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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.
When we talk about the Surface Editor in LightWave, there's another portion to the Surface Editor that you might be interested in. It's called the Node Editor. So what I'm going to do in the Surface Editor is click on the Nodes, but I can't do that until I actually have some geometry with the surface on it. So from the File dropdown, we're going to load an object and we're going to load the 05_02_Balls and just four colored balls on a flat ground. And let's just work with the Red_Ball. We'll select that. But let's click the Edit Nodes button at the top of the Basic tab in the Surface Editor, and what you're going to see is this very nice panel-- I will close the Surface Editor in the background--that resembles a nice working environment for a Surface Editor, but it's different than your basic Surface Editor. And you're not going to use this new Node Editor all the time.
Some people very much like it and use it only as their surfacing; others like the basic Surface Editor. I use a combination of both, but why would you use this Node Editor. Well the Node Editor is a network, and it allows you to derive different portions of your surface through other properties. Let me show you what I mean. Right now, we have a default surface. This is what feeds the render engine. Okay, so this is always in here this, basic surface, and this is driven from the surface I created for my materials in LightWave Modeler. And I'll show you how to do that coming up.
But what I want to is add a node, and we will does take a 2D texture, perhaps bricks, and what this does, it adds another node. So, what I can do with this brick surface--and this is a computer- generated surface just one that's built in LightWave--I can take any portion of this, the Color, the Alpha, or the Bump and drive it to the red ball surface. So perhaps I take the bump and I click and drag and hold and put that on the bump, and what happens is that my surface now has a bump map. Pretty easy, but then I can do more to it. I can take the color of this, and I probably wouldn't do much luminosity.
But you can see that the black-and- white, computer-generated brick map here now pushes the luminosity up. Let's add another one. You can see there's all kinds of them down here: one for hair, one for different materials, different types of shaders for reflections, different diffuse values-- diffuse being how much light your surface takes from the scenes. So this can get very, very deep, but a lot of times you want something simple just like fractal noise. This is great for landscapes. So what can I do with this now that I have this brick surface in here? Well, if I click this little arrow, I can collapse that bricks, so I can pull that down out of the way. I can take this fractal noise and I take the color and drop that to the color, but it sort of overrides everything. What if I took that color then and put it to the diffuse? What would happen? What happens is remember diffuse value tells the surface how much light to take from the scene.
This black-and-white principle in LightWave--the white affecting more, the black affecting less--you can see it here with the bricks. This principle is used throughout all the surfacing, so what's happening here is that the white of this computer- generated fractal noise is allowing more light to be hit on the surface. The Black is allowing less to hit the surface. Pretty simple, but you're not taking each one of these nodes and dropping them to the surface. You can actually use one of these nodes to derive another node.
So for instance, to remove this, just click and pull that off and let go the mouse. I can take the Alpha channel of the multi-fractal, the transparency map of it, and I can drop that into the Opacity of the bricks. So now my bricks have a whole different appearance on my surface. Let me just add one more. Come to Add Node, and then we can come down to Displacement if we wanted, different math functions. We can come down to shaders. Let's take Diffuse, and let's choose do an occlusion shader.
Some of these are relatively simple, but they have a strong math function. I could take the output of this into the increment of the multifractal, and suddenly that changes how that appears, which then feeds the bricks, and now you can see just a very slight variation of the diffuse values. One more thing to know about these: to get rid of them if you select just any node, press Delete on your keyboard. That will get rid of it. You can also double-click any of these and get a full-surface properties. Now each one of these would vary depending on what node you are using, but I can change then the color of this fractal, which just gives me whole another range of possibilities. And this is terrific for planets and landscapes, things like that.
There is not necessarily any kind of function to follow. A lot of these are simply just kind of work with it and see what works best for you for the type of scene you're creating. So, different values of noise, and again, just all math functions. It's all built into LightWave, and then you can multiply these by adding them up and blending them all together. So this network of the Node Editor works quite well for any kind of surface. You don't need to use it. It just there if you want to create more organic, more advanced surfaces.
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