Chapter 8
The LightWave
Color Picker
This chapter covers the different color picking tools available in
LightWave’s custom color picker. By the time you have finished this
chapter, you should have a good grasp of LightWave’s QuickColor,
HSV<-->RGB, Tint & Shade, Wavelength, and Kelvin color pickers and
their specific uses.
LightWave comes equipped with two
choices for color pickers. You can use the
standard Windows or Mac color picker,
which is fairly basic, or you can have a look
at the arsenal of color picking tools in the
LightWave Color Picker. You can select the
LightWave Color Picker in Modeler by going
to the Display Options panel Interface tab
and selecting it in the Color Picker drop-
down. To access the LightWave Color Picker
in Layout, type “o” to open the General
panel. Then click the drop-down next to
Color Picker and select LW_ColrPikr.
Before we look at the LightWave Color
Picker, however, here are a few words about
In your virtual world, there are two pri
mary reasons why a light source is emitting
a particular color of light.
In the first place, lights emit heat. The
higher the temperature, the brighter and whiter the light becomes. The
brightness is known as intensity and the color is known as color temper
ature. Imagine a piece of metal heating up in a forge. It first begins to
Figure 8.1: Selecting the
LightWave Color Picker in
Layout’s Preferences panel.
glow very dim red, then heats up to orange, then to white. If you could
keep heating it, it would start to go into the blue end of the spectrum
until it was too bright to look at. So low color temperatures are in the
red end of the spectrum while high color temperatures are in the blue
end of the spectrum with white in the middle. Ironically, humans tend to
equate blue with icy, cold things and red with fire and brimstone, so we
refer to colors in the red end as “warm” and colors in the blue end as
“cool,” which is completely backward. Just read it over a couple of times
— you’ll get it!
The second reason for a light’s color is that it may be filtered by
something. In other words, the light is passing through or reflecting off
some substance that is absorbing some of the color wavelengths and
allowing other wavelengths to pass through or reflect away. Take a piece
of green glass, for example. If you shine a white light through a piece of
green glass, the glass will absorb most of the red and blue wavelengths
from the light but will allow most of the green light to pass through.
Note: Why do I say “most” of the red and blue light is absorbed
and “most” of the green light passes through? In the theoretical
world, there are primary colors. Primary colors consist of only a
single pure wavelength. So if we had a pure white light that con-
sisted of all three primary colors (red, green, and blue), and if we
also had a green glass filter that only filtered out the primary red
and blue but allowed primary green to pass through, then we
could say all the red and blue was absorbed and all the green was
allowed to pass through. Trouble is, in the real world, primary col
ors don’t usually exist anywhere except laboratories. So while most
of the red and blue light is absorbed by the green filter, a little bit
will still seep through because the filter is not perfect. And while
most of the green light is allowed to pass through, some is
absorbed, again because the filter is not perfect. This may seem
like nit-picking, but understanding how imperfect light coloring
and filtering is in the real world can help you add realism to your
work. You can use numeric values to choose your technically per
fect colors, but you should trust your eyes to tell you whether or
not it looks right.
Almost all light is filtered by something. The sunlight is filtered by the
sky, the light in a neon sign is filtered by the colored glass tube, the floor
lamp light is filtered by its amber shade. You get the idea. Hopefully this
will help you make your color choices.
···························Chapter 8: The LightWave Color Picker

Get LightWave v9 Lighting (w/CD) now with O’Reilly online learning.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from 200+ publishers.