitch is like the movement in shaking your head “yes.” Bank
is like the movement of tilting your head left and right (and sticking your
tongue out. Nyaa nyaa!).
Rotation coordinate names and related axes
Parenting (see Chapter 11) can dramatically impact the results of
When you rotate an item, your mouse movements have the following
Left/Right LMB
Up/Down LMB
Left/Right RMB
To rotate an item in a scene:
1 Select the item.
2 Click Items > Tools: Rotate.
3 Drag your mouse as described previously.
L I G H T WAV E 3 D 7
The Coordinate System setting (Items > Motions: Coord System)
affects the Move, Rotate, and Move Pivot Pt tools. World allows easy
movement based on the world axes, even for items deep within a
hierarchy that contains rotated parents. Parent is for movement based
on the axes of an item's parent(s). If an item has no parent then this
setting is equivalent to World. Local is for movement based on an item's
own axes (such as dollying a rotated camera along its view direction).
For unrotated items it is equivalent to Parent. Local, which can still be
temporarily activated by holding CTRL, as discussed previously.
Below, we have rotated a null and then parented a spotlight to it. The
Show Handles option, discussed later, is also active for illustration
purposes. The handles will line up with the movement axes that would
be used if you dragged your mouse.
Left:World. Right: Parent
Note how with World, the handles line up with the lines on the grid.
With Parent, the handles line up with the rotated (parented) null. Finally,
with Local, the handles line up with the spotlight’s rotation.
The position and rotation coordinate system settings are independent.
To change the system, select either the Move or Rotate tool first.
One thing to remember about Local and World rotation is that they
are only for interactive manipulation. Internally, the Parent system is
always used since it's the only one that can encode absolute rotation
values.This will affect how an item's orientation is interpolated
between two keyframes. As such, rotating the pivot point might still be
useful in some situations.
Avoiding Gimbal Lock
Gimbal lock normally occurs after you rotate an item 90 degrees on
its pitch using the Parent coordinate system. Once this has occurred,
rotating the object about either its heading or its bank axis gives you the
same result—you have lost the ability to rotate about the object’s local
Two rotation handles lined up resulting in Gimbal lock
Gimbal lock is commonly a problem with bones in a hierarchy. By
nature, bones have a starting position that is often rotated 90 degrees on
their pitch, like bones in the arm of a human figure. You can avoid
Gimbal lock by rotating using the Local coordinate system.
You can scale an object (but not lights or cameras) using the Size and
Stretch functions. The difference between the two is that Size scales your
object proportionately along all axes, while Stretch lets you scale each
axis independently. Both operations happen around its pivot point
(discussed later).
When you Size an object, it is scaled equally along all axes. Dragging
left will make it smaller and dragging right will make it bigger. When you
Stretch an object, your mouse movements affect the following axes:
Left/Right LMB
X axis
Up/Down LMB
Z axis
Left/Right RMB
Y axis
L I G H T WAV E 3 D 7
To size and stretch an object:
1 Select the item(s).
2 Click Items > Tools: Size or Stretch.
3 Drag your mouse as described previously.
The Squash tool is similar to the Stretch tool; however, when one of
the scale channels is modified, the other two channels are automatically
adjusted to preserve the object's volume.
After using the Squash tool
You can numerically add to Position, Rotation, and Scale values by
using the functions in the Items > Tools: Additive menu group. They
work like editing the input fields in the lower-left corner of Layout, but
add to the existing values instead of replacing them.
Add to Position dialog
If you have Show Handles active on the Display Options tab of the
Preferences panel (Display > Options: Display Options), special handles
will be available when the Move, Rotate, or Stretch tool is active. The
handles can be dragged (anywhere along their axis lines) to edit items
along the chosen axis. This can be a quicker alternative to using
standard mouse dragging; moreover, movement along all three axes can
be performed with just one mouse button and no qualifier keys.
Handles are drawn at a constant size relative to the viewports they
appear in, regardless of the item's scale or distance, the viewport's
zoom factor, or the grid square size.
When moving, three arrows will appear that point toward the positive
side of the X (red), Y (green), and Z (blue) axes.
Move handles
Stretch handles (for objects) are similar but appear as cubes instead
of arrowheads.
Stretch handles
When you rotate an item, heading (red), pitch (green), and bank
(blue) rings will appear. You can manipulate the rotation discs by
dragging anywhere on their circumference. The arrowheads—only
visible using the Parent coordinate system—provide a reference for the
related rotation value.
Rotate handles
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Below, you can see how the rotation limit values on the Motion
Options panel (Items > Motions: Motion Options), if any, are also visible
on the discs (like a piece of pie) in the Parent coordinate system.
Pie area indicates rotation limits
Love handles
If Show Handles is active on the Display Options tab of the
Preferences panel and you click on an item to move it, you may have
to move your pointer away from the object, before you start dragging.
You can also change position and rotation settings numerically by
entering the desired values in the XYZ or HPB fields, located in the lower
left corner. The function of these fields change depending on the editing
being done.
Numeric position fields displayed
Protecting from Changes
Whether you are moving, rotating, or stretching an item, or moving its
pivot point, Layout lets you independently deactivate any of the three
components used for those settings. You deactivate the components on
the information display in the lower-left corner of the screen. This
protects the deactivated component(s) from changing as you move your
Left:Y inactive. Right: pitch and bank inactive
You can also confine changes by using any of the orthogonal views (i.e.,
Front,Top, and Side). In these views, you can generally make changes
only along the display’s horizontal and vertical axes using your mouse.
Understanding pivot points is fundamental to understanding
The pivot point is a point of reference used for all objects and does
not correspond to any point used in an object’s geometry. The pivot
point is the center of position, rotation, and scaling. By default, it is
located at the object’s local Origin. The pivot point, a small yellow star,
becomes visible when you select an object.
You cannot animate the pivot point.
The pivot point
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Rotation with pivot point at default location.
Rotation with pivot point moved behind the cow. Note the difference in the center of rotation.
Moving the Pivot Point
You can modify the pivot point from its default position in Layout or
Modeler. Think of this as giving an offset amount from the object’s local
Origin. When you move the pivot point, the object will appear to stay in
the same position. On the face of it, this should seem confusing to you; if
the pivot point is the point used to reference position, the object should
move if the pivot point is moved. The reason the object doesn’t move is
because LightWave automatically adjusts the object’s position by the
same amount the pivot point is moved.
To move the pivot point in Modeler:
Select Items > Tools: Pivot > Move Pivot Point Tool to activate the
Pivot Point tool and move the crosshairs to a new position in any
viewport. It is just like moving a point.
Moving the pivot point in Modeler
To move the pivot point in Layout:
1 Select the object.
2 Select Items > Tools: Pivot > Move Pivot Point Tool
3 Move the pivot point as you would any item in the Layout. (If you
select the Move tool and look at the object’s position settings, you
will see that they have been changed to compensate for the
movement in the pivot point—the object will not visibly move.)
We strongly suggest that you leave an object at its default rotation and
scale before you move its pivot point in Layout or you may get
unpredictable results.
Layout or Modeler
Setting the pivot point in Modeler saves its position in the object file.
Setting it in Layout only saves the data in the scene file. As such, it is
usually best to set your pivot point position in Modeler.
Why Move the Pivot Point?
You might be wondering why you might want to move the pivot point.
Why not just model all objects so that the Origin is the desired center of
rotation? Well, you certainly could do this and should probably try to do
this as much as possible. However, there are often circumstances when
multiple objects are just parts of a larger element. You want the
individual parts to be positioned in their respective locations by default.
But you may want to rotate them individually, around their own center
Let’s take puzzle pieces for example, where all of the pieces fly in to
form the complete puzzle. If you modeled each piece centered around
the Origin, it would be a real pain to move each piece perfectly into its
final resting place. It would be much easier to load each piece by default
L I G H T WAV E 3 D 7
at its resting position and then set arbitrary starting positions and
rotations. To do the latter, you need to move the pivot points to the
center of each piece.
A robot is another good example. The arms, legs, feet, torso, etc., are
all separate objects, each modeled in their natural resting position in
Modeler. However, all parts must be rotatable around a unique axis. This
is possible only by moving the pivot points of each object.
Left: Left ankle object. Right: Pivot point moved so rotation is at the knee
Rotating the Pivot Point
You can also rotate the pivot point. This sets a starting point for
rotation that is different from the default rotation, which is in alignment
with world coordinates.
Pivot rotation is most useful when used with bones, as discussed later.
You may want to stick with normal item rotation for other rotational
To rotate the pivot point in Layout:
1 Select the object.
2 Select Items > Tools: Pivot > Rotate Pivot Point Tool.
3 Rotate the pivot point as you would any item in Layout.
Unlike the Move Pivot tool, which changes the position values, when
you use the Rotate Pivot tool, it does not compensate with changes to
rotation values.
If you have rotated an object and wish to transfer its current
rotational state to the pivot rotation, choose Items > Tools: Pivot >
Record Pivot Rotation, which runs the Record Pivot Rotation command.
Then you can start all over as far as rotating the item is concerned. It
will add the rotations to any existing values for pivot rotation.
You can quickly reset position and rotation to their initial states by
selecting the item, activating the channel you wish to reset (i.e., Move,
Rotate, Size, and other tools), and then clicking Items > Tools: Reset.
Each function must be reset individually.
If you plan to move a pivot point, you should reset the item’s position
and rotation first.
Reset is not an undo feature, although it can sometimes work
similarly. Resetting restores the state for the selected channels to what it
was when the item was first loaded or created.
If you have Position or Rotation axes deactivated, Reset will have no
effect on those settings.
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hapter 8:
In order for the items (cameras, objects, lights and bones) to move
about, you must tell them where they must be located at any given frame
during the course of an animation. You do this by creating key poses,
known as keyframes (or simply keys), at strategic points in time
throughout an animation. Once keyframes are created, LightWave
automatically calculates the in-between (tweens) frames in smooth (or
abrupt) movements.
For instance, you could create an animation where a coffee cup jumps
up and down and spins around. This could be done easily by creating
one keyframe at the point where the coffee cup begins to jump up;
moving and/or rotating the coffee cup to the top of its leap and creating
another key; then, creating a third key after you move it back to where it
A cup at different keyframes
All items in a LightWave scene can have independent keyframes. The
camera can do a slow truck in on a scene while the lights move up and
down and the objects fly about. The keyframes for each of these items
are independent of the keyframes for every other item. Moreover, you
can even independently control each individual animation channel (e.g.,
XYZ positions and HPB rotations). Thus, an item’s X position can change
while the Y and Z positions remain constant, or Y and Z positions may
move using totally different keys.
Generally, LightWave works in frames. A certain number of frames
make up animations when played back on video (30 fps for NTSC and 25
fps for PAL) or film (24 frames per second). Of course, a single frame will
make a still image such as those used for print.
By now, you should be fairly comfortable with positioning, rotating,
and scaling objects in Layout. However, all of your efforts tweaking your
objects just so will be wasted if you forget to keyframe the object once
you are done—freezing the pose of the item at a point in time.
The Frame Slider, located beneath the viewport area can be dragged
to change the current frame or shuttle through your scene. The input
field to the left of the slider is the first frame in your scene and the input
field to the right is the last frame. You can change these settings by
simply changing the values in either field.
The frame slider
If you hold the ALT key while you drag, you can pan the current range
of frames. The first and last frames will change, but the total number of
frames between the first and last will remain constant.
For additional information on frame slider options, see Chapter 6.
Besides dragging the frame slider to navigate through your scene, you
can also use the transport controls.
Keyboard Shortcuts
There are also some keyboard shortcuts that can be used:
• Previous frame (LEFT ARROW key)
• Next frame (RIGHT ARROW key)
• Previous keyframe (SHIFT + LEFT ARROW key)
• Next keyframe (SHIFT + RIGHT ARROW key)
Going to a Specific Frame
If you press the F key, a dialog will appear. Enter the frame you want
to go to.
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You can also play your scene backward (left arrow) or forward (right
arrow) from the current frame using the playback controls. The Step
field, in the bottom-right corner, determines the frame increment. A
setting of 1 will play all frames; 2 will play every other frame, and so on.
The Step input field
Also see the Play at Exact Rate option on the General Options tab
of the Preferences panel discussed in Chapter 6.
Your playback speed will vary depending on the complexity of your
scene, object display mode, system capabilities and so on. Reducing the
size of your Layout window can dramatically increase playback speed.
To take advantage of Play, you can modify an object in Modeler while it
is animated in Layout (Note that the HUB must be activate.) How
cool is that?!
As we’ve already learned, objects are always loaded at the Origin.
This is the center of Layout’s grid, 0, 0, 0, and every new item will have a
default keyframe for frame 0 here. If you never create another keyframe
for an item, it will stay at this default location throughout the animation
(if you want to call it that).
Frame 0 is the default starting point, but you can create keys at frames
at less than 0, if you need to.
To create a keyframe:
1 Select the item(s) and pose (move, rotate, size, etc.) it.
2 Click the Create Key button or press the ENTER key.
3 The Create Motion Key dialog will appear.
Create Motion Key dialog
By default the Create Key At field will contain the current frame. You
can change the frame number to create the key—using the animation
channel values for the current frame—at a different frame by entering a
different frame number here. This is a good way to copy a keyframe. You
can also re-pose your item and create a new key over an old one.
The For pop-up menu has several options. You can create keys for:
Selected Items
All items that are selected, which will always
include the current item. Generally, this will be
the one you use the most.
Current Item Only
Only the current item, even if others are selected.
Current Item and Descendants
The current item and any child items.
All Items
All items in the scene. Beware that this is not
limited to just items of the same type. A key will
be created using the current animation channel
settings for all objects, bones, lights, and
The dialogs for creating motion keyframes for scene items have three
rows of toggle buttons. This lets you create animation channel keys
independently. The Position, Rotation and Scale buttons allow a row to
be turned on or off with one click. All channels are enabled by default
and their state is remembered.
Keys created using the Create Motion Key dialog use the Graph
Editor's Default Incoming Curve type, discussed later. Generally, we
suggest you use TCB Splines and not Bezier splines. Bezier tangents are
determined at the moment of creation and don't automatically adjust
as new keys are created.This can cause awkward movement through
Creating and Modifying Keys Automatically
To automatically create or modify keys you must activate the Auto
Key option on the main interface. This is the global on/off switch for
automatically creating keyframes. It works in conjunction with the Auto
Key Create setting (General Options tab of the Preferences panel). (See
Chapter 6 for more information.)
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Auto Key is a time-saving feature for advanced users and can be very
useful for quickly roughing out a motion path; however, beginners may
want to stick with creating keys manually. Most of the exercises in the
manuals assume that Auto Key is not active.
Make sure you are always aware of the status of Auto Key and Auto
Key Create. These options can result in an animation with extraneous
A good way to get familiar with this feature is to set Auto Key
Create to Off and leave Auto Key active.This will affect only
existing keys.You can use the Undo function if you make a mistake, but
remember that it is only a single-level undo.
Editing Motion Paths Directly in a Viewport
You can also move an item’s motion path directly in a viewport using
the Move Motion Path tool (Items > Motions: Move Path).
You delete keyframes in much the same way your create them.
To delete a keyframe:
1 Select the item. Normally, you will also go to the keyframe you wish
to delete.
2 Click the Delete Key button or press the DEL key.
3 The Delete Motion Key dialog will appear. It uses all of the same
controls previously described for the Create Motion Key dialog.
Delete Motion Key dialog
Delete Motion Key Generic Plug-in
Use the Delete Motion Key generic plug-in (Scene > Utilities:
Generics) to delete keyframes, clear motions, delete ranges of keys,
delete keys within a threshold, and more. Delete Motion Key can be used
to completely replace the built-in Delete Key dialog. In fact, you may
want to remap the DEL key to this plug-in.
Delete Motion Key dialog
To use Delete Motion Key:
1 Select the item(s) you want to delete keyframes from. Normally, you
will also go to the keyframe you wish to delete.
2 Run Delete Motion Key
3 Choose a Delete Mode.
4 Enter a range of keys in the Delete Keys From and Through input
5 Enter a Threshold.
6 Choose a For mode.
7 Enable or disable channels
8 Click OK.
Note that many of the above steps are optional. For example, to
simply delete a keyframe at the current time (using the previous For
mode), run Delete Motion Key and click OK.
The For pop-up menu determines which objects will have their keys
deleted and has several options. You can delete keys for:
Selected Items
All items that are selected, which will always
include the current item. Generally, this will be
the option you use the most.
Selected Items and Descendants
The selected items and any child items.
Current Item Only
Only the current item, even if others are selected.
Current Item and Descendants
The current item and any child items.
All Items
All items in the scene. Beware that this is not
limited to just items of the same type.
The Position, Rotation and Scale buttons allow a row to be turned
on or off with one click. Only the selected channels will be processed.
You can SHIFT+click to invert a group's selection state.
The All Other Channels button is a very powerful feature, but can
cause a lot of damage to your scene if used incorrectly. All non-motion
channels will also be processed (the Position, Rotation and Scale
buttons still determine if the motion channels are processed). This
includes all envelopes applied to those items (like Camera Zoom Factor
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and Light Intensity), envelopes for applied plug-ins (such as Morph
Mixer channels), and surface envelopes applied in the Surface Editor.
Use this feature carefully, especially when deleting keys on multiple
items at once
The About button will open an informational dialog, including a list of
keyboard shortcuts.
Delete Mode
The Delete Mode determines what is done to the item's motion. The
default mode, Delete Key, deletes the key at the frame entered in the
(Delete Keys) From field. Both integer and fractional keyframe values
can be entered.
The Threshold field can be used to determine how close a keyframe
has to be to the defined frame to be deleted. This is useful for deleting
fractional keyframes when Allow Fractional Current Frame is disabled
on the General Options tab of the Preferences panel.
Delete Keys Within Range will delete all keyframes between and
including the From and Through frames. The Threshold setting, in this
case, will extend the range lower and higher—all keys within the range
will be deleted.
Delete Keys Outside Range will delete all keyframes outside, but not
including, the From and Through frames. Threshold is not used in this
mode, as it only applies when the end frames are also deleted.
Delete Keys Before Range deletes all keyframes before, but not
including, the From frame. Similarly, Delete Keys After Range deletes all
keys after, but not including, the Through frame.
With Clear Motion, all existing keyframes will be deleted. This will
only clear the channels marked at the bottom of the dialog.
If all keyframes become deleted in any of these modes, a new default
keyframe is created at frame 0 with a position and rotation of 0.0 on all
axes, and a scale of 1.0.
Threshold determines how close a keyframe has to be to the From
and Through frame numbers in order to be deleted. The default value of
0.0 means that the key must exactly match the frame numbers entered. A
value of 0.1 mean that any keyframe within 0.1 frames will be deleted.
For example, if the you are trying to delete keyframe 20 with a Threshold
of 0.1, all keys between the range of 19.9 through 20.1 will be deleted. A
value of 0.5 can be used to ensure that any fractional keys between the
current frame and the next or previous frames are deleted without going
into the domain of the the next keyframe. The small pop-up menu to the
right of the Threshold input field contains a number of reasonable
presets values.
The Protection pop-up menu can be used to ensure that certain
important keyframes are not deleted. This is especially useful when
using the Delete Keys Outside Range or Clear Motion modes, where
deleting all keyframes could ruin your scene or destroy your character's
bone setup and IK poses. Yikes!
No Protection means that no keyframes will be protected from
deletion. This allows you to delete any keyframe.
Protect Frame 0 will ensure that no keys at frame 0 are deleted.
Similarly, Protect Neg & 0 will protect frame 0 and all negative
Protect First Key and Protect Last Key will keep you from deleting
the first or last key in the channel, respectively.
To save the selected item’s motion path to a file, choose File > Save >
Save Motion File. Likewise, you may load a saved motion file into the
selected item by choosing File > Load > Load Motion File.
Modeler’s Path Extrude and Path Clone commands use these files to
execute their operations.
In addition to playing a scene using the transport controls, you can
also create special preview animations. In most cases, these will give you
a more accurate preview of your final animation.
To Create a Preview Animation:
1 If you are using multiple viewports, the top-left viewport is used for
the preview, so make sure it shows the view you want.
2 Make sure the viewport’s Maximum Render Level is set as desired.
3 Select Make Preview from the Preview pop-up menu. A dialog will
appear asking you for first and last frame settings, as well as Step.
This initially defaults to the scene settings, but may be set
independently. Click OK and the preview animation will be created.
4 When the preview is complete, the Preview Playback Controls panel
will appear.
You can press the ESC key to stop creating the preview animation.The
animation will still be playable up to the point of termination.
Here’s a rundown of the Preview Playback Controls:
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To save time creating a preview animation for a complex scene, do the
Texas Two Step: use a Step of 2 and playback using a frame rate onehalf the desired rate.
Preview Options
Also from the the Preview pop-up menu, you can replay the preview
currently in memory, free it from memory, and load/save a preview
animation file. Selecting Preview Options from the Preview pop-up
menu will display a dialog.
Here, you can select a compression level for preview animations, as
well as select the format and codec used when you save them.
Compressed previews use much less memory, thus you can have a lot
more frames before virtual memory starts being used, which bogs down
playback. Compressed preview files are also smaller when saved to disk.
You can also set whether or not to use virtual memory for preview
Using the Make Preview Buffer option, you can choose to record the
OpenGL back (offscreen) or front (on screen) display buffer. Other
options may be available (e.g., Direct Draw). You may get better
performance with different settings, depending on your video card.
When Virtual Memory is set to Disabled, LightWave attempts to use
only RAM for storage and playback. (Your operating system can still
ultimately swap the data to virtual memory, however.)
Setting Screen Size to Stretch to Fit causes the image to fit the
window, even if its a different size than what was used when the preview
was made.
The undo function will undo the last motion change (Move, Rotate,
Size, or Stretch tool). The button description will change, letting you
know what will be undone (e.g., Undo Move) or redone (e.g., Redo
If you are not using the Auto Key feature, you can quickly reset all
aspects of a frame (i.e., position, rotation, etc.) if you haven’t created
the key yet. Just press the RIGHT ARROW key and then the LEFT ARROW
key.This advances the current frame and then goes back to the
original frame.The frame will return to the last keyframed state, or if
the frame is not a keyframe, to its in-between state.
Undo is not the same as using Reset, discussed previously.
When you create keyframes for items, you specify a set of keys for the
item’s animation channels (generally position, rotation, and scale, but
also light intensity, etc.). The Graph Editor provides both a more global
and more detailed way to alter the settings that govern an item’s
animation channels. You have all of Layout’s keyframe editing
capabilities, plus some others like dragging keyframes to different
frames, or graphically adjusting keyframe attributes. Use it to visually
fine-tune or dramatically change an item’s animation characteristics.
The Graph Editor also controls all envelopes for options like light
intensity, color, camera zoom, etc.
Each animation channel is displayed on a two-dimensional graph.
Time is constant along the bottom and the channel value or setting is
equal to the vertical position. Because time is constant, you can visually
judge things like where an item slows down or speeds up based on the
slope of the curve. The Graph Editor is a great way to identify and fix
those annoying hiccups, which can occur from time to time, in what
should be a smooth animation .
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The Graph Editor has four major interface areas: the Channel (Curve)
bin, the Curve Edit Window, the Curve/Expressions controls, and the
Scene/Expressions list.
You can click the Collapse buttons to hide the left side and bottom
areas of the panel. This will increase the screen real estate used by the
Curve Edit window. When the left side is collapsed, the primary selected
curve is shown in the information field.
Collapse Trees active
Collapse Tabs active
Collapse Trees and Collapse Tabs both active
Frame Range
If frames outside the range of frames in your scene (i.e., less than your
first frame or greater than your last frame) are visible in the Curve Edit
Window, those areas will be slightly darkened. There will also be a small
handle at the very bottom of each border. You can drag these to
interactively adjust your scene’s first and last frame.
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First and last frame handles and corresponding fields on the main Layout interface
The Time Slider
You can grab the time slider in the Curve Edit Window by its base and
drag to change Layout’s current frame. The current frame is displayed
below the slider handle.
The time slider
Clicking at the bottom of the graph—where the frame slider handle
would be—moves the frame slider to that frame.
Panel Layout Adjustments
You can drag the border between the Scene list and Channel Bin, and
between the Channel Bin and Curve Edit Window to change the spacing
between the two sides (if the Graph Editor is not at its minimum overall
Draggable borders
Using the Channel Bin
When you first open the Graph Editor, the appropriate curves for the
currently selected item are displayed in the Channel Bin. The Channel
Bin is merely a repository to show the user which curves are available
for display and edit. Deleting curves from this window will not affect
your scene. This system makes it very simple to edit multiple curves
from several different items.
To replace/add channels to the Channel Bin:
1 Locate the desired item in the Scene list.
2 Double-click on an individual channel or an item name (for all its
channels). These will replace any existing channels in the bin. To add
the channels to the Channel Bin hold the SHIFT key as you click or
drag it into the bin. If you use the drag method, you can drag multiple
channels/items into the bin by selecting multiple items in the Scene
list (SHIFT key for range and CTRL for non-contiguous selection).
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Adding channels to the bin
Once you add channels to the bin, you can rearrange the order by
dragging and dropping.
The Channels Pop-up
The Channels pop-up menu, above the Channel Bin, has a few
functions. You may select Filter to filter out channels from the Channel
Bin that do not match a pattern. The pattern is case sensitive.
*.POSITION.* would remove any channel that wasn’t a Position channel.
You could use *.Y to show only Y channels.
Channel pop-up menu
Choose Create Favorite Set to manage curve sets. It lets you create
sets of editable curves so that you can easily switch between different
combinations of curves to manipulate during a session.
To create a favorites entry:
1 Make sure the desired curves appear in the Channel Bin.
2 Select Create Set from the Channels pop-up menu.
3 Enter an appropriate Name in the input field that appears and click
You can revert to any saved favorite set of curves by selecting it from
the bottom of the Channels pop-up menu.
Choosing Replace favorite set lets you replace an existing favorite set
with the curves currently in the bin. Choosing Delete favorite set lets
you remove an existing favorite set from the Channels pop-up menu.
Editing Curves
With the Graph Editor, you can easily edit multiple curves
simultaneously or use curves from different items as references. Since
you can mix curves of different types in the bin, you can do wacky things
like compare the curve of light intensity with the X position of an
object—any curve in LightWave can be compared or edited together!
Editing the Cow.Position.X and Light.Position.Y channels
You can interactively cut and paste key frames from one curve to
another as well as simply replace an entire curve. This is also a good
way to lock areas of curves together. By selecting multiple curves when
you create keys the curves can be identical at those segments of the
Creating identical keys on different curves
If you put your cursor over a key you will see a data label pop up to
inform you of that point’s Curve, Value, and Frame.
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A key’s data label
Edit Mode Selection
You can select from the edit modes by clicking one of the buttons
beneath the Curve Edit Window. From left to right, the mode buttons are
move, add, stretch, roll, and zoom. Pressing your SPACEBAR cycles you
through the modes.
The information display, just to the right of the buttons, will display
the name of the selected mode button, the shortcut key, and mouse
operation information.
Mode buttons
To select curves for editing:
Click on the channels in the Channel Bin to select their curves for
editing. (Hold the SHIFT key for range and CTRL for non-contiguous
selection.) Selected curves will become highlighted, but unselected
curves will still be visible as a reference.
You can also ALT+RMB on a curve in the Curve Edit window to make it
the (only) selected curve. Use ALT+SHIFT+RMB to add the curve to the
current curve selection.
Your keyboard up and down arrow keys will cycle the selected key
through the curves in the curve bin. Hold the SHIFT key as you press the
arrow keys to increase or decrease the curves selected.
When multiple curves are selected, one will be the “primary” selected
curve and its selection color will be a little brighter. Some commands,
like Fit Values by Type, use the primary selected curve when more than
one is selected.
Selecting curves
To select/unselect keys for editing:
In the Move mode, select keys by clicking on them with your LMB. In
any mode, except Roll, you can drag out a bounding box with your RMB.
This will toggle the state of the bounded group of keys. To add to or
subtract from a selection, hold the SHIFT key. To unselect all selected
keys, just click in the graph border. To select all, SHIFT+double-click.
If only a single key is selected, you can use your keyboard left and
right arrowkeys to cycle the selection of keys along curves.
To add keys to curves:
1 Select the channel curve(s).
2 Click the Add mode button.
3 Click on the graph at the desired frame (horizontal) and value
(vertical) position. Before you release the mousebutton, you can drag
up and down to adjust the value. Hold the CTRL key to adjust the
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Adding key to curve
To delete keys from curves:
1 Select the channel curve(s) and then the key(s).
2 Press the DELETE key.
In the Add mode, you can delete keys with CTRL + LMB.
To change key value/time:
1 Select the key(s) and click the Move mode button.
2 Drag with your LMB to change the value. Hold the CTRL key to change
To scale selected keys:
1 Select the key(s) and click the Stretch mode button.
2 Place your mouse pointer at the position you want to use as the
center of the scaling.
3 Drag using your LMB to scale value. Hold the CTRL key to scale time.
To roll a range of keys:
1 Select the Roll mode.
2 Drag out the time range using your RMB.
3 Drag your LMB to roll the keys—as keys go past the end of the range,
they reappear at the other end of the range.
Copying Keys
You may copy keys using your mouse or keyboard.
To copy selected keys with a mouse:
1 Select the keys for editing. Any mode except Roll can be used. Drag
using CTRL+RMB.
2a When you copy a single curve, an insertion point marker (and paste
time display) will appear as your pointer moves over the curve.
Release the mouse button to insert. Move your pointer off the curve
to abort the paste.
2b When you copy multiple curves, color-coded insertion marks will
appear. With your mousepointer not directly over a curve, release to
paste. Selected keys may be on different curves, but they can be
copied only onto the same curve.
Existing keys will be shifted over if you paste in more than one key
(unless the Insert Overwrites Keys option is enabled).
See also the Copy Time Slice command (Keys > Copy Time Slice),
discussed later.
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Editing Color Channels
You can also animate color channels. If you add an envelope for, say,
a surface color, you can edit the related RGB channels on the graph
Clicking the Color Envelope button
Color envelope in the Graph Editor
When a color channel is selected in the Channel Bin, a color bar will
appear at the bottom of the graph. The bar shows you the color for the
combined red, green, and blue values at any particular point in time—
even if you don’t have all three color components in the bin.
Color bar is a mixture of all three color curves
You can adjust any color channel beyond the normal maximum and
minimum—creating a high dynamic range color.This may have no
visible effect on the color bar, but could affect how the color is
interpreted by other factors.
You can use a color requester to set the key values by right-clicking
on a key and selecting Open Color Picker. Note that the selected color
will only set the color component for the selected channel(s). If other
channels are selected, keys will be created as needed.
Adjusting the Curve Edit Window
Like other LightWave viewports, you can pan around the graph by
holding the ALT key as you drag around the Curve Edit Window.
Alternatively, you can use the drag-window drag button in the upperright corner. You can change the zoom by holding CTRL+ALT while you
drag or by dragging on the zoom-window drag button in the upper-right
The drag and zoom drag button
Zooming and Panning
The Zoom Box tool button is the right-most Mode button. Click it and
you can drag out a box on the graph and zoom in on that area.
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The Zoom Box tool button
Dragging out the zoom box
After using the Zoom Box tool
You can get a 2X zoom out by clicking your RMB with the Zoom Box
tool selected. The zoom out will be centered at the point you click.
If you have a mouse wheel, scrolling it over the Curve Edit window
will affect the zoom. Hold the CTRL key to pan horizontally and use
CTRL+ALT to pan vertically.
The Graph Editor Toolbar
The Toolbar contains a slew of commands for the Graph Editor. Many
of these are also available on the various Curve Bin and Curve Edit
Window pop-up menus, described later.
Toolbar Selection Menu
The Selection menu contains commands that affect curves in the
Curve Bin.
Add Layout Selected
This command will add the channels for the currently selected
item(s) in Layout to the Channel Bin.
Get Layout Selected
This command will replace the contents of the Channel Bin with the
channels for the currently selected item(s) in Layout.
Clear Unselected Channels
This command will remove any unselected curves from the Channel
Clear Channel Bin
This command will empty the Channel Bin.
Remove Channel from Bin
This command will remove all selected curves from the Channel Bin.
Invert Channel Section
This command will invert the selection state of curves in the Channel
Select All Curves in Bin
This command selects all of the curves in the Channel Bin.
Reset Bin Selection
This command leaves only the first curve in the Channel Bin selected.
Filter Curves
Use this command to filter out channels from the Channel Bin that do
not match a pattern. The pattern is case sensitive. *.POSITION.* would
remove any channel that wasn’t a Position channel. You could use *.Y to
show only Y channels.
Filter Position Channels
Use this to filter out everything but Position channels from the
Channel Bin.
Filter Rotation Channels
Use this to filter out everything but Rotation channels from the
Channel Bin.
Filter Scale Channels
Use this to filter out everything but Scale channels from the Channel
Toolbar Keys Menu
The Keys menu contains commands that manipulate the selection,
creation, deletion, frame setting, and value of keys.
Create Key
This allows you to create a key, Layout-style. A dialog will appear
where you can enter the Frame and Value.
Delete Selected Keys
This command will delete any selected keys.
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Lock Selected Keys
This locks the selected keys so they are uneditable. Locked keys are
Unlock Selected Keys
Unlocks selected keys.
Invert Selected Keys
This flips the order of selected keys in time.
Before and after inverting keys
Snap Keys to Frames
This command causes every selected key that falls on a fractional
frame to snap to the nearest whole frame.
Set Key Values
This command will bring up a dialog where you can enter a new
Value for the selected keys.
Bake Selected Curves
This “bakes” the state of selected curves by creating keys at every
frame. Curves do not necessarily need to be affected by a Modifier, but
their effects will be taken into account.
Single-key curve being modified by the Oscillator modifier
After Bake Selected Curves command
Copy Time Slice
You can copy values of selected curves at the current frame (even if
there are no existing source keys) and paste them elsewhere. This
command will copy the values. These values may be pasted at any frame
with Paste Time Slice, but only onto the same curve(s).
Copy Footprint Time Slice
This works like Copy Time Slice, but uses the value(s) from the
curve’s footprint instead of the actual curve. Use Paste Time Slice to
Paste Time Slice
Pastes in values copied with Copy Time Slice or Copy Footprint Time
Slice at the current frame. Keys will be created (or modified, if they
already exist) at the new frame with the new values.
Match Footprint Time Slice
This creates a key on the curve that matches the footprint value at
the current time. Essentially, its like doing a Copy Footprint Time Slice
operation and immediate paste.
Copy Selected Keys
This copies selected keys to a memory buffer. To paste the buffer, you
must have your mouse pointer over a curve and use the Paste Keys
command on the Curve Edit Window pop-up menu (CTRL+SHIFT+LMB),
discussed later.
Add to Key Bin
This creates a named set of keys that you can insert into a curve
later. To paste the set, you must have your mouse pointer over a curve
and use the Insert From Bin item on the Curve Edit Window pop-up
menu (CTRL+SHIFT+LMB), discussed later.
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Numeric Move
With this command you can shift the selected keys. Frame Offset is
the number of frames to use for the shift. Value Offset is a number to
add to or subtract from the value for each keyframe.
Numeric Scale
This command lets you scale the key times and values for selected
keys. A Time Scale Factor of 1 means no change. A value of 2 would
double the time and .5 would halve it. The Time Scale Origin is the
center of the scaling. Thus, if you place this at one selected key, the
scaling will happen around it and not affect that particular key. This
setting uses the units displayed on the graph. Value Scale Factor and
Value Scale Origin work similarly except they affect the selected key
Roll Keys Left
Shifts the values of the selected keys to the left without affecting their
time. This command works only with contiguously selected keys.
Roll Keys Right
Shifts the values of the selected keys to the right without affecting
their time. This command works only with contiguously selected keys.
Reduce Keys
The Reduce functions let you remove consecutive keys that are
within a certain threshold value of one another. The threshold is set by
selecting Set Key Reduction Threshold.
There are two modes: Reduce Keys and Reduce Keys ( Recursive). As
an example, assume consecutive keys A B C D E all have values within
the threshold. Choosing Reduce Keys would remove keys leaving A C E.
Selecting Reduce Keys again would leave A E and a final Reduce Keys
would leave only A. Reduce Keys (Recursive) would go directly from A B
C D E to A in one step.
If you set the threshold to a negative number, Reduce Keys will
eliminate every other key. Reduce Keys (Recursive) will remove all but
the first key.
Toolbar Footprints Menu
The Footprints feature lets you create an imprint of the current
curve(s) to use as a reference and as a state you can revert back to.
Leave Footprint creates the imprint that will be visible as a shade of the
real curve’s color (once you make a change). Pickup Footprint erases
the footprint for the current curve(s). Backtrack Footprint will restore
the curve to its footprinted state.
Lighter curve is footprint
Toolbar Autofit Menu
This group of commands affect the range of frames and values shown
in the Curve Edit Window.
You can automatically scale the graph display to show all of the
selected curves with this command.
Autofit Selected
You can automatically scale the graph display to show all of the
selected keys with this command.
Autofit By Type
Autofit By Type will scale the graph to fit the values for the primary
selected curve’s type (i.e. position, rotation, scale, and so on).
Fit Values By Type
This works like Autofit By Type, but only scales the graph vertically,
retaining the current frame range.
Toolbar Display Menu
The Display menu contains commands that affect the graph display,
as well as global options.
Numeric Limits
This will display a small dialog. The Min Frame and Max Frame
values set the range of frames you want to see on the graph. The Min
Value determines the value of the bottom boundary of the graph and the
Max Value sets the upper boundary.
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Numeric Limits dialog
Go To Frame
This action sets the current frame to the entered value. It also centers
the Curve Edit Window around that frame.
Reset Graph
This simply resets the graph to default frame and value ranges.
Edit Keyboard Shortcuts
This command will bring up the standard Configure Keys panel.
However, it will list shortcuts for the Graph Editor. (Note that the
Window pop-up menu will be set to Graph Editor.) See Chapter 5 for
information on how to set keyboard shortcuts.
Graph Editor Keyboard Shortcuts
Edit Menu Layout
The Graph Editor has its own set of menus. These can be customized
using the normal Configuring Menus panel. (Note that you are editing the
Graph Editor menus when Graph Editor is selected in the Window popup menu on the Configuring Menus panel.)
Beneath the Main Menu group is the Graph Editor group. This is the
group used for the Graph Editor’s (now famous) toolbar. It can contain
its own group for pull-down style menus. In the Popup Menu group are
the commands that will appear when you press Ctrl+Shift+LMB over the
Curve Edit window.
Edit Graph Editor menus
Insert Overwrites Keys
Normally, when you paste in more than one key, existing keys may be
shifted over. Enable this option to replace the paste range and not shift
over keys.
Filter Static Envelopes
This option will keep envelopes that have fewer than two keys from
being displayed in the Channel Bin when selecting groups (both from the
scene list, as well as from other Layout panels.)
Large Autosize Margins
This option will add an extra amount of outside space when you use
autofit commands.
Allow Fractional Keyframes
This option keeps frame adjustments to whole numbers. This is
linked to Layout's Allow Fractional Current Frame setting (General
Options tab of the Preferences panel).
Lazy Layout Update
When active, the Graph Editor will not update in Layout until after
you release the mouse button. This can allow smoother adjustments in
complex situations. When inactive, Layout will update as you make
Track Layout Time
This option will scroll the Curve Edit window to keep the frame slider
centered. This is useful for watching the curves scroll by as Layout is
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Allow Passthrough Keys
This option lets you drag keys through each other in time. Normally,
you stop at a neighboring key.
Lock Motion Keys in Time
This option causes keys to be created for all motion channels of the
selected channel(s). Only Position, Rotation and Scale channels are
affected. For example, Position.Y, Position.Z, Rotation.H, etc. would all be
affected if Position.X was selected.)
Here we have added a single key to Camera.Position.X
With all motion channels selected, you can see that keys were added to all of the siblings, locking them in place
Move No Keys Sel
By default, if no keys are selected, no editing will occur when using
tools like Move or Stretch. Activate this option to change this so that all
keys are considered selected when none are selected (like in Modeler).
Track Item Selections
This is a mode that will automatically bring the channels for the
currently selected Layout item into the Graph Editor.
Fit Values when Selected
When this option is active, your view will automatically fit the values
of the selected curve. This will not affect the visible range of frames,
Show Modifiers
Activate this to always make the modified curve (i.e., after the effects
of motion Modifier plug-ins) visible as a dotted line.
Modified curve shown as dotted line
Show Tangents
This command will activate or deactivate tangent handle display.
AntiAlias Curves
This command will activate or deactivate the feature that smooths
the display of curves.
If you are working with a lot of curves and keys, turning off the
AntiAlias Curves and Show Tangents options can help speed up display
Show Key Info
This turns the pop-up display of key information off or on. This
appears when your mouse pointer is directly over a key.
Hide Background Curves
Normally, non-selected curves in the Curve Bin are visible in the
graph. This display option will toggle their visibility state.
Large Keyframe Points
Activate this option to increase the display size of keys.
Custom Point Color
This turns on the user-defined (unselected) point color. Selected
points are always yellow.
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Collapse/Show All
This collapses or shows the Tabs and Trees areas of the Graph Editor.
Collapse/Show Tabs
This is the same as clicking the Collapse Tabs button.
Collapse/Show Trees
This is the same as clicking the Collapse Trees button.
Other Commands
Graph Editor Options
This brings up the Graph Editor Options panel. Note that most of
these options can be set from the Display menu.
Undo Last Action
Use this command for a single level undo/redo of the last edit.
Also see the discussion on the Footprints feature.
Cancel Changes
This command restores all envelopes to their state at the time the
Graph Editor panel was last activated (i.e., making it the top window).
Graph Editor Options
Most of the options on this panel can also be set from the Display
menu and have been described previously. There are a few that can only
be set here, however. On the General tab, you can change the Default
Incoming Curve. On the Display tab, you can set the color used when
the Custom Point Color option is active.
Graph Editor Options panel, General tab
Graph Editor Options panel, Display tab
Channel Bin Pop-up Menu
The Channel Bin has a pop-up menu that appears when you rightclick a curve:
Channel Bin Pop-up Menu
Use to load a curve from a file.
Saves a single curve to a file.
Copies the curve under your mouse pointer when
you open the menu to the curve memory buffer.
Pastes the curve stored in the memory buffer. Your
mousepointer must be over the curve you wish to
replace before you opening the menu.
Remove from Bin Removes the selected curve(s) from the Channel Bin.
See previous discussion on Footprints.
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Show Velocity
Adds a non-editable background curve representing
the velocity of the selected curve. Velocity is defined
as the time rate of change for a single curve including
a vector. In other words, a velocity curve defines how
much the value of the current single channel changed
at that time.
Show Speed
Adds a non-editable background curve representing
the speed of the current curve. Speed is defined as
the magnitude of the velocity vector. This means the
Speed curve represents the time rate of change of all
three position, rotation, or scale curves.
Show Modified
If the Show Modifiers option (Display menu) is
inactive and your curve is being modified, like from a
modifier plug-in, this will let you see the actual
modified motion curve.
Curve Edit Window Pop-up Menu
Another pop-up menu is available when you work in the Curve Edit
Window. It appears when you CTRL+SHIFT+LMB click over the graph. This
gives you quick access to many commonly used commands.
Curve Edit Window Pop-up Menu
Most of the commands have been discussed earlier; however, some
only appear on this menu because they require your mousepointer to be
directly over a curve.
Copy Selected Keys
This copies selected keys to a memory buffer.
Paste Keys
Inserts the keys stored in a memory buffer with the
Copy Selected Keys command—existing keys may be
moved over if the buffer has multiple keys. Your
mousepointer must be over the pasting point on a
curve before opening the menu (pointer will
Add to Key Bin
Creates named set of keys that you can insert into a
curve later.
Works like Paste Keys, but gets data from specified
key set.
Displays the Graph Editor Options panel.
Key Pop-up Menu
Another contextual pop-up is available when you work in the Curve
Edit Window. It appears when you right-click directly over a key: the
operations affect that key only.
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Key Pop-up Menu
Key Locked
Copy Key Value
Paste Key Value
Ease In/Out
Incoming Curves
Locks/unlocks the key so it is uneditable; locked keys
are gray
Copies the key value to memory buffer
Pastes the value stored in memory to the key
Sets the Incoming Curve for the key to TCB Spline
and sets the Tension to 1.
Quickly change the Incoming Curve type for the key
by selecting it from the list at the bottom of the
Other customizable menus will appear when you Ctrl+Shift+RMB and
Curve Controls
The Curves tab in the Curve Controls area contains specific values
for a selected key(s). The Frame field contains the frame number and the
Value field holds the related value.
Curves tab
Multiple Values
If you select multiple keys, input fields will show (mixed) if the keys
have different settings. You can still edit the fields, which will change all
selected keys to match the entered value. You can use this method to
flatten a portion of a curve(s) or to match key times across multiple
Mixed values
Pre and Post Behaviors
The Pre Behavior setting determines what happens before the first
keyframe. The Post Behavior determines what happens after the last
keyframe. The available settings are:
With Reset, the motion value is reset to zero.
Post Behavior set to Reset
With Constant, the values beyond the ends are constant, that is,
equal to the first or last keyframe value.
Post Behavior set to Constant
With Repeat, the motion repeats from the first to last keyframe.
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Post Behavior set to Repeat
With Oscillate, the motion is mirrored over and over.
Post Behavior set to Oscillate
With Offset Repeat, the motion repeats, but it is offset by the
difference between the first and last keyframe values.
Post Behavior set to Offset Repeat
With Linear, the curve receives a linear angle consistent with the
angle at the start or end points.
Post Behavior set to Linear
Incoming Curves
The type of curve that precedes a key can be set using the Incoming
Curve pop-up menu.
TCB Spline
TCB Spline (tension, continuity, and bias) curves have three controls
that determine the shape of a curve as it passes through a key.
Tension causes an object in motion to slow down, or move a little bit
less in each frame, as it nears the keyframe, and to accelerate as it
passes the keyframe (-1 = low tension, 0 = normal tension, 1 = high
tension). Without Tension (i.e., value of 0), the object would pass
through the keyframe position at a constant speed. Positive values slow
an item through a keyframe (ease-in) while negative values speed it up
Left to Right: Tension -1, 0 and 1
A high Tension value (1.0) is often used at the end of a flying logo
move in order to make the logo come to a gradual stop. High Tension at
the beginning of this move would have the logo start slowly, while a
negative value would have the logo start quickly.
If you right-click on a key, choosing Ease In/Out from the pop-up
menu will set the Tension to 1 for all selected keys using TCB Spline.
Continuity accentuates a break or change in an object’s graph
(-1 = sharp , 0 = normal , 1 = smooth). Negative Continuity gives a
sharper transition in the spline path at a keyframe, while positive
Continuity gives a broader transition (sometimes over-continuous)
through a keyframe. Negative Continuity is usually used to replicate a
sharp change in motion such as that of a falling ball striking a floor and
quickly reversing direction.
Left to Right: Continuity -1, 0 and 1
You would rarely want to use a positive continuity—this will cause an
object to overcompensate as it passes through the keyframe and appear
to stutter or roller coaster at the frame.
Bias determines whether an item’s spline path leans to one side of a
keyframe or the other (-1 = more slack incoming, 0 = equal slack,
1 = more slack outgoing). You accomplish this effect by moving the slack
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in the spline path to one side or the other of a keyframe. This serves to
accentuate motion—the incoming motion by undershooting the
keyframe and creating a feeling of anticipation, or the outgoing motion
by overshooting the keyframe. For example, a race car moving through a
turn could use either a negative or a positive Bias setting to
a) anticipate the turn with a negative Bias, or b) overshoot the turn with
a positive Bias.
Negative Bias values place the slack before the keyframe while
positive Bias values place it after the keyframe.
Left to Right: Bias -1, 0 and 1
Interactive TCB Adjustments
You can interactively adjust TCB keys with your mouse. Simply press
F1 for tension, F2 for continuity, or F3 for bias and then drag your mouse
left to decrease or right to increase the value. You will see a small
indicator in the lower-left corner of the graph.
This only works in the Move edit mode and for the first mouse drag.
The tool stops when you release the mouse button.
Interactive TCB adjustment display
Hermite Spline
If you use Hermite Spline, a tangent control handle will appear,
emanating left from the key. This type of curve is an extension of the
standard TCB Spline, but allows a wider range of results. Drag the
handle (at the end) up or down to change the angle of the tangent and
thus the shape of the curve.
Hermite spline incoming curve
Note that TCB Splines generally limit you to more realistic results.
Bezier Spline
Splines using Bezier Spline operate like bezier curves do in many
industry-standard paint and illustration packages. When you create a
key, you must drag before releasing your mouse button to edit the
handles. (See note below.) Otherwise, bezier keys have handles that
coincide with the key. For an existing key, select it and then click-drag on
it to pull out the handles.
Drag the handles to change the angle of the tangent and thus the
shape of the curve. If you are curious, Bezier splines are indeed a variant
of Hermite splines, and thus the results will be very similar.
Bezier curves were developed by Pierre Bezier for designing Renault
automobile bodies.
Linear removes the gradual, smooth nature of a spline curve change
and replaces it with more direct, sudden change. Linear affects the
changes between the current keyframe to the previous keyframe only. By
turning Linear on or off at different keyframes, graphs may contain both
gradual and sudden changes.
Linear incoming curve
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Stepped Transition
Stepped transition holds the preceding keyframe value and then
abruptly jumps to the next keyframe value at that frame.
Stepped transition incoming curve
Dual-handled Control Points
When a Hermite or Bezier (incoming curve) key is followed by
another key with the same incoming curve type, the (outgoing) tangent
on the right side will affect the outgoing curve as well. Normally, the
outgoing tangent will be unified with the incoming tangent. That is, they
will operate as though there is only one tangent.
Unified tangents
You can break the tangents, that is, make them operate separately by
holding the ALT key and then dragging either side.
Broken tangents
To reunite the tangents, just double-click on either control handle.
The opposite side will line back up.
Integrated Expressions
Expressions are built right into the Expressions tab on the Graph Editor.
This implementation has several advantages over the channel expression
modifier. First, expressions are not an attribute for a single channel. Instead,
the expressions stand alone and channels are attached to them. This allows
you to attach multiple channels to a single expression! Moreover, you can
save and load libraries of expressions you create.
To get interactive updates in Layout for expressions, make sure you
have Auto Key active.
To create an expression:
1 Click the New expression button. No channels need to exist in the
Channel Bin nor does any channel need to be selected—expressions
stand alone.
2 Enter a name for your expression in the Name field.
3 Enter your expression in the Value field.
You may also copy the selected expression by clicking the Clone
button. This creates an independent copy that you can alter.
Additive Expression
You can use the Value variable to make an additive expression. Value
is equal to the (base) keyframed value. For example, if the camera’s
keyframed X position was 2m and the Light’s keyframed X position was
3m, the expression VALUE + [LIGHT.POSITION.X], placed on the camera’s X
position, would move it to 5m.
Note that editing an item in Layout with an additive expression
attached (e.g., VALUE + [NULL.POSITION.X]) can cause recursive updates,
since you’re changing the Value. There are a few work-arounds:
1 Do the edit in the Graph Editor;
2 Turn off the expression in the Graph Editor. Perform the edit and then
turn it back on; or
3 Add a null and animate it the same way as the item itself (except
without the expression). Then, replace Value in the expression with
the null's corresponding channel (e.g., if Value was the item's
Y position, then use the null's Y position instead).
To rename an expression:
1 Make sure the expression is selected. Its name will appear in the
Name field. To select a different expression, choose it from the
Expressions... pop-up menu.
2 Type a new name into the Name field. This will have no effect on any
of the expressions channels.
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To attach an expression on a channel:
1 Make sure the expression is selected. Its name will appear in the
Name field. To select a different expression, choose it from the
Expressions... pop-up menu.
2 Select the channel(s) in the Channel Bin.
3 Click the Apply button. The modified dot (•) will appear to the left of
the channel name in the Channel Bin. The expression must be legal,
of course.
It is possible to attach multiple expressions to a single channel, but this
is not recommended.The expressions will be evaluated in the order
they were attached; however, there is no way to determine that order.
To determine what channels are attached to an expression:
1 Make sure the expression is selected. Its name will appear in the
Name field. To select a different expression, choose it from the
Expressions... pop-up menu.
2 Click the Get Channels button. The contents of the Channel Bin will
be replaced with the channels attached to the current expression.
The name of an expression on the Expressions... pop-up menu will
list the number of channels attached to it in parentheses.
To remove a channel from an expression:
1 Select the channel(s) in the Channel Bin.
2 Click the Remove button.
You can save all of the existing expressions to a file on your hard
drive by choosing Expressions... > Save Library. To load a previously
saved library, choose Expressions... > Load Library. If an expression
exists with the same name, it will be replaced. Otherwise, the library of
expressions will be added to the list.
You can clear all unused expressions by choosing Expressions... >
Clear Used. This clears out any expressions that do not have any
channels attached.
Expression Syntax
LightWave supports two types of expression syntax. The first is
identical to the Channel Expression syntax (e.g., the x position of a light
at time t is given by LIGHT.POS(TIME).X). This works normally, as does all of
the control syntax ( x < 5 ? y : -y).
With integrated expressions, you can also use a bracket notation
syntax to reference any channel in the system. By placing square
brackets ([]) around a full channel name, you may access any channel in
the system. This includes MorphMixer channels, envelopes, and so on
(e.g., [CAMERA.ROTATION.H]). You can freely mix and match the two
methods of referencing item information ([LIGHT.POSITION.X] and
Channels referenced in this way will be evaluated in a dependencyconscious way. In other words, if channel X references channel Y, which
has an expression that follows channel Z, then the bracket notation
insures that the Y channel’s expression (referencing Z) is evaluated
before computing channel X.
Bracket notation expressions may also take an optional time
argument. The syntax is [CHANNEL,TIME_ARG] where TIME_ARG may be any
legal expression, but cannot include anything using the bracket notation
syntax. An example of a bracket notation expression that follows the
camera’s X position, but lags by half a second, would be
[CAMERA.POSITION.X,TIME - 0.5]. To make it lag by four frames, it would be
To use bracket notation expressions:
1 Add two null objects named Control and Action to an empty scene.
2 Animate the Control null on its Y axis.
3 Attach the expression [CONTROL.POSITION.Y] to the Action null. This
would lock the two together on the Y axis; wherever Control goes,
Action follows.
4 Change the expression to [CONTROL.POSITION.Y,TIME]. This has the exact
same result. As such, unless you want to modify Time, you do not
need to use the time argument.
5 The expression [CONTROL.POSITION.Y,TIME - 1] would lock Action to
Control, but give it a one second delay.
6 The expression [CONTROL.POSITION.Y,FRAME] also has the same result as
the original expression, but differs in that it feeds the time of the
current frame to the expression. This lets you do something like:
the exact same results (assuming 30 fps). One expression is working
with seconds and the other is working with frames.
Make sure you use spaces around math operators, like the minus sign
used above. Not doing so may confuse the expressions parser, which
allows some of those characters in scene item names.
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Loops are not allowed and the system will report an error if any are
Bad Expressions
If an integrated expression is erroneous, an error dialog will appear
when you attempt to apply it or otherwise exit the input field (e.g., using
TAB key, ENTER key, mouse click, etc.). Also, the Apply button will show
Uncompiled instead of Apply.
An expression may reference another expression (subexpression). The
format is identical to other bracket notation calls, except that in place of
a channel name, you supply an expression name. Time may still be
specified, just as if it was a channel reference.
So [MYCENTER, FRAME - 5] would cause the system to evaluate the
expression MYCENTER at the current FRAME - 5 and return that value.
If the subexpression contains a reference to the Value variable, then
the current value of the channel—whose expression is using the
subexpression—will be used. In other words, all expressions within an
expression are using the same Value variable.
Also, subexpressions may not themselves contain subexpressions.
There will be no error, but any sub-subexpression will always return 0.0
upon evaluation.
Vector References
Bracket notation references to channels may also reference a vector
for position, rotation, or scale. This works with the built-in expression
functions that take vectors as parameters.
For example, this expression shows how you could find the center X
coordinate of two items using scalar values:
Here is an expression that performs the same feat, but using vectors:
An advantage to the second method is that items with spaces in the
names can now be referenced by vector functions.
Expressions Tree
The Scene list area for the Graph Editor has an Expressions tab. The
Expressions tree shows all the expressions in the system. The first
column reflects the active state of an expression. You may toggle the
expression on and off by clicking in the On column. All attached
channels will be affected.
Expressions tab
The Attached column shows the number of channels attached to the
Double-click an expression name and the contents of the Channel Bin
will be replaced with the channels attached to that expression. You also
will select the expression. Hold the SHIFT key and double-click to add the
channels without removing any.
If you right-click an expression name, a pop-up menu appears,
allowing you to delete the expression. This will detach any channels that
may be using it.
Graph Editor Exercises
Here are some exercises to help you learn the Graph Editor:
Exercise: Creating Curves
1 Clear the scene and click the Graph Editor button.
2 Locate the Light’s Position.X and double-click on it to move it into the
Channel Bin by itself. Hold the SHIFT key and double-click on the
Camera’s Position.Y curve to add it to the Channel Bin.
3 Hold the SHIFT key and click on both curves to select them in the
Channel Bin. You will see they are both active in the Curve Edit
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4 Choose the Add mode and randomly create two more keys to the
right of the first key frame. You will notice that the new keys are
created for both curves so that they match as closely as possible.
5 With both curves selected you can also select key frames from both
curves and edit them. This can be very useful for making relative
changes to multiple curves simultaneously.
6 Click on Light.Position.X, which will automatically deselect
Camera.Position.Y. Create more keys for the Light.Position.X. Now,
you can see how to create portions of a curve that match and use
background curves as reference.
Exercise: Setting Values
1 Clear the scene and click the Graph Editor button.
2 Add Light.Position.X to the bin and create four or five random key
frames. Change to the Move mode and unselect all keys by clicking in
the graph border.
3 Use the bounding box (RMB) to select two or more of the keys. Notice
that the Frame and Value fields have changed to (mixed) because you
have selected multiple keys that also have different values.
4 Double-click in the Value field and enter 0. You will see that all
selected keys are now set to a value of zero.
5 Experiment with multiple curves selected. You can set Frame or
Value to match across curves.
Exercise: Footprints
1 Clear the scene and click the Graph Editor button.
2 Choose all Camera channels by double-clicking on the Camera in the
Scene List.
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3 Choose the Camera.Position.X and make about five random keys.
4 Since we plan to edit this curve, let's save its current state. Select
Footprints > Leave Footprint from the toolbar.
5 In the Move mode, edit some points on the graph; you will see a new
curve appear underneath that is lighter than the selected curve. This
is the footprint of the original curve.
6 Select Footprint > Backtrack Footprint to restore the original curve. If
you liked your changes, you would select Pickup Footprint, which
would delete the footprint altogether, or you could use Leave
Footprint, which would update the footprint to the new curve.
Exercise: Locking Keys
Now that you know how to create a fail-safe for a curve, let's take a
look at another way to protect curves or keys from editing.
1 Clear the scene and click the Graph Editor button.
2 Add Camera.Position.X to the bin and make about five random keys.
3 Unselect all keys and then using the bounding box, select three keys
in the middle.
4 From the toolbar, choose Keys > Lock Selected Keys. The selected
keys will now appear gray. Any attempt to edit these keys will be
futile. This is a great way to protect keys from being accidentally
bumped. It also lets you experiment with keys around an area that
should be locked.
5 In the Move mode, select all keys. Now choose Keys > Unlock
Selected Keys.
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6 Now try Keys > Invert Selected Keys from the toolbar. This will
reverse the order of all of the selected keys. You can invert them
again to get them back into place (or press the U key to undo the
Exercise:The Channel Bin
1 Clear the scene and click the Graph Editor button. Place the
Camera.Position.X and the Light.Position.Y into the Channel Bin.
2 Select both curves and create five keys.
3 Select just Camera.Position.X and move the keys around randomly so
you can see both curves.
4 Select all keys for just Camera.Position.X and choose Keys > Add to
Key Bin. Create a bin named CAM MOVE CURVE.
5 Select the Light.Position.Y curve. Move your mousepointer over the
curve and notice the change in the pointer. The little X indicates this
is an insertion point. Your cursor must be over a curve to insert the
keys, since there may be multiple curves active.
6 Place your pointer at the end of the Light.Position.Y, open the Curve
Edit Window pop-up (CTRL+SHIFT+LMB) and choose Insert > Cam
Move Curve.
You have now appended the Light.Position.Y motion curve with the
keys from the Camera.Position.X curve! Press the A key to “autofit”
the two curves into the display.
Exercise: Favorites
1 Clear the scene and click the Graph Editor button. Place some of the
individual Camera curves into the Channel Bin.
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2 Choose Create Set from the Channels pop-up menu just above the
Channel Bin.
3 Type the name of your set, perhaps MY FIRST SET.
4 Now, in the Scene List, double-click on the Light. This should replace
the contents of the Channel Bin with only the Light curves.
5 Select MY FIRST SET from the Channels pop-up. Your previous Camera
curves will now appear back in the Channel Bin.
Exercise: Color Channels
1 Clear the scene and add the COW.LWO object.
2 Open the Surface Editor, select the first surface, CowEyes, and click
the E button next to the Color attribute.
3 The Graph Editor will appear with the surface’s three color channels
in the Channel Bin.
4 Create three random keys for each color channel. Note how the color
bar appears when a color channel is selected, but doesn’t change
when different color channels are selected. This is because it
represents all three color channels whether or not all three are
5 In the Move mode, try dragging one of the lower value keys up and
note the change in the color bar. It is reflecting the overall color
change based on the change in this one channel.
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6 Now, select just the red channel and right-click on one of the keys.
Choose Open Color Picker from the pop-up menu.
7 Your color requester will appear. Select pure white (RGB 255, 255,
255) and click OK.
This is the standard Windows color requester.Yours may differ.
8 Notice that only the red channel was affected and the curve flies off
the graph.
9 Undo the operation by pressing the U key. Select all three channels
and select the white color again. Now all three channels are affected
and collectively create the color white. Note that keys were
automatically created for the other curves. (A quick way to get
grayscales is to just select all channels and create keys.)
All three channels set using white.
Channel motion modifiers are added on the Modifiers tab of the
Graph Editor. These modifiers control the motion at the channel level, as
opposed to the (scene) item level, where motion is handled by item
motion modifiers (see Chapter 11).
To use a channel motion modifier, select the target curve in the Graph
Editor’s Channel Bin. Then select the modifier from the Add Modifier
pop-up menu on the Modifier tab. Once added, click on its name in the
list to access its settings, if any. Channels with modifiers will have a
small dot to the left of their names in the Channel Bin.
Modifiers that do not have an explicit additive option are generally
additive in nature.
Also see the MasterChannel Scene Master plug-in discussed in Chapter
6.This lets you create custom user-defined channels.
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The AudioChannel modifier modifies a curve based on an audio file.
Click the Name button to select the file you want to use. The Value
Offset lets you move the entire motion up or down. (The units are the
ones used on the graph.) Waveform Scale is a multiplier. Thus, a value of
1 will have no effect. A value of 2 will double the values of the effect and
.5 will halve it. Use the Start Time to enter a frame number when the
audio should begin. The Filter Strength value will determine the
sampling frequency used to convert the audio into a curve. A higher
value will cause the curve to more closely follow the contours of the
audio’s sound wave.
See “SetDrivenKey.”
This is a channel-oriented version of the Cyclist item motion modifier
discussed in Chapter 11.
Select the controlling channel in the list window. The Controller Low
Value and Controller High Value settings define how much change is
required to equal one full animation cycle. The unit of measure for this
parameter depends on the selected control channel.
Expressions are an advanced LightWave 3D feature that uses
mathematical formulas to modify the value of any animation channel.
Expressions let you make the motion of scene items dependent on other
item motions or factors in a scene. You could, for example, force an
object to stay between two other objects, keep feet from going through
the floor, or even control the entire posture of a character based on its
feet! The possibilities are endless.
Many motion modifiers can be duplicated using appropriate
expressions. Since we at NewTek don't want to force you to hire a TD,
or learn calculus, we have wrapped some of the most common and
useful expressions into preset plug-ins—optimized for their
purposes—like Cyclist, Oscillator, Gravity, and so on.
The Channel Expressions panel
The Expressions panel has four buttons: Copy, Paste, Load and Save.
The Copy and Paste functions work on a per-screen basis—if you type in
your full expression, you may click on Copy, open another channel up,
and then click on Paste and the entire expression is pasted in, including
scratch variables. Click on Save if you create an expression that you
want to use again in the future, and then you may Load it in to other
channels at your convenience.
The A, B, C, and D fields are scratch variables for the expressions.
Each of these can have an expression, which is evaluated before the
main expression. This means that the main expression can use the
variable A, B, C, and D for some other calculated value. The scratch
variables are evaluated in alphabetical order, so B can use A, C can refer
to A and B, and the D expression can contain A, B, and C.
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Scratch variables are useful both for breaking up massive expressions
and for logically separating the functional elements of an expression. For
example, driving a ball's pitch based on its Z-distance can simulate
rolling, if the ball rotates once for every pi*diameter it moves. This
expression (pitch = pi*Z/Diameter) fits on a line, but you need to include
the model's diameter. If you apply it to another ball, the expression must
change. If you include the diameter in A, then changing the expression is
more obvious; when you scale up the ball, A can be more complex.
Using Expressions requires a strong background in mathematics and
computer programming.Transferring such skills in sufficient quantities
to your brain is well beyond the scope of this user documentation.
Check our web site and LScript documentation for more information.
Object References
An objects is referenced by its name (e.g., myBox, NULL (1),
Object:Layer1, etc.). Bones are addressed as an item of their parent
object in expressions, which allows bones with the same name in
different objects. Here is an example: NULL2.BONE1.WPOS(TIME).X.
The Scene object is the only pre-defined object in the system. All
other object references must equate to an object in the current scene.
Data Type
Command Syntax
Built-in Functions
(int | double | vector)
vmag(vector | double,double,double)
abs(int | double | vector)
ceil(double | vector)
mod(double | vector,double | vector)
rad(double | vector)
deg(double | vector)
(double | int | vector)
(double | int | vector)
max(double | int | vector,double | int |
min(double | int | vector,double | int |
string(double + int + string + vector)
integer(double | string)
randu([double | int])
hex(int[,int[,int | "true" ]])
octal(int[,int[,int | "true" ]])
Common Object Methods and Data (all objects respond)
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Mesh Object Methods and Data
Light Object Methods and Data
Camera Object Methods and Data
Scene Object Methods and Data
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Selector/Converter items
x (selects the first element of a multipledata type)
y (selects the second element of a multipledata type)
z (selects the third element of a multipledata type)
h (selects the first element of a multipledata type)
p (selects the second element of a multipledata type)
b (selects the third element of a multipledata type)
r (selects the first element of a multiple-data
g (selects the first element of a multipledata type)
b (selects the first element of a multipledata type)
rbg (converts a vector data into colornormalized data)
asStr (converts int, double, vector to
asInt (converts string, double to integer)
asNum (converts string, int to double)
asVec (converts int, double, string to
A vector is a group of related values.They could relate to position
(x,y,z), rotation (h,p,b), color (r,g,b), etc.To get only one component,
use a selector as demonstrated below.
Expressions react to interactively moved items, even if Auto Key is
turned off.
You may use XS,YS, and ZS as aliases for Scale.X, Scale.Y, and Scale.Z.
Sample Expressions
HeadLight.rot(Time).h returns the heading rotation value of the
HeadLight item at the current time.
Left.pos(Time).x + Right.pos(Time).x returns the sum of the Left and
Right items positions on the x axis.
<1,2,3>.y returns 2
<1,1,1>.rgb returns <255,255,255>
<.5,.25,1>.rgb returns <127,63,255>
BackLight.color(frame / Scene.fps).rgb returns RGB vector value for
color BackLight at a user-defined frame converted to a time index using
the Scene object's fps setting. The frame variable is returned to the caller
and can have its value explicitly set before each evaluation of the
2 * "1 2 3".asVec.y returns 4
((Scene.usingLR ? (Scene.lr.right - Scene.lr.left) : Scene.width) / 2).asInt
finds the horizontal center of the frame.
This is a channel-oriented version of the Oscillator item motion
modifier discussed in Chapter 11. The settings are identical, except the
channel is determined by which channel the modifier is added to in the
Graph Editor. The effect is always additive.
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This modifier randomizes a channel.
The Offset lets you move the entire motion up or down. (The units
are the ones used on the graph.) The Scale parameter multiplies the
noise amount added in to the channel, so a factor of 1 will have a noise
effect, a factor of 0 will have no effect, 2 will double the effect, .5 would
halve it, and so on. Speed is the rate of change of the noise, basically like
a texture velocity. Phase shifts the effect in time.
The formula is: channel value = old value + scale * fractal noise(phase
+ speed*time )
Using SetDrivenKey (aka ChannelFollower) is similar to parenting an
object to another, except you have control over which motion channels
you wish to inherit. You can also modify and delay the inherited value.
Moreover, the motion can be inherited from the camera, a light, a bone,
or any object in the scene.
Select the channel you wish to follow in the list window.
The amount of seconds entered into the Time Lag field is added to
the current time. This number may be negative.
The value can be scaled by inputting a factor other than 100% in the
corresponding Scale field.
The Start Frame and End Frame parameters specify when the
modifier is applied.
