will be a multi-part article on various modeling techniques
in Lightwave 5.6 (though almost all the techniques should
work in 5.5). I also plan on showing how to setup the creature
for organic animation using bones, Morph Gizmo, and MetaMation.
The first and most important part of any model should be the
concept sketches. I know that many of you that are just starting
out probably want to just jump in and model, but as with most
things in life, if you spend just a little time planning it
will payback in spades down the road.
start off with a basic character design. Fig 1 is what I came
up with a couple of weeks ago. This is just a design based on
some type of dinosaur.
As you can see
it isnt anything particularly complicated. When developing
concept sketches, you dont need a lot of detail; in fact
too much detail will just make the object harder to visualize.
Now, if you have a scanner, and the picture is in orthographic
views (i.e. full profile and straight on) then you can scan
it in and use that as a direct guide. If you dont have
a scanner, or the picture isnt in orthographic views,
as is this one, then dont worry. The modeling process
is still essentially the same and still not that difficult.
I will assume from here on out that you are familiar with the
basic modeling commands. If you arent then you can look
each one up in the manuals as it is used.
Now, if you scanned
in the picture, load it in to modeler as the view down the x-axis.
Make a box in modeler and size it so that it is approximately
the same size as the head. If you dont have the head loaded
then just make a box with approximately the same ratio as the
length to width. Now select the polygon on one side and set
its value to x = 0. Once that polygon is set to 0 delete
it. This will allow us to model only one side of the head and
mirror the other half later. Now that that poly is deleted,
hit the tab key and turn the five remaining sides into a spline
patch (actually a MetaNurbs patch if you want to be exact).
Now since we will need to add more control points to our spline
cage with out it looking too boxy we will use the Metaform plus
plugin that should have shipped with your software. This is
definitely one plugin that should be added to your hotkeys.
The reason that we use the Metaform plus plugin is that it will
subdivide the object with out altering the look of our spline
cage. After subdividing it with a division level of 1 you will
notice that our cube is now looking rather rounded, and when
you hit tab again it looks exactly the same as before. However
now that we have more control points we can start pushing and
pulling them to form the cage to approximate the shape of the
When we have the
shape approximated as best we can at that subdivision we could
Metaform plus it again and move points and repeat as necessary
but that will produce an object that has two many points. It
will slow screen redraws and animation; and it will be a bear
to work on. So to aid us in our Paleolithic venture we will
employ a freeware plugin called planemeta splitter
22k). What this plugin allows us to do is add geometry selectively
to our object while still keeping the object compliant with
the requirements for MetaNurbs.
Start by selecting
a single polygon near the tip of the upper lip fig 4. In the
plugins options you will see an even or odd option, this
has to do with the point order of the polygon and there isnt
any way to tell which direction it will work without using trial
and error, so keep the undo key handy. Note: if you select more
than one polygon then the plugin will say invalid start
polygon. Simply unselect the polys and try reselecting
one polygon again.
Once you have those
polys split then simply push and pull the points to get a closer
approximation of the shape and then select the polygons that
comprise the mouth area. Once these are selected smooth shift
them with an offset of 0m and a smoothing angle of 180 deg.
Then stretch them in a little bit and smooth shift them again.
The second time you do this you will want to set their value
(with the set value command) equal to 0 on the x-axis. See fig
5. Once that is done you can delete them. This formed the mouth
area and we can go back in and add more detail as necessary
later. Now keep using planemeta splitter to add detail and then
start pushing and Pulling points to get a more refined shape.
If you need the
help you can look at fig 6 and try to determine where exactly
I added the detail and how I moved the points.
In the next article
I will go into how to add the eye and horns. Good luck!