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Endomorph Technology

The endomorph technology in LightWave is not only smart, it's also helpful and user-friendly. Endomorphs enable you to create a 3D object in Modeler and build an unlimited number of morph targets into the object. A morph target is a change in the position of the points or polygons of an object. You can use morphs to change a straight road into a curved road, or a car into a boat, and so on. Although you'll be using morph targets for animating faces, you'll see that they are useful for many other types of animations.

In versions of LightWave earlier than 6, to create a morph you needed separate objects. The endomorph technology in today's LightWave software enables you to create all your morph targets with one single object. You can change the base model and add polygons to it. Adding polygons to a morph previous to the endomorph technology resulted in crazy morphing results. Endomorphs solve many of the production headaches of morph targets, as you'll discover in this chapter. Endomorphs are an extension of LightWave's VMap capabilities. Weight and UV maps generally use the same feature. The difference is in how the information is interpreted. With endomorphs, different point position sets are defined.

NOTE

Although you can edit your model with endomorphs, you still need the same number of points and polygons to properly morph between targets.

Animating Faces

Facial animation is the number one reason endomorph technology exists. If you remember the Morph Gizmo plug-in in earlier versions of LightWave, you'll understand what the new technology of endomorphs and MorphMixer can accomplish. Animating faces can be a complex, arduous task. You need to understand the timing of eye movements, phonetics of speech, and everyday expressions. However, you can easily set up facial animation in LightWave by sometimes just looking in the mirror. It's often difficult to picture, say, the facial expression when someone says the word "trumpet." If you look into a mirror and say it, however, you have your animation reference. Animators who keep mirrors at their desks are not usually that vain. By keeping a mirror at your desk, you have an encyclopedia of facial expression animation references.

Full Bodies and Endomorphs

Because many of the demonstrations of the endomorph technology depict a face, it shouldn't go unmentioned that a body can be attached to the face as well. The process of setting up bones for a character is only enhanced by the animation created with endomorphs for a face, and muscles. Using full bodies with endomorphs is easy. In another layer, the body can have a full bone structure set up with Skelegons. By bringing the object into Layout, you have a full character, bone structure, and morph targets all in one model. You can animate to your heart's content. Add to that endomorph targets for bulging muscles and breathing, and you're on your way.

Creating Endomorphs

Creating endomorphs is easier than you might think. By using some of LightWave's grouping technology in the next exercise, you'll be able to adjust and manipulate your model into just about any expression you like.

Exercise 1—Creating Selection Sets

This exercise creates a Selection Set. Selection Sets define a group of points. They are not always needed to create endomorphs, but they can be very helpful for this project, or any project you come across.

  1. Open Modeler and load the LW7_Head object. Once loaded, press the a key to fit all views.

  2. Be sure you have a default quad view in Modeler to match this exercise. You can see from Figure 1 that the model has multiple layers. The layers contain eyes, teeth, a tongue, and the head itself. Select the first layer, the head.

    Figure 1 A copy of the head model created in the bonus tutorial on the book's CD is loaded and ready for some endomorphs.

    The first step in creating endomorphs for this model is the setup of Selection Sets. Selection Sets enable you to select a range of points and give them a group name. To select a particular polygonal region in previous versions of LightWave, you needed to create a separate surface name, even if the surface attributes were the same. Now you can group selections within one surface. ("Parts" are used in place of different surface names because they work at the polygon level. Point groups are really like nothing that existed prior to version 6.)

  3. Select just layer one of the head object. Zoom into the lips of the head object by pressing the period key (.). You can move the mouse pointer over a specific area in a viewport, and press the g key. This instantly brings to the center the area where the mouse is. Use this while zooming in to get the lips to full view.

  4. Switch to Point mode at the bottom of the Modeler interface. Selection Sets work with points, and although you can select polygons and create a Selection Set just as easily, point selection can be more precise for this exercise.