This is a channel-oriented version of the TextureMotion item motion
modifier discussed in Chapter 11. It works exactly the same except that
you apply it directly to the channel you wish to modify. Since textures
are three dimensional, particularly procedurals, use the Axis setting to
use the X, Y or Z of the texture. (Note: The differences between the Axis
selection can be subtle.) You can also move the texture with the Offset
setting and change the size of the texture using the Scale setting.
Object Properties
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hapter 9:
Object Properties
The Object Properties panel controls the settings for the current
object—the object last selected in Layout. It will be shown on the
Current Object pop-up menu on the Object Properties panel and
changed here as well.
The Object Properties panel
The Properties panel for the current editing mode (i.e., Objects, Bones,
Lights, etc.) can be displayed by clicking the Item Properties button
on the main Layout interface.
Use the Custom Object pop-up menu on the Geometry tab of the
Object Properties panel to apply a Custom Object plug-in to the current
object. Custom objects are usually used to change the look of a null and
give you additional visual feedback features. Like null objects, custom
objects do not render.
Many custom objects are used internally by other plug-ins, so you
may see some that are not listed below. ParticleFX, for example, uses
custom objects to create its emitters, winds, and so on.
Custom Object pop-up menu
Camera Mask
It is sometimes necessary to use a textured object for the background
instead of using a Background Image (Effects panel, Compositing tab)
for effects like casting shadows onto the background or when you want
to move the background around. The Camera Mask custom object can be
used to compute the exact Z distance needed to fill your camera view.
To use Camera Mask:
1 Model a flat Z-facing rectangle object with the proper aspect ratio. For
example, 640 mm x 480 mm for a 4:3 aspect ratio. Apply your surface
2 Load the object into Layout and parent it to the camera.
3 Add the Camera Mask custom object plug-in to the object. Enter the
object’s size into its options dialog and then close it. You will then see
a rectangle that represents the exact Z position where the object
would fill the camera view. The numeric value of this magic distance is
also displayed.
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4 Now, adjust the Z position of the object. You will see a representation
of the camera view extend from the object with your textured
rectangle attached to the end. If you have a Camera Mask set on the
Camera Properties panel, it will be visible.
Note that when the object is selected, the camera’s mask will appear
as dotted lines. Otherwise, the mask will be the mask’s set color.
(Note: That you may see OpenGL display errors when the mask is
5 Adjust the object’s Z Position to the magic distance. The object will
now fill the camera view.
You might also use a background plane with parts cut out, in
conjunction with a Background Image, so you can position things
between the plane and Background Image.
A cross (+) also appears, which marks the camera's Focal Distance
setting from the Camera Properties panel (see Chapter 13, “Depth of
The Effector custom object can be used with the Effector
Displacement plug-in, discussed later in this chapter. This custom object
is designed to give you better visual feedback in Layout about your
effector. Note that it does not directly communicate with the related
Displacement plug-in, so all settings must be set manually.
It has two modes to match the shape of the effector: Point and Plane.
When Effector Shape is set to Point, set the Solid Core Radius and
Falloff Distance to match those settings on the Displacement plug-in’s
panel. The arrows and dotted-lines indicate the falloff area. The solid-line
ball in the center is the solid core.
The Effector custom object in Point mode used with the Effector Displacement plug-in
When Effector Shape is set to Plane, the effector will look like a foursided plane. The Axis settings will become available, which you can set
accordingly. The other settings have no effect in this mode.
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The Effector custom object in Plane mode used with the Effector Displacement plug-in
Frame Rate Meter
Adding Frame Rate Meter to a null object will display frames-persecond information when you play a scene or drag the frame slider.
Item Shape
Item Shape lets you add a custom object where you can specify its
shape and look. The settings should be fairly obvious.
Level-of-Detail Mesh Refinement
Adding the Level-Of-Detail Mesh Refinement custom object plug-in
allows you to independently change the display and rendering resolution
of SubPatch and Meta-primitives based on their distance from the
camera. This can save you rendering time when those types of objects
are sometimes close to the camera and sometimes far, during your
From top to bottom, the entry groups must be in near-to-far order, so
the furthest group is last. When the distance from the camera to the
object is within each range, the corresponding display/render settings
are used.
A value of -1 disables that (display/render) parameter. It is like
deactivating the Enable option for a group, but lets you control it
differently for individual items in that group.
Level-of-Detail Mesh Refinement
In your viewport, concentric rings are displayed around the object
showing the defined distance ranges.
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Concentric rings
Protractor sets up a custom object you can use to measure angles.
With the Shape setting you can make it a Full or Half circle. The Label
option places numerical labels at set intervals. Use the Show Mark
option to place a tick mark at a set angle. Use Show Range to highlight a
set range.
Protractor settings
Range Finder
Adding Range Finder to an object will display the distance in meters
from the selected item in the scene. The Draw Link option will draw a
dotted line between the items.
Range Finder in action
Null objects work best. However, if you add this to a regular object,
you may want to use the Bounding Box rendering level (selected on the
viewport’s titlebar). Otherwise, the object’s surface may obscure the
numeric display.
Adding Ruler to a null object provides a measurement device. You
can change the length of the ruler by stretching the object along the
selected Axis. The units of measure can be 1/10 of a meter or
feet/inches. The Draw Numbers option controls the display of the
ShowCurve displays an object curve in Layout—normally curve
objects are a modeling tool and cannot be seen in Layout. (If there is
more than one curve in the object, the first curve is used.) The color of
the curve can be adjust using the Curve Color setting on the options
panel. The Draw Cage option, when active, displays the “cage” of the
curve by connecting the vertices with dashed lines in a color of your
choice. The Draw Points option, when active, adds arrowheads to each
of the vertices to indicate the direction of the curve.
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The ShowCurve options panel
ShowCurve was designed to be used with the CurveConform
displacement plug-in, discussed later in this chapter.
A curve with ShowCurve applied
The SockMonkey custom object plug-in draws bounding boxes for
links created in the main SockMonkey displacement plug-in, discussed
later. However, if you use the Auto-add Control Item button on the main
interface, this custom object plug-in is automatically added to the
created control item, so you don’t need to worry about adding this
manually. If instead, you use the Add Relationship option—where you
manually define the Control Item—, you can add this custom object
plug-in to get the bounding box.
The Parent Object is the main SockMonkey object. The Pending
Relationship is the related Vertex Group defined on the main interface.
Once assigned, this dialog will no longer appear when you try to access
the options. Instead, you will get the following dialog:
If not assigned to a link, adding this plug-in does nothing.
Adding Speedometer to a null object allows you to measure the
speed of an item in meters per second. Choose the item whose speed
you wish to measure with the Item pop-up menu. Activate the World
Coords option to measure the actual speed based on world coordinates.
(You’ll probably want to do this if the item is parented to moving item.)
The Max Speed setting determines the value when the pointer is
pegged all the way to the right. Select Auto-Range to have the plug-in
determine the maximum. Note that the pointer can go past the maximum
if the speed exceeds it.
VRML97 Custom Object
The VRML97 custom object can be applied to an object to make its
VRML attributes visible in Layout. It will display URLs, the ProximitySensor bounding box, LOD ranges, sound nodes, and links to alternate
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You can use special plug-ins to replace objects during the course of
an animation.
Level-of-Detail Object Replacement
Adding Level-Of-Detail Object Replacement lets you replace the
object with another object based on its distance from the camera. This
can be a great time-saver for objects that are sometimes close to the
camera and sometimes far, during your animation. There is no reason to
waste rendering power on a gazillion-polygon battle cruiser that is too
small to make out any of its details. If it’s far enough away, you might be
able to get away with a simple box or sphere!
Level-of-Detail Object Replacement panel
From top to bottom, the entries must be in near-to-far order, so the
furthest entry is last. When the distance from the camera to the object is
within each range, the corresponding object is loaded. The Base Object
setting defaults to the object the plug-in is added to; however, you can
define a different one if you like.
ObjList replaces the current object with those listed in a text file. The
file is defined using a file requester that appears when you click the
Options button. ObjList works much like ObjectSequence, discussed
later, but the object replacement list lets you use objects in different
directories or even across a network. The file must be formatted as
#LW Object Replacement List
<replacement frame number>
<replacement object file>
<replacement frame number>
<replacement object file>
<replacement frame number>
<replacement object file>
The replacement object information is defined in pairs of lines. The
first line of the pair is the frame number at which the object is to be
replaced. The second line of the pair is the filename of the replacement
object, using a full path.
For example, to sequence through a series of box objects, this list
would be used:
#LW Object Replacement List
The sequence of objects don’t need to be similar copies of the same
thing. You can replace the cow with a chrome teapot if you want to (and
you probably do by now).
The first paired lines must be the object you want at frame 0.
LightWave will assume this even if you enter a different frame number.
As such, if you used:
#LW Object Replacement List
The Box2 object would still be loaded at frame 0.
ObjectSequence replaces an object with another one at a certain
frame of the animation. This replacement is like choosing Items >
Replace > Replace With Object File except that it happens during the
animation. ObjectSequence is to objects, what an image sequence is to
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To perform an object replacement, you must have multiple objects
with names that differ only by a three-digit number. For example, if you
want to change between a series of box objects, you would name the
first object box000.lwo. If you want that object replaced by a second
object at frame 10, name the second object box010.lwo. This would be
replaced by box027.lwo at frame 27, and so on. These objects don’t need
to have anything in common except their names.
To use ObjectSequence, load the first object normally. Then, select
ObjectSequence as the Object Replacement plug-in. All of the object files
must be in the same subdirectory.
Object geometry is normally created in Modeler and object animation
is accomplished in Layout. However, you can also animate object
geometry, that is, change the relative positioning of points in an object
and thus change its shape. A simple example of this is sending a ripple
through a flag, which might be a simple segmented flat box. LightWave’s
bones feature lets you bend and distort object geometry using an object
skeleton. Often the bones are set up in a hierarchy using Inverse
Kinematics (IK) to help animate a complex structure, but IK can just as
easily be applied to a hierarchy of objects. Geometry can also be
influenced by morphing.
The Subdivision Order setting controls the order in which LightWave
meshes and deforms a SubPatch object (using bones, endomorphs,
displacement maps, etc.). This can have a huge impact on what the
rendered object will look like. LightWave subdivides the SubPatch object,
converting it into a polygon mesh (i.e., meshing) on the fly. First is the
default and should be used whenever possible since it allows any
deformation to affect an object in detail. For example, you can't add
displacement wrinkles to skin with Last, since the wrinkles would affect
only the low-resolution cage. Moreover, choices other than First take
twice as long. This is because LightWave actually does the meshing
computation first regardless, to get the undistorted point positions that
are later used for surface texture mapping purposes. Thus, choices other
than First require a second meshing computation.
However, if the meshing is performed first and then bones bend the
heck out of the object, you may get unwanted pinching in your object. In
this case, Last may work better since the conversion is not done until
after the SubPatch cage is deformed. Also, if you are morphing a
SubPatch object, you will want meshing to occur after the morphing
occurs (using After Morphing, Last, etc.). This is because the SubPatch
object is really a control-point cage. If you mesh before the morph, you
are actually changing the shape of the control cage and unexpected
results will likely occur.
If you use a displacement map on a SubPatch object, you probably
want the subdivision to occur before the displacement (using First, etc.).
This will give the displacement more points to displace.
If you need to choose one of the in-between settings, here is the order
in which LightWave performs object deformations:
1 Morphing
2 Before-bones plug-in displacements
3 Bones
4 Object coordinate plug-in and built-in displacements
5 Motion (scale, rotate, move)
6 World coordinate plug-in and built-in displacements
SubPatch Display and Render Levels
SubPatch objects may be used in Layout the same as any other
object. In Layout, the Object Properties panel includes two settings that
are important when you use SubPatch objects. The Display SubPatch
Level and Render SubPatch Level settings determine the level of
subdivision smoothing needed for display and rendering purposes,
respectively. These values, generally, have an effect similar to Modeler’s
Patch Divisions (General Options panel) setting, discussed next.
The SubPatch levels may be set to zero. This is similar to a level of
one, except that the patches are not continually remeshed, even if
Subdivision Order is not set to First. In other words, a level of zero
makes patches act like normal polygons, and this allows faster
Treat Subpatch objects just like polygonal objects. You can use all of
the normal Layout features, like bones, to animate and deform the
SubPatch object.
For an object to be a SubPatch object, it must be saved with the
SubPatch mode active. See Chapter 29 for more information on
SubPatch objects.
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See also the Level_Of_Detail Custom Object plug-in discussed earlier
in the chapter.
The Display Metaball Resolution value represents the number of
subdivisions. To get a smoother surface, increase the value. There is no
limit. There is also a companion setting, Render Metaball Resolution,
that controls the resolution used for rendering, which can be different.
See also the Level-Of-Detail Mesh Refinement custom object plug-in
discussed earlier in the chapter.
Metamorphosing, or Morphing, causes a 3-D metamorphosis from one
object into the shape of another object. Morphing requires a minimum of
two objects: a beginning object and a target object. These controls are
on the Deformations tab of the Object Properties panel.
Deformations tab selected
The number of points in each object must be equal. You cannot
morph successfully between objects that have a different number of
points. Point order also needs to be the same.
Using Endomorph objects, discussed later, simplifies the process by
keeping all target data within a single object file.This guarantees the
same number of points and helps to maintain point order.
When you enter a Morph Amount, the object will be transformed by
that percentage into the Morph Target object. However, you will almost
always animate the amount of morphing over time using a standard
LightWave envelope to control the morphing of an object’s shape,
surface colors, or both, during an animation.
If you use an envelope, the Morph Amount will have no effect on the
The Morph Target is the destination object (the object that the
current object will morph into). The target object itself can have its own
target and you may create a chain of up to forty targets. (Any number of
objects may be morphing within a scene.)
With Morph Surfaces you can cause the surface attributes (color,
texture, etc.) of the first object in a morph chain to convert to the
surface attributes of the second object. Even if additional objects are
morphing, only the first and second objects may use Morph Surfaces.
Multiple Target/Single Envelope
To morph a single object through a chain of multiple targets using
only one envelope you can use the Multi Target/Single Env option.The
morph chain should be set so that object A has target B, object B has
target C, object C has target D, and so on. Once that is set up a morph
value from 0 to 100 morphs the A object into the B object. Morph values
from 101 to 200 will morph object A into object C. Values of 201 to 300
morph to D, and so on.
Multi Target/Single Env with surface morphing will reflect only a surface
change during the first morph.
Using LightWave’s vertex map feature, all of your morph targets can
be wrapped up neatly into a single object, with point offset information.
This type of object is called an endomorph and the targets are referred to
as morph maps. (See Chapter 28 for information on creating endomorph
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Another advantage of endomorphs is that a morphed pose can be a
mixture of multiple targets. With normal object morphing, discussed
previously, you are limited to the morphed states between the beginning
and target objects only.
What’s more, animating an endomorph is simple because you just
keyframe your poses using the MorphMixer Displacement plug-in.
To animate an endomorph:
1 In Layout, add the MorphMixer displacement plug-in to your
endomorph object on the Object Properties panel’s Deformations tab.
2 Open the plug-in’s option panel (double-click it in the list).
3 Now, move your Layout frame slider to the frame where you want to
pose your object and set the morph maps as desired on the
MorphMixer panel.
If you do not have Dynamic Update set to Interactive (Display Options
tab of the Preferences panel), you can get Layout to update as you drag
by holding the ALT key while you drag a MorphMixer slider.
MorphMixer automatically creates keys at the current frame for any
morph channel you adjust. It is like using the normal Auto Key
Create function (General Options tab of the Preferences panel). If a
key exists for a morph channel at the current frame, a key icon will
appear to the right of the slider. You can also use the arrow buttons
to jump from key to key—this also changes the current frame.
You can create keys for all morphs on the current tab—at the current
frame—by holding CTRL+SHIFT down while dragging any slider.
The Reset button creates keys at 0% for all channels in the group.
4 Repeat the previous step for all of the keys you want to create.
5 Since the MorphMixer plug-in adds the morph maps as animation
channels, just like XYZ position, you can also use the Graph Editor to
manipulate values. If you click the Graph Editor button on the
MorphMixer panel, it will appear with the group’s channels already in
the curve bin.
The maximum number of morph targets in a group is 32. For larger
sets of morph targets, create additional groups. Use the Load and Save
functions to retrieve and save MorphMixer data from and to files on your
hard drive.
If you use the Graph Editor, you must still add the MorphMixer
displacement plug-in to make the animation channels available, although
you do not have to open the MorphMixer options panel.
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If you are lip syncing to audio, you can load an audio file (Scene
Editor panel) as a reference for setting your keys.
Saving Morph Mix
You can save the current “mix” of your morphs back into the
endomorph by choosing File > Save > Save Endomorph. The morph will
appear on a new “Miscellaneous” tab on MorphMixer. (Note that you
may need to remove and then re-add MorphMixer.) Don’t forget to save
your object if you want to keep the new morph.
Displacement maps are similar to surface maps, which add color and
texture to object surfaces. (In fact, you can refer to Chapter 31 for
descriptions of the various displacement map settings.) However,
instead of affecting the way an object’s surface looks, displacement maps
move the points in an object, which changes its shape. The change can
be subtle or dramatic, making it look like a totally different object.
Displacement Map button
Displacement map on flag object
Remember that displacement mapping is saved in the scene file not in
the object file. If you want to load an object with its displacement map
information, choose File > Load > Load Items From Scene.
You can easily make blowing curtains, rippling water surfaces, and
bumpy terrain by applying a displacement map to an object. Although
the object’s points move around, the polygon relationships remain and,
thus, surfacing information follows the displaced polygons.
Differences from Surface Textures
For the most part, textures for displacement maps are set up in the
same way as textures for surfaces. You will, however, notice a few
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One difference is that 3-D textures (i.e., procedural and gradients)
have an option that lets you select the Displacement Axis.
You can also factor the effect you would normally get from an image
map displacement using the Texture Amplitude setting. Use a value less
than 1 to lessen the effect or more than 1 to increase it.
Exercise: displacement map
1 Load the USFLAG2.LWO object (TUTORIALS folder) into Layout.
2 Press P to open the Object Properties panel.
3 Click the Displacement Map Texture button on the Deformations tab.
When the Texture editor appears, change the default Layer Type to
Procedural Texture. Select Turbulence as the Procedural Type and
set the Displacement Axis to Z since we want the flag to move along
that axis.
4 Study the effect of the displacement map on the object.
Interesting, but a little too exaggerated. Essentially, the size and
amount of the displacement is out of proportion for our object. It’s
like dropping a boulder into a wading pool. What we really need is a
small stone.
5 Go back to the Texture editor and change the Texture Value to .2.
This will reduce the general amount of displacement.
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6 Now, our object is only one meter wide. So to get smaller ripples,
change the texture’s Scale to 400mm for all axes.
7 Click the Play button in the lower right corner of the main interface.
The display updates automatically and we get better feedback as we
animate the texture. (Note: the flag won’t move yet.)
If you don’t see anything, stop playback and choose Display >
Options: Display Options to open the Display Options tab of the
Preferences panel. Make sure the Bounding Box Threshold is at
least 5000 (a little more than the number of polygons in the object).
Start Play again.
8 You can animate the wave by animating the texture’s Position, which
is the center of the texture. Click on the Envelope button for the X
9 The Graph Editor will appear. Select only the Position X for the
texture and add a key at frame 60 (the last frame in the scene) with a
value of about 2m. (You may need to adjust the graph zoom a little.
Just drag on the magnifying glass icon.)
If your scene is still playing, you should see your flag waving. We are
moving the texture two meters over 60 frames.
10 Now of course, if this were a real flag, it would be attached to a pole
and the left side would not wave as much as the right. We can
simulate this by moving the center of the texture and applying falloff
to the effect.
Set the texture’s Falloff to X = 100%. This sets the amount to reduce
the displacement per default unit, which should be one meter
(General Options tab of the Preferences panel). Now, the effect is in
full force at its center and reduced 100% at one meter from the center
(the left edge, since the flag is 1 meter wide). If you want a little more
movement towards the left side of the flag, reduce the Falloff value.
11 The flag is one meter wide, but its local Origin is at its center—you
could figure this out by looking at it in Modeler or where it loads by
default in Layout. Thus, the right edge is at 500mm. This should be
the starting point for the texture’s X Position.
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Back in the Graph Editor, switch to the Move mode and drag the first
key (at frame 0) up, but not past 500mm.
As you drag, look at the layout viewport. You should see the texture
move to the right (along the X axis). Since you have falloff, as you
move the key, the falloff will begin at a different point—eventually the
right edge of the flag—and fall off completely at the left.
When you animate the Position values, the Falloff center is based on
the Position at frame 0.
12 To add a little more variance to the wave, you could add keys to the Z
position of the displacement map.
Displacement Mapped Objects
Generally, when you construct objects in Modeler, you try to
minimize the number of polygons that are used. However, if you know
you will use the object with a displacement map, you may need to
subdivide certain or all areas of an object into a greater number of
polygons to create more bendable areas. All polygons should also be
triangles. Displacement mapping can cause four-plus sided polygons to
become non-planar, which may result in rendering errors.
Displacement Mapping Versus Bump Mapping
Displacement mapping is different from surface bump mapping in that
the object’s geometry actually changes, where bump mapping fakes the
change with shading.
Left: Ripple Bump map. Right: Ripple Displacement map.
If you use an image map as a displacement map (instead of a
procedural texture), pure white areas will displace an object’s points 100
percent of the value of the Texture Amplitude. Pure black areas will not
displace at all, and in-between values will be applied relatively.
Note that the Texture Amplitude value has an enveloping option,
which can animate a displacement over time.
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The Ripples displacement texture will not actually raise the surface,
but rather it spreads the points out across the surface. If you need to
create water ripples that appear to rise when you view the surface
edge closely, try using the Fractal Noise texture instead. Fractal Noise
will actually displace points out from the surface.
Bump Displacement
The Bump Displacement option uses the bump texture on a polygon
and vertex, and applies it as a displacement texture. The direction of the
displacement is set by the vertex normal, and the amount of
displacement is set by the Dist value.
Bump Displacement is great because it creates actual geometry
deformations from bump shading. (Remember, bump shading by itself
does not affect the geometry.) The result is better looking bump
contours, shading, and shadows.
This feature is especially good on SubPatch objects because their
detailed geometry allows the displacement to more closely match the
bumps and surface contours, particularly when Render SubPatch Level
(Object Properties) is set to high values.
In addition to the MorphMixer Displacement plug-in, several other
plug-ins let you deform the object in various ways.
CurveConform uses a curve object to deform an object’s mesh. In
order to determine what part of the curve applies to what part of the
mesh, you must define an axis and a range of distances along that axis.
The axis is the direction in the mesh which will be transformed to lie
along the curve. The Range Start and Range End values define where
the beginning and end of the curve match up with the selected Axis.
The CurveConform options panel
When CurveConform is first added, it scans the mesh to compute a
bounding box. The range and axis are set to match the longest side of
this bounding box. The Auto-Range button can be used to rescan the
mesh and set the range based on the bounds of the currently selected
The curve object is set on the Curve pop-up. If there is more than one
curve in the object, the first curve is used.
CurveConform deforms the cow. Stretch option is active.The ShowCurve custom object plug-in has been applied to the curve
object to make it visible.
The Flip option reverses the influence direction of the curve. World
Coordinates leaves the curve’s position fixed in 3-D space, deforming
only that part of the mesh that moves into its range.
Stretch alters the mapping of the range to the curve's arclength (the
length of the curve), so that the entire range exactly fits into the length
of the curve. This can cause stretching or compression of the mesh
along its axis.
When Align is enabled, the vertices are rotated, as well as translated,
so the mesh's “thickness” along the axis is preserved, like a bend
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operation. This mode maps the range directly to the curve, so the Flip
option has the effect of flipping the mesh, but leaving the basic shape
the same.
The Curve Influence percentage blends the deformed shape with the
original un-deformed shape
Deform Displacement Plug-ins
The Deform Displacement plug-ins let you deform objects much like
Modeler’s Flex and Deform tools. Each needs two null objects to operate.
The Effect Base object defines the start of the bending point along
the selected Axis. The Effect Handle object determines the direction of
the bending.
Deform: Bend
The Effect Center is the center of the effect and scaling it will distort
the geometry. The Effect Corner defines the corner of the influenced
area. Use the sliders to shape the influence area.
Deform: Pole
The setup for Deform:Shear is nearly the same as Deform:Bend. You
can also control how the effect is applied from the base to the handle by
using the two tension sliders. The top slider controls the beginning and
the bottom one controls the end. Use the Preset pop-up to select from
some common settings.
Deform: Shear
Deform:Taper works just like Deform:Shear, except that you size the
handle instead of moving it.
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Deform:Twist works just like Deform:Shear, except that you rotate the
handle instead of moving it. The center of the twisting is defined by the
base object.
The Effect Center is the center of the effect and rotating it around the
selected Axis will distort the geometry. As such, if you select the X axis,
you rotate the object’s pitch; for Y, you rotate heading; and for Z, you
rotate bank. The Effect Corner defines the corner of the influenced area.
Use the sliders to shape the influence area.
Add Deform:Vortex three times using a different Axis setting on each
to have full rotational influence.
Use Displacement Texture to use a texture as a displacement map.
Ah, so you say you can already do this with the Displacement Map
function. Well, smarty-pants-brain-boy, using the plug-in lets you order
the deformation when you use multiple displacement plug-ins. For
example, Motion Designer totally overrides any effect the Displacement
Map function has. With Displacement Texture, you could place it after
Motion Designer.
Effector causes effector objects to repel or attract the points of the
affected object. The effector objects may be any objects you wish, but
Null objects work best.
The Effector Object(s) Prefix is a name prefix with the default of
Effector, and any object that begins with this name will be an effector.
This lets you have more than one effector based simply on their name.
Solid Core Radius defines a spherical area, within which all points
are equally affected. There is a gradual falloff of the effect between the
Solid Core Radius and Falloff Distance. Points outside the Falloff
Distance are not affected at all.
You can also choose the Effector Shape: it can be a Point or Plane. If
it is a Plane, you need to specify the Axis. Plane can make an
impenetrable plane that begins at the negative side of the axis based on
the effector position (like keeping feet squashed against the floor).
Falloff Distance and Solid Core Radius will have no effect.
The impact of the effector object is set and animated by keyframing
its XYZ Size channels. Positive values repel and negative values attract.
Effector in action
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Expression is a sister plug-in to the Expression channel modifier (see
Chapter 8). You use it in the same way.
You can set independent expressions for the XYZ point displacements
using the Channel pop-up menu.
Some global options are available that are not on the channel
modifier version. The After Bones option will cause the displacement to
occur after bone displacement. With World Coordinates checked, the
XYZ variables in the expression are in world space, not local space.
The HyperVoxelsParticles Displacement plug-in lets you set the base
color for a hypervoxels particle to the color of the vertex color map, if
one exists.
Inertia creates lazy points. It will delay the point positions in an
object, and cause them to catch up over a period of time.
Lag Rate (s/m) is the amount of delay (in seconds) for points that are
one meter away from the pivot point of the object—points closer or
farther will be adjusted accordingly. If you had the pivot point for the
cow object at the tip of her nose and moved her forward, her nose would
move with the pivot point; however, the rest of her would be delayed. If
you set Lag Rate to 1, then the portion of the cow that is one meter from
her nose would be one second (30 frames) behind.
Normally, the object’s movement triggers the effect; however, you can
point at a different object instead by using Inertia Pivot Object. Then,
the object doesn’t even need to move to get the effect. Inertia Pivot
Object replaces the item's pivot point, and becomes the center from
which the inertia acts. Points farther away from this center have a larger
delay in their animation—they are delayed by a time equal to the
distance multiplied by the Lag Rate. Activating Local Pivot uses the
pivot point’s local coordinates rather than world coordinates.
You can also specify a weight map. Zero weighting will result in no
delay for those points. Using 100% is the same as not using a weight map
on those points.
Joint Morph
JointMorph drives an endomorph based on the angle of a bone. This
displacement function replaces the common, but cumbersome, use of
Morph Mixer in combination with an expression or plug-in to control the
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morph channel based on a bone angle. This would allow you to, say,
bend an arm using bones, but also control a morph map that might bulge
Joint Morph panel
To use, just choose a Bone from the endomorph. This will be the
bone whose rotation will affect morphing. Next, activate which rotations
should influence which morph maps. They can be different, so changing
the heading would morph to a different morph map than changing the
The Angle Minimum and Angle Maximum angles correspond to the
Morph Minimum and Morph Maximum morph percentages. So when the
bone heading is at the Angle Minimum, the morph will be applied at the
Morph Minimum percentage. As the angle increases to the Angle
Maximum, the morph increases to the Morph Maximum. There is no
limit applied to the morphing, so going beyond the range of angles
results in morph percentages beyond the range of morphs.
Morph Mixer
For information on Morph Mixer, see “Animating Endomorphs” earlier
in the chapter.
NormalDisplacement can displace each vertex either along its normal
or using morph maps. NormalDisplacement differs from regular
displacement in that with regular displacement, the direction is fixed by
the user (or texture). With NormalDisplacement, the displacement is set
by the geometry, an effect similar to using Smooth Shift in Modeler.
A vertex’s normal direction is the average of the polygon normals it is
connected to.
The Displacement Amplitude sets the amount of displacement.
Displacement Direction lets you choose whether the direction of the
displacement is along the vertex Normals or using Morph Maps. The
Texture button brings up the Texture Editor, where you can add a
texture (like in a regular displacement texture).
If you are displacing along morph maps, set the MorphMap pop-up
menu to the target morph map.
The Detail Attenuation option reduces the displacement in highly
detailed areas, preventing the geometry from intersecting itself. This is
accomplished by weighting each displacement by the neighboring
polygons area, so vertices in small polygon areas are displaced less than
in large polygon areas. You can adjust this weighting with the
Attenuation Bias parameter. A bias of 0 percent will attenuate most
polygons and 100 percent will affect only very small polygons.
The Cache Normals option causes the normals to be calculated only
once. These results are used for later evaluations, making the
evaluations much faster. This option is recommended for solid objects,
but not for objects that are being deformed (e.g., with bones).
Cache Normals. Left: Off. Right: On (Hmmm Cow becomes a sheep!)
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Play your scene while tweaking the settings to get real-time feedback.
Remember that textures are three-dimensional and generally have
different values for any point in 3-D space (assuming your texture is
something dynamic, like Turbulence). The value of the texture at each
vertex acts as a multiplier against the Displacement Amplitude value. So
if a texture was at 50 percent for a particular vertex and the
Displacement Amplitude was 500mm, that vertex would be displaced
250mm (500mm x 50 percent). Each vertex would have its own
Because each vertex gets its own texture value, when using morph
maps, the amount of morphing is usually different for each vertex. If the
texture is animated, you will see the amount of morphing change over
A cool trick would be to use a gradient texture with Distance to
Camera or Distance to Object set as the Input Parameter. The gradient
could just be a ramp from 100 percent to 0 percent. Then, you can cause
a morph to occur based on the distance to the object or camera.
Serpent is a displacement plug-in that deforms an object so that it
hugs its path. The object is expected to travel along some axis of
Serpent in action
Alignment Axis sets the axis along which the object will be aligned.
The Start Frame and End Frame parameters turn the deformation on
and off at those frames, respectively.
Object deformation is usually not pretty when the object slides past
the Start Frame and End Frame. To get around this glitch, give the
object a nice straight lead-in, possibly with a linear keyframe. The length
of this segment should be about the length the object extends past its
center (0,0,0 in Modeler). Also, let the motion path and end frame extend
beyond the end of your intended animation, or end with a nice straight
segment along the Alignment Axis. Don't make the bends in the curve
too sharp relative to the thickness and subdivision level of the object.
Serpent is computationally intensive. Using the following steps will
maximize your efforts:
• Set up the motion path (i.e. keyframes) before applying the plug-in to
the object.
• Apply the plug-in to a low-polygon-count stand-in object and refine
your Scene.
• Use Items > Replace > Replace With Object File to replace the standin object with the finished version.
Serpent does not work well with Align To Path controllers (Motion
Options panel) activated for the object.
SockMonkey is an animation plug-in that uses scene items—typically
null objects—to deform an object's mesh. You can deform an object like
it is a puppet.
SockMonkey parallels bones in many respects. You may want to use it
if it matches your animation style. One big difference, however, from
using bones is that the control objects are external to the object.
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SockMonkey panel
Basic SockMonkey Setup:
1 Create an object in Modeler using selection sets or weight maps.
These will define the regions of the mesh to be deformed (e.g., chest,
upper arm, lower arm, hand, etc.). Using weight maps lets you vary
the influence based on the vertex weighting.
2 Load the object into Layout and add the SockMonkey displacement
3 Open the SockMonkey options panel. On the Relationship Setup tab,
set Vertex Group Types to the type you used in step 1.
4 Click the Auto Setup Object button. Control items (objects) will be
added to the scene and a relationship with each vertex group will be
set up. (If you are using weight maps, select each group and activate
the Use Weight Values option (Control Item tab).)
To manually add a control item, select the selection set or weight
map from the Vertex Group pop-up menu. Then, click the Auto-Add
Control Item button. If the item already exists in the scene, select it from
the Control Item pop-up menu and click the Add Relationship button.
Instead of using Auto-Add Control Item, which creates the control
items, Auto Assoc. w/Existing will add relationships to existing scene
items. Just make sure the scene items have the same name as the groups
before running. In other words, if you have a weight map called Shoulder,
you must have, say, a null object called Shoulder. Note that this
operation will not position the scene items like Auto-Add Control Item
Control items don’t have to be null objects, although this is usually the
case.They can be lights or even cameras.
Control Item Tab
The settings on the Control Item tab affect the selected group in the
list. Use Rotation will cause the control item’s rotation to influence the
group. When using weight maps, you’ll probably want to activate Use
Weight Values so the weighting of vertices will affect influence.
Like bones, control items have rest positions that provide the starting
point of their influence. To change a control item’s rest position, activate
the Edit Rest Position option, move the item and then deactivate the
Display Options
Use the settings on the Display Options tab to change how (or if) the
group bounding box is displayed in viewports.
Batch Operations
Use Enable All Relationships and Disable All Relationships to
activate or deactivate all of the group/control item relationships.
The Edit All Rest Positions option allows you to edit the rest position
for all control items.
The Remove Relationship button removes the group/control item
relationship for the selected group. You can also remove all relationships
in one step.
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Excessive use of this plug-in has caused certain side-effects in
laboratory animals, including dry-mouth and bloating.
Courtesy of Ashbury Designs. (www.temecula-usa.com/Adesigns)
The Enable Deformations On/Off command (Motion group) can be
used to temporarily disable deformations (i.e., morphing, bones,
displacement plug-ins, and displacement maps) in order to improve
interactivity when editing other aspects of a scene. Assign this to a menu
or keyboard shortcut for easy access, if you need it.
The Clip mapping function, located on the Rendering tab of the
Object Properties panel, offers a way to quickly alter an object. Basically,
it allows you to cut away portions of an object using a texture. This is a
great way of creating 2D pop-ups, as well as holes, tears, or grids in
objects without having to model them.
Left: Flat plane object in Layout. Right: Clip-map image
Rendered image
Left: Object cloned 19 times. Right:Army of kids!
There is one important distinction between a clip map and normal
texturing options: there is no partial clip. The information in the clip map
either cuts the relevant area away or leaves it intact.
If you need a partial-clip effect, try using a surface transparency map
If an image is used as a clip map, any value of 50% luminance
(brightness) or higher will clip the corresponding part of the object,
while a value below 50% will not. Using Procedural Textures works
similarly, except LightWave calculates the image data instead of
providing it in a picture. A two-color image will give you the most control
over the results of a clip map.
Like displacement maps, clip maps are also saved as part of the scene
file and not as part of the object. In order to load an object and its clip
map, use File > Load > Load Items From Scene.
Place a clip-mapped flat polygon outside the camera view to fake
shadows through grids, trees, or a window, using shadow maps. Use
this where a shadow-mapped light source doesn’t result in the correct
shadow due to features like a transparent surface.
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Entering a value for Object Dissolve on the Rendering tab of the
Object Properties panel will cause LightWave to render the object in a
semi-dissolved state. If you enter 100 percent, LightWave will not render
it at all. Since the value supports envelopes, you can change the dissolve
amount over time. For example, you may wish to slowly dissolve clouds
in on a rainy day, or replace one object with another by dissolving them
in and out in the same frame.
The appropriate properties panel will appear based on the current edit
mode (Objects, Bones, Lights, or Cameras) when you press the P key
or click the Item Properties button.
Don’t confuse Object Dissolve with surface transparency.
Transparency is applied on a surface-by-surface basis. Moreover, a 100percent transparent surface can still have specular highlights. A 100percent dissolved object just doesn’t exist. However, in some instances
you may want to use Object Dissolve as a global transparency effect.
The object above is shown at 100% Object Dissolve. (It’s also a polar bear eating an ice cream cone in a snow storm.)
Wireframe objects that are 100-percent dissolved will be visible in the
Layout window only if they are selected.
You can deactivate an object on the Scene Editor which is effectively
the same as 100% Dissolve.
Activating Distance Dissolve lets you automatically dissolve the
current object out after it has moved a certain distance from the camera.
The Max Dist value determines the distance at which the object should
be totally dissolved. The dissolve is gradual, thus the object will
generally have some amount of dissolve any time it is between the
camera and the Max Dist.
Underwater particles and moving stars often benefit from Distance
Entering a percentage value for Polygon Size lets you shrink or
expand an object’s polygons. They will expand or shrink from the center
of each polygon, creating gaps between them or overlapping. This
feature is often used with enveloping to simulate objects exploding or
collapsing in on themselves.
For explosions, you might want to further cut up your object with the
Knife tool. Also try enveloping object sizing so that the polygons move
quickly at first and then slow down as they dissolve. Adding some
carefully timed lens flares would be a nice touch, too.
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Particles are objects that are composed of single-point polygons.
Lines are objects composed of two points connected into line segments
(line segments may be a string of more than two points, as long as each
segment is a two-point polygon). These are special objects that are
always rendered at a defined size no matter how close they are to the
Particles are most often used for star fields, but they can also be used
to simulate smoke, jet exhaust, and sparkles, particularly when used in
conjunction with some special surface shaders. Lines can be used for
items like brush bristles, a field of wheat, and hair.
The Particle/Line Thickness value tells LightWave how big to make
the particle or line in pixels. There is a pop-up menu to select from some
pre-defined sizes.
Size and Aspect Scaling
The size and aspect of particles and lines are scaled automatically by
the Resolution Multiplier (Camera Properties). Also accurate width
compensation is made for any Pixel Aspect Ratio (Camera Properties)
other than 1.0.
The Particle/Line Thickness setting has no effect on objects that are
not particles or lines.
To create starfields, use some of the provided starfield objects, which
are really just single-point polygons arranged in the shape of a huge
hollow ball.You can even use the same object a few times, each with a
different rotation and Particle/Line Thickness value. Place the
camera in the center of the point balls.
Selecting Unseen by Rays for an object tells LightWave to ignore the
object in its ray-tracing calculations when reflection and refraction are
involved. This means that the object will not appear in the reflections or
refraction of another object. It will, however, render normally in the
scene. This is especially handy for objects that are front projectionmapped; you probably do not wish them to show up in the reflections
within other objects. Unseen by Rays will not affect the shadow options
of a given object.
Objects that have Unaffected by Fog selected will be excluded from
the fog effect. Also, the fog Level setting, to the right of the Unaffected
by Fog option, will let you apply an amount less than or greater than
normal. Normal is 100%.
An alternative to making an object 100-percent dissolved is to activate
Unseen by Camera. This makes the object invisible to the camera when
you render; however, you will still be able to see it and work with it in
the Layout window.
Although the camera won’t see these objects, lights will. You can use
this option to cast fake shadows into your scene from off-screen objects,
like window pane frames.
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Invisible cow casts shadow
If a light casts shadows, any objects illuminated by it will generally
cast shadows on themselves or onto other objects. However, you have
complete control over this. LightWave lets you decide exactly which
shadow options an object should employ. For example, you may wish for
some objects not to cast shadows and others not to receive shadows. By
default, all shadow options are on.
All shadow options active
Judicious use of the Self Shadow, Cast Shadow, and Receive Shadow
options (Rendering tab) for the objects in your scene can greatly speed
up rendering times for both ray-traced and shadow-mapped lights.
Deactivate Self Shadow if you do not want or need an object to cast
shadows on itself. An egg is a good example of an object that cannot cast
shadows on itself. A tree on the other hand is a prime candidate for Self
Self Shadow inactive
Do not confuse Self Shadow with shading. An egg under a solitary
light source may be shaded so that one side is darker, but this is shading
and not casting a shadow on itself.
Deactivate Cast Shadow if you do not want an object to cast a
shadow onto other objects. A spaceship orbiting a planet would be a
good example of an object that usually should not cast a shadow.
Cast Shadow (and Self Shadow) inactive
Deactivate Receive Shadow if you do not wish an object to receive
shadows from other objects. In the spaceship orbiting a planet scenario,
perhaps a better option would be to turn off Receive Shadow for the
planet as opposed to turning off Cast Shadow for the spaceship. You
may want the spaceship to cast shadows onto nearby asteroids or other
Shadow options apply whether LightWave is using ray-traced
shadows or shadow maps. However, when you use shadow maps and
you do not wish an object to receive a shadow, you need to deactivate
both Receive Shadow and Self Shadow. Likewise, for an object that you
do not wish to cast a shadow-mapped shadow, deactivate Cast Shadow
and Self Shadow.
Receive Shadows and HyperVoxels
Currently, plug-ins do not have access to all lighting information. As a
result, hypervoxels, for example, will continue to receive shadows, even
if the Receive Shadows option is disabled.
You can exclude any set of lights, as well as radiosity and caustics,
from the shading of any object. Simply click in the Exclude column to
activate the exclusion.
If for some reason you need the excluded lights to continue to cast
shadows, deactivate the Shadow Exclusion option. When this global
setting is not activate, all lights will cast shadows even if they are
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excluded. You will need to add the Shadow Exclusion command (Lights
command group) to a keyboard shortcut or menu to access it. Note that
adding to a menu may be preferable so you can see its current state.
Normally, the actual edges of polygons do not appear in a rendered
image. However, in some instances you may want the edges to show. The
polygons themselves are still rendered with all surface characteristics,
and outlines are added. Edge Color sets the color of visible polygon
For example, you might want the finished animation to be done in
wireframe with respect for hidden lines. (To see the full outline, use the
Render Outlines on the Surfaces Editor’s Advanced tab. LightWave also
lets you add a cel look to your rendered images, like the look you see in
Polygon and surface edges are broken down into edge types that you
can activate independently. You may also define a pixel width. You have
great control over how cel-look objects are outlined.
The images from left to right are examples of different polygon edge
• Silhouette Edges outlines the outer contours of the object.
• Unshared Edges are the places where two different surfaces meet,
but do not share the edge of a polygon.
• Sharp Creases outlines places that have abrupt folds or wrinkles in
the surface.
• Surface Borders is similar to Unshared Edges, but where the
polygons share the edge.
• Other Edges are all polygon edges, except those where two surfaces
To create a solid-wireframe animation, use the same Surface Color
(Surface Editor) as the Backdrop Color (Effects panel) and select all
Edges with a contrasting Edge Color.
Edges can also get smaller as they move away from the Camera by
activating the Shrink Edges with Distance option. The Nominal Distance
setting determines the arbitrary distance from the Camera at which the
edges are at their defined width. As the object gets farther away, the
edges will get smaller.
The far left image shows how the object looks with Silhouette Edges.
The Shrink Edges with Distance option is active in the middle picture
and the Nominal Distance is set to 3.6m, which coincidentally happens
to be the same distance the Camera is away from the object. Moving the
object away from the Camera, you can see the edges getting smaller. The
picture on the right shows how the frame looks if the Shrink Edges with
Distance option is inactive.
Edge Z Scale
When pixels of a polygon edge are rendered, they will have depths
that are approximately equal to those of the polygon that they belong to.
This means that some of the pixels will be visible while others will be
hidden, which could result in broken-looking edges.
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To prevent this, LightWave multiplies polygon-edge depth (i.e. Z
buffer) values by a scaling factor, the Edge Z Scale, which is, by default,
slightly less than one to ensure that the edges are always drawn on top
of their polygons.
The default value, .998, should work in nearly all cases. However, in
certain circumstances, like camera zoom factors that are extremely high,
you may need to adjust this value. However, if the value is too high (i.e.,
too close to 1.0), the edges start to submerge into the polygon and break
up. On the other hand, if the scale factor is too low, the edges will come
in toward the camera too much and may even start to appear in front of
other polygons that they should be behind. If either of these problems
occurs, adjust the Z scale in the appropriate direction; otherwise, leave
it alone.
It is unlikely Edge Z Scale values outside the range of .95 to 1.0
would ever be necessary.
Sasquatch Lite allows you to quickly and easily create a variety of
effects such as grass, fur, and hair on your objects. Sasquatch Lite uses
its own rendering engine to render the hairs quickly and combine the
results seamlessly with your LightWave objects. Sasquatch Lite is a very
simplified version of the commercial plugin Sasquatch from Worley
To use Sasquatch Lite to create fur effects, you need to apply two
plugins to your scene: the SasLite displacement plug-in (added on the
Object Properties panel) and the SasLite pixel filter (added on the
Processing tab of the Effects panel).
You “teach” Sasquatch Lite about what object(s) grow hair by adding
the displacement plug-in on those objects. The hair attributes like color,
length, and density are defined in the displacement plug-in's interface.
Each object can have its own hair with its own style. You can even add
multiple copies of the displacement plug-in to an object to add layers of
The rendering engine is controlled by the single pixel panel interface.
This panel allows you to set global options such as antialiasing, and
shadow control.
Default settings turn the cow into a sheepdog!
Designing Fur and Grass
The easiest effects to apply are fur and grass. The default settings of
Sasquatch Lite will cause your objects to grow short brown fur all over
the surface of your object. The fur itself is quite customizable, allowing
you to make a huge variety of appearances.
The SasLite displacement plug-in panel
The large radio buttons in the upper left of the interface allow you to
restrict the fur to appear only on certain surface(s) by entering the name
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in the Surface Name(s) field. You can use the wildcard character "*" to
select multiple similar surfaces, so "Fur*" will select surface names like
"Fur_back" and "Furry head". The entry is not case sensitive.
The basic color of the fur is selected with the Fiber Color setting.
Real fur and hair have a range of hues, and you can approximate some of
this variation with the Hue Vary and Bright Vary controls. These will
vary the color shade and brightness of each hair randomly to give a
more natural range.
The fur will react to the lights in your scene. Fur is usually much
more sensitive to lighting direction than normal solid surfaces, so you
often need to spend extra time to get the effects you're looking for. This
sensitivity is inherent in real hair and fur too; we're used to looking at
solid surfaces like wood and stone, but the thin fibers of hair react very
differently. SasLite's shading captures these differences, but it does mean
that you have to learn to understand the lighting more carefully than
normal LightWave shading.
Like normal surfaces, SasLite fibers have Diffuse, Specular, and
Glossiness attributes. These allow you to change the way the hairs react
to light. Specularity is particularly important, but is also very sensitive.
The thickness of individual fibers is controlled by Coarseness. Human
hair is very thin, but you can create much wider strands, even thick
porcupine quills or grass stalks by using large enough values.
Fur and hair fibers are rarely completely straight. You can make the
fibers “wiggle” more by using the Frizz control.
Fur Density determines how many fibers are added to your object
surface. Length is the maximum length of each fiber. Both of these
controls are relative to the basic size of your object. This makes setting
values much easier, since you don't have to think about the size of your
object as much. Both Length and Density are non-linear, so doubling the
value will give you much more than double the amount of fur or length.
This makes adjustments easier overall, since it eliminates extreme cases
which might require bizarre settings like 100,000 percent!
The length of each fiber is partially randomized to give a more natural
variation The length you specify in the interface is the maximum length.
Drooping controls the way fibers bend downwards from gravity.
Clumping makes the fibers cluster together in groups. This control
sets the number of fibers in each group, and Clump Size sets the width
of each clump.
The direction of the fibers can be biased in a “combing” direction.
This combing is in object coordinates, so it is safe to move and rotate
your object in Layout without worrying about the fibers changing their
orientation. The Comb X, Y, and Z controls let you specify this combing
direction and strength.
The SasLite pixel filter controls control the rendering engine used to
generate the final fur effects. This engine is independent of LightWave's,
so it has its own controls for antialiasing and shadowing.
The SasLite pixel filter
Higher Antialiasing Level values will make SasLite work harder to
produce a smoother output image, though rendering may take longer.
This setting is independent of LightWave's antialiasing controls.
SasLite speeds up most fur rendering by skipping the fibers on the
backside of your object which are probably hidden by the object itself.
This can increase rendering speed considerably, but if the fibers are very
long, you may find that even the backside fibers should be visible. You
can set the quality of the “backside” fibers with the Reward Polygon
Quality setting. If your scene appears to be missing any fibers, you can
increase this value to tell SasLite to work harder and be more
conservative when rendering.
You can also speed up fiber rendering by telling SasLite to ignore the
effect of LightWave geometry shadows. This means that objects won't
cast shadows onto fibers, but your rendering speed will be considerably
faster. The Receive LightWave Shadows control toggles this option.
When active, the fibers will be affected by shadows.
Self-shadowing is the very important ability for fibers to cast a
shadow onto themselves. It's important because the deep complexity of
fur is very sensitive to self shadowing. Without it, fur and hair looks flat
and doesn't “feel” natural. (Sparser effects like grass still look good
though, since it's not as dense and there are fewer shadows).
SasLite uses shadow maps (similar to LightWave's) to allow the fibers
to cast shadows onto themselves. This means that any shadow casting
lights must be spotlights. You'll get the best quality if you adjust the
cone angle of the spotlights to be as narrow and focused on your object
as possible. You can choose to use all spotlights as shadow casters, or
just the ones LightWave uses as shadows itself.
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Long Hair
SasLite has a very simplified version of Sasquatch's system for
rendering long hair. The shape and path of the hair is defined and
animated by the use of “guide geometry,” which are chains of two-point
polygons. When you render, SasLite adds bundles of hair which follow
these guides. The advantage to this method is that you can create, style,
and animate the hair using all of LightWave's tools.
You can create guides easily in Modeler. Just make some points. Then,
select the first two points and hit the P key to make the polygon. Select
the next set of two and hit P again. Do this for the length of your guide.
This creates the proper kind of guide that SasLite needs. You can clone
the chain, or load pre-made chains, to define the hair shape. (Use the
Polygon Statistics panel to select and delete any non-two-point
You can make the guide as simple or complex as you like (including
making knots, bows, or even braids), but it has to be a chain of two-point
polygons. The root end of the chain must have a different surface name
than the chain itself. SasLite needs this marked end so that it knows
which end of the chain to grow from.
This end surface can be as simple as an extra one-point polygon
placed at the root end of the chain. In practice, it's easiest to make one
extra point at the end of the chain, then name the last two-point polygon
something like “Root”. You can then move the first point on top of the
second point to hide this extra link if you don't want it to show. You
might name the surface of the rest of the chain “Hair”.
To use guides, enable the Make long hair using guide chains option
on the displacement plug-in. Enter in the surface name of the “hair”
guide in the Surface Name(s) field. Remember that the hair needs to be
attached at the root to another surface (any surface) so SasLite knows
which direction to grow from.
Lock Width specifies how wide the bundle of hair is relative to the
length of the guide. Fiber Density controls how many fibers are created
along the guide you create. This may be a low number if you have many
guides, but you can make thick ropes by using a high enough setting.
Clumping is still active with long hair, so adjusting Clump Size can
change the way the fibers cluster together. Smaller values tend to look
If your first trials with hair create “explosions” of hair, you should
decrease the Clump Size and Lock Width of the hair until it's under
control and following the guide more closely. You can then increase the
values (slowly) until you get the volume and thickness you want.
SasLite’s settings are also greatly influenced by the scale of your objects.
You may find that you have more control using smaller objects.
Also, often your guides will be hidden in the hair. If they are visible,
just dissolve them out as you would any object.
Field of hair guides
SasLite long hairs (object dissolved out)
A lone strand of hair
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Gnarly hair from single guide
Bones and Skelegons
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hapter 10:
Bones and Skelegons
Bones isn’t a reference to a certain doctor on a certain sci-fi TV show.
Adding bones to an object lets you animate the object by deforming its
shape in a very controlled manner. Dancing gas pumps and credit cards,
beating hearts, and undulating ghosts can all be animated with bones. In
many respects, LightWave bones operate just like the bones (and
muscles) in your own body, which when moved, change your own
physical shape. In fact, bones are referred to as an object’s skeleton.
They are often set up like an actual skeleton, particularly when used
inside an object that might have a bone skeleton in real life, like a
person. Here all of the bones have parent/child relationships. This works
well because when you, for example, rotate the bone in the upper arm,
all of its children (farther down the chain) rotate with it.
However, a skeletal setup is not required. Here, we have just two
bones in this soda can with no bone parenting. The lower bone acts as
an anchor here, while moving and rotating the upper bone deforms the
upper portion of the can.
Two bones deforming a soda can
Bones function by first holding a default rest position and rest rotation.
After this, anytime a bone is moved, rotated, or sized away from its rest
settings, the object will deform. How much the object deforms is based
on the number of bones, their ranges of influence, and their relative
strengths. It helps to think of bones as magnets that attract parts of an
object (those closest to the bone) as the bone is moved, rotated, or
sized away from its rest settings. Bones play against each other, so you
usually need at least two. A single bone will affect every point within an
object (unless an influence range is used).
Because bones are generally set up in a hierarchy, they are often used
with LightWave’s Inverse Kinematics system.
As with displacement and clip maps, bone information is saved as part
of a scene file and not as part of an object. In order to load an object
and its bones into a scene, use Load From Scene.
Since objects can be greatly deformed by bones, it is a good idea to
get into the practice of using three-sided polygons in order to keep
rendering errors from appearing. Tripled polygons, by their very nature,
cannot be non-planar and therefore will render correctly.
You can select a bone to edit as you would any item in layout. The
Bones panel can be displayed by selecting a bone and then pressing the
P key. From this panel you can switch between different object skeletons
(i.e., bone hierarchies).
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It is very important to understand that each object in a scene can have
its own independent bone hierarchy.
To add a default bone to your object:
Select the object and then choose Items > Add > Bones > Add Bone.
The bone will be added with its base at the object’s local Origin, along
its positive Z axis.
To add a child bone to an existing bone:
Choose Items > Add > Bones > Add Child Bone and an identical bone
will be added with its base at the tip of the selected bone. The selected
bone is automatically the parent. As you create bones, the last created
one is always selected. Thus, you can quickly add child after child. If
there is no bone selected, this is the same as just adding a bone.
Since you are often adding multiple child bones, remember the
shortcut (=) to immediately add a child bone.
You will be prompted for a name when adding bones. Click OK to
accept the default.
To draw a bone in a viewport:
1 In any Layout orthogonal-view viewport, select the object, or existing
bone if you are drawing a child bone.
2 Select Items > Add > Bones > Draw Bones. (Since this is the initial
bone, you can alternatively choose Draw Child Bones.)
3 Place your mousepointer where you want to place the base of the
4 Drag your mouse to create the bone.
To open the Bones panel:
Select a bone and press the P key or click Item Properties.
You can borrow the bones from another object by selecting the
lending object in the Use Bones From Object pop-up menu.
Once a bone is placed and keyframed in the desired rest position you
must set its rest position and activate it. Usually, you will use the
keyboard shortcut for the Record Bone Rest Position command, which
is the R key. This does two things: records the rest position and activates
the bone. From then on, any changes to the bone will deform the object.
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To change only the activation state of a bone (and not adjust the rest
position), you can: use CTRL+R to toggles the state, use the Bone Active
option on the Bones Properties panel, or use the activation checkbox on
the Scene Editor.
When adjusting a chain of bones individually you’ll need to keyframe
each bone (or use Auto Key Create on the General Options tab of
the Preferences panel) before moving on to the next bone.
When you use the Record Bone Rest Position command, LightWave
sets the rest position by copying the bone’s current position and
rotation values to the Rest Position and Rest Direction values (Bones
panel). This creates a point of reference, so if you later move the bone
(not the object), it can influence the object’s shape.
If you need to reset the rest position, you may want to deactivate the
bone before reapplying the Record Bone Rest Position command.
Alternatively, you could manually edit the Rest Position and Rest
Direction values.
Another way to create a bone hierarchy is to use LightWave’s
skelegon feature in Modeler. Skelegons are a polygon type that can be
added to your object in Modeler; they look like bones. You can create a
complete skeletal structure out of polygons, hence the name skelegons.
Skelegons set up only placeholders for the bones. When you load an
object with skelegons into Layout, the skelegons must first be converted
to bones before you can use them for skeletal deformation.
There are several advantages to this system. First, you can use
existing points in a character to create the skelegons, if you wish, or you
can draw your own skelegons manually. Having this function as a
modeling tool makes the creation process much easier, as building a
skeleton is inherently a modeling task. Since the skelegons are
considered polygons, you can use any of the modeling tools to create
and modify the skeleton.
Another benefit is that the skelegons are saved in the object file itself.
This means that you no longer need to create a separate scene file to
hold bone positions.
One of the most beneficial features of this system is that when you
modify the shape of the model, the bone structure can be modified at
the same time, so you do not need to make secondary modifications to
that skeleton.
Imagine building a character and spending the time to create the
bone structure. Now the client decides they would rather have the
character with shorter legs and really long arms. Typically, the modeling
changes would be simple but recreating the skeletal system would be an
arduous task at best. With skelegons the process becomes one simple
step of modifying the geometry.
With skelegons it is also feasible to have a series of base skeletons
that you store and use as templates. The rubber band editing style of the
skelegons makes it very simple to modify an existing skeleton to fit all
types of characters.
Remember that skelegons are only placeholders for bones. Also, there
is no way to convert bones back into skelegons.
Drawing Skelegons
Like drawing bones in Layout, you can use the Draw Skelegons tool to
draw skelegons directly into a Modeler layer. Just choose Create >
Elements: Skelegons and drag your mouse. When you release the mouse
button a skelegon is created. With the tool still active, you can drag your
mouse again to create yet another skelegon attached to the first. Select
the tool again to turn it off.
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Drawing Skelegons
You can customize the Name used for each skelegon, as well as the
Weight Map name, on the numeric panel. When Digits is active on the
numeric panel, bone names are incremented, like Bone01, Bone02, and
so on. You can specify the initial number in the Start At field. If the Part
Tag option is active, the bone name will also be used as a Part name
automatically. Click the Delete Last button to delete the last skelegon
being created.
Draw Skelegon numeric panel
The lower portion of the dialog combines the functions of the Bone
Weights plug-in (Map > Weight & Color: Bone Weights), discussed later.
Activate Fill Weight Map to gain access to these functions. Remember
that weight maps are part of geometry, not skelegons. Thus, you need
some geometry in the foreground to use this feature. The weight maps
will be automatically created for the geometry.
Note that you can also activate the Fill Weight Map option after you
have finished drawing your Skelegons or even toggle it on and off. This,
however, must be done prior to making the Skelegons, by dropping or
switching the tool.
Creating weight maps with Draw Skelegons tool
Define the base weight map name in the Weight Map field. The maps
will be named sequentially (e.g., Bone01, Bone02, and so on). The Falloff
setting corresponds to the falloff that you can use on bones normally
when you are not using weight maps. (See “Falloff Type and Limited
Range”, later in the chapter). The resulting weight maps will give you a
nice starting point for modifying bone influences.
The Threshold Value is a distance from the bone that defines a
capsule-shaped region.
The Use Threshold pop-up has several settings. This will take the
weight value at the Threshold Value distance and either: ignore it (Off);
set all weights outside the distance to 0 (Clip); subtract the threshold
weight from all weights, so the weights go smoothly to 0 at the
threshold, then start to become negative (Subtract); or subtract the
threshold weight value as above, then clip the negative weights to 0
Bank Rotation Handle
When you edit skelegons, a bank rotation handle will appear. The
default angle for the handle is perpendicular to the viewport the
skelegon is first drawn in. Drag it to change the bank rotation to apply
when it’s converted into a bone.
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The mousepointer is over the bank rotation handle
The resulting bones will have only a 0 degree bank if they are drawn in
the Top view, assuming you do not adjust the skelegon rotation handle.
Make Skelegon
Another way to create skelegons is to create curves first. You can
then convert the curves into skelegons, which will be placed between
the curve knots (points). With Make Skelegon, you can even use points
from the object to create the curves.
To use Make Skelegon:
1 In an open Modeler layer, create points that will correspond to the
bases and tips of the bones you want to eventually create. (You’ll
probably want the object to be boned in the background for
2 Select points, working from the (theoretical) base of the first child
bone to the tip of the last bone in the chain. Then choose Create >
Elements: Make Curve > Make Open Curve to create an open-ended
curve with your points.
3 Repeat the previous step for all chains, if you have more than one.
You can use the same point in multiple chains.
4 Choose Construct > Convert: Make Skelegons to create the skelegon
from the curves. You can edit the base/tip of the bones using
standard modeling tools. The skelegon bones will stay attached to
each other.
If you desire, you can select and delete the curve afterward.
5 If you want, you can optionally cut and paste the skelegons into the
layer with the normal object geometry.
Editing Skelegons
You can edit existing skelegon (chains) by simply selecting the lowest
skelegon in the chain you wish to edit. Then, choose Detail > Other: Edit
Skelegons. You can also edit skelegons along with an object’s normal
polygons by selecting them at the same time.
If you want the skelegons to use the same points as your object, copy
the points you want to use as beginning and end points for the skelegons
to an empty layer. Use the Make Skelegons command. Then cut and
paste the skelegons into the normal object layer. Finally, merge points.
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Changing Skelegon Direction
The Flip command (Detail > Polygons: Flip) will flip the direction of
selected skelegons. (This command also flips the direction of a polygon’s
Splitting Skelegons
You can split selected skelegons in two using the Split Skelegon
command (Construct > Subdivide: Split Skelegon).
The Skelegon Tree Panel
If you open the Skelegon Tree panel (Detail > Other: Skelegon Tree),
you can view the hierarchy of skelegons. Skelegons will be automatically
parented if Draw Skelegons was used, for example.
The Weight Map column lists associated weight map names. Doubleclick in the Weight Map column to specify a weight map.
You can also change the hierarchy by dragging and dropping
individual skelegons in the list.
The same points will be used, but the connections will change to
reflect the revised hierarchy.
You can rename a skelegon by double-clicking its name in the list and
entering the new name in the dialog that appears. The names you assign
become bone names when the skelegons are converted to bones in
You can also rename a skelegon by selecting it in the viewport and
then executing the SkelegonRename command.
Converting Skelegons to Bones
Skelegons cannot be used directly in Layout. They must be converted
into bones first.
To convert skelegons into bones:
1 In Layout, select the skelegon object.
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2 Choose Items > Add > Bones > Convert Skelegons into Bones. This
converts the skelegons, which are only placeholders, into actual
bones. Note that the bones are immediately ready for action. Rest
positions are set automatically and bones are activated.
3 If your skelegons were in a Modeler layer by themselves, you need to
point the regular object to the newly created bones. Select the regular
object and then open its Bone panel. Select the skelegon object in the
Use Bones from Object pop-up menu.
If you want, you can simplify the process by cutting and pasting the
skelegons into the same layer as the object before saving.Then you can
avoid the Use Bones from Object feature.
Bones work against each other. Thus having only one bone with
unlimited range in an object is the same as having no bones—the entire
object is affected by the changes to the bone. The real power of bones
appears when you have more than one bone in an object.
When you have more than one bone present, each bone will affect the
points closest to it more strongly (again, assuming unlimited range for
each bone). For this reason, it is common to place strategic anchor bones
that do not move, to keep selected parts of objects from being deformed
by other bones in the object.
Whenever two or more bones are present, Strength (Bones panel) will
determine the influence one bone has over another when ranges of
influence intersect. If the option to limit the bones range is inactive, all
points within the object are considered completely within the influence
range of each bone.
A bone with a Strength value double that of another has twice as
much influence over points than the weaker bone. Pulling these two
bones equally in opposite directions would cause the object to move
toward the bone with greater Strength. The object, however, won’t move
completely with the stronger bone because the weaker bone still exerts
some influence. If the bones had equal Strength, the object would not
move at all, as each exerts the same amount of Strength on the object.
L-R:All bones equal; Middle bone stronger; and Middle bone weaker
Scaling the Strength
The Multiply Strength by Rest Length option (Bones panel) causes a
bone to multiply its Strength by its Rest Length to determine the
influence of the bone. Bones with larger rest lengths will exert greater
influence over other bones with equal Strength values, but smaller rest
Weight maps scale falloff-based bone effects rather than completely
replace them. Boned characters can then be easily cleaned up with
weight maps to eliminate unwanted influences. (See Chapter 28 for more
information on weight maps.)
Remember that weight maps are created in Modeler.The maps are
assigned to bones in Layout.
Each bone affects each point according to a weight, which is either a
function of distance or a weight map value. Here is a nice hand object.
The middle finger weight map is shown—actually each finger has its own
weight map.
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Weight map on finger
A simple bones hierarchy was added to this object in Layout.
Normally, if we tried to bend the bones in one finger, we would still get
some movement in other fingers.
Bones added to hand
Below, the appropriate weight maps have been assigned to each bone
using the Bone Weight Map pop-up menu on the Bones panel. So now if
you bend the bones in the middle finger, they affect only points with
non-zero weights in the weight map for the middle finger.
Below, three different weight maps have been applied to a finger; one
for each bone. Since the screenshots are not in color, it is difficult to see
the true falloff of the weight map; however, you can see that the different
weight maps will allow deformation more in some areas and less in
With SubPatch objects, you should set the Subdivision Order to
After Bones on the Object Properties panel to avoid weird polygons after
the bend.
Bone Weight Help
Modeler’s BoneWeights plug-in (Map > Weight & Color: Bone
Weights) uses a Falloff algorithm to fill a weight map when you use the
Skelegons in the foreground. The BoneWeights correspond to the falloff
that you can use on bones when you are not using weight maps. (See
“Falloff Type and Limited Range”, later in the chapter). This plug-in gives
a handy starting point for modifying bone influences. The weight maps
match the bone names.
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Remember that weight maps are part of geometry, not skelegons.
Thus, you need some geometry in the foreground to use this feature. The
weight maps will be automatically created for the geometry.
The Additive option adds the weight to any existing value. So if both
left and right arm bones were named armbone.01, the weight map would
show the effects from both arms. The Threshold Value is a distance from
the bone that defines a capsule-shaped region. Using Threshold Value
will take the weight value at this threshold distance and either: ignore it
(Off); set all weights outside the distance to 0 (Clip); subtract the
threshold weight from all weights, so the weights go smoothly to 0 at the
threshold, then start to become negative (Subtract); or subtract the
threshold weight value as above, then clip the negative weights to 0
Weight Normalization
If for some reason you want weight maps to be the sole control for
influence, activate the Use Weight Map Only option. You should also
activate the Weight Normalization option, and your bone influences will
normally be scaled based on distances and weight map. If you deactivate
Weight Normalization, only the bone’s weight map is used, which can
cause wild influences unless the map is made of precise values.
Weight map on flat subdivided plane
Left: Normal effect lifting a center bone. Right: Using the weight map
Left: Use Weight Map Only active. Right: Weight Normalization inactive
Auto Weight Maps with Skelegon
If you have created a skelegon hierarchy in Modeler, you can
automatically create the weight map names, one for each skelegon, by
running the Set Skelegon Weight command (Detail > Other:
Set Skelegon Weight). Note that this merely sets up the association to
map names. You still need to create and edit the weighting values as you
would normally. The associated map names are automatically assigned
to the bones and will appear as the Bone Weight Map setting on the
Bones panel.
The previously described SkelegonTree panel will list map
Bones are represented in Layout as pyramids that connect at the
base. Although it appears as if a bone has a specific base and tip (and for
rotational purposes, it does), the area of influence of a bone is equal
around it. The length of a bone is adjusted by changing its Rest Length.
You can use either the Bone Rest Length Tool (Objects > Bones: Rest
Length) or adjust it numerically on the Bones panel.
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A bone
The Falloff Type (Bones panel) setting determines how the influence
of bones weakens over distance. The settings indicate the mathematical
formula used to determine the falloff of the influence. Inverse
Distance ^ 4 is the default setting and should work in most cases. The
higher the exponential number (i.e., ^2, ^4, ^8, ^16), the faster the falloff
of the bone’s influence. Because the falloff is exponential, as opposed to
linear, control over nearby points can be maintained with much less
influence over distant points.
Left: Inverse Distance^2. Right: Inverse Distance^4
Left: Inverse Distance^16. Right: Inverse Distance^64
Generally, proper use of Falloff Type will make using Limited
Range, discussed subsequently, unnecessary in most cases.The Falloff
Type affects all bones in a particular object skeleton.
When Limited Range (Bones panel) is active, the Min value
determines the sharp cutoff point of a bone’s influence. Any points
within this range are 100 percent affected by movement or sizing of the
bone. Any points outside of this range are affected less or not at all
depending on whether they fall within the Max. In an orthogonal view,
the Max setting is visible in the viewport. A short bone will exert a
spherical influence, while longer bones exert a more oblong influence.
Min is very powerful and points within this range are greatly
influenced by the bone, following the bone movements exactly (unless
an extremely small bone Strength is applied to the bone). Max
determines the gradual falling off point of a bone’s influence. The
strength of the influence falls off from the edge of the Min down to 0 at
the Max. Any points falling outside of this range are not affected at all by
the bone.
