LightWave 3D Graphics Design Software For Windows And Mac OS

LightWave 3D is a complete 3D solution to model, render, and animate. Used extensively in broadcast television production, film visual effects, video game development, print graphics and visualization, This animation software is responsible for more artists winning Awards than any other 3D graphics application. This animation software has been used in the television industry for a long time and it is one of the big players in the NewTek Lightwave 3D animation software market. Specially designed for professional artists, it comes bundled with advanced modeling and rendering tools.

Workflow enhancements and powerful new tools solve your animation and design challenges and streamline your creative process. Direct and robust, LightWave 3D 2019 serves the artist first, for visual effects, motion graphics, game development, architectural visualization, product design, and advertising.


These days, with the creative process, artists need to move at maximum speed in order to tackle incredible deadlines, demanding work and high expectations. Using the app, either exclusively or in a pipeline, makes it possible for an individual, a small team or a major facility to see their dreams and ideas come to life, with award-winning quality work, on time and on budget. New LightWave 3D artists all over the world say they can count on it for speed, flexibility, value, and control.

Just like other professional-level animation suites, its complexity makes the learning curve a bit steep for beginners, but that is a minor drawback compared to its complete set of features. Providing Viewport Preview Renderer (VPR) functionality, LightWave 3D allows you to get an idea of the final look of your projects as you work. The advanced editing tools enable you to modify scenes, surfaces, images and graphs to create realistic customized graphics, models and amazing animations. Among the advantages of the program is its capacity to seamlessly integrate with similar software, allowing you to import and export objects from and to other modeling applications.

The software can design tri-dimensional objects, add gravity and wind effects, simulate lighting effects (refraction, reflection, etc.) and configure motion paths. Populate scenes with incredible details using multiple instances of a certain item and create realistic natural motion effects with the Flock controller. Especially designed for game developers, the integrated Bullet dynamics engine can help you build complex animations, featuring 3D collision detection and real dynamics. Together with the Fracture tool, it enables you to fine-tune breaking objects, such as explosion pieces.

The application comes with a wide range of rendering options (wireframe, texture, shade, stretch and more) and a powerful particle engine that makes it easy to create detailed and photo-realistic animations. In addition, you can set the program to run rendering tasks across networked PCs, thus saving time. Together with Lscript, the application also supports Python, C, C++ or C# programming languages, which makes it a versatile development tool.

LightWave 3D is an all-in-one must-have tool for every 3D modeler out there. Its professional modeling features and the virtual camera, together with the powerful rendering engine make it a complete solution for creating 3D scenes. All the tools are there, the only limit is your imagination.

LightWave 3D Software

LightWave 3D Features

Real-time Collaborative LightWaveto Unreal Engine

LightWave 3D enters the Real-Time Age for interchange with this workflow link between the Unreal Engine and LightWave 3D, focusing on LightWave driving Unreal changes iteratively. Multiple LightWave seats are able to connect to the same Unreal Editor simultaneously to enable real-time collaboration between artists. The bridge uses NewTek’s proven NDI network discovery mechanism for easy automatic configuration, and can be limited to single project use in Unreal, or installed as a general plugin for use in all Unreal projects.

Real time Collaborative

FBX and New Interchange Bridge

Work with industry-standard FBX data on a whole new level via the new Interchange Bridge.

  • Interactively choose what to import / export and how.
  • Add to existing FBX files from Layout and Modeler.
  • Build LightWave 3D assets from many FBX files.
  • Append assets to or replace the animation data for existing scenes
  • Option to import materials as Principled BSDF
  • Easily revisit FBX files via workspaces.
Support for:
  • Vertex Caches
  • Morph Mixer
  • Vertex Maps
  • Smoothing Groups
  • Animation Layers
  • Animation Baking
  • Bones
  • Hierarchies
  • Meshes
  • Pivots
  • Mesh Freezing

FBX and New Interchange Bridge

Shading Model Customization Tools

LightWave 3D 2019.1 brings an artist the ability to pull materials apart and build them to your tastes. There is access to Fresnel Functions, Material Components, and Material Integrators. The Material Tools Group has been updated with new nodes to support this capability.

