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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 you think about particles in LightWave you think about smoke and fire and all these cool things like that, but something like this you might not think is doable in particles, but it absolutely is and it's a really great effect. So let me show you how to do that. What we are going to do is come to the Items tab and we are going to load the dynamic object and let's say Particle. Add Particle Emitter comes up. We are going to want a HyperVoxels Emitter. It's pretty important, not a Partigon. Partigon only renders single point polygons, good for little bugs and things. But HyperVoxels are what's going to create that nice streaking for us.
We'll click OK and an emitter is added to the scene. Now by default if you just hit Play, those 60 frames just show the particles kind of just popping on. Let's change our Last frame to 200 and now it gives us a little more length on our animation. Now the particles just are emitting amongst themselves. They need to actually come out towards the camera. So what I want to do is come over to my Particle tab and we'll see that the Weight is set to 1. That's okay for right now. But my Life Time, let's make that 200, the same length as my scene.
We don't need to worry about the plus or minus, the randomization of the falloff for it, because it's going to go past the camera. For the motion we want it on the -Z. Remember the camera faces down, the +Z by default, and we've not changed that. So -Z is going to be back behind this, behind the camera. So I'll hit the Play button so you could see what's happening and I know that every grid is one meter in size. You can see down here at the very bottom left of the screen. So, if that's the particles at zero, one, two, three, four, five, six grids or six meters is what I need.
So I'll go -6 and meters is default. Now they do bunch up behind the camera and that's where I can change the weight in the Particle tab. But in this case, we are not going to see it so it doesn't matter. Next thing I want to do is go to the Generator tab and let's size this down a little bit to about 0.2. Hit the Tab key. 0.2 and 0.2. Looks too small, doesn't it? Well, go to the Motion tab and under Explosion make that about two, and then you get this nice spread.
If you want to see what that looks like, click into the layout and press 6. That's what you've created, kind of this fun cool vortex. In this case, I'm not going to restart with a negative keyframe. I actually want them to start back here almost like we're traveling down there and then we get fade into it during an edit, and of course put some cool sound effects in. That's all you got to do for the particles. Now let's go up to the Windows dropdown and choose HyperVoxels. That's what's going to render our particles. So here's the emitter. I'll select it and click Activate.
Now I can turn on Show Particles and I'm guilty of actually forgetting about this sometimes. I want to show you what I am talking about. While I can see these particles in layout, I am using a Sprite mode, which is a slice of the volume, which is this larger thicker type of particle. A sprite will show up in layout. I want to stretch it on the velocity and I want to take this stretch way up. We'll take it to 500%, where its limit is. But if I take a look in layout I'm not actually seeing it and even if I play with the Size Variation and some of these other values, often I can't see the stretch the way I want.
It looks a little odd. Well, myself included I've actually forgotten that you can't always trust what you see in Layout. Make sure you see a render and with LightWave 10's new Viewport Preview Render from the dropdown, now I get an accurate display of what that looks like. So now I can see my velocity on there. Well the problem is that's not really quite looking like the streaks I want. So I'm going to take the Stretch amount in and type in 3000%. So lot of people think even though that value stops at 500 you can go a lot farther with it. And just like that I've got this great looking streak and you can see that if I move back at zero and I move through my timeline, those particles are still emitting and I am getting a very nice kind of streaking effect coming through those. It looks really cool.
So all you have to do now is put some surfaces on, and certainly you are allowed to come in here and play with the Size Variation with these. You can make it really small, so you can make tiny little narrow streaks, or you can make them fatter so that it's little softer in between, totally up to you. But the idea is to get that Velocity way up there. Under the Shading tab, let's open up the Texture for Color and instead of an Image map we are going to choose Gradient and what I want to do is vary the color based on the Particle Age, the age being from where it starts to where it ends.
I'll click right in this Gradient Bar and add a few keys and just so you know how these keys work, you can click and drag on them. You can click the X to cut one, click back in the center to add one, and then you can right-click with your right mouse on one of these little arrows. That locks it so you can't accidentally move it around. So what I'll do is just put some color in there. I will take a nice blue, and then I will take a nice red, orange, always fun. I will take some green and we even take a little bit of yellow back in here.
Just a really great look to it. We can even add one more in here, put a little soft white or purple in there. And just like that you now have this psychedelic rainbow of colors and it's something that might even take you a little while to paint in Photoshop. Not only is this a great look, don't forget that it's animated thanks to the particles. I can't really see this in real time just because it is a little bit to calculate. But as it grows it starts out with all those base colors and as our particles age you'll actually see those colors change.
You can change the input parameter to Z Distance to Particle and we're working on the Z. So now you've got the green all the way out to the red. So as that distance from Z moves on, you can actually see those. Now here is the advantage of using the Viewport Preview. If I go to Perspective by pressing 4, I can actually still see the render in there and see what's happening and gives you good idea of how that gradient works based on the Z Distance to Particle. You can also look at Y Distance to Particle, which isn't going to do much because that's more up and down, so you are only going to get the yellow.
But you can also look at Particle Speed. Now we are going pretty fast, so you are only going to see this very first portion of the color gradient but Particle Weight, we are not really weighting it too much, but the weight shows basically the backend of this and the time of it also very similar. So that's why I chose Particle Age. It works best for what we're trying to do. Here is a good example of the yellow and green starting out through the blue to the orange, down to the little bit of magenta, and of course you can click on these and adjust them in real time to get some updates.
You can put as many keys in here as you want, changing colors to whatever you like, adding perhaps a white in the middle, just to give it even more color variation. Click 6 to go back and what I am going to do is I am going to go ahead and render out this animation. It's going to take a little bit of time so we'll cut back to it. So you can see how this final animation looks nice and clean with all these particles animating with a nice streak. So I've waited about seven hours, you could see that this finished late in the evening and this is the final animation, just from the simple particles streaking out towards the camera with the gradient map applied.
You could see that even just a little effect like that could be very powerful. You can use it for space warps, you can use it for transitions, you can even bring it back into LightWave in the background image and render over it, put logos over it, put other particles over it. So while the render might have taken a little bit longer than you might want, it's still a great effect and you can use this over and over throughout your scenes. So particles in LightWave, they can be used for smoke and fire and water, but they can also be used for special effects. Without much effort you can set up a very dynamic looking animation.
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