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Creating runways and parking lots in Blender?

Messages
64
Country
ca-ontario
For my last project I made a runway using the MSFS devkit tools, using aprons with various textures to add the correct color of asphalt and then laying others on top to add dirt, and using the built-in automatic runway paint lines. But these paint lines are not exactly like the ones on the real runways, some use smaller runway numbers for example.

I've been tipped off by another developer that there's a method to create the runway including a runway texture using Blender, but he had no details on this and didn't use it himself, he just suggested I look into it. Something about making the runway in Blender, but that you can use it to add a custom texture to it, and then somehow project the texture on the ground in the sim so that the runway conform to the MSFS terrain. I can't imagine that you'd actually want to create the runway as a regular objects in MSFS, because there's no way you could make it follow the exact terrain curvature in the sim.

Is there such a technique for doing runway textures, or something similar?

Also for the parking lot side of an airport, if I want to make the sidewalk behind a terminal, and 3D curbs of the airport parking lots, how do people go about it? Do you use a terraform polygon on the whole area so that you can make your 3D curbs and just place them on top of the ground, using aprons for the road surfaces? Do some people actually do roads in Blender as well, or somehow make the curbs conform to the undulating terrain (and how)? If you make the curbs in 3D then you can't use any of the SDK polygons to layer things like dirt or sand on them, so you need to do everything in Blender in that case, correct?

Just curious what lengths airport designers go to in order to do nice parking lots, I've seen several airports using 3D curbs but I think most premium Asobo airports simply use aprons to make 2D sidewalks.
 
Messages
52
Country
netherlands
To answer the first question: Yes you can do ground textures in Blender. The projected mesh object is for this exact purpose. It gets "baked" into the terrain instead of being displayed as a regular model. You would basically create a mesh in the shape of your desired surface like I have done for the asphalt in my project in this image:
1675719540169.png


Different layers can be stacked on top of each other to add details as seen in many payware airports.

As for your second question. It fully depends on the amount of variation in the terrain that you have. If its a few centimetres over a 100 metres you can maybe get away with extending the bottom of the mesh beyond the terrain (meaning it would clip the terrain) as well as using snap to normal which rotates the whole model (it doesn't project the mesh!) to align it with the terrain. If you have large variations, this method might still work but could require splitting the model or raising/lowering segments of the mesh in your 3d application to create a more general conforming mesh and then apply the same techniques as I described earlier.

Good luck, any more questions I'm glad to help!
 
Messages
64
Country
ca-ontario
Thank you! Do you find this is less time consuming than using aprons, or is it just as much work to get all the textures right but allows you to texture everything exactly the way you want? I suppose if I've never used this method before I would have to go out and find a whole bunch of different asphalt, dirt and tire textures while Asobo already has a whole bunch included in the SDK, so I would have to invest some time into it?

For the parking lot curb question, if you have variation in the terrain, do you need to use trial and error in order to see how your curbs need to be deformed to conform to it, or is there some trick to import the terrain curvature into Blender? I'm also worried about what would happen if Asobo changes the terrain mesh, then all your carefully tuned objects get messed up. It seems like the safest way is just to flatten parking lots, or forget the 3D curbs if the terrain is too curvy.
 
Messages
52
Country
netherlands
It's going to be a mix of both. It can be more time consuming because you miss some features like falloff which means you have to do that manually. On the other hand, Blender is a much more powerful editor with a lot more information available. I would say the most limiting factor is the documentation on the export but so far I have never experienced problems using projected meshes. Additionally, Blender allows me to be more precise in modelling and making iterative changes is much user friendly because you don't have to deal with the performance limitations of using the in-game scenery editor. I recommend you try it out as it's a fun way to make very detailed ground textures. For textures there are quite a few sources available. I've posted a thread here with a list of sources which have CC0 PBR textures which are great for MSFS.

As for curbs, it's probably going to be trial and error if you want to have a true seamless solution. My approach would start by terraforming all the terrain to match the real world location. After that I would model the basic flat shape of the curb in Blender and export it with a checkered texture which has known dimensions on it (say 512px/2m) matching the model. In the example below each square represents 1 metre by 1 metre:
1675753764915.png

I would than place this model until it fully floats above the terrain and go back and forth between Blender and MSFS to see what parts need to be raised/lowered. The checkered texture would help me with this as I can see where I need to cut parts of my model and raise/lower them since I can just look at the amount of square I have. As for your concern of Asobo changing the terrain mesh, as long as you have terraforming polygons and rectangles covering the entire curb (even if their elevation changes using heightmaps/curves), these should always take priority over Asobo's default terrain mesh thus not breaking your curb. That being said, with MSFS you never quite know what might break with external packages but it should mostly be a fairly easy fix.
 
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