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Text Layers

Create beveled extruded text in LW8.3 By Stephen Schleicher

NewTeks LightWave has had the ability to create text for a number of years.  The only problem with previous text creation tools in LightWave was the inability to automatically extrude and bevel the text in one step.  With the new Text Layers tool in Modeler, creating dynamic text is a snap.

Text Layers is a great new plug-in, but unfortunately it installs in the Additional features, which makes it really difficult to access on a regular basis.  You might want to go ahead and add it to a menu item or create a new group for cool new extras.

A hint of things to come...


When you activate Text Layers you are presented with the main interface window that allows you to enter your text, select a font, size, bevel, etc.

Because you have so many functions available for creating text this will probably be the primary tool you use when you need to quickly create your object.  Previously, the user would have to create a flat text layer, extrude it, bevel the front, separate the font for flat shading, etc.; a lot of steps that should have been wrapped in a single tool along time ago.

After selecting your font, scale, and extrude amount, you can adjust your bevel amount.  Text Layers gives you five different bevel options to choose from.  I prefer using the Round bevel for a nice smooth transition from edge to front face.

When you are creating a Rounded Bevel on your text, you should increase the Bevel Segments amount for a smoother transition.  The major problem with beveling a curved shape is your front polygons can get messes up if they are still connected to the edge polygons.  Text Layers allows you to disconnect the bevels from the flat polygons to ensure the edges remain sharp.

Text Layers doesnt stop with the simple creation of beveled and extruded text. Under the Surfaces Tab, you have the option of assigning names to the front, side, and bevel polygons.  Since you dont want to spend a lot of time mucking about selecting these polys later, this is a handy function.

The final tab allows you to determine how many layers the text will use (especially handy if you are animating each of the letters) and creates objects and scene files for you automatically.

The biggest problem with this feature is while the Text Layers panel is open, you can not move or rotate the object in any of the windows.  It would be especially useful to be able to zoom in and rotate around the object in the Perspective view to see any potential stray point problems that may occur when beveling certain fonts.

Once you click OK, you can launch Layout, load the text scene and begin surfacing and animating. 

Text Layer is one of those new features that may not seem like a big deal on the outset, but if you are someone who is constantly creating 3D text for use in your motion graphic work, this feature will be a major blessing.


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Stephen Schleicher has crossed the country several times over the last couple of years going from Kansas to Atlanta , Georgia, and Southern California. In his time traveling, he has worked as an editor, graphic designer, videographer, director, and producer on a variety of video productions ranging from small internal pieces, to large multimedia
corporate events.

Currently, Stephen shares his knowledge with students at Fort Hays State University who are studying media and web development in the Information Networking and Telecommunications department. When he is not shaping the minds of university students, Stephen continues to work on video and independent projects for State and local agencies and organizations as well as his own ongoing works.

He is also a regular contributor to Digital Producer, Creative Mac, Digital Webcast, Digital Animators, and the DV Format websites, part of the Digital Media Online network of communities (www.digitalmedianet.com), where he writes about the latest technologies, and gives tips and tricks on everything from Adobe After Effects, to Appleā??s Final Cut Pro, LightWave 3D, to shooting and lighting video.

He has a Masters Degree in Communication from Fort Hays State University in Hays, Kansas. As a forward thinker, he wrote his Thesis on how Information Islands and e-commerce would play a major role in keeping smaller communities alive. This of course was when 28.8 dialup was king and people hadnā??t even invented the word e-commerce.

And, he spends what little free time he has biking, reading, traveling around the country, and contemplating the future of digital video and its impact on our culture. You can reach him at schleicher@mindspring.com

Related Keywords:text layers, lightwave, 3d, animation, bevel, extrude, lw8.3, schleicher, newtek, new features

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