Shading Model Customization Tools

OpenVDB Content Creation

LightWave 3D 2018 introduced the ability to import and render an OpenVDB fog volume. New for LightWave 3D 2019.1 builds on that with a set of node tools that allow OpenVDB content creation. You can now create OpenVDB grids from meshes, particles, and even the shape primitive distance estimator. Meshes can now be used to create a particle system, with support for collision velocity. The tool kit allows for live Constructive Solid Geometry (CSG) operations, grid filtering including level-set tracking, smoothing, dilation, and erosion. Solvers are included that allow for fluid simulation and smoke and fire effects.

OpenVDB Content Creation


Metamorphic is a multipurpose animatable mesh sculpting and vertex map manipulation plug-in for LightWave 3D 2019.1 that works in Layout and takes full advantage of the new capabilities of the modifier stack.

  • Freeform animated sculpting
  • Built-in undo/redo system
  • Fully-multithreaded sculpting using all available CPU cores
  • Pen pressure support for brush size, strength, and hardness (Windows only)
  • Nodal brush texture support
  • Three modes of animation
  • Non-linear interpolation of sculpting animation keyframes
  • Supports converting sculpt animation keyframes to Endomorphs
  • Predictive corrective morph sculpting that works after deformers with built-in driver/driven controller
  • Full Motion Blur support


Display Scaling
  • Support for scaling many UI elements for HiDPI and large-screen displays
  • Independent scaling options for multi-monitor setups

Display Scaling

Bone System Improved for Game Development

The new Bone Type option, Limited Bones, allows the animator to set a limit in Layout on the number of bones that affect a given point to match the limit in the target game engine and engages real-time optimizations to more closely match the performance game engines expect from a rig.

Bone System Improved for Game Development

Edge Shader Node

A node for simulating beveled or rounded edges at render time, to give more realistic results without increasing geometry.

Edge Shader Node

Patina Node

This node can add Wear (a convex shader) to a surface, or Dirt (concave) based on a radius and offset.

Patina Node

Procedural Shader Node

This node encapsulates a chosen legacy system LightWave 3D or third party procedural texture and exposes it with the typical nodal inputs and outputs. Previously, such procedurals were only available inside a Procedural texture layer of a textured stack.

Procedural Shader Node

Image Caching

LightWave now uses smart caching with very high-resolution images, allowing artists to use them for textures and other uses, regardless of the memory in the computer system.

Image Caching

New Compositing Buffers

The new Rho buffer is for extracting lighting and shading information from the direct and indirect buffers. A new Weight buffer contains the value of the surface shader settings for both direct and indirect buffers. These are useful for heavy compositing work.

New Compositing Buffers

NVIDIA OptiX Denoising

A new Noise Filter option uses the NVIDIA OptiX library for AI-accelerated noise reduction when rendering still images. Requires NVIDIA card.

NVIDIA OptiX™ Denoising


This new Renderer option is a tool for reducing or removing “fireflies” in renders.

Physical Sky

An Environment plugin to replicate physically accurate skies and create otherworldly skies, with equal ease.

Physical Sky

Physical Sunlight

A new Light Type that simulates a sun using state-of-the-art scientific methods.

Physical Sunlight

Enhanced UV and UDIM Mapping Workflow

Modeler has added a suite of new tools for working with UV maps as well as UDIM tiled mapping:

  • FlipUV-U
  • FlipUV-V
  • MoveUDIM
  • Turn Poly UV
  • SelectUV Island
  • SelectUV overlap
  • SpreadUV
  • Rectangular UV Grid

New view modes for working with UVs:

Enhanced UV and UDIM Mapping Workflow

Smoothing Groups

Modeler now supports the creation of smoothing groups within a mesh. Smoothing groups provide a way to create creases and hard edges, and more precisely control regional contours on your model. You are no longer limited to a single smoothing angle, adding extra control geometry, or breaking your model into parts to achieve the look you desire. Smoothing groups can be created automatically using a vertex normal map, imported with OBJ files, by using a smoothing angle threshold or manually. Smoothing groups can be exchanged with other software that supports the format.

