FSX Blender vs. 3ds

#1
Good-day,

Sorry if this didn't fit a sub-forum category. Just hoping to catch both our Blender, and 3ds guys at once, in regards to aircraft models.

I have been closely following the up-rising of Blender as a viable modeling option, and followed the progression of the tool-set, and those using it. I am very impressed.

At this time, what are the greatest advantages with 3ds, that we may not have, at least not yet, in blender? (As it pertains to .mdl creation, including mesh, UV's, animations and materials) Particularly curious about the differences in texture mapping/baking.

Is there a poly-count barrier exporting from Blender, that may become a hassle for the highly detailed types? Memory errors with the 64-bit version?

Anyone that once used 3ds/gmax, and is now using blender solely? For those who prefer 3ds, but have tried blender, what are your biggest reasons?

Thanks in advance fellas!
- Joseph
 

hairyspin

Resource contributor
#2
For those who used Gmax there are lots of things in Blender to like, but I'd be surprised if a 3ds Max user found major reasons to move to Blender other than losing access to Max. I'd also be surprised to see a Blender user find compelling reasons to move to Max: both packages are huge, capable and there's only so much time to live if you're only using either for FS developing.
 

Heretic

Resource contributor
#3
So far, I haven't found anything from 3ds Max (9) that I can't do in Blender. I haven't tried anything complex (like an airplane) yet, but for simple objects, Blender wins hands down so far.
From a pure modeling standpoint, there's little difference (know one tool, know 'em all); it's the UI philosophy that can complicate transition between either of the two. I've controlled Max entirely by mouse while Blender strives on key commands.
The best thing, however, is that Blender doesn't rely on separate pop-up windows. Everything is right there in a single window frame. You can enable or disable toolbars as you need them, your UV unwrapping mode is just a window split and two clicks away (instead of six clicks and a separate window like in Max 9), the material editor is integrated right into the subwindow as is the scene object overview. Movement commands support arithmetic operations, refreshing a texture just takes a single click, symmetric objects can be edited in "X-Mirror" mode so that the right side vertex is automatically moved when you move the left side vertex, etc...
It's small details like this that genuinely impress me about Blender (and the lack of whom annoy me in Max). I've found that - so far - I can get an overall smoother workflow going in the open source tool than in its (eight year old) commercial counterpart.

As you can see with some of the projects here, there is no difference in the resulting product between Max and Blender (other than the time you're willing to invest in making it). Everything is properly modeled, UV mapped, texture baked and animated.

I'm using the 64bit version of Blender (2.72a) and it's rock solid so far. Any polycount restrictions are subject to the exporters for FSX/P3D and thus outside of Blender's (or Max') domain.

As Tom said: If you're new to modeling or using GMax, go for Blender. If you've purchased Max, there's no reason to switch*.


*Unless you want to model on Linux or OSX as well.
 

Dutcheeseblend

Resource contributor
#4
Good to have a seperate thread for this discussion :D

Anyway, I can't tell about both software packages, since I have never used Max as a modelling tool, I only had to use it in the days we had no Blender2FSX. That's long ago.

But: there's no export limit in Blender, as far as I know. The toolset exports the file just fine, in a minute or so. Large files (my Fokkers at least) are handled without problems. The cooperation with the modeldef.xml is flawless. Modelling is very intuitive, in my opinion. You gotta learn keystrokes, yes, but remember there's SPACE > Search :D
Blenders AO baking is very nice, and UV unwrapping is very easy.

That's my side of the story. I always found it very confusing in GMax: convert to editable poly/mesh or whatever. In Blender, just Tab.
Moreover, Blender has future. And it's free.
 
#6
Hi Joseph,

I can only complement what has been said in regards to 3DS Max vs. Blender. If you're into aircraft, almost anything can now be done in Blender that can be done in Max (things I think of that Blender does not have, for example: Custom normals). For the scenery part of model creation, the Blender2FSX tool set is constantly being updated...

Regards
Felix

PS. On a more general tone: for people who are just starting out with 3D or FS modelling, I think Blender is the way to go at this time. It's free, open source software and very efficient once you get in the workflow.
 
