Surface Texture "S" Panels

Nearly every fur attribute can be texture mapped, allowing you to precisely control the way fur appears on different parts of your object. You can define these advanced mappings by pressing the "S" button next to individual controls, which will bring up a large "Surface Definition" panel. I just call it an "S panel" since it's easier to say.

Normally an attribute (like Density, Diffuse, Frizz, or more than 30 others) is set to the same value everywhere on your object's surface. If you want that attribute to vary over your surface, you can use the small "S" button next to the control to specify this variation. This activates the S~panel which varies that attribute using a variety of methods including image maps, fractal noise, spots, effectors, or slopes.

S Panels are most useful for fur effects. They do work with hair, but they're only evaluated once for every guide, not along the guide's length. For example, you can make some guides frizzy and others less so, but you can't make the hair on a single guide frizzy just at the ends.

Base And Applied Values

Base (Black) Value and Applied (White) Value determine what range of values are mapped. For example, if you want to use an image map to control Density, you may want to have no fur in the black areas of your image map, and 50% density in the white areas. You would simply use a Base value of 0% and Applied value of 50% in this case. The Base and Applied values give you precise control over the texturing since you could use the same image map but make black appear as 30% density and white as 50% by simply using a Base setting of 30% instead of 0. The Base doesn't have to be a lower value than the Applied value; you might want values of 100% Density in the black areas of the image map, but a sparse 10% in the white, Applied, areas. The Base and Applied ranges are convenient since you don't need to re-paint your maps if you just want to change the application ranges.

The Base value is also shown (and is editable) in the main panel. To change the Applied value, you must visit the S panel.

There are six methods for texturing surfaces. You'll tend to use only one at a time, but they can be combined. If you do use more than one at a time, their effects are multiplied. That is, the net result is only applied where all of the methods intersect. For example, you might make patchy grass using fractal noise. If you also use an effector to limit where the grass is, you'll get patchy grass only in the areas where the effector is. This can be very convenient especially with fractal noise which adds a natural randomness to the surface.

Weight Maps

Weight maps are an enormously powerful tool that allows you to use 3D paint programs (and Modeler weight maps) to control every aspect of Sasquatch. This gives very powerful texturing and modeling control, especially for fur.

Image Maps

The most versatile method for texturing is with an image map. This lets you paint the variation directly, allowing complete control over the appearance. When you choose an image, the parts of your object which are selected by black pixels use the Base value you specified, and the white areas use the Applied values. Load the image in LightWave's Image panel, and then enter the appropriate S panel.

Use the Image Map button on the left side of the panel to choose your image. You'll see a preview of the image appear below. The image will be shown in grey values even if your image is color, since only the grey values are used for mapping.

The image can be applied onto your surface using several different methods, including the three standard LightWave projections of Planar, Cylindrical, Spherical, and UV. Simply pick which type you want using the button in the S panel interface. You can also choose which direction the image is mapped (X, Y, or Z.)

You can specify the size, orientation, and position of the mapping in two ways. The most common is by auto-sizing the texture. You can choose to automatically fit the image to cover the Sasquatch surface or the entire object. If the surface-sizing option is chosen, the image will be stretched to cover the applied surface exactly. Note that this auto-sizing will fit exactly to the surface size, but this may not match the fur application areas if you're using the Creep effect since this makes the fur advance or withdraw from the surface boundaries.

You can also auto-size to the entire object. This is especially useful when you have several instances of Sasquatch on different surfaces, but you want to paint a single map to control density or another attribute. In this case you can use the same map for both instances. For example, you may want to use an image map to paint shorter fur on the legs of a wolf, and also on the nose. If the wolf's head is one surface with one instance of Sasquatch, and the legs are a different instance, you can still make a single map and just paint the nose and legs differently. There's no real need to make two separate nose and leg maps.

The standard trick for making these maps is simply to load your object in Modeler and take a screenshot of the interface. Then, in Photoshop, crop the screenshot to exactly conform to the view of your object. Then you can use this as a background template to guide you as you paint colors on top of it. The orthogonal Modeler view matches the projection that Sasquatch (and LightWave) use for planar mapping. An even easier method is to use the LightWave "ExportEPS" tool, which gives you an image of the starting shape of your object in one step, ready for Photoshop.

You can also use LightWave's UV mapping coordinates to define the map's behavior. This is especially useful if you use a 3D paint program.

The second method to specify a map's position is by using an extra object in your scene which you can move, stretch, and rotate. Often this is just a null object that you choose in the Use Reference Object item picker. (This is the same as LightWave's Reference Objects.) The object does not need to be a null. It's often useful to use a flat plane 1 meter wide as the positioning object. This lets you see the application position and range in Layout, which makes mapping easier.

You can tweak the image after you've applied it to Sasquatch. The Bias and Sharpness controls let you shift the brightness of the image in case you find that your painted image needs some tweaking. This is also useful when you want to use the same map to control two different attributes differently. You might make a soft gradient image for one attribute. You can use that same image for a second attribute, but shift and sharpen the gradient with the S~Panel Bias and Sharpness controls to change the position and speed of the change. This saves time for you (and image map memory). You can also reverse the image (changing black into white) with the Reverse Intensity control. These effects are all previewed in real time.

