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Putting the Light in LightWave, Part 3(b)

Shockingly, some actual lighting this time By Kevin Schmitt

Ed. note ? previous installments of this series are available from the following links:

Part 1: 3D lighting basics
Part 2: How to fake radiosity for fun and profit
Part 3(a): After faking radiosity, why not do it for real?

When we left off, we had just gotten our simple setup moved over to Layout. Today, we have just a couple of chores left to do before our scene is ready to light, and then we'll get to the much-delayed promise of setting up radiosity to help hide the fact that the scene is so gawdawful in the first place. Let's dive right back in, shall we?

Fire up Layout, and open up the setup.lws scene we saved last time. Now, the first thing we have to do is to drastically dial down the grid size. If you recall, our floor plane is 1km by 1km, with the sphere and box at a mere 1m by 1m apiece, so the camera and light in our scene appear comically large. If you look on the very bottom left of the Layout window, you'll see that the grid size is a gi-normous 500m. To make this smaller, tap the [ (left bracket) key repeatedly until the grid size is down to 1m. This should make the light and camera more proportional to the sphere and cube objects, and the plane will now be the only humongous item in the scene as nature intended.

The next thing we need to do is move the camera and the default light into position. This is a relatively simple step, so I'll just give you the position and rotation settings for each. The buttons in question in Layout's interface are Move and Rotate, both of which are found under the Modify tab. Click on the light or camera (or click on the Lights or Cameras button underneath the frame slider) to select, enter in the numbers, and you'll be set. Figure 1 will hopefully sort everything out for you.

Figure 1: The buttons you'll be needing (left), and the settings to position the camera (center) and the default light (right).

Once that's all done, your Layout window should look something like Figure 2.

Figure 2

And with that, our setup is complete. Exciting stuff, to be sure. However, with the steps we took last time combined with today's efforts, we're in the ten minute range from scratch to setup. Again, since the scenario is that we have no time to really do anything, the total time involved falls into the "good" category. Now, I suppose I should return to the subject mentioned in the title of this series and talk about lighting, and see if we can't gussy this thing up using radiosity.

Let there be no light

Before we start fiddling with the lights, let's take a quick snapshot to see just how far we have to go. Hit F9 on your keyboard to do a basic render of the scene we have so far (fig. 3).

Figure 3

In a word, ick. We definitely have some work to do, but I suspect radiosity is going to help us tremendously, or else I've really painted myself into a corner. Anyway, if you recall from earlier installments, radiosity is an additive solution?the same way a tiny bit of light in the morning from outside can light an entire room (at least enough to make everything out), the mantra of radiosity is that a little goes a long way. Therefore, you're not going to get great results using radiosity if you have a zillion lights in your scene, each cranked up to 100-plus percent intensity. Come to think of it, you're probably not going to get great results lighting regular scenes that way, but that's beside the point. The point is that very few lights are required to get good results, and the ones that you do decide to place in a scene can be used sparingly (read: low intensity). In fact, you can sometimes get away with using no lights at all, and as someone who will endure great hardship to avoid an honest day's work, that sounds great to me. So as strange as this may seem, the first thing we need to do to light the scene is to turn off all the lights.

Go ahead and select the only light in the scene (either by clicking directly on it or by clicking the Lights button at the bottom of the Layout window) and then press p to bring up the Light Properties panel. Drag the Light Intensity slider down to 0 to turn off the light (we can't delete it outright since LightWave requires at least one light in every scene ? I suppose this is because without that restriction, the product would only be known as Wave). Then click the Global Illumination button and turn the Ambient Intensity down to 0 as well. Figure 4 illustrates these steps.

Figure 4

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Related Keywords:lightwave, 3d, 3d modeling, 3d animation, 3d lighting

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