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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.
You might've heard the term bones before when you talk about LightWave. What are they? Well, bones are deformation tools. And what's the deformation? Well, it's something that will deform an object. There's a few principles you need to understand before you start using bones. Number one, they have to live within an object, meaning you need an object for them to be present. So let's do that. I am literally just going to create just a very simple little disc here and we will put it right on the Y-axis, just like that. Now this is probably one of the most important things to understand. This object can't be bent and the reason is there is no segments in here.
So let me just turn this off and I'll show what I mean. If I go into the Modify tab and I choose Bend and I come into the top view and I just grab it, look what happens. Just does that. I can't really bend it, because there's no segment in between. Okay, so if we take an object and build this again and with my mouse in this view, I just press my up arrow and then my right arrow to add a little more detail to this. Now it's made up of a nice mesh. We go to Modify, we choose Bend, look what happens.
It can bend nicely. That's why the model needs to be made up of multiple segments. Of course subdivision surfaces will help that as well. However, what if you wanted to bend this in Layout, perhaps animate it? Well, that's where the bones come in. So let's do this. I am going to undo my bend, press F2 to center, and then press T and I'll move this up and set up right on the ground here. When I jump into the Layout, I'll say Switch to Layout. Bones, if we go under Setup, are all done right here. Let me just show you one what it looks like.
And we're going to attach one just to a null object. So from the Items tab I am going to Add > Null, all right? And remember a null object doesn't render. It's just a reference point working as for a number of different things such as targeting or parenting. But also with that I can add a bone. So Setup, Add > Bone. And you can give it a name but that's what it looks like. And the bones have been greatly enhanced up through version 10, allowing them to be a lot more visible in Layout and have a lot more control over their size and position. But a bone by default is 1 meter in length.
You can see it fitting that one square right there in our grid. And it shoots down the Z-axis. There's our Z, way back there. Okay, the fat end is where the influence is more and the small end is less. If I press the Y command, it's always going to rotate from that fat end. And what we would do is put these in an object to bend it around. Well, that's really all there is to it, except for things like higher key. So if you're doing perhaps the shoulder of a character, you would have a bone in the shoulder, a bone down for the upper arm, a bone down for the forearm, for the hand, and one reason these are called bones is because they can mimic bones in a human body.
Now we don't always use them for that. I've often used them for animating curtains, making a bottle come to life, or taking a lamp and giving it some personality. So bones are pretty easy to set up. But there's another section called skelegons. Very similar but these are bones that you can setup in LightWave Modeler. Bones or skelegons are all deformation tools and can be used to bring any kind of object you want to life.
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