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LightWave v9 First Look Part 2

In which we find sufacing the big thing By Stephen Schleicher

In Part 1 , Digital Media Nets Stephen Schleicher gave us a glimpse of some of the new features in NewTeks LightWave v9.  In this installment, he talks all about surfacing, and puts LightWave v9 to its paces.

If there is one area that has the greatest improvement in LightWave v9, it would be the surfacing capabilities.  The changes here are so complex, a separate article (or two or three) will need to be written to cover it all.  The first thing users will notice is the addition of a Node Editor.  The node editor allows you to build complex surfaces by connecting parameters of various shaders to one another without needing to code a single line. 

This tree like structure is probably familiar to many, but may take some time for others to get used to.   Once you understand the underlying thought behind node based creation, using this tool will seem like second nature.

But in order for you to make use of the Node Tree, many more shaders are going to be needed.  These are broken down into many subgroups that contain brand new textures and shaders, and some long awaited shaders that other applications have had for years.

Whats more these nodes can be imported and exported, which means a whole library of shaders can be created and shared amongst the LightWave 3D community.

Shading models for diffuse include:

? Lambert
? Minneart
? Oren-Nayar
? Occlusion
? Theta
? Translucency

Shading models for reflection include:

? Standard Reflection
? Anisotropic Reflection

Shading models for transparency include:

? Standard Refraction
? Anistropic Refraction (chromatic aberration)

Shading models for the specular component include:

? Anisotropic
? Cook-Torrance
? Blinn
? Phong

2D Procedural Textures
These textures are very similar their 3D counterparts except they apply to a surface much like a planar texture map.  In addition to the regular fractal, brick, vein, etc. textures, the 2D procedural textures also include a parquet and plank texture perfect for floors.

Even though these are 2D textures, they can be applied in cubic, spherical, cylindrical, and UV maps.  While cubic, et al. may not be used that often, the UV maps will.  This means you can apply a procedural texture to an organic shape, giving your more options for surfacing.

Specular Shaders
The Specular shader group includes Phong, Cook Torrance, Blinn and Anisotropic.  The Anisotropic shader allows you to create realistic brushed metal on reflective surfaces.

Subsurface Scattering
Wow? I mean?Wow? Finally a realistic method for creating surfaces that simulate light passing through semi-solid, translucent, and gel like objects.  NewTek has created two original shaders for creating SSS nodes; Omega and Kappa.  Omega is a full blown very detailed surface, which will take much longer to render, while Kappa does a very believable SSS without the huge render times. 

Even though I don't have the entire process down to perfection, this does give you an idea of what you can expect with LightWave v9's subsurface scattering.

From early tests I have done, it appears the Kappa version needs double sided or ?air polygons to work correctly. This is much the same way refractive surfaces have been created for years for glass and transparent surfaces.  However, the Omega SSS will work on single sided polys with striking results.  It will be up to the end users to determine if the results are to their liking.

Beta users have been busy with this node tool and have turned out some amazing work.  Of course nothing is straight forward, users will still need to tweak, adjust, and test their settings before committing to the final render.

Stress Map
This feature allows you to create detailed wrinkles and other stress markers on objects when the bend or stretch.  This is done by applying the map to areas that are more distorted than the surrounding polygons.  Beyond bendy pipes, this will work great for creating creases on flexible joins, clothing and more.

One of the fun new shaders is the CCTV shader.  This shader uses additional cameras in the scene and maps their view onto surfaces in the scene.  This is really neat because you get the closed circuit television look found in large arenas, stadiums and the like.  Whats more, if a camera is in the line of sight of the polygon being mapped, infinite reflections will appear, just like in real life.


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Related Keywords:lightwave, newtek, lw9, 3d, animation, graphics, visual effects, character animation, sub surface scattering, surfacing, modeler, layout


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