Generally, to get the best effects from using bones, you should either
use bones that all have unlimited range, or that all have limited ranges.
Character animation is generally easier using limited ranges on all bones.
Often you will want your Min and Max to be equal. Typing in a Min
that is bigger than the Max will increase the Max to the same size.
Likewise, typing in a Max smaller than the Min will force the Min down.
Sometimes bones used to create joints can cause pinching or
unwanted bunching, much like a folded garden hose. Joint
Compensation (Bones panel) will remedy this effect by making the
affected points tend to maintain the original volume inside the joint. The
result is a more realistic-looking joint. You can modify the compensation
amount to increase or decrease the effect.
Joint Compensation for Parent (Bones panel) shears the points
affected by the parent bone during the child bone’s rotation. This
compensation also alleviates the pinching effect often caused by bones.
At the same time the point shear occurs, the bone will also try to
maintain the volume inside the joint.
The default value of 100% was chosen as a value that is applicable for
most instances. Negative values can also be used, which will increase the
pinching effect.
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The joint is always located at the base of the current bone. Adjusting
Joint Compensation for Parent is not the same as adjusting the
parent bone’s Joint Compensation.
L-R: Off; Joint Compression 100%; Joint Comp for Parent 100% added
LightWave also makes it easy to create realistic flexing muscles when
you use bone structures in the object. When you activate Muscle Flexing
(Bones panel), the points affected by the bone will flare out as the bone
is rotated. The effect simulates muscles bulging under the skin.
Muscle Flexing for Parent (Bones panel) is generally more common
than Muscle Flexing. For example, when your forearm rotates your
biceps flex. The forearm is the child and the bicep is the parent. It would
not look natural for the forearm to bulge as it rotated, but it looks
perfectly natural when the biceps flex.
Joint Compensation and Muscle Flexing react only to pitch rotations.
To react to other rotations (or just for more precise control), you
could model a muscle Endomorph object and use ChannelFollower (or
an expression) on the morph target’s MorphMixer channel (on the
Graph Editor) to follow the bone’s rotation.You’ll need to set
ChannelFollower’s Scale down to something like one percent or less.
Exercise: using bones
1 Load the ARM_LOWPOLY.LWO object (TUTORIALS folder) into a clear scene
in Layout. Use the Side view. Note that it just happens to be modeled
along the positive Z axis. Just what we need. What a coincidence!
2 Select the arm object and choose Items > Add > Bones > Add Bone.
3 If you are using a shaded display, you probably won’t see the added
bone. You can make it visible by making it the current item, but since
we plan to add several bones, using a wireframe display works best.
So, change the viewport’s Maximum Render Level to Front Face
Wireframe. You will see the bone inside the arm—try looking at the
object using different views to see that the bone is indeed inside the
4 Notice that the tip of the bone is not quite at the elbow. Since we
need it to bend there, we must increase the bone’s Rest Length.
Activate the Bone edit mode button at the bottom of the interface
and then click Objects > Bones: Rest Length.
The arm was the current item, so activating the Bone edit mode lets
us edit its bones. If other objects were in the scene, we would need to
select the bone directly in the viewport or select the appropriate
object first.
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5 Drag your mouse to the right until the Rest Length is about 1.13 (the
indicator is in the lower-left corner). The bone’s tip should be just
about at the elbow. Note that we don’t need to keyframe this change.
6 Next, let’s add a child bone and for fun, we’ll draw it. Choose Items >
Add > Bones > Draw Child Bone and drag your mousepointer to the
the wrist.
7 Now add another child bone, but don’t draw it. Choose Items > Add >
Bones > Add Child Bone.
8 The last bone will extend past the tip of the fingers but that’s okay.
However, select Items > Tools: Rotate and change its Pitch a little (2.4 degrees) to align the bone with the hand a little better. You do
need to re-keyframe changes to position and rotation, so re-create a
keyframe for this bone after the rotation change.
As you can see, you position bones the same way you position
9 Press the R key to set the rest position and activate the current bone.
Notice that the bone’s outline becomes solid and bright. Press the UP
ARROW key to select the middle bone and activate it. Do the same for
the first bone.
10 Now for the fun part! Select the middle bone and rotate its Pitch.
(Switch the viewport back to Textured Shaded Solid.)
Select the last bone and rotate its Pitch.
OK. Now walk like an Egyptian... (stop whistling!)
11 Select the middle bone and play with the Joint Compensation and
Muscle Flexing options (Bones panel) to see their effects.
12 Try varying the bone Strength for different bones and observe the
Item Motion Options
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hapter 11:
Item Motion Options
Generally, the Motions Options panel controls the overall motion of
an item in your scene, as opposed to individual channel control, which is
accomplished using the Graph Editor.
Parenting refers to LightWave’s ability to create hierarchical
relationships between items, much like files use directories. These
relationships can grow into a complex hierarchy with multiple items
parented to an item and the child items being parents themselves of
other items.
You can parent just about anything to anything. That is, lights can be
parented to objects, objects can be parented to a camera, and so on. You
can also parent items to bones; however, bones must remain under the
object they relate to. Generally, you’ll restrict parenting to the same type
of item (e.g., objects to objects); however, there are often times when,
say, parenting a camera or light to an object can be very handy.
Scene Editor List showing indented hierarchical relationships
When you initially parent an object to another, you align its local
Origin with the local Origin of the parent object. The child inherits the
position, rotation, and scale of its parent. You can also animate the child
independently, but its movement will be added on to the parent’s.
A simple example involves a camera parented to a car object. As the
car moves throughout the animation, the camera follows its movements,
thus providing the look of a camera mounted to the car. Additionally, the
camera may have its own motion, so it could go up and over the car
while still moving along with it.
Camera parented to car
A more complex example involves a robot walking. The hands of the
robot are parented to their respective forearms, which in turn are
parented to their respective upper arms and so on. As the main parent is
moved (in this case, perhaps the torso of the robot), all the child objects
follow. Of course, all objects can have their own motions, which lets you
flail the robot’s arms about as it runs.
Left: Solid textured display. Right: Bounding boxes show individual objects
If possible, try to set up your hierarchical relationships before you
animate the individual items.Then work from the top down (i.e., parent
to child).
To change hierarchical relationships:
Use the Scene Editor to quickly change hierarchical relationships by
dragging items. (See Chapter 12 for more information.)
To use the Motion Options panel to change an item’s parent:
1 Select the item to be parented (i.e., future child).
2 Choose Items > Motions: Motions Options (or M key).
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3 Select the parent item from the Parent Item pop-up menu. (Yes, in the
LightWave world, children can pick their parents. And what a
wonderful world it is too...)
Use File > Load Items From Scene to load in an entire chain of
parented objects.This way, you can have default scenes set up with all
of the objects parented and in place.You can even have motions set up
so you could load in a walking woman or a police car with revolving
lights atop. If you do load a scene that has motion for certain objects,
it may be a good idea to have the items in the loaded scene parented
to a null object that you can easily reposition once it’s loaded in the
new scene.
Exercise: parenting:
1 Load the COW.LWO object (ANIMALS subdirectory).
2 Parent the light to cow. (You can just drag it under the cow.)
3 Drag the cow around and notice how the light moves right along with
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Example: complex parenting:
For a good example of parenting, let’s look at the Mechwalk scene
that comes with LightWave.
1 Load the MECHWALK.LWS scene (ROBOTS subdirectory). This machine is
composed of many objects linked together in a hierarchy.
2 Open up the Scene Editor panel (Scene Editor) and look at the object
hierarchy. The Control object—really just a null object—is the master
parent. Repositioning it would move all of the children objects.
3 Select all objects (Select pop-up) and set their visibility to bounding
box (Visibility pop-up). This lets you see the individual objects more
easily in the viewport.
4 Select the Light edit mode to avoid displaying all objects as selected.
All of the different objects in the viewport should be different colors.
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5 Try moving and rotating various objects and see their effect on their
Generally, the way a scene like this is created is that the individual
objects are created in a standing position in Modeler. After all objects
are loaded into Layout, the pivot points are then moved to the proper
positions. Remember, pivot points should always be set prior to any
rotating or moving.
You can unparent an item by:
• clicking the Unparent button,
• selecting (none) from the Parent Item pop-up menu, or
• dragging in the Scene Editor.
Local Axis Rotation
We stated earlier that rotation generally occurs relative to the global
axes. However, remember that child items inherit their parent’s rotation.
This, in effect, lets you use parenting to rotate an item relative to
something other than the global axes. To do this, add a null and parent it
to the object. Rotate the null to the initial rotation you want the object to
have. Now, you can rotate the object itself and it will all happen relative
to the null’s rotational values.
For example, let’s say you wanted a satellite to orbit a planet at a 20degree angle. Simply add a null and rotate its bank to 20 degrees. Load
the satellite and move its pivot point away from the object, a distance
equal to the radius of the orbit. Set the satellite’s position back to 0, 0, 0
(remember it gets moved because of the pivot point move). Parent the
satellite to the null and rotate the satellite’s heading.
Orbiting satellite
Parent in Place
If the Parent in Place option is active on the General Options tab of
the Preferences panel (Display > General Options), an item will maintain
a constant position, size, and orientation when it is parented or
unparented. Adjusted position keyframes for the child will be created at
the current time, but its position at other times may still change. It is
best to be at frame 0 and to perform parenting before animating when
this option is active.
Sometimes you will want an item to continually point to or follow
something. A common example is when a stationary camera tracks a car
speeding down a street. Obviously, you could keyframe the necessary
camera rotations, but wouldn’t it be easier to just say, “camera, follow
that car.” Well, in LightWave, this is called targeting. Any scene item can
be targeted by another item.
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Car targeted by light and camera
Targeting automatically controls an item’s heading and pitch
rotational values based on the position of a specified object. Banking is
unrelated to the targeted object, so you can still control that channel.
A dashed line will appear connecting any item with its target. There is
a display option to turn this off or on (Display > Display Options).
Targeting overrides any actual heading and/or pitch channel values.
To target an item:
1 Select the item to be targeted toward something.
2 Open the Motion Options panel (Items > Motions: Motion Options).
3 Set the Target Item pop-up menu to the desired object you want to
point to.
4 Both the Heading Controller and Pitch Controller (Controller and
Limits tab) will automatically set themselves to Point At Target. If
you desire, you can set either back to Key Frames for manual control.
Where Does It Point?
A targeted item always points towards an object’s pivot point. This
may not always be the exact location you want to point to. There are two
solutions. You could move the item’s pivot point, but this might cause
other undesirable ramifications. Another method is to parent a null
object to the target and move it to the desired target location. Then,
select the null as the target.
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Light is targeted at cow, but cow’s pivot has been moved off the object
Kinematics describes motion, or the study of motion. It is motion in
the most abstract sense, without regard to force, mass, velocity,
acceleration, or the positional values that produced the motion. In
computer animation, you employ kinematics when you animate links of
parented objects such as those used to make up a robot’s arm or leg, or
when you work with a chain of parented bones inside a one-piece limb.
With these types of joints between objects/bones, we generally deal with
rotational values for the individual objects/bones in the chain.
Forward kinematics is the standard type of motion generated in
LightWave when you rotate/move any parents in a chain. The animator
decides what will be the motion of all the joints. The motion of the last
item in the chain is determined indirectly by the accumulation of all
motion of any parent items up (i.e., forward) through the chain. (Like if
you move your upper arm, your forearm and hand also move with it.)
Motion accumulates forward through the chain of bones
LightWave also features inverse kinematics (IK), sometimes called
goal-directed motion. IK occurs when you have a hierarchy of two or
more objects/bones and a goal object selected for an object or bone in
the chain. LightWave can calculate (solve for) the motion of the chain
based on the goal’s position. Usually, the last item in the chain (i.e., the
last child) is the one that receives the goal, but this is not necessarily so,
as you can have multiple goals for a chain. (Like if Billy P’s mom grabs
his ear, his head, neck, and body must usually follow.)
Motion is computed from goal back up through the chain of bones
You can even use forward kinematics (normal keyframing) and IK
simultaneously for an incredible hybrid motion system. You can set
kinematics independently for each item and rotational setting!
Full or Part-time?
By default, LightWave does not compute IK continuously. Thus,
animating the goal object will not do anything. You position the goal to
pose your chain and then keyframe all of the items in the chain. This
method uses LightWave’s IK as an animation aid. In effect, you are using
IK to pose your chain, but forward kinematics when you render your
Alternatively, you can use Full-time IK for any item in the chain with a
goal. When active, LightWave continuously computes the chain’s motion
based on the goal. Thus, you can animate the goal object, and the chain
will react accordingly. Full-time IK also works well with multiple active
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goals. This means you can have an active knee goal (middle of the chain)
as well as an active foot goal (end of the chain). When you move one
goal, LightWave takes into account the position of the other goal.
IK and Modifiers tab
Creating key frames for all items in the chain can become tedious if
you make a lot of changes and must keep deleting and re-creating key
frames for all items in the chain. Thus, you may want to use LightWave’s
Full-time IK option.
Because you can have multiple goals, you can activate Full-time IK
for some goals and not for others. A full-time IK item further down the
chain will always override a non-full-time IK item further up the chain. In
practice, however, you’ll generally have Full-time IK on or off for all
items in the chain.
If you are not using Full-time IK, you do not need to create key
frames for the goal object, but it can be useful to help remember your
An easy way to create keys for all items in a chain is to select the
parent of the chain and create the key frame using the Current Item
and Descendants option (Create Motion Key requester).
LightWave also provides a global IK on/off switch: Items > IK: Enable
IK. Use this to toggle IK solving off or on for all IK chains in the scene.
Pointing the End of a Chain
A bone rotates at its base. So, to get the tip of a bone to point
towards something, you need to add an extra child bone whose base
acts as a pointer (or you could parent a null). For aesthetic reasons,
you’ll probably want to reduce this pointing bone’s Rest Length to
something really small. If it is a chain of objects, parent a null object to
the end of the chain.
Selected bone is “pointing” at goal (null object) using its base
Mix and Match
To have an entire chain solve for IK goals, you should set each item’s
Heading Controller and Pitch Controller to Inverse Kinematics (Motion
Options panel). As such, you can also have any of the controllers (or the
item) not use IK by setting the controller to something other than
Inverse Kinematics. This is how you can mix IK with forward kinematics!
Mixing IK and Key Frames
Here is a basic scene with three bones attached to a null object and a
second null object that will be the goal object for our IK chain. (Note: the
third bone, which is small and nearly invisible, is at the tip on the right
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Three-bone chain.Tip bone is very small
Below are the Motion Options for the bones.
Left: Bone (1). Right: Bone (2)
Bone (3)
Bone (1)’s Heading Controller is set to Inverse Kinematics, but its
Pitch Controller is set to KeyFrame. This means that only its heading
will be affected by IK influences. Bone (2)’s Heading Controller and
Pitch Controller are both set to Inverse Kinematics. This means that
both its heading and pitch will be affected by IK influences.
Bone (3) doesn’t use any IK controllers because it merely acts as a
pointer to the goal object. Note that it does have Null (2) selected as the
Goal Object and Full-time IK is also activated.
Now, as the Goal object is moved around, Bone (1) moves only on its
heading, while Bone (2) moves along both heading and pitch. (Note that
the Show IK Chain option on the Display Options tab of the Preferences
panel (Display > Options: Display Options) and Keep Goal Within
Reach option on the Motion Options panel’s IK and Modifiers tab, are
also active. Enable IK is also on, but you knew that, right?)
Left: Side view. Right:Top view.
Finally, if you rotate Bone (1)’s pitch (as you would normally), you
can see it change. This shows how you can now use a hybrid of forward
and inverse kinematics.
Forward and inverse kinematics in one chain
Setting Your Goals
Setting a goal object is similar to targeting a camera to an object: the
item in the chain with the goal will try to point at the goal object. This is
called reaching for the goal. Items up the chain will move and rotate to
keep the chain connected.
If physically possible, the goal object will be stuck to the goaled item.
Moving it beyond its reach will detach the goal object. You can use the
Keep Goal Within Reach option to affix the goal object to the item, if
desired. This may make monitoring multiple goals easier, but it is up to
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Keep Goal Within Reach is active
Moreover, let’s say you build an arm and instead of parenting the
hand to the forearm, you just make the hand a goal for the arm. With
Keep Goal Within Reach, you can insure that the hand stays locked to
the forearm. (According to Paul, doing this manually would be a pain and
you’d end up adding a lot of extra keyframes.)
If you move the IK object with goals that have Keep Goal Within
Reach active and you are using Full-time IK, those goals will be
dragged along for the ride.Wheeeeee!
Although any object can be a goal, null objects are used most often
because they do not render. However, you can also use a visible object
effectively as a goal. Let’s say that you have a searchlight object that you
always want to point at a blimp flying overhead. By modeling the
searchlight with its origin at one end (or simply moving the pivot point
to the end) and parenting a null object at the other end, you can select
the blimp as the null object’s goal. The searchlight will now follow the
movement of the blimp.
Dueling Goals
When you create an IK chain with multiple goals that may compete,
you must set strengths for these goals. The strength will determine the
relative magnetism that goal has for the shared objects in the chain. To
increase the strength of a particular goal, raise the Goal Strength value.
Multiple goals on one chain
Goal Strength comes into play when the distance between the
competing goals becomes too great to solve the IK calculation, or when
the distance exceeds the length of the object chain. As the goals move
past this distance, the objects will move away from their original
positions. The distance they move from both goals is equal as long as
the strength values are equal. If the strengths are not equal, the
difference in distance is equal to the ratio of the two strength values. If
one goal’s strength is set to 1 and the other is 10, the object’s distance
from the weaker goal is ten times that of the stronger goal.
Goal Orientation
Items in an IK chain that have a goal assigned can match the
orientation of the goal. You do this by activating the Match Goal
Orientation option.
Note:The rest length for the bone with the goal has been increased for illustration
You should note that this option also matches the goal object’s
scaling, overriding the (goaled) item’s scale setting. If this adversely
affects your animation, one solution is to copy the (goaled) item’s scale
channels to the goal object. Another solution may be to add a null object
to the IK chain and use that as the goaled item instead.
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Use Match Goal Orientation to prevent a character’s feet from going
through the ground plane.
Breaking the Chain
When you activate the Unaffected by IK of Descendants option for
an item in an IK chain, the selected item is locked from the effects of an
IK goal. This, in effect, makes that item the new base of the IK chain, and
only items farther down the chain are affected by any IK operations.
Chain broken with Unaffected by IK of Descendants
A good example of using Unaffected by IK of Descendants is wagging
the tail of a dog. Imagine a string of bones inside a solid dog object,
extending down its tail. You want the tail to follow the dog as it moves
about, but you do not want the dog’s body to wag as the tail bones are
affected by a goal object (i.e., the “tail wagging the dog”). You activate
Unaffected by IK of Descendants for the bone at the base of the tail to
accomplish this.
Stiff Stuff
You may also add a Stiffness value to items in the IK chain. Items with
a higher stiffness value will tend to be more resistant to bending caused
by IK.
The third bone has a high stiffness setting (for heading in this case). Note how it barely flexes.
When you use IK, you will often want to set rotation limits, as
discussed later in the chapter.
Exercise: setting up a bone IK hierarchy
1 Bones must be added to an object, so add a null object to a clear
scene and call it BASENULL. Add another null object and call it
Naming nulls is a good habit to get into. Although not necessary, it can
avoid confusion when you use them later.
2 Change to the Top view and move it so that the nulls are at the
bottom of the Layout window.
3 Choose Items > Add > Bones > Add Bone to add a bone to the null
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4 Add three child bones using the shortcut (=).
5 With the last bone (4) still selected, open the Motion Options panel
(M). Select the GOALNULL as the Goal Object and set all of the
Controllers to Inverse Kinematics.
6 Using the Current Item in the main interface, select each of the other
bones and set all of their Controllers to Inverse Kinematics, too.
7 Now, select the GOALNULL and drag it around the viewport. You should
notice that the chain follows the object; however, the last bone does
not seem to point to it and just hangs there.
8 To create the illusion that the tip of the bone (4) is pointing to the
goal, you need to add another child bone, whose base will act as a
pointer. Select the last bone and add a child (=). Size the new bone’s
Rest Length down so that it is more or less a point.
9 Now, set Bone (4)’s Goal Object to (none) and set the new bone’s (5)
Goal Object to GOALNULL.
10 Now move GOALNULL in the viewport. That’s more like it. You should
now see the bones bend around like a snake with the end pointing to
the goal. Notice how the GoalNull tends to stick to the base of Bone
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Exercise: bone stiffness
1 Continue on from the previous exercise.
2 Select Bone (2) and set the Heading Stiffness, Pitch Stiffness, and
Bank Stiffness (Motion Options panel) all to 100. This makes the
bone very inflexible and is probably a much higher value than you’d
use normally.
3 Move the GOALNULL around. Notice that the stiffened bone’s joint
(base) is much more resistant to bending compared to the others.
Exercise: limiting chain movement
1 Continue from the prior exercise.
2 Reset Bone (2)’s Stiffness values to 1 (Motion Options panel).
3 Activate Unaffected by IK of Descendants for Bone (2) (Motion
Options panel).
4 Now move the GOALNULL around. Bone (1) through Bone (2) should be
stationary and the snake should bend beginning with Bone (3).
Exercise:To match goal object orientation:
1 Continue on from the previous exercise.
2 Deactivate Unaffected by IK of Descendants for Bone (2) (Motion
Options panel).
3 Select Bone (5), click Objects > Bones: Rest Length and then click
Items > Tools: Reset to restore its size.
4 Activate Bone (5)’s Match Goal Orientation (Motion Options panel)
5 Move and rotate the GOALNULL around. Notice how the orientation of
the goaled bone matches the orientation of the goal object.
6 Size the GOALNULL object up and see how the bone sizes up too.
7 Set the Keep Goal Within Reach option for Bone (5).
8 Move GOALNULL again. Notice how it is now permanently attached to
the goaled object and can no longer be moved off it.
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Item motion modifiers are added on the IK and Modifiers tab of the
Motion Options panel. These generally control the motion at the item
level, as opposed to strictly the channel level, which are handled by
Graph Editor modifiers (see Chapter 8). However, they often have
individual motion channel control. Item motion modifiers can also get
motion data after IK is applied, which is not possible with channel
motion modifiers.
To display this panel for the current scene item, choose Items >
Motions: Motions Options or just press M.
Motions Options panel
To use an item motion modifier, select the modifier from the Add
Modifier pop-up menu on IK and Modifier tab. Once added, click on its
name in the list to access its settings, if any.
Modifiers that do not have an explicit additive option are generally
additive in nature.
CurveConstraint moves an item along a curve object, similar to a
motion path. The curve object is selected on the Curve pop-up menu. (If
there is more than one curve in the object, the first curve is used.)
Enabling Align will rotate the object so it faces along the curve in the
traditional “Z axis” manner. The Start Time and End Time values
determine how long the item takes to traverse the curve. The Curve
Influence percentage blends the curve motion in or out.
CurveConstraint options
CurveConstraint does not remain locked to the curve, but adds the
curve's position to its own keyframed motion. To lock the item to the
curve, simply parent the item to the curve, reset the item's position, and
eliminate all its keyframes.
You might use CurveConstraint to move an object along the same
curve used to create the geometry (or create the curve from the
geometry), like with a roller coaster.
Cyclist will associate the action of one item with a repeatable action
(an animation cycle) of another item.
All activated channels will have their values replaced by the
animation-cycle values of that same channel, but at the time determined
by the Cycle Controller. Channels that are not enabled will retain their
normal value at the particular frame.
The Cycle Frames define the action that you want repeated (i.e., the
animation cycle).
The Cycle Controller controls the item based on the selected control
parameter, defined on the pop-up menu just to the right. The control
parameters can be an item's position, rotation, scale, speed, or the
distance it has traveled along its actual path length. The Forward
Progress, Side Slip, and Climb parameters take into account the item's
orientation and tell how far the item has been moving forward (Z axis),
to the right (X axis), or up (Y axis), respectively. Speed looks at the
item's velocity.
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Essentially, Controller Range defines how much change is required to
equal one full animation cycle. The unit of measure for this parameter
depends on the selected control parameter. For position and other
distance-type settings the unit of measure is in the LightWave Default
Unit defined on the General Options tab of the Preferences panel.
Rotation uses degrees and scale is a factor where 1 equals 100 percent.
Speed is in default units per second.
Similar to motion graphs, End Behavior determines what happens
after the first cycle is completed.
Activate the World Coordinates button to use the Cycle Controller's
actual (world) coordinates, rather than its relative coordinates. These
could be different if, for example, the object is parented to another
Although the motion of the item will always come from keyframes, the
motion can be used to move an IK goal, if After IK is off.
Exercise: Cyclist
1 Add a Null object.
2 Load the WHEEL.LWO from the TUTORIAL folder into Layout.
3 Parent the Wheel to the Null. Create a keyframe for the Wheel at
frame 0.
4 Go to frame 60 and rotate the wheel's pitch 360 degrees and create a
5 Open the Graph Editor and set the Pre Behavior to Linear for the
wheel’s pitch channel. This sets up the Wheel's cycle (frames 1 to 60).
6 Set the Last Frame to 180 and go to frame 0.
7 Move the Null to 0m, 19.5cm, 1.4325m, and create a keyframe.
8 Go to frame 103, move the Null to 0m, 19.5cm, -21.1209cm, and create
a keyframe.
9 Go to frame 126, move the Null to 0m, 19.5cm, 35.175cm, and create a
10 Copy this keyframe to 140. To do this, while still at frame 126, press
the ENTER key to bring up the Create Motion Key dialog. Enter 140 in
the Create Key At input field and click OK. This copies the keyframe
info from 126 to 140.
11 Go to frame 180, move the Null to 0m, 19.5cm, -1.44m, and create a
keyframe. Adjust your Perspective view so you can see the null's
entire motion path.
12 Select the Wheel and open its Motion Options panel. Add the Cyclist
modifier and set the settings as shown. (Note: Since the wheel is
about .194m in diameter, the circumference is about 1.22m (2 * pi *
13 Close the Cyclist panel and drag the time slider. You will see the
wheel turn backward and forward as it moves.
Effector causes effector objects to repel or attract the motion path of
the affected object. The effector objects may be any objects you wish,
but Null objects work best.
The Effector Object(s) Prefix, with the default of Effector, is a name
prefix, as such, any object that begins with this name will be an effector,
allowing you to have more than one based simply on their names.
Solid Core Radius defines a spherical area, within which all objects
are equally affected. There is a gradual falloff of the effect between the
Solid Core Radius and Falloff Distance. Objects outside the Falloff
Distance are not affected at all.
You also have a choice for the Effector Shape. It can be a Point or
Plane. If it is a Plane, you need to specify the Axis.
The impact of the effector object is set and animated by keyframing
its XYZ Size channels. Positive values repel and negative values attract.
See also the Effector custom object plug-in discussed in Chapter 9.
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This is a motion-modifier version of expressions, which can get the
results of other motion modifiers, as well as IK. This is not possible with
a channel modifier. (See Chapter 8 for more information.)
You can select multiple channels on the Channel pop-up menu and
apply different settings for each (i.e., you don't just pick one). They can
all share scratch variables (A through Z) and the expressions can be
aware of other components of the item's motion. Thus, H can depend on
Z, for example, without trying to reference the item's object.
Using the Follower item motion modifier is similar to parenting an
object to another, except you have control over which motion channels
you wish to inherit. You can also modify and delay the inherited value.
Moreover, the motion can be inherited from the camera, a light, a bone,
or any object in the scene.
Use the Item To Follow pop-up menu to define the item whose
motion you want to use. This is the leader.
Activate the World Coordinates option to use the leader's actual
(world) coordinates, rather than its relative coordinates. These could be
different if, for example, the object is parented to another object.
The amount of seconds entered into the Time Delay field is added to
the current time. This number may be negative.
Randomize is a maximum amount of time (in seconds) to be added to
the delay. The actual amount will be between 0 and the Randomize
value. This number may be negative or even larger than the Time Delay.
(The latter would cause the item to sometimes anticipate the leader's
moves and lag at other times.) The overall delay amount for each item is
fixed over the course of the animation, so this is useful for basic flocking
The random number seed is taken from the object ID, which should be
the same among ScreamerNet nodes and, thus, will cause items to have
different delay amounts.The delay stays the same from frame to frame.
The Path Delay parameter specifies a fixed following distance along
the path of motion of the leader, which is helpful for keeping cars in a
train following correctly through accelerations.
The Align to Path option will align the follower object to its new
The After IK option allows you to apply this modifier taking (or not
taking) into account changes from IK.
Select a Source for any of the leader object's motion channels you
wish to use. Generally, the type of motion channels will match. That is,
the follower object's, say, X Position will be determined from the leader's
X Position. However, the settings can be different. For example, the
follower object's Bank Angle might be derived from the leader's Z
Position. Select none to disregard that channel.
The value can be scaled by inputting a factor other than 1 in the
corresponding Multiply By field. The value may be offset by inputting a
value other than 0 in the Add field.
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Gravity simulates the effects of the Earth’s gravity on an item’s
motion, making it fall naturally and even bounce with varying degrees of
Strength is the acceleration due to gravity in units of ‘g’, the Earth’s
standard gravity. The object’s position will be altered along the specified
Axis. The Ground Level value determines at what height the object
bounces. This is measured in the Default Unit (General Options tab of
the Preferences panel)
Elasticity describes the amount of energy lost on each bounce, which
equates to the relative height of the bounces. Thus, 100% Elasticity is
completely bouncy, and bounces forever, 0% doesn’t bounce at all.
The Start Frame and End Frame parameters specify when the effect
is applied.
The most natural results will occur if all the keyframed motion within
the range of frames is a single linear path. In particular, the trajectory is
determined by an object's initial speed and direction of motion.
Your object must start in a positive position along the selected Axis.
Motion Baker
Motion Baker (formerly IKCapture) will freeze the motion of an item
into individual keys. Motion Baker takes into account not only IK, but
also motion/channel modifiers, align to path, and so on. The
computation is executed by dragging your frame slider or playing the
Motion Baker panel
Selecting the Use Existing mode will create normal keys for the
selected position or rotation channels. The Extra Channels mode places
the keys in a special AfterIK channel group—you might use these with
expressions, for example.
AfterIK group shown in ChannelFollower channels window
If Overwrite Keys is active, any existing key data will be overwritten.
Note that the existing key data will include the effect of Motion Baker
recorded on a previous pass.
Motion Baker’s position in a list of item motion modifiers does not
matter unless another modifier has an AfterIK option and it is active.
Jolt! is an item motion modifier that simulates the chaotic and
uncontrolled movements that occur when physical impacts have enough
weight and velocity to cause jarring vibrations. For example, the
collision of a celestial body striking another, the impact of a robot's foot
with the earth, the collision of a laser beam with a passing spaceship,
and so on. All of these events are good candidates for Jolt!
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Jolt! panel
Jolt! also lets you specify vibration events using keyframes that
indicate when a vibration will begin—and be at its most intense. You can
also specify the duration of the vibration and its initial intensity.
Intensities can be set based on the object’s position (X, Y, and Z axis)
and its rotational values (heading, pitch, and bank).
Jolt! does not provide the basic motion of an item, but rather modifies
an existing motion. Jolt! does not modify existing motion except to
radically deviate from it temporarily at specified intervals.
Global Options
The Save Keys and Load Keys buttons let you save and restore Jolt!
settings. The Save Motion and Load Motion buttons save and load,
respectively, standard LightWave motion files based on the keyframe
data. The Save Motion button is ghosted if no keyframes are set, and
both buttons are ghosted when the Events tab is selected. Motion files
saved with the Linear button active have their keyframes set to the
(spline control) linear mode.
Activating Intensity Ramp tells Jolt! to track the movement of a
LightWave item (i.e., Camera, light, object, or bone) and based upon its
distance from the Jolt! object, increase or decrease the effect of the
vibration proportionally. Minimum Range is the radius in meters of the
effect range. LightWave items outside of this range will not create a
visible effect. If you forget to set this value when you leave the Jolt!
interface panel, you will be reminded and Jolt! will disable Intensity
Ramp (with a minimum range of 0.0, it is ineffective anyway).
If you activate Shock Wave, vibration keyframes are adjusted
internally to offset for the distance of the ramp object. In effect, the
further away the ramp item is, the longer it will take for the vibration
event to actually trigger, and the later it will trigger from its indicated
start time. This option is useful if you use Jolt! on items in your scene
other than the Camera. Items using Jolt! that are closer to the ramp item
begin their vibration events sooner than items that are further away.
With items positioned correctly, this option can produce a visible shock
wave effect from the ramp item's location.
If you select an item that is part of a parental hierarchy, Jolt! alerts
you and—if it isn't selected already—suggests that you turn on the
World Coordinates option. This option ensures that you get proper
movement information from the child item.
The NonLin2 button activates an alternate calculation for Jolt!'s
motion calculations. It creates motions that are less harsh.
Keyframes Tab
The Keyframes section houses the Jolt! key controls. When you want
the jolting to occur on specific keyframes, you will utilize this tab. (If you
want the effect to occur based on the position, rotation, and/or scale of
an item, this is set on the Events tab. You can set both.) The Jolt Keys
slider selects the current frame. The range of the slider will exactly
coincide with the number of render frames that have been specified on
LightWave's Render Options panel—not necessarily the same value that
is used in the Preview settings. The << and >> buttons will jump to the
previous or next keyframe, if any exist.
Clicking the Create Key button makes a keyframe at the current
frame. Use Delete Key to remove an existing keyframe. Note that the
current frame must be a keyframe to do this.
Clicking the Populate Key will take the settings for the current
keyframe and copy them to every existing keyframe. In other words, it
populates all keyframes with the current settings and saves you from the
tedious task of copying and pasting settings, frame by frame.
Randomizing Keys
Randomizing (or jittering, if you prefer) provides a means of breaking
up potentially monotonous key settings. Although Jolt! will internally
randomize settings to some degree as it applies them to the item, unless
you are using intensity ramping, the actual key values themselves will
not be altered. By using the Randomize button, you can generate
variances such that the motion of subsequent keys does not look so
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The randomizing process requires two or more keys in order to
function. The settings of the first key are never altered (nor is there any
reason to alter them because no other key will look exactly like them
after the effect is applied). The degree of variance can be altered by
using the Threshold control input field to the immediate right of the
Randomize button. This control lets you specify, as a percentage, the
maximum amount that each altered key will deviate from its current
Jolting Effect
The bottom half of this tab sets the actual jolting effect. Clicking
Light, Medium, or Heavy will update a keyframe's Position and Rotation
values to reflect preset values for a light, medium, or heavy vibration.
This feature can be used for starting points or final settings.
Please be aware that when you press any of these buttons, any
existing keyframe settings will be destroyed.
Clicking the Copy Key button will copy all of the Jolting effect
settings to an internal memory buffer. Clicking the Paste Key button will
paste the settings into the fields currently visible. Note that this can
affect either the Keyframe or Events tab interchangeably.
Using Preset Values
You can alter preset values. If you press the D button to the
immediate right of any of the presets, then you store the current settings
for the key as the default values for that preset. These new default values
will persist between sessions with LightWave 3D. (Jolt! stores its preset
defaults in a file called JOLT.PRE. You can restore the built-in Jolt! preset
values at anytime by deleting this file; however, it can be stored in
various places depending on the system configuration. You will need to
search your hard drive to find it.)
Applying Turbulence
Jolt! can apply turbulence to your item's motion path in several ways.
When you select Falloff, the turbulence applied will gradually decrease
throughout the duration of the event. In other words, at the first frame of
the event, the position and rotation values you have entered for the
event will be at their strongest, while at the last frame of the event they
will be at their weakest. If you do not select Falloff, then Jolt! applies the
event values at their full strength at each frame throughout the event
If you select Spring, Jolt! applies turbulence uniformly, and makes it
appear as though your item is supported and buffered by springs.
Without Spring, Jolt! applies turbulence more chaotically or randomly,
which produces more of a true vibration effect.
Key Settings
A Duration value must be specified, in terms of the number of frames,
within which Jolt! must complete the effect. Because the you can specify
duration and location of vibration events, keyframe data may overlap.
Jolt! handles this situation by warning you about the overlap condition.
The overlapping key will start before the preceding key ends. If a
keyframe is deleted, Jolt! will recalculate all keys to ensure that any
overlapped keys are corrected.
The Position controls let you to define the maximum deviation on
each of the three axes for the item at the current frame. These values are
all specified in meters. The higher the number, the more dramatic the
initial movement in that direction. A value of zero (0.0) in any position
will prevent the item from deviating in that direction. The Rotation
controls work similarly, but set deviation values for heading, pitch, and
bank (in degrees).
Events Tab
On the Events tab, you can cause jolting based on the position,
rotation, or scale of items. (If you want the effect to occur on specific
keyframes, this is set on the Keyframes tab. You can set both.) The
Watch pop-up menu gives you a list of all the items currently in your
LightWave scene. You may select any available item from this list as the
watched item, that is, the item that triggers the event.
With the watched item selected, click on the Position, Rotation,
and/or Scale button to activate the watched attributes. Click either the
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< (less than) or > (greater than) button next to the input field you wish
to set. The Position and Scale fields correspond to X, Y, and Z, from top
to bottom and the Rotation fields correspond to H, P, and B.
The << and >> buttons let you watch more than one item. To add
another watched item, simply click the >> button. The informational
display to the left will tell you what item is currently selected and how
many there are in total (e.g., 01 of 03). The << and >> buttons are also
used to navigate through existing watched items. If you add a watched
item by mistake, set Watch to (none). You also cannot add another
watched item if the last existing item is set to (none).
Activate the Re-arm button if the item repeats its motion and you
want it to trigger the event again. If Cascade is active, Jolt! will ignore the
event (i.e., not evaluate it) until the event immediately preceding it has
occurred at least once.
The settings on the lower half of the tab work as described for the
Keyframes tab (see Jolting Effect, above).
Oscillator applies damped harmonic oscillator motions (i.e.,
decreasing waves) to selected animation channels of an object's motion.
Examples of this effect are everywhere, from springs and guitar strings
to a grandfather clock pendulum.
Use the Channel pop-up menu to select an animation channel to be
affected. Activate the Enable button to turn on the selected channel. The
oscillator value will replace the normal channel value. You may
independently enable multiple channels and each channel may have its
own independent group of settings.
Additive adds the oscillator value to the channel rather than
replacing it. If this setting is active, a plus sign (+) will appear next to the
channel name. If Additive is off, an asterisk (*) will appear next to each
enabled channel name.
Cycle Time is the period of the oscillation (i.e., wave), that is, the
number of seconds between successive crests.
Wave Size refers to amplitude; the oscillator adds/subtracts this
amount at its positive/negative crests.
The Offset value is also added to the oscillator value on each frame.
Essentially, this sets the value of the horizontal axis that runs through
the wave. By default it is zero.
Phase sets where the wave crests with respect to the beginning of the
cycle, it ranges from 0 to 360 degrees. Essentially, the wave is shifted
If Damping is applied, the crests will fall or grow over time, as is
appropriate for harmonic oscillators. Damping units are a percent per
The Start Frame and End Frame parameters specify when the
oscillator is applied.
Copy and Paste use an internal clipboard to move oscillator settings
between channels or Layout items.
The formula is: channel value = old value + size * sin( phase +
2*pi*time/cycle time ) * exp(-t*damping factor).
Where the damping factor is a special number computed from the
Damping percentage.
Sun Spot
Sun Spot is a motion modifier that will rotate an item, usually a
Distant light, to match the sun’s angle at the specified date and time.
Distance is the radial distance from the rotation center, at which the
light is pointing.
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Remember that the position of a Distant light is not that important
since the light will always come from the direction it is pointing, even
behind the Distant light’s position.
The time settings, determine the starting angle. For example, the
Hour field should be set from 1 to 24 and Day is the day of the selected
When Time Lapse is set to 0, there is no sun rotation. A value of 1,
will make the sun rotate in real-time, which is very slow (i.e., one second
of animation equals one second of sun rotation in the real world). The
rotation may be imperceptible in short animations. In such cases, you
may want to leave it at 0 to minimize any impact on rendering time from
moving lights.
You can accelerate the movement by increasing Time Lapse. For
example, 86400 (60 seconds * 60 minutes * 24 hours) will cause one
day’s rotation to occur in one second.
Set the Longitude and Latitude for the part of the world your sun is
(theoretically) shining on. Time Zone is +/- Greenwich Mean Time
(GMT). There are presets provided.
During night hours, the sun will stay at its lowest point at the end of
its cycle and then pop to the starting point at the beginning of the next
cycle. In other words, it will not revolve in a 360-degree circle.
Texture Motion lets you apply the contour of texture to a motion.
Thus, if you used the same exact texture for a displacement map (on a
subdivided plane), you could automatically have the item move over it
following the contour without much effort!
The Axis determines the perpendicular mapping axis, just like with an
image map. The Offset lets you move the motion in the positive or
negative direction along the selected Axis. Scale acts as a multiplier for
the motion. A value of 1 has no effect.
Here a simple Checkerboard texture has been applied
You can independently limit heading, pitch, and bank rotations
between maximum and minimum values. You can prevent actions like
bending a leg backwards at the knee (unless you’re animating a football
injury). To use the limiting feature, activate the desired Limit option(s)
and set the related Min and Max values on the Motion Options panel (M)
for the particular item. Setting rotation limits can be particularly
important when using inverse kinematics. (Note that the maximum value
must be greater than the minimum.)
You can interactively set the Min and Max values by rotating the item
to the desired minimum direction and choosing Items > IK: Limits >
Record Minimum Joint Angles. This will activate minimum limits for
any rotational parameters (heading, pitch, or bank) that are currently
active for the chosen item. Similarly, rotating the item to the desired
maximum range limit and choosing Items > IK: Limits > Record
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Maximum Joint Angles will automatically input the values into the
maximum limits for the active rotational parameters. You can deactivate
Heading, Pitch, and/or Bank to avoid setting limits for the deactivated
If any of the rotational limits are active on the Motion Options panel,
you can access angle limit dialogs from the Items > IK: Limits menu.
Heading Angle Limit dialog
Another way to automatically control the rotation of an item is to
align itself to the motion path that it is traveling. This feature aligns the
local Z axis of the item (through its pivot point). A classic example of
this is when you have a car speeding down a curvy road. Sure, you could
keyframe the rotational changes, but its much easier to have LightWave
align the car to its path.
This is one reason most vehicles (and other objects) are modeled
along the Z axis, facing the positive side.
This feature automatically controls an item’s heading and pitch
rotational values based on its motion path. Banking is still independent,
so you can still control that channel manually.
Align-to-path overrides any actual heading and/or pitch channel values.
To apply align-to-path to an item:
1 Select the item to be aligned.
2 Open the Motion Options panel (Items > Motions: Motion Options).
3 Generally, you’ll want to set both the Heading Controller and Pitch
Controller (Controller and Limits tab) to Align to Path. If you desire,
you can set either back to Key Frames for manual control.
The Align to Path Look-ahead value on the IK and Modifiers tab
determines how far ahead of itself an item looks as it travels a path,
when Align to Path is activated. Like a racecar driver, the item can
anticipate the turn and begin turning before the motion path actually
curves. An object looking three frames ahead will smoothly round a
corner as it travels through the turn, whereas as an object looking fifteen
frames ahead may appear to turn out of the corner before it has actually
traveled through the turn itself.
The Scene Editor
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hapter 12:
The Scene Editor
The Scene Editor gives you the big picture. Here you can see a list of
all of the items in your scene arranged hierarchically. You can see all of
the individual enveloped channels, perform global edits on keyframes,
and change hierarchy. Here, you also set the wireframe colors, change
visibility modes, and even load a reference sound file.
Scene Editor
The scene list is a standard LightWave list window. You can expand
and collapse groups as well as subordinate items (e.g., child objects) by
clicking the arrow icon that appears to the left of the item name.
C H A P T E R T W E LV E : T H E S C E N E E D I T O R
The plus/minus sign icon will display or hide the individual channels
for the item. Most of the time, these are the position, rotation, and scale
channels; however, other enveloped channels can also be included, like
light intensity.
Expanded channels
The item type icon indicates the type of item and the color used
when the item appears in wireframe. You can change this by rightclicking on the item name and selecting a color from the pop-up menu.
When working with complex scenes with overlapping objects, it can be
beneficial to use different colors for certain items in the scene.
Changing item color
Double-clicking an item’s name will bring up the related properties
If you drag the right edge of the panel, you can shrink the size of the
Scene Editor and hide the keys display. Use in this mode as a scene item
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Shrunken Scene Editor become item picker
The checkmark column activates or deactivates items. Deactivating
an object is like setting its Object Dissolve (Object Properties) to 100%,
and deactivating a light is like setting its Light Intensity (Light
Properties) to 0%. For a bone, this toggles its Bone Active state (Bone
Properties). This option has no effect on cameras.
The “eye” column is the visibility column. For objects, clicking on this
icon will display a pop-up menu where you can select how the object is
displayed. This can range from making the object hidden all the way up
to showing it as a textured shaded solid.
The visibility setting can dramatically affect not only how an object is
displayed, but also how fast the display is updated. Moving a 200,000polygon 100-surface spacecraft around the screen using a textured
display surely requires greater computing power than a wireframe sixsided bounding box. There are other reasons as well. Often, in a very
complex scene, you may need to play with object visibility options in
order to concentrate on certain aspects of the scene.
Most of the visibility settings are self-explanatory. Front Face
Wireframe will show only polygons that face the camera. The Textured
Shaded Solid adds image-mapped surface textures.
You can override the visibility setting somewhat using the viewport’s
Maximum Render Level pop-up menu located on the top left edge
of a viewport.
The color and visibility options affect only the appearance of items in
the Layout view.They do not affect the final rendered image.
For lights, cameras, and bones, you can make them visible or hidden
by clicking in the visibility column.
C H A P T E R T W E LV E : T H E S C E N E E D I T O R
Light is hidden and camera is visible
Clicking in the “lock” column will toggle the locking function on for
that item. Locked items cannot be selected in the viewports. The lock
icon will also appear on the Current Item pop-up menu (on the main
interface) next to the item’s name.
The lock icon indicates a locked item
When you right-click an item, it displays a pop-up menu. This menu
can set the item's wireframe color, clear the item, clone the item, rename
the item, and open its properties or motion panels.
The colored bars to the right indicate the length of the keyframed
channel. The bar starts at its first keyframe and ends at the last one.
(Note that the ends may be past the end of the visible display area.) The
plus signs indicate keyframes.
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The line with the item’s name is the master channel and will show a
composite of all of the keyframes in any of the underlying channels.
You can move individual keyframes by dragging them with your
mouse. The affected key is highlighted when you initially click on it.
Dragging on the bar, off any key, will move the entire bar forward or
backward in time.
Key becomes highlighted as you drag one key
Move all keys for channel by dragging bar
You can also drag keys on the master channel, which will affect only
the appropriate underlying channels.
There are square handles at the beginning and end of every bar. You
can drag these to scale all of the keys in the bar.
Drag handle at end to scale
For more precise adjustments, use the Shift Keys and/or Scale Keys
You can drag item names up and down to change the order and
hierarchy (i.e., parent/child relationships). As you drag, a yellow insert
line will appear. You insert the item by releasing your mouse button at
the line’s position. The line will cycle between different lengths as you
drag; the different lengths indicate different levels of hierarchy. The
relative length indicates the level the line becomes when you release the
mouse button.
C H A P T E R T W E LV E : T H E S C E N E E D I T O R
Unparenting object by dragging
For more information on parenting, see Chapter 11.
An item inserted between a parent and child will always become
another child.
You can select a contiguous range of (same type) items by holding
the SHIFT key down as you select. Hold the CTRL key down to
select/unselect non-contiguous items.
You can then drag the entire selected range of items to a new
hierarchical position. Most of the editing functions can be limited to
selected items only. These items will also be highlighted in the
Use the Favorites pop-up menu to create (or delete) selection sets for
items that you want to access quickly. For example, if you always move
the same five lights, you could multi-select them and make a favorite.
Then, the next time you want to move them, you just select the favorites
set you created and all five lights are selected automatically.
The Select pop-up menu lets you quickly select all items based on
their type. To unselect a group of items, just click on any item. (One item
is always selected.)
The Visibility pop-up menu will show/hide selected or all items.
The Colors pop-up menu will apply the selected color to all of the
selected items. You can also set the default colors and apply them to the
The Channels pop-up menu will expand/collapse selected or all items.
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With Shift Keys you can shift keyframes for all or just selected items
forward or backward in time. The Low Frame and High Frame values set
the range of frames to be affected. This function lets you fine-tune the
animation without making individual changes for each item in the scene
(a potentially tedious task). Enter a negative Shift Frames by value to
shift backwards in time.
Some operations can affect frames outside the specified range. For
example, shifting a range of frames in the middle of a motion path will
cause keyframes after the range to shift so they are not overlapped by
the newly shifted keyframes.
With Scale Keys you can extend or shorten either the duration of all
or just selected items. The Low Frame and High Frame values set the
range of frames to be affected. The result is that events occur either
more slowly or more quickly, as they have been scaled to take place over
a longer or shorter period of time. Scale Keys enables you to fine-tune
the animation, allowing certain events or the entire animation to take
place within a specified time frame so that you do not need to alter
specific keyframes manually. The Scale Time by value represents the
scaling factor with 1 being equal to 100 percent.
Time-related elements of the scene other than motions and envelopes
will not change with the use of either Shift Keys or Scale Keys.
Therefore, image sequence loop lengths and texture motion will not
be affected.
You can sync your animation to sound: from the Audio pop-up menu,
load a reference audio file (WAV format) that you can hear when you play
the scene. A simple waveform is shown behind the time slider on the
main interface. You can scrub though the audio by dragging the timeline
slider or preview the audio by selecting Play Audio. Use the Clear Audio
option to clear the audio from the scene.
C H A P T E R T W E LV E : T H E S C E N E E D I T O R
Audio graph visible behind frame slider
The Fixed Frequency option keeps the audio from changing pitch
when you scrub the frame slider.
You can delay the start time of a loaded audio file by selecting Audio
Start Time from the Audio pop-up menu. The value you enter into the
dialog is the delay amount in seconds (e.g., if Frames Per Second, on the
General Options tab of the Preferences panel, is set at 30, entering 1.0
starts your audio at frame 30).
Camera Basics
L I G H T WAV E 3 D 7
hapter 13:
Camera Basics
When you create a LightWave animation or still image, you will have a
display device in mind. In the case of video, it’s probably a TV set or
monitor. You might also be creating something that will appear only on a
computer screen. Other possibilities include film or print media.
Whatever the ultimate destination of your images, two things will
become very important before you can render your images: pixel aspect
ratio and resolution. Essentially, these are the shape of the pixel and
number of pixels, respectively.
Whenever you render a frame in LightWave, you render it from the
camera’s point of view. LightWave’s Camera Properties panel lets you
change any and all settings of the camera. To open it, just select a
camera and press the P key. Among other things, you can control the
resolution of the rendered output, the antialiasing amount, motion blur,
and the depth of field settings.
Camera Properties panel
You can add additional cameras by choosing Items > Add > Add
Camera; however, only the Current Camera is used to render a scene. If
you have more than one camera in the scene, use the Current Camera
pop-up menu on the Camera Properties panel (or Layout’s Current Item
pop-up menu) to select the currently active camera.
The Resolution pop-up menu contains several standard resolution
presets. Selecting one will automatically set the Width and Height fields,
and the Pixel Aspect Ratio field (more on this parameter later).
Width and Height fields determine the precise number of horizontal
and vertical pixels, respectively. Any values between 16 x 16 and
16,000 x 16,000 are acceptable.
The Resolution Multiplier scales the underlying selected Resolution
up or down, with 100% as the default full resolution. This feature lets
you quickly reduce or enlarge the resolution of your rendered images.
You will often want to render test animations at a smaller resolution for
test purposes. Particle, line, and edge thickness, as well as the glow
radius, are scaled by the Resolution Multiplier during rendering.
L I G H T WAV E 3 D 7
Manually entering values directly into the Width or Height fields will
override any selected Resolution (which will then display the word
Custom). The Resolution Multiplier will continue to operate,
automatically scaling these values if you alter its setting.
Deciding on a resolution is generally a matter of output quality and
intended use. If you are rendering for video, there is no reason to use
anything other than the appropriate NTSC or PAL settings. If you are
rendering for film or print, you’ll want to use a higher resolution. For
computer animations, lower resolutions may be adequate.
A pixel is a pixel, right? Wrong. Although pixels are generally square
on your computer monitor, some display devices, like television
displays, use rectangular pixels.
The Pixel Aspect Ratio refers to the shape of the pixels on the target
display device. It is calculated by dividing the width of the pixel by its
height. For instance, a square pixel will give you a Pixel Aspect Ratio of
1.0, and this is nearly always used for images that are viewed exclusively
on computer monitors. For NTSC video, Pixel Aspect Ratio is about .86
to .9.
So why do you have to worry about this? Well, remember that a pixel
is just a dot with some color information. So let’s say you had a ball that
was exactly 50 pixels high and 50 pixels wide. Generally, the ball would
be perfectly round if you displayed it on a computer monitor. However, if
you showed this same image on an NTSC video display (e.g., a TV set),
the ball would appear vertically elongated. That’s because NTSC video’s
Pixel Aspect Ratio is about .9. Conversely, if the ball appeared round on
an NTSC monitor, it would appear squashed on a computer monitor.
Left: .9 Pixel Aspect Ratio on video monitor. Right: Same image on computer monitor.
Fortunately, selecting one of the Resolution settings will also set the
default Pixel Aspect Ratio to the proper value. If you are working on an
animation that will be shown on video, you’ll have to get used to the
stretched/squashed imagery when viewing it on your computer display.
Do not confuse Pixel Aspect Ratio with the more common term frame
aspect ratio (sometimes just referred to as aspect ratio). Frame aspect
ratio is the pixel width divided by the pixel height times the Pixel Aspect
Ratio, usually rounded to whole numbers. For example: a standard
computer resolution is 640 x 480, which would have a frame aspect ratio
of 4:3 or 1.333 in decimal form. (640/480 reduces down to 4/3, which
equals 1.333) The frame aspect ratio is displayed for informational
purposes on the Camera Properties panel.
The zoom factor pop-up menu lets you set the equivalent real world
camera lens using Zoom Factor, Lens Focal Length, or Horizontal FOV
(Field of View), and Vertical FOV values. The default, Zoom Factor of 3.2,
is equal to a 24 mm camera lens, a mildly wide angle lens. Users familiar
with camera lenses may find the Lens Focal Length the easiest to use.
Long-time LightWave users will be more comfortable with Zoom Factor.
The FOV settings set this parameter using the degrees of view, which
take into account the Width and Height settings.
Smaller Zoom Factor and Lens Focal Length values produce a wide
angle lens effect, while larger settings produce a narrow (telephoto) lens
A close-up using an 8mm lens
Create an envelope for special effects such as quick zooms in and out,
or zooming in on a subject while pulling the camera back.
Aperture Height
In LightWave, you can change the size of the virtual film that the
camera uses by selecting the Aperture Height button. Changing this
setting affects only the strength of the Depth of Field effect (see below)
and the Lens Focal Length. When you generate LightWave imagery for
film photography, use the same film size used for the project’s real world
camera, so you match the optical characteristics of that camera.
L I G H T WAV E 3 D 7
Aperture Height is always listed in inches, even if you are using a
metric unit system.
When you use the Camera view, the areas of the viewport outside of
the frame are shaded with the overlay color, marking the edges of the
camera frame. Items (or portions of items) in the shaded areas will not
be seen when you render the frame.
These areas can be either horizontally or vertically oriented
depending upon the resolution and pixel aspect you choose (and the
shape of your interface screen).
If you aren’t using the Camera view, the camera representation
includes a camera pyramid, with its tip lying on its side. The camera
pyramid shows the frame aspect of the image that will be generated.
Camera pyramid
You can use a limited region to mark off a specific rectangular area to
be rendered. This is a great feature when you wish to test render an area
of the frame without rendering the entire image.
Two controls are available for using limited region. If you activate the
Adjust Limited Region Tool in the Camera view, a yellow dotted-line
bounding box will appear. This is the limited region rendering area. To
change the area, drag either the corners or the sides of the rectangle.
Place the cursor inside the rectangle to move the entire rectangle
around. Choose a new tool, like Move, to stop editing the limited region.
The second control is the Limited Region option on the Camera
Properties panel and if you activate it, only the limited region will render.
Pressing CTRL+L will toggle the state of this setting.
Memory Considerations
Limited Region allocates only enough memory to render the
horizontal limited region area. If you stitch parts of an image together,
you can effectively render images that are much larger than those you
could render one pass. This is especially useful for high resolution print
images or in low memory situations. However, note that some postprocessing filters require a full-sized image. In such cases, you may be
able to apply those filters to the "stitched" image in an additional step.
The Use Mask is similar to Limited Region, but masks the outer areas
with a color instead of cropping them out. The mask size, defined by the
Left, Top, Width, and Height settings, are pixel accurate and considered
part of the camera setup (along with the resolution, pixel aspect ratio,
etc.). The outside area can be set to any color using the Mask Color
option. Use this feature to get a letterbox effect.
L I G H T WAV E 3 D 7
Camera mask and resulting rendered image
When LightWave renders an image, it can render the image in
segments. Segmental rendering saves memory but usually takes longer.
Select Segment Memory Limit to input a value (in megabytes) to
determine the maximum amount of memory LightWave can devote to
segments. If the value is lower than that required to render an entire
frame, based on camera settings, images will be rendered in multiple
segments. The default is 8MB and the minimum is 1MB.
The segment memory value should be considered an upper bound
(only the exact amount of memory needed will actually be used).
Ideally, you would want to use a large enough value so the number of
segments is reduced to one. This is not always possible (especially when
using lots of image maps), but can speed up rendering a great deal when
using features such as Motion Blur.
On platforms that support virtual memory, you may get better results
using smaller segments that fit within available RAM. (Using one
segment that may not fit entirely in RAM forces you to page to the
hard disk and slow down rendering).You may need to experiment with
segment values to find a useful setting.
After changing the Segment Memory Limit, a requester will appear
that lets you save the new value as the default (which is stored in the
config file).
Aliasing is a common computer artifact and occurs when a line is
seen diagonally. Because a computer’s pixels are rectangular in shape, a
line seen at a diagonal angle will appear to stair step or alias. LightWave
can antialias an image by comparing the RGB values of two neighboring
edge pixels and then adding an RGB value between the two. This fools
the eye into seeing a smooth edge.
Antialiasing set to Enhanced Low
Without (left) and with (right) antialiasing
The level of antialiasing performed by LightWave is based on the
number of antialiasing passes you tell LightWave to make. Each higher
setting performs more passes.
For most video work, low or medium antialiasing is acceptable. For
print work, sometimes rendering a higher resolution with no antialiasing
is faster and looks as good as or better than a lower resolution with low
All antialiasing levels have an enhanced option. This greatly improves
antialiasing quality by using almost twice as many samples for each pixel
and filtering them more intelligently, yielding a better rendered image.
Selecting an enhanced antialiasing level will add to render time, although
with Motion Blur or Depth of Field activated, this increase is small.
The Extreme antialiasing settings are beneficial only if Motion Blur or
Depth of Field is being used.
Try rendering in lower resolution with a high antialiasing level and
then scaling the image up in an image processing program to obtain a
very soft look (works well for underwater scenes).
Antialiasing Using Edge Detection
By default, LightWave uses Adaptive Sampling (edge detection) to
determine which areas of an image should be antialiased. This focuses
the antialiasing process primarily on the edges of objects. With Adaptive
L I G H T WAV E 3 D 7
Sampling active, you can tell LightWave which areas to antialias by
entering a sampling Threshold value. If the Adaptive Sampling option is
inactive, LightWave will antialias the entire frame.
Adaptive Sampling active
The adaptive sampling Threshold functions by comparing the
brightness of two neighboring pixels. A value of 0 will antialias
everything in the scene, but values between .0314 and .1255 work well in
most situations—the higher the level, the less edges are detected and,
thus, the lower the rendering time.
A value of 1 is the maximum brightness difference in a 24-bit color
space; however, internally LightWave can work with pixels brighter than
RGB 255, 255, 255. Since you might want antialiasing only when nearby
pixels differ by more than 1, the adaptive sampling Threshold can be set
higher than 1. If you want to ensure that extra antialiasing is never
performed, use a large Threshold value.
When Adaptive Sampling and the Show Rendering in Progress
(Render Options panel, Rendering > Render Options) options are active,
you can see the area where LightWave has detected edges highlighted in
white on the rendering screen. By adjusting the sampling Threshold, you
can increase or decrease the amount of white areas (and thus the
antialiasing) to correspond to areas you know contain prominent edges.
When you turn off Adaptive Sampling, images take longer to
render, but you will achieve better antialiasing results. If using
Adaptive Sampling does not give you the results you wish or fine
lines are being missed (even at a low or zero sampling Threshold
level), disable Adaptive Sampling.
Selecting Soft Filter instructs LightWave to render objects with a
slightly softened look. This is handy to recreate the soft look of film.
Soft Filter affects only objects. Any background images will not be
affected by the softening effect.
Your eyes naturally blur fast-moving objects. A film camera recording
objects that move faster than the camera’s shutter will also produce
motion blur. In order to simulate this effect in LightWave, use some of
the options on the Motion Effects tab on the Camera Properties panel.
Using Motion Blur can help overcome the unnaturally sharp computer
feel inherent in many computer generated animations.
Motion Blur set to Normal
Motion blurred moving car
LightWave’s motion blur system handles everything that changes
over time, like surface changes, shadows, light intensities, etc. It even
accounts for curved motion and does not just perform the blur in a
linear fashion.
Try to render with one segment (see Segment Memory) to greatly
speed up rendering with Motion Blur.
LightWave simulates Motion Blur by producing a number of semidissolved images of a moving object. In the Normal mode, the number of
images is determined by the number of Antialiasing passes. In fact, you
must have some level of Antialiasing in order to use Motion Blur. The
Dithered mode greatly enhances the quality of the effect by doubling the
number of images.
Dithered Motion Blur will give you better results than using the
next higher Antialiasing setting, but will take only about one-third of
the amount of extra time the higher Antialiasing would require.
Using Soft Filter in combination with Dithered Motion Blur
creates an even better effect.
L I G H T WAV E 3 D 7
Because Dithered Motion Blur uses a process related to field
rendering to compute its effect, you may not use it and Field Rendering
If Particle Blur is active, LightWave will blur the movement of
particles (single point polygons) during the course of an animation
(whether they are moving or the camera is moving). This helps simulate
the effect of moving quickly through star fields or simulating underwater
particles, rain, and fireworks. The blur of a particle will appear as a
streak emanating from the particle itself.
Notice the blurring of the star particles
Sometimes when you use particles in an animation, you may need to
move them on or off screen or move them some distance
instantaneously (i.e. over one frame). If you don’t want the blurring
effect to happen during this move, use Linear for the Incoming
Curve (Graph Editor) on the particles over that one frame.
Blur Length and Real Cameras
The shutter in a real camera usually uses a rotating mechanism,
making one complete revolution each frame. Thus, the amount of time
the film is exposed is actually expressed as an angle (in degrees). (A
shutter angle of 360 degrees would be one full rotation.) The exposure
time for a single frame can, therefore, be calculated as follows:
Exposure time = 1 / (360 degrees / Shutter angle x Frame rate)
Now, even though a (feature) film camera takes 24 pictures every
second, the film is exposed for a much shorter time than 1/24 second to
allow for the camera mechanism to advance the film. In fact, usually it is
about one-half (i.e., 50%) that amount: in this case, 1/48 second or a 180degree rotation (i.e., shutter angle). This is why the Blur Length value
defaults to 50%. Perceptible movement during this exposure time is what
causes motion blur in the real world.
In LightWave you can go beyond what is possible in the real world and
set the Blur Length beyond 100 percent.
A Blur Length of 100 percent will streak the distance of its current
location back to the previous frame. Likewise, 50 percent will streak it
back half the distance between the two frames and 200 percent will
spread it back the distance of the last two frames. A negative value will
streak a particle forward.
On the Motion Effects tab, there is an information display for Shutter
Angle and Exposure Time. The Shutter Angle is the Blur Length
multiplied by 360 degrees. The Exposure Time is computed using the
formula mentioned previously.
Also see the VectorBlur image filter in Chapter 14.
Rendering Video Fields
LightWave normally renders in frames. However, a frame of video is
actually composed of two interlaced fields—one consisting of the oddnumbered scan lines and one consisting of the even-numbered scan
lines. If you ever freeze a frame of fast-moving video on a VCR, you may
notice a flicker in the image. This is because you are seeing the two
individual fields. In LightWave, with normal rendering, each field of video
is rendered identically and you will see no flickering.
Field Rendering option
Field Rendering is designed for animations going to video tape. It does
not work well with images going to film or other non-video playback.
When selecting Field Rendering, you instruct LightWave to render
each frame as two distinct fields. The motion of an object is divided in
half for each frame of its movement. The first half is rendered to one
field and the second half is rendered to the other field. LightWave then
interlaces the two fields and displays it as a single frame. The Field
Rendering pop-up menu lets you set whether the even or odd field is
created first.
The result is that instead of 30 distinct images per second (normal
video rate), you actually see 60 distinct images per second. This makes
for much smoother motion and prevents strobe-like effects that the
human eye can pick up. (Note that the two fields are still combined into
a single file.)
L I G H T WAV E 3 D 7
Using Field Rendering does not greatly increase rendering times.
Some video display devices/recorders require even lines to be
recorded first while others require odd lines first. If you notice
incorrect strobing in your recorded video output, simply select the
other Field Rendering menu option. NewTek’s VideoToaster requires
even fields first for 480-line images and odd fields first for 486-line
LightWave offers a Stereoscopic Rendering option on the Stereo and
DOF tab. Rendering with this option active will result in two images for
each frame, which depict the scene as viewed from positions to the left
and right of the single camera that would normally be used. The frame
numbers in the filenames of the saved images will be followed by either
"L" or "R" to distinguish these views. The Eye Separation input field
defaults to 60mm, which is about the average distance between a
human's eyes. We suggest that you use a null object as a Camera target
and place it at the point where you want eyes to converge.
Also see the Anaglyph Stereo: Compose filter, discussed in
Chapter 14, which will create red-blue glasses style images.
For an in-depth look at stereography, get out your red-blue glasses and
head over to HTTP://WWW.AIFX.COM/3D_LW_A.HTML.Tony Alderson
provides some insightful information.
Normally, everything in a LightWave scene is completely in focus, no
matter what the distance is to the camera. When rendering with
Antialiasing greater than Low, you have the added ability to use the
Depth of Field option, which will render images with some objects out of
Depth of Field in action!
See also the Digital Confusion image filter in Chapter 14.
Depth of Field refers to the area of acceptable sharpness in front of
and behind the actual area in focus. When you enable Depth of Field you
can change two settings. The first setting, Focal Distance, refers to the
distance from the camera to the object that you would like to be in
The second option is Lens F-Stop. Camera focus typically
encompasses a range, from near to far, that we call in focus. Objects
nearer than this, or farther than this, appear out of focus. The Lens FStop value determines the range of focus around the Focal Distance (the
near and far distances from the camera in which objects still appear in
If you are familiar with real world cameras, you know that the f-stop
sets the diameter of the lens aperture. An f-stop of f/4 (which
corresponds to a LightWave Lens F-Stop of 4) indicates an aperture
diameter that is 1/4 the lens focal length (LightWave’s Lens Focal
Length). Higher f-stop numbers refer to a smaller aperture, because the
number is the denominator of a fraction. The aperture (f-stop) control on
a real camera affects both the brightness and sharpness of an image. In
the LightWave world, the Lens F-Stop works in the context of Depth of
Field where it affects only sharpness.
The larger the Lens F-Stop value, the larger the depth of field, that is,
the greater the distance between the near and far distances where
objects appear in focus. Conversely, the smaller the Lens F-Stop, the
smaller the range of focused area.
In general, remember that the Depth of Field becomes progressively
greater as the Lens F-Stop setting increases, the Focal Distance value
increases and/or the Zoom Factor (and therefore the Lens Focal Length)
setting becomes smaller.
L I G H T WAV E 3 D 7
When starting to experiment with Depth of Field, try using a short
Focal Distance setting (shorter than the distance to the object you wish
to be in focus) so the depth of field is more pronounced.
Use the Quickshade Rendering Mode (Render Options panel) to
check out depth of field renderings quickly.
If Depth of Field is active, the focal distance is shown in orthogonal
viewports as a dashed circle around the camera.
Depth of Field circle around camera
Exercise: depth of field
1 Load the DOF.LWS scene from the BENCHMARK subdirectory.
2 Switch to the Top view and adjust your view. Use the Front Face
Wireframe for the viewport’s Maximum Render Level.
If you use the Grid’s size of 10 as a gauge, the camera appears to be a
little less than 10 meters from the object farthest away along the Z
axis. (Remember the camera’s position point is actually near its
center.) Note the position of the DOF ring.
3 Switch to the Camera view. You should see two objects, aptly named
Fuzzy and Sharp.
4 Select the camera and open the Camera Properties panel.
Antialiasing should be set to High. Depth of Field should also be
active with a Focal Distance of 9.2632. This should make the Sharp
object in focus, since it is about that distance away from the camera,
and the Fuzzy object out of focus, since it is much closer to the
camera. The small Lens F-Stop setting constricts the in focus range to
a very small area, effectively limiting it to just the Sharp object.
