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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.
Creating particle animations is not as complex as you might think. The first thing you have to decide if you want a particle to be a Partigon Emitter or a Hypervoxel Emitter. Partigons are going to be used for little sparks, fireflies, little things like that. But if you are going to do something more dynamic with smoke and flames, it's probably good to create a Hypervoxel Emitter. So let me do that. In the Items tab from the Add category, I'm going to choose Dynamic Object and I'll click that and choose Particle, and then we're going to choose Hypervoxel Emitter, not Partigon.
For the Name, we'll just leave it as Emitter, but you can put in there anything you want. When you click OK, the Hypervoxel Emitter enters into the layout. When you hit the Play button, you can see the little particles are automatically generated. We're going to extend our scene to about 200 frames, just to give it a little more life, and then we have to decide what we're going to do with this. Well, I want to create a nice little stream of smoke for you and this is going to be just moving up on the Y axis a little bit, little soft streaming smoke. So let's give ourselves a little bit of room here.
I'm going to click and move this Layout down just by clicking and holding on the Move tool on the top right, and I'm going to leave this playing. Now one thing I want to show you, and we're going to clear this out. What's kind of neat with these particles is that it will record real time. So I've got my Move tool selected and I'm just going to move this around like this. Use my right mouse button to move it back too. Then when I let go of the mouse, LightWave actually recorded those movements, because I have my Auto Key on.
So let's pretend you have just some kind of dust you want coming off of an object. You literally can do nothing more than parent this to an object that's already moving and those particles will react to the 3D world. That's it. I never set any parameters at all, just added an emitter and moved it around. So just kind of a neat little thing you can do. So let's pause that. Now to get rid of all these keyframes, here is what we're going to do. I'm going to move back to 0, open up the extended Timeline, and from the second frame all the way to the end, I'm going to select those just by using my left mouse over them.
Then I'll right-click and I can see clear selection or better yet Delete Keys, and let's get that 200 frame done too. We don't want that one. I'll hit Delete Key, because that was a motion key that we did not need. So now we're back at 0 and we'll leave this playing so that you see what's happening. The Birthrate is set to 100. The Generator Size is fine. For Particle, we'll just work out right through the tabs. Particle Weight, we'll leave on its own. But I want the Life Time to maybe about 160 frames and maybe a falloff of about 30, meaning that some will die at 160, some will die a little sooner, just a randomization of when those particles will end.
You don't want them just automatically stopping. For the Motion, Velocity is okay. But let's give it some motion up on the Y and you could just drag it to look, but let's try and be a little more calculating. My Grid Square is set to 1 meter. That means every grid is 1 meter in size. The larger darker grids are 10 meters. So 8 or 10 meters might actually be doing it for. So hit 8 m for meters and you can see this particles shooting out the top. I'm going to zoom out so you can see them. But you see that little cluster at the top? That has to do with the Particle Weight.
Well, we don't really want that. So I'm going to increase the Weight also to about 10, but now it's going really fast, more than we want. Okay, so we're going to come back to the Motion tab. Bring the Velocity down maybe to 4 now and you can see that it works a little bit better for us. I'm going to take this Velocity, the general Velocity, and bring that down to about 30. Now we've got good timing for that, not too much, and then we can bring this back up a little bit.
So when you're working with particles, you're often going to jump around a little bit in between both. Now I like how it looks. I like the speed of it. It's pretty good for a little smoke, but I don't like the starting and stopping. What if my animation is going longer? Well, right about here, just like 190, it's already starting to die off. Well, what I'm going to do is bring my Timeline all the way back to 0 and in the Generator tab, I'm going to click Fixed, and hit the Start Frame of -180. Or 190.
But that will make it already coming out at Frame 0. Now what happens is that those particles are just on throughout my animation. However, there is a problem when I get to 200. The particles end, I don't have enough. Okay. Well, back in the Birth Rate at 100 and the Particle Limit, we'll just need some more particles. Well, I can change it to maybe 2000, and then you'll see the particles not end or if I bring it back to 1000, where it was, and I change my Birth Rate down to about 50, that will give me more time, so not as many particles are coming out as quickly.
That's something I want to do too, because you don't often need a ton of particles when we put our smoke on there. In fact, you can bring this down to about 25 if you want, just so you have a good reference of particles. So a nice little spattering. The next thing to do --and I'll leave this playing so you can see it. Come over to Etc tab. You can play with the Gravity, and we'll push a little bit on the Z, maybe a little bit negative on the X, just like that just to give it a little bit of a turn as it comes out. Under Rotation, well, we're not doing anything.
If we're doing smoke, that would require Align to Path. But if we had more of a motion path in there, we can have those particles follow it. Under Interaction, we're not interacting with anything, but you could put on a Push, a Bounce, or a Drag if we had other items in the scene. Now we're not going to do any File type stuff right now. This is where you can actually save out these particle motions, and same with the EditFX. Now the EditFX are a little bit different. Let's just say you have one rogue particle that you don't want. You can click the Edit tool.
It allows you to click on any one of these particles like this, and it gives you a number. Each one of those actually has a unique number and then you can simply delete that particle. So it's a great way just to edit particles, especially when you're doing more collisions and interaction. So the last thing for the Motion, what we're going to do is play with the Vibration and Explosion. So if I change Explosion to 2, it spreads that out. Explodes that as it comes out. Vibration, not quite what you might think. If I change that to 2, it gives sort of this little random appeal.
So they're not coming out as even. If I did that, then maybe I'll bring Explosion back down just a little bit. Now we've got just more of a general random smoke coming out, but there is not any smoke yet. There will be. So setting up a particle animation is not that difficult. Using the interactive display will always help you and a matter of using Explosion, Vibration, and Velocity can create the very nice effects you need for just about any type of particle animation.
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