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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.
Earlier in the course I showed you how bump maps can enhance a surface and then slightly got into displacement maps. I like to cover those a little bit more and show you something that you can do with them to create a simple landscape from just a couple of polygons. I have got a scene loaded here and this is nothing more than a subdivided polygon. Let's take a look at the Perspective view. So I will press 4 on the keyboard and it will zoom out and I am going to jump to a Wireframe so we can see what this is. And that's pretty much it. It is just a subdivided box and I will press the Tab key to turn on the subdivision surfaces and the reason I did that is because it allows me to have all these segments that I can bend around.
When we create a Bump Map you can put a Bump Map literally on one flat surface. When you do displacement maps, you are going to want a little bit more geometry in there so that you can bend it a little bit and I always use the analogy of a screen door that you can bend very easily. Well, take a look at this. It kind of looks like a screen door made up of tiny little segments. So it is very easy to be bent. So to do that we are going to first select the object itself and then press P to get to the properties for that object and under the Deform tab you are going to see Displacement Map right in the center of the screen with a little T button that means Texture.
So we are going to click that to apply a Displacement Map Texture. But what is the texture we are going to use? Well, we are going to let the computer do it for us. So rather than an image map, we are going to load a procedural. So let's say Procedural Texture and instantly you can see that that surface suddenly becomes a little bumpy, which is great. What that means is this value here, the white value, is actually being applied to this entire surface and bumping it. If I increase that Texture Value you can see those bumps increase, or you can go negative as well.
So what could you do with this? Well I have often made landscapes with this and let me show you how to do that. You choose Underwater. It creates kind of a neat look. You can different values in here for map function. You can see it back there. Veins, Wood. Click Automatic Sizing for a lot of these to help straighten it out. But for a landscape we can often do Crumple and that works really well and if we increase the Texture value you get a very nice-looking, just kind of mountain range. It is a very soft mountain range, perhaps one you would see in, I don't know, Ventura, California, and this could sit behind some buildings that you can make very easily with perhaps a Bevel tool.
So this also could work for an ocean. It could work for cloth. So I want you to think in those terms when working with Displacement Maps. The other way to do it is with Fractal Noise and of course that looks a little odd. So what you need to do for this is manually set the size. So I will set the X value of the scale to 2, 2 on the Y, and 2 on the Z, and then let's bring that Texture Value down to about 2 as well, and actually we can even go lower than that. So now I have got just larger bumps like that. It gives you a little more that you can work with and what's wonderful about these displacements and the speed of computers today is you can get a real-time feedback.
So as I'm moving these around I can get a pretty good idea of what this looks like. That's another way to create a nice little mountain range. But let's say I don't want the whole thing to be mountain; maybe I want sort of little valley before it. Well, the way I would do that and let's go back to Crumple. I think that worked pretty well for us. What we are going to do is take that value and once we get this back up here and we are going to make it fall off. So I am going to jump to the Falloff tab and which ways is it going to falloff? Well, let's take a look at our camera in our scene.
Our camera is pretty much at this default position, pointing down the Z-axis. Our object was centered on the X, Y and Z, so 0 is right there in the center. So we want to falloff on the Z-axis towards the back and look what happens. It just kind of falls off from the whole thing and I don't want that. I only wanted just from the front. Well that's okay. I will make it fall- off about 5% from that center value, and then I am going to use Position on the Z. I am positioning the procedural texture that we are applying as a displacement map and I can just push that over.
Here is the cool thing. Earlier I showed you how you can animate textures, right? Well, you can actually animate something crawling under this like a rug. So I am going to show you that next. But right now we are just going to move this and so what we end up with is this nice little scaled mountain range that we can use to render our scene. So let's take a look at our Viewport Preview Render. We will press 6 on the camera and now we have got a nice very flat land here that we are going to apply texture to.
We will open up the Surface Editor and put Smoothing on and we will come into our Backdrop Options from the Windows dropdown and turn on our gradient just to get a little sky in there. And we will click Camera and then under Modify I will choose Rotate and now when I move around you can see that I've got that nice mountain range back there. Looks nice and random. I didn't have to worry about modeling. It is all done with displacement maps. Let me show one thing you can do with this.
If you had an image map- I am going to press P for Properties- you can actually have that image move through the object. So a way to do that, we will take an image and I am going to go down to Image right here and hit Load and I am going to load the bricks. So now this brick image is being used to displace and let me turn off my Falloff here so it does the whole thing. So there's the bricks actually coming through the surface and the more detail I have in here, the more detail I'll be able to see.
Meaning let's come here to the object properties and under the Geometry tab. Because I have a subdivision surface, my SubPatch Display level is 3, but I want to render it maybe a little higher. You got to be careful with this because it is very easy to go overboard and have your system kind of come to a crawl. But I am going to bring my Display SubPatch Level to 6. That means this object is going to be subdivided 6 times versus 3 and you will see here in a minute as it redraws, look at all the detail I have now in here. And now that I have more detail I can come in and adjust my values for the amplitude, which is the amount of displacement, and now you can see that those bricks are very well defined.
So I think of this in larger terms. You can put a logo in there, you can emboss a coin, and then you can actually take this and position it and move it through there just like I did with the landscape. Now it is going to take a little bit to update because it is a lot of geometry we are working with. But taking one step further, if you have a little white image perhaps of a shade of a mouse, like a little ball with two little ears. that white image would actually displace this, kind of the way that white in this image is and you would have a nice little bump in there that you can translate through the object.
So displacement maps are very powerful, not just for oceans and landscapes, but also for things like brick-walls and little imperfections in a surface that you might have through an everyday object.
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