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drdoyo

Can we all help each other -

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Well guys and lady, I know sometimes I can seem to be harsh or come off in a manner that I never intended. I do not intend to be harsh, negative or attack anyone now. I'd just like to offer the views of a skinner to some of the newer model makers out there in the interest of expanding their abilities, MY ability, and as a whole creating a much better ...ahem... free product for the entire community.

 

Lindr2, again NO offense meant! I'm using your KH-59 model as an example here to illustrate my point. Thank you for your modeling work on the missing and sorely needed eastern weapons!! I was going to try to add some color to the KH-59 series. I thought I could complete a nice skin in an hour or so in my limited time today. This was my project of the day, chosen above others in work (sorry Simon, I have made some slow progress on yours!).

 

The following three screens show a very nicely detailed model with a one tone skin. Clearly this is screaming for attention from someone who can give it some life in the form of shades, lines and highlights.

 

 

post-19294-1217007882_thumb.jpg

 

post-19294-1217007890_thumb.jpg

 

post-19294-1217007899_thumb.jpg

 

The first step is to find the parts on the bmp image. To do this I use an image IIRC I obtained from simmerspaintshop called a PanelFinder.

 

post-19294-1217007685_thumb.jpg

 

Now the idea is apply this bmp to the model and using the numbered and colored grid you can find where that pesky part is hiding in the bmp texture. There are limits to its use however. How the 3d model was built, or UVmapped is an important factor in skinning as you will see in the following screenshots. NOW, I'm NOT a model maker. I can't afford the programs, and hence have little knowledge (and none practical) about making a 3D model. I would urge the newbies to the trade to draw from the experienced guys like the TMF model makers, Julhelm, FastCargo, and all the others for pointers with their work and how to overcome issues.

 

Note in the six screens the KH-31 variants. This is a model from Bunyap's 2006 weapons pack. It's a good model, though it seems the texture is slightly stretched, but not so much that I couldn't create lines on the surface. Those lines are 1 pixel. On FastCargo's P-270 model, I just added some shadeing, the blue band, and a metallic nose cone to bring out some depth. Now compare the KH-31s to the R-77s (Bunyap 2006), R-27s (TMF), and R-73s (TMF). The R-77 suffers a bit more texture stretching, but was still doable in low detail to break up the bland empty white. Before anyone says anything I installed the TMF R-77, but the waffle fins seemed to be missing. Again the lines are 1 pixel wide. By comparison, the R-27 and R-73 have no texture stretching and all detail is very crisp, down to the serial numbers and data. Here's what happened when I applied the PanelFinder to the model.

 

post-19294-1217007908_thumb.jpg

 

post-19294-1217007915_thumb.jpg

 

post-19294-1217007923_thumb.jpg

 

The bottom line is this; I don't think I can do anything for the KH-59 given what the PanelFinder shows. The body texture is so stretched that one can't even read the numbers to locate its position on the texture, let alone try to draw a line for a structural seam, or add data. Like I said, I'm not a model maker so I don't know how to correct this. There are plenty of great modelers here to ask. I just paint em, and I'm still developing in that regard as well.

 

I hope this helps us all to work towards an understanding of both our skills, and those skills of others which we are ourselves weaker in. We all have to work together for a better game. Help me make a better product, and I'll gladly help anyone in turn.

Edited by drdoyo

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Like I said, I'm not a model maker so I don't know how to correct this. There are plenty of great modelers here to ask. I just paint em, and I'm still developing in that regard as well.

 

Looks like the UV mapping got screwed up? I understand your frustration, but you are not the only texture guy who has problems like this. I am actually a texture artist who drifted into model making because of these kinds of issues - I realized the only sure way to work on texture-friendly models was to make them myself.

 

Understand that I have only recently learned the three-step process to produce a good model: build the 3D model, UV unwrap the surfaces into a flat pattern, and then paint the textures (using the flat pattern as a guide). My impression is that the second step - UV unwrapping - is where the process often goes wrong. On a complex model, making the UV unwrap flat pattern can be EXTREMELY tedious and time consuming. Consequently, this is where many guys cut corners to get the job done and move on to something else, leaving the poor texture artist to cope as best he can.

