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Aww167
04-15-2016, 03:29 PM
As both a frequent, if mostly unseen vistor to these forums, as well as gradually increasing my experience in using Lightwave - mainly modelling but tackling more and more challenges of surfacing, lighting and rendering, I'm prompted to ask a question of anyone who would be kind enough to reply - what was/is your approach to learning LW regarding achievement of specific objectives?
I'm personally interested in product-style and archviz - essentially being able to obtain high-quality photorealistic results of real-world objects.
Would those users who have done this kind of work themselves consider it realistic to expect to reach a professional level of quality results in these areas specifically without first spending much time on perfecting less demanding objectives, and if so, what would you recommend as the most helpful and effective route to get there?
I'm hoping this isn't too demanding a question.
I do also want to add that I'm hugely grateful to all who produce videos for youtube and share their knowledge on these forums in this way - I would have nowhere near the level of proficiency as I currently do without your generous efforts, so my grateful and sincere thanks to all of you for that!

spherical
04-15-2016, 04:36 PM
what was/is your approach to learning LW regarding achievement of specific objectives?

I always choose a specific project that I know very well in the Real World and strive to replicate it; solving problems encountered as they present themselves. The project chosen is relatively less complex, so as to not get discouraged easily. The solutions are found in all of the sources you mention above, but also including the Manual combined with creative search in these forums and the Internet at large. Having an object (no pun intended, but I'll take it) lesson to hang one's hat on is far better than just reading manuals and watching random tutorials, as there is far more that one may identify with on an immediate basis than there is with something wholly unrelated.

Aww167
04-15-2016, 05:42 PM
I always choose a specific project that I know very well in the Real World and strive to replicate it; solving problems encountered as they present themselves. The project chosen is relatively less complex, so as to not get discouraged easily. The solutions are found in all of the sources you mention above, but also including the Manual combined with creative search in these forums and the Internet at large. Having an object (no pun intended, but I'll take it) lesson to hang one's hat on is far better than just reading manuals and watching random tutorials, as there is far more that one may identify with on an immediate basis than there is with something wholly unrelated.

Thank you Spherical. Your reply pretty much tallies with the approach I've decided to take myself, except I invariably take on a challenge considerably beyond my immediate skills simply because it's something that appeals to my creative instincts and I'm keen to discover how well I can accomplish it - with the often not unpredictable result that I discover how little I actually do know!! This isn't necessarily a bad thing in itself I feel, as it does at least seem to keep me travelling in a worthwhile direction whilst also providing a perspective on where I am in relation to the nature of the overall aim that I'm committed to achieve, plus I learn something new along the way - maybe not the most logical or methodical approach though. I totally agree about the manual and I'm grateful for your candour on the point - it's one of those things that I've mostly avoided due partly to an aversion to the perhaps uninspiring appearance of the thing , but in reality I'm fast discovering that there's no substitute for the solid grounding it provides in really getting to comprehend the software at a more fundamental level - and that seems absolutely key to being repeatedly able to achieve reliable results once you get beyond anything simple and easy.
I'm still mulling over your final remark about 'having an object lesson to hang one's hat on' - I sense that there's a wider point you're making there that would benefit me to pursue, though the exact meaning escapes me right now. Thanks for your thoughts though. Much appreciated.

spherical
04-16-2016, 02:13 AM
I didn't say that I knew the 3D side of a project well at all before going into it. Only the Real World side of it. The latter is what I use to verify and apply new knowledge in the 3D side, in order to replicate what I can hold in my hands. None of the projects chosen to learn with are within my immediate skills. What's the point in that? Wasted time, if nothing else.

bobakabob
04-16-2016, 04:25 AM
Great question. I'd suggest learn to do simple things well, setting yourself achievable targets, step by step, following tutorials closely and keeping a notebook/journal close by so you don't forget how to do things. That combined with studying the 'real' 3D world as spherical is suggesting :)

I was lucky to pick up contract work for a model bank early on and this really pushed me as there were some challenging designs for a beginner and strict deadlines. So it's a good idea to keep moving forward and building momentum in some way. Solving problems is what really informs your progress combined with growing knowledge of the app. LW has a very powerful modeller - there's very little you can't do, though when you do hit obstacles finding workarounds is all part of the fun (or frustration).

