View Full Version : Beginner furniture tutorials?

01-15-2007, 11:04 AM
I'm new to Lightwave (version 9) and I am looking for some beginner level tutorials for furniture (chairs, sofas, desk etc.) to help get me started with some of the tools used. I've found a few but they are either too advanced (e.g. stone benches), not very clear or not in English.

I would eventually like to make my own furniture models but I've been having problems because I guess I don't understand the workflow (which is why I'm looking for a few good tutorials).

I would also be interested in a book or publication for Lightwave that might have a few furniture examples in it. I have the "Inside Lightwave 8" book but it seems to have some errors in it and since I don't know how to fix them I get stuck (I was using Lightwave 8 for the book).

Any advice is appreciate - Thanks

01-15-2007, 11:35 AM
My advice would be this:

There are several ways to make furnature depending on what it is that you want. You can use various techniques.

Modeler is set up in a simple way to sort of teach you the work flow if you look at the top, there are the tabs from left to right. Create, Modify, Multiply, Construct etc.

Now of course you will jump around all the time. But this is a basic starting point for the sake of understanding. I have a separate tab that I set up with the tools I use most when creating a model so I don't have to jump around.

What I recomend is that you take the Version 9 manual and go through the modeler section. (this part of the manual is actually not all that bad) It takes you though the tools from left to right. Just go though each tool and play with it as you go. But for now just go though the Create, Modify, Multiply, Construct and Detail tabs for now. You can save the rest for later. This may take several days!

The reason I recomend this approach is because it gives you a very basic and broad understanding of the tools. Then you can look at an object in the real world, break it down into it's parts and make a plan of how you would model it. You can give yourself little challenges. Find an object around the house and figure out how to model it.

Totorials are good and you should find some - hope you will. They give you tips you can not find any place else at times. But you also need to do this I think to be a competent modeler. It is time well spent now as it will save you hours later when you have the knowledge on how to do something faster or have actually 3 approaches to the same problem. You can pick the best and fastest one.

As for tutorials on this site I would recomend the simple ones that seem unlrelated to furnature directly like creating a spoon or fork. These will get your mind working and you can apply these principals to say making the back of a chair.

Good luck.

01-16-2007, 03:20 AM
Speaking as someone who dove straight into LW from Povray and attempted to build a room. :p
I'd say, key to building furniture is be aware of what you are looking at, yeah, that sounds really unhelpful, but bear with me.

When I started work on a little coffee table, I just sat there for a bit and tried to visualise how the table was made. The image of the table follows, granted the texturing sucks but it'll do for an example. :)

So anyhoo, I started to think, well, the top is just a box with rounded edges, the legs are sort of cylinders with just a few segments to them some bits wider than others. The base is a set of boxes as are the cross-members.
The top, bottom and middle of the legs are donuts (torus).

So taking that as a start point, I began modelling and just tried to match it to what I was seeing, the result is actually very close. Plus, I was initially just working with the basic "create" tools so I began to get comfortable in LW before tackling the more complex parts of the room.

Also, make sure you model, wherever possible, in real-world scale, this table for example, is exactly the same dimensions as the real one.
This makes it easy to fit into a scene without the constant need for jiggling the scale of the item.

Taking the same train of thought, a park bench would mainly be made up of boxes, long thin ones for the seat slats, squatter ones for the sides and so forth. I've done a quick mockup to show what I mean.

To really add a level of believability, make sure you add microbevels to a box so it doesn't have the very obvious sharp edges of the mockup.

01-16-2007, 08:39 AM
Excellent advice above. The tutorial that helped me the most when I was just getting started in modeling was one that covered the creation of a park bench using sub division surfaces:

Once I had a handle on that, everything started falling into place. You can find more tutorials here:

Good luck, have fun!

01-16-2007, 04:09 PM
Well let me chime in and say that you have made a good decision to go with LW. I use it every day to design furniture for a major furniture manufacture. It has some really great tools to create, but the basics are really all you need to learn for furniture design. Here is an example of furniture design work that was done in LW.

Good luck!

01-16-2007, 05:08 PM
Hope the attachment helps.

02-20-2007, 07:46 AM
Thanks for all the info! I'm working my way through the Interface/Modeler manual and I understand how to look at real world objects and break them down into components.

