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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.
As you work in the LightWave Modeler further grows, you are going to be building things such as human heads, airplanes, cars--things that are symmetrical on either side. So you can use the Symmetry tool to help you with your modeling. Let me show you how that would work. I am going to create a box. I am going to do some very simple here. We are just going to build out just kind of a long tube like this. And in this Top view I can use my up arrow and my down arrow to create and remove segments, and I can drag one to the right by just hitting my right arrow. In the Bottom view make sure you have your up arrow hit twice so that you've got three segments on the Y axis like that.
I'll turn the Box tool off. Now the biggest thing to understand when using symmetry is that whatever you have on the positive x axis, on the right side, has to be equal on the negative X axis, on the left side. Symmetry only works on the X axis. So what you need to do is center this out. So under Modify under the Translate, there is the Center button. Earlier in the course we had reprogrammed that to F10, but by default it's set to F2. If you're on a Mac and you've not changed your F keys, your function keys, you can hold down your Fn key and hit F2.
Or if you've reprogrammed it you can do that as well. But look what happens when I do that: the whole object kind of disappeared. And the reason that happened is because at the bottom of my screen I already have Symmetry on. So what happened there is that my action only happens on the positive X and you could see that right there is +X, positive X. So you got to be really careful with symmetry and only put it on when you need it. So now when I hit Center, the entire object centers, not just the right side. So now we could put Symmetry on, and what happens is that when I click on the one side, the opposite side automatically selects with it.
From there, I can say Bevel and go to Multiply, hit Bevel, and I can click and drag and start building, well, I don't know, wings for a poorly looking airplane. And I'm just using my up and down mouse just to shift, and then we'll hit right-click one time, which creates a new bevel and resets it, and then up and then moving my mouse to left and right I can shift that a little bit just to inset it. I'll click Bevel turned off, and then we'll just click on that to deselect. And when I hit my Tab key for Subdivision surface, we very easily created some little wings there.
But what's great about the Symmetry tool is that I can use something like Drag from the Modify tab, and whatever I do, again, on the positive X, on this right side of the Y axis will automatically be mirrored on the left side. So now I can very easily shape out my little airplane here. I can come to my right view and just shape this out as well, flatten out the bottom. If you have created this with less segments, you might have a little less to work with and it might work little better for you. Just a good example here.
So now you can see that I've shaped out that box pretty easily only moving just the points I need without too much effort. And let's say you wanted to create a back wing. I'll turn off the Drag tool. Make sure I am in Polygon mode and Symmetry mode is still on. And then what I could do is just come down here and even select those back polygons like that, hold the Ctrl key to deselect anything I don't want, press the Bevel again, and then click and extend that out. But because those are angled, because I've already used my Drag tool on them, I need to change them a little bit.
So make sure your mode, your Action Center of your mouse is set to Selection at the bottom of the screen there, and then press the Y command, which is your Rotate tool over here on the left. That allows me rotate from wherever my mouse position is. So I can just rotate that based on the mouse position right there, and I can select Move and I can move that out just a bit. Then I could choose Stretch and I can shrink that down a bit. Then choose Rotate again and rotate right from here, and then I can choose from Multiply > Bevel, and we can Bevel that out and then Stretch.
Again, press the H key. You can stretch that down and this creates some fun crazy wings. So I know a lot of guys that are really into spaceships and they love to create things like this. So Spacebar, turn off the Bevel tool, and just click to deselect. And so with just a few clicks you can create some really interesting shapes and then using technique shown earlier in the course to add detail to bevel, such as creating those edges and creasing them with a little bevel, you can very easily create something more complex and not worry about both sides of the object, just work on one at the same time.
However, sometimes you're going to need even more complex things. So I am going to load up an object here. Load Object, and it's called 04_08_HeadBegin. We are going to load that. This is an old head object that I created a long time ago. I'll press the A key to fit and you could see that without Subdivision Surfaces on it's just kind of chunky, so I'll hit the Tab key and you can see it smoothes that out. Notice it's only half a head. Well that's because a lot of times when you model human heads you do want to do just one side.
It makes a lot more work creating both sides. You build just one side of this, and then you can go to Multiply, choose Mirror, hit the Numeric key and make sure you mirror over the 0 Y axis. And that way I know that this is perfectly even on both sides. Now a human face really isn't exact on both sides. Nobody's really is. But when you are coming into 3D animation and 3D modeling it's often good to start that way and then use your Symmetry tool to offset and change it a little bit.
So let's come down here to Modify. I can use my Drag tool, and as I drag on one side of the face--and in fact, let me come up here, let me expand my Shaded view just to show you how this looks. It looks like my center is just a little bit off there. We just need to merge those points. I can click on any of these points here and what I do on the right side happens on the left. So it makes is very easy to manipulate a face after the fact. So you build half of it, mirror it over, and then using Symmetry you can change your design. It works quite well.
However, if you want to create something little different, turn off Symmetry, and then you can just simply manipulate one side of the face and not the other. The only problem with doing that though is that once this data does not equal this data, when the left side data, the -x, does not equal the right side, +x, this symmetry will no longer work. So just be organized with that. The last thing is that line in the middle. When I had mirror that over, I needed to make sure that my points are exactly equal on that zero axis.
So if undo a few times, I'll show you how to fix that. I'm just going to undo back to the point before I mirrored over, and we are going to make sure with Point mode that all of these points right here, all the way down the center. I'll press the A key to fit. We'll hit Select Loop, just select all the way around and if a few x's get selected that's okay, you can just hold the Ctrl key and just even right-mouse around those ones you don't want select, okay.
Then I am going to press the V key, Set Value x to zero, and then we'll click a little blank area here to deselect-- another way to deselect rather than the Question Mark/Slash key--and then we'll come to Multiply > Mirror, hit the Numeric key, make sure Merge Points is on, and then turn off, and now you can see that that line down the center of his head is gone. Very important that those points get lined up exactly right. So the Symmetry tool is great for modeling simple object, modeling spaceships and aircraft and things that are same on both sides, but it's also terrific for doing characters and humans where you need to have the same thing happen on both sides of your model.
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