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In LightWave 10 Essential Training, author Dan Ablan provides thorough, step-by-step instructions on building 3D models, scenes, and animations in LightWave 10. Beginning with a tour of the interface and LightWave's two main programs, Modeler and Layout, the course covers key concepts such as building models from basic polygonal shapes, assigning textures, and employing lights and 3D cameras to build real world scenes. Also included are tutorials explaining particle animation, dynamics, and bones. Exercise files accompany the course.
Animating in LightWave is pretty straightforward, especially when it comes to setting keyframe for cameras, lights or objects, but there can be other things you might to animate such as a texture. And why would you do that? Well, there is a number of reasons. Let's start with a simple object. What I am going to do is go to File, hit Load, I want to choose Load Object, and from the Chapter 8 Exercise Files if you have those, load up the CowBegin file. You can load up any object you want, if you have even a simple box to do something like this. I am going to rotate this cow around so we see it. Now it looks like he doesn't have any textures on him but he really does.
Let's jump over here to Viewport Preview Rendering and you can see that he has got a cow type surface on him and that works fine. But what if for some crazy reason, you want to animate that texture on him? I will open up the Surface Editor and that's the CowHide surface that we are going to work with. And what I want to do is take a look at where that surface is. So under the Color texture, I will hit the T button. And here we can see there is the Procedural Texture applied. It's a Fractal Noise. Texture Color is this dark gray.
We can brighten that up if we want, make it green, whatever color we like. The Frequencies and Contrast, I'll determine how that shape is on the ends of it. But here under Scale, Position, or Rotation, I can change that over time. So for instance, here's the position on the Y. If you can see me move it, it's actually moving the texture. Well, by hitting the E button right next to that, I can change that value over time. That opens up the Graph Editor. Now we talked about the Graph Editor earlier for tweaking your motion keys, but you can also use it for animating textures.
I am going to press the Tab key real quick. That will hide all my panels. If you think to enter the Graph Editor right from the Layout, you're not necessarily going to get your textures all in here to begin with. Okay, that's important to know that you have to enter the Graph Editor from one of these E buttons by clicking on it. In that way, all of your Surface channels are now entered into the curve bin here. So, what do I want to do? Well, I want to change that value, just on the Y-axis, up and down, kind of like we played with, from 0 to 60.
So at Frame 0, we already have a keyframe. Our Value, and we will select it right here, is 490mm for that selected texture. And then at Frame 60, we will click Create Key and we will click right on there. That creates a keyframe. Go back to the Move channel and just make sure that's selected, and at Frame 60, let's move that to 600mm. Press the A key to fit. Now, you can see that this texture moves form 490 up through 600mm over two seconds 60 frames.
Now, the other thing to understand is that that 490mm is based on the grid size. So again, down here we are going to reference the Grid, 1m. Every grid is 1 meter in size and you will see the grid if you go to OpenGL Overlay. So, 1m in size, we told it to go from 490 up to 600. It might not be enough, but if you hit the Play button, you will see it moves up. I will actually just scrub through it a little bit slower. But now the texture is actually moving on the cow.
Now, what's kind of neat is that it really can't come off the cow. So here's a little trick and you can do this for oceans as well. Take the CowHide, go back to the texture, and let's take a look at the position X. So I am going to hold the Shift key and let's just turn this off for a minute so you can see what I am doing. If you play with the X value, because the cow was facing down the Z, so the X is left and right, so basically either side of the cow, and close out real quick. Hold the Shift key to click and turn it off.
What happens is that it actually looks like the shape of the texture changing when really all it's doing is just moving through the cow. There is no way for it to come off into us, even though it is a 3D program. So what's happening is it gives the appearance that this fractal noise patterns are changing over time. So, it's a really cool look and you can set that value by hitting the E button and setting a keyframe over time. So think of this for moving clouds and surfaces on water and ground and dust.
You can do some really cool looking things just by placing a texture on a surface and animating that channel. If you had a flat object on the ground, you would animate the Y value, because there is no way for it to go up so it just kind of shrinks and changes. It's kind of a neat little trick. So you can play with that cow, that's in there. Let me show you one more thing. I am going to load an actual little scene and this is the SkyBegin. And what this is if I press the 4 on my keyboard, it's just a sphere cut in half and it's inverted so that we can see inside it.
And you can do something like this for maybe an environment, perhaps around a boat or a car, even a product. So, I'll press 6. I am going to open the Surface Editor and this time we are going to place a texture on the Luminosity channel. So rather than clicking the E for that value, we are going to go to Texture first because then we can grab the E channel to animate any of those values we have placed on here, even such as an Image Map. So we have animated a texture with the cow but in this case, we want to animate the image. So, Projection type can be Planer, the image we are going to load is the clouds and you can use any kind of cloud that you might have.
We will place it on the Y axis and we'll click Automatic Sizing, so it fits to the whole object. I want to make sure that in my surface properties I have Smoothing on for that particular surface. And now you can see that I can move this on the Y, just by clicking and dragging. I can move it on the X and you can see it's just slowly just moving around that sphere. So to animate this, all I have to do is click the E button and I will hit Create Key.
That's the second button right here, and we already have a key right at 0 at 755mm. So let's go over to about 40 frames, create a key, and then for that selected key, maybe we will say 1000mm, which is 1m. Like I've shown you earlier in the Graph Editor, you can right mouse over these and set a Tension of 1 and that value then will ease-out and ease-in. very subtle on an image, but I can still do it.
So, what happens now is that that texture from 0 all the way over will be moving on the X-axis. We will open up the Texture Editor and you need to sometimes click into the layout to make sure that updates for you. Let me go back to the VPR mode and we will see that a little bit better and now you can see that texture is just slowly moving, just a very soft moving sky on there.
You can put this on a flat plane, you can put it on a larger object, whatever you like. I will press 4 to get back to my Perspective view and you can see what we have done there. Animating textures is not that difficult. It's just using the Graph Editor to tell that texture to be at one point in time and then at another point in time be at a different value. That value is determined from the grid, which is right here which represents each one of these grid spaces in your LightWave Layout. So try animating textures.
It could be a lot of fun.
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