5 Do a quick render (F9).
You can get an accurate measure of the distance between the camera
and your selected object using the Ruler or Range Finder custom
objects discussed in Chapter 9.
Backdrops and Image Processing
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hapter 14:
Backdrops and
Image Processing
LightWave lets you change the colors of the backdrop behind all of
the objects in a scene. The settings are on the Backdrop tab of the
Effects panel (Scene > Effects: Backdrop). You can elect to have a solid
color using the Backdrop Color setting or a gradient color backdrop. By
default, the backdrop is solid black.
If you have any reflective surfaces and you want the backdrop included
in the reflection, set the Reflection Options on the Surface Editor’s
Environment tab to one of the backdrop options.
LightWave’s Gradient Backdrop settings essentially provide a quick
earth-like environment background. Note that no shadows can be cast on
the backdrop since it really isn’t there. Although you’ll likely not use it
much for real-life imagery, it is great for faking a sky behind mountain
objects, instructional animations, and logo animations. Use it when you
need something to stick in the background.
Gradient Backdrop active
There are actually two gradient areas. Think of it as a huge sphere cut
into two halves. One half rests on top of the Y axis plane, and the other
half sits directly beneath it.
The Sky Color begins all around the edge of the top half of the sphere
and gradually turns into the Zenith Color moving towards the top. The
Ground Color begins all around the edge of the bottom half of the
sphere and gradually turns into the Nadir Color moving towards the
bottom. Note that there is no gradual change of color between the Sky
Color and Ground Color.
If you want the Gradient Backdrop to blend everywhere with no
sharp color change, make the Sky Color and Ground Color the
The camera is always positioned right in the center of the sphere.
Thus, if you move the camera, the Gradient Backdrop will always look
the same. However, if you rotate the camera, you will see the various
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Gradient areas
The Sky Squeeze value determines how the Zenith and Sky colors are
blended. The Ground Squeeze value determines how the Ground and
Nadir colors are blended. The default value of 2.0 yields a nice spread
between the various colors. A lower value will spread the change in
colors over a greater area and a higher value will compress the change.
Left: Normal squeeze. Right: Sky Squeeze and Ground Squeeze both at 20.0
The default gradient colors are useful when simulating a reflective
chrome surface.
The Background Image is similar to the gradient backdrop; however,
it is always registered to the camera. That is, it will always appear in
exactly the same position/location no matter which way you tilt or move
the camera. You set this option on the Compositing tab of the Effects
panel. Background images are considered infinitely distant from the
camera. You can never have an object behind a background image, nor
can you light a background image or cast shadows upon it.
Background Image loaded
Background images stretch to fit the Camera resolution and frame
aspect that you are using. Make sure to use similar-sized background
images if you wish them to match.
You often use background images to merge live action and 3D
elements, like creating the illusion that a UFO crashed into the Empire
State building. An image of the New York skyline would be the
background image and the UFO would be a LightWave object.
Background images are visible only through the Camera View.
If you actually need your background image to interact with objects,
use the image as a Surface Color Texture mapped on a flat plane
object and place the plane at the back of your scene.
If you set Camera View Background on the Display Options tab of
the Preferences panel (Display > Display Options) to Background
Image, you will see the set Background Image in Layout’s Camera View.
Of course, actually seeing the background in the Layout window is
optional. The background image will always appear in the rendered
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Cow object stands in front of Background Image
Displaying background in the Layout window, particularly a color one,
is processor intensive, so use this feature sparingly.
Sometimes you will want a flat plane to act as your background
instead of using the Background Image option, described above. This
will allow you to do things like cast shadows on the background or fly
things behind it. To create a flat box object that exactly fills your screen,
use the following steps:
1 In Layout, open the Camera Properties panel. Make sure all settings
are set as desired. Note the Frame Aspect Ratio and Zoom Factor
Frame Aspect Ratio and Zoom Factor on Camera Properties panel
2 In Modeler, select the Box tool and open the numeric panel. To make
sure you are starting from the default settings, select Reset from the
Actions pop-up menu. Then select Activate to gain access to the
input fields.
Set Width to the Frame Aspect Ratio value you noted in the previous
step and Depth to 0 m. Leave all other settings at their default values.
Make a box in Modeler
3 Deselect the Box tool to make the box. The polygon may be facing the
wrong direction, so use the Flip command (Detail > Polygons: Flip) to
face it in the negative Z direction. Save it and load into Layout.
4 Finally, the distance between the camera and background plate object
must be one-half the Zoom Factor value, noted in Step 1. You can
either move the camera or object. After that, the plate will now
precisely fill the camera view.
See also the Camera Mask custom object in Chapter 9.
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The Distance between the camera and object is one-half the Zoom Factor
Several plug-ins may be used to create exciting backgrounds for your
animations. You access these plug-ins by adding them on the Add
Environment pop-up menu on the Backdrop tab of the Effects panel.
Image World
The Image World Environment lets you apply an image as a spherical
environment wrap; this approach is perfect for high dynamic range
images. You can offset the heading and pitch of the image, as well as
adjust its brightness.
The SkyTracer2 Environment was designed to create sophisticated
atmospheric effects using real-world parameters. You can adjust the
atmospheric, cloud, and sun settings within the interface to create a
variety of beautifully rendered sky images. These skies can be rendered
(volumetrically or as a 2-D effect) within an existing scene, or saved as
image files to be composited or used as texture maps.
Sample skies created by Gregory Duquesne.
SkyTracer2 simulates light scattering and light absorption in the
atmosphere. The settings for this simulation are real-life parameters
such as atmosphere thickness, cloud altitude, sun position and so on.
Because SkyTracer2 uses volumetric lighting techniques, you can even
get spectacular effects like the sun casting light rays through the clouds.
You can adjust both the current time and location settings to accurately
simulate the sun rising or setting, anywhere in this world or another.
The interface is split into two sections: global controls are at the top
of the panel and controls to adjust atmospheric effects are at the bottom
of the panel.
The top portion of the panel contains the settings for SkyTracer2’s global parameters.
The SkyBaker button brings up the SkyBaker panel (see below).
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The Dissolve setting adjusts the transparency of the SkyTracer2 effect
and the Planet Radius adjusts the size of the planet, and thus the size of
the atmosphere. The default value of 6.3Mm represents the size of the
The Atmosphere Panel
Think of the sky as a stack of two layers, Atmosphere and Haze.
These layers have identical controls, but each can have different values
for scattering, absorption, and density distribution.
Atmosphere and Haze settings are adjusted in the Atmosphere panel.
Quality is the level of sampling performed along the camera’s viewing
direction. Higher Quality levels give more accurate renders, however,
this setting also affects rendering times. Therefore, the High setting
should be reserved for very precise effects.
An atmospheric Thickness value of 100% and 50%.
The Thickness setting controls the thickness of the atmosphere and
haze layers. Thickness is measured in kilometers and meters
respectively, with 100km and 1000m as default values.
An atmospheric Luminosity value of 100% and 0%.
The Luminosity parameter adjusts the percentage of light that
scatters within the layer. This scattering intensity is greatest in front of
the sun and lower elsewhere.
An atmospheric Opacity value of 50% and 200%.
Opacity measures the percentage of light absorbed within the layer.
High values attenuate light, and objects disappear at the horizon. When
you use opacity with haze, you can create pollution-like effects. However
when you adjust the opacity within the atmosphere panel, you can
create strange, out-of-this world skies.
An atmospheric Fall Off of 75% and 200%.
Fall Off modifies how density is distributed throughout the layer.
Values higher than 100% decrease density rapidly with altitude, while a
value of 0% has no decrease at all. Negative values in the Haze Falloff
setting will invert the density distribution.
The Clouds Panel
No sky would be complete without some clouds! By controlling the
clouds’ altitude, density, luminosity, opacity, and contrast parameters,
SkyTracer2 can create an incredible range of cloud effects. The two
layers in SkyTracer2, low and high-altitude clouds, have identical
parameters; you can enable these layers separately for drastically
different effects or together for complex sky patterns.
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The Low and High Altitude Cloud panels.
Use the Enable Clouds switch to turn the two cloud layers on or off.
The Texture button opens the Texture Editor panel, which is where
you specify the type of cloud to render and adjust its coverage
parameters. (see below)
Altitude sets the height in the sky where the cloud layer will start.
A low-altitude cloud setting Density of 20% and 200%.
The Density setting controls how dense the cloud layer is. Think of
this setting as adjusting the probability of rainfall for the area. A Density
value of 10% means that the clouds are fairly devoid of water. This gives
a much thinner cloud layer, which allows more light to travel through it.
A value of 75% has a much thicker appearance, and shows a higher
probability of rain.
A low-altitude cloud Luminosity setting of 10% and 100%.
Luminosity controls the scattering intensity of light through the
clouds. With high values, you create bright clouds. The light scattered
from the cloud is attenuated by the atmospheric and haze settings.
A low-altitude cloud Opacity of 10% and 50%.
Opacity controls how much light is allowed through the layer. A
setting of 100% renders a completely dark sky, while a value of 0%
renders a much brighter sky.
A low-altitude cloud Contrast setting of 100% and 200%.
The Contrast setting affects the coverage of the cloud layer. A value
of 10% gives a constant sheet of clouds, with little variation within the
layer. While the default value of 200% shows subtle variation within the
cloud, it also reduces the cloud’s coverage.
Volume Rendering activated and deactivated.
Enable the Volumetric Rendering option to specify how SkyTracer2
will render the layer. When Volumetric Rendering is enabled, SkyTracer2
renders the clouds as a volume that has both density and mass. When
Volumetric Rendering is disabled, SkyTracer2 renders the layer like an
image projected on a piece of geometry in the sky. Disabling this effect
will greatly reduce rendering time, but it will also generate a less
convincing cloud layer.
If enabled, Volumetric Rendering also makes the cloud quality,
height, shadow strength, and ambient light parameters available. These
options do not apply to a cloud layer when you disable Volumetric
The Textured Shadows option activated and deactivated.
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Textured Shadows activates the cloud layer’s self-shadowing option,
which generates more accurate shadows within the layer, but increases
rendering times. Textured Shadows is similar to HyperVoxel’s selfshadowing feature.
Like in reality, you can get an under-lit effect when the sun is very low
on the horizon. In this case, the clouds are lit from beneath, creating
spectacular red lighting effects. The effect is best accomplished by using
volumetric clouds with textured shadows.
The Texture Editor Panel
SkyTracer2 uses a texture defined in Lightwave’s Texture Editor to
control the style, coverage, and placement of the cloud layers. Although
you can use a Procedural, Image, or Gradient texture layer, the most
common texture used will be the STClouds procedural texture. This
procedural texture is specifically designed to work with SkyTracer2 and
contains many of the settings needed to create realistic clouds.
Use the procedural preview window in Texture Editor to quickly see
results when you adjust settings for cloud style and coverage. Simply
adjust one of the procedural’s settings and watch how it affects the
computed fractal.
The procedural texture STClouds’ portion of the Texture Editor panel.
The Texture Value controls the strength of the cloud layer. The
higher the percentage, the more cloud coverage in this layer.
The Small Scale and Big Scale values are two fractal scale parameters
for the appearance of the clouds.
Lacunarity sets the turbulence within the cloud layer. A value of 1
renders the clouds nice and smooth, while a value of 5 or higher breaks
up and distorts the cloud to give it a much more natural appearance.
The Octaves setting controls the amount of frequencies or detail your
fractal receives. The higher the value, the more frequencies are used
when rendering. This will create more details within the cloud, but it also
causes longer rendering times.
Cloud Type lets you select from cloud styles. Cumulus clouds are big
and puffy low-altitude clouds; Cirrus clouds are long and thin and are
generally found at higher altitudes. You can even simulate the streaming
effect that jets create when flying at high altitudes by selecting the Jet
Trails Cloud Type.
SkyTracer2 applies textures to an imaginary cloud layer that is
parallel to the XZ plane. Therefore when you apply textures with a planar
projection, you should use the Y axis. You can create realistic cloud
effects like attenuating the clouds in the distance using X and Z Falloff,
or create pyramid-shaped clouds (as in Cumulus) by using a texture
Falloff on the Y axis.
The SkyTracer2 default texture has a Falloff setting already applied.
Instead of using a procedural approach, you can specify the clouds
exact coverage by loading a fractal-like image on the Y axis. To get a
convincing effect, you should use a smoothly repeating texture.
For example, try the image DARKFRACTAL.TGA in the IMAGES\TUTORIAL
Use a gradient in any layer to modify previous layer’s effect. The
gradient Input Parameters are Heading (ray heading angle), Pitch (ray
pitch angle), and Height. The height is the height inside the cloud layer.
That is 0 in the bottom and 1 at the top.
The Suns Panel
SkyTracer2 uses one or two lights to render the clouds and
atmospheric effects. You can use either your own lights or the SKT_Sun
lights added by SkyTracer2. An added bonus: you can also set up these
lights to render as either a sun or a moon flare.
By default only one Sun light is added.
The Suns Panel adjusts the flare parameters used as the sun.
You can select which light(s) SkyTracer2 uses to calculate the
appearance of the clouds in the Sun1 and Sun2 Light drop-down list. The
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Type lets you choose to render the light as a sun or a moon. You can
change the appearance of the sun or moon by adjusting the flare’s Size,
Flare Intensity, Flare Boost, Streaks, and Color Shift values.
Sun Position
By pressing the Sun Position button you access the Sun Spot motion
modifier. You adjust the sun’s position by specifying the exact day and
time for the light to be positioned. The Sun Spot motion modifier is
detailed in chapter 11.
The Sun Spot motion modifier
Although you may never see it, the position of the SKT_Sun light
rotates properly as time passes. To increase the speed of the animating
sun, edit the Time Lapse field. To complete the time lapse effect, animate
the cloud’s texture parameters.
The Sky Baker Panel
Once you create your sky, you can either render it on every frame
along with your scene or Sky Baker can generate image files to map it
onto geometry and fake the effect. Several reasons are listed below for
why you would want to bake a sky:
1 You can see your sky in real-time using OpenGL.
2 The sky is saved as an image, so you can edit it with the image editor
controls (e.g., hue, saturation, gamma, etc.).
3 The solution is already figured out, so the sky renders extremely fast.
The Sky Baker Panel.
The Sky Baker panel lets you select the resolution of the images, their
image type, mapping projection style and a file prefix name. The
Antialiasing option activates and deactivates the Antialiasing pass when
rendering the images.
The spherical projection has the advantage of being more compact and
not distorted when compared to the cubic projection.
By pressing the OK button Sky Baker will start to render all images. A
progress bar shows you how much Sky Baker has completed. Once Sky
Baker completes the job, you can choose to generate, position, and map
the geometry needed to complete the effect.
Texture Environment
The Texture Environment Environment lets you use a LightWave
texture as a background.
You can access the standard Texture editor, letting you mix images,
procedurals, and gradients. You can create turbulent multi-colored skies
with procedural textures, or manipulate images for incredible effects.
The texture is not stuck to the camera background, like a normal
background image, so as you move the camera, you will pan over the
An interesting application would be to use a gradient and select the
(camera) Heading or Pitch as the Input Parameter. This lets you vary a
glorious sunset sky based on the rotation of the camera. You might also
use this to add a cool nebula behind your starfield using a simple
Turbulence or Fractal Noise procedural texture.
For information on the Volumetrics tab, see Chapter 15.
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The whole idea behind traditional image compositing is quite simple:
take two or more images, and merge them into a new composite image.
LightWave lets you do this, but also takes it one step further by letting
you throw objects into the mix.
The images can also be a sequence of pictures, so you may use
captured video footage as a background for your objects. A simple
example would be a modeled UFO moving against a real sky and trees.
Images can appear behind all objects, in front of all objects, or a
combination of the two with objects showing in between.
Compositing can be a render time-saver. If you set up a scene with
many objects, but only a few are moving, you could render one frame
with only the inanimate objects, and then remove all of those objects
and render the animated objects against the single frame saved earlier.
This is especially useful when the still objects are complicated or involve
ray-traced shadows, refraction, and/or reflection.
Foreground Images
Placing an image in front of everything may seem like a silly thing to
do. However, some options let you cut parts of the image away so you
can see through it. You can also make the image partially dissolved or
even envelope the dissolve. Dissolving in a black image in the foreground
will produce the common fade-to-black effect, or reverse the dissolve to
fade in from black.
You can make holes in the foreground image based on a defined color
range in the image. However, the biggest drawback to simply clipping out
portions of the foreground image is that you will have hard edges. A
color is either clipped or it isn’t, so you see either the foreground image
or the background image.
Use the Foreground Image pop-up to set the foreground image.
Foreground and alpha images loaded
Alpha Images
You may also use a special alpha image to merge the background and
foreground images. This type of alpha image is very different from the
type you use to set up a transparency surface texture. LightWave
composites the foreground image over any objects or background by
adding their colors to the foreground image. How much background is
added is determined by the alpha image. The darker the area of an alpha
image, the more the background is added to the foreground. The pseudo
mathematical equation might look like:
Foreground + (1 - Alpha) * Background
If you used the same exact image for both the background and
foreground images, plus a solid black image as the alpha image, you will
receive a final rendered image where every pixel is twice the color value
it was. This results from the background image being completely added
to the foreground image.
Creating Alpha Images
Generally, alpha images will be generated when you render a scene to
create the foreground images. When you select Save Alpha on the
Render Options panel’s Output Files tab (Rendering > Render Options),
LightWave will generate and save an alpha image in addition to the
normal RGB output. The alpha image will be composed of grayscale
values representing the opacity of any objects that were rendered in the
An object that contains no transparent surfaces will be rendered as
solid white. Transparent surfaces will render in some shade of gray
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depending on how transparent they are. One hundred percent
transparent surfaces render as black. A 50-percent transparent surface
will render as 50-percent gray. Using object dissolve, antialiasing, motion
blur, and so on. will also give you values other than white in an alpha
image. Any background (image or colors) will be black in the alpha
image, as will any additive effects such as glow or lens flare.
Left: RGB image of three balls will differing transparency. Right:Associated alpha image
Since glows and lens flares are additive effects and are assigned a
value of black in an alpha image, glows and lens flares in the actual
foreground image will simply have the background values added, so they
will appear brighter where the background is a value other than black.
Generally, due to LightWave’s additive compositing method,
foreground images are created using a solid black backdrop.This
allows the composited background to show through unaltered when it
is mixed 100 percent with the foreground.
Foreground Fader Alpha
What happens if you want to composite a foreground element on top
of objects or a background, but the foreground image was not rendered
over black? In this case, LightWave provides a Foreground Fader Alpha
button that can be selected. In this mode, LightWave will ignore any
areas of the foreground image corresponding to black areas in the alpha
Image. These areas of the foreground image will be faded away to
nothing so you see 100 percent of the background instead.
When using Foreground Fader Alpha, glows and lens flares will not
be added to the final rendered image (their corresponding alpha is
black) unless you are using a different alpha image containing non-black
areas in those locations. Additionally, antialiased object edges most
likely will stand out because they contain bits of color from the original
non-black background.
Foreground Key
Activate Foreground Key when you want to key out (i.e., not render
or see) a color (or range of colors) from the foreground image. Use the
same color value for both Low Clip Color and High Clip Color if you
wish to key out one color only. Use different values to key out the Low
Clip Color and High Clip Color values, and all those in between.
Foreground Key option active
The Low Clip Color is the color value for the darkest color value that
will be keyed out. High Clip Color is the brightest color value that will
be keyed out.
If you want to create a giant space battle and lack the RAM to hold all
of the objects and image files, you could composite layers of ships and
achieve the same results.This is, in fact, how some broadcast TV shots
were done using machines with only 32MB of RAM in the early days
of LightWave.
The Processing tab on the Effects panel contains functions that apply
effects to the rendered image. Choose Scene > Effects: Image Process to
directly bring up the Processing tab of the Effects panel.
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Processing tab of the Effects panel
Limit Dynamic Range
Limit Dynamic Range clips the pixel color components of each
rendering pass at 1.0, improving the antialiasing of extremely bright
areas. This option should not be used with filters or image savers that
expect high dynamic range data.
Dither Intensity
Dithering blends two colors to simulate a third color between them,
forming a more realistic blend. Dither Intensity lets you set the amount
of color blending used by LightWave when rendering an image. Even with
24-bits of color data, it is possible to perceive color banding where
distinct changes in color or brightness occur within otherwise smoothly
ramped colors. Off removes all dithering, and you will probably
experience some color banding. Normal, the default setting, reduces
banding to the point where it nearly disappears. 2x Normal increases
the dithering even further, which may be useful for high-end systems
that still retain some appearance of banding in the final image. 4x
Normal boosts dithering so that the resulting image looks more grainy,
like film, which may be a desirable effect (especially when used with
Animated Dither, below).
Animated Dither
Select Animated Dither to change the dithering pattern used from
one frame to the next. This ensures that dithering is randomly placed, so
there is no apparent pattern to the dither blend. With a 2x Normal or 4x
Normal Dither Intensity, this can be used to approximate the
randomness of film grain moving through an image.
Color Saturation
Color Saturation lets you control the amount of color in a scene (or
in an animation, if using an envelope). Saturation at 100% is a normal,
full-color setting, while saturation at 0% is a black and white setting.
Glow Settings
When Enable Glow is turned active, LightWave can add a glow
around surfaces with a (surface) Glow Intensity above 0%. Use the
controls below to set up the amount of glow you wish to add to all such
Glow Intensity sets the brightness of the glow, starting from the edge
of the surface itself and fading away from there. Glow Radius sets the
distance (in pixels) that the glow extends from the edge of a glowing
surface. Note that different resolution settings will cause dramatically
different results.
Pixel filters let external applications affect LightWave’s rendering
engine. Filters in this class can be affected by motion blur and other subframe operations during the render rather than as a post process, as
image filters are.
In print, halftone screens are made up of dots that control how much
ink is deposited at a specific location. Varying the resulting dots’ size
and proximities creates the illusion of variations of grey or continuous
Halftone panel
The X Tiles and Y Tiles values determine the number of possible
horizontal and vertical dots. If you would like to randomize either of
these settings (throughout your animation), use the corresponding Jitter
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In the photography world, this type of effect is achieved with a
(physical) screen that breaks up the image into dots. Think of the Screen
Angle setting as the rotation of that screen. It controls the angle of the
You can control the overall amount of effect by adjusting the Effect
Strength setting. Settings below and above the default of 100% are
You can change the pattern by changing the Spot Type. Specify and
animate a Screen Tack Object to animate the pattern position. The OK
button stands for Ocular Kinesthetics. It lets the filter change pixels that
will then be perceived by the ocular nerves.
Halftone effect
See the discussion on the “Sasquatch Lite” displacement plug-in at
the end of Chapter 9.
Image filters post-process rendered images. All pre-processor (image
filters added on the Image Editor) and post-processors (image filters
added on the Effects panel) are the same plug-in class. However, some
image filters require post-process data and cannot be used on the Image
Anaglyph Stereo: Compose
When you use this filter in conjunction with the Stereoscopic
Rendering option (Camera panel, Stereo and DOF tab), it saves out the
left and right channels stitched together as the right channel (red-blue
glasses style), and the normal RGB image as the left channel.
This can be used with the QuickTime Stereo animation Type (Render
Options panel) (Mac and Intel only) to save out a stereo QuickTime
Anaglyph Stereo: Simulate
This filter fakes having the Stereoscopic Rendering option turned on
in the Camera panel by making the image a stereo image. The options
default to 1.1 (meters) in the Eye Separation field. In many cases, you
may want to increase this value, to exaggerate the effect.
You must render in one segment to use this filter, so you may have to
adjust your Segment Memory Limit (Camera panel) accordingly.
Sometimes light reflections in the real world are so bright that too
much light will enter a camera lens, over-saturate areas, and create a
glare or a glowing halo. Shiny metallic objects like cars and water often
exhibit this phenomenon. Bloom will mimic this effect.
Threshold determines how bright a pixel must be before it blooms.
Strength is the strength of the bloom brush compared to the pixel it
blooms. Size is the radius in pixels of the brush at a 640 by 480
resolution. If the resolution is different, the brush will be adjusted so
that the effect always looks the same at different resolutions.
Use Bloom for a simple over-exposure bleed effect. For a more
feature-rich version, use Corona.
Render Buffer View (Post-processing only)
This filter makes the selected internal buffers visible as separate
images when you use the Image Viewer.
Render Buffer View dialog
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Viewing the buffer images with Image Viewer Layer pop-up menu
Chroma Depth (Post-processing only)
The ChromaDepth filter makes a stereo image for use with
ChromaDepthTM glasses (see www.chromatek.com). Basically, color
determines the apparent depth in the image. This filter re-colors the
scene based on the Z-depth; it spreads the spectrum of colors from the
Near Z Distance to the Far Z Distance. Blend dissolves the
ChromaDepth image in with the regular colors to make the depth effect
more subtle. Auto-Scale finds the actual near and far for you when it
renders—you can render once with this option on and the calculated
values will appear in the fields.
Chroma Depth settings
Corona is an extension of Bloom. Essentially, it scans the Input
Channel and whenever the input value exceeds the Input Threshold,
Corona applies some effect.
Input Settings
Input Basis lets you choose which internal buffer to read for the
bloom effect, so you can bloom on specularity, bloom on diffuse, and so
on. The Input Basis acts like a trigger: when its value exceeds the Input
Threshold, the effect is applied to that pixel.
Color uses raw pixel values—essentially any pixel on screen that is
bright enough gets bloomed. Alpha uses alpha’s pixel values—0 to 100%
for the image. Specular Shading uses 0 to 100% of surface specularity as
shaded during the rendering. This varies over a given surface and is
different from the Specular surface channel, which is uniform over a
surface. Diffuse Shading is similar, but uses the diffuse surface property.
Geometry uses the normal of object surfaces, where 100% indicates
that the normal points at the camera. Inverse Geometry is similar, but
100% indicates that the normal points perpendicular to the camera.
These are easily demonstrated using a sphere. For Geometry, the center
of the ball would trigger Corona, while Inverse Geometry would result in
the effect along the edges.
Special uses the surface Special Buffer feature on the Surface Editor.
The value of the Special Buffer is compared against the threshold and
when it exceeds that value, the Corona filter is applied.
The input can also be masked to skip areas of the input altogether.
Threshold Mask is basically an alpha channel. Brighter areas will be
susceptible to the mask, while darker areas will not.
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Effect Settings
The Effect pop-up menu selects your blending mode. Additive yields
very hot (white) results where triggering pixels are closely grouped. This
is useful for, say, obtaining the look of metal being heated. The center of
a block of metal will become super hot while the edges do not. Normal is
similar to Additive, except in the case of heated metal, the effect at the
center and the edges tends to grow more evenly. Maximum takes the
maximum of contributive pixels. This yields an effect like applying balls
of cotton to brightly colored particles, whose effects start to merge as
the particles become closer to each other.
The Falloff pop-up menu lets you select how the bloom brush falls
off. The preview window will give you an idea of what the falloff will look
Strength is the strength of the brush compared to the source pixel.
Size is the radius in pixels of the brush at a 640 by 480 resolution. If the
resolution is different, the brush will be adjusted so that the effect
always looks the same at different resolutions.
The Edit Texture button can modulate the color of the bloom brush
with a texture.
When Texture Only is inactive and Edit Texture is off, the effect uses
the color of the original image. If texture color is available, the effect
uses the color of the original image plus the contribution of the texture.
When Texture Only is active and there is also a texture color, the effect
uses the value of the texture only.
Other Settings
The Corona filter will affect your alpha channel if you activate the
Contribute to Alpha option.
Use the Save Effect to File option to save just the corona effect to an
image file when rendering. Note you must also choose a file format and
define a filespec.
When you use gradients with Corona, you will have additional options
for the Input Parameter. These options let you customize how the
corona effect is applied. For example, the size or intensity of the effect
can grow or diminish based on an object’s proximity to another object,
center of the image, and so on.
You can use the standard Preset Shelf if you want to save and recall
Left:Without Corona. Right:With Corona (Note:Applied as a post-processing filter)
Depth-Of-Field Blur (Post-processing only)
This filter lets you add a depth of field effect that is based on a fast
image filter, without requiring multi-pass antialiasing like normal depth of
field does (Camera panel). You can adjust the overall strength of the
blur, as well as independently choose whether to blur the alpha channel
and background.
See the discussion on normal Depth of field (DOF) in Chapter 13 for
information on the Focal Distance and Lens F-Stop settings. You can also
activate the Use Layout Lens option to use the Camera Properties DOF
Digital Confusion (Post-processing only)
Lightwave's built-in Depth of Field effect (Camera Properties panel)
adjusts which pixels the rendering camera considers in and out of focus.
The Digital Confusion image filter creates the same effect using the
similar controls, but offers several extra features. Adjusting the Focal
Distance and Lens F-Stop still easily controls the range of focus, but
added options include camera lens parameters, auto-focusing, and ways
to fine-tune surface properties.
Since Digital Confusion is added during the anti-aliasing rendering
pass, it will respect and can actually improve oversampling methods like
motion blur and Depth of Field effects. However, Adaptive Sampling
(Camera Properties panel) may not function correctly with this filter. In
this case, you should use an Enhanced Antialiasing setting (Camera
Properties panel).
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The Digital Confusion interface.
The four Diaphragm Shape settings, Hexagon, Octagon, Disc, and
Cut Disc, determine which pattern Digital Confusion will use when
“defocusing” the rendered image. These settings correspond to the
actual shape of the camera lens used during this effect. The Aspect Ratio
and Rotation angle of the camera lens can also be adjusted to create
even more specialized effects.
Controlling the Blur Effect
When using Lightwave's built-in Depth of Field controls, it is
sometimes difficult to keep a moving object in focus. Now, instead of
using envelopes to animate the focal distance, with Digital Confusion you
can simply select a reference object from the Autofocus pop-up menu
and the proper focal distance will be computed automatically. This
reference object can be either the (target) geometry in the scene, or a
null object used to dynamically adjust the focus. When an object is
selected, the Focal Distance field becomes disabled.
The Focal Distance setting represents the distance from the camera
to the point in space that is in focus. Objects that fall either in front of or
behind this area will be rendered out of focus. Just how far out of focus
is determined by adjusting Digital Confusion's Lens F-Stop setting. By
changing this value, you are adjusting the radius of the area that is in
focus. For this value, the smaller the Lens F-Stop size, the smaller the infocus area will be.
For more information on using the Depth of Field controls, refer to
Chapter 13, "Depth of Field."
The Blur Size setting acts as a multiplier to Digital Confusion's
“defocusing” effect. Adjusting this control is similar to adjusting the Lens
F-Stop setting, but instead of changing the size of the in-focus area, it
determines the amount of blur these pixels will receive. By entering a
Blur Size value of 50%, the area out of focus, defined by the Focal
Distance and Lens F-Stop setting, will receive only half the computed
Digital Confusion's miscellaneous features
If a background image is used in your scene, you may want to activate
Blur Background to blur it. However, because the background image is
at an infinite distance from the camera, it will always receive the
maximum blur amount and will result in much longer rendering times. A
more efficient solution is to simply blur the background image in a paint
The Render Hidden Geometry feature forces LightWave to ray trace
any geometry behind objects in case they go transparent when being
blurred. This is a much more accurate representation of the depth of
field effect, but can increase rendering times. In multi-pass rendering and
compositing, it may be acceptable to not activate this feature, but
normally it should be activated.
Double-Sided geometry will not work correctly with the Render
Hidden Geometry activated.
Fine-tuning surface properties
Sometimes defocusing the rendered image can cause the effect of
surface specularity or luminosity to diminish unacceptably. To offset this
effect you can adjust the Luminosity Boost or Specular Boost multipliers
located at the bottom of the panel. Any pixels rendered with these
surface properties will have their intensity adjusted accordingly.
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Digitally confused cow
Extended RLA Export (Post-processing only)
This filter saves images in the Extended RLA format, popular for
2D/3D compositing work. The image includes optional depth buffers, as
well as masks for which object or surface (material) a pixel came from.
Enter the Image Base Name in the field or use the file requester button.
Full Precision Blur
This filter will soften an image by blurring it. Change the Size values
to increase the amount of blur horizontally or vertically. The Strength
settings determine the amount of the effect. You can also choose
whether to affect the RGB (color) and/or alpha data.
You can use the Rendered Alpha (channel) or a Special Buffer as a
mask using the Use Mask pop-up menu. If you want the mask computed
prior to the blurring, check the Pre-Blur Mask option, otherwise the
mask accounts for any blurring. To reverse the mask, check Invert Mask.
The Special Buffer setting on the Advanced tab of the Surface Editor
can have a value from 0 to 1, with 0 meaning no blur and 1 meaning full
Full Precision Gamma
Display devices have a non-linear relationship between pixel values
and physical light intensity—they do not excite the display phosphors
linearly. This non-linearity must be compensated for to correctly
reproduce intensity. The Gamma Correction value is the exponent value
in the correction formula and determines how to convert pixel values to
light intensity. The default, 2.2, is a common value used on images bound
for video, but is not necessarily the optimum value.
HDR Exposure
This filter normalizes high dynamic range (HDR) images for using as
image maps and HDR output for displaying in applications that are not
HDR-savvy. The intensity mapping is non-linear, similar to the light
response process in the human eye.
This filter processes the HDR output created by radiosity renders into
better-looking, brighter pictures. It does this without impacting the
accuracy of the lighting simulation, which can happen if you add
ambient light or crank up lights unrealistically. It is really an essential
part of the camera simulation, for a perfect digital camera. (The Virtual
Darkroom filter is similar, but more complex. It simulates the two-stage
process of film response to light, and print emulsion response to
projection through the film negative.)
Although you can add this filter on the Image Editor, it is of limited
use there and more useful as an Image filter on the Processing tab of the
Effects panel. This is mainly because most images you load are not HDR
images, so pre-processing is not necessary and normal gamma should
probably be used, if necessary. Moreover, if you do load an HDR image,
it’s probably because you want the extra data. (Using the HDR Exposure
filter will eliminate some, if not all, of the extra data.)
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HDR Exposure
The Input Dynamic Range is an informational display showing the
High and Low pixel-intensity values encountered in the last processed
image. Note that when the panel first appears, this information is not yet
If you do not want the filter applied to the Full Image, set the
Exposure Apply pop-up menu to Foreground to apply it only to scene
items or Background to affect only the background (i.e., where your
alpha would be black).
The White Point is the input intensity considered to be the hottest
white. Anything above this will be the same white in the output. This
control is overridden by the Auto-Iris option, which sets the white point
based on the actual input image data. Adjusting the white point is similar
to cranking down an iris on a film camera to limit how bright parts blow
out in a photograph.
The Black Point, expressed as a percentage of the nominal black
point (1/255), is the darkest non-black pixel level in the input image that
will be preserved. Anything darker will come out black. The AutoExposure option overrides Black Point by using the actual image data to
determine a black point in the incoming data. Lowering the black point is
similar to increasing the exposure time for a photograph.
Once these values are set, the filter translates the incoming image
intensity—in a process very similar to gamma correction—so that the
darker colors get more of the output range than the brighter colors. In
other words, the filter changes the spacing of intensity levels so more
levels are devoted to low intensity, darker details.
Soften Reflections (Post-processing only)
This filter will blur reflections. The Blend control will Replace the
reflection with a blurred version, Average them together, which is more
subtle, or use the Maximum of the replace result and the original, which
avoids a dark halo, at the cost of a lighter image. You can also blend
based on the Alpha channel or the intensity of the reflection
Soften Reflections
Soften Reflections can scale the blur based on the surface’s value in
Special Buffer 1 (Advanced tab of the Surface Editor), if you check the
Scale By Surface Buffer option. (A value of 1 means 100 percent.)
Left to right: SoftReflections off, Replace,Average and Maximum
Left:Alpha. Right: LumaBlend
Render Buffer Export (Post-processing only)
This filter lets you save images from one of LightWave’s internal
buffers (Source). The Surface Custom option on the Source pop-up
menu will create a grayscale image, where each object surface can have
a unique grayscale value. This was designed to allow post-processing
effects to be applied on a surface-by-surface basis. A surface’s grayscale
value (0-255) is assigned using the Special Buffer option on the
Advanced tab of the Surface Editor.
To invert the image data, check the Negative option. The Normalize
option is available only for certain Source selections that don’t normally
provide image data, like X Motion. Normalize scales the values to be 0
to 1.
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With the Destination pop-up menu, you can save the selected buffer
image as a separate Image File, or replace the Rendered RGB or
Rendered Alpha image data. (If you choose Image File, set the Image
Type and enter the full path and filename in the File Name input field.)
Use TextureFilter to add the selected texture to the image before use.
You could use this filter to add, say, an animated Fractal Noise pattern to
a simple black image. Since textures are three-dimensional, particularly
procedurals, use the Axis setting to use the X, Y, or Z of the texture.
(Note: The differences between the Axis selection can be subtle.)
To see procedurals in viewports:
You can use TextureFilter to see procedural textures in your Layout
viewport! Basically, you apply the procedural texture(s) to the image
using TextureFilter and then map the image to the surface. Here’s how
you do it:
1 First, you need to load an image into the Image Editor. It really
doesn’t matter what image you use since it will be obscured by the
2 On the Image Editor’s Processing tab, add TextureFilter. Double-click
it in the list window to access its options. Click the Texture button to
access the Texture Editor.
3 Change the default initial Layer Type to Gradient. This provides the
underlying color. You can leave it white or change it.
4 Add one or more procedural texture layers and set as you would
5 Load your object and open the Surface Editor.
6 Click the Color attribute’s Texture button. Leave Layer Type set to
Image Map on the Texture Editor that appears.
7 Set Projection as you would normally and select your image from the
Image pop-up menu. The procedural will now appear in your
Dots and Crumple textured on cow’s hide
This operation requires a lot of computations and Layout may seem
sluggish as it computes the texture.
The image preview window on the Image Editor will show the texture
as well.Thus, you can double-click the window to bring up the Image
Viewer, from which you can save this compiled image.This can then be
image mapped back onto the surface without all of the calculations
required with TextureFilter.
If you use an image sequence instead of a still image, you can even
see an animated texture! Note that if an animated texture is applied to a
still image, it will not appear animated.
Vector Blur (Post-processing only)
LightWave’s normal motion blur (Camera properties) may need long
render times because of multi-pass antialiasing. Vector Blur, on the other
hand, can achieve great-looking motion blur in a fraction of the render
The two modes, Vector and Blur, use motion data that identifies each
pixel’s immediate motion in the horizontal and vertical directions. The
Vector mode smears the pixel out based on the motion information,
while the Blur mode uses the horizontal and vertical data to smush
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together the surrounding pixels with that pixel. Blur affects the pixels
around it including backgrounds, while Vector alters only the pixels of
the moving object.
The Blur mode should be used in conjunction with the normal motion
blur; however, the Vector mode can be used by itself—you don’t even
need to use antialiasing! The result can be drastically reduced rendering
Below is a comparison between regular motion blur and the two
modes of Vector Blur.
Left: Regular. Middle: Blur mode. Right:Vector mode
Overlapping Objects
Since objects become transparent with motion blur, the filter needs
something in the background of the blur. When Compensate Background
is active, the filter does not use the backdrop and attempts to
compensate for this absence. This works in most cases, but may not give
a very realistic motion blur.
When Compensate Background is not active, the filter uses the
backdrop. However, it will not show an object behind another object.
Left: Compensate Background is off. Right: Compensate Background is on
If you have overlapping objects, you may want to do some test
renders to see if Vector Blur will provide acceptable results. If not, use
LightWave’s normal motion blur.
High Quality Blur
If you uncheck Compensate Background, you can activate the High
Quality Blur setting. This provides better quality, but takes longer to
render. In this mode, you will only be able to set the Vector Length
The important thing to understand about using Vector Blur is that it
is a post process. As such, hidden geometry can't be blurred and you
may see problems with motion blur on shadows and moving textures.
However, it can be a great help when used in conjunction with normal
motion blur, by giving you better quality with lower antialiasing settings
(Camera panel).
Video Legalize
The Video Legalize filter might be more appropriately named Hot
Video, since it assumes that pure black, RGB 0, 0, 0, is mapped to the
proper pedestal by the encoding device (e.g., 7.5 IRE for NTSC). The
encoding device may not, however, correct hot pixels—that is, colors
that exceed certain video specifications. This is where VideoLegalize
steps in.
Pixel values are generally scaled into IRE units using the Black Point,
White Point and Pedestal settings as follows: Level = Pedestal + (100 Pedestal) * (pixel - Black) / (White - Black). White is always 100 IRE and
NTSC black is 7.5 IRE. Thus, for NTSC, the level would be computed:
Level = 7.5 + 92.5 * (pixel - Black) / (White - Black).
Normally, an RGB level of 0.0 is black and 1.0 is white. If those are
used for the Black Point and White Point settings, the level will be 7.5 +
92.5 * (pixel - 0.0) / (1.0 - 0.0) or just 7.5 + 92.5 * pixel. When the pixel is
1.0, the level is 100 IRE, and when the pixel is 0.0, the level is 7.5 IRE.
Note that the actual computation is more complex than the above
since other operations, like gamma correction, can happen.
The settings default to NTSC encoding, but you may also select PAL
from the Encoding pop-up menu. (Note that you also need to click the
Default button after selecting a new Encoding item.) You may change
the individual settings from their defaults, if desired.
The Correct pop-up menu determines how the image is corrected to
fall within the specified limits.
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It is highly recommended that you use VideoLegalize (as a post-process
image filter) if you plan to use your images for video.
Video Tap (Post-processing only)
The Video Tap filter will save a second image using different camera
and render option settings. This is perfect for times when you render a
film resolution scene, but you want to preview a video resolution version
on your Video Toaster or other digital disk recorder.
Movie-makers often attach a video camera to a film camera, so they
can watch dailies without developing the film—saving time and money.
This filter’s namesake is the video tap on the film camera. (Clever idea
by Brad. More clever name by Arnie.)
Virtual Darkroom
The Virtual Darkroom filter simulates the photographic capture of
images. It is based on A Model for Simulating the Photographic
Development Process on Digital Images, by Joe Geigel and F. Kenton
Musgrave in the SIGGRAPH ’97 conference proceedings.
Virtual Darkroom
Global settings are the four controls located at the top. Output Type
specifies whether the output image is Black and White (single-plane
grayscale) or Color (three-plane RGB). Use Reset to Default to reset all
controls to default values. You can save and load settings using the Save
Current Settings and Load New Settings buttons.
Basic Settings Tab
Basic Settings control everything except for those settings on other
tabs. Negative LUX is the illumination value for the negative pass—
analogous to scene capture with a camera—which will affect overall
brightness. Negative Time is the exposure time for negative pass,
essentially the exposure setting on the virtual camera. Positive LUX is
the illumination value for the positive (printing) pass. Think of this as
the brightness of the bulb in the enlarger or printing mechanism.
Positive Time is the exposure time during the printing pass of virtual
Enable Scattering will activate the internal scattering effect. Negative
Width and Negative Height are the width and height, respectively, in
millimeters, of the virtual negative. These values are used in scattering
and grain calculations. Enable Grain will activate the grain effect.
Selwyn Granularity controls the intensity of the grain. Increasing this
value increases grain, decreasing it will decrease grain.
Spectral Sensitivity Tab
If Output Type is set to Color, there will be six sets of RGB
percentage controls. Each RGB trio specifies the percentage of the black
and white output plane that is contributed by the input image plane
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named in the control. For example, the RGB trio in the upper-middle
defines how the output from the negative passes on the spectral
sensitivity module creates the green plane.
If Output Type is set to Black & White, you specify what percentage
of the red, green, and blue planes of the input image are used when they
are combined into a single black and white image. This transition takes
place in the negative (first) pass. During the printing (second) pass,
there is only a single input plane, so spectral sensitivity is not used.
Film, Paper, and MTF Curve Tabs
You can enter up to 21 pairs that define the characteristic curve of
the film and paper, and the function for modulation transfer used for
scattering calculations. For each pair, the first value represents log
(exposure) and the second value represents the density.
For all Curve tab entries, points should be entered in order starting
with Pt. 01. If Output Type is set to Color, curves must be set for each
output plane by selecting the appropriate Red Plane, Green Plane, or
Blue Plane sub-tab.
Original image.
Left: Processing with TMax 100/PolyMax with scattering of a 3.2 mm x 2.4 mm. Right: Same with Grain enabled
Left: . Right: Processing with TMax 100/PolyMax with scattering of a .32 mm x .24 mm. Right: Same as above with Grain enabled
The WaterMark filter embosses an image in the lower-right quarter of
the image. You can select any loaded image; however, grayscale images
using a black background work best. The Light Angle field determines
the direction of the implied light source.
Other filters, like Pixel filters, may appear on the Image Editor in the
list of image filters.
The WaveFilter Image image filter allows you to apply and adjust
image filters, color filters, grain and matte filters to the entire image, the
background, objects only, shadows only, a special buffer, or a userdefinable color range. A powerful interface with color preview provides
the control you need to tweak your image to perfection.
Image filters include blur, sharpen, edge blend, saturation, negative,
high/low limit, palette, film grain, and flip frame. The edge blend filter
provides additional and faster anti-aliasing control, allowing a possible
30% to 50% savings on rendering times.
Color filters controls for RGB values, as well as the contrast, midtone,
gamma, luminosity and brightness of the image. The filters work on a
percentage scale, but values above 100% can be entered to create all
sorts of interesting effects.
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Matte filters are used to create images for compositing. Portions of
your images can be set to black or white for matte creation. If you do a
lot of image compositing, you will find Matte filter to be an invaluable
For even more control, WaveFilter Image can be added more than
once to allow for multiple passes over an image, with each pass applying
different settings to different parts of an image and creating different
WaveFilter Image allows you to move many pre- and post-rendering
operations directly into LightWave. It fully supports network rendering,
animated settings and has batch processing capabilities.
Special thanks to Mike Reed for his work on this plug-in.
Image Filters
Image Filters can be used individually or in combination with other
filters to apply interesting effects. These filters use simple mathematical
formulas for faster image rendering. Several adjustable presets are
included for quick effects.
WaveFilter Image Image tab selected
Blur Image
Blur Image simulates out-of-focus effect and is applied equally across
your image. This filter is commonly used on the background to help
contrast your sharply focused objects in the foreground.
Sharpen is an edge-seeking (low-pass) detail-enhancing filter that will
increase the sharpness between surface colors by exaggerating the
difference in color between the two edges.
Edge Blend
Edge Blend is a softening tool that will smooth the edges between
sharply contrasting surfaces. This helps to tone down the stair-step
edges or jaggies found in computer graphics.
You may control the Number of Passes this filter makes. Higher
values provide finer detailed blending of the edges. Tolerance allows you
control the amount of edge affected. You may also limit the edge
detection to Object Edges Only.
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Multi-Pass Edge Blend
Some images with single-pixel details, like stars or highly detailed
objects, lose desired details when the Edge Blend filter is set strong
enough to remove unwanted jaggies. Increasing the Number of Passes
can help to minimize this loss of detail. (Note that normally only a single
pass is needed.)
When you select more than one pass, the filter searches for edges
and applies the blend at a power equal to the percent you select divided
by the Number of Passes. For example, if are using four passes at 100%,
the filter will apply a blend of only 25% on each pass.
Once the first pass is completed, the edges are detected again, but
this time fewer edges will be found—edges that needed only the light
25% blend will not be selected. This process is repeated for all passes.
This results in the pixels that needed the least blending only getting a
25% blend, while those that needed a bit more get 50%, and so on. Only
the worst jaggies get the full 100% blend.
Adding WaveFilter Image plug-in multiple times can also help in
removing really bad jaggies. Just like using multiple Number of Passes,
each instance of the filter will only select the jaggies that remain after
processing in any previous instance. However, remember that the blend
percentage will be applied fully for each instance, so you may want to
keep the value as low as possible to avoid overly blurring the edges.
Using on Rendered images
If you render a large number of frames and find you should have used
a higher antialiasing setting, you can simply apply the Edge Blend filter
to them—WaveFilter Image does not require geometry to work. This
could save you from re-rendering the original scene.
To do this, simply load the images as an image sequence and set the
sequence as the background image. Then, set the camera to exactly the
same resolution as used for the original images and turn off any normal
antialiasing. Set the images to render to a new filename and you’re ready
to post process.
Saturation allows you to control the saturation of the image’s color.
Negative gives control of the amount of negative applied to an image.
50% negative is equivalent to RGB 128/128/128.
Limit High/Low Color
The Limit High Color and Limit Low Color settings limits the colors
in your image to levels which are NTSC compliant. Only highlights are
The Posterize filter reduces the colors used causing a poster-like
effect. Lower values allow more colors.
Palette Reduce
The Palette Reduce filter limits the colors in your image to smaller,
evenly distributed, color palettes. Palette reduction method can be
specified as a preference by choosing either Average (the default),
NTSC/PAL Luminance, HDTV Luminance, Nearest Red, Nearest Green,
or Nearest Blue.
Several palettes are available on the Use Palette pop-up menu. If
Custom is selected, the Palette button and input field will be available.
Here you can specify a Photoshop *.act file or an ASCII file that defines
each color in the desired palette.
Film Grain
Check Add Film Grain to add a random noise effect. of selectable
density to your image. The Color setting defines the grain color.
Checking Greyscale Grain causes the grain to be various levels of gray.
Flip Frame
Flip Frame provides a quick method to vertically and/or horizontally
flip the image.
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Color Filters
Color filters allow global control of general color attributes.
WaveFilter Image Color tab selected
The Contrast value sets the mid-tones of the selected part of the
image either towards the highlight or shadow range. The Center setting
controls the contrast tonal range.
The MidPoint value is similar to the Brightness setting, except it
affects only the mid-tones within the selected part of the image. Use in
conjunction with Brightness for a good overall lighting effect. The Center
setting controls the MidPoint tonal range.
Gamma allows control of the range between the darkest and lightest
areas of your image.
Luminance adds overall brightness or darkness to the frame.
Shadows, mid-tones, and highlights will all be affected.
Brightness multiplies the amount of light within the selected part of
the image. Mid-tones and highlights are affected, while dark shadows are
not affected. Use Brightness to adjust the lighting within your image
without resetting the scene’s lights or raising the ambient light level.
Adjust Color
The Adjust Color options provide different options for adjusting
Mult: Pixel x Percentage looks at the color information in each RGB
channel and multiplies the base color by the selected Color.
Add: Pixel + Color adjusts the color information by increasing the
amount of R, G and B color in the image.
Sub: Pixel - Color adjusts the color information by decreasing the
amount of R, G and B color in the image.
Replace: Pixel = Color replace will change the RGB color from the
current base color to the new selected Color.
Matte Filters
The Matte tab contains options that affect the image’s alpha channel.
You can see the results in the Image Viewer when you render a frame
(F9) by simply selecting Alpha from the pop-up menu in the upper-right
WaveFilter Image Matte tab selected
Choosing Custom will set the alpha channel for the affected area to a
grayscale value defined in the Custom Value input field.
Choosing All Black sets the alpha channel for the affected area to
black. Choosing All White sets the alpha channel for the affected area to
white. Generally, with these, you will want Affected Areas (Affect tab)
set to something other than Full Frame.
Invert reverses the alpha channel for the affected area.
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The Affect Tab
WaveFilter Image Affect tab selected
Affected Areas
WaveFilter can apply most filters to a scene’s images, surfaces,
channels or objects. Often, when multiple WaveFilter passes are
installed, you will select a different portion of the image to effect in each
Objects applies the effect to all objects, including an image mapped
polygon background.
Background applies the effect to the background only.
Shadows applies the effect to the shadow channel only.
Full Frame applies the effect to the entire frame.
High/Low Color Range applies the effect to a selected color range in
all three color channels (RGB). The range is defined by the Lower Bound
and Upper Bound colors.
Selected Surfaces applies the effect to selected surfaces. Surfaces are
considered selected if they have a Special Buffer value greater than zero.
To access, click the Special Buffers button on the Advanced tab of the
Surface Editor.
Preset Shelf
Click Use Shelf to access the standard Preset shelf to save and load
presets. You can save WaveFilter settings to the shelf by double-clicking
on the preview image.
You can quickly enable and disable all filters by clicking the Enable
All Filters and Disable All Filters buttons.
Preview Window
The preview window will give you an idea of what the current settings
will do. This can take a little time to compute so you can disable the
preview. You may also use the last rendered image instead of the default
WaveFilter Image preview window and settings
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hapter 15:
LightWave features volumetric effects—essentially lighting and
particle effects with physical volume. These effects are common in
everyday life and can play a key role in creating dramatic realistic
environments. However, they are difficult to reproduce using standard
polygonal models.
A very common example of volumetric lighting is the atmosphere: the
color of the sky comes from the scattering and absorption of light in the
different layers of the atmosphere.
Volumetric light effects, like a cone of light from a flashlight, are
discussed in Chapter 32.
The combination of light scattering and absorption is the very core of
volumetric lighting effects. Additionally, other parameters must also be
taken into account, like volume size and shape, density distribution
inside the volume, lighting conditions, and behavior of light inside the
medium. Adjusting these parameters lets you create a wide range of
natural effects.
The sky, for example, is usually blue because light attenuation
depends on wavelength and distance. When the sun is at the zenith, its
light crosses fewer layers of atmosphere than when the sun is on the
horizon. Blue light is stronger at the zenith than at sunset because the
thinner atmosphere does not interfere with its shorter wavelength. In
Red sunsets, the thicker layers of atmosphere attenuate blue light, but
the longer wavelength of red light passes through the atmospheric
Fog is another good example. It is a medium composed of vaporized
water where density is distributed in a non-homogeneous manner. The
water particles in the fog cause a dispersion/absorption phenomenon
that causes the lighting effect, while the density distribution gives the
global appearance of the fog. If you want a thick fog lying on the ground
and fading with altitude, you will have to use a density distribution that
makes the density high at lower altitudes and low at higher altitudes. If
you want to add turbulence in the fog (to have a more cloudy
appearance), you can add fractal noise, which creates a 3D density field.
Computational Issues
Volumetrics are calculated by integrating all the scattering/absorption
contributions along a ray (which comes from the camera). When you use
a 3D fractal density field, the integration must be made numerically with
a limited number of sampling points. In this case, the values will be
calculated at each sampling point, which means that for 50 sampling
points, the algorithm calculates 50 density field values, 50 lighting
values, and 50 scattering/absorption values. All those values can take a
lot of time to compute. Using fewer sampling points will result in a faster
rendering but will introduce numerical errors: this is volumetric aliasing.
Volumetric shadows can be obtained this way by measuring the lighting
conditions at each sampling point along the ray.
When you work with a normal density distribution, you can make the
integration literally, which gives a much faster rendering. But in this
model (which we call fast model), it is not possible to measure lighting
conditions along the ray, and as a consequence it is not possible to get
volumetric shadows.
Another important note about numerical issues is how to adjust
values to get the desired effect. The intensity of the effect is always
related to the length of the medium crossed by the ray. This is obvious if
you compare cigarette smoke to smoke from a large fire—the size of the
volume has a big influence on the result. The behavior of light may also
change completely when the volume size changes, because absorption
may overpower scattering, and vice versa. A good example of this is
When you look at clouds, you see that small thin clouds are bright
and totally white, while big clouds have dark gray areas and a thin white
border. The dark gray color comes from the absorption of light inside
the cloud. Even the scattering of light emitted inside the cloud is
absorbed from the point of scattering to the boundaries of the cloud. In
this example, absorption takes precedence over scattering when
thickness gets bigger. However, under other circumstances, the opposite
could occur. When you use high absorption and scattering values, you
can create explosion-like effects, where there is very high contrast
between bright and dark areas. In conclusion, when adjusting
parameters, you must be aware of the scale of the object you are
working on.
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About Particles
When you work with particles, a sphere of gas is associated with each
particle. As a result, a particle cloud is really just a union of spheres.
Computing the effect for every particle can be computationally intensive,
particularly when their spheres overlap one another. The solution is the
automatic particle sizing option, which evaluates a particle size so that
each particle is close to another. The result is a dense cloud optimized
for numerical integration and lower rendering times.
LightWave can generate a quick fog effect that is useful for many
special effects. Just as objects seem to blend into real fog with distance,
the effect fades the objects away into the fog color you set. Fog
surrounds the camera in all directions, as though the camera were in the
middle of a huge spherical fog bank extending in all directions.
The fog settings are on the Volumetric tab of the Effects panel (Scene
> Effects: Volumetrics). In setting up fog, you will set a minimum and
maximum distance from the camera. Within and beyond this range,
objects will take on some amount of the Fog Color. You can also specify
the percent of fog color that objects take on at the minimum and
maximum distances.
The Fog Type pop-up menu sets the characteristics of your fog. Off,
obviously, turns off the fog effect. The other fog types differ in how the
effect falls off toward the camera. Linear falls off in a linear manner.
Nonlinear 1 is somewhat more realistic in appearance, since the fog will
appear to grow thicker with distance. Nonlinear 2 has a steeper falloff
It’s important to realize that the Fog feature doesn’t actually calculate
a wispy volumetric fog around objects, but rather changes the color of
the objects to that color chosen as the Fog Color. As such, the backdrop
will receive no amount of fog. For volumetric 3D fog, use the GroundFog
volumetric, discussed later.
A negative Minimum Distance will start the fog behind the camera.
You can even enter a larger minimum amount than the Maximum
Distance amount, which results in an effect whereby objects will render
in more of the fog when closer to the camera.
By default, fog is applied linearly between the Minimum Distance and
Maximum Distance. Non-linear options are also available, which apply
the fog amount more rapidly as they are moved away from the camera,
then less so as they approach the maximum distance. The small graph to
the left of the setting gives you an indication of the fog application over
The Use Backdrop Color option causes an object to blend in with
whatever backdrop you have set, including a background image. This
can have the effect of making objects appear slightly transparent. Use
this option to simulate the effects of an underwater environment or a
hazy, foggy day with an appropriate Backdrop Color like bluish green for
underwater and grayish white for a foggy day.
If you add the Texture Environment environment (Scene > Effects:
Backdrop) and also activate Use Backdrop Color, your fog (and
backdrop) can use a texture.
Textured fog
The rendering speed of the Fast Fog Render Type for the Ground Fog
volumetric comes at a price. Because it is not a full volumetric effect, it
will not always blend accurately with other volumetric effects, like
volumetric lights.This may result in visible artifacts in your rendered
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Also see the discussion on the Unaffected by Fog option in Chapter
9 and the special display options for fog in Chapter 6.
The Volumetric Antialiasing option activates or deactivates the
antialiasing of volumetric plug-ins and volumetric lights. If this option is
off, the volumetric effects from the first rendering pass are stored and
reused in later passes, instead of being re-rendered in each pass.
Obviously, this can save rendering time, but will require more memory
and may cause problems when used in conjunction with motion blur or
depth of field.
Volumetric Plug-ins are added on the Volumetrics tab of the Effects
Use the GroundFog volumetric plug-in to add three-dimensional fog to
your scene. The fog has actual physical size so, for example, the camera
can move in and out of the fog. This differs fundamentally from normal
fog, discussed previously, where the camera is always within the fog.
GroundFog panel
With the Render Type pop-up menu, you can choose between two
different types of GroundFog. Fast Fog is a quick-rendering fog with a
uniform thickness. It is basically the three-dimensional version of normal
fog. Ray Marcher adds an uneven fog, particularly when you use a
texture. Since this fog varies by precise physical position, like real fog, it
is computationally intensive, but generally yields a more accurate and
realistic result.
When using Ray Marcher, you can throttle the amount of
computations using the Quality pop-up menu at the bottom of the panel.
Add a texture by activating the Use Texture option. Clicking the Edit
Texture button will bring up the standard Texture Editor. A fog texture
will make your fog more interesting and less flat.
The Top and Bottom settings control the altitude of the fog, that is,
where your fog starts and stops vertically. Falloff determines how the
fog decreases to zero, from the Bottom to the Top. The higher the value,
the more the fog will decrease its density. Note that the Ray Marcher
mode tends to fall off quickly at the fog’s edges, while Fast Fog has a
uniform linear fall off.
Make sure you know where your camera is when using GroundFog.
The effect is really best seen from outside of the fog. If your camera is
inside the fog, changing settings may appear to have little effect. In fact,
if your camera is always within the fog, you may want to just use the
(faster) normal fog.
The Luminosity and Opacity values are the values where the fog is at
its thickest.
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Nominal Distance is the distance at which the fog has a medium
effect—it is not like standard Fog’s Minimum Distance. You will want to
use small values for small-scale scenes. Large-scale scenes may require
higher values to keep close objects from getting too affected by the fog.
You can set the color of the fog with the Color setting or you can just
use the backdrop color.
Without fog
Left: Fast Fog. Right: Ray Marcher fog using a texture
With ordinary polygonal objects, realistic effects like liquids, smoke,
clouds, and fire are difficult, if not impossible, to achieve without
HyperVoxels. It simplifies the creation of volumetric rendering effects
such as photo-realistic clouds, flames, explosions, dust, nebulas,
contrails, fluids, smoke, ash, pyroclastics, gelatin, electromicroscopic
images, rusted materials, detailed solid and rocky surfaces, and much,
much more.
Example HyperVoxels
HyperVoxels have computed mass, as opposed to the modeled mass
of normal LightWave objects. This opens the door to effects an order of
magnitude greater in complexity. You can now transform objects
dynamically, like merging and slicing objects, without modeling multiple
geometries. A common example of this is the action of the substance
inside lava lamps.
HyperVoxel cow
HyperVoxels can be a surface, volume, or sprite. Surface HyperVoxels
are similar to standard LightWave objects. They have a defined surface,
but no interior. If you go inside such an object, there is nothing. Volume
HyperVoxels, on the other hand, have computed volume. You would use
this option to create effects like gases, flames, clouds, explosions, or
even short hair or fur. Your camera can go inside these HyperVoxels and
still see the texture. The Sprite mode is a “slice” of a volume HyperVoxel.
It renders quicker, but lacks much of the volume mode’s 3-D quality.
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HyperVoxel fog
The HyperVoxels volumetric filter is usually applied to a points-only
object or a null object. The reason is that polygons may be visible after
rendering and usually this is not desired. However, having polygons may
make the object easier to see in Layout. In such cases, you can use the
Unseen by Camera object property.
HyperVoxel textures are 3-D algorithmic textures, unlike normal
surface bump maps, which only appear to have depth. This means you
can actually get very close to the surface and the textures will look three
dimensional. HyperVoxels feature sub-pixel displacement, which results in
surface details no matter how close you get.
You can determine the position of HyperVoxels by using a null object
or an object’s points. Moving the object will move the HyperVoxel object.
Changing the position of an object’s internal points will also change the
look of a HyperVoxel object. HyperVoxels will appear around each point
and their proximity to each other affects how the object appears on the
A particle animation system is not required. You can achieve many
spectacular effects using null objects or points animated by conventional
means. However, to achieve realistic dynamic liquid effects, you will
probably need a LightWave particle system, like Particle FX.
HyperVoxel objects exist just as normal objects do.Thus, they cast
shadows, are reflected, and so on. However, currently, plug-ins do not
have access to all lighting information. As a result, HyperVoxels will
continue to receive shadows, even if the Receive Shadows option on
the Object Properties panel is disabled.
HyperVoxels and Transparent Surfaces
Because volumetrics are ray-traced, to see a HyperVoxel behind a
transparent surface, you must ray trace transparent surfaces. You can do
this by simply activating the Ray Trace Transparency option on the
Render Options panel. However, this is not necessary if the Refraction
Index of the object’s transparent surface (Surface Editor) is set greater
than 1.0 (even 1.001) and Ray Trace Refraction on the Render Options
panel is enabled.
Also, if you want to see an object behind a transparent HyperVoxel
surface, you need to set the Refraction Option to Ray Tracing +
Backdrop on the HyperVoxels Shading, Environment tab.
Jump-starting with HyperVoxels
Here are some short exercises to jump-start you with HyperVoxels—
more complex tutorials are included later.
Exercise: HyperVoxels basics
This exercise gives you a quick hands-on feel for how to use
1 Add a null object to an empty Scene in Layout.
2 Add the HyperVoxelsFilter on the Volumetrics tab of the Effects panel
(Scene > Effects: Volumetrics).
3 Double-click its name in the list to bring up its settings panel.
4 On the HyperVoxels panel, double-click on the null in the list window.
This will activate HyperVoxels for this object. A check will appear to
the left of its name. (You could also select the object and click the
Activate button.)
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5 Object Type should be set to Surface. When you activate an object,
the automatic size function is performed. The value 1m should
appear in the Particle Size field.
6 Make sure the Automatic Preview options are active so we can see
the results of your efforts. Automatic Preview updates the preview as
you make changes, so you don’t have to keep clicking Render. Open
VIPER (the button is on the main Layout toolbar). You should already
see a rather dull ball in the VIPER window—of course it’s a lot more
interesting than a rendered null.
You can preview animated textures with VIPER. See Chapter 3 for
more information. Remember that VIPER uses the camera view, so
make sure the camera can see your particles.
7 Change the Particle size to 2. The ball should be larger now. (Would
you believe twice as big?) Activate the Draft Mode to speed VIPER up.
8 Click on the HyperTexture tab. This is where you define the surface
texture—essentially the terrain of the surface. Select FBM from the
Texture pop-up. Notice that this is similar to setting a surface
procedural texture.
9 Go ahead and play around with the various settings on this tab and
watch the HyperVoxel change.
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10 You can actually apply all of the standard surface attributes to
HyperVoxels on the Shading tab. All of the settings should be familiar
to you since they are identical in name and operation to the normal
LightWave surface settings. Try changing the various values and see
their effects on VIPER.
Exercise: HyperVoxel volumetrics
This exercise will give you a flavor for some of the volumetric
1 Using the HyperVoxel from the previous exercise, change the Object
Type from Surface to Volume.
2 Go to the HyperTexture tab and select Turbulence as the Texture.
You should now see a nice wispy volumetric cloud. This object is
totally three dimensional. You could fly the camera into it and
continue to see all of the details. How cool is that?!
3 Let’s add some color. Go to Shading tab > Basic tab and click the
Color Texture button.
4 Change the default Layer Type to a Gradient and use Local Density
as the Input Parameter. This will apply the gradient based on the
density of the cloud.
5 Create three keys: blue, yellow, and red, top to bottom. You will see
VIPER updating the preview as you make changes. Click Use Texture
to close the panel when you are done.
6 The options on the Shading tab > Basic tab control the basic look of
your volumetric HyperVoxel. You can adjust the color, opacity, and
density. The lower half of the tab controls the fractal look of the
object. Try playing with the settings to see their effects.
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7 Click on the Advanced subtab. As you might expect, this tab contains
more advanced options. Included are options to define how the
HyperVoxel object is lit, as well as self-shadow options.
8 Try messin’ with the various setting, including the Sprite mode.
Exercise: blending HyperVoxel objects
This exercise shows how different HyperVoxel objects can interact
with one another.
1 Add three null objects to an empty Scene in Layout.
2 Move and keyframe Null (1) to Y = 1m and Null (3) to Y = -1m.
Camera view of three nulls
3 Choose Scene > Effects: Volumetrics and add the HyperVoxelsFilter
and open its panel.
4 Activate HyperVoxels for all three objects.
5 Open VIPER and set Preview Options to Scene Preview. This will
give us a preview of all of the HyperVoxel objects in the scene.
6 Select Null (1) and choose New Group from the Blending Group popup menu on Geometry tab. Accept the default name Blend Group (1)
by clicking OK.
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7 For each HyperVoxel set the Blending Group to Blend Group (1) and
the Blending Mode to Additive (Geometry tab). By placing all of the
HyperVoxels in the same group, they can interact with each other.
8 Try changing the Color (Shading tab > Basic tab) of each null and
giving them Texture (HyperTexture tab).
Notice how the texture surfaces blend together.
Preview Options
When used with HyperVoxels, the Preview Options pop-up menu on
the VIPER window has some options. Object Preview gives you a
preview of the selected HyperVoxel object only from the camera’s
perspective. Scene Preview will show you all HyperVoxel objects visible
from the camera’s perspective. Particle Preview will give you an
enlarged view of a single particle, which is particularly helpful if your
HyperVoxel object consists of many particles.
Use Z-Buffer
The Use Z-Buffer in Preview option (on the main HyperVoxel panel)
allows you to preview your HyperVoxels in the last rendered frame.
(Note: Object Preview or Scene Preview modes only.) This requires that
the Enable VIPER option be active on the Render Options panel.
The Use Z-Buffer in Preview option in action
Sprite Texture Resolution
The Sprite Texture Resolution setting (on the main HyperVoxel
panel) is a display setting and does not affect your rendered
HyperVoxels nor VIPER. It allows you to set the quality of textures used
on HyperVoxel particles in Layout.
HyperVoxels Setting Management
Load/Save buttons allows you to retrieve and store HyperVoxels
setting files. This can be used to create a library of attributes.
HyperVoxels Setting Management
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Use the Copy button to copy the settings for the selected HyperVoxel
object to a memory buffer. These can be pasted to the currently selected
HyperVoxel object using the Paste button.
You can enable/disable HyperVoxels for an activated object by
clicking in the checkmark column and you will not lose your settings.
The Activate button will activate the selected object and set all settings
to their defaults. The Deactivate button places the object in an inactive
default state. With Activate and Deactivate, you will lose any existing
If the Show pop-up menu is set to All Objects, then all objects in the
scene will be listed. HyperVoxels Only will list only HyperVoxel objects;
however, this includes disabled HyperVoxel objects.
