Let’s take a look at the graphical user interface (GUI) for the Node Editor. Use the numerical look-up call-outs to identify each element and read its description in the corresponding text below.
The title bar for our Node Editor window has been removed to make things clearer, but normally you will see that it contains the current surface name or the property if you are working with displacements, volumetric lights, motions or other node editor types.
- - You can either use this menu to add nodes to your Workspace, or the list below ( Add Nodes 16). The menu is here in case you are in Node Flow (13) view where the nodes list is not available.
- - Contained in this menu are all of the edit functions for working in the Node Editor GUI. From copying and pasting to importing and exporting the GUI manipulation tools you’ll be using most will be found in here. The specifics are detailed on page . Edit Menu
This menu is also available by right clicking on top of any node in the Workspace Area or listed in the Node Flow tab.
- - Click on this button or press Ctrl-Z, to undo the last Node Editor operation you performed. Undo
- - Click on this button or press Z, to redo the last undo operation you performed. Redo
- - Click on the purge button to discard all of the undo history currently in memory for the node editor. Purge
- Tidy Nodes - Rearranges nodes to remove overlaps. Tidy Nodes will also collapse nodes that are not in use and arrange all unused nodes in a column to the left of the network.
- - Click on the update button to force a manual refresh of any preview spheres displayed in the Node Editor panel. Update
- Options - Clicking on the options button will display the option settings panel for the Node Editor.
- - this will show you the outputs of the nodes in your network. This value is evaluated without knowledge of any ray trace environment Node Probe
- - Using the Pan Gadget (or widget) or by alt-dragging in the Workspace area, will allow you to scroll the Workspace area. Workspace Pan Gadget
- - Use this gadget to zoom in or out of the workspace area. This is useful when working with or constructing large networks and will allow you to quickly locate nodes and network segments that may be scrolled out of view. Workspace Zoom Gadget
- - Use this gadget to pop open the embedded edit panel which can be used in place of floating edit panels when editing node properties. To edit node properties with the extension area closed simply double click on the node you want to edit. Embedded Edit Panel Gadget
- - With this area extended any selected node’s properties that has an edit panel can be edited in this embedded panel area. Embedded Edit Panel Extension Area
- - These two tabs either show the complete node list or the nodes currently in your network. Nodes or Flow
- - Start typing the name of the node you are looking for and the list will reduce until your node is found. The dropdown icon to the right will allow you to make the search Search Case Sensitive, display results as a hierarchy or Flat and to Clear a search that has been made to reveal the full node list again (you can also just delete the search text).
- - If you know you are going to need a bunch of nodes for your network you can select them all using Ctrl and Shift modifiers and hit this button to add them all at once to your workspace. Add Selected
- - In this area you will either find a list of all the nodes available, or those currently added to your Workspace area depending on the tab chosen at the top of the window ( Node List 13).
- - This node is permanently available and contains different outputs depending on what sort of Node Editor you are using. It contains outputs that are often needed. Input
- - Use the workspace area to construct networks by adding nodes and connecting them together. Workspace
- - This is an example of a selected node. Selected
- - This is an example of an unselected node. Unselected
- - This is the Surface Destination node. Making connections to this node from other nodes in the Workspace area define a surface’s properties. Surface Destination
- - Add comments to any node by selecting the node and typing in the Comment Entry Area. Take care to press Enter when finished or your comments will not be saved with the node. Node Comment Entry Area
20, 21 and 22 together form what is called a Network. You can think of node networks as being very much like computer networks - with connections, input, output and the most important bit: results!
Menus and Hot Keys
The menus and hot keys described here apply only when the Node Editor window is active. To activate the Node Editor window if it is not active simply click anywhere on its interface. To display the Node Editor window if it is not displayed simply click on the Edit Nodes button on the options panel you’re working with. Remember, the Node Editor lives in several places throughout the LightWave 3D application.
- Edit - Pressing Enter or selecting Edit from the Edit menu, with any node selected and the embedded edit panel closed will open that nodes floating Edit Panel. In ancient times the Enter key was also referred to as the Return key.
- Rename - Pressing the r key or selecting Rename from the Edit Menu with any one node selected will open a Rename Node requester that will allow you to rename the node. The name of a node appears in its title bar area.