There are incredibly cheap LW books with tutorials on Amazon marketplace, so it's worth studying these as well of course, as the new improved LW manual. It's worth exploring both poly and spline modelling techniques.Good luck, enjoy LW and ask any question on this forum as there are very generous people here always willing to help out.

JonW
04-16-2016, 05:50 AM
'was/is your approach to learning LW'

Lots of mistakes!


As others have said small projects that you will actually finish.

I only do architectural work. Build the environment you live in & look at textures & lighting. You can keep referring back to the object & scene. It's one thing to build the objects but texturing & lighting are just as important if not more important.

I also do physical architectural models. Over the decades I seen some really nice models killed by landscaping, & pretty terrible models with great landscaping so the actual model has got away with murder.

Just getting the right camera angle can make the world of difference. Same with lighting. One can fiddle far too long on things that the customer simply will not see.

What I said at the start, lots of mistakes! Making mistakes teaches you other ways of doing things differently on other jobs. Building a house for example you will build in a particular order, but after you have build a dozen houses you will start to see efficiencies of doing things certain ways for the type of building you are doing. There is no right way, it simply experience over time, but it does get easier.


There are more than enough things in this forum to get you going & teach you many different ways of doing things.

Shabazzy
04-16-2016, 07:00 AM
Hi Aww167,

This is a great question that has many differing answers.

IMO anyone who takes up the challenge of being a 'professional whatever', needs to approach the subject from the ground up. They should start by taking a structured approach to learning the basics so that they can have very strong fundamentals on the subject.

For me, that was buying books by Dan Ablan on LW and studying them thoroughly. Once I'd got the fundamentals down I bought a book on texturing by Angel Nieves. Then a book on more advanced LW techniques by Steve Warner, Kevin Philips and Timothy Albee. And one on animation techniques by Timothy Albee. All bought with the aim of being a better LW animator/modeller/texturer. They have proven invaluable to me in learning LW and have made for an easy and highly enjoyable learning experience.

By taking this approach, I've been able to secure a strong knowledge on how to accomplish a broad range of jobs.

Taking a haphazard approach to learning any discipline is, to me, counter-productive to the aims of being a professional. You will always have massive gaps in your knowledge and for me that's like; for every one step forward, it's three steps back. It just gets really frustrating. For me having a clear, structured approach to learning will always pay dividends in the long run. The information given may not seem to directly address what you want to know about, but trust me, it will all become clear how it does.

In your case of what it is that you want to achieve, the approach I've taken would help you understand how everything fits together to accomplish your goal.

You'd understand:

how Layout calculates rays of light.
How radiosity, HDR and global illumination affects realism.
How to simulate lens types.
Understand how to choose the correct file type for use with alpha channels to composite with.
The importance of linear colorspace when it comes to rendering interiors.
Texturing your models correctly with the most suitable technique.
Setting up your camera and lens properties properly (which would incorporate understanding how real world cameras and lenses work so that you can get nice bokeh shots for example.)
How to model just about anything.
How to plan your scenes properly and know which models you need to build and why.


The list goes on. But the pay off for your investment in a structured learning approach will be one that allows you the pleasure of productivity and confidence. And for me, that's a fantastic feeling to have.

Snosrap
04-16-2016, 12:05 PM
I didn't nessisarily learn this way, but you might want to try and just copy a photo of a real world scene. Especially if you see yourself doing product shots.

Aww167
04-16-2016, 05:08 PM
Hi Aww167,

This is a great question that has many differing answers.

IMO anyone who takes up the challenge of being a 'professional whatever', needs to approach the subject from the ground up. They should start by taking a structured approach to learning the basics so that they can have very strong fundamentals on the subject.

