WeightLifter - Vertex Groups Tool
WeightLifter helps simplify creating vertex groups or vertex color layers. Vertex groups are a versatile store of information used in various parts of Blender to control such things as particle distribution, hair length and modifier actions. Likewise vertex colors layers can be put to good use when creating shaders or materials.
Create vertex groups or vertex colors
WeightLifter allows you store information on various mesh characteristics in both vertex groups and vertex color layers so that this information is available to control particle distriubution, blend different shaders and many other uses.
Create groups/colors for field of view
WeightLifter can record whether vertices in a mesh are visble to a camera, a lamp or the 3d cursor, taking into account the field of vision of the camera and whether other objects block the view. It can also record the distance to the camera,
Assign values based on height, slope, face area, edge lengths or catchment area
WeightLifter can assign values according to the height of a vertex, the steepness of its slope or whether the surroundings are creased. It can also calculate catchment areas (i.e. assign weights based on how much rain would pass a vertex if it were part of a landscape)
Assign values randomly or by connected geometry
WeightLifter can assign random values to vertices, faces, or assign a unique random value to each piece of connected geometry, providing an easy way to vary the shading of for example plants that have a single mesh for all their leaves.
Assign values based on the distance to selected vertices
WeightLifter can calculate weights based on the distance to selected vertices. Different metrics (ways to measure a distance) can be used.
Create flow maps and calculate mesh deformations
Flow maps are vertex color layers that contain the direction in 3D of the steepest way downhill. WeightLifter can also calculate the difference between a base mesh and the mesh as it is deformed by its modifiers.
Bake and animate weightmaps
The new experimental bake option calculates a weightmap for a number of frames and saves it on disk. On replay these weightmaps are restored on each frame. This makes it possible for example to animate a weightmap used as a density control in a particle system. (See the video below for an example).
*note: for replay and rendering on a renderfarm you need to distribute the add-on to your render farm and have privileges to execute python on frame changes. Not every render farm allows this for all customers, so be aware.
Comprehensive manual included
WeightLifter comes with a comprehensive reference manual as part of the download. This manual walks you through all of the specifics of using WeightLifter and how to best use it to your advantage.
- Create vertex groups or vertex color layers
- Capture camera and light coverage
- Record mesh height, slope and creases
- Assign random values to faces or connected geometry
- Calculate distances to selected vertices
- Simplify ArchViz workflow when placing particle based foliage
- Blend materials realistically on landscapes
- Create better Cycles shaders
WeightLifter comes bundled with operators to transfer vertex colors to vertex group weights and vice versa.
Version 20141018 is a bug fix release. It fixes a bug that could led to a crash when assigning random weights to groups of connected vertices in large meshes. Also the Cursor visibility mode, the Full Scene option was not available, this has been corrected.
Version 20141209 fixes a bug in View from Camera mode where any vertices in the mesh behind the camera would lead to a crash.
Version 20150215 fixes a bug in slope mode that gave rise to errors when measuring slope relative to a vector pointing to the 3D cursor while the 3D cursor was ot the origin of the scene.
Version 20150222 incorporates a lot of features based on user feedback, including an invert option, a new mode (that measures distances to selected vertices), auto update of particles systems that use a vertex group and extra operators/menu options o transfer values between vertex groups and vertex color layers.
Version 20150418 fixes a small bug that could lead to errors when using WeightLifter on an object with a particle system.
Version 20150904 adds a height offset to add weight to values in valleys just out of view of the camera.
Version 20151123 adds an operator to the vertex paint menu that allows you to combine channels of multiple vertex color layers.
Version 20151206 adds options to use an arbitrary axis in height en slope mode, restrict the range of calculated values interactively and control the size of patches in random face color mode.
Version 201602211537 adds compatibility with Blender 2.77
Version 201604281021 adds a watershed mode (aka. catchment area) and a spherical option to Camera Visibility mode. It also contains some bug fixes.
