LightWave 11 Features

About LightWave 11

LightWave 11 offers major feature upgrades, enhancements and optimizations that empower artists and studios to move their visuals to all new extremes. Achieve greater detail with instancing, better realism with dynamics, fracturing and natural flocking motion, and easier control with unified sampling and industry-standard SDK-level access Python scripting. LightWave 11 is a solid, production proven start-to-finish 3D modeling, rendering and animation software that is built to stand alone or easily integrate into any 3D workflow. Read more on the features below.

New Features in LightWave 11


Mass duplication of objects with little memory overhead.

Bullet Dynamics

Production Proven Physics Engine.


Pre-shatter objects for use with Bullet using a variety of algorithms.


Create natural swarming, crowd avoidance behaviors with ease.

Unified Sampling

New sampling system which features higher-quality sampling at often reduced render times

Shadow / Reflection Catcher

Blend believable shadows and reflections into background plates easy and fast

Car Paint - Iridescence

Updated Car Paint shader to support iridescent effects, giving you more realistic results

Python Scripting

Industry standard, SDK level access Python scripting

Virtual Studio Tools

Playstation™ Move support, SDK and much more

ZBrush™ GoZ™ Support

GoZ support for Layout and Modeler, with zero-config installation

Render Buffer Enhancements

The new Compositing Buffer Export panel makes exporting render buffers easier

FiberFX Enhancements

New Stroke volume rendering mode, new instancing support and speed improvements

Print Camera Utility

Overhauled utility for setting up renders for print

Align to Plane

Easy object alignment for modeling off-axis

Scene Loading Optimizations

Significant speed boost with some scenes loading up to 7X faster


Speed improvements to IK performance and GLSL shading means smoother working in Layout


Instancing can be used to mass-duplicate objects in a scene with very little system overhead. With the ability to support massive "virtual" polygons, you can populate a scene with incredible detail while retaining reasonable rendering times.

While instances can be thought of as clones of the original source objects, they don’t need to be identical. Instead, you can randomly scale, position, rotate and surface cloned objects differently from the source object, which can be a tremendous timesaver on many types of 3D projects.

Bullet Dynamics

Bullet is a fast production-proven Open Source physics engine that is used to create many high-profile, effects driven films and real-time game engines. It features rigid-body 3D dynamics originally created by Erwin Coumans.

In LightWave 11, the Bullet Dynamics engine is located directly in Layout, but can be used with the Fracture tool in Modeler to create compelling physics-based animation like collapsing buildings or massive explosions. It can also be used to naturally place items in a random pattern, a process that can be time-consuming and difficult to do by hand.


This LightWave Modeler tool was designed to complement Bullet Dynamics in LightWave by allowing you to pre-fracture objects that are to be destroyed.

Fracture offers a variety of methods and settings to fine-tune the look of pieces as they are being fractured. You also have the ability to create an Endomorph of the resulting fracture and animate a fracturing object with or without dynamics.

Weight maps can also be applied to the source object to control the density of a fracture, making it an extremely flexible tool for breaking 3D objects in LightWave.


Get control over the crowd with Flocking. Easily calculate crowd avoidance of neighbors, target alignments and cohesive attractions for natural motion.

Classic examples of flocking motion include:

  1. Flocks of birds
  2. Schools of fish
  3. Swarms of insects
  4. Animal herd behaviors
  5. Craft maneuvers (planes, alien ships, etc.)

Unified Sampling

The sampling of anti-aliasing, shaders and lights has been updated to an advanced unified sampling system in LightWave 11, which features higher-quality sampling at reduced render times.

Shadow / Reflection Catcher Node

The Shadow Catcher material node allows objects to be composited easily into background plates. Objects in the scene with the Shadow Catcher material applied only receive shadows and reflections from other items in the scene. This makes merging CG elements into background plates a simple process.

The result is perfectly blended, believable shadows and reflections in the background plate—as if the CG elements are actually in the original photo.

Car Paint - Iridescence

Iridescence, also known as "Gonjochromism," is a property that describes how surfaces change color when they are viewed at different angles. This effect can be seen on soap bubbles, pearlescent sea shells or cars with "Chameleon" or "Flip-Flop" paint.

