Take Free Flight into the 3d world with Wings3D
The entire CG scenario has evolved since the late 90s and world class results can be achieved from pretty much anyone’s computer. Open source and free 3D modelling tools such as Blender have closed the gap with commercial software. Today, we look at Wings3D, which is a 3D modelling software similar to Blender, but easier to use. You can download it from http://www.wings3d.com or get it from our DVD in this month’s issue. There are Windows, Linux and Mac versions of Wings3D.
Handling The Viewport Easily
The biggest issue when you’re so comfortable with commercial software such as 3ds Max or Maya is that a transition to completely different software, be it free or paid, becomes very annoying. One of the most significant changes is that you need to get used to be the way you handle the viewport and manoeuvre the camera. By default, Wings3D sets the mouse controls to invert which makes working on Wings3D even more confusing than some others.
Click on Edit > Preferences and go to the Camera tab. Click the dropdown for the Camera mode and select 3ds Max if you are comfortable using it. Click OK. Now you can use 3ds Max’s keyboard and mouse configuration to handle the scene. You can also choose from any other software in the list.
Using Third-party Renderers
Contrary to popular belief, Wings3D is not a plain modelling software, without any renderers.
Customised renderers can be used with Wings3D
It has a basic default OpenGL-based renderer along with it. To render a scene, click on File > Render > OpenGL. To change the quality settings click on the block sign next to OpenGL.
You can also install custom renderers such as Povray. For that you first download and install Povray (www.povray.org). Install it into the default location. Then in Wings3D, click on File > Render > Povray to use this renderer.
Wings3D, like any other 3D modelling software has a resource manager, which gives a single-window view of all the objects in a scene with decent control.
Objects can be hidden or locked and also put into wireframe mode using the object manager—Geometry Graph
The Geometry Graph in Wings3D does just that. Click on Window > Geometry Graph. You will see a small window all the objects listed. There are three tiny icons to the right of each object. The eye icon is used to hide or unhide the object. The lock icon locks or unlocks the object being interacted with, while the last icon toggles the wireframe view for the object.
Another obstacle with Wings3D is the lack of side views from different axes. Instead of those views, you just have one big perspective view window. Wings3D allows you to create as many windows as you need. You can resize a window by clicking and dragging the right bottom tip of the window. Each one of these windows can be set to an axis.
Additional views can be added and positioned within the Wings3D window
First, create a new window by clicking on Window > New Geometry Window. Drag and drop the window to the location of your choice. Now to set a view, click on View > View Along and select the axis you want to set the camera to.
Unwrapping The Model
One of the steps involved in creating a model is the unwrapping of the model where the object is spread open, by creating cuts on key edges. The unwrapped model is used to create a texture for it. There are many ways to unwrap a model, and it depends on the way the model structure has been made.
The unwrapped model can be used to create a texture in an image editing software
First, select the faces you want to unwrap by selecting the face mode and clicking on multiple adjoining faces. Right click and then select UV Mapping > Direct. In the window that opens, once again select the faces and right-click, choose Continue > Unfolding. Throughout these steps, you can choose different kinds of mapping to unwrap the model. Your selection will now be unwrapped.
To export the unwrapped model, right click in the UV Mapping window and click on Create Texture. Click on Window > Outliner, to enable the Outliner window. In the outliner, look for the map with the outline, right click on it and click on Make External. When prompted, enter a name for the image you want to export. Click Save.
Once you’re done with creating a texture in a different application, you need to import the image by clicking on File > Import Image. Choose the image and click Open. You can see all imported images here. You can even drag and drop images into the UV Window.
Finally, it may be a bit difficult and needs a different approach to get used to, but there’s no denying that in the end, you can get the same results modelling in Wings3D that you expect from a suite costing several thousands!