NewTek’s Lightwave 11.6 in Review

January 14, 2014 11:54 am

Tags: 3D, Animation, LightWave, NewTek



The release of LightWave 11.6 in late 2013 brings useful and exciting functionality to an already fast developing 3D application. Under the effective leadership of Rob Powers, president of the LightWave 3D Group (a division of NewTek), the LightWave 3D application is becoming increasingly competitive with other major 3D applications. A unique toolset, faster workflow and integration with other supporting applications are only a few of the excellent additions to LightWave 11.6.

New Features of LightWave 11.6

  • Spline Control - Native spline deformation, path, and spline IK solution
  • New Color Picker - Completely revamped, featurerich color picker
  • Raycast Node - Casts rays to make your objects aware of their surroundings
  • 3D Printing Support - Stl, vrml and ply loaders and savers. Most common 3D printing formats.
  • CGFX Shaders - Enhanced Opengl realtime display and normal maps
  • Alembic Support - Object/ cache support for new Alembic format
  • Compound Nodes - New ability to group compound node flows within a single node.

Complete list of new features in LightWave 11.6 is available here.



Using LightWave 11.6

Working with LightWave has become an increasingly easy and enjoyable process for me. Although there is still hopes for a more unified gui, LightWave 11.6 gets out of your way while you are working. It may take a while to get up to speed with LightWave’s workflow, but once you do it’s an incredibly deep application. One that continues to attract new users, especially in the television VFX field.

The new color picker is a very welcome addition to LightWave. It’s a clear upgrade from the previous version and makes working with color much easier. I also found the newly added Spline Control tool to be a delight. You arrange a series of nodes using nulls or other objects to control anything that “requires a natural movement” like snakes, trains, tentacles, etc. It’s such a fun addition that I found it hard to tear myself away from this new functionality. The ability to export to common 3D printing formats is also very encouraging and I’ll be testing this more extensively in future reviews.


LightWave 11.6 New Color Picker


LightWave is Back

Under the very capable guidance of Rob Powers, LightWave is back. Since the release of version 11.0, the application has regained its prestige and reputation. Lightwave 11.6 adds forward-thinking tools that simplify the workflow of present day LightWave artists. LightWave has gained momentum with every release over the last 2 years and is bringing past users back into the fold.

Although LightWave lacks a dedicated 3D paint program, I think it’s smarter for the program to build in unique capabilities first. Mr. Powers' affinity for virtual reality filmmaking is apparent in LightWave’s Virtual Studio Tools, as it’s miles ahead of any other 3D application in this area.


I really liked LightWave's new Spline control.


LightWave 11.6 is a solid upgrade that is free for any user with version 11.0 and up. If you are a new user, LightWave 11.6 is priced at a very reasonable $995 (USD) for a digital download. Full information on hardware requirements is available at the excellent LightWave website: There’s also a trial version of the program available which you can download here for Windows and Mac computers.


And don’t forget the new LightWave plugin NevronMotion (adds motion-capture capability) and the stand-alone application, ChronoSculpt (“a time based cache sculpting application for all 3D software pipelines”). I demoed these at SIGGRAPH back in August, 2013, and they are excellent. More information here.

My thanks to LightWave 3D Group for providing LightWave 11.6 for review.

Editor's Note - Be sure to also visit:

Ricky Grove [gToon], Staff Columnist with the Renderosity Front Page News. Ricky Grove is a bookstore clerk at the best bookstore in Los Angeles, the Iliad Bookshop. He's also an actor and machinima filmmaker. He lives with author, Lisa Morton, and three very individual cats. Ricky is into Hong Kong films, FPS shooters, experimental anything and reading, reading, reading. You can catch his blog here.




January 15, 2014

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Article Comments

FALCON2 ( posted at 8:03AM Thu, 16 January 2014

This is a fantastic update to the software that sits squarely in the center of my 3D and VFX workflow. Plays nice with everything out there and is a powerhouse in its own right. Affordable, Approachable and Adaptable. There's nothing else quite like it. Thank you for the great overview on this release.