I've been practicing with simple items found around the house (with varying degrees of success!), but where I tend to get lost is adding details - for example, I have an old loveseat that is easy enough to model but it has rather elaborate carving on the back. I don't have a clue how to begin modeling this carving or the most efficient way of doing it. I know there are always several different approaches, but I was hoping to find a couple of tutorials that might help get me started.

The Newtek site "Benches" tutorial seems to have a good discussion of adding details, but because it is a rather "advanced" tutorial it assumes a lot of steps that as a beginner I'm not having much luck "filling in".

Thanks again!

02-20-2007, 11:30 AM
Good to see you progressing along.

Modeling Detail can be added in 4 basic ways and/or integration of all four:

1) point by point creation of shapes.

tool examples:

Point creation tool
Pen Tool
All of the curve creation tools

You should by now of course know how to create a polygon and freeze a closed curve into a polygon. These shapes can then be used as base shapes for creating 3D relief detail or as 2D shapes to stencil paterns into other objects, which you then create relief detail from.

3) Edge by edge creation of detail on existing shape

Tool Examples:

Add edges tool
Cut tools
bandsaw pro
Any other tools or plugins that allow you to create new edges

4) Boolean operations.

Tool examples:

All of the boolean tools with 3D and 2D shapes

Use the shapes you create in 2D or 3D relief to cut into a shape.

3) 3D relief.

Tool examples

Extender Plus

Any other tools that alow you to take geometry and extend or simply raise it from the surface. Selection is key here.

And finally you can add detail with displacement or bump maps in layout. This would be another discussion entirely and maybe someone might want to talk about that.

Two modeling methods:

There are two methods of modeling. Regular polygon creation, and subpatch.

Each has its own rules for proper creation of geometry. With regular polygon mode you have more flexibility with what kind of geometry you can create with the added burden of controlling smoothing and avoiding non-planar polygons.

With Subpatch mode you have a restriction on how you create the geometry - even in Catmull-Clark you have to folow certain subpatching logic. Once you learn it it is like sculpting.

As a general rule you would avoid curve freezing and boolean operations for subpatch and in subpatch you want your geometry simple and clean as possible. In regular poly mode detail is added by making sure you have plenty of polygons so that your curves are smooth and not stepped. In Subpatch, curves are created with a few points/edges.

If you wanted to create detail on the back of a bench, you could do it in two ways depending on if you wanted to use subpatch or regular mode.

In regular mode you would most liekly create shapes in another layer stencil them and then use bevel-type operations to create relief.

In subpatch you would create the detail right on the object with any of the geometry adding tools or start off from scratch point by point or adding edges.

To study some of the subpatch "rules" for creating detail here is a file that is self-explanitory if you open up the layers pannel and read the layer names.

You can then apply these basics to whatever shapes you want to add relief to in subpatch mode.

02-21-2007, 07:32 AM
Thank you for the information and the file - it certainly makes a difference to see real objects in "action" compared with images in the manual :)

I'm familiar with bump and displacement maps but they have limitations and with such a powerful program as Lightwave I'm motivated to learn some modeling skills. I enjoy trying to recreate furniture ("domestic spaces") and if I could get half as good as some of the fantastic furniture models I've seen on these forums I'd be happy :)

I don't quite understand subpatching yet or exactly how to use it (I couldn't recreate some of the primitives in the file, but I did make an interesting mess of some of my test primitives!). I'll have to do some more reading and perhaps take a closer look at the benches tutorial.

02-21-2007, 07:44 AM
One of the things I did years ago was to buy a few woodworking/furniture craft making magazines one sees at supermarkets or bookstores. The way the drawings are laid-out really helped me early-on to see the simpler shapes - and build the furniture accurately.

02-21-2007, 11:29 AM
One of the things I did years ago was to buy a few woodworking/furniture craft making magazines one sees at supermarkets or bookstores. The way the drawings are laid-out really helped me early-on to see the simpler shapes - and build the furniture accurately.

Great Idea!

02-21-2007, 11:51 AM
I don't quite understand subpatching yet or exactly how to use it (I couldn't recreate some of the primitives in the file, but I did make an interesting mess of some of my test primitives!). I'll have to do some more reading and perhaps take a closer look at the benches tutorial.

