Milton Waddams

What software do big scenery developers use?

Recommended Posts

Since I couldn’t find a Prepar3D scenery forum, I thought I’d ask here. Does anyone know what tools/software some of the bigger scenery developers use? I can’t see how they’d use ADE to make something like Flightbeam’s SFO.

Share this post


Link to post
Help AVSIM continue to serve you!
Please donate today!

The modelling and texture mapping is done in a CAD/3D modeling tool like 3DSMax etc, depending on the modeler's experience and personal preference. Once the models and UV maps are finished they will be converted into P3D compliant formats using SDK conversion tools. 

Some of the bigger devs might use some self developed tools and converters, but the workflow itself is not much different to small devs, they all use more or less the same tools. 

Share this post


Link to post
26 minutes ago, Woozie said:

The modelling and texture mapping is done in a CAD/3D modeling tool like 3DSMax etc, depending on the modeler's experience and personal preference. Once the models and UV maps are finished they will be converted into P3D compliant formats using SDK conversion tools. 

Some of the bigger devs might use some self developed tools and converters, but the workflow itself is not much different to small devs, they all use more or less the same tools. 

Thanks!

Share this post


Link to post
1 hour ago, Milton Waddams said:

Since I couldn’t find a Prepar3D scenery forum, I thought I’d ask here. Does anyone know what tools/software some of the bigger scenery developers use? I can’t see how they’d use ADE to make something like Flightbeam’s SFO.

Take a look on this forum if you want to know what many people use for creating airports: http://fsdeveloper.com/forum/categories/scenery-design-airport-design.29/

You will note that the SDK has many of the tools necessary to makes stuff, and you'll also note that quite a lot of people do indeed use ADE although it's not the only thing you can use, and some larger developers might even create their own development tools for that purpose.

Some programs are going to be pretty ubiquitous among users of course, for example, the de-facto image manipulation software for many creative endeavors is of course Adobe Photoshop, most likely the CC2017 version for professional developers, which was just updated about three weeks ago. Although that is often used in partnership with Adobe Illustrator, which being a vector-based drawing program, and which can dynamically link to PSD and vice versa, will let one create stuff with extreme precision since it can snap to specific pixel grid resolutions, AI is often better for graphics creation than PS unless you need to use some of the filters and processes from PS. However, by default, neither PS or AI will handle DDS files without a plug in, so those texture files created in Adobe applications will often get transferred to another image editing package for conversion to DDS format if one hasn't got a suitable plug in for PS (or you don't want one in there), which is what I do, taking the PS files into Paint.net for the DDS creation process, since it will happily not mess up the CC SRGB IEC 6 1966-2.1 embedded profile, thus keeping colours accurate.

This is really common in creating stuff, i.e. using one program for one bit of the creative process and another for some additional bits, and throwing personal preferences into the mix makes it something for which it would be difficult to say there was a common way of doing things. Ironically, this is sometimes why it is a pain in the @ss for developers to update old sceneries and add-ons, as it can often be the case that some contractor did something in an unusual manner like that to achieve something.

So, 3D modeling-wise it's likely to be down to preference providing the software can export to a suitable format. Many people will use GMAX because it was kind of the 'go to' game and sim content creation software, and will allow the animations and visibility etc to be tagged from within it, however, you do still sometimes have to tweak that externally in the modeldef.xml file, for example to make seasonal visibility changes. Nevertheless, GMAX is cheaper than the program which it was derived from (3DS Max). 3DS max used to be the absolute go to 3D modeling tool for pros, but recently there's been quite a switch going on in the 3D creation world with a lot of people moving to Cinema 4D, although to be fair much of that has been driven by the fact that you get a cut down plug in version of Cinema 4D with Adobe After Effects, which means its largely CGI people who've made that switch, but if you have the Creative Suite (which you most likely will do if you have the CC version of Photoshop), then it means you effectively get Cinema 4D for free.

Having said that, it is conceivable people will use other programs, and some of these are quite inexpensive and one or two are free. One of these is Amabilis 3D Crafter (which used to be 3D Canvas). This is a good choice for anyone into making lots of game and sim content, or stuff which has to go out in lots of different formats because it has built in importers and exporters for absolutely a ton of different 3D formats (probably more so than pretty much any other 3D modeling tool), the ability to get stuff in and out of a 3D program is a lot of what makes it usable when working with other people who have their own program preferences.

Despite having these fancy programs, it is not unknown for a lot of people to still use programs which you'd think were a bit less 'pro'. A good example would be Abacus' Flight Sim Design Studio. FSDS may not have the capabilities of more expensive 3D modeling packages, but it still isn't bad for simpler modeling buildings and such, where a lot of the time the shapes are not particularly challenging to model, and whilst it is indeed simpler than many other programs, that does mean it runs quicker than more complex programs which have more whistles and bells, this is why even though I have Photoshop, I still often use the freebie Paint.net, because it might not be as capable, but it definitely fires up quicker than PS!

