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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.
LightWave Modeler is where you build your 3D objects. Now, when you first open up the program, you are going to be presented with an interface with four quadrants like you see here. You are also going to see a ton of tools and panels and tabs. And people tend to get overwhelmed by all of these buttons and panels and what they do, but I am going to help you demystify that and really break it down for what you are really going to need to do on a daily basis. But first, let's talk about the four quadrants. Now, these are typically set up in orthogonal views such as the Right view, the Back view, the Top view, and to explain this further, let me just load up an object.
Over here under the Create tab, there is Primitives. If you click the More dropdown, you can load up a couple of different primitives here such as Gear, Wedge, a torus, a capsule. Let's just load up the capsule, and I am going to click and drag and draw this out. I am going to explain how to build all of these tools in a little, but first, with this object, I am going to hold the Alt or Option key and click and drag, and now you can see I have got an object and you can see it in all three views. So you are not going to work with four different objects. You are working with one object and have four views of it.
This view by default is set to Perspective. We can change this to a top view if you would like, which matches the one on the left. However, this one is set to Wireframe, so we can change this to a Smooth Shaded view and it now matches. This one then could be a Sketch view or Wireframe, a Color Wireframe, and so on. But I'm going to go back to the typical Smooth Shade and Perspective, and we will change this back to Top and Wireframe. In using these views, a lot of times you might feel the need to change them, and if you do, how do you know which view looks down which axis? Well, if you look at the right side of each one of these, it says Right and then ZY.
What that means is the Z and the Y are the axes that you can control. And if you look very closely, right here on the left you can see Z and here is the Y. This means you are looking down the X axis. That's what's not included there, and you have control over the Z and the Y axis. In the back view, you are actually looking towards the back of an object. Or better, towards the back of a scene because when you get to Layout, you are going to be in a 3D environment like a 3D scene, you will be looking towards the back of your scene. So that's why that says Back view.
It comes from old video production days and this was set up around those production values. So you are not really looking at the back of an object; you are looking towards the back of the scene. So you've got to keep that in mind. This view XY means we are looking down the Z axis, and we can control our model on the X and on the Y. And by the same token, we can do it with the Top. X and Z means those are the axes we have control over. I will just press the T key, which is a Transform tool. It's also under the Modify tab. And I can move this on the Z or on the X.
So pretty simple. In the top-right, I can click and move. Now, a lot of people want to click this and then kind of click like this, and what you are doing is moving the model. Instead, you want to click, hold your mouse, and move. Click and hold your mouse onto Zoom and you can zoom. But notice there is no rotation. That's because we're working only on the X and the Z. Over in the Perspective view, however, we can click and hold on the rotation and rotate the view around. So, pretty easy to navigate.
Lastly, you can click and expand by clicking either one of these top corners here, and then you can zoom in. So now you have got a big full 3D view. So if you have got a nice big monitor, it's very easy to control and manipulate your model in a nice 3D view. And of course to get back, just click that again. And to fit your model to view--this is a keyboard command we are going to use quite a bit--press the A key for Fit All. That's under the View tab, by the way, if you need it, over here on the left, Fit All. A few last things you should know: down at the bottom are Points, Edges, and Polygons, and we are going to talk about that in a little bit, and these are the elements that make up your 3D model.
There's also Symmetry, so you can work on two axes at one time. By controlling one axis, the other axis will mirror. Different modes which we are going to use throughout the course, this is how your mouse is controlled between Origin, Pivot, and Selection. And then you've got Sub Division Types; a Numeric panel, which will pop up as we are building our models to be more specific; a Statistics panel, and this is quite useful for getting into specific numbers of polygons, points, or edges, and we'll use that throughout the course; an Info panel and this is really geared towards point information; a Surface, this is when we are going to generate a surface for our model and we will call that back up; and finally, our Make button for creating polygons.
These buttons down here, the weight, texture, morph, create a vertex map, and a selection set are more advanced specific controls and as we get a little more further into advanced modeling, we are going to use these. These all relate to different elements that are going to be controlled in LightWave Layout. Lastly, I want to show you up here all of these tabs. If you take a look as I click through each one of these, these seven buttons all stay the same. Those are always the same no matter which tab I am in. What does change, however, is the categories beneath.
And for the majority of projects you are going to do, you are going to work within the Create tab. You are going to modify what you have created. You are going to multiply what you have created, sometimes, and you are going to construct what you have created. Very rarely will you get too much into the Detail, Map, Setup, Utilities. These are commands that you use infrequently. The majority of controls are up here. These categories are set up for you to just work your way through, so you're going to create a model with primitives.
You can create text models. You can build points. You can create polygons or build curves. You can modify those by dragging them and moving them. You can rotate them and transform them, sizing and stretch. You can multiply them, so you can build a curve for instance, and then you can lathe it, which is this tool right here. It's also known as a rail extrusion. You can also do smooth shifts. Sometimes Lathe I believe in other programs it's a loft. You can duplicate with mirroring.
So it's very simple to work your way through. You just need to think about what you're doing and work through it one step at a time. So LightWave Modeler allows you to create models, edit models. Very easy to access the interface from different angles and different shading views, make your modeling quite easy.
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