Using LightWave

 Click here to expand Table of Contents...

LightWave 3D

LightWave 3D’s many features are presented in two distinct and specialized environments. In general, LightWave Modeler, or simply 'Modeler', is focused on 3D object creation, while LightWave Layout (or just 'Layout') is where you stage these objects, animate them, and render output.

Layout employs numerous control panels to group related tools and features. Toolbar buttons typically serve as shortcuts to frequently used items in these panels. For this reason, this manual explores Layout’s features panel by panel, then continues with a more workflow-based discussion.

In contrast, most Modeler tools are provided in Toolbars, hence their explanation is generally organized in toolbar order.

There are several further parts of LightWave that you may or may not be running:

  • The Hub - The Hub is a communications tool with a black-on-gray icon in your Windows taskbar or OSX Dock that liaises between Layout and Modeler. It runs by default and is responsible for passing modifications in objects - either geometry or surfacing - between Modeler and Layout, or vice versa
  • NRC Tasker - If you are using the machine you installed LightWave on as a render node, it is likely you will have a green icon representing NRC.
  • The QT32 Server - This will run whenever you save to a Quicktime animation file and has a purple icon. Apple never created a 64-bit version of the format, so this server acts as a "translator" from 64-bit LightWave to 32-bit Quicktime

Typographic Conventions

The following conventions will be used throughout this manual.


ALL CAPS        Computer keys, directories, device names (e.g., ENTER, C:\LIGHTWAVE\OBJECTS, CTRL+P, etc.).

Keystroke Combinations

KEY1 + KEY2    Simultaneous keystrokes. Hold the first key and press the second key.

Mouse Operations


Left mouse button
MMB         Middle mouse button (if present)

Right mouse button


Single-clicking an element with the LMB so that it becomes active or selected.


Single-clicking an element with the LMB so that it becomes inactive or unselected.


Selecting an option by clicking on its toggle button.

Unselecting an option by clicking on its toggle button.


Placing your mouse pointer over something and then pressing a mouse button. This nearly always means the LMB.


 Clicking an element with your RMB.


Rapidly clicking an element twice.


Selecting an element with your mouse pointer and continuing to hold the mouse button down as you move your mouse. This nearly always means with the LMB.


The warning symbol will highlight a discussion that warns you about something. You should pay special attention to text marked with this symbol.

The Info symbol will give you some additional information about the section you're in.

The note symbol will highlight a discussion that is particularly noteworthy or interesting information that will not necessarily make you smarter with LightWave, but will allow you to amaze and amuse your friends with your inside knowledge of 3D industry trivia.

Using the Wiki Documentation

While first-time users may wish to start at the beginning and proceed through the entire manual, if you need to find something specific, the Wiki’s Search feature can save a lot of time.