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Series & Author Vision

Series & Author Vision

Revealed Series Vision

A book with the word “Revealed” in the title suggests that the topic that is being covered contains many hidden secrets that need to be brought to light. For LightWave, this suggestion makes sense. LightWave is a powerful piece of software, and finding out exactly how to accomplish some task can be time-consuming without some help. Well, you’re in luck, because the help you need is in your hands.

As you dive into the Revealed series, you’ll find a book with a split personality. The main text of each lesson includes a detailed discussion of a specific topic, but alongside the topic discussions are step-by-step objectives that help you master the same topic that is being discussed. This unique “read it and do it” approach leads directly to “understand it and master it.”

—The Revealed Series

Author Vision

Writing computer books is always a journey. As an experienced 3ds max author, I was anxious to spread my wings to try out other 3D packages. I’ve always heard amazing things about LightWave and its fiercely loyal users. So, what was all the noise about? LightWave is just another run-of-the-mill 3D package, isn’t it? Boy, was I in for a shock!

After many months of intense use, all I can say is, Wow! LightWave is awesome, and its approach to modeling, animating, and working with materials is easy to grasp, powerful to use, and actually fun to work in. It feels like the developers didn’t over-engineer the software, but also took the straightest path to get it to do what they wanted.

A good example of LightWave’s simplicity is how NewTek has broken the interface into two parts: one for modeling and the other for building scenes and animating. This is a simple idea, but by separating the two, each interface becomes much simpler, and it can actually load quicker than the time it takes to microwave two frozen burritos. Even Photoshop takes longer to load than both LightWave interfaces. Another good example of LightWave’s elegance is how the menu buttons are dynamically selected with tabs across the top of the interface. Only the features that you currently need are visible, and all other junk is hidden so that the interface is clean. This means that you need to hunt for certain features when you begin, but after you learn their location or hotkeys, you can really fly.

Okay, now that you know that I’m a fan of LightWave, you need to understand my approach. This book is intended for the beginner, although we start to get into more advanced topics later in the book. A couple of months ago, I, too, was a beginner to LightWave, and with this perspective, I’ve described the software as I’ve uncovered it.

The first chapter explains the two LightWave interfaces and how to work with them. By taking a quick tour of the interface elements, you’ll learn where the major interface elements are located. The next six chapters go through the Modeler interface, explaining how to model and add surfaces to objects. The final six chapters discuss the Layout interface, explaining all the details of creating, animating, and rendering a scene.

Along with every discussed task are several step-by-step objectives that show you a simplified example of the discussed topic. Each of these examples was created to be extremely simple to keep the number of steps to a minimum. I’ve tried to add some variety here and there, but none of these examples should be overwhelming (or will win a prize at the county fair). The real creative work is up to you, but these simplified examples will be enough to show you the way. Each objective example begins from the default setting that appears when the program is first loaded, but you don’t need to close and reopen the software to begin each example; just select the File, New menu command, and you’ll be ready to go. For some of the more complex examples, the steps instruct you to open an example file. You can download these files from the Course Technology Web site, or you can use your own files as a beginning point. You can also go to the Course Technology Web site to download the copy of each example file that is saved for comparison.

As a final note, LightWave is an extremely powerful piece of software with a boatload of features. Given that this book doesn’t have enough pages to cover every aspect, I’ve taken the liberty to cover a select set of features. If I didn’t cover a particular feature to your satisfaction, I apologize, and I’ll try to include it in the next version if I can find some extra pages. I’ve had a lot of fun using this software, and I hope you will, too.

—Kelly L. Murdock

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