Actually, I'd welcome reading Jim's suggestions on this topic, as FSDS is a tool which has been (and likely will continue to be) a means for generating substantial portions of freeware and payware animated or static aircraft and scenery content available for MSFS.
I'm all for new tools which make FS development easier, and I'm all for tools which offer more extensive capabilities for those that wish to acquire them and learn how to use them.
When users of a particular workflow and 3D modeling tool set (ex: FSDS, Sketchup etc.) post inquiries on a topic pertinent to their own current area of interest and comprehension, I wouldn't want to see users of different workflows and tool sets (ex: 3DSMAX, GMAX, Blender etc.) effectively seek to suppress the flow of information and/or otherwise discourage helpful discussions here at FS Developer for such topics.
I think the OP deserves a chance to get a reply to his query here at FSDeveloper.
No suppression intended Gary, only dry humour. If there is a rendering workflow available for FSDS then I'd like to hear about it too: I'm interested in modelling and rendering methods generally but I haven't heard of one at present for FSDS.
I freely admit to working in Max and Gmax but have no axe to grind about other tools, so bring it on!
So here we go then... Blender does texture baking, so all you really need is a way to get your model into Blender. You could import/load your .MDL in MCX and export from there as .OBJ. Blender can read and import .OBJ files. I haven't tried it, but I guess this preserves at least the UV-mapping, which is all you need to bake your textures accurately. Once you have your model in Blender, it's a matter of what you want to bake: AO, diffuse, full render, etc.
The concept of "texture baking" (ex: merging static lighting effects etc. into a single layer of surface textures) has been around for a long time in the 3D modeling community under other names for years, and has certainly been used in FSDS by a number of FS developers in the past.
Perhaps in addition to FSDevelopers FSDS forum, some FSDS-specific learning resources might also be found here:
Also, if one wishes to apply simple lighting effects such as skylight shadowing (aka "Ambient Occlusion") in ones textures without use of an actual photo-realistic rendering utility, Bill Womack's video tutorial may provide some excellent examples of how this might be done:
PS: There are a number of valuable learning resources for FSDS and other 3D modeling apps, as well as other FS scenery utilities for legacy and current versions of MSFS ...which can be viewed and downloaded at:
Good grief!!!!! I tried Blender... very very nice but again extremely complicated.
I have Paint shop Pro X4. it is only 32 bit but works great. I was going to upgrade but thought I migh lose the plug ins I got for free. (though I guess I could go for X5 or6 and use the 32 bit version). Anyway. I have a plug-in with this that does baking in a heartbeat. I can even change the color of the shading, size, amount of taper dark to light, how fast the taper decreases.
all this is taken care of in PSP X4, Nix plug-in basically in minutes While others are still working on it through complicate processes elswhere. BTW- What if i want a shadow sideways like under a wood shed? Can do that too. Can do baking as well, but is touchy. Changes have to be made minutely. Made a brick wall that looked like the mortar was very old and messy then put a sign over it (post no bills) which then looked like the paint of the sign was going in and out of the brick and mortar. Now- where am I going to put an old brick wall with a sign that says 'post no bills' in a military AFB over in Italy? Not happenin'!!!!