Lightwave Tutorial -
This tutorial was written some years ago, but is still one of the most popular on the site, so when rebuilding the site, I decided to keep it. The most important thing that has changed in the meantime is that Daz Studio Pro can now be downloaded for free, and I strongly recommend it if you are not up to modelling your own characters from scratch.
Click Here to go to the DAZ3D site and download the software.
Now, back to the tutorial!
Using Poser figures in Lightwave.
This is an intermediate level tutorial -
I have done this as one long page, so it's easy to print and you don't have to jump around online. At least that's the way I like tutorials!
Many Lightwave users are extremely dismissive of the idea of using Poser figures in Lightwave. The most common reasons I hear for this are:
This is generally followed by the claim that the only way to get quality is to model
your own, the hard way. But to model a believable human figure is an extremely demanding
task. And to model one that will animate well adds a whole new level of complexity.
Then there is realistic texturing of human skin to master... If you have the skills
and the time to do this, then by all means go ahead. But for most of us, and particularly
the less experienced 3d artist, pre-
This tutorial will try and show you how to get started in making good user of Poser based content within Lightwave, for minimal cost and effort.
The seriously good news is that there are some excellent base figures available for
free. There is also software to export these base figures into Lightwave readable
formats for free, and free plug-
So lets get started!
The real problems with Poser content.
A lot of the perceived weakness of poser content comes directly from the rather low quality figures provided with older versions of Poser. Poser 6 and up are a lot better, and the Daz “Genesis” figures are better still, but the impression gained from those early versions has stuck. Even with Poser 5, if you start with a default scene and hit render, production quality, you get Don the plastic zombie. Eyes staring straight ahead, plastic skin, and about as convincing as a half melted Barbie doll.
And earlier versions were even worse…
Now with only a little more effort, you can get something like this:
In both cases these images were rendered inside Poser, but I will show you how to do the same thing in Lightwave. And before you know it you will be able to make images like this, from inside Lightwave:
Building, dragon, elf, hair, all taken from Poser objects and brought into Lightwave.
Getting started: Better base figures.
Important Note: If you have Vue 5 Infinite, which was bundled with early orders for
Lightwave 9, and Poser, you will be able to load models into Vue, and export them
as *.LWO -
The very first thing you should do is visit the Daz3d web site. They have produced
2 very good and very flexible FREE base figures for Poser, Michael 3, and Victoria
3. (There are others, but start with these two -
(Update! Daz are now on Michael 5, which is not free -
Click here to visit the Daz web site.
The Daz3d business model is simple and very attractive to users -
If you download and install Michael 3, (we will call him M3 from now on, for short), and render, you will get this:
Well, not an amazing difference, but we have only just got started.
Incidentally, note also that M3 will respond to the usual Poser options of setting
So, let's get things a bit more the way we want. I will start by setting the proportions to heroic, and applying a suitable superhero pose. Like this:
Now we want to get the object out of Poser, choose the menu options:
FILE / EXPORT / WAVEFRONT OBJ.
Take the default options for all subsequent menus. The OBJ format can be read in Lightwave, and it will also keep the various transformations, (the pose and heroic proportions in this case).
Important Note: If you do not have a copy of Poser you can do exactly the same thing with the free Daz Studio core software. This has a lot of add ons available, but the core product does what you need. Get it from the Daz3d web site, where you collected the M3 and V3 figures. I'll be using mainly Poser, but only because I know it a bit better. Daz Studio actually has rather better export options, particularly if you are exporting multiple objects to one exported file. For now the defaults will work fine.
Time to go to Lightwave, and load up our hero, in modeller, like this:
OK, not very exciting so far, although the shape is definitely there.
We need to do a couple of things. First of all, go to the 'multiply' tab, and click the triple button. That will turn all those potentially non planar, (that's not flat in plain English) polygons into triangles. If you look at the surfacing, you will see that separate body parts have separate surfaces, a big help in getting it to look right. But we are going to keep things extremely simple for this example.
I have created a nice shiny surface, with a gradient on incidence angle so it looks more reflective at shallow angles. I turned on smoothing and gave it a reflection map, to get a rather cool figure, reminiscent of the "Silver Surfer".
Now I think that looks pretty cool, and I would not want to try and model him the slow way.
So far so good. But there are limits to the uses of such simply textured people -
The best Poser figures use image maps, and often very high resolution ones, thousands of pixels on a side. This means that you can get in really close to a face, and the details won't pixelate.
The bad news is that I am not aware of any good free high resolution character maps.
The good news is that there are a lot of very reasonably priced ones.
My main source for this sort of thing is the Renderosity Marketplace. The material is provided by users, and therefore the quality is to say the least highly variable. But it does pay to dig around the best selling stuff, and you can find some seriously impressive textures for $8 to $15. For this example, I am going to use the 'Shane' figure, available here for an excellent value $6.99. Although Shane is a 'David' based figure, it works just fine with M3.