Object Type
The Object Type pop-up menu lets you choose between the
previously demonstrated Surface, Volume, and Sprite HyperVoxel
modes. Use it for testing purposes when you are developing your
HyperVoxel animation.
Dissolve lets you individually set an opacity value for each active
HyperVoxel object: 0% is totally opaque and 100% is completely
Object Type pop-up menu
The Sprite mode is a simplified two-dimensional slice (or slices) of a
HyperVoxel, so it can quickly produce results to give the user a fast
sketch of the HyperVoxel’s rendered appearance. You might think of it as
a slice of a Volume that has been mapped on a polygon that always faces
the camera.
You may want to use Sprite to accelerate the setup process for
Surface or Volume modes. It’s even great for instances where you don’t
need a full 3-D volumetric effect, like a smokestack in the distance.
Sprite with hypertexture
Although Sprites are two-dimensional in nature, you can still fly a
camera through them. The sprite will begin to dissolve when the camera
gets into it and eventually fully dissolve when the camera hits the slice.
Geometry Tab
Enter a specific radius for the individual particles in the Particle Size
field. Click Automatic Sizing to compute an average size—this is a handy
way to find a starting point. The average particle size is based on the
shape of the entire object—HyperVoxels surfaces will not intersect at
this setting.
When you first activate an object, automatic sizing is performed for
The Geometry tab
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Rendering time is related to how much the particles intersect each
other—the more intersections you have, the longer the rendering time.
For fastest rendering, always try to use the fewest number of particles
and the smallest Particle Size that achieves acceptable results.
Size Variation sets the maximum percent that the particle size can
vary. For example, a particle size of 1m with a variation of 100% can be
as small as 1m and as large as 2m. Using a variation of 50% would yield
particles ranging from 1m to 1.5m in size. Use this setting to create
random disturbances in the surface.
Stretching and Rotating HyperVoxels
You can stretch HyperVoxels on a selected axis or based on velocity
(Stretch Direction). The amount of stretching is determined by the
Stretch Amount setting, which may be animated. When using nulls, you
may stretch HyperVoxels by animating normal Layout XYZ size values.
Sprite stretched using Velocity
Hypervoxels also respect the rotation of the object.
The Maintain Volume option on the HyperVoxel panel Geometry tab,
will cause the HyperVoxels to maintain their volume. This means that
when they get squashed, they will maintain the same area.
Align to Path
Align to Path causes the HyperVoxels to rotate as they follow a path.
This can be particularly important when using particles.
Blending HyperVoxels
Separate HyperVoxel items can interact with one another. You can
individually set how the selected object interacts with other HyperVoxel
objects. In order for HyperVoxels to interact:
• All must belong to the same Blending Group
• All must have a Blending Mode selected
• To view with VIPER, you must have Scene Preview set as the
Preview Options
Here, the two objects are shown separately
Left: Object 1. Right: Object 2
(none) means it will not interact with other HyperVoxel items.
no blending
Additive will smoothly blend HyperVoxels.
Additive on both objects
Negative will make the object push away portions of other
HyperVoxel items that it comes in contact with—sort of like an animated
boolean effect.
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Negative on object 1 and Additive on object 2
Effector is kind of a cross between Additive and Negative.
Effector on object 1 and Additive on object 2
A Blending Group is the group of HyperVoxel objects that you want
to interact with each other. You can select an existing group or create a
new one.
Show Particles
The Show Particles option will display a bounding sphere in
Left: Show Particles off. Right: Show Particles on
Use ParticleStorm Color
The HyperVoxels will use the color from ParticleStorm particles, if
The HyperVoxelsParticles Displacement plug-in lets you set the
HyperVoxels particle base color to that of the vertex color map, if one
Shading Tab: Surface Mode
The parameters on the Shading tab work just like their cousins on the
Surface Editor. (See Chapter 31 for more information.)
Shading Tab: Surface Mode
Self Shadows lets the HyperVoxel cast shadows on itself. (The
HyperVoxel will cast shadows on other objects in the normal way.) Full
Refraction forces rays to bounce each time a new refracting (i.e.,
transparent) surface is found. If this option is inactive, one refraction
bounce is computed, which is enough most of the time. Full Refraction
will, of course, increase render time, but will result in more sophisticated
You might try the (faster-rendering) corresponding bump textures on
the Shading tab without HyperTextures, if you don’t need the true
surface details. Remember this: “Don’t get hyper if bumping will do” or
“A bump in the night is not worth getting hyper over.”
Shading Tab:Volume Mode
The options on the Shading tab are different for Volume HyperVoxels,
which are gas- or cloud-type effects. Use the Color, Luminosity, Opacity,
and Density settings to change those parameters for the volumetric
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Shading Tab:Volume Mode
The Thickness setting, which defaults to 50%, lets you adjust the
general heaviness of the volume. Higher Smoothing values yield less of a
hard-edged look and volumes will appear more wispy.
Baking HyperVoxels
The baking feature subdivides HyperVoxels into a 3-D grid of
subvolumes (a space subdivision). This dramatically reduces the
necessary computations and allows preprocessing of the HyperVoxel
effect, including shadows, textures, and so on. The result is essentially a
stack of image maps.
Click the Options button to display the baking options. The size of
the “image map stack” is set on the Resolution pop-up menu. The first
two numbers define the size of the images and the third defines the
number of frames.
Enter the name of the file to save in the Filename field. The animation
codec (File Type) used when saving the volume data is very important.
By default it uses QuickTime uncompressed because this format
preserves the alpha channel. This is important because the alpha
channel encodes the volume opacity information. Many codecs don't
handle the alpha channel properly and the opacity information will be
compromised. (Note that you could edit the file externally in another
program or even create one from scratch.)
Baking options dialog
Click Bake Object to execute the baking computation. When
complete, you should notice that most of the normal settings will be
ghosted except for some basic ones like Color, Luminosity, and so on.
These can be adjusted to change the look of the baked object.
Volume Mode Advanced Sub-tab
The various items on the Render Quality pop-up menu determine the
level of detail HyperVoxels uses to render the volume. The default is
Medium and should be adequate for most situations. Near Clip is the
distance from the camera where the rendering starts. The default value
is normally fine. A lower value will render finer details, but take longer to
render. You might adjust this setting if the camera was inside a cloud. It
really depends on the scale of the HyperVoxel objects and the scale of
the details you want to see.
Volume Mode Advanced sub-tab
The Volumetric Shadows option creates shadows within the volume,
which add detail and realism. However, it can increase render time
significantly, especially when you are trying to simulate very dense
clouds, like volcanic smoke. The Texture shadows option yields a very
realistic shading of the hypertexture, but increases rendering time
significantly. If you disable this option, you will miss all of the
hypertexture shadow details.
Use the Shadow Quality pop-up menu to choose the render quality of
the shadows. The Shadow Strength sets the darkness of the shadows.
The Illumination pop-up menu determines how the HyperVoxels
volume is lighted. Self acts as if the light comes from the viewer. It can
be useful to see more details on the object. With Constant, the scattering
of light is constant, that is, the amount of light scattered at one point is
proportional to the amount of light received at that point.
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Rayleigh simulates a strong forward scattering of light within the
volume. Light scatters in the direction of the light relative to the viewer,
which means that illumination will be at its maximum when the light
faces the viewer. This is perfect for back-lit clouds, smoke, and so on.
Beer uses the pattern’s sample density amount as the illumination
value, dramatically reducing contrast between lighted areas. The setting
uses the physical model for scattering of light inside a gas, and is a good
setting for clouds. For a more “cartoony” look, try CelShade.
You can choose to have all lights affect the HyperVoxel with Use All
Lights, or choose one or two specific lights.
Try to avoid using these Light options, if you are ray tracing shadows.
Ray-traced shadows on volumetrics is incredibly computationally
intensive and will often result in unacceptable rendering times. A single
pixel in volumetrics requires 20 or more samples and a shadow is ray
traced for every sample.Try to fake lighting with Ambient Intensity
and surface Luminosity or use shadow map Spotlights.
Ambient Color lets you specify the ambient light color of the volume.
This setting works hand-in-hand with the Color setting on the Shader
tab. Ambient Color is similar to ambient light in Layout, except it applies
only to the selected HyperVoxel object. Basically, the shading process is
very similar to what happens with regular object surfaces.
Because of the way illumination is calculated inside volumetrics
objects, Ambient Intensity can be higher than 100% without
overexposing the image.
Shading Tab: Sprite Mode
The options on the Sprite mode Basic subtab are similar to the
options available for the Volume mode. This makes sense since the
Sprite mode is just a slice of a Volume mode HyperVoxel. Density on
sprites is a multiplier for both Opacity and Luminosity. It is essentially
the opposite of Dissolve.
Shading Tab: Sprite Mode
With the Number of Slices setting, you can “thicken up” the effect by
increasing the number of slices used for sprites from the default setting
of 1. This allows you to get something a little closer to the Volume mode
while still retaining the speed of the Sprite mode.
Left to Right: 1-slice sprite, 5-slice sprite, and Volume mode
You may choose to light the Sprite using all lights in your scene or up
to two specific lights.
On the Clips subtab, you can map an image directly onto a sprite
using the Add Clip button. Any image available to the scene may be
selected. Use the Image Editor to load an image not already available.
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Clips subtab
Clips are added to the HyperTexture. If you want to see only the clip,
set the Texture option to (none) on the HyperTexture tab.
Some options on the Alpha pop-up menu let you cut away parts of the
image you don’t want to use. If the image file includes an alpha channel,
choose Embedded to use the alpha channel. Use Luminosity to leave
brighter parts of the image. The Black mode will cut away black areas.
The Threshold level lets you increase the range for what is considered
The Rotation setting sets a rotation speed for your clips. This is
perfect for effects like billowing smoke and explosions. The higher the
setting, the faster the rotation. Positive values make the clip rotate
clockwise. Rotation always faces the camera.
If you do not want to use the color information in the image, uncheck
Use Color. Then, only the grayscale information will be used.
AntiAliasing will yield better-looking edges, but it significantly
increases render time and memory requirements.
When Solid is checked, the sprite is rendered as a solid object,
preventing the normal additive result of overlapping sprites.
Sprite Clip Frame Offset
If you use HyperVoxels with particles, you can use multiple clips. The
Frame Offset setting determines how you want to map an image
sequence to a given particle. Particle Age starts the sequence for a
particle at birth. Thus, the image will likely be different for particles at a
given frame. Uniform will use the layout time as the time in the
sequence. Thus, the image used is the same at each frame. When the
bottom of the list is reached, it starts again from the top. Random will
assign a random offset to each particle.
Frame Offset is an important control for sprite animations. It allows
you to decide how to attach images to particles. Particle Age is
probably the most useful. You can have literally hundreds of particles,
each mapped with distinct image sequences. For example, you could
have particles with independent water-splash image sequences, creating
a complex and rich visual effect.
HyperTexture Tab
The Texture pop-up menu determines what the texture will look like.
The textures in this menu correspond to the identically named
procedural textures, although not all of them will be available here. (See
Chapter 31 for more information.)
HyperTexture Tab
The big difference is when you are using a Volume (Object Type)
HyperVoxel. In this case, you can animate the texture effect.
Texture animation settings
In the Texture Effect pop-up menu you have several options.
Turbulence makes the texture move towards the viewer. It is like
animating a texture with the texture velocity parameter. Billowing
animates the texture by rotating outward along a velocity vector (à la
Dante's Peak). It is very good for explosions. Displace adds variations to
the texture. The effect is best seen when the texture is moving. Dissolve
gradually lowers density, making particles disintegrate.
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Velocity Translate moves the texture in the direction of the particle
velocity. Since each particle has a different velocity, this can result in a
cool and complex texture motion. Dissolve & Expand might be used on
explosions. It dissolves the effect as it expands.Some trial and error may
be necessary to get the desired look.
The Effect Speed setting is the duration of the looping cycle. The
value is equal to a percentage of Layout’s Default units, on the General
Options tab of the Preferences panel, per frame.
Animated textures can be previewed with VIPER. See Chapter 3 for
more information.
Gradient Input Parameters
Special Input Parameters will be available for texture gradients on
HyperVoxel parameters. Particle Age is simply the age of (Particle FX)
particles, in frames. Particle Speed is the particle speed in default
LightWave units (usually meters) per second. Use Time to change the
setting over a range of frames.
Gradient Input Parameters
The Particle Weight Input Parameter is used with regular objects that
use HyperVoxels and requires them to have a weight map. The object
must also have the HyperVoxelsParticles Displacement plug-in added.
Set Particle Weight should be checked and the weight map selected.
Object Properties panel
To use the Particle Weight Input Parameter:
1 Create an object in Modeler.
2 Create a weight map and add some random weighting to the points.
3 Load the object into Layout.
4 Choose Scene > Effects: Volumetrics and add the HyperVoxelsFilter.
5 Open the HyperVoxels panel and activate the object.
6 Open the object’s Properties panel, add the HyperVoxelsParticles
Displacement plug-in. Open its options, activate Set Particle Weight
and choose the weight map.
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7 On the HyperVoxels panel, add a texture to the Particle Size and set
the Layer Type to Gradient. Choose Particle Weight as the Input
Parameter. Create some keys.
The ball.Your results will vary depending on your weight map
For HyperTexture and Shading settings, gradient textures can use a
distance to particle (along a specific axis) input parameter. This is the
surface distance from the actual particle position along the selected axis.
Rendering Options
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hapter 16:
Rendering Options
The Render Options panel (Rendering > Render Options) contains all
of the settings that control your output. Generally speaking, it is here
that you set how realistic you want your images to look. They can range
from wireframe test versions to full ray-traced final images. You will also
specify the file format for your output, ranging from single frames to an
Render Options panel
The Render First Frame, Render Last Frame, Render Frame Step
fields determine the range of frames you want to render as well as the
frame increment. These are independent from the similar fields in the
main interface, which control the playback of scene and Preview
Animation creation.
By default, LightWave will render only one frame at a time, even if you
have set a range of frames to render. After each frame is rendered, you
can click the Continue button on the Render Status panel (or press the
ENTER key) to continue rendering the next frame in the range.
This would likely get tedious in a 900 frame animation, so selecting
Automatic Frame Advance will continuously render all of the frames in
the defined range without stopping after each frame.
When rendering, make sure you check the state of Automatic
Frame Advance before you grab some shut-eye!
By selecting Frame End Beep, you can instruct LightWave to have
your computer beep whenever a frame has been rendered or a wireframe
preview has been generated. This can be a handy feature to inform you
that a process is finished. The status of Frame End Beep is saved as a
default when you quit LightWave.
A watched pot does indeed eventually boil: when you activate the
Show Rendering in Progress option, you add a preview window to the
Render Status panel that displays the image as it is generated. The
number of colors used in the window is determined by your computer’s
display setting. Of course, this is only a representation of the final image,
which will be rendered in full color at the proper resolution.
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Using the Show Rendering in Progress option adds to rendering
times. As such, this feature is best used for test rendering.You should
deactivate it for the final rendering process.
If the Show Rendering in Progress option is not active, a similar
dialog will appear, sans preview image.
You can close the Render Status window by clicking the Abort button
or pressing the ESC key. You can also render the next frame (if you aren’t
using Auto Frame Advance) by clicking Continue or pressing ENTER.
Once LightWave finishes rendering a frame, the image is displayed
using the selected Render Display. The Image Viewer option is
described in Chapter 3.
The FP (floating point) version of the Image viewer maintains the
floating point image data. Use it if you want to save files from the
viewer and need the FP data. Note that it uses more memory than the
regular Image Viewer.
VIPER (see Chapter 3) can use information from the internal render
buffers to perform tasks like surface previews. When used in this
manner, you must activate the Enable VIPER option. However, when you
render you should disable this option, since it increases rendering time
and memory consumption.
To render the current frame—determined by the position of the frame
slider—choose Rendering > Render Current Frame or press F9. Select
Render Scene to render the entire scene using the defined range of
frames on the Render Options panel, or press F10. Make sure Auto
Frame Advance is set as desired!
Colors on your computer monitor will not match actual NTSC/PAL
colors. If possible, always test frames from LightWave on a video
monitor prior to final rendering.
You can also render only the selected object(s) at the current frame
by choosing Rendering > Render Selected Objects. Unselected objects
can still cast shadows or be seen in reflections on the rendered objects.
The Render Status window is a modal window.Thus, you may be
precluded from accessing options on other windows until it is closed.
Depending upon your needs, LightWave can produce different types
of output. Select a Rendering Mode to output images best suited for
your project.
Selecting Quickshade will render the objects with no smoothing,
textures, transparency settings, or object dissolve levels. It gives a better
representation of the camera’s view than Wireframe and can be handy
for checking out rough lighting and object placement. Because of its
speed, using Quickshade is a good idea for testing out CPU-intensive
features such as Motion Blur and Depth of Field (Camera Properties
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Quickshade mode
Selecting Wireframe will produce wireframe representations of all of
the objects in your scene. This will show all polygons of an object in the
color chosen for Surface Color on the Surface Editor’s Basic tab. The
advantage of Wireframe is that it renders quickly and is ideal for
showing the motions of objects in your scene without any of the detail.
Wireframe mode
To produce a solid wireframe animation, Use the Unshared Edges,
Surface Borders, and Other Edges options on the Object
Properties panel’s Edges tab, and render in Quickshade mode.
Realistic is the mode you will use most for final rendering. It renders
images with full photo-realistic quality. Plus, you can use all ray tracing
Realistic mode
Ray Tracing Options
When Realistic is selected as the Render Mode, you can also select
any of LightWave’s ray tracing functions. Ray tracing lets you render
realistic shadows, reflections, and refractions.
Ray Trace Shadows causes illuminated objects to cast ray-traced
shadows onto themselves or other objects.
Ray Trace Shadows
Lights must have Ray Trace selected as their Shadow Type (Light
Properties panel).
Judicious use of the Self Shadow, Cast Shadow, and Receive
Shadow options (Object Properties panel, Rendering tab) for
individual objects can speed up rendering times dramatically when ray
tracing shadows.
Choosing Ray Trace Reflection allows objects that contain surfaces
with some degree of surface reflectivity to reflect any other objects
around them.
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Ray Trace Reflections
The surfaces must have one of the Ray Tracing options selected as the
Reflection Options (Surface Editor’s Environment tab) in order to
ray trace reflections.
Ray Trace Refraction instructs LightWave to calculate refractions for
surfaces that have some degree of Transparency, and a Refraction
Index (Surface Editor, Basic tab) higher than 1. Any objects seen through
these surfaces will be distorted, such as a straw that appears bent in a
glass that is half full of water.
Ray Trace Refraction
Also see the discussion on the Unseen by Rays option in Chapter 9.
Ray Trace Transparency causes all transparent surfaces, not just
refracting surfaces, to be ray traced. This allows volumetric effects (e.g.,
HyperVoxels) to appear behind such surfaces without forcing refraction
ray tracing. Only use when necessary since this option will add to
rendering time.
Ray Trace Optimization
Ray tracing in its simplest form must determine which polygon each
ray hits. However, if all polygons were individually tested for every ray,
ray tracing would be impractical for all but the simplest scene. Some
sort of acceleration strategy is needed to make ray tracing practical.
LightWave's primary acceleration strategy is to compute a hierarchy
of bounding volumes before doing any ray tracing. This involves some
extra work initially, but it usually pays off when rays are actually traced.
For example, if 1,024 polygons are contained within a box and a
particular ray misses that box, there is no need to individually test
whether the ray hits any of those 1,024 polygons, and the program can
immediately try the next box. Moreover, if the ray does hit the box, it
might still miss a smaller box within the first box, allowing it to skip the
polygons in the smaller box, and so on. Obviously, such techniques can
result in huge timesavings.
There are many ways to construct bounding volume hierarchies,
some allowing much faster ray tracing than others. LightWave uses a
simple and fast method by default. The Extra Ray Trace Optimization
option activates a more sophisticated method, one that takes longer to
compute but generates "tighter" volumes that can be ray traced more
In scenes with heavy ray tracing, Extra Ray Trace Optimization can
significantly reduce rendering time. However, in scenes with lots of
geometry, but not much ray tracing, the extra preprocessing time might
exceed any rendering timesavings. If there is no ray tracing at all in the
scene, this option is ignored, even if active. However, it is not always
obvious whether ray tracing is present. For example, surface shaders,
volumetrics, pixel filters, and lens flares can sometimes trace rays even if
all of the ray tracing options are inactive. In such cases, the
preprocessing is still performed if Extra Ray Trace Optimization is
Here are some factors to consider in predicting whether Extra Ray
Trace Optimization will help or hurt total rendering time:
• Bounding volumes are recomputed whenever time changes, so if
motion blur is used, the preprocessing cost is multiplied by the
number of passes and the number of segments, as opposed to being
done only once per frame.
• The preprocessing cost depends roughly on the number of polygons
in each object, but heavy geometry slows down ray tracing too, so
that's not necessarily a reason to turn the option off.
• The benefits of using Extra Ray Trace Optimization depend on the
amount of ray tracing needed, which is often proportional to the
number of pixels that involve shadows, reflection, or refraction. As
such, the benefit increases as the resolution goes up. Conversely, the
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cost is still there even when rendering a 50% test image or a limited
region, so any experiments to determine whether or not to use the
option should be done at full image size.
Ray Recursion Limit
Ray Recursion is the maximum number of times you want light
reflected off reflective surfaces. In the real world, things can be reflected
an infinite number of times, like when you have two mirrors facing each
other—you see an infinite number of reflections. In the world of 3D
animation, you must set a limit for the number of reflections. The default
value is 16, but you can set this field from 0 to 24. Lower numbers will
yield faster rendering times.
If you do not have a lot of reflective surfaces in your scene, try using
low values (even a value of 1).
Multiple CPU Systems
The Multithreading setting is used for systems with multiple CPUs.
Normally, you should set this to the number of processors on your
system; however, there are times when you will get faster rendering with
this set at a greater number. You may want to test a few frames before
beginning your final render.
A potential for problems exists with some plug-ins that were not
designed with multithreading in mind. If problems occur, try using the
1 Thread setting).
When Multithreading is set to 1 and Show Rendering in Progress is
enabled, you can watch the image being built. If a higher setting is used,
the window will not update until the segment or frame is totally finished
Data Overlay
The Data Overlay option lets you place a descriptive title (of up to 20
characters) along with a frame reference in the lower portion of the
rendered image. This is useful when you generate large numbers of
animations for others to review and approve before final rendering. It
can serve to identify the scene being rendered, and the specific frames
you may wish to change. The Data Overlay pop-up menu setting
determines the format for the frame reference. Enter the text in the
Label field. If Data Overlay is not set to Off and the Label field is blank,
the scene name will be used automatically.
If you have Data Overlay active, when you save your scene you can
choose to have the scene name automatically set as the Label.
Data Overlay
Animations can be saved in two ways: as a single animation file (e.g.,
AVI) or as separate individual frame files. The two are not mutually
Output Files tab
To save an animation file:
1 Click the Save Animation option to activate it.
2 If an acceptable animation file is not already defined (see the display
to the right of the Animation File button), a file dialog will appear.
Choose a location and a filename for the animation. Be sure to add
the proper filename extension. (e.g., COOLANIM.AVI)
If you wish to change the defined animation file, click the Save
Animation button and define a new one.
3 Choose the type of animation you would like to save with the related
Type pop-up menu. The available options will vary depending on the
platform you are using.
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4 If the animation type has options, click the Options button to display
a dialog with the available options.
You can activate and deactivate Save Animation without losing the
defined animation file.
Special Animation Types
FilmExpand converts an animation from 24 fps (film speed) to 30 fps
(NTSC video speed) by rendering 30 frames for every 24 of the original
animation. The interpolation works best when you use Field Rendering
(Camera Properties panel). When you select Field Rendering, an options
panel appears where you can select the type of image to save and set the
field dominance.
4XStoryboard creates JPEG images of the rendered animation frames
at four times the camera resolution. You use this option when the
Resolution Multiplier (Camera Properties) is set to 25% for test
rendering of a scene.
Storyboard creates JPEG images that contain small versions of the
rendered animation frames. The images are a five by six grid of
thumbnails of the rendered frames. Every fifth frame is skipped.
QuickTime_Stereo is used with the AnaglyphStereoCompose filter,
discussed in Chapter 14, for creating animations in the red-blue glasses
QuickTime Virtual Reality Object Saver
QuickTimeVR_Object is a QuickTime Virtual RealityTM object saver,
which adds the ability to pan and tilt the camera inside the animation
QuickTime Virtual Reality Object Saver
What is a QuickTime VR Object?
QuickTime VR Objects are QuickTime movies that display an object
from multiple views. Special data embedded in an otherwise ordinary
movie tells QuickTime how to play through the frames of a movie as a
viewer moves the mouse across the image. When the viewer moves the
mouse down, the player skips a large number of frames to find one that
corresponds to a view of the same side of the object, from a lower
position. This can simulate rotating the object in space, if the views are
Once a scene with the appropriate camera and/or object movement is
created, open up the Render Options panel and select
QuickTimeVR_Object(.mov) under the Type pop-up menu. Click the
Options button to set the critical parameters for your animation.
Object Settings Tab
The image below shows the Object Settings tab.
Columns (Pan Frames) is the number of frames of horizontal views in
the animation. If your view is from 0 degrees at frame 0 to a full 360
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degrees at frame 20 (the same view as 0°), then you will have 20 columns
(frames 000 to 019). In a typical movie, the row angle will step up after
this many frames.
The Start Pan and End Pan values set the angle range of the
horizontal views.
Flip Horizontal Control reverses the object's direction of rotation
with regard to horizontal mouse movement. In other words, if you drag
the object left and it turns to the right, you need to change this setting
(or reverse your entire animation!).
Rows (Tilt Frames) is the number of frames of vertical views in the
animation. In a QTVR Object Movie, the animation moves through all the
pan frames in a row before moving to the next tilt frame, and does all the
pan views again with that tilt.
If there are 20 pan frames (000 to 019, as above), the tilt angle will
change every 20 frames, so sequential tilt values will be at frames 000,
020, 040, 060, etc. This means that your entire animation must be (tilt
frames)*(pan frames) long.
The default Columns and Rows settings (20 x 20 = 400 frames) are
more than enough for most uses and you may be able to use lower
values to reduce the size of the file.
The Start Tilt and End Tilt values set the angle range of the vertical
The Start and End settings may not seem to change simple viewing of
the objects, but may be critical if the object is embedded in a larger
QTVR world.
Flip Vertical Control reverses the direction of rotation of the object
with regard to vertical mouse movement. If you drag the object up, and
it rotates down, you need to change this setting.
Animation Settings Tab
This tab sets some advanced QTVR options.
Frames Per View sets the animation loop size that will run from each
view. If this value is greater than one, then your animation should hold
each pan view for this many frames, as the loop happens. This also
means that your animation length must be multiplied by this number.
You should not alter the pan or tilt frame counts; QTVR will handle that.
The QTVR object format features an alternate state that can be
displayed based on some user input, for example, when the user clicks
the mouse. The View States value supports this alternate state, but will
also multiply your animation frame count. These extra frames take the
form of an entire identical animation of the object in an alternate state,
appended onto the first. Currently, the QuickTime player appears to
support only two usable states, not clicked and clicked. In theory, higher
values could be used.
The Compression Options button will invoke the standard QuickTime
Compressor selection dialog. The choices are many and the differences
subtle. The only relevant warning for QTVR is that you should set the
compression to use keyframes at every frame, since these movies are
not played in a linear fashion.
To set up a basic QTVR scene:
1 Add three null objects to an empty scene, named PAN, TILT, and
2 Parent Tilt to Pan and parent the camera and light to Tilt.
3 Set the camera's position to 0m, 0m, -2m.
4 Unselect the X and Y motion channels, as well as all the rotation
channels. Moving the camera on Z will determine its distance from
the actual object—necessary for proper framing. All other camera
motion is done with the Pan and Tilt nulls.
5 Parent Pan to Target, for future convenience.
At this point, you should decide how many rows, columns, view
states, and animation loop frames you want. Here, we will use the
It is best to start on the innermost loop first. Since we're using
defaults, with no extra animation loop frames (Frames Per View is 1),
the inner loop is the pan motion.
6 Create a keyframe for the Pan object at frame 20, with the Heading
at -360 degrees.
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7 In the Graph Editor, select both keys and set their Incoming Curve,
Pre Behavior and Post Behavior to Linear. This should give a
constant heading rotation of one cycle every twenty frames.
If we had chosen to use only one Tilt Frame, our work would be done.
We chose, however, to create twenty Tilt Frames, ranging over 180
degrees. This means that each tilt frame should increase enough that
the last row is at -90 degrees.
If we simply used, 180 degrees/20 or 9 degrees, the Tilt's pitch would
reach -90 degrees at precisely 400, the first frame after our render!
Using 180 degrees/19 = 9.47 degrees will get the tilt to -90 degrees at
the end of the 19th row, so our animation will include a pan from
directly below as well as directly above. Since there are 20 Pan
frames, we must hold each tilt angle for that many frames.
In short, our motion curve should look more like stairsteps than the
perfect line of the Pan Heading curve. To be more specific, Tilt's Pitch
Angle curve should be stairs of a height of 9.47 degrees, and a width
of 20 frames, going from 90 to -90 degrees. Fortunately for us, this is
easily achieved.
8 In the Graph Editor, set the key at frame 0 in Tilt's Pitch channel to a
value of 90 degrees and create a key at frame 20, with a value of 80.53
degrees (90-9.47). Set the Incoming Curve to Stepped, and the Post
Behavior to Offset Repeat. The camera motion should now be
9 You can save the scene as a basic QTVR template.
In order to create an interesting QTVR Object, you need something to
render. If you load an object that is too large or too small you can move
the camera along the Z axis (use the Local Coordinate System).
If the object is off-center, it should be moved. The object should fit in
the frame of all the views, so it is important to check the ends and
middle of the animation, but only set the Z keyframe position at frame 0.
Try loading the cow object and follow the preceding steps to create
your own QTVR animation.
There are many ways to set up a LightWave scene to render a QTVR
Object Movie.The above procedure is only one method of many.
Saving Individual Frame Files
You can also save each frame as an individual file.
To save each frame as an individual file when rendering:
1 Activate the Save RGB or Save Alpha option.
2 Choose a location and a base filename (described below) in the file
dialog that appears when you click the RGB Files or Alpha Files
button. Using different names for RGB and alpha files is encouraged
to avoid overwriting—no, let’s make that a rule!
3 Choose the file format you would like to use with the related Type
pop-up menu.
See the Appendix for information on image types.
Using 32-bit RGB Formats
When a 32-bit RGB image format is selected, 8-bit alpha image data is
automatically embedded in the same image file along with the 24-bit RGB
data. Alpha channels are useful for creating masks to key an animation
into another animation or to use with a video switcher to key the
animation over live video.
Using 32-bit RGB image formats can cause unexpected results, like
some or all of the image not appearing on surfaces when rendered, due
to the alpha channel masking—the alpha channel will not be taken into
account in OpenGL. (Of course, you can always disable the alpha
channel in the Image Editor.)
Selecting a Filename Format
When you save an RGB or alpha image, LightWave will append a
numbered extension to the “base name,” based upon the frame rendered.
The filenaming convention is determined by the Output Filename
Format pop-up menu setting. “Name” will be replaced with the base
L I G H T WAV E 3 D 7
name. The number one with the leading zeros (e.g., 0001) indicates the
number of digits used for the numerical sequence. The standard PC file
extension will replace “.xxx”.
For example, with Name001, frame 34 of an animation using the base
name EXPLODE would save out as EXPLODE034. Using Name001.xxx,
EXPLODE as the base name, and a Targa file format, the 56th frame would
save an image named EXPLODE056.TGA.
The .xxx formats are recommended for general use, since most
applications require that you use the proper filename extension.
A filename example appears to the right of the save buttons. The last
used Output Filename Format is saved as the default for the next time
you start LightWave.
If the images may be used on a platform that supports only “8+3”
filenames, make sure to keep your base names to a maximum of four
or five characters (depending on whether you select a Name001 or
Name0001 Output Filename Format).
Fader Alpha
If you plan to use an alpha channel generated by LightWave along
with an external video fader or linear keyer, or a different compositing
program, you may need to activate Fader Alpha Mode. Certain switchers
can use an alpha image as a fade control. When you select this mode,
LightWave computes the saved RGB images and alpha images a bit
differently. Transparent items in an RGB image render in a more
intensified manner, with rough, aliased edges. Lens flares appear
overblown. In alpha images, however, the transparency levels render
properly so that the appropriate transparency levels are used when you
combine the RGB images with the alpha channel.
Do not use this mode if you plan to digitally composite images in
LightWave or another digital compositing package that allows for
additive compositing.
With the Serial Port Recording option active, you can instruct
LightWave to send record commands to a single-frame controller,
enabling it to control a VTR deck to record frames. These record
commands are sent after each frame is rendered.
The name of your serial port needs to be entered into the Serial Port
Name field. On a PC, for example, you may use COM1: or COM2:. The
name of your serial port is saved as a default when you quit LightWave.
Enter the appropriate commands into the Setup Command 1, Setup
Command 2, and Frame Record Command fields. (These vary
depending on the recording equipment’s manufacturer: see its
documentation for instructions and proper commands to use.) There are
buttons to send the setup commands manually.
The Frame Record Command delays the playback of frames enough
to give the VTR time to rewind and cue up for a single frame edit. Frame
Record Delay, if needed, gives a deck enough time to pre-roll to the
selected edit point before a frame is laid down. You can also add some
additional time for the first frame.
Many single frame control devices need to know a starting position
value (this is usually a time code number). To give a starting value, press
the S key. The Starting Position requester will appear where you can
input a value for the starting position. (Note: a Starting Position applies
only when your Frame Record Command uses the # control code.)
To save wear and tear on your VTR, first render all of the frames to
your hard drive. Then set up a new scene using the resulting image
sequence as a Background Image (Effects panel, Compositing tab).
Render the new scene and record the images.
Particle FX
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hapter 17:
Particle FX
With LightWave’s integrated particle system, Particle FX, you can
create scintillating effects like sparks, explosions, liquids, smoke, and
much more. Because the system is integrated, there is no need for a
secondary viewing interface or duplication of existing items like
cameras. Everything is handled within the normal Layout interface,
reducing the learning curve tremendously.
Particle FX features several basic controllers: Emitters, Wind,
Collision, and Gravity. You can add one or more of these controllers to
your scene. Then, each can be set with its own parameter settings to
create just the effect you are looking for.
“Partigons” are a special object type for particles. Partigons provide a
means for particle systems (like Particle FX) to automatically generate
single-point polygons as needed. You can apply surface attributes to
single-point polygons and, thus, make them visible when they render.
The Particle FX Browser panel is where you add the various
controllers. From here, you can also open the property panels for the
controllers that you add. To open this panel, choose Scene >
ParticleFX Browser panel
C H A P T E R S E V E N T E E N : PA R T I C L E F X
Keep this non-modal panel out while you use particles; it will save you
a lot of time adding controllers and changing properties.
To add a Particle FX controller:
From the Add pop-up menu, choose the controller you wish to add.
Generally, the first controller you will add is an Emitter.
Adding a controller
When you add a controller from the Particle FX Browser, what really
happens is an object, usually a null object, is added to the scene.Then, a
Particle FX custom object plug-in is added (e.g., FX_Emitter, FX_Wind,
etc.). Just check out the Geometry tab of the Object Properties panel.
To delete a Particle FX controller:
Select and clear, just as you would any other Layout item (Items >
Clear > Clear Selected Item).
To open a controller’s property panel:
1 Choose the controller from the Item pop-up menu.
2 Click the Property button.
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You can also display the property panel for the currently selected
controller by choosing Scene > FX_Property.
The Start Button
Some effects require a “pre-calculation” before they can be previewed
in your animations. These are instances where you have particles
interacting or have post-deformed geometry. By activating the Start
button, Particle FX will begin solving any simulations that are currently
setup in the scene. The progress of the simulation is displayed in the
output pane located at the bottom of the Particle FX Browser. A shortcut
to this is on Layout’s toolbar at Scene > FX_Start.
Many scenes don’t need this step, but clicking Start won’t do any
harm if you are unsure.
The Save Button
Clicking the Save button saves all emitter motions, using individual
files, to your PFX directory (defined on the Option dialog). These can be
loaded using the Load Motion option on the Emitter panel’s File tab.
Options Dialog
The Options dialog has some options that affect the manner in which
LightWave computes particles.
Options button
Options panel
The Background Job option activates multithreading. The update by
Background Job option will update Layout when background tasks are
complete. In most cases, you should leave these options in their default
state of off.
C H A P T E R S E V E N T E E N : PA R T I C L E F X
The Resolution setting adjusts the parameter used when performing
the physics simulations. The smaller the Resolution setting is, the more
accurate the simulation will be. However, this also has a direct effect on
the rendering times.
In this dialog you can also set the PFX Directory. This is the default
directory used when saving controller settings.
Real-time Display
Just click the Play button in Layout and as you tweak the various
controller parameters, you get real-time updates of how your changes
affect the particles.
Scenes with particles interacting or with post-deformed geometry
require you to click the Start button first to pre-compute some
motions. Clicking Start won’t do any harm if you are unsure.
You can control how emitters are updated using the UpdateMode
pop-up menu.
UpdateMode pop-up menu on PFX Options panel
Auto updates all emitters as parameters are modified. Use this for
fast systems or in low-particle count simulations.
If you have multiple emitters and are using the Select update, then
only the emitter showing in the Select pop-up menu, if any, will be
Adaptive dynamically scales the number of visible particles based on
your CPU performance. This setting attempts to keep interactive
performance at a useful level.
User turns off particle updating completely. You may force an update
by either clicking the Start button on the Particle FX Browser, or the
update button on the File tab of the Emitter controller panel. This setting
is useful in situations with heavy particle counts.
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All of the individual controller panels sport save buttons that let you
save the controller’s settings to a file. If you wish to add a new controller
using the same settings, choose Add > Load Item on the Particle FX
Browser panel. If you wish to use those settings on an existing controller,
use the load button on that controller’s panel.
Controllers also have copy and paste buttons, which let you copy
settings between like-kind controllers.
When you work with multiple controllers, you may want to isolate
specific groups. That is, perhaps you want Emitter (1) affected by Wind
(1), but you want Emitter (2) to be affected only by Wind (2). This is
easily accomplished by using groups.
The <default> group is a special global group that disregards
independent groupings. Thus, if an emitter is set to a defined group (e.g.,
new_group), a wind controller set to <default> will still affect it.
To create a group:
Choose <new_group> from the Group pop-up menu on the Browser
panel or the individual controller panels. A dialog will appear that asks
you to input a group name.
Make Group dialog
When you add a new controller, it uses the group selected on the
Browser panel Group pop-up menu.
Once you add a new group, it appears in the Group pop-up menu,
where you can select it, as desired, to associate groups of controllers.
Groups appear on Group button. Emitter properties panel shown.
C H A P T E R S E V E N T E E N : PA R T I C L E F X
The Group feature works in conjunction with Motion Designer! Thus,
if you add an emitter, a wind controller, and a soft body (Motion
Designer) element to the same group, they are all affected by the wind!
You can use the Group feature to disable a controller by simply setting
it to a group not associated with an emitter.
The Emitter controller is the main controller and the source for
particles. The settings for this controller determine the make up of the
particles, factors like how many particles are created, how they move
initially, how long they last, and so on.
If you have multiple emitters, you can select a specific emitter from
the Current Item pop-up menu at the top of the panel.
Emitter Types
On the Add menu for the Particle FX Browser panel, there are two
emitter selections: HVEmitter and PolygonEmitter. Either type
automatically uses the FX_Emitter custom object plug-in to create the
particles. The difference between the two selections is the type of object
that each uses in Layout, which affects how they render.
HVEmitters use null objects that are invisible by themselves. To
render particles from HVEmitters, you must add the HyperVoxels
volumetric plug-in on the Volumetrics tab of the Effects panel. Then, on
the HyperVoxels panel, activate the HVEmitter object. If you use
gradients with HyperVoxels parameters, special particle-related Input
Parameters will be available.
PolygonEmitters, on the other hand, use partigon objects—special
objects designed specifically for use by particle systems. Essentially,
they generate single-point polygons on the fly. Single-point polygons
have a surface and you can use normal surfacing techniques. The
surface will even be visible in shaded OpenGL viewports.
You can achieve many effects, like fireworks and sparks, by using
PolygonEmitters alone (i.e., without HyperVoxels). You can save
significant rendering time compared to HVEmitters, which require
HyperVoxels for rendering.
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PolygonEmitters can use HyperVoxels just like an HVEmitter can. As
such, you may want to use PolygonEmitters exclusively to avoid
confusion. If you do not wish to see the particles (e.g., when
HyperVoxels are transparent), just deactivate the object on the Scene
Editor.This will not affect the rendering of the hypervoxels.
Generator Tab
On the Generator tab, you set parameters relating to the creation of
the particles.
Generator tab of Emitter Properties
The Birth rate works in conjunction with the Generate by setting.
Essentially, it determines how many particles are born per the Generate
by setting. The texture T option generates particles where the texture
Using Brick texture
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Generate by has several possible settings. With the frame and sec
options, every new frame or second, the number of particles set as the
Birth rate are created.
When Generate by is set to speed, it creates the particles based on
the speed of the emitter, caused by moving it. You need to keyframe
some movement for the emitter to use this setting. The faster the
movement, the faster the particles are created. The effect is sort of like
salt coming out of a salt shaker—the harder you shake it, the more salt
comes out.
When Generate by is set to collision event, the particles are created
when a collision event occurs. You need to use a collision controller
whose Mode is set to event.
When Generate by is set to wind, particles are created if the wind
speed exceeds the threshold1 setting (Motion tab). (Threshold2 has no
impact here.) The force of the wind has no effect on the birth rate. The
windspeed setting is similar, but the birth rate is affected by the wind
force. The greater the wind force, the greater the number of particles
The Nozzle setting determines the shape of the emitting source. With
box, particles are emitted from inside a box. With sphere, particles are
emitted from inside a sphere. With cone, particles are emitted from
inside a cone.
You can use geometry as an emitter, by adding the FX_Emitter
custom object to any loaded object. This will allow you to use the
Object-vertices, Object-normal, Object-surface, and Object-line nozzle
types. When you use these nozzles, you can offset the center position by
changing the Center Position values on the Misc tab.
Left: Object-vertices. Right: Object-normal
When you use the parent-emitter, parent-emitter(end), parentcollision, and child-pivots nozzle types, they use one controller’s
relationship to another in order to create multiple or cascading effects.
To use parent-emitter, you need to create two emitters and parent
one to the other. Then, set the child’s Nozzle to parent-emitter. The
parent’s particles will spawn particles, essentially becoming emitters
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themselves. Parent-emitter(end) is similar, but emits the particles after
the parent’s particles die—perfect for exploding fireworks. Parentcollision doesn’t emit the particles until the parent particle has a
collision. (Make sure you click Start to compute the motion.)
Firework-like effects can be created using the parent-emitter nozzle type.
Child-pivots aligns the emitter’s particles with the pivot point of child
objects (i.e., objects parented to the emitter). The child objects must
have the FX_Link motion modifier added. This allows you to use particle
collision detection to move (e.g., break up) a group of objects.
Usually, you use the object modes in conjunction with an Explosion
value (Motion tab).
The Size effect setting determines how keyframing a Size change for
the emitter affects the particles.
The Key effect option causes particles to be created when a keyframe
is encountered. The key setting differs from key-env, in that key-env
creates them in a smoothed non-linear fashion. Set to none to turn this
option off.
The XYZ Generator size fields set the default size of the emitter.
Particle limit sets an overall limit for the number of particles that are
The Start frame field is normally an informational field that indicates
the frame the particles will start being born. By default, this is the first
frame setting in Layout. You can manually change this starting frame by
checking the Fixed option and entering the desired frame in the Start
frame field.
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Particle Tab
On the Particle tab, you set parameters that describe the created
Emitter Particle tab
Particle weight sets an arbitrary weighting value that will influence
how properties like gravity affect the particles.
The plus(+) and minus(-) fields randomize the preceding field by
adding or subtracting a value between 0 and the number entered. So if
Particle weight was 1 and its randomize value was .1, the Particle
weights would range from .9 to 1.1.
Particle size affects the outer boundary used for collision detection.
It can also be used by volumetric plug-ins like HyperVoxels.
Particle resistance adds an air resistance effect. Particles will move
slower as you increase this value.
Life time (frame) sets the life of the particles in frames. Once a
particle is born, it lasts only this long.
If you activate Fixed Random, random calculations are constant, so
they yield more predictable results.
By activating the Show Id option, each particle will display a number
in the Layout viewport indicating the index number of the particle.
The Show Size option draws a wireframe sphere around each particle
representing the particle’s current size.
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Motion Tab
On the Motion tab, you set how the particles are placed into motion.
Emitter Motion tab
Use the Velocity setting to scale the overall speed of the particles. A
setting of 100% is normal. Lower values will slow down your particles
and higher values will speed them up.
Honeycomb texture applied to velocity
The XYZ Vector settings determine the initial direction and speed of
the particle motion. Other factors, like gravity, wind, and so on, will
impact the actual result, however. You may override the Vector settings
and point the particles to an object in the scene by selecting it in the
Target pop-up menu.
If you want the Vector settings to relate to World coordinates instead
of the emitter’s local coordinates, activate the World coordinates option.
The Explosion setting makes the particles move out from the center
of the nozzle with an initial velocity equal to the value that you set.
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Vibration(m/s) randomizes the initial trajectory of each particle. You
can achieve a fountain-like effect by reducing the size of your nozzle
(e.g., XYZ=.1), adding some vector speed and increasing the Vibration
Vibration(min) sets a minimum vibration amount.
A fountain of particles
The threshold1 and threshold2 values set up a vibration effect range.
If a particle’s initial speed is under the threshold1 value, no vibration
will occur. If it exceeds the threshold2 value, the vibration is applied.
The vibration is phased in for speeds between threshold1 and
threshold2. Use this for effects like water coming from a garden hose,
where the water tends to fan out as more water comes out.
Threshold1 is also used when particles are generated by wind. When
the wind speed exceeds the threshold1 value, particles are generated.
Etc Tab
On the Etc tab, you set miscellaneous parameters for the emitter.
Emitter Etc tab
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In most cases, if you want gravity, you set the Gravity Y value to
something like -1. However, you can set up inverse gravity by using
positive values, and you can apply gravity on other axes.
The Center Position XYZ values set the center for particle effects like
Explosion (Motion tab). Sometimes you may not want the particles
exploding from the center of the emitter.
The Position blur value randomizes the initial particle position by
using velocity. If you set this option to 0%, the particles are created side
by side.
Use the Parent motion setting to control how much of the emitter’s
motion is applied to the particles. If it is set to 0, the particles are
emitted the same no matter how the emitter may be moving.
The three emitters are moving up in unison. Note how the 100% Parent motion particles also move up.
Setting the Max Speed (m/s) field regulates the top speed of the a
The Loop Frame setting is used to repeat the particle generation and
motion in the set number of frames. For example, if you enter a Loop
Frame value of 30 frames, in a two second animation 2 particles will be
generated with the same birth location and motion.
Interaction Tab
The settings on this tab affect the way particles interact with other
particles from both the same and other emitters of the group.
Emitter Interaction tab
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The Self Interaction drop-list determines how particles react to other
particles of the same emitter. The Interaction drop-list determines how
particles react to other particles from different emitters (within the same
group). Options include having colliding particles push emitters, bounce
off, drag, and crowd around each other.
The Force setting adjusts the strength of the interaction effect. Adjust
the Viscosity setting to change the amount of resistance particles receive
when they interact with each other. This setting is useful when creating
different types of liquid effects.
Turning on and off the interaction effects is done by activating and
deactivating the Interaction Detect option.
File Tab
The File Tab contains options for handling the clipboard and file
Emitter File tab
You can save the particle motion of an emitter using the save motion
button. The motion will take into account wind, gravity, and other
options. It effectively freezes the particle motion; the particles will move
just as they did when the motion was saved. Changing the emitter
settings, clearing/adding wind and gravity controllers, and so on, all will
have no impact.
Save motion is a great time-saver for scenes that will be networkrendered or scenes that require heavy calculations for collisions. Once
you’ve saved the motion, it doesn't need to be calculated again.
To use this feature, first, get your particles moving the way you want.
Then, make sure your scene plays back without any pauses—this means
that Particle FX has finished its calculations. Now, you can click the save
motion button to save out the .PFX file. (If you look at the emitter’s
Object Properties panel, you’ll see the .PFX file referenced in the FX
emitter custom object entry.) Now save the scene and you're done.
Remember, you can even clear wind, collision, and gravity controllers
without affecting particle motion.
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When this feature is active, the save motion button will be ghosted.
To clear a loaded motion, click clear motion. You can also load the
motion file into another emitter using load motion.
The playback mode works with the motion and determines how it
will playback. The Normal mode indicates that it will playback normally,
starting at frame zero. With Key the motion will be started every time a
keyframe is encountered for the emitter. Parent-Key is similar, but uses
the parent item’s keyframes.
Parent Particles and Parent Particles (end) work like the identically
named Nozzle options. Of course, the particles come from the motion
file instead of emitter settings. Make sure that the parent’s Particle size
is set greater than 0.
Parent Recoded CP uses the Recode CP option on the Collision
controller, which must be the parent of the emitter. Playback will occur
when collisions are detected. Use this for effects like splashes in water
from rain drops, where one emitter provides the rain and another
emitter (with this option set) creates the splashes from the detected
collisions with a ground plane.
The copy and paste clipboard buttons allow you to copy the settings
of a controller and apply them to another. Use the save and load buttons
to add custom saved Particle FX controllers to your scene.
Using an Object as an Emitter
You can use a LightWave object as an emitter by adding FX_Emitter as
a Custom Object plug-in on the Object Properties panel, Geometry tab.
You must also use one of the object Nozzle settings discussed below
under Emitter Controller.
The custom object bounding box will continue to appear.
The Wind controller lets you add wind to blow your particles around.
The Wind controller appears in a Layout viewport as a cloud of wind
indicators—a bunch of short lines with pivot point dots at one end. The
the length of the lines indicates the force of the wind: the longer the line,
the more powerful the wind. The angle of the line indicates the direction
of the wind at the line’s location.
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Wind object
Mode Tab
On the Mode tab, you set the basic characteristics of the Wind
Wind Mode tab
The Wind mode setting determines the type of wind and how it
changes over time. You can get a feel for what the setting does by
looking at the wind indicators. There are a few special indicators,
however. If you select Turbulence, you can set the size of the effect and
direction using the turbulence settings on the Vector tab. If you select
Direction as the Wind mode, you can use a texture map (Texture button
on Vector tab) to control the wind power and turbulence. Animate the
texture to animate the wind. If you select rotation(y) or doughnut, use
the Spiral setting at the bottom of the panel to adjust the intensity of the
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Left: rotation(y). Right: doughnut
The Blend mode sets how the wind blends with other overlapping
winds. Add is additive. Max means the highest wind controls. With
overwrite, the wind is replaced with itself. Heavy-wind disregards
particle weight.
If winds have different Blend mode settings, obviously only one can
control the blend. The priority order from highest to lowest is:
overwrite, max, add, and heavy-wind. So, if Wind1 is set to add and
Wind2 is set to max, the overlapping area will use max blend because it
has the highest priority.
The Size effect setting determines how scaling the Wind controller in
Layout affects the wind. Setting it to Wind scales the wind power. Setting
it to Region scales the overall size of the effect area.
The Falloff mode setting determines how the wind’s effect tapers off
at its region borders, if at all. Linear means the wind is the same
throughout its borders. The Inverse Distance setting tapers off the
wind’s power from its center. The Distance setting makes the wind falloff
towards its center. OFF means no falloff. With this setting, the particles
do not need to be within a controller region to be affected.
The Radius setting sets the radius of the controller region.
Use the Power setting to scale the overall force of the wind.
The Spiral Amount setting is used for the rotation(y) or doughnut
Wind modes.
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The Spiral Thickness setting controls the thickness of the doughnut
Spiral Thickness. Left: 10%. Middle: 50%. Right: 100%
Vector Tab
On the Vector tab, you set the direction and force characteristics of
the wind controller.
Wind Vector tab
The Wind XYZ settings determine the basic direction and force of
your wind.
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If you are using the Direction, Rotation, Cylinder-Explosion, or
Hemisphere Wind mode, use the envelope E button to animate the wind
direction and force. To remove the envelope, SHIFT+ click the E button.
If you are using the Direction Wind mode, use the texture T button to
add a 3D texture that affects wind direction and force. Note that the
texture is added to the base Wind XYZ settings. To remove the texture,
SHIFT + click the T button.
Textures are three-dimensional.Thus, adding a texture adds it to all
channels. Also, for envelopes, make sure you have the correct channel
in the channel bin.
If you are using the Turbulence Wind mode, the Turbulence Vector
sets the direction and power of wind turbulence. Turbulence size sets
the wavelength of the turbulence.
Add a Gravity controller to add gravity-like effects to your particle
Gravity Controller
Size effect determines how scaling the Gravity controller in Layout
affects the gravity. The Gravity option scales the gravity effect. Region
scales the overall size of the effect area.
The Direction Gravity mode applies the gravity in a single direction
using the Gravity XYZ values. The Point mode causes the center of the
Gravity controller to attract/repel the particles. Negative values attract
and positive values repel.
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Point mode with Power = -100. Note how particles continue past center
The 2Pole Gravity mode creates two attraction points, one meter on
either side of the center. It can create magnetic or electric field effects.
The Falloff mode setting determines how the gravity’s effect tapers
off at its region borders. Linear means the effect is linear throughout the
controller’s region. The Inverse distance setting uses a one divided by
the radius of the controller region to taper off the gravity’s power from
the center of the region. Off means no falloff. With this setting, the
particles do not need to be within a controller region to be affected.
The Radius setting sets the radius of the controller region.
The Power setting scales the overall force of the gravity.
The Gravity XYZ settings determine the direction and force of your
gravity when Gravity mode is set to Direction. Normally, you’ll want to
set Y to something like -1.
The Collision controller lets you add an element for the particles to
bump into.
Collision Controller
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The Type setting controls the shape of the collision object. The
Sphere, Box, and Plane options can be used for basic primitive collision
shapes. The object, object-subdiv, and object-advanced settings are
used when you use a LightWave object for collisions, which is discussed
later. Use the Infinite setting for an infinite-sized collision area. This is
particularly useful with the Scatter and Attract modes. (Note that the
Bound and Stick modes will continue to respect the Radius/Level
Use the Recode CP option to set up an event-like trigger to be read by
a child emitter’s Playback Mode, discussed earlier. As particles cross the
collision plane created by the collision item, this event triggers the
playback of a saved motion.
The InSide option causes the collision to occur inside the collision
Using InSide
The Noshift option disables any offset the particles may generate in
the collision process. This ensures that the particles will collide directly
on the collision surface.
By activating the Change option, particles passing through the
collision item can switch to a different group, to be affected by a
different controller. The New Group defines which group the particles
will switch to.
The Mode setting determines what happens when a collision occurs.
The Bound option causes the collision to change the direction and
velocity of the particles. With Stick, the particles simply adhere to the
surface. Erase kills the particle upon contact. The event mode is used
when the emitter has its Generate by option set to collision event: it
creates particles at the time of collision. In Scatter mode, the collisions
occur within the interior of the collision object and not at its surface.
This causes the particles to scatter. The Attract mode causes the
particles to be attracted to the center of the collision object.
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Left to right: Bound, Stick, Diffuse and Target modes
The Radius/Level setting sets the size of the collision object based on
this radius. If Type is set to Plane, this setting controls the level of the
plane. If you are using a LightWave object, this setting controls the
distance from the surface where the collision occurs.
Left: Radius = .3. Right: Radius = 0
The Bound/Bind power setting controls how particles bound off of
the surface, when Mode is set to Bound. The Stick mode controls the
amount of attachment the particles have.
Bound/Bind power using Bound mode. Left: 0%. Right: 200%
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Bound/Bind power using Stick mode. Left: 75%. Right: 125%
Friction power adds friction to the collision surface when you use the
Stick mode, which slows the momentum of particles sliding over the
Friction power. Left: 0. Right: 2
Fix power causes the particles to stick to the surface and not slide
Left: Fix power = 0. Right: Fix power = .1
Increasing the Roughness setting roughens up the collision surface.
Roughness changes particle motion after collisions, but it also depends
on the Mode setting.
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Using Bounding mode. Left: Roughness = 0%. Right: Roughness = 200%
If you reduce the Probability setting below 100%, you reduce the
chance of a particle being treated as having collided with the collision
Left: Probability = 100%. Right: Probability = 10%
Using an Object for Collisions
You can use a LightWave object as a Collision object by adding
FX_Collision as a Custom Object plug-in on the Object Properties panel,
Geometry tab. You must set the Type to object on the object’s Collision
controller panel. If you use a SubPatch object, you set the Type to
object-subdiv to use the subdivided mesh instead of the base polygonal
object. Use the object-advanced type to get even more accurate collision
Particle FX features a few item motion modifiers that let Layout items
move along with or instead of particles. You add these plug-ins to a
Layout item by clicking the Add Modifier button on the item’s Motion
Options panel. After you add the modifiers, you can open an options
panel by clicking the modifier’s name in the list.
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Generally, these modifiers are applied to objects, but they will also
work on cameras, lights, bones, and so on.
The FX_Link motion modifier links the motion of the particles with an
object. To use FX_Link, just add the modifier on the item’s Motion
Options panel (IK and Modifiers tab)
FX_Link panel
Select the emitter on the Particles pop-up menu. The Node setting is
the specific particle, and 0 is the first emitted. By activating the Show Id
option in the emitter’s particle tab, you can determine exactly which
particle you want to use.
The Rotation drop-list determines which rotation method the particle
will have when emitted. The default value, Non, has no rotation added.
The Random option gives the item a random starting rotation. Align to
Path(h) and Align to Path(hp) will rotate the item according to the
particle’s path.
Time shift moves the start of the item’s sizing/rotation motion
according to the settings in the drop-list. The Non value doesn’t alter the
timing of the item’s motion, it plays as it was originally keyframed. The
Start Shift and End Shift options move the item’s motion to the
beginning or end of the particle’s life. The Start Adjust (distance) and
End Adjust (distance) settings will alter the frame rate of the motion
according to the value in the Distance/Sec field. As the particle travels a
certain distance, a percentage of the motion is animated.
The Pre and Post Behavior settings indicate what the item’s
rotation/scaling state will be when the motion isn’t being animated. This
represents the time before the particle is born and after it dies.
The Stay behavior will hold the first frame of the motion for the Pre
Behavior and the last frame with the Post Behavior. The Original setting
returns the object to its original state in either the beginning or ending of
the animation. The Size Dissolve setting will dissolve the item in either
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the beginning or ending of the particles life. So in the Pre Behavior,
while the particle is waiting to be generated, it’s not visible. Then for the
Post Behavior, after the particle dies, it becomes invisible.
Size effect applies the particle size to the object. The object’s normal
layout size becomes a factor where 0 = 0% and 1 = 100%. You can
animate an overall size of particles using normal layout sizing functions.
Make sure your particles have some Particle Size on the Particle tab of
the Emitter property panel. By default, Particle Size is 0.
Make key will make a keyframe of the related particle motion on
every frame—take care using this option because created keyframes
don’t go away when you uncheck this option. You sometimes need Make
key because the movement of the linked object is only apparent.
Internally, the object is still at its keyframed position.
In the top figure below, you can see that the linked object (an emitter)
is on the right. However, its keyframed position is on the left as indicated
by the emitted particles. In the bottom figure below, Make key is active.
Thus, the keyframed position follows the motion of the linked object.
Top: Make key off. Bottom: Make key on
Make key is important for features like collision detection. The
keyframed position will cause the collision event, not the linked object’s
apparent position.
FX_Linker is a Generic plug-in that automates FX_Link setup on
multiple particles. It basically clones the specified object and adds the
FX_Link motion modifier using the settings you specify.
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FX_Linker panel
To use FX_Linker:
1 Save your scene!
2 Load the target object.
3 If you plan to use the Size effect option, keyframe the size on this
object. Also, make sure your particles have some amount of size
(Emitter properties).
4 Choose Scene > FX_Linker and set the copy field to the number of
instances you want to create.
5 The Random, Time Shift, Pre/Post Behavior, Distance/Sec, Size
effect, and Make key options correspond to the same options on
FX_Link, see above. Check them if you want those options set.
6 If you are using Random or Size effect, you may set maximum and
minimum values in the provided fields.
7 Click OK. Depending on how many copies you make, it may take a
while before FX_Linker finishes.
Using FX_Linker is a one-way shot.You can’t undo what it does after
you click OK.Therefore, you should definitely save your scene before
running this modifier.
When you add the FX_Motion motion modifier to an item, you can
control it in a manner similar to particles.
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The Mode Tab
The Mode pop-up menu determines if you want the item’s position,
rotation, or both affected.
If you use rotation mode with a collision, you can set the After
collision setting to determine what happens to rotation after a collision.
The None settings will add no effect; Reverse reverses the incoming
rotation; Random randomizes the rotation; and Stop stops rotation.
If you want the motion to begin at a certain frame, instead of at the
time of collision, enter the frame number in the Start Frame field and
make sure start by event is unchecked. If you want to trigger the motion
upon collision, activate the start by event option.
Weight sets an arbitrary weighting value that will influence how
factors like gravity affect the item.
Size affects the outer boundary used for collision detection. It can
also be used by volumetric plug-ins like HyperVoxels.
Resistance adds an air resistance effect. Items will move slower as
this value is increased.
You can set independent weighting and resistance settings for
rotation using Momentum and Resistance.
The z-Rotation by wind value makes the item rotate its bank as it
moves or is affected by wind.
The Make Key option works same as in the FX_Link motion modifier
(see above).
The Vector Tab
The initial Velocity XYZ settings set the initial direction and force.
Use the Velocity coordinates pop-up to set whether these settings use
the item’s local axes or world coordinates.
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The initial Rotation(deg/s) HPB settings set the initial rotation. If you
want the rotation to begin at a random point, activate the Random
rotation start option.
FX_Motion Vector tab
The Mode setting on the Mode tab determines whether or not these
initial settings have any effect. In other words, if you aren’t using a
rotation mode, the initial rotation settings don’t matter.
The FX_Link channel modifier has two functions. First, it can be used
to dissolve out the object when the particles die.
FX_Link Channel motion modifier
To dissolve an object based on particle life:
1 Open the Object Properties panel for the object to be dissolved.
(You’ll also need an existing emitter controller.)
2 On the Rendering tab, click the Object Dissolve Envelope button.
This adds a Dissolve channel for the object and opens the Graph
3 On the Modifiers tab of the Graph Editor, add the FX_Link modifier.
Open its options panel by double-clicking its name in the list after it
has been added.
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4 Set the mode to Particles dissolve and select the emitter from the
Particles pop-up menu. Enter the particle number in the
Node/numbers field; 0 is the first emitted.
5 Click OK. When that particle dies, the object will be dissolved to
FX_Link can also be used to vary a channel based on the number of
particles at the emitter.
To control a channel based on the number of particles:
1 Open the Graph Editor and select the desired channel in the Curve
2 On the Modifiers tab of the Graph Editor, add the FX_Link modifier.
Open its options panel by double-clicking its name in the list after it
has been added.
3 Set the mode to Particles numbers and select the emitter from the
Particles pop-up menu.
4 Click OK to close the panel and play your scene. The channel you
selected will be changed based on the number of particles in that
particular frame.You can scale the value by entering a number in the
Node/numbers field. The number of particles will be divided by this
Here are some very basic tutorials to get you started with particles.
Emitter and Wind
1 In Layout, choose Scene > FX_Browser. This brings up the Particle FX
Browser panel.
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2 Let’s use the new partigon object type. From the Add pop-up menu,
choose PolygonEmitter. This will add a PolygonEmitter controller to
your scene. It will also list this emitter in the Item pop-up menu on
the Particle FX Browser panel.
3 Click the Property button. This brings up the property panel for the
controller shown on the Item pop-up menu, in this case, the emitter’s.
4 Click the play button on the main Layout interface. This is the rightfacing triangle in the lower-right corner—changes you make to
controllers are updated in real-time. Right now, all you will see are the
particles being created inside the emitter; there is no movement.
5 Open the Surface Editor. The PolygonEmitter object will have a
default surface called Partigons. Just change the Color to a deep red.
You should see the particles change color.
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6 Click the Motion tab on the emitter’s property panel. Set the Vector Y
value to 2 to give the particles some vertical movement.
The particles at frame 41
7 On the Generator tab, decrease the Generator size values to .1, .1 , .1.
Notice the effect of changing the size of the emitter.
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8 On the Motion tab, try different values for the Explosion and
Vibration settings and note the results. When you are done fooling
around, leave Vibration(m/s) at 1, Vibration(min) at 100%, and
Explosion at 0.
9 Go back to the FX Browser panel and from the Add pop-up menu,
choose Wind. This adds a wind controller to your scene. The
controller name, Wind, should appear on the Item pop-up menu, so
click the Property button to bring up its property panel.
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10 In Layout, stop playback and go to frame 0. Move the wind controller
up a little (to about Y=700mm). Also, on the wind’s property panel,
change the Wind X setting on the Vector tab to 2m. Leave Wind Y at
1. You will see the little wind vectors change directions.
11 Play the scene again and see the particles change direction due to the
Go ahead and play with the wind and emitter settings. It’s very easy.
Try adding HyperVoxels to the emitter object. Remember, if you don’t
want to see the (partigon) particles when using HyperVoxels, use Object
Dissolve on the emitter’s Object Properties panel.
Collision Detection
1 Start with the emitter from the preceding tutorial, but clear the wind
controller. (The wind controller can be cleared from the scene just
like any object using Items > Clear > Clear Selected Items.)
2 On the FX Browser panel, choose Collision from the Add pop-up
menu. This adds a collision controller to your scene. The controller
name, Collision, should appear on the Item pop-up menu, so click the
Property button to bring up its property panel.
L I G H T WAV E 3 D 7
3 At frame 0, move the Collision object up to about Y=1.725m. Play the
scene and notice how the particles bounce off.
4 Play around with the Collision properties and note the effects. Also,
adjust the emitter properties, like Vibration(m/s).
More Tutorials
Obviously, these tutorials barely get your feet wet. However, because
of the real-time feedback, you can mess around with the settings and get
a good feel for how everything works. There are several example Particle
FX scenes included on the CD. They will give you great insight as to how
you can use ParticleFX. Also, please visit LightWave3D.com for additional
C H A P T E R S E V E N T E E N : PA R T I C L E F X
Motion Designer
L I G H T WAV E 3 D 7
hapter 18:
Motion Designer
Motion Designer is a soft body dynamics engine that reshapes
objects according to wind, gravity, and object motions, by using elastic
body models to create animation data. You can easily achieve realistic
effects like draping cloth over objects, material flapping in the wind, or
jiggling jello, with Motion Designer. Because it is integrated into
LightWave, Motion Designer can automatically take into account motions
caused by displacement, bones, IK, and so on.
Your Bounding Box Threshold (Display Options tab of the Preferences
panel) must be set high enough to display your Motion Designer
targets. If not, you may encounter a can’t scan objects... message dialog.
A standard LightWave object normally consists of points, polygons
and surfaces. Motion Designer adds other properties to create its elastic
body models. Points can be influenced by gravity and air resistance,
proportional to speed. Polygon edges are deemed springs that also
influence points. Surfaces have additional parameters that further define
the elastic body model. The spring force is calculated continuously to
reproduce its motions.
You begin using Motion Designer by choosing Scene > Dynamics:
MD_Controller to access the MD_Controller. The following panel is
Click Start to apply your MD settings to your LightWave scene. This
button is used after you have set all of the MD properties to your
satisfaction. Press your CTRL key to abort the calculation.
Click Property to bring up the MotionDesigner Property panel. Here
you set the details of how MD affects the items in your scene.
Click the Option button to set various global options, which are
discussed later.
Click Save to manually save the MD data to a MDD file.
To change a parameter, select it in the list. The selected parameter’s
name will appear in the field beneath the list window. You change the
related value by entering a number in the input field to the right.
You can click some parameters in the list to toggle their state on or
off. For filename parameters, you can double-click or press ENTER to
bring up a file dialog.
For On/Off parameters, a value of 1 means On and 0 means off.
L I G H T WAV E 3 D 7
The Object Tab is where you specify which objects to use and how
Motion Designer treats them. Select the object from the object list popup menu and click the Activate button. You can then apply MD
parameters to it. Click Deactivate to deactivate an MD item.
Activate and Deactivate essentially add and remove the MD_Plug
displacement map plug-in automatically for you.
Initially you’ll want the ALL option active so that all objects are listed
in the pop-up menu. Once you have defined the MD objects, you can
uncheck ALL to list only defined objects. This may be useful if you have
a lot of objects loaded into Layout.
You can group MD objects with a user-defined name to prevent
unwanted interaction. This also works with Particle FX controllers.
Target On means the object is an elastic body model and can be
influenced by other Target or Collision objects.
Collision Select
Normally, MD executes the collision calculation among all target and
collision objects. The Collision Select function lets you specify which
object the target collides with. Double-clicking the setting displays a
dialog where you select the collision object. This function will improve
the calculation speed.
Use the Collision-Detection function to specify collision detection on
an object-by-object basis instead of surface-by-surface. If this parameter
is OFF, all of the object’s surfaces are treated as if the (Surface tab)
Collision-detection setting was OFF.
