Making a City In Lightwave


So I’m getting ready to make a city scene in Lightwave. It doesnt have to be photorealistic, because my animation is going to be somewhat cartoony (around the lines of the spider-man mtv show, only a little Less Cartoony). I was wondering if anyone had any tips on how to go about this such as techniques to make it look more varied, or to make it quicker (like window creation).
Ive done alot of organic modeling, and even some mechanical modeling. Making a building sounded really easy, but for some reason I’m having alot of trouble with it, and i’m not sure why. Id apreciate any ideas, links or any of that. Thanks alot.


Believe it or not, I’ve had exactly the same issue this week as I need a city for the short I’m working on.

After looking round at all the tutes on the net, they’re isn’t really a short cut way to make a decent looking city, it’s a boatload of work! :eek:

This tute makes it look easy, but uses a Max plugin (greeble) to add details to the top of the buildings and still requires that you go and detail each building.

My recomendation is to make some very good textures/bump maps/spec maps and make a set of buildings that fit those maps in multiples, e.g. a 256 pixel wide set of maps, and then buildings at a multiple of that texture amount.

To complete my short (which has been put on hiatus for a couple of weeks) I’m considering writing a plugin or external program to generate a city based on some sort of input spreadsheet, but I have to weigh up which is going to be more work (i.e. creating the code to do it, or just detailing the buildings I need).


check out Dave Tracey an amazing Aussie Lightwave artist link to his show reel and a interview on making his city are there

but there’s no quickway to make a city no matter what package you uses read the interview and be prepaired to have you brain melted:eek:


Sorry this is a little vague, but I have very little time to post right this second. See if you can find some information on how Coruscant from Episode II was made. I found it in an issue of Cinefex once but I imagine the info’s online somewhere. They talked about making a few buildings, cloning them around, making interchangable pieces, etc. I found it to be a good foundation for starting a city.


You could always try Eki’s City Gen


You can create buildings pretty quickly by beveling a grid. The grid can be square shaped or radial or any shape you want. You can use the bevel tool to create the basic buildings and then randomize the inset. More detailed buildings can be created by smooth shifting or extruding whole sections of the grid out at once. Rounder can also be used to get more interesting shapes. Theres a free plugin that creates microbevels on objects as a shader.
This can help keep the geometry down.


Would anyone want to do a community project to build a city? I started building one and have been wandering around new york shooting all kinds of smaller buildings 3-4 story and medium 8-10 story apartment buildings.

It seems like there are alot of us working on modern day projects and need cityscapes. If a bunch of us get together I’m sure we could chrn out a decent city.

If you’re interested let me know and I’ll setup some webspace to host the files and post the stuff I already have to get us started.


moonight woot:thumbsup:


Here is a tip…don’t forget about LOD (level of detail). It sounds like you are making a sprawling city. Those skyscrapers waaaaaay far away need only be an 8 point elongated cube. Then of course the buildings closer to the camera gradually get more and more high-res.

This way you don’t kill urself on render times.



Someone did a collection of well-known buildings, like the Sears Tower, the Empire State Building etc. back in the version 4 days… I wonder if that’s still available.


The challenge of building a cityscape is that it should ideally be designed from each production’s standpoint, from the correct viewpoints and level of detail. A repository of LW city buildings would be useful to pick apart for pieces we can incorporate into our own designs.

Lightwave Group already has a download section, but it doesn’t have many buildings in it. I suggest we all contribute to their existing website. I will donate my small NYC-downtown style city of 60 or so low-rise buildings when I am finished with my student project.

If anyone has a project in need of environment collaborators, shoot me a PM. Looking for a new challenge soon…


You could take a look at this page.

Dunno if this is what your after… but it looks good.

Keep on truckin’


I didn’t really realize so many people wanted building elements. I’ve been working on a master city project for my film for awhile now. So far I have modeled:

30 different building facades for high and medium res buildings
15 different roof nurnie configurations
5 different types of highways and overpasses
3 different types of bridges
5 different building foundations
3 different street lamps
15 different low LOD background buildings.

Still to model:
different rooftop configuration
subway stations
different types of cars, trains and planes
company signatures for skyscrapers
misc street items (mailboxes, news racks, trash cans, store signs, benches)
street trash
different rain gutter pipe configurations
boat docks
other stuff I’m forgetting

Everything is built to scale relative to the size of an average person.

Since it’s a personal project, most of the stuff has a modern or sci fi slant to the designs, and made so I could slap together a city block or a city in short order for the different sections of my film that needed it, but would you guys be interested if I packaged it all up for public release for a cheap price? I’ve seen other companies selling a third of the content that I’ve modeled for at least a $100, but I doubt I’d even charge half that.


Shade, Maybe you could package a super-deluxe-mega-crazy edition of that short you’ve been working on and include some stuff like that and other stuff on the DVD and charge $50-$60. A lot of wavers would probably shell out the extra cash for a peek at how you did some of the stuff in the movie. Like Albee did on the Kaze DVD with the Lightwave scenes, that was very cool.


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