Likewise, Blender, Sketchup etc do also get used for making stuff and can be useful for certain things, for example, Sketchup can import and extrude DXF and DWG files into 3D shapes really easily and it has a lot of tools which will let you create arrays and such simply by dragging the mouse, so it is great for architectural modeling and probably quicker at it than a lot of fancier and more expensive programs.

Beyond this, many airports are not sat on a flat plane, and so you'd also want something which can handle DEM data for accurate terrain modeling. Some 3D programs will do that, others not, so it is often the case that you might like one program which models stuff the way you prefer, but can't handle DEM, so you'd export it out of that into one you might like less, but can do the terrain malarkey.

 

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post

Hi Folks,

Dang Alan - you even know about 3D Canvas to 3D Crafter saga - you are well versed - as it's a tad obscure in the FS community - it's much more popular in the Train Sim community... I only know of two people who've used it on this side of the fence - Paul Gausden and myself... Great little underrated program that I've used to model all kinds of stuff...

Regards,
Scott

Share this post


Link to post

I wish I would understand one word ...;-)  But I am very happy that so many talented individuals and small companies do all this work - be it for free or as pay-ware.

  • Upvote 2

Share this post


Link to post
20 minutes ago, scottb613 said:

Hi Folks,

Dang Alan - you even know about 3D Canvas to 3D Crafter saga - you are well versed - as it's a tad obscure in the FS community - it's much more popular in the Train Sim community... I only know of two people who've used it on this side of the fence - Paul Gausden and myself... Great little underrated program that I've used to model all kinds of stuff...

Regards,
Scott

Yup, I quite often recommend 3D Canvas to people I train, since it has a freebie base version to allow people to decide whether they like it for no outlay, which they can then throw a few quid at to make more capable if they decide it floats their boat.

Don't get me wrong, I teach people Adobe stuff, 3DS Max, Cinema 4D and Sketchup etc, and those trainees are usually people who are going to be doing stuff professionally with those programs, so the fancy programs are often the better choice for some tasks, but if a freebie program will do the trick for someone, I'll suggest that to them rather than have them paying a fortune for something which does all kinds of things they'll never need. I recommend the same with Paint.net to people who don't have Photoshop, especially now Adobe appear to be throwing everything including the kitchen sink at their software packages and running the risk of turning them all into a bloated mess.

Share this post


Link to post

What about for actually placing textures onto the models? Would that be done in the CAD?

Share this post


Link to post
2 hours ago, Milton Waddams said:

What about for actually placing textures onto the models? Would that be done in the CAD?

Most 3D programs will allow you to designate how you project textures onto 3D model surfaces. The best way to envisage that is to imagine a film or slide projector shining the image onto the side of a cardboard box, in the same way a movie projector shines a film image onto a movie screen. In a 3D program, we can create the box, and in a paint program we can create the image which is projected onto its various sides.

So, here's a quick example...

Let's say you want to make a building with this picture below as the texture. There is nothing special about this image, it is just a bmp image file which is 1024 pixels x 1024 pixels in size:

 

IdsnbHl.png

You would then create a cube in your 3D modeling program, import that texture bmp picture, and then choose various bits of the texture to project onto various sides of the cube, like this...

DNzdJF7.png

You can see in this second image, the building texture is loaded into the texture placing utility which is part of the 3D program (in this case, the program is FS Design Studio).

You can see all of the texture as a thumbnail in the bottom right, but the selection box (in black) is only drawn around the part of the texture we want to project on that particular part of the model, in this case the left side. You can see the result of doing this in the top right 3D view, where you can also see I've already done it for the top of the box and one of the other sides. Then you just repeat that process for all of the other sides of the cube and that's it, building model completed.

Hope that helps you understand how it works.

 

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
1 hour ago, Milton Waddams said:

What about for actually placing textures onto the models? Would that be done in the CAD?

yup, thats called Texture- or UV-Mapping. The texture itself is usually being created in a 2D tool like photoshop. Afterwards it will be wrapped around the 3D object in CAD

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post

is this a sneak peek of a secret scenery project you are working on Alan? ;)

Share this post


Link to post
2 minutes ago, Woozie said:

is this a sneak peek of a secret scenery project you are working on Alan? ;)

Yup, it's the new Aerosoft Heathrow, as you can tell :biggrin:

  • Upvote 5

Share this post


Link to post

I know of many scenery devs who use 3DS Max, and it's pretty much the defacto industry standard for making 3D models. I also know of a few developers who have made the jump to the completely free Blender from 3DS max, and there are plenty of free tools available for making P3D scenery (including the very old and dated gmax, which is based on 3DS Max)

I'm a big fan of Blender myself and have it used it for many years, and it didn't cost me a penny

Share this post


Link to post
2 minutes ago, Chock said:

Yup, it's the new Aerosoft Heathrow, as you can tell :biggrin:

I know great textures when i see them!! Thats some 4096 glory!

Share this post


Link to post

Hi Folks,

 Bleh - texture mapping - my least favorite part of modeling - I can throw and manipulate polys all day - getting textures to sit nicely on them can be a real chore on complex shapes.. 

Regards,

Scott

Share this post


Link to post

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now