 

I know a number of prominent texture guys who often give up in frustration because of poorly thought-out or badly-done UV maps - any results they may achieve just won't be worth the effort required. I suspect the reason is that the guy doing the maps doesn't really know what the texture artist needs to produce first rate artwork, and - in some cases - doesn't WANT to know.

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My impression is that the second step - UV unwrapping - is where the process often goes wrong. On a complex model, making the UV unwrap flat pattern can be EXTREMELY tedious and time consuming.

 

You ain't kiddin brother. In some ways, modern 'stealthy' aircraft are actually easier because the surfaces are mostly in one 'plane' and flat...allowing minimum mapping.

 

Older aircraft with lots of round areas, nooks and crannies are MUCH harder to map well...which can result in the stuff that sometimes comes out.

 

I have to admit, my mapping skills have gone up dramatically with each aircraft I've done. It's helped that newer versions of MAX have made this easier, along with pointers from Julhelm and a few others, including better tutorials.

 

FastCargo

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thats why lindr2 was asking for help and putting all his 3ds-max files up for download , and the kh-59 was not mapped at all thats why you having this problems

i did some mapping on some bombs and missiles for him but i think he did not upload them yet

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Thanks for the explanation Ravenclaw. Again, no offense was intended. I didn't realize they weren't mapped at all. Is there someone who could map them? I'm going to be re-qualifying on the company's 19 seat airplane throughout August, so I might have a little time for some projects requireing no more than an hour or two in between memorizing emergency procedures and limitations.

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You ain't kiddin brother. In some ways, modern 'stealthy' aircraft are actually easier because the surfaces are mostly in one 'plane' and flat...allowing minimum mapping.

 

Older aircraft with lots of round areas, nooks and crannies are MUCH harder to map well...which can result in the stuff that sometimes comes out.

 

Thanks for that observation - it's much appreciated when coming from an experienced guy like you. It's just my luck that I am in love with the aircraft from the "Golden Age" of aviation - I've often thought it should be called the "Golden Age Of Sheetmetal" because of all those gorgeous teardrop shapes and fairings. Looks like they are the most time-consuming subjects to UV map? :blink:

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Thanks for the explanation Ravenclaw. Again, no offense was intended. I didn't realize they weren't mapped at all. Is there someone who could map them? I'm going to be re-qualifying on the company's 19 seat airplane throughout August, so I might have a little time for some projects requireing no more than an hour or two in between memorizing emergency procedures and limitations.

 

Per our email traffic, I've DL-ed the missiles and given them a quick eyeballing in Max. They are excellent 3D models, but don't seem to have any UV mapping, hierarchies, etc - they are just models, nothing else.

 

I'm in the middle of packing up for a job transfer, but I will start UV mapping them as and when I can. This may take a while. I have no idea what else is needed for a functioning game missile - what kind of parent-child hierarchy is required, if any?

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I'm no modeler, so this is all from an .ini "modder's" standpoint:

 

As long as the model is working and showing up in game, (at least for weapons) all you need to do is make a weaponsdata.ini entry for it and an .ini for different .LODs if you have any.

 

Since the KH-59 is up and running in game, theoretically, you could simply switch the .LODs out without editing any .inis (except if you changed the origin of the model).

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Per our email traffic, I've DL-ed the missiles and given them a quick eyeballing in Max. They are excellent 3D models, but don't seem to have any UV mapping, hierarchies, etc - they are just models, nothing else.

 

I'm in the middle of packing up for a job transfer, but I will start UV mapping them as and when I can. This may take a while. I have no idea what else is needed for a functioning game missile - what kind of parent-child hierarchy is required, if any?

 

Thanks Geezer205!!

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Guest Stiglr
Thanks Geezer205!!

 

Well, I find a lot of these problems stem from a poor creation of the texture files from the get go. Either the 3D modeling tool (*cough* Max...) has wretched tools that make texturing a huge, messy PROBLEM involving add-on programs, conversions and teeth pulling... or even with good texturing tools (*cough* AC3D :wink: ) the modeler still doesn't create a good set of texture maps for an aircraft. If you have crappy textures, it's harder to make the plane look good.

 

I'll share some things I've learned working with AC3D. Which, incidently, has just THE BEST texturing toolset I've ever seen. But even that toolset can be harder to bring to bear if you're working with a naff texture.