For me, that was buying books by Dan Ablan on LW and studying them thoroughly. Once I'd got the fundamentals down I bought a book on texturing by Angel Nieves. Then a book on more advanced LW techniques by Steve Warner, Kevin Philips and Timothy Albee. And one on animation techniques by Timothy Albee. All bought with the aim of being a better LW animator/modeller/texturer. They have proven invaluable to me in learning LW and have made for an easy and highly enjoyable learning experience.

By taking this approach, I've been able to secure a strong knowledge on how to accomplish a broad range of jobs.

Taking a haphazard approach to learning any discipline is, to me, counter-productive to the aims of being a professional. You will always have massive gaps in your knowledge and for me that's like; for every one step forward, it's three steps back. It just gets really frustrating. For me having a clear, structured approach to learning will always pay dividends in the long run. The information given may not seem to directly address what you want to know about, but trust me, it will all become clear how it does.

In your case of what it is that you want to achieve, the approach I've taken would help you understand how everything fits together to accomplish your goal.

You'd understand:

how Layout calculates rays of light.
How radiosity, HDR and global illumination affects realism.
How to simulate lens types.
Understand how to choose the correct file type for use with alpha channels to composite with.
The importance of linear colorspace when it comes to rendering interiors.
Texturing your models correctly with the most suitable technique.
Setting up your camera and lens properties properly (which would incorporate understanding how real world cameras and lenses work so that you can get nice bokeh shots for example.)
How to model just about anything.
How to plan your scenes properly and know which models you need to build and why.


The list goes on. But the pay off for your investment in a structured learning approach will be one that allows you the pleasure of productivity and confidence. And for me, that's a fantastic feeling to have.

This is a really in-depth answer and gives me an invaluable insight into the process, for which I'm hugely grateful. Thanks for being so generous in your reply to my question. I'm guessing the book you mention by Warner,Phillips & Albee is Essential Lightwave v.9, looking up on Amazon.
In fact, I will keep note of your list for future reference as your way of breaking it all down into separate tasks, along with the very definite sense of clarity and accomplishment that comes across in your explanation convinces me that your advice will be of considerable lasting value as far as my own current objectives are concerned.Not least because such carefully structured thinking hasn't exactly been the most noticeable part of my own approach so far, and the stark realisation of exactly why it has to be when dealing with this kind of complexity and skill is fast becoming clear.
I initially viewed modelling as the easiest and most straightforward route into the whole thing, and have developed at least a working acquaintance with a core of the tools, enabling me to figure an approach that works for just about anything I can currently think of, though speed isn't anywhere near as fluent as it needs to be but, given greater familiarity and more practice.....
Now that I'm getting into dealing with the render engine, the importance of having a really sound theoretical understanding of things before you even start with the practical process seems obvious, which is really what prompted me to post my question because in between the happy discoveries I make when following instructions, and the need for a reliable, comprehensive method overall, the large gap in knowledge which obviously only gets filled through study, practice - and no doubt a considerable amount of trial and error - requires a structured approach of some kind in order to reduce a seemingly confusing degree of complexity to something much less daunting !
I certainly don't intend for my abilities to be limited by the results of a few happy accidents, so really just coming here to ask and receive valuable advice from people who really know their stuff well can be such a boost for steering you in the right direction and helping clear the fog! Thanks.

MonroePoteet
04-16-2016, 05:39 PM
I'm reluctant to stick my oar in here since I'm just a hobbyist, but I'd recommend trying to look at real life objects and scenes and while you're looking at them, *think* about them in terms of LW surface characteristics, lighting, etc. So, pick up any object and think about LW "color", "diffuse", "specular", "glossiness", "reflectivity", "bumpiness" etc. Look at a scene in your home, or on the street, or anywhere, and think about how the lighting would be done in LW (point light? flood light? ambient? what combination of them?), what "fogginess" there is, etc. Understanding radiosity and how light bounces off of things onto others ad infinitum is key to photorealism.

