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7 must-have addons for Lightwave 3D

If you’re a regular user of Lightwave 3D, then check out our essential list of plugins, from simplifying joint positioning, to lattice deformation…

Introduction

Plugins are a fantastic way to extend the functionality of a piece of software. It opens the door for users to take a piece of software, in this instance Lightwave 3D, and make it do more than the creators of it have managed to so far. Some of these plugins end up making it into the software itself and other plugins sit well alongside the main software package. Lightwave helpfully provide a database of these plugins on their website and we’ll pick out 7 of our favorites that will make your life easier. Let’s head on in.

AH_ikfkMaster

The name of this plugin is a bit of a mouthful but don’t let that put you off! The ‘AH’ stands for Alex Hartley who created the plugin. The IKFK describes the type of plugin it is with the ‘IK’ standing for ‘Inverse Kinematics’ and the ‘FK’ for ‘Forward Kinematics. This all refers to the articulation of joints and the automatic calculations of those joints to achieve a desired pose. This plugin gives you all the tools you need to manage these kinematics. It can handle several characters but will slow down your scrubbing (not playback) when using the timeline. It is possible though, at any time, to turn it off.

Image credit (as supplied by PR): Alex Hartley

Website

Price = Free

LW_UI+

This handy little plugin lets Lightwave 3D users save the positions of their Lightwave windows and recall those positions at any time. The window positions are stored in a simple txt file and the positions are recalled using a simple keyboard shortcut. Along with this positioning functionality LW_UI+ gives you a number of other user interface customizations. If you like a more minimalist feel to your interface then you can go for transparent panels and a borderless interface. You can also set panels to be nestable and to automatically readjust. All these tools help you focus on what is important at that particular moment in time.

Image credit (as supplied by PR): Yannick Tholomier

Website

Price = €39.95

LW Brush

This plugin extends the built-in modelling tools in Lightwave 3D by providing an extra set of 14 modeling tools. They all work when mesh editing and as detailed in the documentation include “translating, rotating, grabbing, sliding, smoothing, pushing in, pulling out, drawing, cutting, extending, and so on.” The idea behind the plugin is to provide artists with tools that make the modeling process much more natural and organic. This will be a welcome tool for any artists from a traditional and less technical background as it’ll suit the workflows you’re already used to. Examples that are listed on their website include: “An ornament is placed at the location you expect. A rubber band is stretched when you drag it. You can cut off unnecessary parts of wooden models.”

Image credit (as supplied by PR): 3rd Powers

Website

Price = $169

Lattice Deformer 2

I love this plugin! There are times when you’ve created a really nice model. It’s super detailed and has a lot of intricacies. You then realize that you’d like to make some high level, global changes to the model. If it’s a person then maybe the forehead is just a bit too big or the shoulders are not broad enough. Rather than having to undo all your hard work you can simply apply this Lattice Deformer to your object and then distort and adjust your model based on a much smaller set of points. This is done by grabbing, stretching, rotating and distorting the lattice. All of these deformations can also be animated enabling you to really bring your objects to life in a simple way.

Image credit (as supplied by PR): 3rd Powers

Website

Price = $99

Meta Mesh

Up next is another plugin to help you with your modeling. With this one you can weld and hollow out your objects – all interactively within the viewport. This really is a brilliant plugin. Not only does it give you a range of extra modeling tools but it also produces some brilliant results, all the while keeping the mesh detail under control and flowing well. You can join meshes together with the resulting mesh being super clean. You can also easily adjust the amount of smoothing that is given to a welded part. They have also added transformations for stretch and size. Having tried this plugin, you’ll never want to go back.

Image credit (as supplied by PR): 3rd Powers

Website

Price = $88

Deep Rising FX

This plugin, at its core, is a particle system and therefore gives users the ability to make realistic fluid simulations. When you hear the words ‘particle system’ you might think that sounds terribly complex but with Deep Rising FX you’ll be surprised at how simply amazing fluid effects can be made. This ease of use is actually one of their selling points and they’ve definitely achieved that. One of the great features about this plugin that you would expect when creating fluid simulations is that you can easily add bubbles, foam and spray and along with that add in realistic motion blur. If you want to take full advantage of this plugin you’ll want a good GPU as that is where the simulators calculations are carried out.

Image credit (as supplied by PR): Deep Rising FX

Website

Price = $299.99

InfiniMap

This final plugin is quite pricy. That being said, if you’re in the market for a solution to using very large textures in Lightwave 3D then this is worth a look. To achieve this, they have a very simple solution, one that I remember learning about back during my undergrad at university. In essence, the plugin ensures that only the parts of the textures that are seen in the final render are loaded into memory. I remember a number of projects where I had to work on super large-scale ground images and they’d regularly clog up my processing power and take an age to load when rendering. This plugin solves that problem. There is an added benefit if you’re using a render farm which is that there is less data that therefore needs sending over to the farm.

Image credit (as supplied by PR): Munarraqi Studios

Website

Price = €639

Closing comments

We hope you enjoyed this set of plugins for Lightwave 3D! Don’t forget to add any plugins that you love in the comments below. It’s always worth trying new plugins and keeping an eye on what’s out there that can make your life easier. And if it’s not out there why not do the whole 3D community a favor and create a plugin of your own!

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