If you look at those objects and study the polyflow, then ask yourself, what tools am I going to need to pull that off?

The knife tool?

Bandsaw pro?



many tools will give you great starting points that you can then go in an edit to achive the polyflow.

A great tool for this is the Add Edges tool.

Keep subpatch turned off and concentrtate on the polyflow.

If you were to do this and actually do all of the 2D primitives and study how I used the basic polyflow to then edit, that is make it into a 3D shape, you will have a great understandiung of it.

These are the basic polyflow options for most of the even complex shapes such as a head.

So there is a term called "edge Loops" this is something you see through these 2d primitives where I have a circle inside of a square for instance. Notice how the edge loop is surounded by a 5 poly point.

here are some images I created a while ago to help illustrate this.

This would be a simple example of using multishift to create an edge loop in a mesh. By editible edge, I mean that edge that defines the shape. This depending on what you are doing, should be buffered from those 5 poly points by another edge loop so you have a smooth transition.

02-21-2007, 11:58 AM
Some more edge loop examples: With edge loops you can create and control any shape within a volume. So it is just a matter of understanding polyflow to define the shape with edgeloops mainly and then edit it.

02-22-2007, 01:36 AM
OK, here's a project I am working on. I hope these pictures tell a story. I am just trying to show the progression of creating the polyflow by hand for this knife. I had already gotten as far as the first picture from the sketch, all bascially by hand using the pen tool and the add edges tool. It is later extruded and tweeked and many other methods to get to the final product but it all starts from a simple polyflow in 2D.

Hope this helps.

Pics Part A folow.

02-22-2007, 01:38 AM
Pics Part B

02-22-2007, 01:47 AM
Some Renders. Still needs work and I may actually go with an image map on displacement for the handle. Hope this gives you some kind of an idea of the control that is possible with polyflow in subpatch.

02-22-2007, 07:53 AM
Excellent examples - I don't suppose you've published a book on this? I'd buy it! I can see where I am missing a lot of background info relating to modeling in general, so I'll have to backtrack a bit and catch up on some of the theories/terminology...unfortunately, there are no classes in this locally so I'm on my own.

I have the Dan Ablan book for version 8 but I got "stuck" going through the subpatches giraffe model and was unable to troubleshoot the problem (probably because I have trouble with subpatches and lack some basic understanding).

I'm beginning to think I should have taken up knitting instead of modeling :) but I'm determined to learn this (eventually).

I appreciate you taking the time to post these examples are they are very helpful!

02-22-2007, 10:32 AM
Well there is very little in the way of subpatch theory out there. Most of it is spread out in many places. Here is a great rescource I recomend going through the entire thing - I did. (Sorry I forgot about this from the first post)

This will fufill the need of thast feeling you have missed somerhing. This should fill in a lot of blanks.


There are a lot of short and to the point tutorials with examples.

And here is a great rescource for subpatch theory:


I learned what I know by just trying all these different methods.

But you are right. You need to get the basics down. You will. Try those suture.net ones. they are great. And BTW sorry to overwhelm if I did, I was merely trying to bring home the idea of polyflow to control form.

02-22-2007, 11:09 AM
If you have skype, I'm on from usually 5am till 2am the next day (if I could only get less than 3 or 4 hours sleep....)
sign in here (see name below) and we can get you going.

02-22-2007, 11:24 AM

Price - $16 (Approx. UK 8.55 / EUROPE 12.63)

It is rewritten for LightWave though the origin of this tutorial is
the one of other 3D software.

I think that how to make the pattern of the armor serves as a reference.

02-23-2007, 08:12 AM
Unfortunately I don't have skype yet, but those are great links and should keep me busy for a while- thanks!

I have been sketching out simple models into primitive shapes (drawing class flashback) and trying to plan out a more logical approach to construction. I expect that once I get more familiar with the tools I'll have better success at putting it all together.

I'm mainly interested in creating simple architectural "walkthroughs" using a little 3D game engine I've been playing with (strictly an "artwork" type of project rather than a commercial application). The LWCad tools (1.5) are a lot of fun and easy to use for making rooms, houses, etc. but of course they all need some interesting furniture, curtains, etc. :) Right now I have a lot of empty rooms to fill!