 

One is, when you are at a point with your 3D model to create a texture map, you should put some thought into creating it. You want to maximize the areas that show most prominently, giving them as much real estate on the texture(s) as possible... and give little, unimportant details less space. Said another way: parts do not have to retain their respective size ratio vis a vis the model when they're cut up and put on a graphic for skinning!

 

Two: If I'm working to (re)create a skin template, and open up an existing one to see this kind of a mess:

 

Superfort_fuse_example.JPG

 

OOOOOOH, this steams my shorts!!!! This is SO WRONG!!!!

 

Look at the sides of that fuselage! The way it's placed on the guide graphic, you have no way of creating straight, accurately aligned panel lines...! That's because the two side aspects of the plane are facing in opposite directions!!

****GRRRRRR!!!!!**** Oh no, you di' nt!!! :nono:

 

When you create a fuselage from your 3D objects, you should 'unwrap it' so that you can create panel lines with simple straight lines in your art program. Like so:

 

Ann_example.JPG

 

In this texture, the fuselage sections are, from top to bottom, the Top, the Right side, the Bottom and the Left side.

 

When creating these directly from the model, what I like to do is this:

 

1. First, create a large square (rectangle object) with equal sides in one of your viewports. "Lock" it or hide it such that you can see the outline, but it's not selectable or moveable.

2. Take a major part, like say the entire fuselage, at once. Select it and "lock" or "hide the other parts.

3. Make a copy of the part, so as not to ever run the risk of messing up a part of the model you intend to use.

4. Move the copy up into the rectangle area.

5. Scale it so that its length spans the entire width of the rectangle. (one good reason why we do this with copies of parts, and not original pieces!!!) You want the fuselage to have the most detail, so make it as big as you can on your texture!

6. Select the surfaces that comprise the top and bottom areas of the fuse. Detach it from the main part. Then rotate it 90 degrees such that the pieces are facing the side view.

7. Using the software's axis movement limiting command keys, move the top/bottom up or down so that the edge of the belly lines up with the bottom of one of the sides. Position the vertical surface lines exactly. Then deselect either the top or bottom surface sets and move the other section into position.

8. Grab the other "side" of the fuselage and move it so that it lines up with the other parts of the fuse to create a completely unwrapped fuselage, like you see with that Japanese ship above.

 

Now, when the artist creates the panel lines that ring the ship, he can do so by drawing perfectly straight lines, and not worrying about how they'll line up on the model. Also, for perfectly geometric planes, he can create panel and rivet lines on one "side" and then clone and flip the lines and move them to the other "side" and save lots of time. Same for sides of vertical stabs and such.

 

8. For other parts that may be inside the same larger piece, like bulkheads, interior space boxes, etc., select and detach those surfaces and rotate them so that they appear to face the same plane as your guide rectangle. Scale them appropriately and position them in the "dead spaces" between the fuselage parts. Don't be afraid to make them small if they're hardly seen. Who really gives a rat's butt about the interior of a tailwheel well or the inside of a shot-off wing in the grand scheme of things? Make these areas tiny.

 

9. Do the same with all the other major areas. Fit them appropriately in the square. Many sims use two textures for an aircraft: one for the fuse and one for the wings. That usually helps you divide up areas well and logically.

 

10. Finally, once you get everything unwrapped and placed within the square, set your 3D program up so that grids don't appear, and take a screen grab of the square area and all the parts in it, as zoomed in as you can.

 

11. Open the screengrab up in your art program, crop it so that it is exactly square (pixel size-wise), aligned with the square area you created in the 3D program, and give it a nice power-of-2 size: 512 x 512 at a minimum... but maybe something big like 3048 x 3048, so you can lavish detail and then save the actual finished texture file at 1024 x 1024 or 512 x 512. Then, create a Guide Layer (see that Japanese ship above, the guide layer is showing on that one) and put descriptions of the less-than-obvious pieces, so that if you forget what you put where, or you hand the file off to an artist who isn't the 3D guy... you avoid a lot of confusion that way. It's easy to tell "Fuselage Port" from "Fuselage Starboard"... but not so easy to make out which group of surfaces is the floor of a bombay vs. the sides or top of it. Or, for unwrapped engine nacelles, it can be hard to figure out which is top, inboard, outboard and bottom. And, since it's on a separate layer, in Photoshop, PaintShop Pro or other high quality software, you can independently control layer visibility, so that editing isn't "destructive".

Edited by Stiglr

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