Shapeways community member James White has been generous enough to provide us with a tutorial on Creating and Prepping an Object in LightWave 3D for 3D printing.
The tutorial covers how to create a basic object and prep it for 3D printing using LightWave 3D. For this tutorial we are creating an animated style penguin. The majority of the object will be made using the drag, smooth shift and stretch tools. You may want to take a few minutes familiarizing yourself with these tools if you are new to LightWave 3D.
Like most objects you will start by creating a box (use the numeric panel when creating the box to set the size of the object). Now make several cuts using the knife tool down each axis and one close to the bottom to add geometry and make it easier to manipulate later on. Center the object and turn on symmetry so that you can work on both sides of the object at the same time.
Using the tab key sub patch the model to round it out and give it a more fluid and organic look and start moving points to get the general shape that you are looking for. Use the drag tool and move the points on one side of the object. If you object is centered then the points on the other side should move as well. Once you have the general shape down it is time to start making some of the more prominent features of the penguin.
Select the poly's on the sides of the object and smooth shift and stretch them out to get the general shape of the wings. Once you have the general shape select the polys that outline the wings (make sure not to select the polys on top) and smooth shift and stretch those in to give the wings more definition and depth. Use the drag tool to shape the wings and model by dragging points to get the desired look.
Now we move to the bill. Use smooth shift and stretch to get the desired look and shape that you want. Now select the polys on the underside of the bill. Smooth shift and drag to make the bottom of the bill. Now select the polys in the center of the bill just like you did for the wings and smooth shift and stretch them in to make it look as if there is a top and bottom. Select the bottom and stretch to make it smaller than the top part of the bill.
The same method of smooth shift and stretch will be used for the tail as well.
To make the feet you will first want to smooth shift the bottom of the object to make it flat. Then you will move to a new layer and create a smaller box to make the feet. Make several cuts and move the points to get the general shape. Mirror the object and then press tab to sub patch.Smooth shift the tops of the feet to flatten and them move them as close as you can to the bottom of the model without over lapping so that they will print as one object. Then move points on the rest of the model to get the desired shape.
To make the face and eyes you will use smooth shift and stretch to add geometry and make the indentations. Now in a second layer, use the ball tool and stretch to make the eyes. Adjust the holes so that the eyes fit inside without overlapping. Now it is time to do any final tweaking that you may want to do to get the desired look and shape. You can make a fat or skinny penguin. Now it is really up to you to add more detail and really make the model your own.
If you like you can add some color to your object to get a better idea of what the final product will look like. Select the polys of the area that you want to add color to and press Q. This will bring up the window to name a color and choose the color that you like. Do this for each color that you wish to use. I have named and made 3 colors for this model. Black, white and orange.
Before freezing your mesh I would recommend saving the model unfrozen then modifying the name (such as adding Frozen) so that if you want to make changes and or use the same model as a base you will have an unfrozen version available. Once you freeze your model you will not be able to make easy adjustments to it. Now you will want to freeze your mesh. Once the mesh is frozen press tab to sub patch and you can freeze again to make the surface polys smaller. This will help make your printed model smoother. Be careful not to do this to many times as it may cause manifold errors. Now you will need to export your object into a format that is recognized by Shapeways. LightWave can export as a Colloda file which is a recognized format.
If you would like to cut down on costs you can hollow out your object. You can do this by creating another square inside of the current object, Press tab to sub patch and then move the points to fill the object. Make sure not to get it to close to the outer walls or they will become to thin. Then press f to flip the (inside) object inside out.
Or you can select a poly on the bottom and smooth shift and stretch it to a small poly. Move it up into the model and repeat until the inside is hollowed out. This method will leave a small hole in the bottom but may be preferred for printing as it leaves a hole for venting..