Is Lightwave dead?


A friend of mine has given me his license of LW 2015 and I have always wanted to get into the 3d world (I am a graphic designer).

Is it worth learning LW or is it dead?
Everybody seems to be learning the big guys now (c4d/maya/3ds etc) but LW is no where in sight, so should I take it and learn the program? is it good? can it produce high quality stuff like what I just saw in the gallery?

thanks :slight_smile:


Unless they announced the discontination of the app, then no. Lightwave is not dead. While indeed, is seldom used these days, if you have it, you can use it to learn. Most of the concepts and methods are the same in every aplication. Once you understand these, will take only a coupla weeks/months to move from one app to another.


Lightwave used to have a decent share of the market, but due to some less than stellar decisions by Newtek, development ground to a halt, and huge amounts of time were wasted on abandoned projects, all of which has put LW years behind where it could have been. At this point the only users tend to be those who have been using it for a long time and naturally dont want to switch away from an application they are comfortable with.

Even though it is still being developed, its very hard to come up with any reasons for a new user to pick it up. Lightwave-specific jobs dont really come up anymore; whilst it is a capable application, unfortunately there are better and more modern solutions available.

By all means use it to cut your teeth on, but be prepared to switch to something else if you ever want to do 3D commercially. Unless Newtek pulls something amazing and unexpected out of the bag, I dont see that it has any real future unfortunately. There’s probably a good reason your friend is giving it away.


i gave it a try a year back or something… but the whole software felt very alien to me…its UI feels like something of 90s, so new users coming for modo, c4d, maya etc… might find it difficult…
But regardless, one my Favorite artist Chris Jones uses lightwave, and he has created some stellar work…


Learn MODO.
Brad Peebler (a computer graphics GOD ) and others left Newtek ,the owners of lightwave years ago and created MODO.
MODO can take you farther than any other software in a shorter amount of time.
I believe there are indie versions for less than $500 I might be wrong.


Thanks for the replies guys!

So I guess its true that lightwave is almost dead as in no one uses it.

The question remains is that: How hard is it to transition between 3d apps?

Back when I started graphic designing as a kid I used Inkscape and when I bought Illustrator, it was extremely easy to transition to it. Is the same true for someone say: is accustomed to C4D/Houdini/Realflow and wanted to go to another 3d app?

Because if LightWave is seldom used like what the replies said, then I won’t waste my time learning it.
I have a choice of getting Houdini as well (another good friend of mine has a license of it (houdini 15) and is willing to give it to me), is it any good? How long will it take to master it and produce professional results in it? I am willing to learn said program for 8 hours a day I guess. And are there any fundamentals one has to learn before getting into 3D (you know like how it is necessary to learn Color Theory and Typography before getting into graphic designing)?


If you are new to 3D, youll find the main bulk of knowledge at the start is just learning all the concepts. Polys, materials, light and shadow, keyframes, composition, camera-work, SDS modelling, splines etc. These things are all fairly universal across 3D programs and can more or less be directly transferred from one to the other. Once these are done though, youll start to learn all the ins and outs of a specific app, this is where you should pick your app more carefully as you can potentially invest a lot of time learning all the app specific parts. But, for the first month or two, any app will give you the same basics.

Some apps are more well known for being a bit different from others or following a more established set of principles. Youll find that c4d, modo and maya are all relatively similar in their general approach to things, whilst some apps such as houdini, zbrush and to an extent lightwave; all diverge a bit in how they handle things.

I have to ask though, who is this altruistic friend giving away thousands of dollars worth of 3D software?..


Well what experience do you have, 3D program wise ?
what are you planing to do ?

If you want to get your feet wet into 3d, lw isn’t that bad, sure it lacks some stuff, but it also has some goodies, workflow wise wich helps getting into 3d.
Learning a different application differs from user to user. Some find it hard some find it easy.


He worked in SideFX as a developer for Houdini and has tons of friends there, he also let me see the source code (though I am no programmer so that was useless :confused: ). he can get me that license for the latest installment whenever he wants to for free :slight_smile:


By all means learn Lightwave. I believe lightwave is going in interesting new directions. But it is probably best not to compare Lightwave to maya and max etc. It’s not a self sustaining app. anymore, but rather a hub for lots of cool plugins. Kinda like max was 15 years ago.

What people don’t seem to realize is that Lightwave is not Newtek’s flagship program so it can continue regardless of its popularity.

Even so, Lightwave development already lost the war a decade ago. The beauty of THIS is that LW3DGroup doesn’t have to try to keep up anymore, they can develop a new way to do things and make the brand popular again. This can be done in whatever CG field they choose if they want to.



should I take it and learn the program?
why not? :slight_smile:

is it good?
yep, relatively

can it produce high quality stuff like what I just saw in the gallery?
yep -
actually, the upcoming LightWave 2017 has a better render engine, so you should get better results

but what will you use LightWave for?
Modeling? Animation? Rendering? MoGraph?
for additional texturing / sculpting / waterfluids i’d recommend for example 3DCoat / Houdini Indie

other than that LightWave stays strong enough for many of us
Modeler needs a huge update but i think and hope that’s on the LW 2018 calendar

Remember, LightWave just had a huge rewrite (mesh engine) so likely / hopefully we’ll see great LightWave enhancements in the following years…

more on LW2017 >

i’m also in favor of LightWave’s “non-subscription policy”

so, LightWave? sure, but it really depends on what profession you want to go for



No LightWave is not dead and is still used by a large number of people but pales in comparison to a Max or Maya. But then its also not rental only either and that’s certainly not a bad thing. If cost is at all an issue, its one of the most affordable apps out there right now but dont’ let that fool you, its still a very capable, app. Its also probably the easiest app to get your head around. Its got its drawbacks just like every program does but for the most part, I’ve always found it to be incredibly stable vs other apps I’ve used and it has simple workflows that allow me to work quickly in it.

With each version, they’ve improved the interoptability with other programs so it can be a very nice pipeline tool. It has a quality and interactive renderer (with a new rendering engine in the next version which will be PBR). The one big drawback to LightWave is that its modeler is a bit dated although used with LWCAD, its not too bad. I’ve gone to Zbrush for a lot of modeling anyway so its not a huge issue for me.


Chris Jones - LightWave



It’s not dead. I still use it for some things and another 3D app or 2 for others. Past wrong decisions delayed progress significantly for awhile. Still used in TV shows and some films and other creative areas. They have been rewriting the software in paralell to their releases the past 4 or so years. I believe the next version about to be released is a significant leap to the current version that shows this. Once they get the modelling tools combined in one app (not ready yet for the new version), then I think a lot of people will reevaluate Lightwave. Compeition is good and I hope it succeeds.


Alain Rivard & Andrew March


One thing that may be deceptive, it takes a whole lot of work to get that level of quality in any package. LW can do just about anything you want but there is no “make awesome” button.


Yeah exactly. Irrespective of the tool, it’s the hand and mind manipulating it that matters.


amazing stuff


Iron Man Render - The Embassy


this was 7 years ago or so, LightWave is way better these days. (model = modo i believe)

you can do just about anything in LightWave,
just add sculpting (Zbrush) waterfluids (Houdini)

though if it is your cup of coffee… can`t say…


Brad Peebler leaving Foundry.

Where is your God now?