Fig.01 – Illustration by Tim Durning
Remy Etienne LeBeau is a dork.
You know who I'm talking about. No, not the kid that used to bully me in third grade. That was Crystal Morales and she was much shorter and could probably still send chills down my back. I'm talking about Gambit from Marvel's X-Men comics.
He first appeared in Uncanny X-Men #266 in 1990. Yeah, that's right! The guy that runs around throwing playing cards that explode. Well, to be more accurate, Remy has the mutant ability to tap into the potential energy contained within an object and transform it into kinetic energy by simply touching it. This charges the object and when thrown at a target, the object releases the energy explosively on impact.
Pretty cool power right? So what does this hack do with this magical ability? He runs around using playing cards as his preferred weapon. Not something cool like ninja stars or throwing spikes. Just plain ol' playing cards.
OK, OK, I know what you want to ask. You want to know why I know all of this about a comic book character I think is a dork. Well, to be honest, I'm jealous. That's right, I'm jealous. I'd love to have some kind of magic ability where I can take an everyday object and turn it into something more powerful. Like an old mage or druid that casts spells on rocks and turns them into fireflies that light their way, or transforms a useless stick into a magical sword.
OK, so I'm no mage and I may not have Gambit's mutant abilities, but I do have a little magic up my sleeve when it comes to 3D. I have the power to charge polygons with mutant-like properties inside of LightWave Modeler using Powergons. When loaded into LightWave Layout, polygons that have been "charged” with Powergons can release all kinds of functionality and increase productivity.
Although Powergons can be used to speed up just about every production, they are one of the most overlooked and underutilized features in LightWave. In this article, I'd like to introduce you to Powergons in LightWave 3D and show you just how useful this easy-to-use feature is. Let's get cracking shall we?
What are Powergons?
Simply put, Powergons allow you to execute a short Layout command script, which is attached to selected polygons in Modeler. Whoa... command? Script? This sounds like programming! No wonder the majority of LightWave artists stay clear of Powergons. What self-respecting artist wants to fool around with programming?
Don't be fooled like I was when I heard about this feature when it was first introduced. There's no need to panic! I promise this feature is very artist-friendly and we'll be up and running with it in mere minutes. Hell, let's start using them now so we can see just how easy Powergons truly are.
Powergons in Action
Create a Ball (Create > Primitives > Ball) with default settings (Fig.02
). Select one of the polygons on the ball object and change the surface (keyboard shortcut Q) using the following attributes:
• Name: Powergon
• Color: 255, 0, 0 (Red)
Fig.02 – Create a Ball and assign one of the polygons a new surface
By assigning a new surface to the selected polygon, we can easily keep track of which polygon we will be working with. It's important to note that you are not required to create a new surface when working with Powergons, but it can be a useful option.
With the polygon still selected, click the Add Powergon button found under the Setup tab in the Layout Tools sub-menu to open the Add Powergon Command panel (Setup > Layout Tools > Add Powergon)(Fig.03
Fig.03 – Add Powergon Command panel
The Add Powergon Command dialog panel has an input field where you can enter a Layout command script. As you can see, there is already a command script in the field by default which reads:
AddSpotlight LGON\rPosition \c\rRotation \n\rParentItem \i\rCreateKey 0
What's all that mean? We'll come back to that, but for now, let's keep this default command and click OK, which will attach the command script above to the selected polygon. It will appear as if nothing has happened but this action adds a PWRG type polygon tag to any selected polygon.
You can attach a Powergon to as many polygons as you'd like.