View Full Version : Making LightWave pay for itself

Martin Adams
07-18-2004, 05:25 PM
Hey all,

As we all know, using such highly complex applications like LightWave aren't cheap. Especially when we add the cost of books, training videos, texture libraries, plugins, etc. It can be a rather expensive hobby for someone like myself. Having said that though, I do feel that the pricing structure is very reasonable compared to the likes of 3DSM.

So far my skills in programming and web development have managed to pay for me to splash out and treat myself in this highly creative package.

I'm going to be starting a new job here in the UK in September as a software developer for the largest 3 letter'd software company.

I've been a contractor in the software field for the past 4 years but would like to be able to earn a few bucks using LightWave and/or Digital Fusion in my spare time once I'm settled in my new job.

The direction I would really see it heading would be 3D art work for companies such as logos, product/prototype demos, etc. The type of things that would be aimed for smaller companies who want to make an impact without a large budget.

Does anyone have any experience they would like to share in doing a similar thing?

What do you feel would be a good way to sell my skills (of which I'm aiming to get first ;))?

I understand a demo reel would be very useful, especially if I'm advertising animation services.

I know what I'm asking is rather general, but I'd love to hear the thoughts of those who do it or are considering as well. I accept that there's a lot of ground work required before my LW skills are considered profitable, but I'd only love LW more if it could make me money :).



07-21-2004, 08:33 AM
I recommend Dan Ablans new book "Inside Lightwave 8". It takes you right from beginner level to more advanced. It will give you a general understanding of using and applying the tools.

There are other good books too and plenty threads on this forum and CGTalk discussing them.

Once you have a general feel and understanding of 3D and using LW, concentrate on developing to your strengths , but still work on the other areas too.

For instance, my main 3D strengths are in modelling and so I sell and use those skills for doing engineering visualisations etc. My character animation skills at the moment suck, so I am not going to approach companies advertising my char anim skills, but I can still work on them in my spare time (what spare time). :)

P.S. This 3D stuff takes a lot of dedication and time.

Martin Adams
07-21-2004, 08:53 AM
Thanks for the reply retinajoy :)

Fortunately I have Inside LightWave [8] sitting on my desk here and I've just ordered the LightWave 8 Signature Courseware from 3DGarage.com.

You're right in saying that I need to really develop on my strengths. My ultimate goal is to get into character animation and produce my own shorts. Since things like the Alien Song and The Killer Bean got me into 3D in the first place, its definitely where I want to take my skills in the long run.

Thinking about it, I have a few directions to possibly take this. From the experiences from those here, what would your views be on these ideas and how *profitable* they are:

a. Prototype modelling and visualisations. Things like the cell phone in Chapter 11 of Inside LightWave [8].

b. Interactive menus for flash and CD presentations.

c. Visual effect for low/no budget movies (probably not profitable to start with). Starting with things like logos and intro sequences and moving towards digital effects and compositions.

By the way, if you haven't guessed already, I'm always overly ambitious. I figure that if I only get to do 10% of what I want to do in life, that still probably 50% more than most.

Dave Allen
07-23-2004, 01:47 AM
Hope this helps.

A lot of it is meeting the right people. Once you have the connections be really really nice to them. They are your foot in the door. Be flexible.

Work builds on work that builds on work.

Sometimes it comes down to just dumbluck or as I like to call it "a blessing". I went to a Peebler hosted Understanding Lightwave training class in 2001 where I hooked up with a product designer for a consumer electronics manufacturer. We had both coincedently met and discovered that we needed each others services. I needed money and he needed to learn lightwave. It eventually turned into steady work. (Dick Van Dyke was at the training class incidently, it was surreal.)

I did contract work for a couple years and now have fulltime position at Lockheed Martin (hard to beat benefits). I still do contract work on the side and find it very rewarding.

Mostly I specialize in product renderings for product that won't be ready for photoshoots. I have mainly centered my side business with the same electronics company called Rockford Fosgate.