#7
Blender 2.72b is currently able to export .3ds files, those can be converted over to X files and handled accordingly for creating scenery. I'm not sure however, how much is "stripped" from the original file to make it compatible.
 
#8
Blender 2.72b is currently able to export .3ds files, those can be converted over to X files
The Blender2FSX tool set already exports FS-compatible .X files from Blender directly. If you want to cross-port models from Blender to 3DS Max for further transformation, .FBX is the preferred format. It even keeps the animations intact. The pipeline is:
  1. Export from Blender as .FBX
  2. Use Autodesk's FBX-Converter to convert from text .FBX to binary .FBX format
  3. Import in 3DS Max
  4. Adjust settings (Units, Rotation, NTSC/PAL)
Once you are done, you can retag the animations, attachpoints etc.

Cheers
 

hairyspin

Resource contributor
#9
.3ds format makes even Gmax look cutting-edge: the only reason to use it would be if there simply is no alternative. I mean, it's from the DOS era and that's 20 years ago at least!
 

krispy1001

Resource contributor
#10
Hi Joseph!

I started out in about 1998 using 3ds max and GMax making levels for Halo. I lost my version of 3ds max so, I had to look for another 3d program to model with. I tried Blender in about 1999, but at the time I was not happy with it so I decided to stay with GMax. I did not try Blender again until about 3 months ago. And WoW what a surprise, it changed a lot, so many new functions. I believe it was about 2 months ago when I started getting back into modeling for FSX. That is when I found the Blender2FSX addon that Mr. Felix (Capt_x) made. That increased Blenders value as a 3D modeling program for FSX for me. GMax was a good program for it's time. But it is so limited in what it can do.

Now if you ask me which of the two programs do I prefer 3ds Max VS Blender? I would have to say for what each program is capable of doing there is not a difference to me. Now you do have too take in consideration what you are going to be using your 3D program for. If you are going to be using the software just for personal projects. And you do not plan on putting your 3D models into the market place then Blender is the program for you. But if you plan on trying to sell your models on a commercial market then 3Ds Max at this time is the best choice. Why you ask do I say that? Well go to one of the leading websites that you can sell and buy 3D models. And you will see that the market is biased toward models that are modeled with 3ds, and maya. Now that is not to say that you can not put your Blender 3D models on sale, but you will find that you will not get the same price and it will be harder to sell your product. I know, I have been selling my 3D models on Turbo Squid for awhile now and It is harder to sell a model made with Blender.

Now, I am sure that this will not always be true. Because as Blender becomes more widely used, more commercial companies will see the advantages of using Blender. And This will make it a better for all of use that are modeling with Blender.

I would like to end with: I Thank Mr. Felix (Capt_X) Very, Very Much for making the Blender2FSX addon for Blender!!!!!!!!!!!!!!:D:)

Thank you, Krispy1001:)
 
#11
Blender is amazing, modeling is so much easier and fun. One of the things I was not able to do in gmax that always bugged me was selecting a group of edges or faces to either shape or extrude them. You had to go around and select them one by one which, was very time consuming and sometimes you ended up selecting ones you didn't want. In Blender if you hit alt+click depending on what mode you are in, it will select all of the edges or vertices in circle fashion is the best way I can describe it and walla you are done. You can also do some pretty weird stuff I've never seen before. You can basically take a box and completely discombobulate in just seconds.

My switch from gmax to blender has not been hard at all. Even texturing is easier. I believe I will pick right where I left off with gmax but I'll move slowly. I'm going to dedicate the next 6 months to explore the world of 3d modeling with blender, as well as the Blender2FSX tool and then start working on small projects and eventually get back in the driver seat for the DC8 project once again, who knows, maybe even sooner than that, all depends on how confident I feel some time from now ! :) I switched to blender because the interface was updated a few versions ago and the improvement was incredible, I felt right at home! The old interface was nauseating >_< I couldn't understand it one bit! gmax is old and discontinued and has a lot of driver problems with today's new operating systems but I am grateful that because of gmax, I had the privilege of learning 3d modeling and still learning up to this day!

