LightWave - Everything is Possible

New in LightWave 11.5

About LightWave 11.5

NewTek LightWave 11 made its debut in early 2012, bringing new functionality to an already robust 3D modeling, animation and rendering program. Many new features in LightWave 11 that are widely used by artists include built-in instancing, Bullet hard body dynamics, and Flocking along with new workflow options such as GoZ support for Pixologic’s ZBrush software and the Unity game engine development platform.

LightWave 11.5 Overview

Dongle-Free Licensing

Dongles are no longer required to access the many features of LightWave

Bullet Soft Body Dynamics

Soft body effects are now possible with Bullet, including cloth

Bullet Forces

Several force types are now available within Bullet


Fast, modular instant rigging system for Modeler that includes presets for rapid-rigging

VPR Update

Depth-of-Field, Motion Blur and Anaglyph Stereo now visible in the renderer

Rolling Shutter

Rolling Shutter camera effects are now possible to aid matching footage that has this effect present

Edge Rendering Node Control

Control edge opacity, taper and color using nodes

Flocking Update

Predator / Prey behavior, new Director types and Node control

FiberFX Update

Multiple styles per object - stored with the object, new styling controls, updated UI

GoZ™ Fiber Mesh™ Support

Building on the robust GoZ support in LightWave 11. LightWave 11.5 now supports ZBrush Fiber Meshes

Adobe™ After Effects™ Support

'GoZ style' After Effects interchange for Cameras, Lights, NULLs and animation

Instancing Update

Per Object control, speed and memory improvements

Modeler Tools Update

ABF UV Unwrap, Edit Edges, Place Mesh, Slice, Thicken, Heat Shrink, Tweak, Transform, Axis and alignment tools and more

Workflow Enhancements

Many enhancements to streamline and improve workflow


Soft Bodies & Forces

Bullet Dynamics in LightWave 11.5 is now faster and more robust than ever before. New functionality has been added to Bullet, which includes:

Soft Body Dynamics

LightWave 11.5 continues the development of Bullet in LightWave to include soft body dynamics. You can now create soft body effects such as cloth, rubber, jelly or other deforming properties with the same ease of use as rigid body simulations in LightWave 11.

Bone Support

Bullet meshes are now reactive to bone deformations. Animated characters can have dynamics-based clothing all working seamlessly with IK controlled deformations.


Bullet in LightWave 11.5 also comes with several force types - Forcefield, Vortex and Explosion, each with different modes to achieve a variety of dynamic effects.

Bullet Thumbnail 1 Bullet Forces - Negative Forces at Play Bullet Thumbnail 3


Fast, Flexible Rigging

Genoma is a new modular instant rigging system in LightWave 11.5. With Genoma, the speed at which you can quickly rig a simple biped, quadruped or even a two-headed dragon is phenomenal. Modifying a rig with Genoma is simple - use the powerful tools in Modeler instead of specialized rigging tools.

Modular Rig Presets

The main engine for Genoma includes a large number of modular rig presets. These consist of skeletal parts like spines, wings, arms, legs, and hands and feet. Complete rigs for bipeds and quadrupeds are also easily customizable.


Use any of the tools in Modeler to prepare a rig. Use existing modeling tools to mirror, move, rotate and stretch a Genoma rig and experience a huge productivity gain. With Genoma you can create complex character and creature rigs with lightning speed.


The Genoma rigging process is performed initially in Modeler. Once complete the rig can be sent over to Layout, where it is possible to continue working with it, since Genoma generates standard LightWave rigs.

If deforming a rig in Modeler isn’t to your liking, you can still change and update the character rig in Layout.
Genoma - Spider Rigged in Minutes Using Genoma Presets Genoma Wireframe Genoma Posed

VPR / Rendering


VPR transformed how artists worked in LightWave, with its fast iterative rendering. In LightWave 11.5 VPR continues to offer speed improvements and new functionality with:

Depth of Field / Motion Blur

Depth-of-field and motion blur can now be used in the Viewport Preview Renderer from the camera view. See how your DOF and motion blur effects will look before sending to the production renderer - a very useful addition for rapid visualization and concept design. These photographic effects are now interactive, which opens the door for more experimentation.

Stereoscopic Rendering

Stereoscopic Anaglyph rendering is now supported in VPR so that you can experience stereoscopic effects interactively at a much higher quality that what OpenGL allows.

Rolling Shutter Effects

Now you can simulate the 'rolling shutter' effect that occurs on some mechnical shutters or digital cameras with a CMOS sensor. More detailed information on the rolling shutter effect can be found here.

