Introduction
Usage
History
Requirements
Installation
Ordering

VMapManager is a LightWave ® Modeler plugin for managing UV and vertex maps. It loads and saves VMaps from/to disk as normal image files. Using this plugin you can save existing a vertex map, process it, paint from scratch or add details with your favourite image processing software and then reload it.

VMapManager utilizes the built-in LightWave ® image handling functions, therefore you can use any image format supported by this system. If you upgrade by adding the new Input / Output plugins, VMapManager will automatically use these also.

VMapManager consists of four plugins:

  • VMapManager. This is the main user interface. It's the recommended way to launch the other VMapManager plugins. However, you can still run them individually using the Construct > Additional pop-down control.
  • VMapManager_LoadVMapImage loads a vertex map (weight map, vertex color map, etc.) from an image files. Only pixels at the coordiates specified in the UV Map are examined and mapped into vertex map value space.
  • VMapManager_SaveVMapImage saves a vertex map (weight map, vertex color map, etc.) to an image file. The space between each polygon's points (whose coordinates are read from the UV Map) is filled with avaraged values. Therefore it looks nice, and for Vertex Color Map allows direct use as a normal UV mapped texture!
  • VMapManager_SaveUVMapImage saves a UV map to an image file.

Because vertex maps don't have the required information to place a vertex map value in an image, VMapManager_LoadVMapImage and VMapManager_SaveVMapImage have to use UV map coordinates, to place values at the correct positions.

On the left image you can see the VMapManager control panel.

You can launch the desired plugin from this panel, or directly from the Construct > Additional pop-down control.

On the left image you can see the VMapManager_LoadVMapImage control panel.

UV Map defines which UV map will be used for reading vertex map value pixel coordinates when saving the vertex map. This is a required parameter.

VMap Type defines which type of vertex map you wish to see in the VMap pop-down control. Some vertex map types have their own specific additional options enabled when they're selected.

VMap pop-down control defines which vertex map you wish to replace, or you can enter a name to create a new map. This is a required parameter.

Apply To Surface defines the surface to which the Vertex Color Map will be applied. It is equivalent to the LightWave ® Modeler, Map > New Color Map, apply to surface option. This is a very important option, a Vertex Color Map which is not attached to any surface is not visible!

This option is enabled only when VMap Type is Vertex Color Map Without Alpha or Vertex Color Map With Alpha.

Image File is a standard file-requester in which you can choose the image file you wish to load into the vertex map.

Low Color, Middle Color and High Color define which colours in the image will be treat as 'low', 'middle' and 'high' values, which map to -100.0%, 0.0% and 100.0%, respectively.

This option is enabled only when VMap Type is set to Weight Map.

This option is not currently supported, and black is mapped to -100.0%, grey is mapped to 0.0% and white is mapped to 100.0%.

On the left image you can see the VMapManager_SaveVMapImage control panel.

UV Map defines which UV map will be used for reading vertex map value pixel coordinates in the newly generated image. This is a required parameter.

VMap Type defines which vertex map type you wish to see in the VMap pop-down control. Some vertex map types have their own specific additional options enabled when they're selected.

VMap pop-down control defines which vertex map you wish to save as an image file. It is a required parameter.

Width and Height define the image dimension. They must be greater than 1.

Image File is a standard file-requester in which you can choose the image file in which you wish to save the vertex map.

Image Format defines which built-in LightWave ® Input / Output plugin will be used for saving the image.

Low Color, Middle Color and High Color define the colours to what the weight map values should be mapped. -100.0% is mapped to Low Color, 0.0% is mapped to Middle Color and 100.0% is mapped to High Color, respectively.

This option is enabled only when VMap Type is set to Weight Map.

This option is not currently supported and -100.0% map value is mapped to black, 0.0% is mapped to grey, and 100.0% is mapped to white.

On the left image you can see the VMapManager_SaveUVMapImage control panel.

UV Map pop-down control defines which UV map you wish to save as an image file. It is a required parameter.

Width and Height define the image dimension. They must be greater than 1.

Image File is a standard file-requester in which you can choose the image file to which you wish to save the vertex map.

Image Format defines which built-in LightWave ® Input / Output plugin will be used for saving the image.

Edge Color defines the color which will be used to draw polygon edges. This option is disabled when Draw Edges is turned off.

Point Color defines the color which will be used to draw points. This option is disabled when Draw Points is turned off.

Draw Edges is a boolean switch defining whether or not draw polygon edges.

Draw Points is a boolean switch defining whether or not draw points.

Converting Vertex Color Map to UV mapped texture

This technique might be handy for day-to-day use when texturing models.

