LightWave3D: How to Animate Text

NewTek LightWave 3D and award winning 3D artists are responsible for the spectacular 3D animation and graphics, not just in blockbuster movies, but also in billboard ads and magazines. The most common of these is the 3D text. These short steps will help you create your first 3D text using LightWave 3D.

Step 1: Choose Text and Font

Before typing in your text, decide on what type of font you want to use. You can always add in special fonts that are not available in your modeler. The text you will be creating will serve as your 3D text base. You may change your mind mid-point during this exercise, so make sure you like what you have chosen. Play around and change text fonts to see how it really looks. Picture your text, how it will look in 3D and go from there. Hit enter after you have decided, and your text will appear in the viewport.

Step 2: Add Depth

Adding depth to your text is the first step towards giving it the 3D look. Look for the tab named “Multiply” and click on “Extrude”. Click an area in the viewport, and while holding it down, drag at a direction where you want your text to expand. Release the mouse when you are happy with the amount of depth you have added to your text.

Step 3: Correct Discrepancies

Look at your text carefully on the viewport. If you notice some jagged edges or maybe some misshaping, this may be because there are some misplaced or turn down polygons during the extrusion process. For turned down polygons, flip it using the “Flip” button. You will find the flip button under the Detail tab. Missing polygons may have been misplaced in the process; you can always fix this manually. There may be some minor problems with your text initially, so save it and do a test render to see how it would really look on screen.

Step 4: Change the Text Attributes

To jazz things up, change the attributes of your new 3D text. Select the “Surface Editor” and a window named "Change Surface" will appear; change the values on the bar accordingly. You can change your text color, its reflectivity, transparency and smoothness; just check the box on “Smoothing”. In Polygon select mode, you can have multiple surface attributes added to your text. To select all the front facing letters, click on the first letter of your text, and while holding down the shift key, proceed to click on the remaining letters. Hit the “q” button on your keyboard (make sure you don’t have your caps lock on, capital “Q” is a different shortcut); this should bring out the ‘Surfaces Window”, rename the surface, and assign your text surface with different attributes.

Step 5: Load Your 3D Text

Now that you have adjusted all your 3D text attributes, save your text and load it into your layout. Do a test render and see how your 3D text looks on the screen. You can always edit and tweak your text if you see some aspects that still need a little bit of improvement.