View Full Version : Dimensions in 9.5

09-06-2008, 08:34 AM
Hi everybody,

I'm not a LightWave owner, but may be, depending on some issues.

One that's very important to me is visible dimensions while working. (My lingo here may not be what LightWave uses, so excuse my description.)

In the attached image, (actually from 2 different screenshots) you can see what I need. This is from "Carrara".

The Properties box on the left shows a group of model parts, and the one on the right shows the same group opened. Note that in either view, I can see the physical dimensions of whatever is selected.

Does LightWave have this very simple feature?

09-06-2008, 10:03 AM
Not to my knowledge. Lightwave isn't really oriented toward that kind of object-centered workflow.

Object dimensions are certainly easily "known" by the app, though, so there may be some kind of plug-in that makes that information more user-accessible. I personally have never had need for such a thing.

09-06-2008, 10:19 AM
I do a lot of aircraft models, and what has made them better, in my opinion, is that they're accurate, to either the original aircraft, or to my own specs, if I designed it.

So, for a job like that, where you have reference data in hand, how do you accurately match your 3D parts to those specs?

09-06-2008, 10:47 AM
I am not sure of your workflow but lwcad is something that you would get to do this as easily/accurately as you'd like.
LW alone won't do it; with lwcad you do have lots of the minute control you are used to. Though you can't see things like that 'at a glance' it's awfully close. For example, someone showed where you could change a setting to see the hierarchial relationship of layers at all times. I never knew it was there, don't know when it came about but it's a boon for what speak of.

As to the question of accuracy... When you have control over each and every vertice in your mesh, accuracy is all it's about. ;)
Share a project you have done: I firmly believe that we crazies will build your object for you to get a gist of what users might do.

09-06-2008, 10:59 AM
I think this might be just a matter of semantics. I'm always searching, while I post these questions, and I believe that there are workarounds for the dimension display... since that's all it is... a "display". Obviously, the software knows where everything is, and what size it is, at least in relative terms.

My most recent project, using an antique copy of "Carrara 4", is a precision scale attempt on Lockheed-Martin's F-22. The project article is at http://www.mikejamesmedia.com/f_22_01_intro.html

My objective for upgrading to software in the LightWave price range is to improve all of my modeling, from the process to the product. I believe that LightWave can handle that. (Honestly, I've tried the trial downloads, and hate the interface, so far, though.)

Thanks again, and take care.

09-06-2008, 11:23 AM
So, for a job like that, where you have reference data in hand, how do you accurately match your 3D parts to those specs?

My basic method is to always build to scale, and always use detailed backdrops (also properly scaled.) I try to have the reference material so completely worked out that actually building the model becomes a completely brainless process. On occasion, that has meant, for example, carefully drafting cross-sections by hand on paper and scanning them in, then tracing them using Lightwave Modeler's pen tool.

09-06-2008, 11:31 AM
Actually, MikeJamesMedia, having looked at your website, I'd say you're a pretty accomplished modeler. Why exactly are you looking to use different software? If you explain, people here might be able to offer more helpful advice.

09-06-2008, 11:36 AM
LightWave Modeler has a numeric input when creating objects, there you can enter exact dimenions.

Once created, if you want to measure between points, I have a script that gives you dimensions in XYZ, and X, Y, Z axis only.

Bottom line is, you can create accurate models quite easy.

09-06-2008, 11:42 AM
Hi Mike,

As Matt has said, you have numerical control over the creation tools in LightWave as you build an object and can alter shapes by either using the viewports or the numeric input, but once an object is built it is just points and polygons. There is a basic measurement tool built in to LW but for serious CAD functionality, which it seems you may be after, then as Uncommon has suggested, LWCAD is perfect - you can measure angles and lengths, but the modelling tools themselves are wonderful - a bit like having a proper CAD package's functionality along with the inherent freedom a polygonal modeller gives you.

09-06-2008, 02:33 PM
Yep, I hear what you're all saying, which is that I would still have the same or better numeric control of dimensions, just not in the particular way I'm used to looking at it. (I can live with that.)

On my modeling:
First of all, thank you very much! The reason I want to switch is that I'm not only wanting to improve the quality of the models at the extreme detail level, but I'm wanting better post-modeling effects... "smoke and fire", if you will, to go with my otherwise rather dry animations.

For my budget, I'm only considering two pieces of software, and that is LightWave 9.5 or modo 3.2. Each has it's attributes...

09-06-2008, 02:57 PM
If you're want to do precise hard-surface modeling you should look at Rhinoceros (http://www.rhino3d.com/) or Form Z (www.formz.com). Those are industrial-design modelers with limited rendering capability (i.e, you'll have to do export the model to another app to add in your smoke and fire.)

It's not that it's impossible to create detailed and precise hard-surface models in Lightwave, it's just that it's tedious and unwieldy to do so when compared to more design-oriented apps. Lightwave's great for rendering and for organic modeling, but I'd go nuts if I had to do any hard-surface work in it.

09-08-2008, 02:16 PM
Not having live object measurements was a little surprising to me when I first started using LW. I think one of the issues that modeler is dealing with is the fact that there is no 'object' selection mode as there is in many applications. So inside of Modeler, LW doesn't really know what an object is. You can select an object by using some tools, such as the "select connected" but that is just a workaround. Needless to say you can do accurate building and measurments in LW but you might have to adjust your workflow a bit. Free plugins - like the one that Matt wrote - can really help out a lot too.

I still wish that Modeler knew the size of a cube and would know that is was still a cube and its size even after you rotated it, etc.

09-08-2008, 02:23 PM
This is a valid discussion regardless of my personal needs, but I've decided to go with modo, and am removing my subscription to this thread.

Thank you for your answers and help, everybody!

Take care.

09-08-2008, 04:29 PM
heh :) subscription part was D best :)

09-08-2008, 06:34 PM
Dimension+ by Gianni Soldati. Use it all the time.


09-08-2008, 06:52 PM
heh :) subscription part was D best :)

Yeah, thought that was funny. Modo doesn't have volumetrics yet does it?

09-09-2008, 06:18 AM
I use the Absolute Size box. Tells you the exact dimensions and you can resize your selected object(s), polygon(s), etc. Making things the exact size they need to be couldn't be easier in LW. Not sure what the problem is.

09-10-2008, 10:18 PM
That does work and Matt's script help a lot but until you've had the feature you don't really know what you're missing. Having those tools is not the same as having a 'live' size box showing dimensions and position and rotation, etc.