I think learning the layering capabilities of Textures in the Surface editor as well as nodal setup is critical to creating real-life models. For me, it's often easier to use the layering than nodes, but I "grew up" with the layering. I'd recommend setting up a standard 3-point lighting scene (key, fill and rim lights) with a nice stand or table, and then bring your objects into that "studio" situation to fine-tune the textures.

And, taking real-life photos of textures and UV mapping them cannot be beat for realism!

Just my two amateur cents worth!

mTp

js33
04-16-2016, 05:57 PM
I mostly do industrial animations and modeling is usually intermediate to sometimes complex objects. So just start simple and practice modeling real world items. It helps if it's something small you can hold in real life and see the object from any angle and take measurements if needed. You can also observe the surfaces on the real world object and see how metal or other surfaces look in real life lighting. You can hold the object in the sun and just room lighting and see how the surfaces change due to the lighting. After a while of practicing you will get good at being able to surface and texture objects to match the real world objects. You can also model objects using blueprints as reference. Sometimes all you will have are photos for reference but you may not get enough angles to match your model easily.

Also learn how to use morph targets for animation. I use them all the time.

Then for animating start simple and learn how to make smooth camera motions. Most of the time I parent and or target the camera to a Null object and that helps create smoother camera animation.

3D takes a lot of time to get proficient at there aren't really any shortcuts just a lot of hard work.

Aww167
04-16-2016, 05:59 PM
'was/is your approach to learning LW'

Lots of mistakes!


As others have said small projects that you will actually finish.

I only do architectural work. Build the environment you live in & look at textures & lighting. You can keep referring back to the object & scene. It's one thing to build the objects but texturing & lighting are just as important if not more important.

I also do physical architectural models. Over the decades I seen some really nice models killed by landscaping, & pretty terrible models with great landscaping so the actual model has got away with murder.

Just getting the right camera angle can make the world of difference. Same with lighting. One can fiddle far too long on things that the customer simply will not see.

What I said at the start, lots of mistakes! Making mistakes teaches you other ways of doing things differently on other jobs. Building a house for example you will build in a particular order, but after you have build a dozen houses you will start to see efficiencies of doing things certain ways for the type of building you are doing. There is no right way, it simply experience over time, but it does get easier.


There are more than enough things in this forum to get you going & teach you many different ways of doing things.

Thanks JonW. I appreciate you taking the time to reply. The points you make about mistakes and also about getting to where you can begin to make time-saving efficiencies, as well as the advice about texturing and lighting all make very good meaningful sense to me. At the moment there are times when pretty much everything seems to be a mistake - well I'm talking about getting my head round certain initial and seemingly impenetrable aspects of the render engine specifically - it's extremely reassuring to hear that such experiences don't necessarily mean failure. I particularly agree on your point about the importance of texturing and lighting. In some ways it can often seem that which ever task you might be grappling with for the first time can appear to take on a greater importance that anything else for a while.
The perspective, at least in my case gets clearer with hindsight, so that's something at least!

Aww167
04-16-2016, 06:34 PM
I'm reluctant to stick my oar in here since I'm just a hobbyist, but I'd recommend trying to look at real life objects and scenes and while you're looking at them, *think* about them in terms of LW surface characteristics, lighting, etc. So, pick up any object and think about LW "color", "diffuse", "specular", "glossiness", "reflectivity", "bumpiness" etc. Look at a scene in your home, or on the street, or anywhere, and think about how the lighting would be done in LW (point light? flood light? ambient? what combination of them?), what "fogginess" there is, etc. Understanding radiosity and how light bounces off of things onto others ad infinitum is key to photorealism.

I think learning the layering capabilities of Textures in the Surface editor as well as nodal setup is critical to creating real-life models. For me, it's often easier to use the layering than nodes, but I "grew up" with the layering. I'd recommend setting up a standard 3-point lighting scene (key, fill and rim lights) with a nice stand or table, and then bring your objects into that "studio" situation to fine-tune the textures.