Smoothing Groups

Empty Volume Shape Primitive

LightWave 3D 2019.1 offers the new Shape Primitive, Empty Volume, which can be used for creating procedural surface shapes. In addition to being directly useful in scenes, the Empty Volume primitive is helpful in workflows that need to convert meshes to volumes or vice versa. Empty Volume can also provide for real-time Boolean operations in Layout.

Empty Volume Shape Primitive

New Tools for Shape Primitives

The Empty Volume shape primitive allows advanced users to write their own distance estimators for rendered SDF shapes and volumetrics.

Other new nodal distance tools include:

  • Mobius
  • Capsule
  • Shape CSG (Constructive Solid Geometry)
  • SmoothMin, a soft blending node.

New Tools for Shape Primitives

Expanded Layout Undo System

The Layout Undo System has been expanded to many of the systems involving Transforms & Keys. Unlimited Undo is now available in:

  • Graph Editor
  • Scene Editors, both new and classic
  • Dope Sheet
  • Many Layout navigation tools

Expanded Layout Undo System

Popup Menus
  • Menus can now be navigated via keys (arrow, mouse wheel, home, end, etc.)
  • Large popup menus can be navigated with filtering and searches
  • Regular expressions can be used in filters
  • FLAT MENU: You can now call up a flattened version of every entry that exists in the main menu with the keyboard shortcut CTRL Space. Doing so presents a list of all available commands in Layout or Modeler (with their associated keyboard shortcuts). As with other LightWave menus, you can type to narrow down your selection and the cursor keys and Enter can be used to choose the command you require.

LightWave 3D software showing Popup Menus

Node Graph UI Options
  • Tidy Nodes Command A tool to make ‘cluttered’ node trees ‘straight’ and easier to read from left to right automatically.
  • Background Grid: You can adjust the brightness and color of the grid in the Node Editor
  • Snap to Grid: you can turn on this tool to make the nodes ‘snap’ to user-settable grid size.

LightWave 3D software showing Node Graph UI Options

Enhanced Configuration Control
  • Layout and Modeler both now have separate Key and Menu configuration files.
  • When the app asks for configs to be cleared, only LW2019.1.cfg, LWM2019.1.cfg, Extension Cache-64, and LWHUB2019.1.cfg need to be deleted and rebuilt. Customized hotkeys and menus can now be preserved.
  • Reset Configs command plugin clears the files mentioned in the previous item, preserving customized hotkeys and menus.

LightWave 3D software showing Enhanced Configuration Control


Optional progress bar added on the bottom bar of the Layout window; if multiple viewports are set to VPR, the progress bar will split into multiple bars, to show a bar for each viewport set to VPR.

LightWave 3D software showing VPR

New OpenGL Viewport Option

Hide all non-renderable elements – grid, motion paths, camera, light, bone, and null icons, etc.

LightWave 3D Software showing New OpenGL Viewport Option

Layout and Modeler Navigation and Panel Enhancements
  • New game-style navigation mode combining hotkeys, mouse and scroll wheel to move within the viewport, adjust the view and move the scene play-head.
  • Alternate control subjects and styles can be engaged from the Navigation Panel – View: Grab/Orbit/Helicopter/Walk; Current Item: Grab/Helicopter.
  • A variety of new functions have been added to the “tree-style” list panes in many panels to allow more customization of the view and easier drag and drop re-ordering and hierarchy adjustments (Scene Editors, Graph Editor, Configure Keys, etc.).
  • Enhancements to Modeler Layers and Vertex Maps Panels for more flexible and convenient management of layers and maps.

LightWave 3D Software showing Layout and Modeler Navigation

Online Documentation

Responsive layout – the LightWave 3D documentation now fits on any device you care to use it on.

LightWave 3D Software showing Online Documentation Feature

License Server 2019.1 Option

A new licensing management option for large facilities, this is a specialized build of the LightWave 3D applications wherein licensing of LightWave 3D is controlled through a managed portal. Purchase is by special arrangement.

