Project: LiveStream Tutorials

This blog presents an approach on using “Instancing” in LightWave 3D. Made as both an overview and supplement to a LiveStream tutorial in development. The goal of this blog is to provide a broad-stroke view of the process where the LiveStream will cover the step by step process using the virtual tool set of  LightWave 3D, a standard Hollywood Modeling, Animation and rendering Application.

This section of the course incorporates a number of disciplines, some listed as follows:


LightWave 3D will allow us to incorporate all those disciplines in this one project creating a holistic learning environment. Each project will incorporate a wide range of skill sets, some completely different from project to project.

This allows the student to consolidate and build on the educational curriculum they are already learning, plus develop and realize the synergy between those disciplines. This enables and encourages a heightened degree of problem solving skills.

The semantics used by the instructor will be terminology that individuals of that professional industry use. Rather than talking down to a student, the philosophy is, use and learn the vocabulary relevant to that particular industry. Exposure to real world technical dialogue is equipping students to respond and to adapt their communication in that environment.

The course will empower the individual with a flourishing capacity for critical analysis, plus the crucial importance of how these various disciplines create and provide context to their discovery of the wider world around them.

I believe in equipping the individual’s unique identity to adapt quickly to an ever changing technological world. The tools will always be evolving, However, an individual with a sure philosophical foundation will be better prepared to meet these challenges. My investment is innovation through the sheer joy of educational discovery.

Instancing explanation

It’s a memory saving feature. If i put a single object in an environment, Instancing will repeat that model many times, so the single flower, becomes many immediately. Now instead of having the same flower geometry file copied everywhere, you have one. For every flower on the map, you use that single instance, instead of dedicating memory to lots of space to individual flowers. Now the computer uses space for just that single object, even if it’s instances hundred of thousands, even millions of times. The ceiling capacity ultimately will be dictated to by your computers specifications (scroll down when link opens to view computer specs).

Beginning Instance protect- Texas Terra-forming

I reside in San Antonio, so i began my research collecting data locally. I used an I-Pad’s Photo application, you can use any type of camera. The resolution doesn’t have to be high, we are using the images mainly as references, but also texture maps.

Make sure to have plenty of texture examples for the ground plane . Try to crop the texture maps to be square.

Here are a variety of Limestone textures to map onto my rock objects.

Take as much variety as possible so you have plenty of options.

The examples below are for reference so when i build my models i can reference these digital photos for a better degree of accuracy. Keep a record of measurements. When you build your models you will have a scale reference.

You should take photo reference for every vegetation type that will be involved with your project. This grass examples were good because i can see down to the grass root.

Importance of scale !

When working in LightWave, it is best to work to scale. That means any asset you create can be used as stock for a number of future projects. If we do not work to scale, problems occur when we try to load an asset from an old project into a new project. In other words, the scales may be different.

Mapping a texture vs Procedural Texture

The above cracker earth image is approximately a meter squared. The problem with a photograph used as a texture map repeated or tiled over a large area is a ’tiling effect.

Photoshop can be used to reduce the effect of tiling that i describe in the livestream. However, the ground plane will be covered with plant life, so the tiling of the cracked earth will not be noticed.

Another way to solve the problem is to use Procedural texture maps. Again i take you through the accessing these textures and adjusting numerical values to tailor fit the scale of the ground plane.

Either method can be used, or a combination of procedurals with texture maps, whatever works best for your needs.

Building the assets

Ground plane

We can choose an unlimited number of terrains we wish to instance on. Here are a couple of samples.

A only requires a single Quadrangle polygon. B requires 400 polygons in order to describe the protrusions and indents of our landforms. Both are perfectly suitable for Instancing.

Below are some of the assets created in LightWave’s Modeler. All the objects have been created with the fewest number of polygons as possible. That why, the economy of design keeps things “light” and easier to make adjustments. ‘Form follows function’ is a great motto to try and adhere, a Motto used by Walter Gropius at the Bauhaus, 1919 to 1933. It meant that any detail added to your design must serve a purpose, any extra detail that had no reason other was superfluous.

The next image below is showing all the assets that have been created in Modeler, transferred into Layout where we set up Light, Camera and action. I have chosen all four viewports to display the same camera view, but each view illustrates how the assets can be represented differently.

1) VPR stands for Virtual Preview rendered. This mode shows all the lighting and texture effects instantly.

2) OpenGl (headlight) processes from your Graphics card all the image data, it’s kinda a shorthand but still gives you a very good idea  of the look. Included is the activation of a spotlight that illuminates the assets directly from the camera point of view.

3) The third view is OpenGL without the spotlight.

4) The final view is a wireframe, this is useful when the scene has a very large number of polygons so that the computer can process the changes that you make more efficiently.

Objects & Instances?

The ground plane is the object that will have the instances assigned to it. Those instances are all the other assets i made in Modeler, the Grass Clumps, the Indian Paint Brush etc.

The Instances made up of each asset, have their own layer. That means numeric values affecting each layer can be varied. That also means the ways each layer spreads itself across the ground plane can have different densities, clumping and size ratio fall off.

The variety can be limitless. Each layer can have a different color tag assigned to it, this color assignment in turn is assigned to each instance belonging to that layer. This means that in OpenGL those Instances are differentiated by that specific color allowing you to see more easy that set of objects values changed, whether in scale or density across the ground plane.

Each layer can have it’s own separate Weight map, or multitude of Weights maps assigned to that single layer. Also gradients can be used to show the affects of attitude, slope growth, distance from camera and various other Gradient settings.

When you are satisfied with all the adjustments, time for some final rendered images.

The images below demonstrate A few million instances here and there.


The image below was another test in how to distribute the instances using a standard Procedural Map. However, the grass instances are not varied enough. Also the Black Eyed Susan and Cactus layer is switched off. So i have Indian Paint Brush, Rocks and Grass layer on.

The image below I have moved the camera closer to the ground and all but the cactus layer is switched on.

All the instance layer on and a wide angle lens. Sub surface Scattering effect in the node editor has been applied to the Cactus.

One Response to Project: LiveStream Tutorials

  1. Pingback: Home School visit to NewTek, San Antonio, Texas | Artist, Graham Toms

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