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What Modelling software is most often used for developing aircraft?

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I've been using blender to basically introduce myself to 3D modelling and have been practicing by just modelling the outside view of a 727 and a C172 and seeing if they look right. But because of the .mdl files or other things blender may not recognize, do developers often use blender or some other program to develop aircraft? My end goal is to have a 747 classic made because I have all of old Pan Am flight manuals like the FCOM and binders full of documents (I also have a suitcase of manuals for the A310, but I think steam gauge airplanes should be a bit easier to make), but obviously I need a lot more experience before I go about developing a 747.

NOTE: I am not going to be developing my aircraft for FSX, I've moved on to P3D. 

 

Thanks, I tried to see what to do on the FS Developer forums but I could not understand the posts because they were too advanced even for me.

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Should probably give GMAX a try (which is the games-content oriented version of 3DSMAX and is used a lot by FS developers). GMAX can be got hold of for free, whereas 3DSMAX is 3,200 quid for a licence, or 170 quid a month for a subscription-based licence (cheaper if you buy longer subscription period).

A much cheaper FS-aeroplane-specific modeling option is to use Abacus FS Design Studio, which is about 40 quid for a digital download.

GMAX will take you about 2-3 weeks to get familiar with if you mess around with it a bit doing the tutorials, FS design Studio is a bit easier to get your head around and will take you maybe a few days to get good with as it has some nice tutorials becuae it is specifically directed toward making FS aeroplanes and scenery.

There are other options, for example, you can use Cinema 4D which owing to its tie-in with Adobe After Effects, is very popular with pro 3D people these days, another one you might want to give a look at is Amabalis 3D Crafter Pro, which is fairly cheap, there is a free version, and a mid vesion and a pro version (you need the pro version because the lesser versions do not have as many export options, and as you are aware, exporting to a suitable format is important if you want stuff to work properly in FS). its not unlnown to use Blender, but it's probably not the easiest or most popular choice.

If I had to recommend one which was pretty cheap and easy to get going in to get your head around making FS aeroplanes, I would say Abacus FS Design Studio is a good start, but if you intend to really go for it at some point, give GMAX a look.

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Interesting. Didn't know that GMAX was free? Is there any feature difference between 3DStudio MAX (which I've worked in quite a bit) and GMAX?

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GMAX and 3DSMAX are a little bit different, but there isn't so much difference that you couldn't figure it out easily enough if you are familiar with one of them.

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MDL is the file format for models that are exported to FSX/P3D. To export a model to an MDL file, you need the SDK which includes a compiler called XtoMDL. This takes  .X (and .Xanim) files as input and outputs the MDL file. Your modeling tool needs to be able to export the .X and .Xanim files, the format is described here: https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc526973.aspx.

Since you're developing for P3D, you need to go on the Prepar3D website and download the SDK for whichever version of P3D you are using.

For Blender, there is a Blender to P3D toolset here: http://fsdeveloper.com/forum/threads/blender-to-p3d-toolset-new-v4.437484/. This toolset adds to Blender the knowledge of how to create P3D materials, tag animations and attach points, create LODs and most importantly to export the needed files and call the XtoMDL compiler. Be sure that you get a version of Blender that the toolset supports.

You'll really want to hang out on the Blender forum at fsdeveloper, there are links to video tutorials that walk through an entire development project and lots of people who are happy to help.

It's a bit more complicated to use Gmax because there's no gamepack for any current version of P3D. I guess you can export using the FSX Gmax gamepack, then get ModelConverterX (from scenerydesign.org), open it and re-export to P3D. But to do this, you need either the DVD version of FSX deluxe or FSX:SE to get the needed FSX SDK containing the Gmax gamepack. Also my understanding is that the FSX:SE SDK is incomplete, you might also need the P3D v1.4 SDK to fill in the missing pieces.

If you like Gmax, Milton Shupe has a channel on YouTube (IFRFun) where he walks though an entire aircraft development project  in Gmax. It's for FS9 however, you'd still need to read up in the FSX SDK docs on the differences between making FS9 and FSX aircraft (this is mostly related to animations and materials).

You can get Gmax from turbosquid.com/gmax. Definitely also download the help and tutorial files, they are very helpful.

If you have 3dsMax, the P3D SDK includes the needed exporters (you'd need to check which version of 3dsMax ares supported).

I suspect that for P3D, Blender is the way to go, though I haven't used it much. I've used Gmax along with the FSX SDK and the workflow is really nice and efficient. Gmax works well with PSD files and I use it with Photoshop but GIMP or Krita should work too. If you want to use newer tools like substance painter I'd go with Blender.

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thanks fshobby, is there a guide on how exactly to use this addon within blender or is it self explanatory? Also I'm having a bit of trouble installing it where I move the files in the zip to a normal file folder, and then put the io_scene_p3d file into the scripts/addons folder as well as the two .py files contained in the zip.

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Your best bet is go ask in the fsdeveloper forum thread that I linked above. I don't use P3D so I haven't used this tool myself. I did play around with the FSX version of the blender toolset a long time ago but I mainly work on FSX and for that I prefer Gmax. 

There is a guide about using the BlenderFSX toolset here: http://fsdeveloper.com/forum/threads/blender2fsx-toolset-installation-and-configuration-guide-request-for-feedback.438951/

Supposedly the BlenderP3D toolset is very similar in how it is installed and used.

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Thanks for your help, this is the perfect blender addon for developing aircraft.

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