Introduction to LightWave

3 days

Course Description

This course is geared toward the beginner. No previous LightWave experience necessary. Basic knowledge of Mac OS X is required. The class consists of both lecture and lab time. A hands on approach is the best way to learn.


  • What is 3D animation
  • Where and how is it used today
  • Differences in Platforms
  • Concepts and Terminology
  • Basic concepts such as key framing and modeling
  • Discuss the three axis and their relationship to the interface
  • Introduction to the Modeler and Layout interface and how they interact
  • File management and the Content Directory

Course Outline

Note: The curricula below comprise activities typically covered in a class at this skill level. The instructor may, at his/her discretion, adjust the lesson plan to meet the needs of the class.


  • Navigation of the interface
  • Views, Menus and pull downs
  • Setting up Modeler
  • Options Panel - Undo Limit, Patch Division
  • Display Panel - Preview Type, Default unit, Grid Snap
  • Setting up keyboard shortcuts - numeric keypad
  • Basics of 3D geometry, primitive objects, polygons, points and surface normals
  • Loading objects
  • Creating simple objects - primitives, pivot point, segmenting objects and why
  • Working with the Modeler views
  • Selection and de-selection of points and polygons
  • Manipulating simple objects
  • Introduction to Sub-Patches
  • Modification Tools - subdivide, dragnet, aligner, bend, taper, etc.
  • Spline Tools introduction - pen, bezier, points, make curve, etc.
  • Muliplication Tools - array, bevel, extrude, smooth shift, boolean
  • Basic surfacing within Modeler
  • Using Modelers Layers
  • Saving your work


  • Navigation of the Interface
  • Working in VPR
  • The Render Panel - Display options, raytracing options
  • The Camera Panel - resolution, anti-aliasing, segment memory
  • The Options Panel
  • The Scene Panel - How objects are displayed
  • Loading and manipulating objects
  • Key Frame animation concepts
  • How to create and save an animation
  • Graph Editor - function curve manipulation and timing
  • Basic Lighting Concepts - types, shadows, volume effects, viper
  • Surface Editor - bitmaps, procedurals, alphas, displacement

In the course of the class we will be creating projects that cover many basic 3D animation concepts as well as understanding how LightWave's two interfaces work together.

Logo Project

In Modeler, using the text tool (or Illustrator Import), students create a simple, text-based logo. Parenting, pivot points, null objects, file management, and displacement maps and mesh deformations. Basic modeling techniques and pit falls are discussed over the course of the project.

Surfacing & Lighting Project

Construct, surface and light various objects. Through lighting and surfacing a simple scene, the surface and lighting panels are explored. Procedural and gradient textures as well as image mapping and enveloping will be discussed as well as linear, area, point, spot and volumetric lighting, 3 point lighting and shadowing.

Bones Project

Bones and skeletons will be introduced and discussed. Simple deformations will be shown on a hand model that students will build. Weight maps will also be discussed.