  5. Click and select a point or two on the bottom lip. If you work in a Shaded mode (such as Texture), it's a bit easier to see the selection. Also if you decide to hide points for easier visibility, you won't be able to select them. Figure 2 shows the selection.

    Figure 2 Selecting a couple of points on the bottom lip is all you need to do to get started.

  6. Because the original model's lips are close together, selecting just the bottom lip is difficult and time-consuming. To make sure you selected what you wanted, use the Expand Select command, found in the Tools tab or by pressing Shift+]. (That's the right bracket key, two keys over from the p key.) Expand Select one time and notice that points are being selected outward from the initial few first selected.

    NOTE

    The points in Figure 2 might seem a bit large to you. This is because the Simple Wireframe Points option is on in the Display Options panel under the Interface tab. This enables you to change the visible size of the points in Modeler. You also can turn on the Simple Wireframe Edges option. Figure 3 shows the Simple Wireframe Points option.

    Figure 3 Simple Wireframe Points is on to make the points more visible in Modeler's views.

  7. Continue using Expand Select until the entire bottom lip is selected, as in Figure 4.

    Figure 4 Using Expand Select, the points in just the lower lip are easily selected.

  8. Zoom out slightly using the comma key (,) to fit the jaw into view. In the right view, while holding down the Shift key, select the points that make up the jaw area of the head object. If you're working in Shaded mode for this view, switch to Wireframe to be sure you select the points on both sides of the head. Figure 5 shows the selection.

    TIP

    If you're working in a Wireframe mode in the right viewport (bottom right), you can right-lasso around the wanted points. Using Wireframe mode while selecting points or polygons selects "through" the object, selecting both sides of the jaw.

    Figure 5 The points in the bottom lip and jaw are now selected, ready for a Selection Set assignment.

  9. This group of points can now become a Selection Set. While the points are still selected, choose the Point Selection Sets command from the Display tab.

    You'll find the command under the Grouping drop-down list, which is located under the Selection heading of tools on the left side of the interface.

    Enter the name Jaw for the Point Set, as in Figure 6. You do not want to remove points. Click OK and the Selection Set is created. Deselect the points. You can quickly deselect points by pressing the / key, or clicking the blank area on the toolbar. If a tool is selected, such as Rotate, press the spacebar first to turn off the tool.

    Remember to work with just the first layer, which contains only the head model.

    Figure 6 After points are selected, the Selection Set tool enables you to name the group.

  10. While in Point mode, press the w key to call up Point Statistics. Click and hold the bottom triangle in the list and you'll see the new Selection Set, as in Figure 7. Choose the Jaw selection set. Click the plus sign (+) next to the name on the left of the Statistics panel to select the points defined by the Jaw Selection Set. (Clicking the minus sign [–] deselects it.) As you create more point Selection Sets, the names you assign to them will be here in this list as well.

    NOTE

    If you have older LightWave objects that use different surfaces to control selections, you can use the Surf-to-Parts (Surface to Parts) command. You can find it under the Additional list of tools. It assigns a selection of polygons to a specific surface. This "parts" list is available in the Polygon Statistics panel, similar to the Selection Sets for points.

    Figure 7 The created Selection Set is now accessible through the Point Statistics panel (w).

  11. Create additional Selection Sets, such as for the eyelids, nose, and so on. Create these sets for areas that you want to easily select later. It doesn't affect your model in any way, but rather, defines areas of points for easy selection.

    Remember that using Selection Sets isn't just for characters. You can create them for any model you build. Perhaps you have a model of an aircraft. At times, your client wants to see the model with the door open to make modeling adjustments. Because the door would have the same surface name as the aircraft itself, you would have to manually select the necessary points or polygons to move them. Instead, just define a Selection Set as shown here. This will enable you to quickly select the points of the aircraft's door and make necessary adjustments.

    NOTE

    The biggest difference between a Selection Set (points) and a part (polygons) is that a point can be in more than one Selection Set, but a polygon cannot.

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