VPR - Straight VPR Render Showing Motion Blur VPR - Straight VPR Render Showing Depth of Field VPR - Straight VPR Render Showing Stereoscopic Anaglyph Rolling Shutter Effect

Edge Rendering Node Control

More Control For Cel Shading

Edges now have nodal control for taper, color and opacity for all edge types. Giving you much more control over the look of cel shaded imagery.

Node Edges - Varying Line Thicknesses Now Possible Node Edges - Straight VPR Render Showing Line Thickness Control © Short Peace Committee


Smart Particles

Flocking is a specialized particle system that allows items to move in very organic ways. The intelligent algorithms within the LightWave flocking system simulate natural motion to create effects such as flocks of birds, insect swarms, or even a herd of creatures. This allows for very complex looking animation with very intricate natural motion that can be used to create anything from crowd scenes to aerial airplane dogfights.

Predator / Prey Behavior

With this new feature, it's possible to have flocks chase other flocks, rather than seek out only goal directors. Flocks with a goal director attached become 'prey' for other flocks, and will be chased when in range. Whereas flocks with an avoid director attached will make other flocks avoid it when in range.

Plane Director

A director that prevents any agents from moving through it, which is useful for things like avoiding ground penetration. When grouped together, it can be used to make simulations such as an X-Wing trench run!

Arrive Director

Flock agents will slow down and stop when they approach an arrive director. If an arrive director is applied to a mesh, flock agents will head to the mesh points, making it possible to have the agents take the shape of the mesh.

Node Control

With the addition of new node controls, it is now possible to control flock agent behaviors such as banking, locking agents to an object or have agents corkscrew along their trajectory.

Paper Fish Flocking - New Predator / Prey Behavior at Work Flocking - Flock Agents Attracted to Object Surfaces



FiberFX in LightWave 11.5 adds new functionality with dynamics, hair sculpting tools and more.

Multiple Styles Per Object

FiberFX now uses Vmaps to store fiber styling; you can also store multiple styles in an object. Styling setups are also stored with the object rather than displacement handlers in a scene, which means objects no longer need to be "Loaded From Scene" to maintain styles.

Bundle Styling

The new bundle styling feature allows you to create braids and twists of fibers along any guide.

Updated Interface

The user interface to FiberFX has undergone a refresh to be more streamlined and logically organized.

FiberFX - New Bundle Styling FiberFX - Short Hair FiberFX - Abstract Hair


After Effects Support | MDD Workflow

Not only is LightWave a complete studio in a box, it also includes many powerful interchange tools that are designed to easily fit with mixed software pipelines. It includes FBX interchange tools and geometry cache support, including LightWave’s native MDD format and Autodesk’s Geocache.

Adobe After Effects™ Integration

You now have the ability to select elements in a scene and see them in Adobe After Effects by pressing the "GoAE" button. Animation, lights and camera settings are supported. Necessary changes can be made using the camera tracker in After Effects before returning to work in LightWave.

GoZ™ Fiber Mesh Support

Creates a powerful interchange between LightWave and ZBrush by allowing you to send models to ZBrush for futher detailing and texturing; return them to LightWave for final rendering and the node flows for normal maps will be automatically set up. LightWave 11.5 also allows you to use Pixologic’s Zbrush hair styling tools to create guide curves, which can be brought directly into LightWave and attached to objects.

MDD Workflow

The new MDD Multi-Loader makes it quick and easy to load previously baked MDD files back onto your models. It allows you to match objects to their MDD counterparts by name, point count, in addition to applying randomization options for each loaded MDD.

AE-LW Interchange Hair Scene MDD Multi-Loader Interface



Instancing has received a major boost in power and performance without the need for additional memory. New features have also been added to enhance the workflow and flexibility of Instancing.

Per-Object Control

Parameters such as scale, stretch, offset, rotate and nodal controls for an instanced object, are now per-object rather than for all objects in the instance list. This means you can achieve the same effects as before, but with less instancers.

Copy/Paste Functions

New individualized settings allow you to save time by copying and pasting settings.

Path Mode Optimizations

Now multi-threaded to take full advantage of today’s high-performance processors.

Cityscape Arch-vis Instancing



UV Unwrap

LightWave 11.5 brings fast, one-click ABF (Angle Based Flattening) UV unwrapping to Modeler. Using edge selections for defining seams, complex UV maps can be created quickly.