Fractal Noise

Quick Tip
Quick Tip
Here's a short video showing how to use Sasquatch's Fractal Noise to make grass.
Sasquatch's fractal noise is very similar to LightWave's. It adds a random, "patchy" variation to the surface. Press the Use Fractal Noise button to activate it. You'll see a preview of the noise pattern at the bottom of the panel. This preview will update in real-time as you change the noise settings.

You can change the scale of the noise by using the three Scale X, Y, Z controls. These percentages are based on your object size. If you increase the values, the noise pattern will become larger. A large size may be useful for something like the random patches of color on a dog's fur. You can stretch the noise by using different sizes in X, Y, or Z. This lets you add random stripes instead of spots. The preview shows the X and Y stretching.

The shape of the spots is controlled by the Small Detail control. Higher values will give spots a very ragged, irregular edge. Small values will make smooth edged spots.

You can use the Bias control to make the spots fill more of the surface, biasing the color to white. A low value will make the surface blacker. The Sharpness will change how rapidly the color changes from black to white. Low sharpness will make more intermediate gray gradients, and high sharpness will make the spot edges a stark, sha

Spots

Similar to fractal noise, Sasquatch can add circular spots to your surface. The Spot controls are very similar to fractal noise's. The Spot Spacing will change the distance between the spots and Spot Size will make the spots grow wider and cover more of the surface. Bias and Sharpness are also like fractal noise.

You can reverse the spots (making black spots on white) by using the Reverse button. A final special feature will change the spots into a random tiled pattern like a giraffe's skin. Just click on I want a giraffe! and you'll get one!

Effectors

Image maps are the most versatile way of setting your surface attributes, but sometimes it's awkward to set up the map in a difficult place like the inside of an ear. Sasquatch allows you to use effectors to texture areas. This is similar to the Polk Collection's Acid plugin. An effector is an object in LightWave which colors the surface it's near. You can think of it like a paintbrush that makes the surface change color in the place it's touching.

The effector can be any object, but it's easiest to view when you use a 1 meter radius sphere. In LightWave, you may want to use a null object and apply the LightWave "Item Shape:Ball" custom object tool with a scale of 2 meters. This is added in the Object Properties/Geometry tab of LightWave.

Type in the effector's name in the Effector(s) box in Sasquatch. You can use wildcards like "Effector*" to select all of the objects that start with the characters "Effector", like Effector2, EffectorNose, and so on.{We decided not to use an item picker here since sometimes it's useful to use dozens of effectors and it's annoying to pick that many individually.}

You can move, size, and rotate the effectors to select the areas you want to affect. Sasquatch will use the effectors to set your surface parameters.

You can set the sharpness of the effector's edge with the Sharpness control in the S~panel. You can also reverse the effector (leaving the effect applied everywhere except where there is an effector) by using the Reverse button. There is a small preview which will show you these effects.

Slope Control

The final method of texturing is especially useful for landscapes. This method uses the slope of a surface to determine the texture strength. This allows you to grow grass only on the flat tops of hills, or make moss grow only on steeply angled cliffs.

Slope texturing uses three controls to define the range of angles that the texture is applied to. The Center setting determines whether the top, sides, or bottoms of objects should be textured. Higher values will texture only the top, and low values the bottom. You can see this in the preview, since the band of angles will move to the top of the arc with high Center values and to the bottom with low ones.

Range and Sharpness control the range of angles that the texture applies to. A smaller value will cover fewer angles. Sharpness controls the sharpness of the transition between applied and unapplied angles. In both cases the preview shows you the effect, so setting the values isn't difficult.

S Panel Tips

Whenever you're using an S panel, there are some standard tricks which are useful. In practice, the image map and fractal noise options are used constantly. The other methods aren't as common, but are essential for some special effects.

Since many attributes are related, you often have similar (or identical) S panel settings on two different Sasquatch controls. For example, you might use an image map to make a wolf's face hair both shorter and more dense. To do this, you'll need to set up the same image map twice, once for density, and once for length.

To help with this, S panels have a Copy and Paste button at the bottom which makes it easy to transfer settings from one S panel to another. When you do this, be careful to reset the Base and Applied values since these usually are the only things that need adjusting after you paste.

If you're using a map that has a lot of detail (like polka dots) as opposed to a smooth gradient, you may want to increase the Surface Subdivision control on Sasquatch's main panel. To speed up rendering, Sasquatch assumes that S panel textures change smoothly, like a gradient. This can double or triple rendering speed. However, if you have a lot of detail in your maps, this makes Sasquatch render the surface "blurry" or smeared. You can tell Sasquatch to work harder at finding details (like the spots and stripes) by increasing the Surface Subdivision level. This may slow down rendering. Luckily, it's usually not necessary.

Blurry texturing from too low Surface Subdivision

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