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Old November 13 2012, 05:14 PM   #1042
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Location: Spokane, WA, USA
Re: Star Ship Polaris

In Max, you simply assign individual polygons to one or more "smoothing groups." If two adjacent polygons have a smoothing group in common, they are shaded into a smooth surface regardless of the angle between them. Smoothing can be automatically applied according to angle thresholds or manually on a per-polygon basis. Either way, it boils down to smoothing groups.

Here is an example of how I modeled the panel lines and most other edges on Polaris:

The tops and sides of each panel are all assigned to smoothing group 1 and the bottom of the trenches between them are assigned to smoothing group 2. This is the result when rendered:

I've seen other people do this with 3 or 4 segments along every edge, but careful use of smoothing groups can accomplish virtually the same appearance with only 2 segments.

Can you assign smoothing to sub-selections of polygons in a Lightwave surface or must you apply the same smoothing angle settings to the entire surface? If the former, then Lightwave may already be interpreting the smoothing groups correctly. If the latter, then you're going to have problems in certain areas. Fortunately, most objects in this model are already fully smoothed except for the trenches in the panel lines. If those present a problem, my suggestion is to break the bottom of the trenches out as separate surfaces, which should correct at least 80% of any potential problems.
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