If you want to consider some other options, take a look at these:
It's also worth investigating other characters by these merchants -
Anyway, back to Shane. I loaded him into Poser 5, gave him an interesting pose, and rendered him so you can see what we are starting with in Poser:
As you can probably see, the head is the same shape as M3 -
If you load him into Modeller, you will find that he has no textures, exactly as our M3 figure came in.
Of course, tripling polygons and setting smooth on will help remove those ugly kinks, but how do we get him textured?
Well, when you exported the figure, you did not just export the shape, the software also produced an MTL file, (Material file), which has details of the materials used. In this case, that includes links to the UV mapped texture images. But Lightwave does not read these out of the box.
There are various object translation utilities out there, and I am sure some of them will do the job. So if you already have such a utility, and are happy with it then get stuck in.
If you don't, well there is a free MTL import script available from "Dodgy", which will do most of the work for you.
Here is dodgy's home page: http://dodgy.ghostoutpost.com/
And go here to get the script: http://dodgy.ghostoutpost.com/Lscripts.html
Another program that deserves to be better known is Accutrans 3D. This does a wide range of object conversions, and the most recent versions can save out Lightwave format objects, complete with the UV maps intact.
It has a fully functional trial version available, and the fully registered version is only $20, which is great value!
Collect your copy from this website.
Before we continue, a few words of warning. Lightwave's Modeller can be a bit fragile
when importing OBJ files. Save often. Also, try and keep things simple -
Anyway, on with the action.
Here he is,loaded into Accutrans 3d, (click for a larger view). The display is a little rough, but he has quite clearly got his textures! There's something odd going on with the eyebrows and eyelashes, we will fix that a little later.
Now select SAVE AS, and choose Lightwave 2, Mega files. (Lightwave 1 is the very old small files format). Here are the options I chose:
A few seconds later, your object is saved, and you can load him into modeller.
Lets take a look at what we have!
As you can see in the preview window, the textures have arrived, and we have a posed
and surfaced figure. However I am going to do a bit of cleaning up, as the conversion
has not quite handled everything, (this is common with most of the translation utilities
(If you deselect QUADS when exporting from Accutrans 3D, as shown in the screenshot
about, the model will already be tripled -
First off all, we still have some of those non-
Next we want smoothing on for all surfaces -
Well, he has Brezhnev's eyebrows, and Dusty Springfield's mascara fetish, but we are getting there. You may also see traces of seams, (they don't really show in the compressed image), particularly if you are using low res images for the texture previews. They are probably artefacts of the image mapping, don't worry at this stage.
The other problem I have come across sometimes is that there are options that separate the body parts into different layers. If you see subtle lines around limbs or the neck, check that the body parts have had points merged, so they shade smoothly. But things work well with this combination of parameters for Accutrans 3d.
Lets send him to Layout.
You can see the texture seams I mentioned before, as I said they won't show in the final render. But what is up with the eyes?
Well, Accutrans has not managed to handle the transparency options -
Very few Poser figures use the physical eyebrow polygons, they are normally painted onto the forehead. And male figures generally do not have prominent eyelashes.
One other rather odd thing has happened -
At this stage we also have no bump channel -
How does that look? Here's my test render.
Now that's more like it. Finally here's a render of our finished figure, with some better lighting and a simple setting.
Some additional notes:
Many of the figures you can buy on Renderosity will require morphs. The morph packs are an additional product for the M3 and V3 figures, and are NOT free. They will let you fine tune a mass of parameters on the figures, everything from thin ankles, to adjusting ethnicity, to pointy elf ears. If you do not have these, then the figure will have the same basic shape as the vanilla M3 or V3 figure.
This procedure may seem a bit long winded, but it's fairly quick once you get used to it. Part 2 of the tutorial, advanced techniques and animation, will show you how to reuse some of these textures.
There is also a set of plugins from Greenbriar that will help you get Poser figures
and props into Lightwave. They do a much better job of taking in textures automatically
Additional notes on Accutrans 3d:
When I showed this to the author of Accutrans 3d, he said that he had recently obtained a detailed specification of the OBJ format with .MTL files, and was planning to improve the way Accutrans 3d handles this format. So check there often!
Wayne also adds:
Some poser models have the surface normals pointing the wrong direction so the triangles are black or dark when rendered. This was reported by an AccuTrans user. He used the align normals group of controls in AccuTrans.
If you want to change the settings for selected layer attributes after a file has
been read, use the "Layers-
You can manually set layer attributes after the file has been read. Use the "Layers-
Quads can be deleted and recreated. Delete the quads using the "Tools-