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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.
Now you have probably asked yourself when working in Modeler, what the heck are these buttons up here? Well, those have been in LightWave since the very early days back in 1990, a long time ago, and they've always worked the same, but they work even better now with version 10. What these do, it's similar to Photoshop, where you can create layers for an individual object. So what I'm going to do is actually just build a very small simple object and show you how those work. So we're going to start with a box, just select that from the Create tab, and we're going to build the most awesome race car. You'll see.
I'm just going to center this out, and this is remembering the segments I had set in the Numeric panel, so that's fine. And I'll turn that box off. When I build this, we've a small white dot that appeared up in number one. We are in layer one. That little dot means there is geometry in that layer. Now, I want to create a wheel and later on when I get to Layout, I want that wheel to be able to animate. If I build it in the same layer as the body of the car, which is what this is representing, it's not going to animate separately.
So it needs to be in its own layer to animate separately. So we'll click a new layer. Now our object is not deleted and it's not gone. You can see there is still a dot up in that layer right there, in layer 1. We are just in layer 2. To make layer 1 visible so we have a reference, you click beneath that slash. You see that half slash right there? That is now a background layer. We're going to refer to those in other projects. So the solid layer is our foreground. The background is the slash, the bottom half.
So with that now set up, I can go to my Disc, I can click and drag, and just drag out a wheel, and go to my Top view and drag out that way and turn off the tool. Now remember, when I turn off the tool, my object is created. I cannot turn the tool back on and manipulate this more. I end up creating another object entirely. So you just have to be aware of that that once that tool is off, your model is built. You can edit it, but you can't go back and use the original tool to recreate it.
I'm going to press the T key, which is the Move command from a Modify tab, and I'm going to move that over. And this is the advantage of having a background layer. Now, I know where to place that model. So what about the other tires? Well, we can copy and paste. And if you're on a PC, you can use Ctrl+C. If you are on the Mac, you could do Command+C. Go to New layer, Command+V or Ctrl+V on the PC, to Paste. But how do I know where to place this? Well, if I click the background, I can see the background of the other wheel.
How do I select two of them? Just hold the Shift key and now you can see two background layers. And with the Move tool still selected, I can move this over. But I still have one copied in my system memory. I can go to the next layer, paste it down, hold the Shift key, and select these background layers, move this to the other side, and then do it one more time. Layer 4, copy this to layer 5, hold the Shift key, and I can just move this over.
So now I have five layers. Each one of these can be animated separately. But when I get the Layout and I move this car, the wheels will not move with it. They are all independent objects, which brings me to this little dropdown here. It says 'Unnamed' with a little asterisk. That means my object is not saved. So let's do that and say File > Save Object. I'll go to my Exercise Files > Objects > CH01, and we'll call this SimpleCar, and now the saved object is right there and that saved object has five layers.
Now I'm going to press F7 and what F7 does is brings up my Layers palette. You can also access this from the Windows dropdown. This gives me control over my layers, and if I open this up, you'll see here are the five unnamed layers. And top is the object itself that we just saved. If I select one of these, I can choose quickly that particular layer. So if you've got a very large object, you can easily get to any layer you want just by clicking on it, rather than clicking on these.
The number one up here means this is the first set of 10 layers. You click this little arrow. Now you're in the second set of 10 layers. So you could have unlimited layers. So I want to name this. I'm going to double-click it and I'll call this 'CarBody' and click OK. Now that layer has a name. Double-click this, and let's say the car is facing to the left. We will call this PassRearTire. But I want this tire to be parented to the CarBody, so right there I can say parent to the CarBody.
And what parenting means is that when the body goes, the wheel will follow with it; it is the child of the CarBody. Click OK and we can see it's named. Double-click this one, PassFrontTire. Let's do it with two S's, and parent that to the CarBody. Double-click this one, and actually I take that back: this should be passenger. I mislabeled these. PassRearTire, I'll rename these, and that is the advantage of doing it this way.
And this one is now the Passenger Front and parent it to the CarBody. So let me go back here to this one, double-click, and this is the DrivRear. So very easy to make changes in case you mislabeled something. You can't do this in Layout. And this is what's good about parenting and getting all these together in the Layers panel in Modeler. So now I've a SimpleCar with the CarBody and five layers total for the SimpleCar itself.
Now, I want to resave this because notice there is an asterisk right there that had popped up. So I can just do Ctrl+S on the PC or Command+S on the Mac and the asterisk goes way, meaning I just resaved my object. One last thing with the numerics is that you can see the numeric numbers. Their order doesn't necessarily matter; their hierarchy does, meaning how they are parented. And there is a little arrow right here which a lot of people don't notice, but if you click it you, can say List or Hierarchy. And when I choose Hierarchy, now I can actually see that okay, the four tires are parented to the CarBody. That's why they are indented.
The last thing is this eyeball, and what that does, it turns off the visibility. Well, I just clicked it and you can still see the object, right? The reason is what this will allow you to do is send this object to Layout and let's say I turn the driver rear and the passenger rear tires off, and I save this object-- let's just choose this bottom one, Send Object to Layout--those two tires are missing.
If I jump back to Modeler by clicking the button here, all of my tires are still there, and if I hold the Shift key and select all these layers, I can see them all. Well, the Visibility, this relates to Layout only. Your object will always have the model, unless of course you delete the layer. But this Visibility on or off will allow you to turn off the render in Layout for that particular object. So, it's quite handy if you're using models just to build, if you are using models just to cut holes and things and you don't want to delete them, but you want them part of the object.
You can keep it simply by turning off the visibility. So the Layers panel is very handy, very useful. Front and Back is the F and B, so you can choose right there to put whichever layer you want in the front or the back. And you're going to use this simply to animate different layers. It's also good to protect models. Let's say you built a very big lamp and you've got the light bulbs and the lamp is very intricate. You could use another layer to build the light bulbs and just keep that clean, so you're not destroying what you have already modeled. It's just a very smart way to work whether you are animating or creating still objects.
So the Layers panel is very useful, very informative like your Numeric panel and something you should be aware of, and use it often so you can control your model and name them properly and set the proper hierarchy.
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