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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.
One of the most impressive things you can do in a 3D scene to give it realism is make sure that lighting is set right. But first you kind of need to understand how LightWave lights work. Now this is just the coffee cup scene from a couple of videos ago and it is basically nothing more. If I go here to this Perspective view and I can zoom out, it is nothing more than just a background object. Just a flat board that was bent in Modeler and three cups. And you can see here is one light and here is one camera. What I am going to do is press the left bracket key a couple of times and click and hold my zoom to pull out and you can see that that changes my Grid Square down to 200 mm and what happens is my lights get really small.
So I want to make sure that when I am doing lights that I can see them. So I am going to press my right bracket key a few times and then click and drag to zoom back in and now I have got a little bit better relationship of the camera lights to the object. This light right here, this is your default light and I am going to press Properties for it and let's see how all this works. I am going to turn on Viewport Preview Render and I can't see my light all of a sudden when that's on. I could see its effects. So what I need to do is under VPR is click this dropdown and I can turn on things like Bone X-Ray mode, OpenGL Wireframes, and OpenGL Overlay and what happens now is I can see my lights in the scene.
If you got a more complex scene and you are using VPR, you might want to turn those things off, which they are by default. And let's do this. Over in the top right as we are talking about VPR, this little guy over here will create a little preview that you can save later on. A little History button. You can click this guy right here, that second button. This is your VPR Settings. You could choose a Half Resolution if your video card isn't quite up to snuff. You can see mine got a little blurry there. You can choose Draft mode so it renders a little bit faster.
All of these things are going to be based on the complexity of your scene as well as the strength of your video card. So with Draft mode off, Volume Shadows, we are not actually using any volume so I can just turn those off. Frames Per Second. This is going to be more for when we are doing an animation. Now if you take a look at the RGB files, when I click that Save, they are going to be saved here to my Desktop/Image as a JPEG and the Color Space set to the Linear. Also new for what LightWave 10 is all these different color space options. So we will talk about that when we get to rendering. We will turn Draft mode back on and Volumes Shadows go back to our default and it works out just fine.
But those are the options right there. Let's zoom back out,so we can see our lights, and this default distant light, one thing to know about it is that its position doesn't matter. Only its rotation matters and I know it sounds a little odd, but that's how it works. So if you notice, I'm off to the left of the objects and I have rotated the light and it is like it is being cast from the light. So, position doesn't matter. Look, I will press the T key for move under Modify tab and I will move this around.
It doesn't change the effect of it. The default distant light, only its rotation matters and it has hard shadows, raytraced shadows. The next type of light is an area light and these are some of my favorites. Now look at the quality of this, as soon as I have changed it. Now its position and its rotation do matter, and I like these because these are closest to a studio and as a lot of people know I am also a photographer and we use big soft boxes to do our portraits, which is very much like an area light.
The shadows are still relatively rough in the scene, but if I press Shift+H, which is also Size under the Transform category, I can actually size up my light. Now it sounds a little odd but as I decrease this light, the shadow become softer. Just like it would in the real world. If I have a big soft light that I bring in close onto an object it will become softer. If I pull that light further away the shadow becomes harder and longer. Very nice light to work with. It does take a little more time to render but it's still pretty fast on most systems today and you can even see here in the Viewport Preview Render, it looks pretty good.
I am going to 6 on my keyboard and right there just in the preview you can see it is actually looking pretty nice. Just with one default light. Very nice soft shadows and that 6 is a quick key for Camera View. The other type of light you can use, it is a Dome Light and let me jump back up by pressing 4. Now a Dome Light kind of fakes like an environmental light, if you will, and it creates this overall light. Terrific for product shots. And you can see it right there. It is represented by this dome.
Also you can press Size in the Transform category here and then press T for move and you can move this over. Press Y for rotate and you can rotate that dome however you want. I don't use these too often. I like a little more control over some of my lighting, but this creates that very nice soft environmental lighting without having an environment. So, it is like putting dome over your scene. A linear light is a very neat looking light. Kind of odd at first. But what a linear light will do, it is a great way to create sort of a fluorescent tube look, where we had lights that go along the edge of a wall.
Kind of like those tube lights that go under a cabinet. And I have put these in there, just to mimic that same type of real world lighting. The good thing about these is you can use the Stretch command and actually stretch out that light. Kind of like that. Make a very long, linear light and if you look at it from the camera view, you can see how that looks. It just has a little bit different effect. Choosing which light to use doesn't necessarily matter. It's also your preference.
But if you understand them all, it might help you decide which one to use and then it also depends on what you are doing in your scene. A photometric light. Now this works with something called IES files and if you jump back to the Basic tab, you are going to see there's a little section here that you can load up an IES file and all this is, is a predetermined light setting that you could download from various sources or generate from more specific sources as well. A point light. And what a point light is going to do, this is kind of opposite of a distant light.
Its rotation does not matter. It is an omni-directional light. So you can rotate it all you want. It is not going to change anything. But if you select Move from the Translate category there, that will matter. So as you move it around, you can see that the shadows are changing. This is terrific for light bulbs, candles, little flames. Anything like that. It is great for general light too. If you are building a room, you can put it up in the ceiling and just bringing the intensity down just a little bit and add it as a fill light throughout the scene that you are working on.
A spherical light, it is kind of like a little ball. It is almost hard to see right there, but is similar to a point light. As you can see as I move it the shadows change and if I go to Rotate, nothing happens. It is very similar to a point light, works a little bit differently, has a little bit different effect. Lastly, a spotlight, probably one of the more common lights. A spotlight, its rotation and its position both matter. So if I select Move or if I click over here and select Rotate, all of that matters.
And with the spotlight it is often good to get into the Light view. So I can select that from the top left here and get out of the Camera view and this way I can see exactly what my light sees. And one thing that's nice to do with the spotlight is change the Spotlight Cone Angle. So if I open the Cone Angle, I want to take the Spotlight Soft Edge Angle and increase that as well. And that changes the falloff of that light. So you see how the light hits right here and then fades offs softly, mimicking more of a real-world effect? If I bring it to 0, it is very hard edged.
And I probably wouldn't use that too much, if I was doing maybe something on stage with the spotlight. Most normal things are going to have a softer edge. The advantage of the spotlight is that it has different type of shadow. While all the other lights have raytraced shadows, a spotlight can use a shadow map, which is a softer shadow created out of memory, and you can increase the shadow fuzziness with this and you can assign more memory by increasing the Shadow Map Size. And here is a little trick in LightWave.
It defaults to 512, so you want to keep it in those increments. So if I hit the asterisk, which is Shift+8, that's a multiply, and hit Enter, I can go divide by 2 and it cuts in half or times 2, and it doubles it. Times 4. So all of these values, whether it is a light or the textures, you can actually do math within them. So you asterisk is your multiplication, your slash is your divide.
Divide by two and it will cut that in half. It is kind of neat little trick. So your lights are really important and of course you can remember that you have more than one light. You can put in as many lights as you want and they don't all have to be the same light types. Lighting is very important to your scene. It is probably almost more important than the style or quality of your object in many cases, because it can affect the mood and the overall look of your final render.
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