Friday, October 28, 2011

If you can't find it... make it

I knew soon after I started the CC that I would run into a problem with scenery. Most of the models currently available look nothing like what California has, and this is not to single out that my route is special, because I would would face this same problem if I created a route in Mississippi, or Hawaii (yes Hawaii does have a historic railroad). The houses, industry and vegetation are unique and not available for download (yet). I knew that I would either have to bribe someone to make me a hundred miles or so of models (which I am still considering), or I would have to do it myself... and thus here I am drawn to perhaps the most complex part of route building, the equivalent of what model railroaders would consider as scratch building... 3D modeling.

I am using a combination of tools for this. Google Sketchup, because its UI lends itself to rapid model creation, 3DCrafter, for cleaning up, texturing and exporting the model to Railworks, and PhotoShop for painting. I am starting out by making some very simple low-poly models with simple textures (concrete is simple... right?), and after I have completed about a dozen or so, I plan on releasing them as freeware out on RWA. The first model is of the NILES letters you will see up in the hills just above the town. I couldn't make this out of a decal as it would not be seen properly from a distance.

The second object is a concrete divider. I am not sure why this hasn't been made before since its as common as vanilla. This is also the model that has (so far) given me the worst grief. There is apparently a bug in RW3 where if an object is under three meters in size it cannot be selected after placement. It took me awhile to find a solution which was to append _LOD_3 to the end of the component name. I still don't understand why it worked, but it fixed the problem.

And finally I made a sixty foot concrete pad for grade crossings. I did find a freeware set, but they were textured too dark, and then I could not find the original package to find the author to ask if I could repaint and redistribute them. So I just made my own. I will also have them in smaller lengths.

The next few projects will include: Making a block of low-ploy houses. Ditch lights for the GP15, and a set of roof top strobes.


  1. Thanks JP. There is still a huge learning curve in front of me, but it is fun.