26. So now we have all of the objects modeled and textured but we still don't have anything that resembles a lily. No problem, that's about to change. First, parent all of the objects to the main stem ('stembig.lwo'.) Create a Null object and name it 'Lily Parent Null'. Now parent the main stem to the null. What we have just done is given ourselves the ability to adjust the position of the entire lily through one object.
27. We are now able to arrange the objects that comprise the lily into what we feel best matches our reference image or our imagination. Also, by having modeled the 'stemsmall.lwo' object, we can clone this around the plant in various places so that we can attach some more flowers. Have fun! This is where all the work that we have done pays off!
28. Once you have assembled the lily to your liking, save the scene as something like 'lilyloader.lws'. Guess what, that's it! Now, anytime you wish to use the lilies in a scene, simply go to the Objects panel and choose 'Load From Scene', choose 'lilyloader.lws' and all the objects will be loaded into your current scene. Their hierarchies will be intact and their texture maps perfectly aligned, just the way you left them. You may even want to set up a few scenes, each with slightly different versions of the plant to avoid obvious repetition. This is a very useful technique for getting around the lack of UV Mapping support in LightWave as it allows you to align the textures properly while still being able to replicate a group of objects as many times as is necessary. This technique can be applied to any type of object that requires similar control over the texturing and positioning.
Figure 22: Final image. Click to Enlarge
Figure 23: Another example of digital botany. Click to Enlarge
The final product that I ended up with after this tutorial is what you see in Figure 22. Of course, yours will probably look substantially different due to the variation in texture maps.
The technique described in this tutorial can be used as a basis for the creation of an entire scene, as shown by the work-in-progress in Figure 23. Once you get the hang of it, you'll find that it works wonders for digital botany no matter how great the task.
Although greenery does add a lot to an image, be careful not to rely on it to make your image look good. Always keep in mind that proper lighting, modeling, texturing, and composition all come together to form the final image. Hopefully this tutorial showed you that beautiful and intricate flowers and plants can be created with relative ease. The realism that they add to your images is certainly well worth the effort it takes to create them.
Chris MacDonald is a freelance artist and a junior in high school living in Fredericksburg, VA. He is currently working in conjunction with Team Komodo and Komodo Comics on the new 3D comic book, Platinum. Chris is an avid Lightwave user specializing in environmental photorealism such as botany, terrain, and man-made structures. He can be reached at email@example.com.