When object modelling is finished, and it is time for texturing, instead of saving a UV map image with just polygon points and edges on a black background, it may be better to first create an additional Vertex Color Map and paint that in the LightWave ® Modeler using Map > Airbrush. When a rough Vertex Color Map is ready, convert it to a real UV mapped texture using VMapManager and finish off the detailing in your 2D image painting software.

To convert an existing Vertex Color Map into a UV mapped texture:

  1. Create a new UV map using Map > New UV Map, or other UV map creating plugins etc.
  2. Run VMapManager > Save VMap Image.
  3. Set UV Map to the new UV map.
  4. Set VMap Type to Vertex Color Map without Alpha or Vertex Color Map with Alpha respectively.
  5. Set VMap to the Vertex Color Map you wish to convert.
  6. Set Width, Height, Image Format and other options to your needs.
  7. Press OK to generate and save the image.
  8. Process, paint or modify the image in your image-processing software.
  9. Run Map > Airbrush tool and select Vertex Color Map in the Vertex Map option.
  10. Press Map > Delete Map to delete it (it is no longer needed and it's functionality will be replaced by the UV mapped texture).
  11. Open Surface Editor.
  12. Open Basic > Color > Texture Editor.
  13. Set Projection to UV.
  14. Set UVMap to the previously created UV map.
  15. Select Image and load the image generated by VMapManager.

Converting UV mapped texture to Vertex Color Map

This technique might be especially useful for people creating objects for VRML or other virtual reality systems, which require the smallest possible file size (eg. for transfer in real-time over a network; with a very limited number of textures), but with good quality.

Thanks to VMapManager and this technique, you can create high quality objects which will be used in f.e. a pre-rendered demo animation, and later optimize them for real-time purposes by reducing the number of points and polygons, and converting UV mapped textures to Vertex Color Maps.

To convert UV mapped texture to Vertex Color Map:

  1. Run VMapManager > Load VMap Image.
  2. Set UV Map to the one used by the UV mapped texture.
  3. Set VMap Type to Vertex Color Map without Alpha or Vertex Color Map with Alpha.
  4. In the VMap pop-down control, select an existing Vertex Color Map to replace, or enter a completely new name.
  5. Set Apply To Surface to the desired surface. A very important step!
  6. Set other options to your needs.
  7. Press OK to load image.

Changes made in the 1.1 (11-Dec-2003)

  • The first Macintosh release.

Changes made in the 1.0 (24-Jun-2003)

  • The first Windows release.

Minimum Windows Requirements

  • LightWave v6+
  • Pentium or better
  • Windows 32 bit

Recommended Windows Requirements

  • x86 compatible CPU 1.0 GHz or better
  • Windows Me or better

Minimum Macintosh Requirements

  • LightWave v6+
  • PowerPC or better
  • MacOS X

Recommended Macintosh Requirements

  • PowerPC G3/G4 CPU 1.0 GHz or better

Installing the product

In order to install the program, please extract the archive to some location on your hard disk.

On Windows ®, the archive is in the ZIP format. You will need 3rd party software such as WinZIP, which you can download from http://www.winzip.com (it's not included in the package), or other compatible software to decompress the archive.

Windows XP ® has built-in ZIP support (simply right click on the archive’s icon, and choose ‘Extract all files...’).

On Macintosh ®, the archive is in the SIT format. You will need 3rd party software such as StuffIt, which you can download from http://www.stuffit.com (it's not included in the package), or compatible software to decompress the archive.

The LightWave ® plugin does not require files to be in specific locations, which is a very nice feature. But for easier file management it is recommended that the plugin files (i.e. those with .p extension) be copied to your LightWave ® plugins folder (f.e. LightWave\Plugins\).

Installing LightWave ® Modeler Plugins

Run the LightWave ® Modeler executable. Select pop-down menu Modeler > Utilities > Add Plugins..., then choose the folder containing the new plugins and select them. You should see a message from LightWave that the plugins have been added successfully. The changes will be saved to your configuration file when you quit the program.

Click on the image to see it at full resolution.

Uninstalling the product

Uninstalling LightWave ® Modeler Plugins

Run the LightWave ® Modeler executable. Select pop-down menu Modeler > Utilities > Edit Plugins..., then select the plugin files and press the Delete button. The changes will be saved to your configuration file when you quit the program. Now you can safely remove the files from your hard disk.

Click on the image to see it at full resolution.

Price

The price for a single license (product installed on the one machine) is 300 USD (United States Dollars).

On-line ordering

This is the preferred ordering method. It has several advantages:

  • Easy. You just need to type your personal and credit card details into the order form, and you will receive your goods within max. 48 hours.
  • Fast. Usually, you will receive the purchased products within an hour (depending on the time difference between where you live, and the hours we are working)!
  • Safe. You are sure your order won’t be stolen in transit, or held up by postal strikes etc.