Off-axis? No problem! The new Transform tool is a powerful move / rotate / scale tool that greatly benefits working off-axis. Right clicking on any geometry will orient the gizmo handles to the picked point, edge or polygon, allowing you to perform operations along the normal direction.

Axis Move / Scale / Rotate Tools

You can click anywhere on a mesh to set the origin of the these tools. Gizmo handles align to the clicked geometry allowing off-axis editing that would previously have been difficult.


The tweak tool in Modeler allows the manipulation of points, edges and polygons without needing to switch edit modes - great for quickly adjusting topology. You can also extend geometry within this tool by right-click dragging the mouse.


The Align tool is a two-click operation to align any selected geometry to anywhere you click next on a mesh. If you need to align to anything off-axis, this tool makes the operation simple and fast.

Edit Edges

The new 'Edit Edges' tool makes light work of manipulating edge loops. Edge loops can be added, removed and manipulated without leaving the tool. The tool slides edge loops by default, or using the CTRL key slides individual edges. The new 'Edit Edges' allows modelers to work with their meshes in a fast, fluid manner.

Place Mesh

'Place Mesh' is an interactive tool for adding background layer objects to the foreground mesh - snapping to the mesh as you go. This allows you to add details such as spines on a creature, rivets on a robot arm or any other details that need precise placement on the mesh surface.

Placed meshes can be interactively scaled, rotated and randomized with each click, or if you want to populate a large area, clicking the 'Populate' button will fill the selected polygons with the background meshes you specify.


The new interactive 'slice' tool allows fast detailing of geometry. By previewing where the cut will take place, coupled with snapping to points and edge centers using the CTRL key, modelers can quickly add edges to refine meshes more easily than before.


'Thicken' is a dedicated tool for adding wall thickness to models. It is interactive and features two algorithms to deal with cases where a basic smooth shift operation might not achieve the desired result.

Heat Shrink

'Heat Shrink' allows geometry to conform to a background layer. It has several 'shrink' modes which are great for adding clothes to characters, or embossing logos into a mesh.


The selection mode aware Chamfer tool allows chamfering of edges, points or polygons within one tool.

ABF UV Unwrap Transform Heat Shrink Place Mesh Slice Thicken Edit Edges



Each new version of LightWave brings with it workflow improvements designed to streamline everyday tasks for artists. The latest enhancements include:

Dome Light Shading Options

The intensity and color of dome lights can now be adjusted using either HDRI image probes or Layout's backdrop shading. Ideal for simulating Global Illumination.

Motion Path Previewing

Motion paths can now be adjusted to show a different number of frames before and after the keyframe. Motion paths can also use the item color to help distinguish which path belongs to an item.

Granular Surface Editor Copy / Paste

You can now copy and paste individual surface parameters including the Basic, Advanced, Environment and Shader tabs, as well as Nodes, allowing for faster surfacing workflow.

Centered Speed / Velocity Curves

There is now an option to center speed and velocity curves in the Graph Editor to aid adjusting curves that are not located near the graph editor horizontal axis.

Spline Node Connectors

The node editor now supports spline-based node connections, making it easier to see where connections are routed.

Color Space GL Shader

Color Space now uses OpenGL shaders to color correct, increasing working speed when activated.

Fit / Fit All In Perspective View

Now available in Perspective mode as well as Orthographic views in Layout, useful for navigating around your scene quickly.

LightWave Color Picker

Interface refinements in the LightWave color picker make it more intuitive and easier to use.

Improved Control Over Motion Paths in OpenGL Surface Editor Spline Based Connectors in the Node Editor

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Minimum System Specifications



  • Intel® Core™ 2 or AMD Athlon™ II Processor (or better)
  • 64-bit System RAM: 4GB minimum
  • 32-bit System RAM: 2GB minimum
  • Available USB Port (for users with existing hardware dongles)
  • Operating System

  • 64-bit: Windows Vista through Windows 8.1 64-bit Edition
  • 32-bit: Windows Vista through Windows 8.1

Mac OS®


  • Intel® Processor
  • 64-bit System RAM: 4GB minimum
  • Available USB Port (for users with existing hardware dongles)
  • Operating System

  • Snow Leopard® 10.6 or better


  • Minimum Graphics Card: NVIDIA™ GeForce® 8400 series or ATI® X1600
  • Minimum Screen Resolution: 1024 x 768 pixels

Installation Requirements

  • Storage: All systems require 750MB available hard drive space (excluding content); complete Content library is approximately 3GB.
  • Optical Drive: DVD-ROM for Program and Content installation (for boxed versions of LightWave).