And, taking real-life photos of textures and UV mapping them cannot be beat for realism!

Just my two amateur cents worth!

mTp

Hi MonroePoteet, I've just seen your reply. If you hadn't said you're an amateur then I certainly wouldn't have guessed from your advice - your skills sound quite well developed. The thing about layering textures particularly intrigues me - it's not something I've spent much time on yet at all, in fact I've barely attempted anything worthwhile in that particular area as yet, but it strikes me that it potentially offers some very useful creative solutions toward achieving lifelike surfaces once you start to know your way around the process. I will certainly be investigating further once I figure out an approach that gets some useful results!
Your point about thinking how real-world objects translate into LW characteristics is a good one - actually it made me chuckle slightly as I've already found myself doing that very thing when travelling on the bus, looking out the window and I'm mentally going through the techniques I'd use for modelling something - the surfacing is much more of a challenge currently but increasingly I'm finding that it just needs a bit of conscious motivation to get the ball rolling, so to speak. Nodes - yes, well, hmm...I've pretended to know what I'm doing with them on more than one occasion previously, hoping that something fruitful will come of it and I can open up yet another fertile avenue of opportunity - so far only to find that the LW manual is my very good friend who I need to be spending much more time with, if you get my point...!

Aww167
04-16-2016, 07:26 PM
I mostly do industrial animations and modeling is usually intermediate to sometimes complex objects. So just start simple and practice modeling real world items. It helps if it's something small you can hold in real life and see the object from any angle and take measurements if needed. You can also observe the surfaces on the real world object and see how metal or other surfaces look in real life lighting. You can hold the object in the sun and just room lighting and see how the surfaces change due to the lighting. After a while of practicing you will get good at being able to surface and texture objects to match the real world objects. You can also model objects using blueprints as reference. Sometimes all you will have are photos for reference but you may not get enough angles to match your model easily.

Also learn how to use morph targets for animation. I use them all the time.

Then for animating start simple and learn how to make smooth camera motions. Most of the time I parent and or target the camera to a Null object and that helps create smoother camera animation.

3D takes a lot of time to get proficient at there aren't really any shortcuts just a lot of hard work.

Thanks Js33, I appreciate you taking the time and certainly value what you have to say. I mean specifically that for example where modelling is concerned the approach you outline is one that I follow and have found to work really well for me, in fact I pretty much swear by exact measurements to help get the realistic outcome I'm after. Morph targets sounds interesting ! I've started playing around with some extremely basic animation so far - and have occasionally attempted more complex stuff way beyond my immediate comprehension, which has worked because I'm able to follow instruction but not because I could have figured it out myself just yet - so your point about starting simple is a good one which is not lost on me at all.

Aww167
04-16-2016, 08:13 PM
Great question. I'd suggest learn to do simple things well, setting yourself achievable targets, step by step, following tutorials closely and keeping a notebook/journal close by so you don't forget how to do things. That combined with studying the 'real' 3D world as spherical is suggesting :)

I was lucky to pick up contract work for a model bank early on and this really pushed me as there were some challenging designs for a beginner and strict deadlines. So it's a good idea to keep moving forward and building momentum in some way. Solving problems is what really informs your progress combined with growing knowledge of the app. LW has a very powerful modeller - there's very little you can't do, though when you do hit obstacles finding workarounds is all part of the fun (or frustration).

There are incredibly cheap LW books with tutorials on Amazon marketplace, so it's worth studying these as well of course, as the new improved LW manual. It's worth exploring both poly and spline modelling techniques.Good luck, enjoy LW and ask any question on this forum as there are very generous people here always willing to help out.

Thanks bobakabob, I too have found some opportunities, at least on a small scale which is all I can really contend with right now anyway, and the motivation it provides me is great for my ongoing learning and skills development, whilst also getting me to focus on how to prioritise and structure my efforts effectively to get maximum advantage from the time I'm spending! Like you say, building momentum and the importance in keeping focus where it needs to be to keep you moving in the right direction.