I am no web designer but heres my url


-Dave A.

Martin Adams
07-23-2004, 04:11 AM
Hi Dave,

Thanks very much for your generous comments. I completely agree that itís who you know in almost any industry. This is exactly what I've found while I was a contractor in web development and software development. Most, if not all of my work came from word of mouth and recommendations from other projects. Sometimes itís nice because you know you've done a good job that people will be happy to recommend :)

I would definitely like to start off small in commercial 3D work, maybe even for free on small projects to get the experience and contacts. Bearing in mind this will be in my spare time (ha :D, I made my self laugh there ... 'spare time').

I'm treating my new full time job as a stepping stone before go it alone in say 5 - 10 years. I want to use my time now wisely to prepare for the future. My ultimate dream is to run any of the following ... a film production company, an effects production company and a games development company.

How's that for ambition? Itíll be scary to think at advanced it will be by then.

I checked out your website Dave. That's a really great demo reel you've got there! If you were considering any new developments to your site but need any advice or help, feel free to email me. I'd be more than happy to help.

07-28-2004, 10:36 AM
Hi Martin.

Sounds like I'm in a pretty much similar situation as you, trying to get that foothold in the ladder...!

I'm not sure if you've considered it, but I found a my University course a great place to start building my Lightwave skills. While the course wasn't strictly 3D, it allowed me to experiment and gave me the time to play around with ideas. I got DanAlban's Inside Lightwave 6.5 (or something) and it was my Bible! If you have 'Inside 8' already, that's a good start!

Imagination is the biggest thing really. Even if your skills are quite early and basic, the imagination in your work will shine through.

Good luck!


Martin Adams
07-29-2004, 03:44 PM
Thanks Tone.

As much as I'd love to have the opportunity to study 3D at university, my uni days have passed and I'm in too much debt that my student loan as it is. I completed my degree in Internet technologies last year and actually started contracting in IT when I started uni back in 2000.

I've got the Dan Ablan books from 6-8 and I've ordered the 8 signature courseware (hoping it'll come any day soon).

Sadly though, at this very moment in time I'm far too overstretched with other work. I've got about 3 large web applications to implement (one of which has to be somewhat complete for the bank to review for the merchant account), plus lots of other work. To top it off I'm on holiday the end of August and I start my new full time job at the beginning of September.

I'm looking at investing more time into LW after Christmas and I hope that the Dan Ablan materials will really help me get the most out of it.

Maybe in the not-so-distant future I could have a go at writing some plug-ins. It could also be a source of revenue in some shape or form.

What Iíve been doing recently is buying some books on learning to draw to help with my creative side. I figure that if I can visualise characters and objects on paper, translating this to 3D can only get easier. I guess I just need to invest the time to build my skills and confidence before I can make some real money from it.

07-30-2004, 01:29 AM
Is your Avatar a character from the creators of Strongbad? Very funny stuff.

Are you a fan or do you partake with that web animation?

Dumb Luck is right! I got my first modeling gig out of the blue. Someone just happened to run into my website and liked my stuff. Some times they just come to you. Another friend of mine got his first break just sitting one late afternoon in an arts and crafts store. He was a cashier and he was drawing his characters. A major 3D art director just happened to walk in the store and you can imagine what happened. Ultimately You just need your work and contact info as accessible as possible. Of course you need to think of your work as an advertised product for sale, available to anyone and not to think of it as an holy artifact that you keep locked up with your dusty comic collection under your bed.

Good luck to you:)

Martin Adams
07-31-2004, 01:13 PM
Thanks jasonwestmas,

Well, spotted, it is one of the downloadable avatars from the Homestar web site. I'm just a simple fan who adores the Homestar site. For those that don't know what we are talking about, go to http://www.homestarrunner.com and check out the Strong Bad emails in particular.

I couldn't resist and had to get the set of figurines along with The Cheat messenger bag.

It sounds like your friend has a moment just like out of a movie. That's way cool.