LightWave Plugin: How to Use Shadow Designer

The Shadow Designer LightWave Plugin is a third-party shadow simulating system for LightWave. It is a favorite among many 3D artists and renderers for its fine rendering quality that is produced at great speed. The Shadow Designer also features development and rendering of full-color shadows and workflow improvements. The expert 3D artist benefits from the Shadow Designer’s ability to easily project a desired type of shadow, and the amount of freedom that it provides for incorporating variation into lighting schemes.

Step 1: Launch LightWave and Create a 3D Model

Select the LightWave application shortcut from the programs menu to launch the software. Once LightWave loads, you will choose the modeler module to develop your 3D model. Use the simple editing features provided by the modeler interface to quickly and efficiently create a simple 3D model. You trial model could be something as simple as a cube or a ball. It is not advisable to go in for a complex model because it would take a lot of time to generate, calculate and render the shadows for a complex model, especially the soft ones.

Once you are done with creating a basic 3D model using the modeler, you will notice that you have a wide variety of shadow development and projection tools. However, to begin with shadow development, you ought to have a light source in your project. Otherwise, the object will not develop a shadow. Alternatively, you may import a pre-made 3D model and a standardized light source to get off the blocks quickly.

Step 2: Put in a Light Source

To add a light source, you will choose the following sequence. Choose Items > Add > Lights and select the desired light type from the submenu. In case of an error, you will select the light and choose, Items > Clear > Clear Selected Items or simply select to “Clear All Lights”. You can adjust a light’s properties by selecting the light and opening its properties panel (P). If the panel is open, you can choose different lights to adjust using the “Current Light” pop-up menu. You will save the lights by Choosing File > Save > “Save Current Light” to save the current light to a file. You save normal light settings as well as lens flare and volumetric light settings. You can add the light to a scene by choosing File > Load > Load Items from Scene and selecting the previously saved light file—which is really just a scene file with only light information.

Step 3: Use Shadow Designer

Assuming you have already installed the “Shadow Designer” plug-in, you will select the plug-in from the plug-ins menu and will bring up its property windows. You will notice three windows called “SD Trace”, “SD Render” and “SD Color Gradient”. These windows simply enable to you to pick and choose the shadow settings and qualities that you would like to generate. Pick colors in the trace window in which you would like a color shadow, and adjust the color gradient accordingly. Select the final rendering effects in the “SD Render” window and hit render. A “SD Render Monitor” keeps you updated on the progress of the process.

Once completed, you would have successfully employed the Shadow Designer Plug-in for LightWave.