I would get 3ds Max but it really focuses more on compositing + lighting and animation where the $$$ is, good if you're a graphic designer but seriously over kill if you're just a game developer, the best you can do is 'abstract' away from the interfaces that you have no idea how they work. Most game developers use only a small fraction of Max for their work while the rest of that big powerful engine goes completely un-used but I guess the same could be said for Blender to some extent, besides, it's nice to have some 'added functionality' that might entice you to venture into new worlds, so it's a win/win.
 
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hairyspin

Resource contributor
#12
...One of the things I was not able to do in gmax that always bugged me was selecting a group of edges or faces to either shape or extrude them. You had to go around and select them one by one which, was very time consuming and sometimes you ended up selecting ones you didn't want. In Blender if you hit alt+click depending on what mode you are in, it will select all of the edges or vertices in circle fashion is the best way I can describe it and walla you are done...
It's a bit late now, but MeshTools 2.5 adds that very functionality to Gmax... :rolleyes: ; 3ds Max has it built-in as one might expect.
 

hairyspin

Resource contributor
#15
Yes, Blender can work across multiple monitors. I only have one monitor and get cross-eyed enough at the end of a modelling session without having to keep track of two screens, although 3ds Max will happily work over more than one. Some insist Max cannot be used on less than two 42" monitors but that sounds like typical bragging from gearheads with large wallets...

What I'm curious about is how Blender compares with 3ds Max in using procedural materials to render photorealistic textures: that's long been a strength of Max and why I went for it originally. No, I don't mean with VRay (which is an extra grand) and forgive me if I don't think any of us in this thread (so far) know anywhere near enough to comment, me included!
 

Dutcheeseblend

Resource contributor
#16
Tom, Blender has a sophisticated Node system, for rendering and with Cycles, also for materials. But since I only focused on modelling and animating in the past two years, I can't say more. But is that what you mean?
 

hairyspin

Resource contributor
#17
Daan, procedural materials are generated by mathematical algorithms and applied by Max to the geometry, Architectural materials being one set of examples. With them you can define a procedural material for say, scuffed anodised metal as found on an instrument panel, bright steel on oleos or tatty fabric as on seats, apply these to your model and render to texture sheets for texturing the finished model in FS. Some model builders use them to enormous effect and you wonder how they could make their models so realistic. Others overdo it and it just looks fake... That's what 3ds Max is so good at in the right hands, otherwise I might as well stick with Gmax.
 
#18
Hi Tom,

although Blender has few basic presets of procedural textures (compared to the amount of Max's materials), I have seen people create the most astonishing scenes with these only and the node compositor, which is a powerful tool for material creation in Blender. Sadly though, node materials are not compatible with Blender2FSX, which basically means that for FS modelling, one would have to create two sets of materials: the first for export to the sim and the second for texture baking with node materials (procedural).

So long :)

edit. Here is what the node editor looks like (go to the 4 min 36 secs mark):


(for some reason, the embedded video always starts from the beginning, even if I use youtube's "t=4m36s" parameter; and, you don't even have the possibility to post a simple link to the video, it always gets embedded :banghead:...)
 
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#19
The node editor is best described as a baking oven; mix all of your ingredients appropriately and the result is what ever the mixture brings you.
and with Blender the viewport can be detached and to work with two screens according what I've read in some forum
I've already split it up into 4 sections at some points while fiddling around with stuff. You can also detach multiple windows and move them out to another monitor "if you had multiple monitors" you can have as much views all over the place as you need and have so much data to look at that it would overwhelm you.
 
#20
Daan, procedural materials are generated by mathematical algorithms and applied by Max to the geometry, Architectural materials being one set of examples. With them you can define a procedural material for say, scuffed anodised metal as found on an instrument panel, bright steel on oleos or tatty fabric as on seats, apply these to your model and render to texture sheets for texturing the finished model in FS. Some model builders use them to enormous effect and you wonder how they could make their models so realistic. Others overdo it and it just looks fake... That's what 3ds Max is so good at in the right hands, otherwise I might as well stick with Gmax.
I've seen that done by many folks here, have seen some fascinating work over at the "Showroom" I could be wrong but I believe that kind of texture mapping cannot be done with blender, although I could be wrong, the node editor allows using 'plugins' or 'custom materials that can be written in python to achieve a desired effect' however, I'm a total novice to blender, so all I can do is speculate until I make a fascinating discovery one day.
 
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