Pressure Effect
Pressure effect causes the object to maintain its volume during a
motion, as if it is filled with a stiffer gel, instead of, say, water. This works
best when the object is a closed volume and spherical in shape.
Fiber Structure
When Fiber structure is set to a value other than zero, the object
seems to be made of a fiber material. This function essentially weakens
the force when the motion direction is different from that of the virtual
fiber. When the value is 100%, the force is zero, except along the fiber.
This setting also weakens the force from the sub-structure.
Left: Fiber structure = 0%. Right: Fiber structure = 100%
DumpFileName is a special file that sets up an initial pose for the
target object. This file is discussed below.
Collision On means the object is a collision object that will influence
target objects, if it collides with one.
You cannot have Target and Collision both set to ON for the same
L I G H T WAV E 3 D 7
Generally, this setting is for backwards compatibility with prior
versions of MD, which required you to manually specify motion data
Motion Files
For Target objects, click SAVE MDD to save the generated motion to a
file, which will be used subsequently to deform the object.
Click DUMP to save the final pose (position, speed) of a Target object
to a file, based on the last frame calculated. In a subsequent session, you
can specify this file as the DumpFileName parameter for a Target object
and set a starting pose for the target. This is useful to have a realistic
beginning state for the target.
To use a dump file:
1 Set your Last Frame in Layout to the pose you want to start with.
2 Start the calculation.
3 After the calculation, click DUMP and save the Dump file.
4 Specify the saved Dump file for the DumpFileName parameter of the
Target object. The Target object will not begin in this state.
If you do not want to use the Dump file, make sure you clear it from
Apply physical characteristics to the surfaces of Target objects or
Collision objects on the Surface tab. To specify characteristics, select the
surface from the surface list and assign parameters.
Basic Settings
Weight defines the weight of the material. The flags below are the
same except for the Weight parameter. The flag on the right hangs down
more due to its weight and also will not flap as much.
Left:Weight = 1. Right:Weight = 2
Weight +Use the Weight +- parameter to add randomness to the Weight
Left:Weight+- = 0. Right:Weight+- = 1
The Spring coefficient controls the springiness or stiffness of the
material. The flags below are the same except for the Spring parameter.
An extremely large Spring value on the right flag makes its cloth stiffer.
Left: Spring = 1000. Right: Spring = 10000
Viscosity controls the impact of a collision. The pieces of cloth below
are the same except for the Viscosity parameter. Here, a ball is moving
up, pushing the piece of a cloth. The cloth with the higher Viscosity
value tends to keep its shape more.
Left:Viscosity = 1. Right:Viscosity = 10
If an object bounces, a higher Viscosity value will have less bounce
motion because the bouncing force is absorbed by the Viscosity.
Resistance controls the amount of air resistance. The flags below are
the same except for the Resistance parameter. The flag on the right
stretches more due to its greater air resistance.
Left: Resistance = 1. Right: Resistance = 2
L I G H T WAV E 3 D 7
Parallel Resistance
Parallel Resistance controls the amount of air resistance parallel to
the surface. An object, such as a floor tile, will fall quicker if turned on
its edge. The default value of 100% for parallel resistance yields normal
results and should be used for items like falling leaves and flags. If for
some reason you do not desire this effect, reduce the setting.
Two falling tiles. Left: Parallel-resistance = 100%. Right: Parallel-resistance = 0%
Back-resistance specifies the air resistance for the back of a surface
(i.e., opposite the surface normal’s direction). At 100%, the back side is
affected by wind the same as the front. At a value lower than 100%, the
back side is affected more by wind. This function can be effective when
your wind becomes weak due to overlapped objects.
The back side for these objects is the side closest to the center of this image.
Structure Settings
The shape of polygons with Fixed On remains intact. The flag pole
below, for example, has Fixed On and the flag has it off.
The surface of a pure, elastic body model has a high degree of
freedom, which causes the object to easily distort. To prevent distortion,
you can apply an auxiliary MD form, called a Sub-structure, to restrict
the instability of the surface. This can improve your results with a twodimensional object (i.e., one with no thickness) making it act as if it has
some thickness. However, this reinforcement can require a high Substructure setting that can take longer to calculate.
The flag below is made up of square polygons. Due to distorted
polygons, the flag appears to be abnormally stretched as if it is made of
a net.
The problem can be corrected (partially) by tripling the geometry in
Modeler to eliminate the abnormal stretching. Unfortunately, triangles
have a tendency to bend in one direction and cause wrinkles. They also
resist bending in the other direction, which may result in an unnatural
When Sub-structure is used on a square mesh, it creates something
that looks like two triangular polygons placed on top of each other in
opposite directions. The sub-structure mitigates the tendencies to bend
and to resist bending in certain directions. Notice below that the cloth
appears smoother now than it did with tripled polygons, above.
L I G H T WAV E 3 D 7
When the Sub-structure value is non-zero, the auxiliary form is
applied. The higher the value, the more the form will have a tendency to
keep its shape.
Because a pure elastic body model simulates only the surface
structure, it can be limited to two-dimensional motions, like with a bed
sheet. In order to simulate elastic three-dimensional motions, such as
some gelatin, a Hold-structure needs to be used. This parameter causes a
surface to tend to maintain its original shape, like gelatin does when it
The effect of Hold-structure is uniform throughout the surface, while
with Sub-structure it is non-linear, which will often result in a more
natural look.You can use a combination of both to achieve just the right
To smooth out the transition between, say, a Fixed surface and Holdstructure, apply some level of Smoothing to both surfaces. This can help
prevent unwanted creases and wrinkles occurring between the two
To prevent a surface from stretching like rubber, lower the Stretchlimit below the default value of 100%. This restricts the amount of the
surface to be stretched.
Left: Stretch-limit = 100%. Right: Stretch-limit = 20%
Although you could also increase the Spring value to reduce
stretching, increasing that value can make the surface too complex and
cause other problems, like weird folds.
Compress Stress
Compress Stress controls the amount of compression a surface
exhibits as a result of stress. A soft fabric like cotton can be made using
a large Spring value and a low Compress stress setting. A stiffer fabric
would use a higher Compress stress setting.
Left: Compress stress = 100%. Right: Compress stress = 0%
You can easily adjust the apparent thickness of a drape by adjusting
Compress Stress, as shown below. (The drape object also uses these
settings: Weight = 1, Spring = 200, Resistance = 2 and Viscosity = 1.)
Left: Compress Stress = 100%. Middle: Compress Stress = 10%. Right: Compress Stress = 1%.
Shrink reduces the surface to a specified size. For example, a value of
90% reduces the size of the surface to 90%. Use Shrink to reduce the
looseness of a dress or to create frills.
Collision Settings
Try to use Self Collision and Collision Detection only on
necessary surfaces to minimize calculation time.
Self Collision
The Self Collision setting can prevent an object from crossing itself
when the object is transformed. Self Collision is calculated based on a
point on the target object and a polygon on the collision object. If a
surface has Self Collision and Collision Detection active, Self Collision
is computed on the same surface.
Self Collision works in much the same way Collision Detection does,
and there is no collision detection for polygon edges. As such, you may
also want to adjust Skin Thickness to avoid errant point penetrations.
Note that unlike Collision Detection, Self Collision is detected even if
the motion is from behind the polygon.
L I G H T WAV E 3 D 7
Collision Detection
Collision Detection reflects the influence of other objects upon the
motion of an object. This lets you create complex motions caused by
obstacles. The simulation is performed by taking an object that collides
(the collision object) with the elastic body model (the target object) into
the calculation.
Left: No collision detection. Right:With collision detection
The direction of the surface normal plays an important part in
collision detection. The target object must collide with the surface of the
collision object. If it contacts the surface from the rear (i.e., away from
the surface normal), the target object will simply pass through, as shown
As such, if you need collision detection inside a container, for
example, you’ll need to have interior facing surface normals.
When Single-sided is ON, surfaces with normals facing the same
direction will not collide. If the collision is between surfaces with
opposing normals, you can reduce calculation time by turning this ON. If
you will have collisions between surface normals facing the same
direction, you should turn this OFF.
Left: Surface normals with the same direction. Middle: Single-sided = ON. Right: Single-sided = OFF
Skin Thickness
You should understand that the collision is detected using a point on
the target object (elastic body model) and a polygon of the collision
object. As a result, a polygon of the target object can possibly penetrate
the collision object—usually an undesirable result.
In the picture below, you can see the points on the cloth do not
penetrate the ball, but the surface between the points does.
Use the Skin Thickness (Surface tab) setting to avoid undesired
surface penetration like the example below. Skin Thickness, set in
meters, creates a gap between the collision and target objects, within
which a collision is deemed to have occurred. Make sure you specify
Skin Thickness for the surface of the collision object, not the surface of
the target object.
Left: Skin Thickness = 0. Right: Skin Thickness = 0.1(m)
Like real world friction, the Friction parameter makes the surface less
slippery. So if you want the target object to tend to slip off the collision
object, set Friction to 0. If you want it to stick more, increase the value.
Left: Friction = 0. Right: Friction = 3
Bound Force
Bound force adds a rebounding speed change at collision, if set
greater than 0. At 1, the speed is the same as the collision object. At 2, it
rebounds at the collision speed.
Particles dropped on a ball. Left: Bound force = 1. Right: Bound force = 2
L I G H T WAV E 3 D 7
Action Force
Action force decides whether the colliding object receives the
reaction force at the time of the collision, or not. This function does not
affect the reaction force that the collision object receives.
Object on left is stationary and object on right is moving left
After collision. Left:Action force = OFF. Right:Action force = ON
Bind Force
Bind force causes the target to adhere to the collision surface.
Particles dropped on a ball. Left: Bind force = 0. Right: Bind force = 1
If you have some level of Bind force, Fix Force will also be available.
Fix Force causes the target object to stick to the surface and not slide
Left: Fix force = 0. Right: Fix force = 100
Other Surface Controls
When Hide is unchecked, MD displays all of the Surface parameters
that you can specify. When Hide is checked, MD hides all parameters at
their default values. This display mode helps you zero in on just the
settings you have tweaked.
Use the COPY and PASTE buttons to copy and paste the current
settings between surfaces.
Use the SAVE button to save the current surface settings to a file on
your hard drive. Use the LOAD button to load the settings from a
previously saved file.
If you save the files to the SURFACES subdirectory in your Content
directory, they will appear in the Material Library pop-up menu,
discussed below.
Material Library
This pop-up menu (located near the Hide button) contains predefined sets of surface parameters.
The gravity and wind settings are specified on the Environment tab.
All of these settings affect Target objects.
Specify the direction and intensity of gravity along the world axes.
Specify the direction and intensity of two winds along the world axes.
Specify the direction and intensity of turbulence along the world axes.
Left:Turbulence = 0,0,1. Right:Turbulence = 0,1,0
The strength of turbulence is affected by the wind, as shown in the
examples below.
Left:Wind = 0,2.0,0. Middle:Wind = 0,5.0,0. Right:Wind = 0,8.0,0
L I G H T WAV E 3 D 7
Specify the wavelength of the turbulence.
Left:Wavelength = 0,0.25,0. Middle:Wavelength = 0,0.5,0. Right:Wavelength = 0,1.0,0
Wind Mode
The Wind Mode controls the repeating pattern for Wind1 and Wind2.
Random randomizes the pattern according to the specified Randomratio. The Cycle setting swaps Wind1 and Wind2 every Cycle-length
period, specified in seconds. Gust uses Wind2 only for the duration
beginning with Gust-start (in seconds) for the Gust-length (in seconds).
Wind1 is used at other times. Default ignores the Wind1 setting and uses
only Wind2.
Use the SAVE button to save the current environment settings to a file
on your hard drive. Use the LOAD button to load the settings from a
previously saved file.
With Motion Designer, you can adjust motions intuitively since MD is
based on physical models. You can achieve heavy motions by increasing
the Weight value, and you can create light motions by decreasing
Reducing the Spring coefficient creates soft motions, while raising
Spring produces motions with a stronger repelling force. Setting the
coefficient to an extremely large value creates stiff motions.
Since Motion Designer uses elastic body models as calculation
models, based on mass, spring, and resistance, unexpected vibration
may appear in the calculated motions. One of the following adjustments
may help correct the problem:
• Increase Resistance to make moving more difficult.
• Reduce the Spring coefficient. This will reduce the force that causes
• Increase the Weight to stabilize the surface.
Abnormal motion, including vibration, may be the result of (gasp!)
calculation errors. Remember, the motion is approximated based only on
numeric values. This problem may be solved by adjusting the accuracy
of the calculations using the Calculate resolution setting on the Motion
Designer Options panel, discussed below.
The Motion Designer Options panel is displayed when you click on
the Option button on the main Motion Designer panel.
The Calculate resolution setting controls the accuracy of the motion
calculations. The default is 10. Increasing this value improves the
accuracy of calculation, but as you might expect, it also increases the
amount of calculation. Extremely large values will result in unusually
long calculation times.
If you are using a multi-processor machine, specify the number of
CPUs in Thread max field.
When the Safe Mode option is unchecked, some internal calculation
restrictions are eased. This allows faster calculations, but may result in
unwanted vibrations, as well as different results for calculations based
on the same parameter values.
You can control how MD updates by using the Update Mode pop-up
menu. Auto updates only targets that have had parameters changed. Use
select only if you have multiple targets, then only the selected targets
will be updated. All targets updates all targets. Use this if your system is
If Update in calculation is checked, Layout is updated while MD
Step is a great time-saving feature. It sets the frame increment for MD
calculations. Since LightWave will obviously interpolate movement
between frames, it is usually not necessary to set this to 1. You may
often get away with 3, 5, or even higher settings, depending on the scene.
L I G H T WAV E 3 D 7
MD_Plug is the displacement map plug-in that applies the motion data
created by MD (MDD file) to the object in Layout.
MD_Plug is automatically added to the Target when you click the
Activate button on the MD Property, Objects tab. It is removed if
Deactivate is clicked. As such, you will normally not need to add or
adjust this plug-in manually.
Setting Options
Double-click MD_Plug after it has been added on the Deformations
tab of the Object Properties panel to display its options panel.
The MDD Filename field specifies the Target’s MDD file.
The Action Start field indicates the time (in seconds) at which the
motions from the MDD file should start. This lets you delay the start of
the effect.
The End Behavior setting determines what happens after the motion
finishes. Stop holds the last state. Repeat repeats the motion from the
beginning. Use Composite if you wish to stack multiple instances of
MD_Plug and add the motions together.
If Key-Move is ON, keyframed motion is applied along with the MD
displacement motion. Since the motion data created with Motion
Designer (including MD_Scan) contains displacement of shapes using the
keyframes, setting this ON can cause a doubling up of the keyframed
motion. To prevent this problem, set Key-Move to OFF.
When using MD with other displacement plug-ins (which should be
loaded after MD) be sure Key-Move is ON. Motion Designer ignores
any plug-ins loaded above MD_Plug.
MD_MetaPlug is a displacement map plug-in for extending MD_Plug
and applying a MDD file to the object in Layout without restricting the
shape or the number of points. This lets you create the animation, and
lets you completely separate the object for animation and the object for
rendering. For example, you might use this to add buttons on a dress
after the MD calculation.
Setting Options
Specify the target MDD file in the MDD Filename field. The details
include the number of MDD frames, recorded time, and the number of
points on the plug-in button. Verify the information.
Specify the object used for the calculation of the MDD file as Cage
Object. This object should be made up of triangles and quads. The
smooth reshaping is executed based on the lattice by polygons.
You may run into problems if the Cage Object is too rough.
Subdividing the Cage Object may help.
In the ActionStart field, specify the time (in seconds) at which
motions based on the MDD should start.
Use the EndBehavior pop-up menu to specify what happens at the
end of the motion based on the MDD. Stop maintains the last state,
Repeat repeats the motion, and Composite plays back the MDD file
Key-Move is used to specify whether or not to displace the shape
using the standard keyframe. Since the MDD already contains
displacement information, setting Key-Move to ON can duplicate the
displacement of shapes. As such, you will usually set this to OFF.
However, this will also disable any movement in Layout.
The Smoothing option attempts to smooth the reshaping. If
unchecked, the reshaping will pass through the vertex of the Cage
Activate Disable to turn the plug-in off without losing your settings.
MD_MetaPlug_Morph is a displacement plug-in that enhances the
functions of MD_MetaPlug. By itself, MD_MetaPlug cannot use normal
morphing information because it ignores bones, morph mapping, and
displacement maps. However, if you use MD_Plug with
MD_MetaPlug_Morph, you can use normal morphing data with Motion
L I G H T WAV E 3 D 7
The MD_MetaPlug_Morph plug-in can be added before or after
MD_Plug. Make sure MD_Plug’s Key-Move is set to OFF.
MD_MetaPlug_Morph has one pop-up menu called Morph Mode. Set
this to One time morph to execute morphing only one time. This mode
is appropriate when the morphing is from morph mapping. Use Every
time morph to execute morphing for each displacement process. This
mode is appropriate when the morphing varies, like the displacement
map of waves. The Non morph setting simply disables this plug-in.
Using MD_Metaplug_Morph is CPU intensive, so be sure to select the
appropriate Morph Mode.
MD_Scan is a displacement map plug-in that incorporates motion data
from Layout into Motion Designer. MD_Scan can handle motions, such as
those of bones affected by displacement map plug-ins. The resulting data
becomes an MDD file to be used with the main Motion Designer plug-in.
The MDD Filename field specifies the MDD filename.
Scan Points displays the number of points in the object to be saved.
Specify the frame where you want to begin recording in the First
Frame field and the frame you want to end recording in the Last Frame
Specify the number of frames for which data should be saved in the
MDD file in the Frame Rate field. Data for skipped frames is
automatically interpolated. Increasing this number can reduce the data
size when you save motions that are long but relatively slow.
Scanned Frame displays the fetched frame.
When you use MD_Scan with other displacement map plug-ins, be
sure to add MD_Scan last.
To use MD_Scan:
1 Add MD_Scan to the Deformations tab of the Object Properties panel
for the object whose motion you wish to incorporate.
2 Double-click the added plug-in to open its Options panel.
3 Define the desired MDD filename and set the parameters. Click OK.
4 Click OK for the next dialog that appears.
5 Make a preview animation. (Yes, this is necessary!)
6 Open the MD_Scan Options panel again. This time a different version
of the panel will appear. Click OK to save the MDD file data.
7 Remove MD_Scan or deactivate it.
8 Load the file into MD_Plug.
Here are a few basic tutorials to get you started with Motion Designer.
Waving a Flag
1 In Modeler make a flag pole using the Disc tool. Use two Segments.
Name the surface Pole.
2 Using the Box tool, make the flag. It should use lots of X and Y
Segments and line up with the top and middle of the pole. Triple the
polygons (Construct > Subdivide: Triple). Select the flag polygons
and name the surface Flag. Make sure the polygons face towards you.
If they do not, flip them.
L I G H T WAV E 3 D 7
3 Zoom in and select the top-left point on the flag and then the nearest
point on the pole. Make sure only two points are selected and choose
Detail > Points: Weld.
Left: Before welding. Right:After welding
4 Weld the bottom-left corner of the flag to the pole in the same manner
as above.
5 Save your object as MDFLAG.LWO and load it into Layout.
6 Choose Scene > Dynamics: MD_Controller. This brings up the
MotionDesigner Controller panel.
For easy access, you may want to assign the MD_Controller command
to a menu or keyboard shortcut.
7 Click the Property button on the panel to bring up the
MotionDesigner Property panel. With only one object in the scene,
our flag object will already be selected on the pop-up menu. Click the
Activate button to use it with MotionDesigner.
8 Next, double-click the Target line to turn this option on. Additional
options will appear, but you can leave them at their default state.
That is one click to select the option and another to toggle its setting.
This is the way all of MD’s On/Off settings work. If the item is already
selected, you need to click only once.
9 Click the Surface tab and then the MDFlag entry to display the two
surfaces: Pole and Flag.
10 Choose the Pole surface and turn On the Fixed setting.
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11 Choose the Flag surface and click the Spring setting. This setting
requires a numerical input. Enter 1000 in the input field beneath the
list of settings. A value of 1000 will make the surface resist stretching
like a piece of cloth.
12 Click the Environment tab. Each setting has three fields that are for
the X, Y, and Z axes, from left to right. Set Gravity to 0, -1, 0; Wind1 to
1, 0, -1; and Wind2 to 1, 0, 1. Cycle-length should default to two
seconds; this value makes the environment settings repeat every two
13 Click the Continue button to close the MD Property panel.
14 In Layout, set your last frame to 300. Go to the Display Options tab of
the Preferences panel (D) and make sure Bounding Box Threshold is
high enough to display your MotionDesigner target.
15 Click the Start button on the MotionDesigner Controller panel and
watch the magic!
Go ahead and play with the surface settings to change the effect.
Collision Detection
In this tutorial, we will show you how to do basic collision detection.
1 Here we have a simple flat segmented box with tripled polygons and a
basic ball. The objects were modeled in these positions. The box
object is called mdcloth and has a surface named cloth. The ball
object is called mdball and has a surface named ball. (Clever naming,
L I G H T WAV E 3 D 7
2 Choose Scene > Dynamics: MD_Controller. From the MotionDesigner
Controller panel, click the Property button. Activate the mdcloth
object and turn the Target option on.
3 Activate the mdball object and turn the Collision option on.
4 Go to the Environment tab and set Gravity to 0, -1, 0.
5 In Layout, set the last frame to 300 and click Start on the
MotionDesigner Controller panel. You will see the cloth float down,
due to the gravity, and deform around the ball.
6 You should notice that some parts of the cloth surface go inside the
ball. We can easily fix this by increasing the thickness of the ball
surface for calculation purposes only.
Select the ball surface and increase the Skin thickness to about .02.
7 Click Start again and the cloth surface should no longer go inside the
ball. If it still does, increase Skin thickness some more.
You should see your cloth slide off the ball towards the end of the
animation. Play with the surface settings to change the effect.
More Tutorials
Please visit LightWave3D.com for additional tutorials.
Distributed Rendering
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hapter 19:
Distributed Rendering
LightWave allows you to use the processing power of other
computers on a network to render scenes. This is called distributed
rendering or sometimes a rendering farm. There are a few basic
approaches to distributed rendering with LightWave.
ScreamerNet uses Layout’s Network Rendering panel (Rendering >
Network Rendering) to control submitting scenes to networked
computers running the ScreamerNet process. ScreamerNet can control
up to 1,000 CPUs (Note: A single machine can have more than one CPU.
Each CPU is counted as one). Each will render a frame from the
animation until the scene is rendered.
You can also use LightWave’s distributed rendering feature to batchrender multiple scenes on a single machine.
You can choose from two distributed rendering modes: Original
ScreamerNet and ScreamerNet II.
Scenes, objects, and images should not have any spaces in their saved
names; use an underscore ‘_’ instead (e.g., MY_3DCAR.LWO instead
of MY 3DCAR.LWO).This is vital for dependable ScreamerNet
operation. If there are spaces in these names, ScreamerNet and
LightWave may read them as corrupt files.
Original ScreamerNet is designed to be used with networked CPUs
that do not share directories. Original ScreamerNet has the disadvantage
of requiring you to load the scene to be rendered on the control machine
and sending the scene file, object files, and image files to each connected
CPU. When a frame is rendered by a remote CPU, it is sent back to the
control machine whereby it is saved to a selected directory. This
process, while it works, is often slow due to the constant file transfers.
Original ScreamerNet is included primarily for backward compatibility
with older rendering engines.
Since the Original ScreamerNet rendering method is somewhat
outdated, those still using it will find little change in the controls for this
method. Changes will be noted below. The majority of this chapter deals
with the new ScreamerNet II rendering method.
ScreamerNet II does not require the scene be loaded on the control
machine. As long as the scene, object, and image files, (as well as the
save-to directories) are all accessible to each CPU on the network, each
individual node machine can load the scene and save images directly to
the shared drive(s). Additionally, ScreamerNet II can “batch render” up
to 100 separate scene files.
The process of using ScreamerNet II is basically to run the rendering
module (i.e., LWSN) on all of the computers that will be rendering. This
includes the designated control computer. You then run LightWave on
the control computer and identify the scene or scenes you want to
Since ScreamerNet communicates by writing files, NetBEUI and
TCP/IP are not required. As long as each machine can see each other and
write files across the network, ScreamerNet should function properly.
The LWSN program is supplied with LightWave. However, you will
only receive the version appropriate for the platform for which you
bought LightWave. For example, if you purchase the Intel version of
LightWave, you will receive the Intel version of LWSN.
All of the rendering nodes need not have the same architecture (i.e.,
Intel, Mac, etc.). However you must run the proper LWSN version on
each type of machine. In addition, plug-ins used in the scene must also
reside on each node. If not, some images would render using the plugin and others wouldn’t because they couldn’t.
Using Screamernet II
The Host is the machine with Lightwave installed on it. Nodes are the
other machines on the network used for rendering. Node machines do
not need to have any NewTek software or hardware on them.
L I G H T WAV E 3 D 7
The key to understanding ScreamerNet is network drive mapping and
sharing. There are a variety of ways to configure a network and thus a
variety of ways to set up ScreamerNet.
ScreamerNet Rendering Requirements
To set up a ScreamerNet rendering farm you need to set up the
1 A common directory that the Host (controlling PC) and all rendering
nodes can access. This could be physically located on the Host, but is
not necessarily.
2 Each rendering node must be able to load a plug-in configuration file
(e.g., LWEXT3.CFG) that has the plug-in files mapped with a path that
the rendering node can access.
Now, if all rendering nodes are on the same platform (e.g., Intel
Windows), you could map the same drive letter to another common
directory and place the plug-in, LWSN.EXE and configuration files
there. The paths in the configuration file would obviously also use
this drive letter.
If you don’t use the common configuration file route, you’ll need to
store a set of all of the files locally on each rendering node.
3 All of the rendering nodes need access to a Content Directory. Ideally
this can be stored in one common directory since you want to make
sure all of the rendering nodes are using the same objects and
The Host machine can be a rendering node as well. It may be easiest
to use the same mapping technique described above, although you
could map everything locally if you want.
Getting the Nodes Going
The ScreamerNet utility is executed on each rendering node using a
lengthy command. The following is an example. Note that the command
has been broken up into separate lines for clarity. In reality, the entire
command must be entered on a single line.
In the above example, we’ve assumed the following:
• All of the rendering nodes are Intel Windows machines.
• The drive letter L: has been mapped to the same network drive for all
• The LWSN.EXE and configuration files are all stored in L:\SCREAMERNET.
• The plug-in files are stored in L:\SCREAMERNET\PLUGINS and that is the
path used in the LWEXT3.CFG file. (Note: that the plug-in files could
still be in subdirectories (L:\SCREAMERNET\PLUGINS\ANIMATE).
The -C parameter defines the directory where the configuration files
are stored. The -D parameter defines the content directory to be used. (If
this is not defined, the content directory defined in the scene file is
The command for subsequent rendering nodes must increment the
Job and Ack number. For example, node 2 would use JOB2 and ACK2, node
3 would use JOB3 and ACK3 and so on. The Job/Ack number equates to
the CPU number used by ScreamerNet to identify the node and goes
from 1 to the number set as your Maximum CPU Number on the
Network Rendering panel, discussed next. (You must include the path for
Job and Ack.)
To save time in the future, you will want to set these commands up as
icon shortcuts.
Mac users should use a command-line file, discussed in the Appendix,
to set LWSN’s parameters.
After you execute LWSN.EXE you may see a message like Can’t open
L:\ScreamerNet\Common\Job1.This will be normal until Lightwave
initializes ScreamerNet.
MS-DOS console window output
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Scene Saving Info
1 When setting up your scene, you must use your content directory
properly. Otherwise, some nodes may not be able to render the
2 Set up all of your render options (e.g., file-saving) before saving the
scene. You will probably want to save the rendered frames to a
common directory, like L:\SCREAMERNET\FRAMES. Alternatively, they
could be saved locally, but remember all rendering nodes will be
getting the path to save the files from the same scene file.
ScreamerNet does not render out animations. It renders only
individual files.
Host Machine Setup
1 Start LightWave. Open the Network Rendering panel (Rendering >
Network Rendering) and click the Command Directory button.
Change this to Z:\LIGHTWAVE\PROGRAMS. You will get a requester that
asks you to re-initialize; choose NO.
2 Set the Maximum CPU Number to your number of nodes/CPUs.
3 In the General Options tab of the Preferences panel, confirm that the
Content Directory is set to the proper directory.
4 Quit LightWave and then start it up again to save changes to the
configuration file.
Controlling the Network Rendering
1 On the Host, open the Network Rendering panel (Rendering >
Network Rendering) and click the Screamer Init button. At this
point, all of your CPUs that are running ScreamerNet should appear in
the window. (The job/ack number assigned to each node machine will
correspond to the CPU number in the SN window.)
Network Rendering panel
2 Click Add Scene To List and add a scene(s).
Scene added for rendering
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3 Click on Screamer Render. This will now render your scene(s).
ScreamerNet now rendering the scene
Shutting Down Nodes
When all CPUs are finished rendering, selecting the Screamer
Shutdown button will close all windows on all ScreamerNet nodes and
stop them. In order to start a new session, you must restart ScreamerNet
on each CPU and re-initialize the CPUs from the control machine.
Aborting a Rendering Session
Press the ESC key to abort a ScreamerNet session. There may be a
long pause before all of the ScreamerNet nodes are ready again, while
each finishes up the current task. This is especially true when they are
working on a complex scene. Note: ScreamerNet rendering is only
abortable when the ScreamerNet panel reads Waiting for CPUs to finish
If you close the DOS shell on any of the render nodes, you may have
to restart all nodes and re-initialize them.
Changing the Number of Nodes
By changing the value in the Maximum CPU Number field from the
default eight, you can tell the control machine how many nodes it should
check for. The maximum number is 1000, but setting the number to the
actual CPU’s available nodes will save time. This number is written to the
configuration file upon exiting LightWave.
ScreamerNet II Syntax
The command line parameters for LWSN.EXE -2 are:
The check interval is defined in seconds. It specifies how often to
check for commands during rendering. If the -T parameter is not used,
rendering is uninterrupted and LWSN won't check the job file until its
current render job is done. With -T, it will check every so often during
rendering for only two commands: status and abort. (All other
commands are ignored). (The actual check interval may be longer than
specified, depending on what is currently being processed.)
You do not actually need a network in order to use the ScreamerNet.
Just follow the network instructions as if the computer was the node and
control machine. It’s a little easier since you won’t have to worry about
shared directories and volume names. ScreamerNet is useful for
rendering a series of scene files unattended, and it is most beneficial if
you are using a dual-processor system—each processor could be treated
as a separate CPU for rendering.
If clicking the Screamer Init button doesn't find the other CPUs, go
back and start at the Host Machine Setup section.
If images seem to render unrealistically fast and no images are saved:
1 Check to make sure that you have full sharing access across the
network. This is done through Windows NT Explorer. You can check
this by copying a file at random back and forth across the network.
2 If the scene and/or objects were created without taking into
consideration the new drive path names, rendering may occur on
only the host machine.
The most common cause of ScreamerNet crashing is when too many
computers try to write or read their information to/from the Host
computers while the host renders.
• Do not use ScreamerNet to render on the host machine, but rather
use it only as a server where the hard drives are found.
• Map a drive from a different computer as drive Y:, for example, and
set your scene to save the animations to that drive. The computers
don’t know that drive Y: is not on the host, just that it’s present.
Another problem occurs when the hard drive where you save the
images or animation is full. This problem creates an error in LightWave
and each ScreamerNet node.
L I G H T WAV E 3 D 7
The LWSN program has a third option that lets you render a scene
without running LightWave. There is no control machine and thus it is
not a distributed rendering situation. You must tell the program
specifically what to render. The method is run from a DOS prompt using
the following syntax (one line):
As you can see, you basically supply the program with the basic
information needed to render a scene. An example would be:
In the example, the program would render frames 1 through 900 of
the Spicegirls.lws scene using the Lw.cfg file stored in the D:\Lightwave
and using M:\Newtek as the Content Directory.
The configuration file specification is optional, if the Lw.cfg file is in
the current directory. Likewise, if the Content Directory is correctly
specified in the configuration file, you do not need to give that
You can get the syntax for ScreamerNet by simply typing LWSN with
no arguments.
LightWave 3D Modeling
L I G H T WAV E 3 D 7
hapter 20:
LightWave 3D Modeling
LightWave Modeler lets you create objects from scratch or edit
existing objects. Object modeling is the design and creation of wireframe
objects from a simple shape, like an apple, to a complex shape, like a
finely-detailed sports car. In Layout, you are the interior designer moving
furniture and putting up pictures. In Modeler, you are the furniture maker
and the builder of the house.
What makes up the 3D object? It has two traits: its physical shape and
its visual appearance. The physical shape of an object comprises points
joined by lines to form faces that we call polygons. The form that the
polygons present to us makes up an object’s shape.
The visual appearance of an object consists of color and texture
qualities that connote realism to the eye, which are called surface
attributes or material properties. When you enter a room and look at
your chair you see a certain shape (that of a chair) and a certain surface
(maybe wood or metal), so you think, “chair”. In LightWave 3D you have
the tools to create simple or complex objects and define their surface
qualities with great precision and detail.
C H A P T E R T W E N T Y : L I G H T WAV E 3 D M O D E L I N G
How would you make a mug? It depends; if you were a sculptor, you
would mold a lump of clay. If you were a designer, you would draft it with
paper and a mechanical pencil. If you were an artist, you would probably
sketch it. But suppose you were using a computer. How would you make
a mug then? What tools would you use?
You want to portray the mug with realistic color, depth, and shading.
You need drawing tools, yes, but also power tools! With the computer,
you can create the mug in a variety of ways. LightWave recreates drafting
and workshop tools on screen so that people who are neither sculptors
nor traditional artists can use them just as easily. In fact, LightWave’s
tools do more than their real-life counterparts. There are several
bonuses to computer design also. You can undo a mistake, something
that is difficult to do in many of the arts. And there’s no mess to clean
Generally, 3D modeling is based on two simple elements: the point
and the polygon. A point is a location in space, just as a point in a dot-todot coloring book represents a location on the page. Points are used as
anchors to create polygons. Since points alone do not have height,
width, or depth, they cannot be seen or rendered. However, you can load
them into Layout and use points as invisible influences on other objects:
as a center of rotation, or to play an invisible role of influence in an
object hierarchy, for example.
The process of creating 3D objects is a lot like drawing in dot-to-dot
coloring books—of course, with 3D modeling, the dots can also be
placed in a third dimension (i.e., depth). Once placed, the dots can be
connected with lines to form polygons. That collection of polygons forms
a recognizable shape that the computer can draw and animate. Polygons
are usually three-sided triangles or four-sided quadrangles (although
they can consist of more sides).
L I G H T WAV E 3 D 7
You create or edit all objects using the same XYZ coordinate system
used in Layout. The difference is that in Layout you are usually
positioning an entire object, whereas in Modeler you are positioning the
points that make up an object. Modeler also uses the XYZ coordinates 0,
0, 0 as the Origin.
The Origin is the default rotation center (called the pivot point) for
objects in Layout. Keeping this in mind as you model your objects will
make the objects load into Layout properly without having to move
the pivot point.
Generally, to build a 3D object, you create, combine, and modify
simple shapes into more complex shapes. This is known as editing. The
basic building blocks (i.e., primitives) include cubes, spheres, cylinders,
and other shapes. Using tools not unlike those found in a wood or metal
shop, you form a realistic representation of the envisioned object.
If you were building a desk, you would work from a sketch, a
photograph, plans, or a small model of the desk you intended to build.
This approach also works well for modeling 3D objects. Having the
actual shape or a representation of the object in front of you while you
design is invaluable, and it will aid you in determining size, shape, angle,
color, and more. Whenever possible, work from pictures or small-scale
models. Picture books, magazines, blueprints, and visual dictionaries are
useful companions to have nearby.
As in any project, you either begin from scratch or modify an existing
object. If you’re new to 3D, building from scratch will appear tedious at
first. The Modeler exercises start off by using existing objects so you can
get the hang of how modeling tools work.
Modeler’s screen is divided into several areas. By default, the
workspace of the screen consists of four viewports. Modeler displays
four simultaneous points of view (Top, Back, Right, and a forced-
C H A P T E R T W E N T Y : L I G H T WAV E 3 D M O D E L I N G
perspective view), each looking at the same portion of the workspace
from a different angle. These are not unlike Layout’s viewports. Changes
made in one view are immediately updated in the others.
The toolbar sits at the side of the screen. The buttons presented will
vary depending on which menu tab you select along the top. You can
completely hide (or unhide) the toolbar by pressing ALT+F2 (or choosing
Modeler > Interface > Hide Toolbar On/Off).
Without Toolbar
Viewport Titlebar
You can change the View Type and Rendering Style of a viewport
without going to the Display Options panel by using the pop-up menus
on the left side of each viewport titlebar. The buttons on the right side
affect panning, rotating and zooming your view. See Chapter 27 for more
L I G H T WAV E 3 D 7
Viewport titlebar controls
Modeler Menus
Most of the menus should be fairly obvious. The Construct menu
contains commands that perform large-scale operations, grouped by
action type. The Detail menu contains commands that change the
properties of objects, grouped by object type.
Generally, menu group names that are verbs contain commands
based on the type of action they perform. Menu group names that are
nouns contain commands based on the type of object they affect. The
menu tab names are all intended to be read as verbs. So, to create your
object you would start on the Create menu tab; to detail your object,
you would move to the Detail menu tab, and so on.
The Utility group, at the bottom of the Construct menu, contains
miscellaneous commands that do not fit elsewhere on the menus. The
Additional pop-up menu resides here for unclassified commands.
Make particular note of the Mode menu along the bottom border. It’s
got some important stuff on it and is easily missed.
Other Interface Areas
Above the workspace on the right are the current object pop-up menu
and the layer buttons. (More on this later.) In the bottom-left corner of
the screen you can see the grid size information display. As in Layout,
this tells you how big each square is in the Modeler workspace. Just
C H A P T E R T W E N T Y : L I G H T WAV E 3 D M O D E L I N G
above the grid display is an information display. Most of the time this
gives you feedback on the position of your mouse. However, depending
on what you are doing, it can also display a variety of other information.
To the right of the grid display are the three mode buttons. These are
mutually exclusive buttons, so only one can be active at any one time.
These determine when you are editing points, polygons, or a userdefined area. Above them is the selection info display, which normally
tells you how may points/polygons you have selected.
Along the bottom-right are the cut-and-paste buttons, as well as the
undo/redo buttons. In the row of controls above this is the tool tips
display and the Vertex map mode (W, T, and M) controls.
Non-interactive areas (e.g., not a button) on the toolbar and bottom
border (including the left-corner information display and grid size) act as
a reset button, much like you might use the ESC key on other
applications. What happens when you click in a reset area depends on
the current state of tools. For example, if you have points/polygons
selected and you are in the Point/Polygon Selection mode, they become
All built-in tools (i.e., primitive and modifying) maintain their state, if
they are used, unselected, and then used again. The default state of the
tool can be recovered by dropping (clicking in a reset area or choosing
Modes > Drop Current Tool when a tool is selected, but inactive. If the
tool is active, the first drop deactivates the tool, keeping the current
settings. The second drop would then reset to the default settings.
You can also choose Modes > Deselect Tool. This is just like clicking
the active tool button, making it inactive.
The largest part of the interface consists (by default) of four
viewports. You can edit in any viewport. The default three viewports
starting in the top left and moving counter-clockwise are labeled Top,
Back, Right, and Perspective. The Top view is an overhead point of view
looking down on the object. The Back view looks directly at the object
from the rear. The Right view is positioned as if you stood to the object’s
right. Perspective is a forced perspective view that you can rotate by
holding the ALT key and dragging your mouse on it.
L I G H T WAV E 3 D 7
Default four viewports
You can change the relative sizes of the windows by dragging any
border between the viewports.
Drag border to change viewport spacing
As you grow familiar and gain experience with Modeler, you will find
yourself switching back and forth among these viewports, changing their
size, position, and function, and even changing the number, to get the
best view from which to use a particular tool. You can adjust the screen
to see as much or as little detail as you want, by using various options.
C H A P T E R T W E N T Y : L I G H T WAV E 3 D M O D E L I N G
Various viewport setups
See Chapter 27 for information on how the viewports operate and
options that allow you to change them.
Every object can be a “MultiMesh,” that is, consist of an unlimited
number of layers, similar to layers in many paint programs. The
MultiMesh lets you work independently on specific parts of an object.
During modeling operations, you can set layers independently to be in
the foreground or background, so you can work on a combination of
layers as if they were in the same layer. Background layers can be used
as a reference, but are often required when using certain modeling tools.
When you save an object, you save all layers with it. When you load
an object, all of the individual layers remain intact; however, you may
specify that certain layers be hidden when you use the object in Layout.
You can thus save things like scratch objects—which you would not
want rendered—in the same object file.
When loaded into Layout, individual layers of a MultiMesh are treated
as individual objects.
Multi-document Environment
Like files in your wordprocessor, multiple object files can be loaded
simultaneously. The Current Object pop-up button to the left of the layer
buttons switches from object to object. Object names listed with an
asterisk (*) have been changed and may need to be saved. Attempting to
close the application triggers a request to save all changed objects.
Ghosted objects are ones that have been loaded into Layout, but not into
Modeler. Choosing a ghosted object from the pop-up menu will load it.
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Current Object pop-up menu
Layout Communication
If the Hub (see Chapter 3) is running, a small pop-up menu button
appears in the top-right corner of the interface, just to the right of the
layer buttons.
Layout communication commands
Switch to Layout switches to your Layout window if it is open or
opens up Layout if you do not already have it open.
Changes to objects in Modeler are reflected automatically in Layout
when you select the Layout interface. You can force this synchronization
by choosing Synchronize Layout.
Send Object to Layout sends the current object to Layout. Actually, it
sends a pointer to the current object’s file. As such, the object must be
saved to your hard drive first.
If you load an object in Layout only, its name is ghosted in the
Current Object pop-up menu. Selecting a ghosted item will load it into
Modeler and initiate the syncing process.
Layer Navigation
You can use the layer buttons in the top-right corner of the main
interface to work with layers in banks of ten. You can apply most
modeling functions across multiple layers simultaneously by placing
them in the foreground. You do this by clicking the top part of a layer
button; all other layers are unselected, whether they are in the
C H A P T E R T W E N T Y : L I G H T WAV E 3 D M O D E L I N G
foreground or background. You can add foreground layers by holding the
SHIFT key as you click. You can unselect a foreground layer by holding the
SHIFT key as you click on a selected foreground layer button.
To place a layer in the background, click on the bottom part of a layer
button. Selecting a background layer will unselect all other background
layers. You can add background layers by holding the SHIFT key as you
click. You can unselect a background layer by holding the SHIFT key as
you click on a selected background layer button.
You can quickly swap the state of foreground and background layers by
pressing the apostrophe key (‘).
You can change which bank of layers—ten layers per bank—are
controlled by these buttons. Just click the < or > buttons. Bank 1
controls layers 1 through 10, bank 2 controls layers 11 through 20, and
so forth. The bank selection buttons are mapped to your PAGEUP and
PAGEDN keys by default. The highest bank number is 99, but you can
access higher layers using the Layer Browser panel.
Layer Browser Panel
You can also use the Layers Browser window (Modeler > Windows >
Layer Browser Open/Close) to do the following:
• Access more than ten layers at a time
• Set foreground/background state, even between objects
• Navigate between objects
• Name layers
• Set layer visibility flag
• Parent object layers
The Layer Browser window has a pop-up menu that lets you switch
between List and Hierarchy views.
L I G H T WAV E 3 D 7
The List view just lists the layers. In the Hierarchy view, the layers of
an object are shown in their parental relationship, and that can be altered
by dragging and dropping layers. Layers cannot be moved between
objects and all children at the same level are shown in numeric order.
Parenting layers
When in Hierarchy view, the layer list shows non-existent layers at
the root level, and lists two more than the current max. This makes it
match the list mode behavior more closely.
List/Hierarchy View pop-up menu
The ALT+# (1 through 0) keyboard shortcut will place a layer into the
background. Note that if only one layer is active, it cannot be placed into
the background.
All of the currently loaded objects will be listed. Click on the white
triangle to expand or contract the layer listing for a particular object.
Layers in the foreground will have a checkmark in the corresponding F
column. Clicking in the F column for a different layer will place that layer
by itself in the foreground. To add to the current selection, hold the SHIFT
key as you click. The B column works similarly on background layers.
C H A P T E R T W E N T Y : L I G H T WAV E 3 D M O D E L I N G
The Visibility flag can be toggled on/off for each layer by clicking in
the column. A layer is invisible to Layout when the (Visibility flag) dot
does not appear. You may want to use this on scratch layers and cutting
objects used for booleans. This setting has no effect on Modeler.
A few empty layers are always listed after the last occupied layer.
Double-click on a layer name (unnamed by default) or choose Detail >
Layers: Layer Settings to bring up the dialog to set the layer name and
Layout Properties dialog
Since your screen can often get cluttered with open panels, you can
quickly hide/show these floating windows by pressing the ALT+F1.
Objects can be created, loaded into Layout, or loaded directly into
To load an object into Modeler:
Select File > Load Object. The object becomes the current object and
all of its layers are loaded.
You may select multiple objects, if supported by your platform’s file
dialog, or select VBFileRequester as your File Dialog on the
Interface tab of the Display Options panel (Display > Viewports: View
Choose File > Load Object into Layer to load an object file into the
currently selected layer. If the file contains multiple layers, they will all
be loaded into the same layer.
Choose File > Revert Current Object to put the current object in its
last-saved state. Essentially, this is like closing and reloading the object.
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Encapsulated PostScript Loader
The EPSF_Loader command (File > Import > EPSF_Loader) converts
Illustrator (.ai) and encapsulated PostScript (.eps) files into twodimensional LightWave objects, by converting bezier curves into
tessellated polygons.
If the EPS uses a gradient fill, you will need to convert it to a solid fill
(e.g., using Illustrator) before using this loader.
The Curve Division Level option sets the desired level of detail.
The Convert to pop-up menu sets the type of object that will be
The EPS file is defined by either typing the full path in the EPSF File
input field or using the requester button to bring up a file requester.
Auto Axis Drill will attempt to automatically drill holes in faces,
where appropriate. (e.g., the two holes in the number 8).
Auto Centering will center the resulting geometry.
Due to the inherent differences between 2D structured drawings and
3D objects, there will usually be some amount of cleanup required.
This command has been tested with Illustrator files up to version 8.
Use the current object pop-up menu to select which object you are
To start editing a new object from scratch:
Select File > New Object. A new object called UNNAMED is created with
a nice set of fresh empty layers.
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When you save an object, all layers are saved and preserved. You
have several options, all available from the File menu:
Save Object
This option saves the current object using its
filename. If the object has never been saved before,
this is the same as using Save Object As.
Save Object As
This option opens a file dialog letting you name (or
rename) the object before saving.
Save Layers As Object
Use this to save a foreground layer to its own object
file. If multiple layers are selected, they will be saved
in a single layer. Make sure you add the .LWO filename
extension to your object name when saving.
Save All Objects This option saves all files using their filenames. If any
new objects haven’t been saved before, you are
alerted and given the option of naming them.
An asterisk will appear next to the names (on the current pop-up
menu) of objects that have been modified since their last save.
The File > Export menu has several options to export your LightWave
object into different formats. They are discussed in the Appendix under
the heading Foreign Object Support.
Export Encapsulated Postscript
This plug-in will allow you to save your object as an encapsulated
postscript file (.EPS). In the View pop-up menu, select which of your
viewports you want included in the file. If you want the grid or points
included, activate Draw Grid or Draw Points.
Enter the path and filename in the file input field or click the Export
File button to bring up a file dialog. Define the size in inches of the
resulting drawing using the W and H field.
L I G H T WAV E 3 D 7
With (left) and without (right) grid and points
Once you are finished with an object, you can close it by selecting
Close Object from the Files pop-up menu. You can close all object files
by selecting Close All Objects. If any objects are unsaved, you are
alerted and given the option of saving them.
Objects revert to their on-disk version in other Hub applications (e.g.,
Layout) when you close them or exit Modeler and do not save them
first.This will cause you to lose unsaved attributes like surface
You can use Modeler > Preferences > Import Preferences File and
Modeler > Preferences > Export Preferences File to load and save,
respectively, preference settings. Use this feature to access specialpurpose preference settings you might set up. You can also use Modeler
> Preferences > Revert to Startup Preferences to go back to the settings
that existed when you first started Modeler.
The preference settings that exist when you shutdown Modeler will
become the startup settings for your next session.
User commands are user-defined names that are associated with a
particular plug-in. You can also provide arguments for the plug-in. Once
defined, they can be used as standard commands and assigned to a
menu and/or key.
C H A P T E R T W E N T Y : L I G H T WAV E 3 D M O D E L I N G
You can set up multiple user commands using the same plug-in with
different arguments.
The command arguments can be derived from the LScript
documentation on the LightWave CD.
To add a user command:
1 Choose Modeler > Commands > Edit User Commands. This will
display the Edit User Commands dialog.
2 Enter the name you want to use. We suggest you also use the prefix
CMD (e.g., CMDSTRETCHPRINCESS). This will keep all of your defined user
commands together when they appear in a list together with standard
3 Select the command you want to use on the Action pop-up menu.
4 If the plug-in requires arguments, enter them in the Argument field.
5 Click the Add button. Your command will appear on the User
Command pop-up, along with any other user commands you have
Click Delete to delete the selected User Command. Selecting the
Clear All button will delete all defined user commands, but don’t
click this unless you really mean it! There is no implicit undo for this.
You will have to either re-add commands manually or use Modeler >
Preferences > Revert to Startup Preferences.
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6 Click OK to close the dialog. The user command will now appear in
any command lists.
If you need to change the plug-in associated with a user command, you
must delete it and then re-add it.
Maintaining User Command Sets
Although the user commands are a part of the main preferences, the
Load and Save buttons let you retrieve and store user command sets that
you develop.
Execute Command
The XCommand function (Construct > Utility: LScript) lets you
directly enter a user command to be executed.
You may define any plug-in (with arguments) to run automatically
when you first run Modeler. Simply choose Modeler > Commands > Edit
Startup Command and define the command and argument, if applicable.
You can access the General Options panel by choosing Modeler >
Options > General Options.
C H A P T E R T W E N T Y : L I G H T WAV E 3 D M O D E L I N G
Modeler General Options panel
Content Directory
The Content Directory (see Chapter 6) is a central file path for
loading objects, images, and scenes. Note that this setting is shared by
all LightWave applications.
Default Polygon Type
Some operations in Modeler create many polygons in one operation.
As such, the computer must decide whether to generate triangles (threepoint polygons) or quadrangles (four-point polygons), depending on the
shape’s requirements.
To force the computer to use Triangles or Quadrangles, select either
for the Polygon setting. Choose Automatic to let the computer create
the most appropriate polygon type for each given operation.
To create optimal objects, your goal is to keep the polygon count
down.They will load and render faster than bloated objects, with no
visible difference. As such, Quadrangles is the suggested setting for
most cases.This lets you manually choose the areas that require
Flatness Limit
The Flatness Limit setting determines whether Modeler regards a
polygon as planar or not. Note that a non-flat polygon within this setting
can still cause rendering errors. (See Chapter 21, “Non-Planar Polygons.”)
The Default Surface Name
All polygons must have a surface name. When geometry is created,
polygons are given the default surface name of DEFAULT. You can change
the default name by changing the Surface field. This will affect only
geometry created from that point on, however. Use the pop-up to the
right of the field to select from existing surface names.
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When you create a surface using the Change Surface dialog (Detail >
Polygons: Surface), the option (Make Default) automatically sets the
default surface name.
Curve Divisions
The Curve Divisions setting determines how smoothly a curve (e.g.,
spline curves, text, etc.) should be interpolated. The finer the setting,
the greater the number of polygons used, and the smoother the resulting
curve division.
Patch Divisions
When a SubPatch object is frozen with the Freeze command, it is
converted into a polygonal object. The Patch Division setting
determines the level of detail used in the resulting object. The number
entered in the Patch Division field must be 1 or greater and is restricted
to whole numbers. (See Chapter 29, “Patch Level and Conversion to
The number of polygons per SubPatch surface will be equal to the
square of the Patch Division number. For example, if set to 4, each
SubPatch surface will be converted into 16 polygons arranged in a 4 by 4
array. A setting of 2 would result in 4 polygons arranged in a 2 by 2 array.
The higher the setting, the higher the number of polygons used.
Because of LightWave’s surface smoothing capabilities, you can often get
away with a setting of 2 and sometimes even 1, which will keep the
polygon count of your objects to a minimum.
Metaball Resolution
The Metaball Resolution setting determines the amount of detail
used to display metaballs. (See Chapter 29, “Metaball Resolution.”)
Undoing Operations
LightWave Modeler offers an undo function that lets you take back
the last change you made while working on an object. The Undo button
(U) is located along the lower edge of the interface. The number of undos
is determined by the Undo Levels setting. The maximum value is 128,
but you can also be limited by your computer system RAM. However,
minimally-configured systems should be able to go back several steps if
necessary. Even power-users should find 10 undo levels sufficient.
Undoing the Undo
It’s possible to go too far unintentionally and undo too many steps.
To correct for this error, click the Redo button located next to the Undo
button. As long as you have made no editing changes, you can redo all
the way back to your last modeling operation.
C H A P T E R T W E N T Y : L I G H T WAV E 3 D M O D E L I N G
The combination of Undo and Redo is a powerful one, allowing you to
step backward and forward through the evolution of a model. This is
especially useful when you use some of the more advanced modeling
tools, where you may need to make a series of subtle changes to a model
as you design it, undoing and redoing as needed, until you achieve the
desired shape.
If you undo back five steps, then use a new tool, you will no longer be
able to redo those steps. Undo is a kind of history that unfolds as you
model. If you go back and change the model, then you have changed
the course of history in a fundamental way.The structure of the model is
now different, and redo will be unable to restore it. (You aren’t Marty
Points and Polygons
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hapter 21:
Points and Polygons
The process of object editing involves manipulating points and
polygons. It will include selecting some portion of an existing object,
choosing the operation to perform, adjusting any parameters for that
operation, then carrying out the operation.
The concept of selecting is very important to Modeler. Selection is the
act of specifying either the object itself, or a portion of it, that you intend
to edit next. The most basic elements you can modify include points and
polygons—the dots and multi-sided shapes that make up all objects. Any
number of points, polygons, or objects, in any combination, may be
selected for a specific operation.
Everything in a layer is considered selected when nothing is selected.
When selecting and unselecting, make sure that no modeling tool is
currently active.You can usually tell if a tool is active based on the
mouse pointer.You can quickly deactivate any tool by pressing the
SPACEBAR; however, if no tool was active, you will change the edit mode.
You can also choose Modes > Deselect Tool.
Points generally appear in two ways on screen, selected and
unselected. Selected points are highlighted, while unselected points
remain small dots.
To select points:
1 Use Point Selection mode (Point button or CTRL+G). The mode
selection buttons are located at the bottom-left of the screen.
Point Selection mode button selected
2 Drag your LMB over points in an object and then release the mouse
button to select those points.
Once you have selected points and released the mouse button, you
cannot select additional points in the same manner.
If you know the number of points you want to select, check the
information display above the Point (Selection mode) button. It shows
you the number of selected items.
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To add more points to a selection:
Hold the SHIFT key while you select with your LMB to add points to
the existing selection or just click your MMB.
To lasso a group of points:
With the RMB, drag out a circle around points to select a group. As
you might expect, you can add more points to a selection by holding the
SHIFT key as you drag.
To unselect points:
If selected points exist (and you have released the mouse button),
dragging over them with your LMB will unselect them. You can also use
the lasso by dragging with your RMB.
To unselect all points:
Click in any non-active (i.e., not a button) area on the toolbar to
unselect all points. You can also use the Drop Current Tool command (/).
See Chapter 27 for additional selection commands.
As discussed briefly in the prior chapter, a polygon is some number of
points joined by lines to form a solid face. A triangular polygon is a
three-point polygon. A quadrangular polygon is a four-point polygon. A
multi-sided polygon (some programs call these n-gons) is a complex
polygon, one with many points. As long as the points that make up a
polygon remain in one (flat) plane, the polygon will render properly. If
not, polygons can fall victim to unpredictable rendering errors. Even if a
polygon is flat when modeled, it can become “unflat” (non-planar) if a
displacement map, bones, or other effects that move points nonuniformly are applied to the object during an animation.
Polygon illustrations
Non-planar Polygons
Non-planar rendering errors can be eliminated by using triangles.
Why use triangles? Well, say you had a square piece of glass laying on a
table. It’s physically impossible to lift just one corner without also lifting
at least one of the other corners, right? However, if the glass is
triangular, we can easily lift one corner and leave the other two still
resting on the table. A non-planar polygon is like our square piece of
glass with just one corner lifted in the air—impossible for you and
LightWave’s renderer. Although you can make objects with non-planar
polygons, they will likely cause sporadic rendering errors.
Example rendering error due to non-planar polygon
If we split the glass square in half from one corner to another, we end
up with two triangles sharing a single side. (In Modeler speak, this is called
tripling polygons.) We can then, in effect, lift one corner without a problem
because the shared side would act like a hinge.
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Tripled polygons
Whether Modeler regards a polygon as planar or not depends on its
flatness value and the Flatness Limit on the General Options panel
(Modeler > Options > General Options) setting. If a polygon’s flatness
exceeds the limit, then it is considered non-planar. A polygon’s flatness
can be determined by selecting the polygon and opening the Polygon
Info panel (Display > Selection: Info). It is unlikely that you will ever
need to adjust the Flatness Limit default setting of .05%.
If a polygon is non-planar, but within the Flatness Limit, it may still
cause rendering errors.
So why not just use triangles exclusively? Well, the more polygons
your object has, the longer it takes to render. Polygons with more than
three points are still useful when they will not be bent or twisted—
bending or twisting these types of polygons usually results in non-planar
polygons, which cause rendering errors. It is best to use a combination
of polygons when you model, using three-, four-, and greater-sided
polygons where necessary. Use the type of polygon that best fits the
needs of the animation and model.
A few types of polygons are useful for very specific purposes. Singlepoint polygons appear to be normal points, except that you can select
them and assign them surface qualities like any polygon. However,
unless single-point polygons are assigned luminous or motion blur
attributes (or are used with HyperVoxels), generally they are not visible
when rendered. With luminosity and/or motion blur, they appear as a
pinpoints or streaks of lights in images or animations. This is highly
useful for emulating rain, stars, fireworks effects, and more.
Fireworks with single-point polygons
Two-point polygons, or lines, are useful for strings, such as on
stringed instruments, fields of wheat, and so on. Technically, a line has
no measurable thickness, but LightWave lets you render at an adjustable
A field of wheat with two-point polygons
See the discussion on Particle/Line Thickness; this feature is on
Layout’s Rendering tab on the Object Properties panel, see Chapter 9
for more information.
Polygons generally appear in two ways on screen, selected and
unselected. A selected polygon will appear highlighted with outlines in
yellow. You will see that selecting polygons is very similar to selecting
L I G H T WAV E 3 D 7
To select polygons in a viewport:
1 Use Polygon selection mode (CTRL+H). The mode selection buttons
are located at the bottom-left of the screen.
Polygon Selection mode button selected
2 If you are using a viewport set to a non-shaded Rendering Style
(Display Options), like wireframe, drag your LMB over the edge of
polygons and then release the mouse button. This selects polygons
that share that edge. With a shaded Rendering Style like Texture or
Smooth Shade, you can click directly on the polygon’s face.
As polygons become selected, they will become highlighted and you
will see the surface normal indicator (the perpendicular dotted line)
appear. (The Normal display option must be active.)
Once you have selected polygons and released the mouse button, you
cannot select additional polygons in the same manner.
If you know the number of polygons you want to select, check the
information display above the Point Selection mode button. It shows
you the number of selected items.
To add more polygons to a selection:
Hold the SHIFT key while you select with LMB to add more polygons to
the existing selection or just click your MMB.
To lasso a group of polygons:
With the RMB, drag out a circle around polygons to select a group.
Only the polygons completely within the outline are selected. Of course,
you can add more polygons to a selection by holding the SHIFT key as you
To unselect polygons:
If selected polygons exist (and you have released the mouse button),
dragging over them with your LMB will unselect them. You can also use
the lasso by dragging with your RMB.
Selecting a group of polygons and then deselecting the ones you don’t
want is often the only way to select the ones you do want.
To unselect all polygons:
Click in any non-active (i.e., not a button) area on the toolbar to unselect
all polygons. You can also use the Drop Current Tool command (/).
L I G H T WAV E 3 D 7
See Chapter 27 for additional selection commands.
If there are points/polygons in-line (on top of each other) in a
viewport using a non-shaded Rendering Style (i.e., Wireframe), you select
all of the points/polygons when you select with your mouse. However,
shaded viewports respect polygons facing away from you and those
obscured by other polygons. Thus, you can select by clicking on a
polygon’s face without worrying about what’s behind or on the other
side. You can change the Rendering Style from the pop-up menu on the
viewport titlebar or on the Viewport tab of the Display Options panel.
Polygon selected in shaded mode
When you select polygons/points on the positive X axis and
Symmetry mode (Symmetry button) is active, polygons/points on the
negative X axis are also selected (or deselected). Polygons/points must
be exactly opposite each other on the positive and negative sides of the
X axis for this command to work properly.
Selecting polygons in Symmetry mode
Generally, you should perform all of your edits on the positive side of
the X axis when using Symmetry. Using the negative side may lead to
unpredictable results.
Symmetry also affects polygon editing.
You may also select a portion of an object using a definable bounding
box (i.e., a volume). The Volume Selection mode (CTRL + J) button is next
to the Polygon Selection mode button at the bottom of the interface.
Polygons/points selected in this manner do not become highlighted.
To use Volume selection:
1 Click the Volume selection mode button.
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Volume Selection mode button selected
2 The initial state of the Volume select is usually Exclude. This means
polygons touching the bounding box are excluded. Clicking the
Volume button again will toggle to the Include state where polygons
touching the bounding box are included in the selection. You can also
judge the state by looking at the small text field right above the Point
Selection mode button.
3 Drag out a bounding box in a viewport with your LMB. If one already
exists, you can drag it around from the center or drag the edges and
corners to re-size. You can reset the bounding box by clicking in an
inactive part of the interface.
The selection is infinite along the axis perpendicular to the viewport
you dragged the bounding box in.
If you open the Volume Statistics panel (Modeler > Windows >
Statistics Open/Close), you can also use the + and - buttons to formally
select/unselect the listed points/polygons.
Lasso Volume Select
You can also lasso-select a volume by dragging your RMB in a
viewport. A big difference between this and normal volume selection is
that in a perspective viewport, the lassoed area is perpendicular to the
viewport. Moreover, the angle will be retained even when the viewport is
subsequently rotated.
If you are selecting from among many items within a cluttered space,
it’s probably easier to use the lasso tool for Polygon Selection mode
(i.e., RMB).
Press the SPACEBAR to cycle through the Selection modes (Point,
Polygon, and Volume). Note that it will also first drop any modeling
tool that may be active.
The Polygon Statistics panel (Modeler > Windows > Statistics
Open/Close) includes some tools that simplify your life when you select
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Polygon Statistics panel. Pop-up button for surface, part, and sketch color selection are circled
The Polygon Statistics panel lists polygons by type, including
skelegons, metaballs, and SubPatches, as well as the number of each
type. 1 Vertex polygons are those that consist of a single point; 2
Vertices polygons are those with two points, and so on.
You can select all of the polygons in a particular group by clicking on
the corresponding plus (+) symbol. You can unselect the entire group by
clicking the minus (-) sign.
You can also select by surface name (Surf), part name (Part), and
sketch color (Col). First, select a name by clicking on the pop-up menu
(down-arrow button). Then click on the plus or minus signs as needed.
Left: Selecting surface. Right: Surface now available for polygon selection
The information presented on the Statistics panel will vary depending
on the editing mode (i.e., Points, Polygons, or Volume).
Leave the Statistics panel open all the time for easy access.
The surface normal—admittedly an unusual-sounding name—has
great importance in 3D. Here’s why: A feature of polygons is that they
can be one-sided or double-sided. They have the unique ability to be
invisible from one side while visible from the other, or they can be
visible from both sides. The surface normal, which appears whenever a
polygon is selected, projects away from the visible side of a polygon.
Since LightWave needs to calculate the appearance of all polygons
that make up an object, it helps for you to determine beforehand
whether the polygons you need for an object will actually be seen from
both sides. Why is this important? Because it takes LightWave longer to
calculate both sides of the polygon. If LightWave knows that a polygon is
only one-sided, it can render images more quickly.
How can you determine whether to use a one-sided or double-sided
polygon? Easy. Suppose you’re making an apple. Will the scene require
that the viewer see the inside of the apple? If not, then you model only
the outside of the apple. There’s a simple rule of thumb for modeling:
build only what your animation requires. The author of LightWave once
created a model of San Francisco’s famed Golden Gate Bridge. However,
since the back side of the bridge would not be seen in the animation, he
did not model it. It wasn’t needed.
Even if you have not modeled double-sided polygons, you can still use
the Double Sided surface attribute when rendering.
Surface Normal Functions
See Chapter 26 for information on special functions to change the
direction of surface normals.
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The Numeric panel is a multi-functional non-modal window. Its
contents and abilities change depending on what tool is selected. When
you create primitives, it lets you refine graphically set values. When you
use modifying tools, it lets you change various settings that affect how
the tool performs. It is displayed by choosing Modeler > Windows >
Numeric Options or by just pressing the N key. It may be left open
Use the Actions pop-up menu to Reset the fields to their default
settings or to Activate the tool. (You can also press the N key to activate
the tool.) Generally, activating a tool turns on its interactive handles, if
any, in the viewports. This can be for primitive shape, influence range,
and so on. It will also activate the numeric fields, if they are ghosted.
Activate option
You can also reset to defaults by clicking a reset area when a tool is
selected, but not activated.
Creating Geometry
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hapter 22:
Creating Geometry
As you might expect, no one is going to create a starship by
individually creating each and every point and polygon. You create most
of your objects with primitives, that is, boxes, balls, discs, and cones.
Look around the room. Nearly everything in it can be broken down
into one or more of these primitive shapes. Your monitor is basically a
box, your desk is made up of several boxes, your trash can is an
extruded disc, and so on.
The modeling process normally starts with a primitive and you just
modify and add to it. So, the better you get at breaking down objects
into primitives, the better modeler you will become.
On the Create menu, there are several basic primitive tools in the
Object group in the toolbar. Generally, most of the tools are used in the
same way. First, you drag out a two-dimensional shape and then add
depth to your object by expanding it in a different viewport. For
example, with the Box tool you begin by creating a square and add
depth, making it a box. The Ball, Disc, and Cone tools all start off the
same, with a circle. It is really the second step that differentiates those
C H A P T E R T W E N T Y - T W O : C R E AT I N G G E O M E T R Y
Dragging out a ball
You’ll probably use the Box tool most often, because most objects are
box-like in general form. The Ball tool is great for creating anything from
a tiny pea to a giant planet. The Disc tool is used to form cylindershaped objects like coins or tubes. The Cone tool is perfect for making
delicious ice cream cones...mmmmmm.
To create a primitive:
1 Select the primitive tool button on the Create menu (i.e., Box, Ball,
Disc, or Cone).
2 Drag out the initial 2D shape in any viewport with your LMB. This
activates the tool. Pressing the CTRL key before you click and holding
it while you drag will symmetrically constrain the shape. The
dimensions of your outline are shown in the lower left corner.
3 After you release the mouse button, you can adjust the shape by
dragging any of the sides or corners. You can reposition it by
dragging the center.
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4 Go to another viewport and drag to extend the shape into the third
dimension. Release the mouse button.
5 You can continue to adjust the primitive’s size and position.
If you find you need to start over from scratch, just click in an inactive
toolbar area or use undo.
6 When you are satisfied, deselect the primitive tool by clicking on it or
choosing Modes > Deselect Tool to turn your outline into an object.
(Alternatively, you can select another modifying tool.)
Tools and the Right Mouse Button
Most (interactive) tools that create geometry (Box, Ball, Capsule,
etc.) use the RMB to basically drop the tool—making geometry, if
applicable—and then begin a new operation with it.
Creating in Perspective
You can create primitives in a perspective viewport pretty much as
you would in a 2-D viewport. You will see highlighted control points at
the corners, sides, and center. You will also notice that you can see
(fainter) hidden sides and control points. You can also drag any of the
control points. Dragging a side control point will move the
corresponding side along its perpendicular axis.
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Creating in perspective
Remember, you can rotate your view by holding the ALT key as you
Using the Arrow Keys
The arrow keys let you quickly adjust certain settings depending on
the primitive being created, as follows:
Right/Left Arrow
Up/Down Arrow
Incr./decr. horizontal Segments*
Incr./decr. vertical
Incr./decr. Segments
Incr./decr. Sides
Incr./decr. Segments
Incr./decr. Sides
Incr./decr. Segments
Incr./decr. Sides
*based on viewport beneath mouse pointer
You can also numerically create a primitive or use the numeric panel
with the graphical creation tools. The input fields on the panel update in
real-time as you graphically adjust your box with the mouse and vice
versa. As such, you can drag out a rough version of your box with your
mouse and then enter precise values on the numeric panel.
Actions Pop-up Menu
The Actions pop-up menu (see Chapter 21), can activate the
numerical settings for a primitive tool. To do this, simply select Activate.
