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Procedural Texturing With Weightmaps

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Date Added: 9th December 2009
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Lightwave's procedural surfacing features have dramatically improved since version 5, and they now provide a powerful alternative to using image maps. Although sometimes slower, they generally use less memory and provide a level of detail that can undergo close scrutiny.

This tutorial attempts to show some of the techniques available to users for creating realistic surfaces. It shows the creation of a large metal anvil; chosen because it is a simple model to create and a good candidate for procedural texturing. Instead of taking you through every surface setting, I will provide an overview of each stage and present images for reference. The final model and scene are available for download at the end of this tutorial.


The first step is to create your model using subdivision surfaces (alternatively download the model on the next page). By using subdivision surfaces (i.e. hitting the "Tab" key), it gives greater adjustability when we use displacement maps later on. For reference I'd suggest using Google Image search; there's plenty of images out there that should be useful. Try to get as many as possible as it'll help when it comes to getting ideas on creating your procedural textures.

Anvil Model

This model would be fine if we simply wanted to use image maps, but we need to make some adjustments to make it work better with the weight maps we'll be creating.

By subdividing certain areas (using a combination of Bandsaw and Smooth Shift), it will give us greater detail and control in making the weight map.

Subdividing the mesh


Weightmaps are used in this tutorial to act like a paintbrush for your procedural textures. We can create a weightmap to dictate where a procedural texture should or should not appear.

Firstly we'll make a weightmap called "Smooth". This will be used to mark exposed areas on the object surface where it has been worn away and the surface is less rough. To create a weightmap, click on the "Map" tab at the top and go to "New Weight Map" on the left menu bar. Enter the name "Smooth" and set the initial value to 0%.

SUsing point selection mode, select all the points that are on the edges of the surface that protrude significantly (see image below). On the same menu bar, click "Set Map Value", select the "Smooth" weightmap in the drop down box, and enter 100% for "Value1".

Point Selection

Now press "z" to use the weightmap airbrush, press "n" to bring up the settings, and make sure you have the Weight Value set to 100%. Adjust the radius and strength to your liking, and use the airbrush to paint on other areas that you feel should be worn down and smoothed. Note that you will need to select the "Smooth" weightmap in the drop down list at the bottom right of the screen (making sure that the "W" is selected and not T or M), and set the viewport to "Weight Shade" to be able to see the effect you are having.

The Smooth weightmap

continued on next page >

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