Version 201710140932 (the HeavyWeight edition) adds a flowmap mode that calculates the direction of a flow along a mesh, a deformation mode that captures the difference between a base mesh and its modifiers and the option to bake & animate weightlifter maps. An animation example is highlighted in this video:
WeightLifter in the press
On BlenderNation it scores an 8.2 out of 10.
A fully illustrated manual in PDF format with a Q&A section is part of the download, this overview just gives you a taste of the possibilities.
NOTE: if you have already installed a previous version of WeightLifter you have to remove it first by going to File -> User preferences -> Add ons -> Paint . Open Paint:WeightLifter and click Remove.
- Unzip WeightLifter.zip to a suitable location,
- Open Blender and select from the menu File -> User preferences …,
- In the dialog that opens, click Addons and then Install from file …,
- In the File selection dialog that opens, locate weightlifter.py in the directory that you unpacked,
- Click the Install from file button to install the add-on and then check the box to the right of Paint:WeightLifter to enable it.
WeightLifter will now be available both in Weight Paint mode and in Vertex Paint mode.
To use WeightLifter you will have to enable if you have not yet done so on installation. It can be found in the Paint section of File -> User preferences … -> Addons. Once enabled WeightLifter is available in Weight Paint mode from the Weights menu and in Vertex Paint mode from the Paint menu.
The visibility modes create vertex groups or vertex color layers based on the visbility of a vertex from som vantage point. This vantage point can be a camera, a lamp or the 3d cursor.
Camera mode colors vertices based on the visibility from a camera.
Camera The Camera option lets you select the active camera or any other camera that might be present in the scene.
Camera Margin The Camera Margin option aloows for an extra number of vertices selected just outside the camera field of view.
Lamp mode colors vertices based on the visibility from a lamp.
Lamp The Camera option lets you select any lamp in the scene. WeightLifter will take into account the shape of the light cone as well.
Area Samples This options let's you control the accuracy of the visibility tests for area lights. Higher is better but slower.
Cursor mode colors vertices based on the visibility from a lamp.
Common visibility options
All visibility modes share the following options:
Full Scene When Full Scene is checked (the default), other objects in the scene may block visibility.
Distance Weight When Distance Weight is checked 9the default), vertex weights or colors will vary according to the distance to the reference object.
The Crease mode assigns weights or colors to vertices based on the local curvature: sharp ridges and deep creases will receive more weight than slowly ndulating part of the mesh.
Height & Slope
The Height & Slope modes create vertex groups or vertex color layers based on geometric properties of the mesh.
Height Height mode will assign weights or colors based on the elevation of a vertex relative to a reference axis.
Slope Slope mode will assign weights or colors based on the steepness of the slope near a vertex relative to a reference axis.
Lower limit Controls the angle below which all slopes will receive zero weight.
Upper limit Controls the angle above which all slopes will receive a weight of one.
Mirror When checked, negative slopes will be treated the same a positive slopes.
Common Height & Slope options The Height & Slopes modes share the follow options:
Reference axis Default is the global Z-axis but any global or local axis can be selected here as well as the the line from mesh origin to the 3d cursor.
World space Let's you choose between world space and local space. Local space will assign the same weights to parts of the mesh regardless of how it is scaled or moved.
Connected & Random
The Connected & Random modes create vertex groups or vertex color layers with random values.
Connected The Connected will assign the same random value to groups of connected vertices.
Random The Random mode will assign a random value to each vertex in the mesh (techniclly to each loop)
Uniform faces When checked uniform colors are assigned to each face. This option is only available in Vertex Paint mode.
Common Connected and Random options
Random seed Changing the seed wel select a different random pattern.
Additional options All modes share some additional options Weight paint mode
Add modifier When checked a weight edit modifier is added to the mesh. This will allow you to tweak the weight distribution. Vertex paint mode
Monochrome When checked only greyscale colors will be assigned. This is the option to use if you want a value in Cycles rather than the color itself.
Low color, Mid color, High color These options let you choose the color spectrum.
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