LightWave 3D Software shows License Server 2019.1 Option

LightWave 3D Benefits

The toolset the standard for polygonal, subdivision surface modeling a decade before many of the other 3D software packages included even basic polygonal modeling tools. While others were basing their pipelines on clunky spline-patching workflows, The app artists were quickly and efficiently modeling with smooth subdivision surfaces interactively.

The program continues to offer powerful, rock-solid modeling tools and the latest versions of the appraise the bar with increased interactivity and ease of use.

The software offers two surfacing systems to the artist. A fast, simple to use the layer-based system, and a very flexible and powerful nodal system. Each offer different workflows to suit the artist – for quick results, the layered system is perfect for fast visualization and concept design. For those who like to dig deep, the nodal system offers ultimate creative freedom.

These systems can be used independently of each other, but unique to the app is the ability to mix them together. You can use the layered surfacing to achieve results quickly, then choose any of the surface properties to use in a nodal context. This allows you to create extremely complex results very quickly. The node system also includes easy to use physically accurate material shaders for glass, metal, skin, and car paint, allowing you to achieve photoreal results quickly.

The rigging tools in the app are fast and flexible and again offer artists choices in workflow. This software pioneered a very powerful and easy to set up automatic joint influence falloff system. This means that you can either choose to setup industry standard weight maps for your characters and rigged geometry or you can elect to bypass that often time-consuming weight mapping process for quick visualization and concept design animation workflows by using the automatic joint falloff that is built into the product’s animation system.

This 3D software allows you to quickly and easily swap out geometry in rigs with zero weight map hassles. But you always have the choice to work with weight maps for that added control when your project requires it.

The program includes powerful procedural, nodal, and keyframe animation tools. An easy to use and customizable keyframe graph editor allows you to quickly place and edit keys, time scale, filter, and even manipulate your animations with expressions. Bake your animations per keyframe or with frame stepping and create motion clips to blend together within the non-linear motion mixer. You can even bake animations to Autodesk geometry cache or industry standard MDD files to simplify the scene for rendering or for export to other animation packages. For the facial animation, the software includes an efficient blend-shape system called Endomorphs which includes all of your morph targets within your base object. Endomorphs can even be sculpted in ZBrush using the new ZBrush GoZ interchange tools included in the program.

Virtual Studio Tools
The app’s development team is bridging the gap between real and virtual worlds, by bringing together the broadest array in any application of new devices with which to interact with the set and characters inside the tool’s virtual stage and model shop. Device support ranges from economical mice, tablets and game system controllers to the sensor arrays and custom cameras and devices used to let directors, lighting grips and camera operators walk a real set and fully capture their data into the virtual set modeled in LightWave for PC. Applications range from propelling your camera on an architectural flythrough using a 6DoF mouse to puppeteering your characters live on stage using Playstation Move controllers, to recording every camera move shot for a major motion picture, a technique pioneered on the film Avatar.

Instancing allows vast duplication of objects in a scene with very little overhead. With instancing, huge ‘virtual’ polygon counts can be achieved allowing the artist to populate their scenes with incredible detail, yet retain reasonable render times and memory usage. While instances can be thought of as clones of the original source objects, they do not need to look identical. They can be randomly scaled, positioned, rotated and even surfaced entirely differently from the source, allowing for a huge variety of uses.

System Requirements

Processor Intel® Core™ 2 or AMD Athlon™ II Processor (or better)
Internal Memory 4 GB minimum RAM is required
Port Available USB Port (for users with existing hardware dongles)
Operating System Windows 7 64 bit, Windows 8 64 bit, Windows 10 64 bit
Graphics Card NVIDIA™ GeForce® 8400 series or ATI® X1600
Screen Resolution 1280 x 800 pixels
Hard disk space 750 MB available hard drive space

Technical Specifications

Title LightWave 3D 2019.1.2 For Windows
File Size 461 MB
File Name
Requirements Windows 7 64 bit, Windows 8 64 bit, Windows 10 64 bit
Language English
Available Languages English, Italian, French, Spanish, Polish, Chinese, German, Japanese
License Commercial Trial
Date added Sunday, March 31st, 2019
Author NewTek Inc. 

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