The Car Paint shader in LightWave 11 has been updated to support iridescent effects, giving you more realistic results.

Python Scripting

Python is an industry-standard programming language prevalent in most CG pipelines. The inclusion of Python scripting in LightWave 11 allows for the deeper integration of LightWave into studio workflow and production pipelines. If you are familiar with Python scripting, you can quickly begin writing tools to greatly extend the functionality of LightWave.

Enhanced Virtual Studio Tools (VST)

LightWave 11 expands the Virtual Studio Tools (VST) toolset with additional controller types, including support for the affordably priced Playstation™ Move. These types of third-party controllers use the Virtual Studio Tools SDK to hook directly into the system.

The new Control Booth and Device Managers in the VST can be used to manage every aspect of how a controller is figured and used in LightWave. Virtually anything that can be animated in LightWave can be controlled using a multitude of devices.

Now it’s possible to modify how the input data is manipulated, as it is captured in LightWave, using the Node Editor; complex logic affects the input. Once a virtual performance is captured, the data can be edited in the Graph Editor to hand edit any live-capture performance.

With the new SDK, third-party developers can extend and enhance the functionality of LightWave even further.

Enhanced Interchange Tools - GoZ™

GoZ is interchange technology from Pixologic® that allows applications to send model and texture data to and from ZBrush™ for sculpting detail on a base mesh. It is incredibly popular with many 3D artists and now it is directly supported in LightWave 11.

The GoZ implementation in Layout and Modeler is full-featured and powerful—it can be used to exchange model data and all the associated texture maps. The LightWave Modeler implementation even lets you use ZBrush for sculpting Endomorphs in facial animation.

Render Buffer Enhancements

Saving and viewing the buffers produced by the render engine is now easier and more robust in LightWave 11.

The new Compositing Buffer Export panel makes it possible to select the objects that are to be included in the specified buffers, making it easier to select buffers for saving or viewing.

These enhancements streamline rendering out for compositing by combining and extending the functionality of the two panels you had to visit previously in LightWave. It also allows presets of commonly used buffers to be saved to aid in setting up for output—a function that was not possible in earlier versions of the LightWave.

FiberFX Enhancements

FiberFX now offers Stroke, a new volume rendering mode, which is the original shading method for volumetric rendering. When set to Solid, you can apply shading and materials like you would for any normal surface to easily create very complex-looking fibers; you can also perform parametric cylinder rendering of the fibers.

New optimizations make the building and relaxed distribution of fibers multi-threaded, giving you faster render times and greater interactivity when working with fiber setup and styling. Additionally, the FiberFX instance accelerator demonstrates benchmarked rendering improvements of 2X for complex situations.

FiberFX also benefits from the new instancing system in LightWave 11. Volume mode now uses the new built-in Instancing system in LightWave 11; the old FiberFX Instancing Tab is no longer needed and has been removed.

Print Camera Utility

Working out how big to make your camera frame size for print has long been a challenge for artists. And, while the math is simple, the process is ripe for automation.

The 'Print Assistant' utility in LightWave 11 has been replaced with a new feature-rich version that supports all the major print units and includes a substantial list of preset standard paper sizes.

User Interface Enhancements

LightWave 11 has a number of workflow improvements that add up to a better user experience and overall faster creative environment:

  1. Node Search - The list of available nodes can now be searched to quickly find a specific node.
  2. Adding Multiple Nodes - Adding multiple nodes in one go is now possible using the menu option
  3. Grouped Property Panels - Commonly accessed properties that affected rendering are now grouped into one panel to speed setup
  4. Faster Access to Morph Mixer - This often used feature has been pulled out from the Displacement list and placed on the main Deform tab to speed up workflow
  5. Optimizations - Speed improvements to IK performance and GLSL shading means smoother working in Layout for animators
  6. Scene Loading Speed - Featuring a significant speed boost with some scenes loading up to 7X faster
  7. Faster Layered Objects - Experience speed improvements when working with multiple layers in Modeler
  8. Align to Plane - Allows you to toggle the alignment of your object in Modeler to the World Coordinates and back. Making it easier to work with tools that operate better when aligned along an axis

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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).