Select Reset to return all of the fields to their default value.
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Box Tool Fields
You have two different ways to adjust the shape of your box, the Size
and Range modes. With the Size tab selected, you can adjust the Width,
Height, and Depth of your box dimensions. The Center XYZ settings set
the position of the center of the box.
With the Range tab selected, you can adjust the positions of two
opposing corners of your box using the Low XYZ and High XYZ settings.
You can round off the edges of the box by setting the Radius to a
value greater than 0. The Axis sets the direction of the radial polygon
pattern used to round the edges. Use the Sharp Edge option to smooth
or unsmooth the edges.
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The Segments XYZ settings define the general number of segments
along those axes, excluding any geometry added to round the edges.
Rounded-edge box
Ball Tool Fields
The make-up of a Globe is determined by the number of
Sides and Segments. Tessellation balls are set using a
Level parameter; these balls are created entirely of
triangles and are, therefore, smoother looking.
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Use a Tessellation ball if the camera will be close to the object and
the surface is smooth.
(Globe) determines the major axis for the ball. This is
also set when you click to first create the ball using the
axis perpendicular to the (orthogonal) viewport.
(Globe) determines how many segments should be used
around the ball.
(Globe) sets how many vertical segments should be
used. Three-sided polygons are always used at the top
and bottom. Elsewhere, the polygons used are dependent
on the Polygons setting on the General Options panel
(Modeler > Options > General Options).
(Tessellation) sets the number of segments along the
edges between the twelve polyhedral vertices. Higher
settings will increase the complexity of the triangle
matrix, taking longer to create and requiring more RAM.
The XYZ coordinates of the center of the ball.
The radius of the ball along the X, Y, and Z axes.
Disc/Cone Tool Fields
The primitive is aligned with this axis.
Sides determines how many segments should be used
around the perimeter.
Segments sets how many vertical segments should be
Bottom is the starting point of the primitive along the
selected Axis.
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Top is the ending point of the primitive along the
selected Axis.
Center refers to the coordinates for the center of the
Radii refers to the radius of the primitive (wide end for a
cone) along the axes.*
*The Center and Radii XYZ fields that correspond to the
selected Axis will have no effect on the shape.
Most tools allow numeric input.Thus, the contents of the numeric
dialog will change as you select different tools.You may find it handy to
just leave the numeric dialog open.
Make UVs Option
The Make UVs option at the bottom of the various primitive numeric
panels assigns some default UVs based on the geometry of the object.
Note that a UV Texture map must be currently selected or this option
will be ghosted. (See Chapter 28 for more information.)
Make UVs option
The Capsule Tool
Another primitive tool is the Capsule tool (Create > Objects:
Capsule). Your initial click defines the perpendicular axis of the object.
You can drag the center position handle to move the shape, and you can
drag the outer bounding box edges to resize it. The numeric settings are
similar to those for the standard primitive tools.
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The Platonic Solid Tool
Yet another primitive tool is the Platonic Solid Tool (Create > Objects:
Platonic Solid). The shape of the primitive is controlled by the Shape
pop-up menu on the numeric panel. You can drag the center position
handle to move the shape, and you can drag the outer bounding box
edges to resize it. The other numeric settings are similar to those for the
standard primitive tools.
The SuperQuadric Tool
Use the SuperQuadric tool (Create > Objects: SuperQuadric) to
create quadrics objects interactively. You can choose between two
shapes: Ellipsoid (spherical) and Toroid (donut).
You can use standard drag handles to manipulate the shape and
position interactively. The numeric panel provides more detailed control.
A perfect circle—looking along the set Axis—can be made by setting
the Side Bulge to 2. A value of about 5 yields a rounded square shape.
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If you must know, a quadric is a shape made of the squares of the
coordinates, a generalization of a sphere, which is x2 + y2 + z2.
The Gemstone Tool
Diamonds are an animator’s best friend or something like that. You
can quickly make a nice round-cut diamond with the Gemstone tool
(Create > Objects: Gemstone Tool).
On the numeric panel you can control various aspects of your
diamond. Center sets the center position and Radius the overall radius
of the object.
Higher Symmetry values increase the number of polygons used on
the crown and lower values decrease the number. The Crown, Girdle,
Table and Pavillion settings control the size of those areas on the
diamond. (See above illustration for reference.)
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The Gemstone Tool numeric panel
The Equilateral Function
The Equilateral function (Create > Objects: Equilateral) will create an
equilateral triangle of the specified size.
The Gear Function
The Gear function (Create > Objects: Gear) creates a gear-shaped
Taper %
Teeth refers to the number of teeth in the gear.
Taper sets the “pointiness” of the teeth. A higher setting
creates sharper teeth.
Inner Radius Inner Radius refers to the distance from the center of the
gear to the bottom of the teeth.
Outer Radius Outer Radius is the distance to the outside edge of the
Thickness is the width of the gear.
Axis is the perpendicular axis of the gear.
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The Wedge Function
The Wedge function (Create > Objects: Wedge) will generate an
annulus (like a flat donut).
Inner Radius
Outer Radius
Start Angle
End Angle
Axis is the axis perpendicular to the donut hole.
Sections refers to the number of radial sections to
use for the object.
Height specifies the width of the object.
Inner Radius specifies the radius of the inner hole.
Outer Radius specifies the radius to the outside
Start Angle is the starting angle around the selected
End Angle is the ending angle around the selected
Axis. (360 for a complete donut.).
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The Toroid Function
Choose Create > Objects: Toroid to generate a torus (donut) or a
section thereof.
Start Angle
End Angle
Cross Section
Axis is the axis perpendicular to the donut hole.
Sections specifies the number of segments used
around the donut.
Sides specifies the number of sides each segment
should use.
Radius is the distance from the center of the donut to
the center of a cross section.
Start Angle is the starting angle around the selected
End Angle is the ending angle around the selected
Axis. (360 for a complete glazed donut. mmmm).
Cross Section is the XYZ size of a cross section. Note
that the value corresponding to the selected Axis is
not considered.
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The Parametric Surface Object Function
The Parametric Surface Object function (Create > Objects:
ParametricObj) creates parametric surfaces based on the equations
entered for X,Y, and Z in terms of UV coordinates. The function lets you
create the object using Triangles, Rectangles, Curves, or just points
(None). The equations may include any of the functions listed in the
Parametric Surface Object Function
The Plot1D Function
The Plot1D function (Create > Objects: Plot1D) generates either a
curve consisting of two-point Polygons or a spline Curve. The curve is
generated along the X axis, and its height is in the Z axis.
Plot1D Function
The height is determined by the value of the expression in the
Equation field at each x. In the fields Min, Max, and Division, enter the x
value for the start of the curve, the x value for the end of the curve, and
the number of divisions of the curve.
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Plot1D Function
The Plot2D Function
The Plot2D function (Create > Objects: Plot2D) generates a twodimensional surface in the XY plane consisting of Triangles, Rectangles,
Curves, or points (None). The height (in the Z direction) is determined
by the value of the expression in the Equation field at each division in
the X and Y axes.
Plot2D Function
In the fields labeled X Min, X Max, Y Min, and Y Max, enter the
boundaries for the surface. In the XMesh and YMesh fields, enter the
number of divisions along that axis.
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Plot2D Function
The Pen tool (Create > Elements: Pen) gives a quick way to create
polygons on the fly.
To create a polygon with the Pen tool:
Choose Create > Elements: Pen and click in a viewport with your
LMB. A polygon is created using points you define by clicking. If you
drag the mouse button, you can refine the point’s position before you
create it, which happens when you release the mouse button. You do not
need to click in the same viewport for each point.
Using the Pen Tool
To constrain the position of a new point to 45-degree increments,
relative to the last created point, hold the CTRL key down before you
To create single point polygons with the Pen tool:
Simply click in a viewport with your RMB. With each click you will
create a single-point polygon!
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Using the Pen Numeric Panel
You can also enter specific numerical values in the Pen tool numeric
panel. Clicking the Add Point button creates the point, essentially
mimicking the RMB.
Pen Numeric Panel
The Text tool (Create > Elements: Text) lets you interactively create
type objects using True Type and Adobe PostScript Type 1 fonts. Once
you create them, these objects can be beveled, extruded, drilled, and
Using the Text Tool
If the Text tool button is ghosted, make sure you have added some
fonts, as discussed below.
The Edit Font List Panel
Before you can use the Text tool interactively, you must have
previously loaded one or more fonts into the font list. This is done using
the Edit Font List panel (Modeler > Options > Edit Font List).
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Edit Font List panel
Use the Font pop-up menu to select the font for your object. Clicking
the Load Type-1 button brings up a file requester where you can load a
PostScript font. If you have PostScript fonts, the files often have a .PFB
filename extension. Clicking the Add True-Type button brings up a font
selection requester you can use to select a font. (Note: the point size is
Click Clear Entry to remove the selected font from the font list. Clear
List will purge the entire list. Load List brings up a file requester where
you can load a previously saved font list file. This can be the LWM.CFG file.
Save List brings up a file requester for saving the current font list to a
file. Note that the font list is automatically saved when you exit Modeler,
so it is not mandatory that you save the list. Use this option to create
custom file lists for special purposes.
The clearing operations do not affect the actual files stored on your
hard drive. Also fonts in the list utilize no RAM until used.
Interactively Creating Text
When you first click in a viewport after selecting the Text tool (Create
> Elements: Text), the text insertion pointer appears. You can just start
typing to create the Text template.
You can use the BACKSPACE or DELETE keys to clear the last character
typed. To clear the entire text line, press SHIFT + BACKSPACE or SHIFT +
DELETE. If you need to use a Modeler keyboard shortcut, like the N key,
while using the Text tool, first press the ESC key to exit the Text tool,
then press the desired shortcut key.
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Modifying the Template
The position of the text is referenced to the bottom left of the pointer.
You can reposition the text in any viewport. Dragging the sizing handle
up or down will scale the text larger or smaller. Dragging the kerning
handle will adjust the amount of space between characters.
The sizing handle cannot be dragged past the bottom.
Text will be aligned with reference to the vertical bar. Pressing the TAB
key will cycle through the alignment options.
You can cycle through the font list using the UP and DOWN ARROW keys
or you can use the numeric requester. If you have already started a
template, the font will change.
You must deselect the Text tool or select another tool to actually
create the object. Alternatively, clicking your RMB will create the object
and also move the template to your mousepointer position. You can
quickly make unlimited copies of the text in this manner.
The number of points used to approximate curves in characters
depends on the setting for Curve Division on the General Options panel
(Modeler > Options > General Options).
The characters that are available within the selected font may be
limited.You may or may not have all possible characters allowed by the
PostScript format depending on whether those characters were
created in the font originally.
The Text Numeric Panel
The related numeric panel provides interactive feedback and also lets
you set options numerically. Axis is the perpendicular axis used in
creating the text; however, it is usually set interactively by clicking the
mouse in a view window. The Text input field lets you enter the text to
generate into a 3D object.
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Text Numeric Panel
From the Font pop-up menu, you can select any of the fonts defined
in the previously discussed Fonts List.
Some fonts, when converted into 3D objects, have additional points
near their corner vertices. When these polygons are beveled, these
additional points can cause beveling inaccuracies. Use the default
setting, Sharp, for the majority of your text generation, as this will avoid
the creation of such points. The Buffered setting allows the additional
points to be created, should you decide that you wish it.
The Alignment setting determines how the text is aligned around the
text insertion pointer. Center is the XYZ position of the insertion point;
however, it is usually set interactively by clicking the mouse in a view
window. The Scale value sets the general height of the text; however, the
actual size may be less and will vary from font to font. Kern sets the
spacing between fonts and depends on the font’s own characteristics.
Negative numbers are allowed to bring characters closer together.
The Scale setting (numeric panel) cannot be set to zero or a negative
The Sketch tool (Create > Elements: Sketch) is purely a two
dimensional modeling tool. With it, you can draw polygons (and curves,
discussed later) in any viewport.
To sketch a polygon:
1 Choose Create > Elements: Sketch.
2 Open the numeric panel and select Face as the Type.
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3 Drag out the desired shape. (It is not necessary to touch the
beginning of the line with the end. The polygon is closed
automatically.) When you release your mouse button, a polygon is
created using the shape you sketched out. The polygon is always
centered in the depth dimension of the viewport.
Sketching Curves
You can use the Curve option on the numeric panel of the Sketch tool
to create a spline curve instead of a polygon. The tool operates exactly
as previously described, except an open spline curve is created instead
of a polygon.
To sketch a curve:
1 Click Create > Elements: Sketch.
2 Open the numeric panel and select Curve as the Type.
3 Drag out the desired shape. When you release your mouse button, a
curve is created using the shape you sketched out. The curve is
always written on a plane positioned at 0 of the viewport’s
perpendicular axis.
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You may be already familiar with curves like these since many desktop
drawing programs use them. Spline curves will be discussed in detail
The Bezier tool (Create > Elements: Bezier) allows you to create
standard spline curves using tangent controls.
Bezier Tool
To use the Bezier tool:
1 Choose Create > Elements: Bezier.
2 Place your mousepointer where you would like to begin your curve.
3 Click and hold your LMB—the beginning and ending of your first
curve is created. Drag your mouse to where you want the curve to
end and release the mouse button.
4 Successive clicks will create additional curves.
5 Drag the tangent handles (circles) to adjust the curve shape. Holding
the CTRL key while dragging will allow you to move both sides of the
tangent simultaneously.
6 Drop the tool by hitting the SPACEBAR.
Once you drop the Bezier tool, a normal Modeler curve is created. As
such, you cannot re-edit the curve using the Bezier tool.
On the numeric panel, you can set the subdivision level (for smoother
or less smooth curves), create a closed curve, and delete the last
tangent point.
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Bezier tool numeric panel
In addition to making polygons from points, you can also create
curves. Curves are a powerful modeling tool and help you create smooth
edges and flowing organic objects or object details. They are also used
for some modeling tools as a directional path.
You can create curves using a minimal number of points, yet achieve
a smoothness that would take many times the number of points if you
attempted to mimic the curve with a polygon. Moreover, with fewer
points, it is easy to subtly or dramatically change the curve’s shape.
However, by themselves, curves will never render in a finished image.
They are essentially a free-form modeling tool used to create polygonal
There are basically two types of curves: open and closed. An open
curve has a beginning and an end—essentially a curving line. A closed
curve has no beginning or end; it is a closed loop. A circle is a closed
The Spline Draw Tool
The Spline Draw tool (Create > Elements: Spline Draw) is simply a
tool for making (open) spline curves. To use the tool, just click and move
points. Clicking off the curve adds new points to the end.
The Spline Draw tool
Its numeric panel offers options for making control points, discussed
later, and deleting the last point from the curve. Changing the Curve
Points value will resample the curve into more segments. Note that
resampling the curve can change its shape, particularly if the number is
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incremented gradually, like with the mini-slider. If you want a more
refined curve that accurately matches the one you have drawn, enter the
new number directly into the field to avoid the intermediate curves.
Creating from Points
You can also create curves from points in a manner nearly the same
as creating polygons.
To create a curve:
1 Create a few points. Clicking with your RMB using the Points tool
(Create > Elements: Points) will work.
2 Your points must be selected in the order you want the curve to flow.
However, if you immediately go to—or were using—the Point
Selection mode, the points should already be in the selected state. If
not, select them in the desired order.
3 To create an open curve from the points, click Create > Elements:
Make Curve > Make Open Curve or press CTRL + P.
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To create a closed curve from the points, click Create > Elements:
Make Curve > Make Closed Curve or press CTRL + O (the letter o).
You can modify the curve’s shape by simply moving the individual
points. Notice how the curve flows smoothly through the interior
points. It is easiest to see this as you drag points on either side of a
point. If you need additional control, you can add additional points to
an existing curve.
To add points to a curve:
Activate the Add Points tool (Construct > Subdivide: Add Points) and
click anywhere along the curve.
To delete points from a curve:
Select the points and use the Cut command (X).
Curve Direction
Curves also have a head and tail. This is important for certain
modeling operations discussed elsewhere. When the curve is selected in
the Polygon Selection mode, the head is indicated by a small diamond; it
is the first point you selected when creating the curve.
You can flip the head and tail around by using the Flip command
(Detail > Polygons: Flip).
Using Control Points
When using a curve as a modeling tool, sometimes you need to adjust
the curve to get it to “that perfect angle.” Because of the way points
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control an open curve’s shape, it can be difficult to get the desired result
at the ends of a curve. Fortunately, Modeler lets you have extra “control”
points at each end, which affect the curve shape, but don’t actually
become part of the curve’s modeling characteristics.
To activate control points on a curve:
1 If you have more than one curve, select your desired curve first using
the Polygon selection mode.
2 Choose Detail > Curves: Control Points > Begin Control Point to
detach the first point from the curve. It is your starting control point.
Dragging this point will change the shape of the curve at the new
starting point.
3 Choose Detail > Curves: Control Points > End Control Point to
detach the last point from the curve. It is your ending control point.
Dragging it will change the shape of the curve at the new ending
The control points commands will also toggle the control point state
off, if selected again.
It is perfectly legal to have only a beginning or ending control point on
a curve.
If you plan to use control points on a curve, you should add an extra
point at the beginning and end of a curve for that purpose.
Smoothing Two Overlapping Curves
When two curves share the same end point, because of point merging
or some other reason, the curve may not flow smoothly through that
point. This can be particularly troubling when designing a complex
spline cage. You could kill the curve (k), reselect the points and create a
new curve, but there is an easier way.
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To smooth curves sharing a common end point:
Select the two curves (Polygon selection mode) and click Detail >
Curves: Smooth. This smoothes the joint as though the two curves were
originally plotted as one continuous curve—even though they remain
individual curves.
Before (left) and after (right) using Smooth
Make sure that the point they share is in fact one point. (If not, merge
the points into one.)
Turning Curves into Polygons
Since curves will never be seen by themselves, sometimes you need
to turn them into polygons.
To convert a curve into a polygon:
Select the curve(s) and choose Construct > Convert: Freeze. Each
independent curve will become a distinct polygon. An open curve will be
closed (between its end points) before it is converted to a polygon.
The number of points that Modeler will use to approximate the curve
depends on the setting for Curve Division on the General Options panel
(Modeler > Options > General Options).
Using Modeling Tools on Curves
Most of the standard modeling tools will work on a curve as well.
However, a curve is sometimes converted into a polygon before the tool
is applied. This happens with the Extrude and Lathe tools (Multiply
menu), for example.
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Left: Curve. Right: Lathed object made of polygons
See Chapter 29 for information on Metaballs and Metaedges.
Skelegons are covered in Chapter 10.
Remember a point needs to have X, Y, and Z coordinates. You can
create points in real-time or by positioning first and then creating.
To create a point:
1 Choose Create > Elements: Points to activate the Points tool.
2 In any viewport, with your LMB drag the large crosshairs to the
desired position (you can reposition in any viewport). The
information display (bottom-left corner) will give you position
feedback as you move your mouse.
3 Click the RMB to create the point. Be careful not to move your mouse
pointer. Deselecting the Points tool will also create the point, if you
don’t have a steady hand. Deselecting and then reselecting the Points
button will create the point and keep you in the create point mode.
4 You can also position the point by dragging with your RMB. However,
the points will all be created along the same plane (when you release
the RMB).
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Sometimes you’ll want to create a random splattering of single-point
polygons for stars or perhaps gases when used with volumetrics. The
Spray Points tool (Create > Elements: Spray Points) acts like a points
spray gun. Just activate the tool and drag your mouse pointer.
Spraying points
You can control the flow (Rate) and Radius of the spray on the
numeric panel, as well as specify a color vertex map and color.
As we have discussed, polygons are made up of points. Excluding the
one and two-point specialty polygons, polygons should contain at least
three points. You will likely find that your finished objects are
constructed of a variety of polygons with different numbers of points.
Don’t get discouraged if making polygons seems very tedious. Not that
it isn’t, but most of the time you’ll create your objects by starting with
primitives. Happily, creating polygons from points is the exception
rather than the rule.
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To create a polygon from points:
In the Point Selection mode, select your points in a clockwise order.
Then, click Create > Elements: Make Pol.
Left: Points for polygon. Right: Resulting polygon
Once you create a polygon, you’ll want to view it in the Polygon
Selection mode to see if its surface is facing the correct direction
based on the normal, discussed later.
Sometimes you will want to turn single points into polygons. This is
necessary for objects like stars in a starfield, since you cannot assign
surface attributes to a point. Choose Create > Elements: Points to Polys
to turn selected points into single-point polygons.
Use the Random Points command (Create > Elements: RandPoints) to
create a defined number of points distributed randomly. You can choose
between a Square or Sphere shape. Constant generally confines the
points to the selected shape, while Falloff tapers off the point
distribution along the perimeter.
Random Points
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Left: Square. Right: Sphere
Create > Elements: RandPricks creates random surface points on
polygons. Use this to add detail to an object where you will later kill all
of its polygons.
Random Pricks
Create > Elements: Stipple creates a grid of regularly spaced points
over the surface of the object in the active layer. The Spacing fields are
for separate XYZ point spacing settings.
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You can use the Triangle Fan command (Create > Elements: Make
Fan) to create a subdivided polygon from selected points. (Selecting in a
clockwise fashion works best.) The triangles will share the first point
A triangle fan
The Triangle Strip command (Create > Elements: Make Strip) is
similar, but creates a strip of triangle polygons from a set of points. This
can be useful for game engines that prefer to have geometry built in
strips of triangles. The command basically creates triangles in a strip of
first point, second point, third point-poly, and so on.
A triangle strip
Create > Elements: Cage creates a cylindrical spline cage (connected
curves) using Axis, Sections (i.e., segments + 1), Sides, Top, Bottom, and
Radius settings.
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Cage dialog
Cage result
Platonic Solid
Choose Construct > Utility: Additional > Platonic to generate any of
the seven platonic solids—yes, even including the perennial favorites
Cube and Tetrahedron!
Platonic Solid
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Top to bottom, left to right: Tetrahedron, Cube, Octahedron, Cubeoctahedron, Icosahedron, Dodecahedron and
Choose Construct > Utility: Additional > Primitives to display a menu
for the following six commands: Toroid (Donut), Wedge, Cage (Spline
Cage), RandPricks (Random Points), Gear, and Platonic (Platonic Solid).
Spot o’ tea anyone? Generate a quick teapot by choosing Construct >
Utility: Additional > Teapot.
Modifying Geometry
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hapter 23:
Modifying Geometry
Moving, rotating, and scaling points and polygons is easy with the
tools (and functions) available on the Modify menu. Generally, the tools
work on points or polygons, depending on what edit mode you have
Modeler tools can be deselected by clicking the highlighted button
again or, if it appears in a menu, by selecting it again. An easier method
is to just hit the SPACE key, which is mapped by default to Change
Selection Mode.
If your object uses polygons with more than three sides, you will likely
see the effects of non-planar polygons created as you apply some
tools.You may need to triple your polygons as a final step.
All of Modeler’s tools have their own numeric values which will
appear on the generic numeric panel, if you have it open (N). It will
reflect the numerical values of your actions for the particular tool you
are using. Use the numeric panel for precise tweaking. Initially, it will
reflect the values for the last interactive use of the selected tool. You
may alter the values and click the Apply button to use the tool with
those settings—this can be done multiple times.
As you will notice, many tools are just variations of the same
movement and differ only by how the tool’s effective range falls off. Take
the Move tool for example. It simply repositions the selected items
equally to a new location will no falloff. With Shear, the range of the
effect varies along a linear axis. Magnet is similar, but the effect falls off
in a radial pattern. DragNet is much like Magnet except that the center of
the radial pattern is at the point you drag. Finally, Drag is a move, but
the range is only a single point.
The tools on the Modify menu are grouped by movement (Move,
Rotate, etc.)
All of these tools have a Falloff pop-up menu on their respective
numeric panels. By changing the Falloff setting, you can effectively make
one tool function the same as another tool that uses that Falloff by
default. In other words, with the Move tool, you could get the same
effects as using the Shear, Magnet, DragNet, and Drag tools, by just
changing its Falloff setting. You might think of these tools as just
shortcuts to a defined group of modify settings.
Falloff Meanings
Point Radial
None means no falloff. Thus, your basic Move, Rotate,
Size, and Stretch tools are set to this by default.
Linear makes the effect falloff along a linear axis, so it is
the default for Shear, Twist, Taper1, and Taper2.
Point means falloff is immediate around a point, so you
can move only a single point. This mode is used by Drag.
Point Radial is similar to Radial except that the center of
the falloff is at the point being dragged. DragNet uses this
Polygon means falloff is immediate around a polygon, so
you can move only a single polygon.
Radial means the effect will fall off in a radial pattern (in
a cylindrical or spherical shape), so it is the default for
Magnet, Vortex, Pole1, and Pole2.
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Weight Map
Weight Map uses the selected Weight map for the falloff.
Unweighted points will not move at all, while heavily
weighted points will move the most. Negatively weighted
points will move inversely. This allows you to use an
irregularly shaped falloff. (See Chapter 28.)
Interestingly, you can actually rotate a single point using the Rotate
tool and Falloff set to Point; however, it will have no meaningful
The linear-falloff tools are Shear, Twist, Taper 1, Taper 2, and Bend. By
default, a linear-falloff tool’s effect is automatically applied to the object
(or selected items) 100 percent at one end and zero at the other, along
the axis perpendicular to the editing viewport. This is indicated by the
Range option at the bottom portion of the numeric panel (N), which has
Automatic selected.
To use the tool in the Automatic mode via the numeric panel (by
clicking the Apply button), select the perpendicular Axis. (If the axis has
not been set either manually or by a previous mouse-based modify
operation, the Axis setting is used to compute the falloff when you click
Using the Automatic range is the simplest method.Thus, if possible
model your object along one of the three axes.
Defining a Specific Range
Instead of using an Automatic Range, you can define a specific Fixed
Range using an axis tree. This type of Range can be placed at any
position and at any angle in 3D space. The effect tree looks like a pair of
crossed wedges. The tool’s effect is applied along this tree with zero at
its tip and 100 percent at its base (fat end)—portions of the object
beyond the base are still affected 100 percent. The edges of the tree
reflect the fall-off curve shape.
To create a fixed range:
1 Select the desired linear-falloff tool and drag out the axis tree with
your RMB. (The Range option will be set to Fixed on the numeric
2 Reposition the ends by dragging them with your RMB.
The XYZ positions of the starting and ending points are reflected in
the numeric panel. You can edit these values, if necessary.
In the image that follows, we used the Bend tool. Notice the impact of
the fixed range. Geometry from the wide end of the axis tree and beyond
is 100 percent impacted by the tool. The opposite end is not affected at
all, with a falloff in between.
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To reset to automatic range:
To reset to automatic range, click your mouse pointer on an inactive
interface area. Note this will also switch you back to the Automatic
Range mode.
Setting the Falloff Shape
You can quickly select between various basic falloff directions using
the Shape buttons. (The fixed-range axis tree is shown here for
illustration purposes. It will not appear if you use an automatic range.)
You can also use the LEFT and RIGHT ARROWKEYS to change the selected
You can adjust how the effect falls off using the two sliders, which act
like tension spline controls for the beginning (upper slider) and ending
(lower slider). You can quickly set up some common curves by selecting
from the Preset pop-up menu. The graph on the numeric panel, as well
as the outer edges of the axis tree (when using a fixed range) gives you a
visual picture of the falloff. You can also use the UP and DOWN ARROWKEYS
to cycle through the Preset selection.
Adjusting falloff curve shape
Axis tree
The falloff settings apply equally to an automatic range.
The Bend tool does not have falloff options.
Here are some falloff examples:
Left to right:Automatic Linear;Automatic Smooth; and Fixed Linear
Flexing an Object on an Arbitrary Axis
Let’s say you had an object that was not aligned nicely along the X, Y,
or Z axis. If you wanted, you could define a fixed range and align the
effect tree with the object. However, this can be a tedious process. A
better alternative would be to use a Perspective viewport.
Remember, editing generally occurs along a viewport’s arbitrary
horizontal and vertical axes. Using a Perspective viewport, this can be
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something other than directly along the X, Y, or Z axis. Thus, you can
align your object so that it is perpendicular in the viewport and just use
the Automatic Range.
Twisting in perspective viewport
The radial-falloff tools are Magnet, Vortex, Pole Evenly, and Pole.
Their influence area falls off in a radial pattern (a sphere or cylinder).
This influence area is set independently of any selected polygons or
points, but works in conjunction with them. That is, if points/polygons
are selected, only those within the influence area are affected.
By default, the tool’s effect is automatically applied to the entire
object (or selected items). This is indicated by the Range option, at the
bottom portion of the numeric panel, which will have Automatic
Automatic range
Setting the Falloff Shape
How the effect falls off is determined by the two sliders, which act
like tension spline controls for the beginning/end (upper slider) and
center (lower slider). You can quickly set up some common curves by
selecting from the Preset pop-up menu. The graph gives you a visual
picture of the falloff.
Various falloff shapes
Defining a Specific Range
Instead of using an Automatic Range, you can define a specific Fixed
Range, which can be positioned and sized anywhere in 3-D space.
To set the influence area:
1 Select the desired radial-falloff tool and drag out the influence area
tree with your RMB. (The Range option will be set to Fixed on the
numeric panel.) At this point, you have defined a cylindrical area that
extends infinitely along an axis perpendicular to the viewport. Use the
CTRL key to constrain to a circle.
2 Resize the initial area as needed by dragging the outline edge handles
with your RMB or reposition by dragging the center handle.
3 To limit the depth of the area, drag out the outline in a different
viewport. The amount of influence is strongest at the center and
diminishes towards the edges. Polygons with all points outside of the
area will not be affected.
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Creating the radial-falloff influence area is similar to creating a Box
primitive, particularly in a perspective viewport.
To reset the influence area:
To reset the influence area, click your mouse pointer on an inactive
interface area. Note this will also switch you back to the Automatic
Range mode.
The Numeric Panel
The Radius X, Y, and Z values reflect the size and shape of the
influence area. If you have defined a cylindrical (i.e., two-dimensional)
area, one axis will be 0. The Center X, Y, and Z values define the center
of the area of influence.
The Symmetry mode (Symmetry button, located along bottom edge)
not only works on selection, but also on editing. Operations on the
positive side of the X axis also inversely affect the negative side of the X
axis. When this mode is active, your object is theoretically split in half at
Generally, you should perform all of your edits on the positive side of
the X axis when using Symmetry. Using the negative side may lead to
unpredictable results.
If you get unpredictable results, make sure the negative-side
geometry is exactly the mirror of the positive-side geometry with X=0 as
the center point. If the negative-side geometry is the slightest bit off, it
will not be affected. Generally speaking, this mode was meant to be used
where the geometry to the left and right of X=0 mirror each other.
(However, all of the geometry does not need to be a mirror image, only
the portion you want to work on symmetrically.)
Left: The ball is symmetrical. Right:The ball is not symmetrical
The Fit Selected command (SHIFT + A) respects symmetry. If both
sides of an object are selected and Symmetry is active, then only onehalf of the selection is used to compute the fit.
The rotate and stretch tools (i.e., Rotate, Size, Stretch, Twist, Taper 1,
Taper 2, Vortex, Pole 1, and Pole 2) can use different centers. This Action
Center state is set on the Mode pop-up menu. Mouse means to use the
mouse position. Origin is XYZ 0, 0, 0. Selection uses the center of a
bounding box around what is currently selected. Pivot uses the first
layer’s pivot point.
Modeler Modes menu
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This group of tools and functions are used to reposition geometry.
The Move Tool
The Move tool (Modify > Move: Move) is the basic tool used to
reposition geometry.
To move geometry:
1 Select your points or polygons.
2 Choose Modify > Move: Move and drag your mouse in any view. The
selected geometry will follow your movement.
Left: Moving points. Right: Moving a polygon
3 Hold the CTRL key before you drag to constrain the movement along
one of the axes.
To directly set a point’s location, see Chapter 27, “Point Information.”
The Snap Tool
The Snap tool (Modify > Move: Snap) allows points to be dragged and
snapped to align with other points. When you drag a point with the Snap
tool, the point is snapped to the grid or to one of the non-moving points,
if any.
If you set Drag Set to One Point on the numeric panel, only the single
point will move. If you choose Connected Points, points that are
connected to the point being dragged will also move. If you choose All
Points, all points will move. As with other tools, you can use selection to
limit which points are affected. Snap makes it easy to manipulate
unconnected parts without having to make explicit selections.
With View Alignment, points will be snapped to approximately align
with the other points along an axis perpendicular to the viewport, but
not fully in three dimensions.
Although this tool works on individual points, selecting polygons and
working in the Polygon Edit mode will limit its effect to points that
share a vertex with the selected polygons.
The Drag Tool
To freely drag points use the Drag tool.
To drag points:
1 To limit the edit to certain points, select them first. The Drag tool will
not affect unselected points unless none are selected. Thus, if you
have points in-line with each other in a viewport and don’t want to
drag all of them, select the target points first. (Note that all of the
selected points do not move as you drag, only the ones under your
mouse pointer.)
2 Choose Modify > Move: Drag to access the Drag tool.
3 Position your mouse pointer directly over a point and drag.
The DragNet Tool
Dum Da Dum Dum. The story you are about to hear is true... The
DragNet tool (Modify > Move: DragNet) combines the Drag and Magnet
tools. While you might use it somewhat interchangeably with Magnet,
they operate quite differently. Magnet’s radial-falloff influence area works
independently from the actual use of the tool. With DragNet, the
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spherical range is always centered around the initial point of dragging.
Moreover, you must actually drag a point, although other points in the
influence area will also move.
DragNet uses the same falloff controls as the other radial-falloff tools.
However, there is no automatic range setting.
The influence area is defined by the Radius around the initial pointer
position. You can graphically set this by dragging out a circle with your
To use the DragNet tool:
Select Modify > Move: DragNet and drag a point. Other points in the
influence area will also move, though not as much.
The information display tells you the Offset value, that is, how far
you dragged the mouse. If you set the influence area interactively with
the RMB, the information display shows the Radius value.
The Offset X, Y, and Z values on the numeric panel reflect the amount
of movement along those axes for the tool’s last operation. You can edit
the values and then click the Apply button to apply them, which you can
do multiple times.
The Magnet Tool
The Magnet tool (Modify > Move: Magnet) is a nifty tool for pushing
in or pulling out sections of objects. The effect is smoothly applied, so it
tends to create soft-edged bulges or dips in a surface. You might use the
Magnet tool to create an egg shape from a sphere. (Simply enclose the
upper hemisphere in the influence range, center the area near the top of
the sphere, and drag upward with the LMB.)
To use the Magnet tool:
Select Modify > Move: Magnet and drag your LMB in a viewport. The
initial pointer location defines the center of the move, although this may
not be obvious if it is located outside of a defined range.
The information display tells you the Offset amount for the affected
axes, that is, the distance you have moved your mouse.
The Offset X, Y, and Z values on the numeric panel will reflect the
amount of movement along those axes for the tool’s last operation. You
can edit the values and then click the Apply button to apply them, which
you can do multiple times.
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The Shear Tool
No, this doesn’t have anything to do with sheep. (Good guess
though.) Shearing is making an object slant to one side. A good example
is italicized text. Think of Shear as Move with axial falloff. That is, the
strength of the moving influence is not equal across the object, but
gradually falls off along a selected axis.
To use the Shear tool:
Select Modify > Move: Shear and drag your LMB in a viewport in the
direction you want the slant.
The information display tells you how much Offset you applied along
two of the three axes, depending on the view you edit in. Hold the CTRL
key down while dragging to constrain the shear to your initial dragging
The Offset X, Y, and Z values on the numeric panel will reflect the
amount of movement along those axes for the tool’s last operation.
The Rove Tool
The Rove tool (Modify > Move: Rove) allows you to move and rotate
with a single tool! To move an object, simply click and drag. Dragging on
an axis constrains movement to that axis. Rotate the object about the
center of the tool by clicking and dragging the rotation ring. The center
of rotation can be repositioned by dragging the center of the tool.
The Rove tool
Center Data
The Center Data command (Modify > Move: Center) centers the
contents of the foreground layer(s) around the Origin (i.e., 0, 0, 0).
The Center1D command (Modify > Move: Center1D) is similar to
Center, except a requester will appear that lets you center along a single
axis. The center of the object is placed at the 0 position for the selected
The Rest_On_Ground command (Modify > Move: Rest_On_Ground)
will move selected polygons so that they rest on a defined ground plane,
that is, where X, Y, or Z equals 0.
The Rest Axis is the axis perpendicular to the plane you want the
object to rest on. You may also Center the object on any of the axes. The
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Sense option rests the object on the positive (+) side of the plane or the
negative (-) side. The default setting would be ideal for, say, centering a
vehicle around the Origin and placing it so it sits flat on the Y axis plane.
Aligner will align geometry not only with axes, but also other
geometry. The Mode setting determines what type of alignment you
Aligner in World mode
The World mode will align geometry in the foreground to the X, Y and
Z axes. The c setting will center on the axis. The minus (-) or plus (+)
setting will place the geometry on the negative or positive side of the
axis. Off disables that axis. So if you had a “floor” at Y = 0 and you
wanted the object centered, but resting on this floor, set the Z and X
axes to c and the Y axis to +.
In the F.G.->B.G. mode, the foreground is aligned to the background.
This mode uses a bounding box around all of the geometry in the
reference layer (the background). You can center or position on the
negative or positive side of the reference. The -+ setting will align the
right edge of the geometry with the right edge of the reference layer. The
+- setting will align the left edge of the geometry with the right edge of
the reference layer. You may also scale the geometry to the reference
layer. Select the axis or axes to scale using the Scale Axis pop-up menu.
The B.G.->F.G. mode works just like F.G.->B.G., but uses the
foreground as the reference for the background.
The Absolute mode works like the World mode except you can
numerically define where the center is. In other words, you can make it
something other than 0, 0, 0.
This group of tools and functions are used to rotate geometry.
Rotating an entire object in Modeler is much the same as doing it in
Layout, except you rotate around the perpendicular axis of the viewport.
As such, you will often have to use various viewports to rotate an object.
The Rotate Tool
Select Modify > Rotate: Rotate and drag your LMB left for counterclockwise rotation or right for clockwise rotation. The center of the
effect is determined by the Action Center setting, discussed previously.
Hold the CTRL key down as you drag to rotate in 15-degree increments.
The information display (lower-left corner of the interface) will tell you
the angle of rotation, that is, the number of degrees you have rotated.
The Rotate Numeric Panel
The Angle defines the degree of rotation. The Axis setting defines the
axis of rotation. When you click in a viewport, the axis is an imaginary
line running perpendicular to the view you are editing in (i.e., coming
straight out towards you). For the Back view, it would be the Z axis; in
the Top view, it would be the Y axis; and in the Right view, it would be
the X axis. If arbitrary axes were used, no Axis will be selected.
The Center XYZ values define the center of rotation coordinates.
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In any viewport, pressing the R key will rotate an object clockwise 90
degrees around a perpendicular axis located at the current mouse
pointer location.
The Bend Tool
The Bend tool (Modify > Rotate: Bend) is a combination of Rotate
and Shear. It will move one side of an object and rotate it at the same
time, causing the entire object to bend.
To use the Bend tool:
Select the tool and drag your LMB in the direction you want the bend
to occur. The initial pointer location defines the center of the rotation.
The information display tells you the Angle of bending, that is, the
number of degrees you bent the object. Hold the CTRL key while dragging
to constrain movement to increments of 15 degrees—this makes it much
easier to bend along a single axis.
The Angle value on the numeric panel will reflect the degrees of
The Twist Tool
The Twist tool (Modify > Rotate: Twist) is similar to Shear, although
the results are quite different. With Shear, the sides of the object are
moved one way or the other. With Twist, one end of the object is rotated
while the other remains stationary. Think of Twist as Rotate with axial
falloff. That is, the strength of the rotational influence is not equal across
the object, but gradually falls off along a selected axis.
To use the Twist tool:
Select the tool and drag your LMB left for counterclockwise twisting
or right for clockwise. The center of the effect is determined by the
Action Center setting, discussed previously.
The cow says “ouch!”
The information display tells you the Angle of twisting, that is, how
many degrees you twisted. Hold the CTRL key down while dragging to
twist in increments of 15 degrees.
The Angle value on the numeric panel reflects the degrees of
rotation. The Axis buttons relate to the rotational axis. If you use an
arbitrary axis (i.e., twist in a perspective viewport), no Axis buttons are
selected. The Center X, Y, and Z values indicate the center point of
rotation, through which the axis runs.
The Vortex Tool
The Vortex tool (Modify > Rotate: Vortex) will smoothly rotate a
selected area of an object.
You might use Vortex to create a swirl on an ice cream cone, a
whirlpool in an ocean, or a cosmic whorl of stars.
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To use the Vortex tool:
Select the tool and drag your LMB in a viewport. Dragging right will
rotate the influence area clockwise, while dragging left will rotate
counterclockwise. The center of the effect is determined by the Action
Center setting, discussed previously.
The information display will tell you the amount of Angle of rotation.
The Angle value on the numeric panel reflects the degrees of
rotation. The Axis buttons relate to the rotational axis. If you use an
arbitrary axis (i.e., rotated in a perspective viewport), no Axis buttons
are selected. The Center X, Y, and Z values indicate the center point of
rotation, through which the axis runs. You can edit the values and then
click the Apply button to apply them, which you can do multiple times.
Dangle will rotate a layer or selection relative to a rotation center. The
Reference is what determines the axes used for rotation. Selection is a
bounding box around the selected geometry, World is the Origin, and
B.G. Layer is a bounding box around the background layer geometry.
If Influence is set to Affect Layer, the rotation is applied to all of the
geometry in the layer. With Affect Selection, only the selected geometry
is rotated. Note that the rotation center can still be based on the
Selection, even if you are using Affect Layer.
When the c setting is used for Axis, the rotation center is at the
center of the Reference. Use the minus (-) or plus (+) options to move
the rotation center to the negative or positive side of the bounding area,
along the axis—these obviously have no effect if World is used.
When the bounding area is computed, an angle for the top “polygon”
is measured based on its normal. If you use Absolute mode, it will
change the rotation angle to be the exact amount entered. Relative will
add the rotation to the geometry.
Enter the desired rotational values in the XYZ fields. These relate to
the axis around which the rotation is performed.
To use the Distance function, select two points prior to running
Dangle. The distance between those two points will be shown in the
Distance field. Enter a new value and set Influence to Affect Selection.
Click Ok. The two points will now be apart the entered distance.
Essentially, the points are scaled, using the rotation center defined by
Dangle, until the points are at the defined distance. If you use Affect
Layer, the entire layer will be scaled up proportionately. (If only one
point is selected, the Origin is used as the other point.)
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The RotateAnyAxis command (Modify > Rotate: RotateAnyAxis) lets
you rotate the contents of a layer around an arbitrary axis defined by a
two-point polygon in the background layer. The rotation is centered on
the axis point nearest to the Origin.
The RotateHPB command (Modify > Rotate: RotateHPB) lets you
rotate the contents of a layer using heading, pitch, and bank values, like
in Layout.
The Rotate-About-Normal command (Modify > Rotate: Rotate-AboutNormal) will rotate selected polygons using the surface normal of the
first selected polygon as the perpendicular axis of rotation.
The Rotate-Arbitrary-Axis command (Modify > Rotate: RotateArbitrary-Axis) will rotate selected polygons around an arbitrary axis
defined by a two-point polygon in the background layer.
The Rotate-To-Ground command (Modify > Rotate: Rotate-ToGround) will rotate and move selected polygons to a defined ground
plane based on the first polygon selected. The Rest Axis is the axis
perpendicular to the plane you want the object to rest on. The Sense
option rests the object on the positive (+) side of the plane or the
negative (-) side.
The Rotate-To-Object command (Modify > Rotate: Rotate-To-Object)
will rotate relative to a polygon. The first selected polygon defines the
target orientation. The second and any other selected polygons will
rotate and align to the first selected polygon.
The Stretch group of tools is used to scale geometry. Many of the
tools are a brother-sister team, with one that scales the geometry
equally on all axes and the other that lets you scale the object
independently along each axis. These tools are similar to Layout’s tools
with the same names. However, you use the different viewports to
change the XYZ values.
The Size Tool
Select Modify > Stretch: Size and drag your LMB right to increase the
size and left to decrease it. The center of the effect is determined by the
Action Center setting, discussed previously. The information display will
tell you the scaling factor you have applied.
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The Size Numeric Panel
The Size numeric panel has only two basic settings: the Center XYZ
values, defining the coordinates for the center of sizing; and the size
Factor, which defines amount of sizing, as a percent.
The Stretch Tool
The Stretch tool (Modify > Stretch: Stretch) is similar to the Size tool,
except you can scale the object independently along each axis.
To stretch an object:
Select the Stretch tool (Modify > Stretch: Stretch) and drag your
mouse right or left to increase or decrease the size along the horizontal
axis. Moving up or down will increase or decrease the size along the
vertical axis. The center of the effect is determined by the Action Center
setting, discussed previously. The information display will tell you the
scaling factor you have applied. Hold the CTRL key while dragging to
constrain movement along the initial dragging axis.
The Stretch Numeric Panel
The Axis setting defines the axis of scale. When you click in a
viewport, the axis is an imaginary line running perpendicular to the view
you are editing in. The Horizontal Factor and the Vertical Factor
represent the amount of scaling on those axes for the viewport. The
Center XYZ values define the coordinates for the center of scaling.
Tapering Objects
The Taper Evenly tool (Modify > Stretch: Taper 1) will resize an
object at one end. You could use this tool to turn a box into a pyramid.
Think of Taper Evenly as Size with axial falloff. That is, the strength of
the sizing influence is not equal across the object, but gradually falls off
along a selected axis.
To use the Taper Evenly tool:
Select Modify > Stretch: Taper 1 and drag your LMB left/right to
apply the scaling. The center of the effect is determined by the Action
Center setting, discussed previously.
The information display tells you the Scale factor you applied.
The Factor value on the numeric panel reflects the amount of scaling.
The Center X, Y, and Z values indicate the center point of scaling.
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Taper Take 2
The Taper tool (Modify > Stretch: Taper 2) is very similar to the
Taper Evenly tool. The difference is you can scale the affected end
independently on the two axes. Basically, Taper is to Taper Evenly, what
Scale is to Size. Think of Taper as Stretch with axial falloff. That is, the
strength of the moving influence is not equal across the object, but
gradually falls off along a selected axis.
To use the Taper tool:
Select Modify > Stretch: Taper 2 and drag your LMB left/right to
apply the scaling horizontally. Drag your LMB down to apply it vertically.
The center of the effect is determined by the Action Center setting,
discussed previously.
The information display tells you the Scale factor you applied along
the two affected axes. Hold the CTRL key down while dragging to
constrain the tapering to your initial dragging axis.
The Horizontal Factor and Vertical Factor values on the numeric
panel reflect the amount of scaling in those directions relative to the
viewport used. The Axis buttons relate to the axis along which the effect
occurs. If you use an arbitrary axis (i.e., taper in a perspective viewport),
no Axis buttons are selected. The Center X, Y, and Z values indicate the
center point of tapering, through which the axis runs.
The Pole Evenly Tool
The Pole Evenly tool (Modify > Stretch: Pole 1) scales an area of an
object along the vertical and horizontal axes.
To use the Pole Evenly tool:
Select Modify > Stretch: Pole 1 and drag your LMB in a viewport. The
center of the effect is determined by the Action Center setting,
discussed previously.
The information display tells you the Scale factor you applied.
Nutting wrong with this cow, eh?
The Factor value on the numeric panel reflects the amount of scaling.
The Center X, Y, and Z values indicate the center point of scaling. You
can edit the values and then click the Apply button to apply them, which
you can do multiple times.
The Pole Tool
The Pole tool (Modify > Stretch: Pole 2) is identical to Pole Evenly,
except you can scale an area independently on the two axes—dragging
your LMB left/right to affect horizontally and up/down to affect
The information display tells you the Scale factor you applied along
the two relevant axes.
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The Horizontal Factor and Vertical Factor values on the numeric
panel reflect the amount of scaling in those directions relative to the
viewport used. The Axis buttons relate to the axis along which the effect
occurs. If you use an arbitrary axis (i.e., use in a perspective viewport),
no Axis buttons are selected. The Center X, Y, and Z values indicate the
center point of scaling, through which the axis runs. You can edit the
values and then click the Apply button to apply them, which you can do
multiple times.
Absolute Size
Absolute Size allows you to scale geometry with great flexibility and
precision. When the Values setting is Independent, the object can be
scaled independently on each axis. If Locked is used, the aspect of the
geometry is maintained—only change one axis value in this mode.
Absolute Size
The Reference setting determines a reference for the selected Action
Center. Bounding Box uses a bounding box around all of the geometry.
World uses the Origin. B.G. Layer uses a bounding box around geometry
in the background. Absolute lets you numerically set the center position.
The c setting will scale using the center of the reference. The minus
(-) or plus (+) setting will scale using the negative or positive side of the
Smooth Scaling
A variant of the Stretch tool is the Smooth Scale command (Modify >
Stretch: Sm Scale). This command will scale selected polygons, but
attempt to smooth things out as it scales. No new geometry is added, so
the smoothing is done using existing points and polygons. The Offset
value, editable on the numeric panel, is the exact amount that the object
will increase in size overall; however, due to the smoothing effect, not all
parts will increase this much. Negative numbers are also allowed, which
reverse the effect.
Smooth Scale is great for use on SubPatch objects. Use it on the
stomach of a figure to give it a beer belly.
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The Spline Guide Tool
Generally, the Spline Guide tool (Modify > Stretch: Spline Guide)
performs interactive deforming operations based on a guide curve.
Clicking in the window creates the initial guide curve and center axis.
Initially, the guide curve will be aligned along the longest distance of the
selected geometry, extending from its minimum to maximum point. The
center axis is centered within the geometry.
Initially, the guide curve points have no effect on the geometry—like
bones in their rest position. However, moving the points will vary the
strength of the effect. Moving the center axis will change the influence of
all the points on the curve.
What effect is applied is determined by the Operation setting on the
numeric panel.
Spline Guide numeric panel
The Scale operation scales the geometry in the plane perpendicular
to the axis around the center axis. Moving the guide points closer to the
center shrinks the geometry, moving them farther away expands it.
Initial guide curve
After scaling one control point
The Stretch operation scales the model in the plane perpendicular to
the axis around the center like the Scale operation, but uses different
amounts of scaling in the plane (call it X-Y) depending on the X and Y
distance of the guide points from their initial positions. Thus, the
geometry can be expanded in one direction and reduced or left
unchanged in the other.
The Twist operation rotates the geometry around the center axis. The
Twist Angle parameter acts as an angle scaling factor.
The Bend operation bends the model to conform to the curve.
The Weight Map operation works a little differently than the other
operations in that it doesn’t deform the geometry, but affects the
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selected weight map instead. Essentially, it sets the values based on the
reshaped curve. Move them closer to the center axis for negative
weights, farther for positive.
Using Weight Map
If you activate Make Curve, a curve polygon will be created from the
guide curve when you deselect the tool. Use this to save the guide curve
shape. This curve can be placed in a background layer and loaded into
the guide curve by clicking Get Background Curve.
Click Keep Edit to accept the current changes without resetting the
curve. This is useful if you want a certain curve to be applied in
subsequent operations.
Changing the Curve Points value will resample the curve into more
segments. Note that resampling the curve can change its shape,
particularly if the number is incremented gradually, like with the minislider. If you want a more refined curve that accurately matches the one
you have drawn, enter the new number directly into the field to avoid
the intermediate curves.
The CenterScale command (Construct > Utility: Additional >
CenterScale) will scale objects in the current layers about the object’s
implied center by a given Factor. The factor can be specified as a User
Command argument, in which case, no requester will appear.
The CenterStretch command (Construct > Utility: Additional >
CenterStretch) will stretch objects in the current layers along one of the
axes about the object’s implied center by a given Factor. The factor and
axis can be specified as a User Command argument (e.g., Y 0.3333), in
which case no requester will appear.
The Jitter Command
The Smooth command’s ugly sister is Jitter (Modify > Deform: Jitter).
This command will add a roughness to the polygons of an object by
randomly moving points within a certain radius of their current position.
Jitter has several Type settings, each applying the effect in a different
Uniform Uniform performs a uniform jitter on every point within a
rectangular region. A point may be shifted by as much as the
value specified for the Radius parameter.
Gaussian Gaussian results in a slightly less ragged jitter than the
Uniform option, performing a normal distribution around the
starting point’s location in an ellipsoid of the given Radius. A
point may be shifted by as much as the value specified for
the Radius parameter.
Normal uses the local surface normal and randomly moves
points plus or minus within the specified Range along that
surface normal.
Radial randomly distributes points inward or outward along
a radial vector from a single point defined by the Center
coordinates. Range is the value used to set the range within
which a point may move from its current location.
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Scaling is a variation of the Radial option. Points are jittered
outward from a center point defined by the Center
coordinates. Factor is the value used to set the range, as a
percentage, within which a point may move from its current
A jitter value of 0 applies no jittering, meaning no change will occur.
Values above or below 0 will affect the object.
The Smooth Command
The Smooth command (Modify > Deform: Smooth) causes Modeler to
try to smooth any jagged surfaces. There are no correct values for these
settings; however, even relatively low Strength values can overly distort
an object. Iterations specifies how many times the smoothing algorithm
should be reapplied.
Smooth is most effective when Iterations is set to a high value.
For more drastic smoothing, you might use Metaform (Construct >
Subdivide: Subdivide) instead; however, this tool increases the
number of points and polygons.
The Quantize Command
The Quantize command (Modify > Deform: Quantize) will snap points
to specific coordinate spacing intervals (like a grid). This is very useful
for snapping a non-planar polygon into a specific plane or flattening one
side of an organic or curved object.
Multiplying Geometry
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hapter 24:
Multiplying Geometry
Modeler features some great tools for multiplying your geometry and
automatically creating additional points and polygons. There are tools to
add a bevel, extrude existing geometry, clone polygons, model using
background geometry, create mirror images, and more.
The tools/commands that perform an extruding operation (Extrude,
Lathe, Rail Extrude, etc.) have Make UVs options. You can have the U or
V value assigned to a range from 0 to 1. Note that a UV Texture must be
selected or this option will be ghosted. (See Chapter 28 for more
This group of tools multiplies geometry by extending it in some
fashion, adding additional geometry along the way.
The Bevel Tool
The Bevel tool (Multiply > Extend: Bevel) is likely one of the most
commonly used modeling functions. Basically, it takes a polygon and
extrudes it away from the original along the surface normal. It is similar
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to using the Extrude tool, but there will be no polygon at the position of
the original polygon. When applied to multiple polygons, each polygon
receives its own bevel—even on a double-sided polygon.
Dragging your pointer after activating the tool lets you graphically
place the bevel. Deactivating Bevel or selecting another tool makes the
bevel. Click on an open area of the interface to cancel the bevel before it
is made or use Undo.
Dragging up/down lets you interactively change the Shift amount, the
distance that the selected polygon will move along its surface normal.
On the numeric panel, positive values make the bevel move in the same
direction as the normal. Negative values make it move the opposite
Dragging left/right lets you interactively change the Inset amount, the
distance that the edges of the polygon will move in the same plane as
the polygon. On the numeric panel, positive values move inward and
negative values move outward.
Drag at an angle to simultaneously change Shift and Inset. Hold the
CTRL key to constrain to Shift or Inset, depending on which direction you
drag initially.
If you select polygon(s), the top polygon will remain selected so you
can perform bevel operations one after another. Click your RMB to
accept the current bevel and begin a new bevel operation. You can also
press the B key twice to make and start a new bevel.
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You can bevel multiple polygons simultaneously too!
Other Numeric Options
The +/- fields on the numeric panel let you set randomization for the
Inset and Shift values. The actual value applied will be varied by a
random number between plus or minus the +/- value. For example, if
Inset was 20m and its +/- was 5m, then the actual Inset would be
between 15 and 25 meters. Generally, you want to use this feature only
when beveling many polygons simultaneously.
To avoid negative random values, make sure the +/- value is always less
than or equal to the related Inset or Shift value.
Inner is the default Edges setting and bevels the polygon inward and
forward along the surface normal. Outer will bevel outward and
backward; however, the original polygon does not move and the new
beveled edges extend away from the surface normal. This option
reverses the mouse movement effects. In most cases, you use Inner.
By default, the surface name of the source polygon is used for the
new geometry. If you select New Surface, you can enter a surface name
(even an existing one) in the input field. You can change this setting
anytime before accepting the bevel.
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Note that the selected polygon retains its surface name; only the new
edge polygons receive the defined name.
Beveling Tips
• After performing a bevel, the selected polygon remains selected. To
accentuate the beveled edge when the surface uses the Smoothing
surface option, perform a quick cut and paste to separate the
selected (top) polygon from the added sides. This action precludes
LightWave from smoothing over the beveled edge. You may also want
to cut and paste the original polygon (before performing the bevel).
Make sure you do not merge points after doing this!
Left: Polygons not separated. Right: Starting and top polygons separated
• If you use the same surface, which uses Smoothing, and the geometry
goes from straight to curved, you may want to separate the polygons
(with a cut-and-paste) at the transition point to get a clean edge.
Left: Polygons not separated. Right: Starting (top) polygon separated
• If you want to create an enclosed solid object when beveling a 2D
polygon, copy it to another layer first and choose Detail > Polygons:
Flip. Go back to the original layer and perform the bevel normally.
Then, paste the flipped polygon back into the original layer and
choose Construct > Reduce: Merge Polygons to merge points.
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• Cut and paste a polygon (like one side of a box) away from its host
and bevel it a very small amount. Then, cut and paste the top
polygon as well. This makes a nice clean edge that catches specular
• When you bevel polygons with sharp edges, you can often run into
the problem of points being too close at the corners—very common
when you bevel text characters. One solution is to delete
unnecessary points near the corners prior to beveling. Don’t be too
scared about deleting too many points; the change is usually so slight
that no one will notice, particularly if the text is animated.
Sometimes you also need to manually drag points on the new polygon
away from the corner.
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• Another corner-fixing trick is to bevel out instead of in. This has the
benefit of not requiring you to mess with any points, but it affects the
spacing between characters, if you are working with text. For this, use
the Outer setting for Edges in the Bevel numeric panel.
The Extrude Tool
Use the Extrude tool (Multiply > Extend: Extrude) to give depth to a
two-dimensional shape. You can extrude any two-dimensional polygon or
curve. The distance and angle from the initial dragging point sets the
extrusion length and direction. As you continue to drag your mouse, you
see the extrusion length and angle change accordingly.
The initial dragging point is not significant, only the distance and
direction matter. In fact, when you release the mouse button, the axis
will reposition itself starting at the object. You can further manipulate
the axis by dragging its end in any viewport.
When you are satisfied, simply click Multiply > Extend: Extrude again
(or select another tool). To reset, click a non-active part of the interface
or click Undo.
The numeric panel for Extrude defines the relative XYZ coordinates
for the end of the axis in the Extent fields. You can change the number of
Sides created on the panel, which can be useful for multi-segmented
items like snakes, or objects you wish to bend or twist.
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Extrude Tool numeric panel
The Lathe Tool
The Lathe tool (Multiply > Extend: Lathe) will sweep an object
around an axis. Essentially, Lathe creates a cylindrical object with a
profile of the original form. For example, if you lathe a circular-shaped
polygon, you create a donut. You can sweep any two-dimensional object
or curve. The classic use of this tool is to create a vase or cup.
Dragging your mouse in a viewport determines the initial axis. The
lathe axis has a crosshair at its Center (the initial dragging point), which
is used to drag the entire axis around. To change the angle, drag either
end of the axis. You can also drag out the axis, which gives you more
control over the effect, but the length of the axis does not in itself
influence the impact of the tool.
When you are satisfied, deselect the tool or select a different one to
execute the edit. To cancel, simply click in an open area on the interface
or click Undo.
With this tool, polygons may end up flipped the wrong way.To correct
them, simply hit the F key.
If you wish to change the number of sides in the lathed object (like
the number of slices in a pie), you can use the LEFT and RIGHT ARROWKEYS.
If you’d prefer to lathe less than a full 360 degrees, you can drag the
handles as indicated in the following illustration. (Note: If the two
handles are overlapped, you can still drag to separate them.)
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Lathe interactive handles
You can also open the Lathe tool’s numeric requester to numerically
change settings. The Start Angle and End Angle fields let you enter the
degree of lathing, Sides sets the number of sides, and Offset will shift the
shape along the lathe axis. The Center values define the center of
rotation coordinates.
Lathe Tool numeric panel
To create a coiled spring: create a disc with, say, a one meter diameter.
Select Lathe and place the axis about one meter to one side of the
disc.Then, open the numeric requester and set the End Angle to 720
degrees (two full rotations), Sides to 48, and Offset to 2m.
The Rail Bevel Tool
Rail Bevel (Multiply > Extend: Rail Bevel) is a very fancy beveling
tool that works in a manner similar to the normal Bevel tool. Dragging
your mouse left/right adjusts the new bevel geometry's distance from the
original polygon. Dragging up/down adjusts the inset direction (towards
or away from the polygon’s center). The CTRL key constrains the change
to a given degree of freedom—just like the normal Bevel tool.
The difference between Rail Bevel and Bevel is that Rail Bevel uses a
profile from a background layer to generate several bevel operations in a
single step.
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Example Rail Bevel
The profile is a series of points you create. They can be unconnected,
or part of a polygon or curve. The only important factor is point order,
which is normally determined by their order of creation.
The profile is treated as if it were oriented based on the polygon's
plane and extrudes along the direction of the polygon's normal. Each
point in the profile is treated as a bevel, where the X and Y axes
represent the relative inset and offset positioning, respectively.
New geometry inherits VMap and face/curve properties of the
original polygon.
If you have multiple profiles in different layers, you can apply them one
after another by selecting them (one at a time) as the background
layer while using Rail Bevel.
The Smooth Shift Tool
The Smooth Shift tool (Multiply > Extend: Smooth Shift) is a beguiling
tool that may not seem useful at first; however, you will find a variety of
uses for it, like creating thin grooves in an object. Smooth Shift moves
selected polygons along their smoothed vertex normals. The smoothed
vertex normal is computed using the average of the normals for the
polygons that share that vertex. This tool is similar to Bevel—however,
Bevel applies effects individually to each selected polygon, whereas
Smooth Shift treats all selected polygons as a group.
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Left: Bevel. Right: Smooth Shift
Smooth Shift numeric panel
Polygons on a convex surface tend to expand since the normals at
their vertices point slightly apart, while polygons on a concave surface
tend to shrink. Polygons that are smoothed together stay together since
they share normals at their shared vertices. Where polygons pull apart,
either because their smoothed vertex normals diverge and exceed the
Max Smoothing Angle or because some are selected and some are not,
the gaps are filled with bands of new polygons.
The Offset is the distance of shifting along the vertex normal. Positive
values make the shift occur in the same direction as the normal.
Negative values make it shift in the opposite direction.
The smoothing method in Smooth Shift requires a cutoff angle. The
Max Smoothing Angle on the numeric panel determines whether
polygons will be smoothed over. Any two polygons with adjoining edges
at angles greater than this value will be smoothed across.
Dragging your mouse horizontally will change the Offset amount on
the numeric panel.
The Scale setting, accessible from the numeric panel only, expands or
shrinks the new geometry around the center of its bounding (box) area.
To achieve what amounts to a group-bevel,—where the selected
polygons are treated as one instead of individually—use Smooth
Shift with an Offset of 0.Then, manually move the polygons (which
will still be selected).
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The Path Extrude Command
The Path Extrude command (Multiply > Extend: Path Extrude) will
extrude a point, polygon, or object along a motion path. It is nearly
identical to the Path Clone command, discussed later. The difference is
that Path Extrude forms a continuous skin for the object instead of
making individual copies of the object.
When you select the Path Extrude, a file requester asks for a motion
file. Then, a dialog will appear.
Path Extrude dialog
Enter the First and Last frames of the motion path you wish to use
(the values default to the entire length of the path). Step indicates how
many segments to clone in terms of frames (a Step value of one will
create one segment for each frame). So a motion path that takes 30
frames with a Step of 1 will have 30 segments. The same motion path
with a Step of 2 will have 15 segments.
Left: Object motion path in Layout. Right: Flat box extruded along same path
The motion path for an item in Layout can be saved by selecting it and
then choosing File > Save > Save Motion File.
If you a UV Texture is currently selected, the Make UVs options are
available. You can create the UV map perpendicular to the U or V axis.
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The Rail Extrude Command
The Rail Extrude command (Multiply > Extend: Rail Extrude) will
extrude a point, polygon, or object along a curved path (single rail
clone) or multiple paths (multiple rail clone). It is nearly identical to the
Rail Clone command, discussed later. The difference is that Rail Extrude
forms a continuous skin for the object instead of making individual
copies of the object.
The curve(s) must be in the background layer and the polygons to be
extruded in the foreground layer. The orientation and position of the
foreground polygons will affect the result. Generally, they should be at
the very beginning of the curve and oriented perpendicular to it—as if
the curve was a thread you were threading through the polygons.
The direction that the curve faces (which end is considered the
beginning) will have bearing on both the shape and direction of the
cloning. The direction affects the direction of the extruding. If you don’t
get the results you expect, try flipping the curve’s starting point with
Detail > Polygons: Flip. If you are using multiple curves, generally, they
should run in the same direction.
If you a UV Texture is currently selected, the Make UVs options are
available. You can create the UV map perpendicular to the U or V axis.
Single Curve
The Rail Extrude: Single dialog will appear when a single curve is in
the background.
Segments is the number of segments in the resulting
object. Select Automatic to distribute a number of
segments along the rail curve (based on the Curve
Divisions setting on the General Options panel)
according to the curve’s knot (point) spacing.
Select Uniform Lengths to distribute some number of
segments (which you specify) evenly along the length of
the entire curve. No matter what the knot spacing is, the
segments will remain evenly spaced.
Select Uniform Knots to distribute some number of
segments (which you specify) evenly between the knots
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that make up the curve. Whether the knots are close
together or far apart, there will be the same number of
segments between each.
Oriented determines the orientation of the polygon
template as it follows the curved path. When active, it
causes all segments to angle themselves automatically so
that they are aligned with the rail curve as it turns. When
inactive, it causes all segments to remain in the same
orientation as the template so that they face exactly the
same way.
A one-rail example
Multiple Curves
The Rail Extrude: Multiple dialog will appear when multiple curves
are in the background. In practice, one curve will act as the main cloning
curve and the other(s) act as shaping curves. The effect of the shaping
curves is determined by the distance from the main curve. However, you
may change the effect by moving the polygons closer or farther away
from any of the curves.
Segments is the number of segments in the resulting
object. Select Automatic to distribute a number of
segments along the rail curve, based on the Curve
Divisions setting on the General Options panel. If you
also select Knot, segments are distributed with regard to
the curve’s knot (point) spacing. If you use Length, knot
spacing is disregarded.
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To specify the number of segments, choose Uniform and
enter the number in the input field. If Length is also
active, the segments will remain evenly spaced no matter
what the knot spacing is. If you use Knot instead, there
will be the same number of segments between each knot,
no matter how close together or far apart they are.
Strength determines how strongly the rails vie for
control of the point locations. You will not notice much
of a difference unless you have Scaling (below)
deselected. The higher the Strength value, the closer the
object will hug the rails.
Oriented determines the orientation of the polygon
template as it follows the curved path. When active, it
causes all segments to angle themselves automatically so
that they are aligned with the rail curve as it turns. When
inactive, it causes all segments to remain in the same
orientation as the template so that they face exactly the
same way.
Scaling determines how segments along an axis are
sized. If the rails in the background layer spread apart
along any axis or axes, then the segments will
automatically stretch along those axes as well. Turn
Scaling on to scale segments equally, rather than along
those specific axes only.
For example, with Scaling off, if you Rail Extrude a polygon along the
Z axis using two rails that spread further apart in the X axis, the
segment’s copies will be stretched on the X axis to maintain their
relationship to the guide rails.
Left: Disc and two curves in background. Right: Result with Scaling off
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Turning Scaling on causes this expansion to occur equally on both X
and Y axes.
Result with Scaling on
The Extender Command
The Extender command (Multiply > Extend: Extender) clones
selected points and creates new geometry connecting the original points
and the clones. Essentially, Extender is like using Smooth Shift with 0
Offset, except with points instead of polygons.
Left: Extender executed on selected points. Right: Cloned points moved away from original positions
The SeaShellTool
The SeaShell tool (Multiply > Extend: SeaShellTool) lets you
interactively make seashell shapes. Essentially, this is like using the
Lathe with a scaling factor on an object.
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SeaShell numeric panel
Open the numeric panel to set options. Axis is the perpendicular axis
around which the shell is twisted. # of Loops is the number of times the
source polygon is twisted fully. Sides per Loop is the number of
segments to use per loop. Shift per Loop controls the vertical shifting of
the loop. Scale per Loop is the scaling factor achieved after each loop.
SeaShell also has automatic UV creation options. Like any tool, you must
deselect it to make your object.
The Spikey Tool
The Spikey tool (Multiply > Extend: Spikey) subdivides the selected
polygons and moves the center point out in the direction of the surface
normal giving a spiked appearance. Simply select the tool and drag your
mousepointer in a viewport.
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The Spikey tool applied to a basic ball
The Create Skin Command
With the Create Skin command (Multiply > Extend: Skin), you can
cover a series of polygons or curves with a polygon skin. The shapes do
not need to have the same number of points in common. This is also
called lofting or loafing (as if covering the slices of a loaf of bread).