- Preview - Preview options are context sensitive. Depending upon what types of output the selected node offers, any of several preview options will be available. The preview option that is selected will determine what the preview sphere displays if the Disable Previews checkbox is unchecked in the Node Editor’s Options panel. The various possible types are:
- Color - Color Channel
- Alpha - Alpha Channel
- Luma - Luminance Channel
- Bump - Bump Direction in three colors
- Result - Line Graph Display
- Normal - Normal Direction in three colors
- Copy - Pressing Ctrl-C or selecting Copy from the Edit Menu will copy any selected nodes into the copy buffer. If text is selected in the Note Comment Entry Area, numerical input areas or etc then the selected alphanumeric string will be copied into the copy buffer.
- Cut - Pressing Ctrl-X or selecting Cut from the Edit Menu will cut any selected nodes into the copy buffer. If alphanumeric string data is selected in the Node Comment Entry Area, numerical input areas, or etc then the selected alphanumeric string will be cut into the copy buffer.
- Paste - Pressing Ctrl-V or selecting Paste from the Edit menu, will paste any selected nodes into the Workspace area that are currently contained in the copy buffer. A separate copy buffer is simultaneously available for both nodes and for text so that you could for example, copy some text, copy a node, and then paste the text or the node in their attributed areas without losing the information in either of the two copy buffers.
- Delete - Pressing the Del key or selecting Delete from the Edit menu, will delete any nodes or alphanumeric data that you may have selected. This delete operation only removes the item from the graphical user interface. No menu entries or disk based items will be affected. Delete operations do not place the deleted items into the copy buffer.
- Select All - Pressing the A key or choosing Select All from the Edit menu, will select all the nodes currently in the Workspace area.
- Clear Selection - With the Node Editor window active, pressing the D key or selecting Clear Selection from the Edit menu, will deselect any selected nodes in the Workspace area.
- Invert Selection - Pressing the I key or choosing Invert Selection from the Edit menu, will invert the current selections. If no nodes are selected when I is pressed then all nodes will become selected.
- Fit All - Pressing Shift-F or selecting Fit All from the Edit menu, will fit and center all of the nodes currently in the Workspace area. If all of the nodes cannot be displayed in the Workspace area at 100 percent zoom then the workspace area will be automatically zoomed out in order to fit all the nodes currently in the Workspace area.
- Fit Selected - Pressing the F key or selecting Fit Selected from the Edit menu, will fit and center any node or nodes currently selected in the Workspace area. If all selected nodes cannot be displayed in the Workspace area at 100 percent zoom ratio then the Workspace area will automatically be zoomed out in order to fit all of the nodes currently selected into the Workspace area.
- Disconnect Inputs - Selecting one or more nodes in the Workspace area and pressing Shift-D or selecting Disconnect Inputs from the Edit menu, will disconnect any inputs that are connected to the selected nodes. Output connections from a selected node will not be disconnected. You can think of this as disconnecting all connections made to the left hand side of the node.
- Expand - Pressing Shift-E or selecting Expand from the Edit menu, will expand any selected nodes that are currently collapsed.
- Collapse - Pressing Shift-C or selecting Collapse from the Edit menu, will collapse any selected nodes that are currently expanded.
Export Selected - Choosing Export Selected from the Edit menu will open a Save file requester that will allow you to save the node or group of nodes you have selected as a .nodes file. A “.nodes” file is a structured text file containing the names of all the nodes you had selected when you saved the file, any comments that you had entered for each of the nodes selected, and any of the connections that existed between the selected nodes. It basically exports a complete snapshot of the nodes you had selected when you exported.
It is important to note that the Destination node will not be exported nor any of the connections that existed to the Destination node when the file was saved.
This is a very useful feature allowing you to create and maintain directory based libraries of various network segments or entire networks. “.node” files can be loaded and saved interchangeably between any of the three Node Editor windows for Displacements, Volumetric Lights, and Surfaces.
Import Nodes - Selecting Import Nodes from the edit menu will open a Load File requester allowing you to load any saved “.nodes” file. When imported the node group will appear in the dimensional center of the Node Editor’s Workspace area. Position offsets, connections, collapsed or expanded states and any node comments that existed when the nodes were exported will import back into your working environment.
This is an extremely useful feature allowing you to choose and load from maintained directory based libraries of various network segments or entire networks. “.node” files can be loaded and saved interchangeably between any of the three Node Editor windows for Displacements, Volumetric Lights, and Surfaces.
It is important to note that Destination node connections are not imported nor exported to or from a “.nodes” file.