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New to 3D modeling, need advice please

Discussion in 'Modeling' started by NWarty, 13/2/07.

  1. NWarty

    NWarty

    Joined:
    3/1/07
    Messages:
    14
    Country:
    us-washington
    Hey everyone,
    After simming for several years, I had been toying with the idea of building my own aircraft within FS9 and have finally decided to take the plunge.

    To give you a little bit of background: I've never built a 3D model for FS9, whether an aircraft or scenery. I've only used ez-scenery to place default objects. I've built many scale models and continue to illustrate in my free time, and lastly I'm pretty decent with a computer. I've looked into Abacus' FSDS v3 bundle package that includes the design software, panel creator and repaint and texture toolkit. After doing a lot or research, it seems to me that this may be the way to go as the learning curve doesn't seem as steep as using GMAX. I've also found that doing aircraft research can be extremely time consuming :eek:

    For my first project, I've decided on the aircraft. In my opinion, I think it'll probably be doable for a first aircraft. (Twin engined by the way).

    -What tools should I have at my disposal?
    -What modeling program (regardless if you're GMAX, 3d Max, or FSDS user) would you recommend to a new modeler?
    -What repaint program?

    I like the idea of the $80 package from Abacus, because of the value/cost aspect, but any advice from you guys in regards to modeling software and repaint/texture softwared would be greatly appreciated.

    Regards,
    Blake
    Olympia, WA
  2. FelixFFDS

    FelixFFDS

    Joined:
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    First of all, let me qualify my reply by saying that I am an FSDS user, and have been, since version 1 came out. I use the various tools that Abacus provides.

    Now....

    The one single advantage that *I* find over gmax and other tools is that compiling a model with FSDS is simpler - the process not only creates the MDL file, but sets up the folders, and basic file hierarchy, and sets the vital contact points.

    Both FSDS3 and gmax compile the models through makemdl.exe - and the compiling problems are usually due to makemedle.exe's finickyness.

    Having said that, gmax is the more powerful modelling program. It was more tools, features than FSDS, and in fact, more than FS9 supports. It has, arguably, a steeper learning curve, but in its defence, there have been people that take to it like a duck to water, so it's a matter of applying oneself.

    Moreover, gmax is free.

    Now, because I am familiar with FSDS, yes there are things I do faster in FSDS than in gmax. BUT, truth be told, there are things in gmax that I wish were in FSDS.

    If Fr. Bill Leaming (and I'm allowed to abuse him and use his name in vain because more ofthen than not we play good cop/bad cop off each other) and I were to go head to head and build a simple model, with basic animations, there's a good chance that using FSDS, I can get a flyable model into FS9 faster..... BUT, if you want to get down to a super detailed model....

    Feature for Feature, gmax is the better modelling program. *I* find it more difficult to learn.

    My suggestion, try gmax. IF you get too frustrated, then go to FSDS.

    Ultimately, I find that gmax or FSDS are the canvas, paint and brushes used by an artist... It's hard to tell what the artist used after the painting is done.
  3. n4gix

    n4gix Resource contributor

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    :D How right you are, Felix! But, probably not for the reason you suggest though. I've never made a "simple model..." :eek:

    In fact, it's the hardest thing in the world for me to reach the point where I can say, "Enough already! Release this thing as 'done' already!!!"

    You have given sage advice, as always. As you've said, a "tool is only as good as the hands of the artist who wields it." :cool:
  4. NWarty

    NWarty

    Joined:
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    Felix and Bill,

    Thank you both for the replies. Well, I installed GMAX last night and fired up the tutorial for the P-38. After a lot of frustration and almost 3 hours later, I had a wing, stabilizer and beginnings of the rudder. There were some discrepencies in the tutorial which only caused further frustration.

    But, I'm going to keep at it for another week or so. I think though in the end, that I will go and purchase FSDS. The reason being that I don't have the time available to really delve into GMAX. Having only a couple of nights a week to fly and/or tweak FS9, FSDS seems to be a better choice for someone like myself.

    And guys, I think that you are both very right in saying that a model with maybe lesser detail can still look absolutely beautiful with the right paint job. I've seen highly detailed models with cartoonish paintjobs, and very simple models weathered and painted beautifully.

    My biggest fears in building the model, are learning how to do the VC and instrument panel. I've gathered a horde of cockpit photos of my subject, but unfortunately each variant of the aircraft seems to have a mix/match of gauges/radar/panels. I may end up emailing the aircraft's association :)

    What would you suggest for a paint program and are there truly any great tutorials out there for first-time repaint dummies? Thank you both again for the advice ;)

    Regards,
    Blake
  5. bpahe

    bpahe

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    Hi!

    I was adviced to look at a tutorial when I started out not very long ago, that is really good. It can be found here. Also, I found a site with very good explanations of the various functions of Gmax, but of course I can not remember the address.. :(

    Anyway, I´ve recieved a method of doing skinning/texturing using a plugin for Gmax. I have not tried it out yet, but it seems promising. It´s called ChilliSkinning, a PDF explaining the method is here (PDF). What it does is to flatten all meshes in your object so that they easily can be arranged on a square bitmap, then also it re-assembles the objects, textured. Sounds too good to be true?
    The small tools that are needed to use the method are not available anymore on the sites that are linked to in the PDF, but they are searchable and downloadable using f. ex. Google.

    Whatever paintprogram you use, make sure it supports layering. I use Photoshop Elements and an old, old, way overdue trial version of PaintShop Pro.

    /hans
  6. Burkhard

    Burkhard

    Joined:
    8/6/06
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    The FS2002 SDK contains examples/ sources for the AI MD80/Dash8 for GMAX. I learned most by looking into these sources - but it took a year until I could claim to have tamed it.
  7. NWarty

    NWarty

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    Thanks guys for replying. I've been doing more and more research between here and freeflightdesign.

    I'm getting a ton of info from a gentleman working on a panel, so it looks like I'll actually start to model the aircraft this coming week.

    Pretty exciting for a first project. :D
  8. NWarty

    NWarty

    Joined:
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    Country:
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    First freeware project is underway and aircraft is mocked up. FSDS is easier than I thought once I finished the tutorials. Man, I'm excited! :D

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