Mental Ray
Product Information
Introduction | Specification | Gallery | Ordering
The ultimate purpose of Shadow Designer is to offer efficient and effective solutions for the "painting by light" approach. In the second version, it has become a fast, feature-rich and flexible system, handling just about every feature of real shadows. It offers many different applications, such as clean & soft shadow projection, light bouncing and color-bleeding effects, simulation of custom shadow styles and more.

On the left, you can see the output of pure radiosity - something that you normally can't do very much about but accept. The picture on right shows what you'll be able to do with Shadow Designer. In this case, several shadow were layers used to add variation into lighting and to emphasize the color bleeding as well.

Feature Highlights

Speed Optimizations:
  • 300% to 2000% increase
  • more efficient ray sampling
  • special optimized modes for fast previews
  • low, medium and high render quality

    Render Quality:
  • 300% to 2000% increase
  • more efficient ray sampling
  • special optimized modes for fast previews
  • low, medium and high render quality

    Work-Flow and Usability:
  • completely rewritten, more stable
  • unlimited number of shadow maps
  • global (per shadow map) and local (per surface) settings
  • envelopes, interactive help
  • interactive, realtime preview
  • automatic shadow map saving option (all lw formats)
  • color gradients, allowing original shadow and lighting styles
  • global and local object exclusion lists


    The convolution algorithm has been completely redesigned and includes various optimizations, which results in a significant speed increase. The following test was performed on a P4 1.6k Mhz, in Lightwave 7.0b, comparing Shadow Designer v1.1, Lightwave Area Light, and Shadow Designer v2.0.


    Shadow Designer v1.1,rendertime: 58s
    LW Area Light, rendertime: 33s
    Shadow Designer v2.0, rendertime: 25s

    Full-Color Shadows

    The shadow simulation has been enriched with a new crucial ingredience that is color. Shadow Designer currently accounts for transparency, considers the color of the blocking geometry, and adjusts the shadow intensity accordingly. The color strength can be adjusted in several ways, either by modifying the surface transparency, tweaking the cast shadow intensity, or through the color filter strength. These features allow even solid objects to cast 100% color shadows, which is the Holy Grail for those who strive to simulate color bleeding, and other indirect-lighting effects.

    Based on the full-color-shadow concept, new color gradients have been added. They allow to adjust color and shadow strength on custom basis; very suitable for cartoon-style rendering or original designs. The only thing you need is imagination!

    User Interface and Work-Flow

    Being aware of a few limitations in the previous version, and upon receiving a lot of suggestions from the users, we built up a completely new system that maximizes the flexibility when performing UI related operations. The new modular architecture links the SDRender and SDTrance instances via unique shadow_maps, and allows global/local setting modifications.

    The other improvements to user-interface include an "X-Dof style" preview, object exclusion list per SDTrace instance, new blending modes, and automatic shadow map saving. The system is fully animatable via envelopes. Should you get dizzy from so many new features, the interactive help built-in in the interface, will give you the first aid.


    Since this plugin works with pixels, the margins and corners of the image happen to get convoluted unevenly. For best results, you either render in a slightly higher resolution and cut away the margins - the size of convolution radius, or increase the number of sampling rays.


    LightWave 7.x - 9.x
    WinNT, Win2000, WinXP, OS 9, OS X
    At least 128mb ram recommended

  • "Shadow Designer fulfills my long time dream of getting soft edge shadow in LW. Looking way better than area light, and with a few additional lightsources, you get totally the radiosity look with clean shadows."
    David Lo / Ensemble Studios
    Product Details
    Release Date:
    Latest Version:
    rendering toolset
    Jan 05, 2001
    2.0, Nov 20, 2002
    LightWave 7.x - 9.x
    OS 9 / OS X