The polygons or curves must be selected (or created) in the order
that you want them connected.
Create Skin works best when you use single-sided polygons for the
framework. Double-sided polygons can result in strangely skinned
If you skin using polygon curves, the curves will remain in the
Modeler workspace following the operation. However, they do not
become part of the resulting skinned object.
Although Create Skin is similar to the Make Spline Patch command
(Multiply > Combine: Patches > Make Spline Patch), which uses curves,
the difference between the two commands is significant. The Make Spline
Patch command tends to follow smooth contours, which maintains a
rounded surface. Create Skin tends to connect curves with straight-line
segments, which creates less smooth profiles.
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The Morph Polygons Command
The Morph Polygons command (Multiply > Extend: Morph) will
create a number of connected intermediate polygons between two
selected polygons or curves that have the same number of points. They
will have an outer surface, as if you also used the Skin command on
them. Morph Polygons works best when you use it between single-sided
To get a twist effect, rotate the source or target polygon a little.
If you morph using curves, the curves are treated as straight-edged
polygons, and will morph in a linear fashion. The curves also remain in
the Modeler workspace following the operation, although they will not
be part of the morphed object.
The Number of Segments field defines the number of morphed steps
you desire between the two selected polygons.
As with the morphing function in Layout, the Morph Polygons
command is dependent on point order. As such, you should create the
source and target from the same polygon.You will probably need to flip
some polygons after using this command.
This group of tools multiplies geometry by using other geometry as
carving or set-up tools.
The Boolean Command
The Boolean command (Multiply > Combine: Boolean) is similar in
some respects to the Solid Drill command, discussed later. However,
Boolean operations treat objects as solids with volume, instead of hollow
3D objects. They will merge, split, carve, and join objects in a variety of
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ways. Like the drilling tools, you must have an object in the background
layer. The major distinction of Boolean is that it treats the foreground
object as a solid mass and thus creates inside surfaces along cut edges.
With Boolean, some portion of the foreground and background
objects must physically overlap in 3D space.
Union joins the background layer with the foreground
layer, taking the solid objects and combining them into a
single object. Interior faces are removed and no new
polygons or surfaces are created; therefore, all surfaces
will retain their original names.To work properly, both
objects must be closed 3D solids.
Union mode before (left) and after (right)
From the rendering perspective, you could get a similar
result by just pasting both objects into one layer; however,
Boolean results in the fewest polygons and smaller object
files, which will use fewer system resources and render
faster. There may be times, however, that due to the
complexity of objects, Boolean will not produce acceptable
Intersect takes solid objects and leaves behind whatever
portion was common between them. It leaves behind only
those portions of the background layer and foreground
layer that were overlapping. (This corresponds to the
portion that the Union operation discards.) No new
polygons or surfaces are created; therefore all surfaces will
retain their original names. To work properly, both objects
must be closed 3D solids.
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Intersect mode before (left) and after (right)
Subtract removes the background drilling template object
from the foreground object, leaving a copy of itself
embedded there. Essentially, it carves the background
layer out of the foreground layer, leaving new inside
surfaces in its wake. New surfaces will take on the names
of surfaces that carved them. To work properly, both
objects must be closed 3D solids.
Subtract mode before (left) and after (right)
The results of this operation will vary depending whether
the polygons being drilled consist of single-sided or
double-sided polygons (see subsequent discussion).
Add joins the background layer with the foreground layer
so that the overlapping shapes are fully combined as one.
You can use combinations of 2D and 3D objects. This is
different from simply saving two overlapping objects from
two different layers, since the polygons that physically
overlap are merged in a form of mutual drill operation. No
new surfaces are created, although some polygons may be
subdivided. Therefore all surfaces will retain their original
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Add mode before (left) and after (right)
The result is similar to just cutting and pasting the tube
object into the apple layer. The difference is that where
surface polygons from the two objects intersect they are
sliced by each other to form a common edge. All interior
polygons and surface names are retained.
You can use more than two objects at a time, but it’s often better to
work with a pair at a time. The math involved in Boolean operations is
complex, and using multiple objects in a single operation is quite timeconsuming.
To use the Boolean command:
1 Place the target object in a layer.
2 Place the other object in another layer and put the object from step 1
in the background.
3 Position the object in the foreground as desired. If you plan to use it
to cut away parts of the target object, it must align accordingly in 3D
4 Swap foreground and background layers using the apostrophe key (‘)
5 Click Multiply > Combine: Boolean.
6 Select the type of boolean Operation. Click OK.
Single vs. Double-sided Polygons
Single-sided and double-sided polygons play a unique role in the
Boolean Subtract operation. Imagine that you are a knife blade, slicing
through a 3D sphere made of single-sided polygons. Every time you cut
through a polygon layer, you pass from the outside of the sphere to the
inside. If you passed through only one polygon, you are now inside the
3D sphere. Accordingly, a Boolean knife blade slicing through a one-sided
sphere would leave solid halves.
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Normal boolean Subtract on two solid objects
Now say there are two spheres made of single-sided polygons, one
sphere being smaller than the other, with the smaller one inside the
other (normals facing in). You pass through the first polygon—from air
to solid—then through a second polygon—from solid back to air. You
would now be inside a hollow core inside the inner sphere. A Boolean
knife slicing through this sphere would leave a hollow core.
Boolean Subtract on (single-sided interior) hollow ball
Now, if our two spheres were double-sided instead, Modeler would
treat each sphere as if it were constructed with paper-thin walls (doublesided polygons are just back-to-back polygons). Remember, normally the
sphere would be treated as a solid ball. Upon encountering a doublesided polygon, Modeler will think that it has passed through two
polygons. In the paper-thin space between the front-facing and backfacing polygon, the Boolean knife blade sliced through air, then solid,
then air again.
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Boolean Subtract on (double-sided interior) hollow ball
Boolean will usually not operate as expected if the foreground and
background objects are both double-sided.
The Drill Tools
There are two drill commands: Drill (Multiply > Combine: Drill) and
Solid Drill (Multiply > Combine: Solid Drill). The difference is that with
Drill you use a two-dimensional object as your drill bit. The bit extends
infinitely along the drilling axis, so it has an imaginary third dimension.
Think of it as looking straight down along the length of a drill bit.
Forgetting the fact that you know it has length, it would look like a disc,
right? With the Drill command, you just need a disc-shaped polygon and
the length is assumed.
Solid Drill is essentially identical to Drill except—as you might have
guessed—it uses an actual three-dimensional object as your drill bit.
When you use a drill in the real world, you must first place a drill bit
in the drill. This same concept applies to Modeler. Modeler uses an item
in the background layer as the drill bit that will cut the item in the
foreground layer(s).
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If your drill bit is an open curve, Modeler will treat it as a closed curve
with its endpoints joined.
Both drill tools have the same four options:
The Core operation will include all polygons that reside
inside the 3D space of the drill bit, plus portions of the
polygons that straddle the borders.
Core mode before (left) and after (right)
Tunnel is the opposite of Core. It creates a tunnel in your
object. All polygons that reside outside the 3D space of the
drill bit will be included, plus the trimmed polygons that
straddle the borders.
Tunnel mode before (left) and after (right)
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The Stencil option stencils the drill bit’s shape onto any
intersecting polygons. It also names all of the polygons that
fall within the bit’s shape. You can either enter a surface
name in the field or select an existing name from the pop-up
Stencil mode before (left) and after (right)
This option is great for stenciling text or logos onto
objects—an alternative to using surface color textures. To
help draw attention to a stenciled area, you might wish to
use the Bevel tool (Multiply > Extend: Bevel) or Smooth Shift
tool (Multiply > Extend: Smooth Shift) on the stencil.
Slice is the same as Stencil, except it does not rename any
Slice mode before (left) and after (right)
To drill an object:
1 Place the target object in a layer.
2 Place your bit object in another layer and put the target object in the
3 Position the bit object as desired. Use the viewport whose
perpendicular axis (i.e., the axis you can’t affect) is the one you want
to drill along. For example, if you wanted to drill along the Z axis,
position the bit object in the Back type viewport.
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4 Swap foreground and background layers using the apostrophe key (‘)
5 Choose Multiply > Combine: Drill.
6 Select the drilling Axis and the type of drilling Operation. Click OK.
The Solid Drill Tool
The Solid Drill command (Multiply > Combine: Solid Drill) will work
just like the Drill command, but you have control over the effect along
the drilling axis. There is no Axis option. It is unnecessary since you use
a 3D object that has no implied third dimension.
The objects in the foreground and background layers must physically
overlap for the tool to work properly.They cannot be just lined up on
an axis.
Both the drill bit and the item to be drilled must be closed solids. A
hemisphere with one open side, or a hollow tube, would not qualify,
but a closed hemisphere or a tube with sealed ends would.
Faster and Better Drills and Booleans
Complex Drill and Boolean operations require a lot of computing.
Selecting the affected polygons in the foreground layer before using
either command will greatly speed things up. This lets Modeler
concentrate on only those polygons that need to be affected. Also, if
your initial result is not satisfactory—particularly with complex
objects—try it again after nudging one of the objects on an axis a little.
Patches Menu
The commands in the Multiply > Combine: Patches menu are covered
in Chapter 29.
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This group of tools multiplies geometry by replicating existing
The Mirror Tool
Use the Mirror tool (Multiply > Duplicate: Mirror) to create an exact
mirror image of an item. You can mirror the whole object, selected
points, or selected polygons. Many objects you create will be
symmetrical in nature. So it often makes sense to build only half of an
object, create a mirror image, and join them together. Other times your
object may include certain parts that are identical, and an automated
way to duplicate them is very helpful.
This interactive tool works using a mirroring fence. You drag out the
fence with your mouse. This forms the main axis for the fence’s length.
Once you release the mouse button you can reposition by simply
clicking somewhere off the fence—you are essentially repositioning the
initial drag point. You can rotate the fence using the rotation handles.
The swing rotation handle swings the fence like a gate around one end of
the fence. The axis rotation handle rotates the fence around the axis
along the length of the fence.
If Free Rotation is inactive on the numeric panel, the default setting,
you will only be able to draw and rotate the fence across planes aligned
with an axis. If you hold the CTRL key down, you will be able to use 15degree increments. If Free Rotation is active, you are free to draw and
rotate the fence at any angle.
Left: Initial drag. Right: Repositioning using perspective viewport
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Left: Swinging the fence. Right: Rotating around the axis
When you are satisfied, simply click Multiply > Duplicate: Mirror
again (or select another tool). To reset, click a non-active part of the
interface or click Undo.
If adjusting the axis rotation handle only resizes the fence, try adjusting
the handle in the perspective view.
The numeric panel defines the XYZ coordinates of the Center point
(where the position handle is). The Axis, if any, is the axis perpendicular
to the fence. If the Merge Points option is active, any overlapping points
are merged automatically. Use this if you are mirroring two halves of an
object together.
Mirror numeric panel
Paste Tool
The Paste tool (Multiply > Duplicate: Paste) lets you interactively
paste whatever is in Modeler’s copy buffer (i.e., something you
previously cut or copied). Once you click in a viewport, you can position
the geometry by dragging your mouse. Like most tools, drop it or select
another to make the geometry, or click your RMB to create the geometry
without dropping the tool.
Using the numeric panel, you can even scale the size of the geometry.
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The Paste tool has no effect on the actual contents of the copy buffer.
The Array Command
The Array command (Multiply > Duplicate: Array) duplicates the
selected item any number of times using specific increments of distance.
You can create a grid out of this object, like a matrix. (Unfortunately, no
one can be told what the matrix is.) The shape of the array can either be
Rectangular (box-shaped) or Radial (circular). Use the Merge Points
option to automatically merge points at the end of the operation.
Array Type: Rectangular
When Rectangular is selected, you will have the following settings
Count is the number of repetitions of the original object
along each of the axes.
Jitter adds randomization. A distance up to the value
entered is added or subtracted to what the position
would have otherwise been.
Automatic uses the object’s own dimensions as the
spacing value. The Scale fields define a percentage of the
dimensions to use. A value of 100 percent in the input
fields will place the objects side by side. Manual lets you
enter specific spacing values for each axis.
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Using Automatic on a 2-D object will cause the copies to be on top
of each other along the missing dimension axis.
Array Type: Radial
When Radial is selected, you have the following settings available:
The number of repetitions of the original object.
The axis perpendicular to the radial shape.
The coordinates of the center of rotation through which
the axis extends.
Radial Array
Radial Array creates an array of geometry around the Center position
using the specified Axis. The Count setting sets the number in the final
Radial Array
The Clone Command
The Clone command (Multiply > Duplicate: Clone) creates copies of
an item that you can spread out in an even layout or array. You can
create a series of copies along an axis at specified increments. Clone
duplicates a selected item one or more times using specific increments
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of distance, rotation, and scaling. You can create a spiral staircase out of
a single step, or a wood screw out of a triangular polygon outline, for
Immediately after a Clone operation involving a template (i.e., 2D)
polygon, you can use the lasso to encircle and select the entire group of
newly cloned polygons. They are automatically selected in the order
they were created. This means you can use the Create Skin command
(Multiply > Extend: Skin) to place an outer surface around the new
framework. After using Create Skin, the framework polygons are no
longer needed (since they are inside the skin and will not render
anyway). They are still selected, so you can delete them (except maybe
the two ends), and leave only the skinned object remaining. This
technique is useful when you create objects like a wood screw, where
you no longer need the internal (unseen) polygons after you complete
the outer surface.
Left: Clones. Right:After skinning
Enter the number of copies of the selection to create in the Number
of Clones fields.
The Offset fields determine the incremental distance between one
clone and the next along the X, Y, and Z axes. The Scale fields set the
amount of incremental scaling for each copy. The Rotation fields set the
amount of incremental rotating.
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The effect is progressive, so the change is applied to each clone based
on the previous clone. So, for example, with scaling, the copies will get
progressively larger or smaller.
The Center fields define the coordinates to use as the center point,
around which the operation takes place.
If you plan to clone with rotation, try to build your base object so that
the rotation can happen around the Origin whenever possible.
To evenly space objects around an axis, take the number of total
objects you want to end up with and divide it into 360. (You can even
enter the formula into the input field.) This gives you the incremental
rotation.Then set the Number of Clones to the total objects minus
The Path Clone Command
The Path Clone command (Multiply > Duplicate: Path Clone) works
just like the Path Extrude command, discussed earlier. However, instead
of resulting in an object with a smooth skin, it creates skinless segment
clones along the motion path.
Left: Object motion path in Layout. Right: Flat box cloned along same path
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The Rail Clone Command
The Rail Clone command (Multiply > Duplicate: Rail Clone) works
just like the Rail Extrude command, discussed earlier. However, instead
of resulting in an object with a smooth skin, it creates skinless segment
clones along the background curve(s).
Left: Starting object in foreground and curve in background. Right: Result with Automatic mode
Left: Disc and two curves in background. Right: Result with Scaling on
The Symmetrize Command
The Symmetrize command (Multiply > Duplicate: Symmetrize) clones
an object n times with a rotation each time so that the result displays nfold symmetry about the selected Axis.
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The Point-Clone-Plus command (Multiply > Duplicate: Point-ClonePlus+) will clone objects in the foreground to the locations of points in
the background. You can randomize the rotation, scale, and centering
independently for every axis between two values. Random Size will
randomly change the overall scaling of objects. The XYZ Axis options
specify whether the objects should be centered on the points or flush on
one side or another. To specify static values, enter the same number in
the Min and Max fields.
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This command is great for cloning and placing, say, tree objects on a
landscape or putting hair on a head.
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Constructing Geometry
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hapter 25:
Constructing Geometry
So far, we’ve covered modeling tools that create an object by adding,
rearranging and duplicating points/polygons. In this chapter we will
cover some basic point and polygon maintenance tools as well as some
time-saving ways to add and remove points and polygons. We’ll also
discuss some tools where you can use other objects and curves as
modeling tools.
The basic steps to copy and paste points and polygons are essentially
the same. First, you select the points or polygons. Then you either click
the Copy button (c) to copy the selection into the memory buffer,
retaining the original, or click the Cut (X) button to delete the selection.
You can also use the DEL key to run the Delete command; it is similar to
Cut, but does not copy the data to memory for future pasting.
Once something is in the memory buffer, you can click the Paste
button (V) to paste the contents back into the layer. The memory buffer
is not reset after pasting. Thus, you can paste the contents multiple
times. The buffer contents change only when they are replaced by a
subsequent cut or copy.
Geometry cut (or copied) to the memory buffer loses its association
with geometry it is cut away from, even when it is pasted back in.
For interactive pasting, use the Paste tool (Multiply > Duplicate:
Paste) discussed in Chapter 24.
Frequently, you want to use some of the points of an object (often
primitives) in creating your objects. A good example is using part of a
disc’s points to model a rounded corner. The way to do it is to use the
Remove Polygons command (Construct > Reduce: Rem Polygons).
To remove polygons but not points:
1 Select the target polygons.
2 Choose Construct > Reduce: Rem Polygons or press the K key.
An easy way to remember this keyboard shortcut is to think of it as
“killing” the polygons.
The Remove Points command (Construct > Reduce: Rem Points)
disassociates the selected point(s) from the selected polygon, but does
not delete the point. Non-selected polygons that used that point remain
To remove a point from a polygon:
1 Select the polygon(s) containing the point to be removed (Polygon
Selection mode).
2 Select the points to be removed (Point Selection mode).
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3 Choose Construct > Reduce: Rem Points. To actually delete the
points, use the Cut function.
Construct > Reduce: Merge Polygons joins two selected polygons
that share at least one common edge. A common edge is one where two
or more polygons share all of the points along that edge.
The Merge Polygons command also works on curves, if they share a
common terminating point. It doesn’t matter if you use the start or end
of the curve. They will be merged into one continuous curve.
Common problems are edges that don’t share all points. Try merging
points first, to eliminate overlapping points. After using this command,
check for non-planar polygons, which often result.
Use the Merge Points command (Construct > Reduce: Merge Points)
to remove points that occupy the same or very nearly the same space.
Remember, if all of the points along a polygon’s edge are shared,
LightWave’s surface smoothing can smooth over the two polygons. Many
circumstances exist where you may create unnecessary duplicate points,
but here is a list of some common ones:
• After you cut polygons to a separate layer and then paste them back.
• After you use the Mirror tool and drill operations, because the
complex mathematics involved often generates extra points.
Left: Overlapping points cause visible seam. Right:After merging points there is no visible seam or panty line
Merge Points Automatic Range
Merge Points Fixed Range
If the Keep 1-Point Polygons option is disabled, polygons are
automatically deleted if they become single points (due to their vertices
merging together). The default is for these polygons to be retained.
The Merge Points command has two Range modes: Automatic and
Fixed. These basically determine the criteria for when points should be
considered mergeable.
Automatic merges the points that share the same space. For objects
or portions of objects that you have cut from the main object with the
intention of merging later (back into their original positions) use
Absolute merges any points within the specified Distance of one
another. When merged, one point will move to the location of another—
Merge will not average the distance between points to create a new point
midway between them. As such, the related polygon may be stretched as
To speed the operation, select the points you wish to merge before
using this command. (It’s OK if you select more than you need.)
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See also the Weld command, in Chapter 26.
The Collapse Polygons command (Construct > Reduce: Collapse Pols)
replaces selected polygons with a single point at their average position.
It is like moving all of the points for the selected polygons to their center
and then merging the points.
Left: Four polygons selected. Right:After using Collapse Polygons
The Unify Polygons command (Construct > Reduce: Unify Polygons)
converts selected polygons sharing the same points (such as doublesided polygons) into a single polygon. It creates single-sided polygons
with regard to the direction of their surface normals. However, unusual
object shapes can occasionally fool its complex algorithms, resulting in
single-sided polygons facing the incorrect direction. If this happens, you
may need to use the Align Polygons or Flip Polygons commands to
correct the resulting direction of the normals.
The qemLOSS2 function (Construct > Reduce: qemLOSS2) uses a
surface simplification algorithm in an attempt to reduce the number of
polygons in an object. The plug-in lets you rapidly produce good quality
approximations of excessively detailed polygonal models. qemLOSS2 is
an excellent way to create low resolution stand-in objects for scene
layout or for multi-resolution models. You can use the object
replacement capability in Layout to substitute a low resolution object in
place of an object with a high polygon count when it is far away from the
Left: standard 5,502-polygon cow. Right: slim 2,750-polygon version.
This plug-in uses routines adapted from Michael Garland's public
domain QSlim Simplification Software. The algorithms used in this
software are described in the papers written by Michael Garland and
Paul S. Heckbert, Surface Simplification Using Quadric Error Metrics,
SIGGRAPH 97, and Simplifying Surfaces with Color and Texture using
Quadric Error Metrics, IEEE Visualization 98.
Many 3D models contain a large number of polygons, especially
algorithmically created models (such as those created by implicit
surface construction techniques) and models created with 3D scanners
and digitizers. Polygon reduction in these types of models is currently a
very active research area in computer graphics. Obviously, rendering 3D
scenes is much faster when the models contain a minimum number of
polygons. Also with the current trend towards sharing 3D worlds over
the Internet using VRML, level of detail models (LOD) are becoming
absolutely necessary for creating worlds in which the user can browse
and interact in a reasonable manner.
This plug-in provides polygon reduction on objects within Modeler.
Only one parameter, the reduction Goal, must be set by the user, the
remaining default values should provide good reduction for many
objects with a high polygon count. However, to get the best results, the
user must understand some of the basic concepts behind the algorithm.
The simplification algorithm is based on contractions of vertex pairs.
It supports two types of contractions: edge and non-edge contractions. An
edge contraction occurs when the vertex pair shares an edge. This is the
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primary type of contraction that occurs during the reduction stage (in
fact, non-edge contractions are turned off by the default parameters).
The following figure shows an example of an edge contraction where
vertex v1 and vertex v2 are joined to form a new vertex v3. Since v1 and
v2 share an edge (highlighted below), one or more triangles will always
be removed during this contraction. In this example, two triangles are
eliminated from the mesh.
Edge Contraction
Non-edge contractions let the algorithm join unconnected areas of the
object together. The next figure shows an example of a non-edge
contraction (also called aggregation).
Non-edge Contractions
In fact, there are two non-edge contractions taking place: v1 and v2
contract to form v5; v3 and v4 contract to form v6. Since by definition
the vertices in the contraction pairs do not share an edge (there is no
edge between v1 and v2, or the v3, v4 pair), there is no actual reduction
in the polygon count of the object. However, since this feature joins
previously unconnected areas of the object together, the potential exists
for future reductions. Many times this can also provide a better low
resolution approximation of an object that has many disconnected
As the algorithm proceeds through each iteration, an approximation
of geometric error accumulates at each vertex of the object. If this
geometric error is less than the user defined Maximum Error Tolerance,
the vertex is marked as a viable candidate for another contraction. Once
the geometric error for a vertex becomes greater than the maximum
threshold value, it will no longer be considered in any more
contractions. During each iteration, the vertex pair with the smallest
combined geometric error is chosen for the current contraction.
The algorithm proceeds until the simplified object is reduced to the
user's targeted Goal (number of polygons) or until all the vertex errors
have become greater than the Maximum Error Tolerance. These two
parameters control how much reduction will take place, the remainder of
the parameters control various aspects of the vertex contractions.
Two types of vertices receive special consideration by this plug-in:
surface border and boundary vertices. Parameters are provided for you
to weight the geometric error for these two special types of vertices:
• A surface border vertex is a point that is shared by two or more
• An edge that exists in only one triangle is a boundary edge, and
determines two endpoints that are called boundary vertices.
The Surface Border Weight and Boundary Preservation Weight
parameters let you weigh the geometric error at these points. The higher
the weight, the less likely the vertex will be replaced. Clever use of these
parameters (along with some equally clever surfacing) can provide quite
a bit of control over the contraction process. The Polygon Area
Weighting parameter, causes every vertex's geometric error to be
weighted by the area of the polygons that contain the vertex. Once again
causing larger values (triangles with larger areas) to be less likely to be
To help preserve the shape of these shared borders, weighting of the
surface border vertices, using Surface Border Weight, has been added
to the algorithm to help restrict movement/replacement of those
Always save your objects before you run qemLOSS2!
Using qemLOSS2
Make sure you have an object in the current foreground layer(s) of
Modeler. You also need at least one empty layer, because the existing
object remains unchanged, and the reduced object is placed in the first
available empty layer. Choose Construct > Reduce: qemLOSS2 and you
are presented with the following panel.
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qemLOSS2 ignores any polygon selections and works only on the
entire object in the foreground layer, including any hidden polygons.
Goal lets you set the final number of polygons you would like in the
simplified object. You may enter either a desired polygon count (an
integer such as 1000), or a percent based on the number of polygons
found in the original object (a real number with a percent sign at the
end, such as 65.2%). If you enter a percentage, it will simply calculate the
polygon goal by multiplying that percentage by the total polygon count
in the original object. So 100% will mean no reduction takes place, and
0% means the object will disappear completely.
The first major step qemLOSS2 takes is to triple your polygons, which
will increase the polygon count, if your model contains non-triangular
polygons. A Goal of 100%, however, will reduce the number of polygons
back to the original number, but now they will all be triangles. If that
reduction doesn't preserve your model's shape well enough, don't
hesitate to try percentages over 100%, those models will still be smaller
than the tripled original.
Other parameter settings may cause the algorithm to fail to reach the
reduction goal.
Maximum Error Tolerance sets the geometric error threshold. A
large value (such as the default 1,000,000) almost guarantees that you
will achieve the reduction goal in the previous parameter field. Smaller
values may preserve the shape of the original object better, however you
may not achieve the desired reduction goal entered above.
Surface Border Weight gives you some control over how often and
far surface border vertices are relocated during the reduction process. A
large value restricts the relocation of points that lie along surface
borders, thereby preserving the shape of the border fairly well. Smaller
values let the points move farther from their original location, possibly
causing the border to change its shape. A value of 0 will not constrain
the surface borders at all, and vertices along a border may not end up
where you expect when the simplification is finished.
Boundary Preservation Weight allows you some control over how
boundary vertices are relocated during the contraction process. A small
value lets the boundary points move farther than larger values. A value
of 0 will not constrain the boundary at all, and the object may not look at
all like you expect when the simplification is finished.
If you end up with unexpected gaps between non-contiguous polygon
surfaces, you can try to preserve those boundaries by increasing the
Boundary Preservation Weight. However, you might get better results
by merging the edge points together before running qemLOSS2. You can
always just cut and paste the polygons afterward, if the separation was
Pair Selection Tolerance determines whether non-edge contractions
are performed during the simplification process. If this value is 0, nonedge contractions are turned off, and only edge contractions will take
place during the simplification. Any value greater than 0 will cause nonedge contractions to be possible during the reduction. If you enter a
negative number, qemLOSS2 will automatically use 5% of the radius of
the object's bounding sphere. This is the value you should use if you
want to start experimenting with this parameter.
Take care when changing this value to anything but 0! It is strongly
recommended that you leave this at 0 for all complex models with lots of
polygons. If you use this, first reduce the model to a fairly small polygon
count with it turned off (=0), then reduce the reduction again with a
carefully chosen Pair Selection Tolerance, or better yet, just use a
negative number. It is a very memory intensive operation.
Vertex Placement Policy is best left at Optimal. When a pair of
vertices is contracted, the algorithm must decide where to locate the
new vertex. The algorithm can use any one of the three final options
listed in this selection of buttons. Optimal calculates the new placement
based on the location with the least amount of geometric error. Doesn't
hurt to experiment with these options though.
Sometimes vertex pair contractions do not preserve the orientation
of the faces in certain areas of the contraction, If Preserve Mesh Quality
is changed to Yes, the normal of each neighboring face is compared
before and after the contraction. If the normal flips, the contraction is
penalized greatly by making the geometric error for that contraction
very large (so that contraction will probably never take place). In most
cases, this will not be a problem, and the plug-in will work faster if this
parameter stays set to No. But it's not terribly slow, so it certainly
doesn't hurt to experiment with it.
If you change Polygon Area Weighting to Yes, the area of the triangle
containing the vertex is used to weight the geometric error. This will
cause larger triangles to increase the geometric errors of its vertices, so
it is less likely to be chosen for simplification.
The qemLOSS2 function displays a progress monitor while it creates
the reduced object in the first available empty layer. Here is what
happens: first, the object in the foreground layer(s) is copied to the first
available empty layer, then all its polygons are converted to triangles
using Modeler's Triple command. Next, all vertices and polygons are
converted into the necessary data structures needed for the
simplification routines, and the copied object is subsequently removed.
Once the simplification routine finishes, the reduced polygon object is
placed in the previously empty layer.
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For additional information, check out http://amber.rc.arizona.edu/lw.
The Reduce-Points command (Construct > Reduce: Reduce-Points)
traverses polygon edges and removes any points (from the polygons)
that form an angle with its adjacent points that is less than the Degrees
setting. This plug-in is especially useful to reduce the number of points
and polygons generated by extruding or beveling text objects. Simply
select a Point Reduction Threshold Setting and the Degrees will be set
automatically. You can also enter your own Degrees setting. Activate
Delete Points to delete the removed points.
The Reduce-Polygons command (Construct > Reduce: ReducePolygons) merges co-planar polygons with three or more vertices into a
single polygon and can optionally remove any stray points resulting from
the polygon removal. Polygons are merged if the relative angle between
two polygons is less than the Polygon Reduction setting, they share an
edge, and have the same surface name.
Colinear Point Removal deletes points that are still a vertex of a new
polygon. You may set the level of this removal computation. To delete all
points that are no longer a vertex of a polygon, check the Delete Points
Sometimes you will need to add a point to a polygon and then move
the point to change the shape of the polygon. You might also want to
add multiple points so you can manually subdivide a polygon into
smaller polys.
To add a point to a polygon:
1 First, select the target polygon. If your selected edge is shared with
another polygon, select that one as well. If you do not, the edge will
split and the polygons will no longer be joined.
2 Choose Construct > Subdivide: Add Points.
3 Click the black plus sign at your desired insertion point along the
The Knife tool (Construct > Subdivide: Knife) lets you interactively
get results similar to the Drill function’s Slice option; however, it requires
no background object. You simply drag out a slicing line in any
viewport—nothing need be in a background layer. The line is infinite
along the axis perpendicular to the view you initially drag in.
The other viewports will let you see the line from a different angle
and a small dotted line will be visible that shows you the direction of the
slice. After you have released the mouse button, you can drag the Thandles at the ends of the line (in any viewport) to reposition them or
drag the center of the line to move the entire line. The tip of the dotted
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line can also be dragged to change the direction in increments of 90
degrees. This is an interactive tool so you will see the new geometry
results as you position the line.
Like most tools, drop it or select another to make the geometry, or
click your RMB to create the geometry without dropping the tool. Click
on an open area of the interface to cancel the operation before it is made
or use Undo.
The Knife tool’s numeric requester indicates the Start and End XYZ
coordinates, defining the end points of the line. The Axis settings define
a target point, relative to the base of the dotted direction line, that the
line goes through.
The Subdivide Polygons panel appears when you choose Construct >
Subdivide: Subdivide. This panel provides several commands that let
you automatically increase the detail of existing polygons. To use this
panel, you must select the target polygons first.
You cannot use Subdivide Polygons on polygons with more than four
Randomizing Options
All Subdivide options let you enter a Fractal factor that will randomly
jitter newly created points. The result is a subdivided object with its
points randomly jittered. A factor of 0 will not jitter points and higher
values will jitter points more.
The jitter radius is a fraction of the edge length, times the Fractal
factor. A factor of 1 jitters the new points by at most 50 percent of the
length of the edge that they will subdivide. A factor of 0.1 is five percent
jitter and a factor of 2 will move points 100 percent of the edge length.
Points added to the center of four-point polygons are jittered a
comparable amount, although the formula for them is more complicated.
Using Fractal
Faceted Subdivide
The Faceted option adds more segments to existing polygons, but
doesn’t change the overall shape. Let’s say you made a box, but just
wanted one side to have multiple segments. In this case you could use
Faceted Subdivide
Faceted Subdivide works on triangles, like after the Triple command is
Smooth Subdivide
Smooth will subdivide objects that have curved, smoothed, or
rounded areas. Modeler assumes any two polygons are part of a smooth
surface and will extrapolate where subdivided detail should be placed to
maintain (even enhance) the curvature of the original form.
The value entered in the Max Smoothing Angle field is used to
determine whether adjoining polygons should be smoothed or not.
Adjacent polygons whose normals form an angle above this value will
not be smoothly subdivided. The default is 89.5 degrees, so polygons at
right angles or sharper will not be affected.
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Smooth Subdivide
Smooth Subdivide
Metaform is another method of subdividing. The object will be
smoothed dramatically, with the original object acting as kind of a
bounding box template for a slightly smaller, more rounded form.
Metaform is very useful for creating smooth organic-looking objects out
of simple geometric structures.
Smooth Subdivide
Metaform is an adaptive process, meaning that locations that contain
greater detail (i.e., more points/polygons) will have more detail in the
smoothing process. It is easy to create rounded forms with Metaform.
Moreover, if you use Metaform on part of an object by selecting
polygons, you can create specific areas of greater detail on an object
without subdividing the entire object again and again.
Adjoining polygons with surface normal angles greater than the Max
Smoothing Angle will not be subdivided in a smooth manner. The
default angle is 179 degrees, so only polygons that are nearly parallel
with each other are not affected.
Metaform is often used one or more times on a box to create a
rounded starting point for SubPatch cages. It is superior to using, say, a
ball primitive, since all polygons are quads.
Smooth and Metaform can achieve similar results using the same
maximum smoothing angle; however, Smooth will tend to smooth
outward, and make a slightly larger object. Metaform, on the other
hand, smoothes inward, and make a more compact object.
Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz...super knife! BandSaw will slice through a
contiguous band of four-point polygons (or patches). To use the
Bandsaw, just select a polygon and activate the BandSaw tool (Construct
> Subdivide: Bandsaw). (If you select more than one polygon, the first
selected polygon controls the operation.) This tool is tailored for use on
SubPatch objects in areas where you need more control points.
The operation continues all the way around until it hits itself or a
non-four-point polygon. The Edge to select option determines the
direction. With a quad, there are only two ways and these are described
as Even or Odd. Select Auto for BandSaw to pick the direction for you.
Single polygon selected
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Some results using Bandsaw
By default, there will be a single default slice right in the center. This
is the positioning of the slice that will be made on the polygons. You can
move it by selecting the Edit mode and dragging it with your mouse. You
can also add more slices in the Add mode or remove them in the Delete
Uniform equalizes the spacing between slices. Mirror will mirror the
selected slice across the center. Reverse inverts the order—handy if you
placed the slice(s) on the wrong side.
To actually perform the slice, you need to activate the Enable divide
option. However, you can also use BandSaw to just select the band of
polygons by not activating this option.
Choosing Construct > Subdivide: Split will divide a polygon into two
smaller polygons using its existing points. If used on a curve, the curve
will be split into two distinct curves.
Select a polygon and switch to the Point edit mode. Select two points
that do not share any edges. Clicking Split will subdivide the polygon
along a line between those two points.
Splitting polygons
The Triple command (Construct > Subdivide: Triple) converts the
selected polygon(s) into triangular polygons. For example, a square
polygon becomes two triangular polygons. Triangles cannot by definition
become non-planar; therefore, this tool is useful for objects you wish to
animate using bones, or objects that will have displacement maps.
Tripling non-planar polygons makes them planar. Note that tripling does
not change the general shape of the object/polygons. Also, once a
polygon is a triangle, tripling it again has no effect.
Before (left) and after (right) tripling polygons
To select only non-planar polygons, use the Polygon Statistics panel
(Modeler > Windows > Statistics).
Also see the Fast-Triple-Fan and Fast-Triple-Traverse commands
discussed later.
The Julienne command (Construct > Subdivide: Julienne) slices an
object into sections that are regularly spaced along a given axis. Julienne
is very useful for subdividing objects that will be bent or used with a
displacement map.
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After using Julienne
See Chapter 10.
The Triple Fan command (Construct > Subdivide: Triple Fan) triples
polygons, with new polygons sharing a common point in a fan shape.
Triple Fan
The Triple Traverse command (Construct > Subdivide: TripleTraverse) triples polygons, with new polygons being created along the
outside edge, moving inward.
Triple Traverse
See Chapter 29.
The Freeze command (Construct > Convert: Freeze) is used to
convert curves (see Chapter 22), SubPatch objects (see Chapter 29) and
Meta-primitives (see Chapter 29) into polygons.
The Make... commands in the Construct > Convert: menu group are
used to create skelegons (see Chapter 10) and Meta-primitives (see
Chapter 29) from normal geometry.
This command toggles the display of Meta-primitives on/off. See
Chapter 29.
You will often need to estimate distances and angles in the modeling
process. The grid size can yield reasonably accurate figures, but if the
two points are not aligned somewhat vertically or horizontally,
estimating can be more difficult.
Fortunately, Modeler provides what is best described as a virtual tape
measure. With it, you can measure the distance between any two points
in any view.
To use the Measure tool:
Choose Construct > Utility: Measure > Measure Tool and then drag
between the two positions you want to measure between. The
information display in the bottom left corner will tell you the exact
distance. You can reposition either end by dragging it. To reset, click in a
non-active part of the interface.
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Measuring distance between horns
In a similar manner you can also measure angles.
To use the Angle Tool:
1 Choose Construct > Utility: Measure > Angle Tool.
2 Place your pointer at the vertex of the angle you wish to measure and
drag the LMB out to form one side of the angle. A line will extend
from the drag point.
3 Release the mouse button. You can reposition the end of the line by
dragging it; however, you cannot move the starting position at this
4 Place your mouse pointer near the starting point (but not on top of it)
and drag out the other side of the angle. The information display will
now tell you the angle between the two lines.
Measuring horn angle
5 Once you release the mouse button, you can reposition the vertex or
either end by dragging them. To reset, click in a non-active part of the
If you place your mouse pointer on top of the starting point in step 4,
the starting point will become the other end to the angle and you will
drag out the vertex.
Both of these tools can be used in any viewport to measure any angle
in 3D space.
The BoundingBox Command
The BoundingBox command (Construct > Utility: Measure >
BoundingBox) displays size and center-position information for
foreground layers. Clicking OK will replace the layer(s) with a
corresponding bounding box. Use this command to create stand-ins for
complex objects, which can be replaced for the final rendered animation.
BoundingBox dialog
The PointCenter Command
The PointCenter command (Construct > Utility: Measure >
PointCenter) will display a requester that gives you the XYZ coordinates
of the center of the object in the foreground.
PointCenter dialog
To learn how to create and edit LScripts, see the documentation
included on the CD. They are treated as plug-ins and can be installed in
the same manner plug-ins are. You can run them just like any other plugin command.
Plug-in and LScript commands that do not have a default menu
location will appear in the catchall Construct > Utility: Additional popup menu.
Detailing Geometry
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hapter 26:
Detailing Geometry
The Detail menu contains a variety of commands. Many are covered
elsewhere in the manual.
Generally, the pivot point is the positional focal point of the layer’s
geometry when animated in Layout. By default, it is located at the Origin.
Use the Pivot Point tool (Detail > Layers: Pivot) to move the pivot point.
(See Chapter 7 for more information.)
Choose Detail > Layers: Layer Settings to bring up a dialog to set the
current layer name and parent. (See Chapter 20 for more information.)
Layer Settings
Choose Detail > Layers: Flatten Layers to flatten multiple foreground
layers into a single layer in one step.
Choose Detail > Polygons: Surface to bring up the Change Surface
dialog to set the surface name and basic attributes for the selected
polygons. (See Chapter 31 for more information.)
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Change Surface dialog
Often as you create polygons or use various tools with single-sided
polygons, their surface normals will point in the wrong direction.
Modeler provides some tools to help you change their direction.
To flip polygons:
Simply select the polygon(s) and choose Detail > Polygons: Flip. This
action reverses the direction of the surface normal for the selected
Polygons facing the wrong direction is a common problem and one you
should get in the habit of checking for regularly.
This command also reverses the direction of selected curves.
The Spin Quads command (Detail > Polygons: Spin Quads) can be
applied to adjacent four-point polygons (i.e., quads) that share an edge.
It merges the two polygons together and then splits them using a
different set of opposing polygons. If you apply Spin Quads three times,
you’ll be right back where you started.
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Applying Spin Quads three times to a pair of polygons
So what good is this? Well, it can be quite handy fixing areas on a
SubPatch object where a seam just doesn’t look right.
Modeler has another command called Align Polygons (Detail >
Polygons: Align) that attempts to automatically make all polygons face
the correct direction. After using, you may still need to use the Flip
Polygons command (Detail > Polygons: Flip) before you are done.
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To align polygons:
1 Select an area that includes the polygons needing to be flipped, as
well as a large number of polygons facing the correct direction.
Selecting polygons that share points and edges helps.
2 Choose Detail > Polygons: Align. Verify that the polygons were
flipped as desired. By its very nature, this command sometimes
requires some trial and error.
Sometimes you’ll actually want double-sided polygons, like when you
need to go inside a hollow object. Most of the time, you can get away
with simply using the Double-sided surface attribute on the Basic tab of
the Surface Editor. However, if you need to actually model the doublesided polygons, it is pretty simple. Just choose Detail > Polygons: Make2 Sided.
It is also possible to make double-sided polygons manually using the
following procedure:
1 Select the target polygons (even if it is the entire object).
2 Copy (C) the selection.
3 Paste (v) the selection.
4 Choose Detail > Polygons: Flip to flip the (still) selected polygons.
L I G H T WAV E 3 D 7
5 Choose Construct > Reduce: Merge Points to merge points.
When using the Sketch mode Rendering Style in a viewport (see
Chapter 27), you can change the polygon shading color by choosing
Detail > Polygons: Sketch Color.
The Set Value command (Detail > Points: Set Value) sets the X, Y, or Z
position values for the selected points or polygons. This is a great tool
for aligning all of the points along a strict axis. You may find a need for
this when you are trying to merge to halves of a mirrored object together
and are having trouble merging all points along the mirroring axis.
Before using Set Value
After using Set Value
The Weld command (Detail > Points: Weld) is similar to the Merge
Points command (see Chapter 25) except the selected points are welded
to the last point selected.
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Welding one end of a cylinder to a single point
The Weld Points To Average command (Detail > Points: Weld
Average) is similar, but averages the distance between points before
Unwelding Points
The Unweld command (Detail > Points: Unweld) lets you create
multiple copies of the selected points so that none are shared by two
polygons at once—effectively reversing an executed Weld command.
Curves and their special editing tools are discussed in Chapter 22.
Skelegon commands are discussed in Chapter 10. Metaballs are
discussed in Chapter 29.
Display Menu
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hapter 27:
Display Menu
The Display menu contains functions to help you in adjusting
viewports, selecting geometry, and changing visibility options.
The following options help you change and configure your viewports.
Modeler provides many ways to zoom around your viewports. You’re
gonna zoom, zoom, zooma zoom. First, you can adjust viewport
magnification by pressing the period key (.) to zoom in or the comma
key (,) to zoom out. (These are shortcuts for Display > Viewports: Zoom
In / Zoom Out.) Holding the SHIFT key while pressing either key (i.e., the
> and < keys) will double the zoom amount.
Another way to adjust magnification is to use the Zoom tool (Display
> Viewports: Zoom). You can drag out a rectangular box using the mouse
and the view will automatically zoom in so the rectangular box fills the
view window.
The Magnify tool (Display > Viewports: Magnify) provides yet
another way to interactively zoom in and out. This feature lets you
smoothly zoom in or out on your pointer position by dragging your
mouse left and right.
If you have the titlebars visible, you can drag the zoom drag button
to zoom.
OpenGL Display Clipping
In some cases, if you zoom in too far, OpenGL will clip out points and
polygons—essentially causing them to disappear. Unfortunately, this is a
feature of OpenGL. (Actually, anything that is not in the exact center of
the viewport gets clipped. If you center your viewport on an item, it
continues to be visible.)
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Each viewport is a window to a larger world. You can pan the
viewport beneath your mouse by using the ARROW keys—one grid square
for each press. Holding the SHIFT key will move the view four grid
squares. Holding the ALT key will nudge by one-tenth of a grid square or
the (Fixed) Snap Value amount on the Units tab of the Display Options
panel (Display > Viewports: View Options), if that option is active. ALT +
SHIFT will nudge ten times this amount. (It may help you to think of this
as moving a window around as opposed to moving the object.)
You may also pan a viewport by holding the ALT key down and
dragging a viewport. (This feature is also activated with the Pan tool
(Display > Viewports: Pan).) If you have the titlebars visible, you can
drag the move drag button to pan.
Automatic Pan and Zoom
Certain commands will automatically fit objects into the viewport. To
fit the object in all viewports, use the A key, a shortcut for Display >
Viewports: Fit All. You’ll often want to use this to center-up an object
when it is first loaded.
Before and after using Fit All
Press SHIFT + A (or choose Display > Viewports: Fit Selected) to fit
only the selected parts of an object into all viewports.
Before and after using Fit Selected
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The Fit One View command (CTRL + A) will fit the object in the
viewport under the mouse pointer into that viewport.
After using Fit One View. Mousepointer in Back viewport
Pressing the G key will center your view around the mouse pointer.
This is a very quick way to maneuver around. Remember this shortcut!
Other viewports will also change to stay in sync with the window you
are changing (unless they are Center/Zoom independent, discussed
Modeler’s interface is highly configurable, so you can set things up to
be most efficient for different users or different uses. You can change the
arrangement of viewports as well as change the display characteristics
for each viewport independently. Choose Display > Viewports: View
Options to bring up the Display Options panel.
Display Options Panel, Layout Tab
Layout options control the global arrangement of the viewports, the
number of viewports and some other global display settings. Use the
Presets pop-up menu to quickly set common layout configurations
(Quad is the default setting). Selecting a Preset will affect the Layout
setting, as well as settings on the Viewports tab.
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Display Options Presets
If you want to set up your own custom layout, make a selection from
the Layout pop-up menu. The icon to the left of the description will give
you an idea of how the viewports will be arranged. Later, you will see
that you have total control over what is in each viewport. In fact, each
Layout option will remember the Viewport settings as they were the last
time that Layout option was used.
Texture Resolution
The Texture Resolution setting determines the resolution to use for
displaying textures in viewports that have their Rendering Style set to
Texture. Higher settings increase the detail of image textures displayed
in viewports, but increase memory usage and display refreshing time.
Perspective Amount
The amount of perspective in the perspective view can be varied by
changing the Perspective Amount slider on the Layout tab. You can go
from a very wide-angle to a flat nearly orthogonal view. The setting is
global and affects all the perspective views the same way.
Adjusting Perspective Amount
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Background Color
Use the Background Color selector to change the color that appears
in the background for viewports using a shaded display. (See Chapter 3
for information on using color selectors.)
Show Options
The various Show visibility options let you independently set what
you want to see globally in your viewports.
Points appear as small dots.
Surfaces are the polygon (or SubPatch) surfaces.
A cage is the outline that connects all of the control
points when you edit a SubPatch object.
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Point Selection
Points appear highlighted when this option is active, if
you select points.
Guides are the dotted-lines that extend from the surface
(patch vertex) to the control points on the cage (if
visible) when you edit a SubPatch object.
Normals are dotted lines that extend perpendicularly
from selected (planar) polygons.
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The grid is the background reference grid.
Polygon Selection Polygons appear highlighted when this option is
active, if you select polygons.
Normals are off here
A Backdrop is an image loaded for viewports on the
Backdrop tab.
These visibility options can be overridden independently for each
viewport on the Viewports tab.
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Display Options Panel,Viewports Tab
Viewport options let you change how objects are displayed in each
viewport. To change the settings for a viewport, first select it using the
Viewport buttons. For a quad layout, the viewports are top-left (TL), topright (TR), bottom-left (BL), and bottom-right (BR).
Use the Presets pop-up menu to quickly set the options on this tab
for the selected viewport region. The selections are listed by view types,
but will affect all of the settings on this tab.
Presets pop-up menu
The View Type pop-up menu determines the editing axes you want to
use for the selected region. For the orthogonal settings, the names
generally indicate the viewing perspective. Back (XY), for example, lets
you edit along the X and Y axes. This means you are looking along the Z
axis. Since it is called Back, that means your perspective is from the back
(i.e., negative side) of the Z axis, looking toward the positive side. UV
Texture is an entirely different animal (that is, not a cow). (See Chapter
28 for information on UV Texture maps.)
View Type pop-up menu
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Left to right:Top, Bottom, Back and Front
Left to right: Right, Left and Perspective
There are four Display (group) commands assigned by default to
certain keyboard shortcuts which affect the viewport beneath your
mousepointer. SHIFT+F1 toggles the view between Back and Front,
SHIFT+F2 toggles between Top and Bottom, SHIFT+F3 toggles between
Right and Left, and SHIFT+F4 toggles between Perspective and UV.
You may edit in a Perspective viewport, just as you would in any
other, but you may also rotate your view perspective. This is Modeler’s
virtual trackball, which enables you to rotate the object without affecting
its orientation in the other three edit windows. It effectively provides
you with three axes of rotation. While holding down the ALT key, you can
perform these actions:
• Rotate around the X axis (pitch) by dragging up or down directly
across the circle.
• Rotate around the Y axis (heading) by dragging left or right directly
across the circle.
• Rotate around the Z axis (bank) by dragging to the left or right
around the perimeter of the circle.
If the titlebars are visible, you can drag the rotate drag button
your LMB to rotate. If you use the RMB, the viewport will rotate around
its perpendicular axis. Holding the CTRL key (or using your MMB) will
cause rotations to snap to 15-degree increments.
Imagine you are manipulating an imaginary ball with your mouse when
you manipulate the Preview window.
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Rendering Style
The Rendering Style pop-up menu determines the style of display
you want to use for the selected region.
Rendering Style menu
Although the Wireframe is arguably the most limited
display mode, it is the most commonly used
Rendering Style because of its ease in viewing,
selecting, and unselecting points and polygons.
Color Wireframe
This is nearly the same as Wireframe, except the
polygon edges are drawn using their Sketch color
(Detail > Polygons: Sketch Color).
Sketch shows an object in a combined wireframe and
flat-shaded view. All polygon edges are drawn, but
faces are also visible. This mode does not account
for surface settings, however. The polygon edges are
L I G H T WAV E 3 D 7
always drawn in white and faces are gray.
Background layers are visible.
You can change the polygon shading color in this
mode by choosing Detail > Polygons: Sketch Color.
Wireframe Shade Wireframe Shade is a smooth-shaded mode that
overlays the wireframe lines.
Flat Shade
In Flat Shade mode, the object is shown as a flatshaded solid. This mode supports some surface
settings, but not smoothing.
Smooth Shade
Smooth Shade is a smooth-shaded mode that
supports some surface settings, such as Color,
Diffusion, Specularity, Glossiness, Smoothing, and
Weight Shade
Weight Shade provides visual feedback for editing
weight maps (see Chapter 28).
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Texture is similar to Smooth Shade, but it also
shows images mapped to surfaces.
Upright Rotation
The Upright Rotation pop-up menu lets you rotate a viewport
clockwise by 0, 90, 180, and 270 degrees.
Titlebar Shortcuts
You can change the View Type and Rendering Style of a viewport
without going to the Display Options panel by using the pop-up menus
on the titlebar. The left-most pop-up shows the current View Type,
clicking it allows you to choose another. The pop-up menu just to its
right—it has only a down arrowhead—lets you choose another
Rendering Style.
View Type and Rendering Style pop-up menus
Note that if you have UV Texture selected as the View Type, the
Rendering Style pop-up menu will instead list all loaded images. Select
one to load it into the backdrop of that viewport.
List of loaded images on pop-up menu when using UV Texture view
Independent Options
The Independent options let you make certain viewport
characteristics independent from other viewports. Changes to the
selected characteristic do not affect that characteristic in other
viewports and vice versa. For example, if a viewport uses Independent
Zoom, zooming in it does not affect the zoom of other viewports. You
must have your pointer over the viewport to affect an independent
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viewport. Independent Rotation is only applicable to perspective views.
Normally, it is enabled. If you have multiple perspective views with this
option disabled, they will move in unison when you rotate a view.
Independent options
Independent Visibility
The lower portion of the panel contains the independent visibility
options. You can individually select which visibility options are
independent. To use them, you must also activate the Independent
Visibility option. This option lets you quickly enable/disable this feature
without losing the state of each setting.
Independent visibility options
Display Options Panel, Backdrop Tab
On the Backdrop tab, you can add full-color backdrop images that act
as reference guides when you build objects. They let you model much
like tracing a picture using tracing paper. To use backdrops, select the
Viewport and the desired image from the Image pop-up menu.
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Display Options Panel, Backdrop Tab
Backdrops added to orthogonal viewports
If you are using a UV Texture viewport, you can choose a backdrop
using any loaded image from what is normally the Rendering Style popup menu on the viewport’s titlebar.
From the Presets pop-up menu, you can save the settings for the
selected Viewport to a file by choosing Save Current Backdrop. You can
load this file later using Load Backdrop for any selected Viewport. You
can also save the settings for all viewports by choosing Save All
Backdrops. When this file is loaded later—using Load Backdrop—, the
individual viewport settings are restored.
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Saving and loading backdrops
The backdrop images for the current default layout for each view
configuration are cached as long as possible. Also, backdrops are not
saved in config files or view presets.
You can also adjust Brightness and Contrast. You can invert the
colors by activating the Invert option. If you want to blend pixels for
closeup work, activate the Pixel Blend option. Image Resolution
determines the accuracy of the displayed image.
Aspect and Video images
The two Center and Size input fields are horizontal (top field) and
vertical (lower field). Clicking Automatic Size will enter values that fit
the defined image into an implied bounding box that surrounds visible
Backdrop Center and Size fields
If you activate the Fixed Aspect Ratio option, you can enter a frame
aspect ratio in the input field. Then, you need only specify a horizontal
size—the vertical size is computed automatically.
If your images originated from video, you need to account for the
pixel aspect ratio, since video pixels are not square like computer pixels.
For example, a D1 NTSC image is 720 x 486 pixels; however, the frame
aspect ratio is not 1.48 (720/486) as you might expect. The width of a D1
NTSC pixel is 90 percent of the width, that is, a pixel aspect ratio of .9. As
such, the true frame aspect ratio is 1.333 (720/486*.9).
The frame aspect ratio of a D1 PAL image is also 1.333
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If you do not account for this difference, your models may appear
slightly stretched when ultimately viewed on videotape. A way to fix this
is to scale the object after the fact.
Display Options Panel, Interface Tab
Display Options Panel, Interface Tab
The Alert Level affects how error, warning and informational
messages are displayed. (See also Chapter 6.)
The Toolbar Position setting determines if the main toolbar appears
on the Left or Right side. Activate Hide Toolbar to make it hidden and
maximize your screen real estate. You can also choose Modeler >
Interface > Hide Toolbar On/Off to toggle this setting.
The Viewport Titles option turns the titlebars, which appear above
each viewport, on or off.
Viewport titlebars
Use the Input Device buttons to select the type of input device you
are using.
The Fine Detail Cursor option, when active, makes your
mousepointer use the main crosshair pointer at all times instead of
changing when the various tools and selection functions are used.
The File Dialog and Color Picker pop-up menus let you use custom
LightWave dialogs for file loading/saving and picking colors. (See
Chapter 3 for more information.) Selecting Default will use your standard
system dialogs. The custom dialogs provide many additional features not
available with the standard system dialogs.
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The Color Format setting determines the scale used where the color
selector appears. Integer uses values 000 to 255, Float uses .00 to 1.00
and Percentage uses 0% to 100%.
Example color selection setting
The Simple Wireframe Edges option turns off polygon offsetting for
the sketch-like display modes. This may fix display problems on some
videocards. The Simple Wireframe Points setting uses OpenGL's own
points for wireframe points and selected points at a user-specified size.
These points can draw much faster than the standard points.
Simple Wireframe Edges and Simple Wireframe Points options
Display Options Panel, Units Tab
Display Options Panel, Units Tab
The Unit System determines the units of measurement that are used
and displayed by the Modeler screen.
SI is the International System of Units (SI is the abbreviation of
the French “Le Système International d’Unites.”) Unit
measurements in Modeler will now use a base system of meters.
Grid sizes and distances can be measured in megameters,
kilometers, meters, millimeters, micrometers, and nanometers.
Metric The Metric System is the same as SI with the addition of
English The English System uses miles, feet, and inches.
We recommend you use the SI or Metric systems to model objects,
since a system based on 10 is often much easier to use for purposes
such as applying textures and adjusting object movement.
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If you input a value that uses a different unit of measurement than
that the default, LightWave will convert it on the fly. For example, you
may be using meters, but typing in “5 ft” will convert to “1.524 m.”
Default Unit
Use the Default Unit pop-up menu to set an assumed measure when
none is given for distance values.
If you use a metric Unit System, you should set the Default Unit to
For information on units of measurement, please see the Appendix.
Grid Units
Grid Units affects the zoom step amount but has no effect on the
actual size of the object. You will likely find that 1 2.5 5 and 1 2 5 are
your most commonly used grid unit settings.
The grid resizes in values that begin with 1, as in 10m, 1m,
100mm, 10mm, etc.
The grid resizes in values that begin with 1 or 5, as in 1m,
500mm, 100mm, 50mm, 10mm, etc.
1 2.5 5 The grid resizes in values that begin with 1, 25, or 5, as in 1m,
500mm, 250mm, 100mm, 50mm, etc.
1 2 5 The grid resizes in values that begin with 1, 2, or 5, as in 1m,
500mm, 200mm, 100mm, 50mm, etc.
The grid resizes in values that begin with 1 or 2, as in 1m,
200mm, 100mm, 20mm, 10mm, etc.
Grid Snap
The Grid Snap setting forces point creation and item movement to be
limited to a specific increment.
None deactivates grid snap, so that items move freely and are
not constrained by any grid intersections.
Standard Standard sets the grid snap to one-tenth of the current grid
Fine makes the grid snap as small as possible for the current
zoom level. This will be typically two- to five-times smaller
than using Standard.
Fixed lets you specify the increment of movement in the Snap
Value input field. The grid will resize itself to use the value you
specify. This also fixes the grid’s graticule on screen to be
displayed at that increment.
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Time Format
The Time Format setting allows you to set the display format for time
values, like the Frame Slider Label option on Layout’s General Options
tab of the Preferences panel. If the Hub is active, Layout and Modeler
settings will be kept in sync.
As you work with Modeler you will no doubt find that you use the
viewports in particular view configurations. Luckily, you can customize
Modeler’s display to fit your work habits by assigning workspace view
settings to the keys on your numeric keypad.
To assign views to keys:
Turn on your NUMLOCK key.
Hold the CTRL key and press one of the numbers 1 through 9 on the
numeric keypad.
Whole Window options
Single Pane options
You can choose to save either the parameters for a Single Pane (the
viewport beneath your mouse pointer when you activated the function)
or the Whole Window (all viewports). The available options differ
depending on whether you select Single Pane or Whole Window. The
options relate to the corresponding settings on the Display Options
panel. (Note: Mapping Type (Single Pane mode) is called View Type on
the Display Options panel.)
Keys set using Single Pane will apply those changes to the viewport
under your mouse pointer. If your mouse is not over a viewport, all
viewports are affected.
If you name your assignment and select Single Pane, the name
appears in the Presets pop-up menu on the Viewport tab of the Display
Options panel, discussed previously. If you select Whole Window, the
name appears on the Presets pop-up menu on the Layout tab.
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Full-screen Toggle Feature
By default the NUMKEY 0 key toggles the viewport under your mouse
pointer between full screen and the current viewport settings.
The following options help you with selection and other related tasks.
Point Information
Select one or more points and choose Display > Selection: Info to
bring up the Point Info panel. From here you can get detailed information
on individual points and even edit the data on a point-by-point basis.
Point Info panel
Displayed is the number of polygons the points is associated with,
and its XYZ position. If the point has any vertex maps, those are listed as
well. To help you locate the related points, point numbers will become
visible in your viewports corresponding to entries in the list.
You can change any of the selected point(s) settings, including vertex
map data, using the settings at the bottom of the panel. For Vertex Color,
you can simply set the new color and Alpha percentage. For Weight
maps, adjust the weighting percentage. For UV Textures, you must enter
the specific U and V values. For Morph maps, you must enter the amount
of XYZ position offset.
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To change what type of data is being edited for the selected entries,
use the Edit Value pop-up menu. Alternatively, you can select the type of
data with your mouse in the list.
You can have multiple selections, which will show “(mixed)” when the
settings differ for the selected points. Changing settings will affect all
selected points.
The OK button will accept any changes and close the panel. Click
Cancel to forget any changes (even though they are reflected in your
viewports) and close the panel. Deselect will unselect any points
selected on the panel and remove them from the list. Edit All will select
all entries. (You can also select and unselect entries with your mouse.)
Open All will uncollapse all of the entries and show their details. Close
All does the opposite.
Point numbers visible for selected polygons
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Polygon Information
Select one or more polygons and choose Display > Selection: Info to
bring up the Polygon Info panel. From here you can get specific
information about each selected polygon and even edit the data.
Polygon Information panel
Displayed for each polygon is the type of polygon (e.g., Face,
Skelegon, SubPatch, Metaball, etc.), number of points, the flatness
percentage (see Chapter 21, “Non-planar Polygons”), surface name, part
name, and sketch color (see Chapter 26). To help you locate the related
polygon, polygon numbers will become visible in your viewports
corresponding to entries in the list.
You can change the surface name, part name and sketch color for the
selected polygon(s) using the settings at the bottom of the panel. You
can have multiple selections, which will show “(mixed)” when the
settings differ for the selected polygons. Changing settings will affect all
selected polygons.
The OK button will accept any changes and close the panel. Click
Cancel to forget any changes (even though they are reflected in your
viewports) and close the panel. Deselect will unselect any polygons
selected on the panel and remove them from the list. Edit All will select
all entries. (You can also select and unselect entries with your mouse.)
Open All will uncollapse all of the entries and show their details. Close
All does the opposite.
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Polygon numbers visible for selected polygons
Expanding and Shrinking Selection
The Select Connected command (Display > Selection: Sel Connect)
automatically selects all points or polygons that are connected to the
currently highlighted points or polygons. This is a powerful tool and one
you should add to your memory banks. An object that is surrounded by
others may not be easily selected using a volume, and may have several
surface names (making name selection tedious).
Polygons that have overlapping points, but don’t share any of those
points, will not be affected. Use the Merge Points command
(Construct > Reduce: Merge Points) to make the edge shared.
The Expand command (Display > Selection: Expand) is a single-step
version of the Select Connected command. All points/polygons that are
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adjacent to selected elements are themselves selected. The Contract
command (Display > Selection: Contract) is similar, except that any
elements that are adjacent to unselected elements are deselected.
To reverse the state of selected and unselected points or polygons,
simply choose Display > Selection: Sel Invert.
Polygon Parts
Parts are the polygon version of point selection sets. (One distinction,
however, is that a polygon can be assigned to only one part name, while
a point can be a member of multiple selection sets.) You can quickly
select a user-defined set of polygons by name in much the same way you
can with surface names. This feature operates independently and in
parallel with surface naming.
To name polygon parts:
1 Select a group of polygons.
2 Click Display > Selection: Grouping > Change Part Name. Enter the
desired name in the Name field and click OK.
You can add to an existing part group by selecting the additional
polygons and then selecting the group’s name from the pop-up menu.
Updating Old Objects
Before the parts feature existed, some users would use surface names
to help select and modify geometry, when they really needed only a
single surface name for rendering purposes. The Surfaces To Parts
command (Display > Selection: Grouping > Surfaces to Parts) can help
to convert such objects by automatically converting the surfaces of
selected polygons to part names. The selected polygons are renamed
using a defined Surface Name.
To select parts:
1 In Polygon Selection mode, choose Modeler > Windows > Statistics
Open/Close to open the Polygon Statistics panel.
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2 Click on the pop-up menu triangle on the last line in the panel. (If it
isn’t visible, drag the bottom of the panel down.) Select the desired
part name.
3 The selected part’s name will appear on the line. Click the plus sign
(+) to select all of the polygons defined by the part.
Like surfaces, any one polygon can have only one part name.
Therefore, if you create a new part that uses polygons from an
existing part, those polygons will become associated with the new
part only.
Point Selection Sets
You can save groups of points that can be reselected by a userdefined name. Note that a point can be a member of multiple sets.
To create a point selection set:
1 Select a group of points.
2 Click Display > Selection: Grouping > Point Selection Sets. Enter the
desired name in the Name field and click OK.
You can add to an existing set by selecting the additional points and
then selecting the set’s name from the pop-up menu.
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To select points in a selection set:
1 In Points Selection mode, open the Point Statistics panel (Modeler >
Windows > Statistics Open/Close).
2 Click on the pop-up menu triangle on the last line in the panel. (If it
isn’t visible, drag the bottom of the panel down.) Select the desired
selection set.
3 The selected set’s name will appear on the line. Click the plus sign (+)
to select all of the points in the set.
To remove points from a selection set:
1 Select the points you wish to remove.
2 Click Display > Selection: Grouping > Point Selection Sets. Select the
set from the pop-up menu.
3 Activate the Remove Points option and click OK.
You can delete the entire set reference by selecting it and then
clicking the Delete button. Note that neither deleting operation will
physically delete the points.
Here are some VMap commands that deal with selection.
Select by Map
The Select by Map command (Display > Selection: Maps > Select by
Map) selects or deselects points that have entries in the chosen Vertex
Select By Map
Select By Map Influence
This LScript will allow you to select points in a weight map based on
their weight values. To use, first select the target weight map on the
Vmap pop-up menu. If you want to select a specific value only, enable
Absolute. If you want to define a range, enable Range. You may also
select polygons associated with the selected points. This will include any
polygon that uses at least one selected point.
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Select By Map Influence
Select Polygons from Selection Set
The Select Polygons from Selection Set command (Display >
Selection: Maps > Select Polygons from Selection Set) lets you select
polygons based on VMap names.
Select Polygons from Selection Set
Use the command while in Polygon edit mode by simply selecting the
VMap name in the pop-up menu and clicking OK. Any polygon that
includes a point with that VMap is selected. If you select Exclusive, all of
the polygon’s points must use the VMap to be selected.
Normally, the new selection replaces the current selection. To add the
new selection to your current selection, activate Keep Current
Per-Polygon UV Map Selection Commands
See Chapter 28, “Per-Polygon UV Mapping” for information on the
Select by Polygon Map and Select UV Seam commands in the Display >
Selection: Maps > Select by Map menu.
Two commands can help you select skelegons: Select Child Skelegon
(Display > Selection: Select Child), which selects the child of the
currently selected skelegon, and Select Parent Skelegon (Display >
Selection: Select Parent), which selects the parent of the currently
selected skelegon.
Radial selection will select the points that fall within a defined radius.
Origin is the XYZ center of the selection area. Points will be selected if
they fall within the Inner radius and Outer radius.
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Radial Select
In some cases, you want to hide the polygons that you don’t want
edited. This makes it easier to work on parts of a complex object without
splitting it up between layers. The polygons are still there, but any
editing operations will not directly affect the hidden polygons.
To hide a polygon:
Select some polygons (using any of the previously discussed
methods) and then click Display > Visibility: Hide Sel to hide selected
You can also hide the unselected polygons by clicking Display >
Visibility: Hide Unsel. Clicking Display > Visibility: Invert will reverse the
hidden states. To reveal hidden polygons, click Display > Visibility:
Although you cannot directly affect hidden polygons, you can affect
them if you modify visible polygons that share points.
Choose Display > Visibility: Swap Layers to swap the foreground and
background layers. This is a handy command to use with tools that
require background objects like Boolean and Drill.
Vertex Maps
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hapter 28:
Vertex Maps
As you might expect, every point in an object has independent
position information. Points even have rotational information, although
you normally don’t rotate individual points. A vertex map (VMap) is
additional data that a user can add onto each point in an object. Any
point in an object can have a unique entry (value) for a particular VMap
or no entry at all. The VMap data is all stored in the object file.
Basically, VMaps are to points, what surfaces are to polygons. Like
surfaces, you name your VMaps, which allows you to access them to
perform certain operations. Some VMaps types are designed for special
built-in functions. For example, UV Maps hold texture placement
information. Endomorphs hold offset information for point position.
Weight maps are used more generally, like for bone influence; however,
the SubPatch weight map is used specifically for control-point tension.
If a point has no entry for a particular VMap, the VMap is not
assigned to that point—this map will have holes in it. Note that an
assigned value of 0 is not the same as not having the VMap assigned to
that point. However, some functions that use VMaps consider these two
states to be equal—usually by necessity—essentially filling the holes
with zeros.
VMaps are normally created using the buttons in the lower-right
corner of Modeler. Once the map is created, you can set or edit the
values in the map. Many LightWave commands, however, also have the
ability to create VMaps.
VMaps are extra data and will increase your object’s file size.Thus,
depending on the situation, you may be able to minimize the file size by
judiciously assigning VMaps to points.
Because you can use vertex maps (VMaps) throughout LightWave,
you should have a solid understanding of how they work. Here are some
important basic points:
• Weight maps have a general range of -100% to +100%.
• Use the Selection Info command (Display > Selection: Info) to
determine what VMaps and values are assigned to individual points.
• Internally, there is a single list of VMaps, which includes the maps
from all the objects that are loaded. However, editing a map in one
object will not affect other objects (using the same VMap name)
because the data in the map is attached to the geometry of that
object. There is no cross-talk between objects, except in the