View Full Version : Lightwave vs. 3ds max 6 for product renderings - would appreciate some guidance

Mark Gajewski
11-21-2003, 06:51 AM

I design consumer products such as lighting fixtures, furniture and
ceiling fans and I use Ashlar's Cobalt and IronCAD for 3D modeling. I
am not happy with the modest rendering capabilities of those packages.

I'd appreciate some help with choosing the right software for product
rendering. Is Lightwave or 3ds max better for that purpose and why?
How easy is it to learn rendering with Lightwave vs 3ds max (I only
need the rendering and perhaps simple animation capabilities - I will
still do my modeling in Cobalt and Ironcad).



11-21-2003, 07:37 AM
Both of these packages are excellent for still image rendering so I would be swayed by price and learning curve.
LightWave is known for it's "more bang for buck" reputation, as it has more features out of the box. 3DSmax may hit you harder in the pocket as you might have to pay for extra add-on's.

On a personal level, I first started learning max as a student, gave up due to stress (endless scrolling menu's and meaningless icons drove me nuts). I found LW much easier to learn. But thats just me.

LW is known for it's fast and flexible modelling tools and great renderer. Learning how to render in LW will take you about uh... five minutes. (how fast can you press F9?)
You get High Dynamic Range (HDRI) effects which will light your product as if it was real. Just look at the renders in the gallery and see for yourself.

11-21-2003, 08:16 AM
I use LightWave for the exact same type of work (you can see some examples here: NewTek Europe Interview (http://www.newtek-europe.com/uk/community/lightwave/gorner/1.html)).

They are both extremely capable packages, you can hardly put a cigarette paper between them!

As they stand at their current versions 3DS Max has more features to its name than LightWave, but it costs considerably more (quick net search reveals 3DS Max 2,702.50 inc VAT / LightWave 1,239.63 inc VAT source: www.oneanimation.net).

Whether you'd use all those features for visualisation is another matter.

The best advice I would offer is to download trial versions of each, play around, see which feels more comfortable to you.

Trial Version (http://www.discreet.com/3dsmax/)

NewTek Discovery Edition: (slightly more involved!)

1) Download the 7.5c update (which is really the full install of LightWave)

2) Download the Sentinal dongle drivers (obviously you won't have a dongle, but LW still needs these to run)

When you run LightWave it will complain about not having a dongle, just click okay to everything, it should then go into 30 day trial mode.

Hope that helps

11-21-2003, 10:29 AM
While this is highly subjective and by no means a "scientific" approach I'd suggest going to sites like this:


Even though many of the images aren't ID based it can give you a feeling for what the "average" render looks like. This is how I decided on LW. I don't trust the galleries on a software makers sites just because it often doesn't represent what the average user does, but more what a highly experienced and talented user does etc. Are there flaws to this lack of logic- you bet- but going to sites like this and trying to get into the demos really helped though.

I was using Rhino for modeling before I downloaded the LW demo- what took me a week with a ton of un-necessary polygons in Rhino took only a day in LW with a mesh made up of only 16 quads!

Anyway- if you have the time get to know the demos and a bit of what each community is like before you decide. Good luck!

Chris S. (Fez)
11-24-2003, 11:33 PM
Try the Max 6 trial but wait for 8 before buying.

11-25-2003, 02:22 AM
good point keep forgetting about that! ;)

11-25-2003, 08:22 AM
I'm an illustrator and use Max and LW. LW mostly for modeling and Max for texturing and rendering. I use a lot of UV mapping, so I lean toward Max for ease of use. UV mapping in LW is a nightmare unless you know someone who's mastered it and can explain it in a clear way. Max is a breeze for texturing your objects. You can push and pull the textures real-time and it's very intuitive.

LW's renderer is pretty amazing, but honestly, I do retouching on the images anyway so any real difference between the two is not an issue.

Another reason for using Max is that a lot of the models I use orginate in AutoCAD and Max handles this data with ease.

11-29-2003, 02:52 PM
if its about rendering then i beleive its between mental ray that u can get for 3ds max or it comes with it, or lightwave more accurate renderer.

Oh yea one major thing, since your designing stuff, i think lightwave would be better since its the easiest modeler to use. But then again im very biast.. (spelling) since i got lightwave, but ive never touched 3ds, you should ask the professionals.. that use neither or both.