Modeling Sci-Fi Spacecraft in LightWave Using VertiBevel

By Jon Carroll

Shekinah Studios' VertiBevel is a plug-in for LightWave that gives more flexibility to the user in creating polygonal detail on their Lightwave 3d models. It has been crafted to combine certain features of LightWave's built-in Bevel and Smooth Shift functions and add enhanced functionality. VertiBevel adds several capabilities, enabling you to bevel several selected polygons as a group, the ability to set up multiple subsequent bevels, and the ability to actually draw the edge profile of your bevel before it is performed. It also allows you to use ESP. That is, select points along the edge of a bevel and then exclude the selected points (hence ESP) from the inset of the bevel.

VertiBevel's Interface

Hold your pointer over the above image map above for a brief explanation of the interface functions.

Using VertiBevel

One of my various pet projects has been attempting to build a model of a starship in the style of the late 1970s TV series Battlestar:Galactica. From the time I received VertiBevel I knew it would be a very serviceable tool in creating a model with this level and style of detail. I had already previously built a partial outer hull for the model and will walk through using VertiBevel to help create details.

Above you can see the basic hull shape. Some detail had already been started, but we're going to use VertiBevel to enhance that detail as well as add much more.

One of the big problems in creating a large, detailed-looking 3D model is the tendency of 3D modeling programs to create unnaturally sharp edges. In nature, and even on machinery, edges are never sharp and an edge is never a perfect 90-degree angle. By using VertiBevel to create multiple bevels at the interface between surfaces, essentially creating a round or a fillet, you can add to the realism of your model, as well as making it more visually interesting as specular highlights travel across these rounded edges.

This is the aft edge of the hull right along the side of the engine pod. The "little" notch in the side of the hull is where anti-fighter "turbolasers" are placed. It may seem like a tiny detail until you realize it is 2.8 meters tall. I'll use VertiBevel to give the entire edge at the back of the engine pod a slight rounding effect, which will help provide a better feel for a ship that is supposed to be hundreds of "yahrens" old.

As you can see I have actually drawn out a curved profile for the edge within the plug-in's interface. This produces the results shown below.

That corner now has a nice rounded edge much more in keeping with the scale of the ship.
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