Tutorial for cloning and reskinning - note that if you're merely repainting for your own personal use there's no problem, but if you're repainting something you intend to upload, you need to check the license and it's best to confirm permission before you even start cloning unless you want to spend hours on something you'll never be able to share. I generally avoid anything with a license, there's plenty of unrestricted models to skin.
EDIT 8/25/11 - adding Humyo link for those who wish to use my logos and color schemes for Chicago Metro, Downtown Traction, HarborMaster, IndustRail, Port Ogden & Northern.
Right click, save link as, unzip, read the readme.
I'm locking this thread to keep it uncluttered, any comments or questions post them in this thread;
Step 1, cloning a model.
First step is to select a model, check that it actually works in the game. The RS3 is too shiny, that's not the texture, it's the specular lighting in the mesh. That's the more difficult one so we'll start with it.
Select the train (or trains, CTRL click will select multiple assets) in Content Manager, click the right mouse button and select "Clone" from the menu that appears.
Next Edit in explorer, open the config.txt file with wordpad or notepad, search for "username" and rename it to what you want. If the specular lighting is okay in the model you cloned, close the explorer window, go back to content manager and select the clone, right click, Edit, Commit. If not go on to fixing the mesh.
Fixing the specular is next, look for files named whatever.im.
Some essential tools for repainters there, Images2TGA, PM2IM, and Trainz Mesh Viewer. You should start by downloading those three and reading the documentation, they're easy to learn and use.
Even if the mesh is already IM and doesn't need to be converted from PM, you can reconvert from IM to IM and change the specular color or zero the specular. Zero specular eliminates the shine altogether, if you just want to tone it down set the specular for a dark gray and convert.
Still some shine, but not blinding. After committing the asset, check for errors and warnings, I'll cover some common errors in a later tutorial.
Last edited by sniper297; 08-25-2011 at 01:43 PM.
Whether the weather
Step 2, reskinning, slopping paint around.
Easiest way to reskin a train is to hire the legendary Three Blind Mice to do it for you. Unfortunately they tend to spray more paint on each other than the model, and the results might not be what you're looking for. Paint programs vary all over the place, for weathering it's best to have a program like PhotoShop or Paint Shop Pro, any graphics editor that opens and saves TGA files and supports layers.
Using Trainz Mesh Viewer from http://members.optusnet.com.au/~villaump/pevsoft.htm I follow the instructions to associate ".im" files with Mesh Viewer, now when I double click on any whatever.im file I can view it. Find the main.tga (probably called something else.tga, you'll need to experiment) and open that in your image editor. Save it, then reload Mesh Viewer to see what you did. Lather, rinse, repeat.
Using Paint Shop Pro, I select Layers, New Raster Layer. Read the instructions for whatever paint program you use to make one or more layers.
After spray painting dirty brown and black all over the place, I save, then switch to Mesh Viewer and reload to see what I did. Over weathering is common, trying to achieve subtlety is an art itself, you just have to keep practicing. Since that's too much, this is where the layers come in handy - the overspray of dirt and rust is only on layer 2, the original base layer is still clean.
Bottom left is what it looks like in Mesh Viewer with the second layer completely opaque, bottom right is after reducing the opacity to 50%. This doesn't really require any artistic talent, merely practice practice practice. Adjust the opacity from 20% to 70% depending on how sloppy your painting technique is and you can hide a lot of sins.
Original model on the left, weathered clone on the right.
After you practice this for a while, go on to making 3 or 4 layers instead of just one layer, spray different colors like light gray, black, orange, and dark brown then experiment with different opacities for each layer (around 20-30% with multiple layers) until you get the look you want.
Fixing up old junkers
Most common problem with reskinning older stuff is the new error checkers, again the best resource is
You'll need at least Images2TGA, PM2IM, and Mesh Viewer comes in real handy for painting.
I want to skin a streetcar, the only one I can find is an old one from the original version of Trainz. If I clone it and commit it won't work in TS2010, since Auran cheated on the old built in content by forcing the error checker to ignore those KUIDs rather than fixing the errors. Simplest way to fix the clone is to update it by editing in Content Creator.
Aaaack! Well, gotta expect that, click Okay and see what kind of errors we get.
Additional changes, all right. Two types of errors here, it claims the .texture.txt is missing, what's actually missing is the TGA files.
Back in Content Manager, if I set up the PEV tools according to his directions, I can right click on the asset and "Open With". Images2TGA to fix missing textures, PM2IM to fix the progressive mesh mess.
After doing that I edit in explorer, set the sort order by "Type" to get all the file extensions grouped. Then I check that all the .texture files now have matching .tga files, and delete the .texture files, being careful NOT to delete the .texture.txt files since those are needed to load the TGA files. NEW INFO: For TRS2009 and later it's not necessary to delete the .texture files since content manager does that automatically when you commit the asset.
Back to Content Creator, select the meshes and change the reference from the whatever.pm to whatever.im. This one for some reason references a shadow file that isn't there, I could use PEV's QuickShadows to make one, but I just copy a generic flat shadow folder in and use that.
Save and exit Content Creator, back to Content Manager, Edit, Commit, check for errors.
Advisable to check in game after that, see if it runs okay before reskinning.
Last edited by sniper297; 10-29-2011 at 01:34 AM.
PM2IM Specular Lighting
For a basic skinning and weathering tutorial, many probably wonder what all the PM2IM fuss is all about.
When models are exported, or converted from the old PM2IM, they often have either full specular lighting (white) or none (Black).
To adjust specular lighting, open the model for edit in explorer, find the .im file (or files, sometimes there are multiples for LODs) and right click. If you installed and set up PM2IM correctly you should see it in the "Open With" list. Alternately you can launch PM2IM from a shortcut and browse for the .im, but since the editing in explorer is always a temp folder using "Open With" is easier.
Options alternates between Zero Speculars and Use Specular Color, to change the color you need to switch back and forth in order to activate the color selection window.
I've played with shades of orange and brown to get a rusty patina, but shades of gray work best. Darker is less shine, lighter is more shine.
To save the work click on Convert to .im - whether it's a .pm or already a .im it will generate a new .im with the chosen specular color. When the second filename appears under the first, it's done, exit and go back to Content Manager and commit.
All four unweathered engines have the exact same texture. Upper left is zero specular, upper right is default full specular.
Lower left is a dark gray specular color, lower right is medium gray.
Make a dozen clones of the same model, tinker with PM2IM to see what you like best, then play with the layered weathering techniques in your image editor. Having a bunch of clones of the same model means you can experiment like crazy until you get good at it, and delete your early attempts. Take notes while learning, write down what works and what doesn't.
Trains as scenery
Question how do you make a static scenery loco? Best way is to make it a track object so it snaps to track, saves a lot of alignment fiddling. I use different track textures for my static trains, real track but not actually connected to the normal tracks so the player doesn't get confused and try to couple onto a static track object.
Simplest way to build a houseboat is to start out with a boat since you already know it floats, so for this exercise download one of mine;
297 static boxcar 1,<kuid2:522774:100343:1>
That's a snappable track object, clone it and give it a new name.
Next, see post #3, if you don't already have them get PM2IM and Images2TGA from PEVsoft. The victim today is the built in Auran GP38;
GP38-2 - Seaboard System,<kuid:-1:100182>
Clone that, Open With PM2IM and Images2TGA to convert textures. Edit in explorer, copy all the .im, .texture.txt, and image files to a temp folder. Next, view dependencies, view in main list;
gp38 2 light bogey,<kuid:-1:100142>
For a static engine we don't need sounds and engine specs, the only thing we're interested in is the bogies. For a real loco or car the bogies are a separate asset, but for a static train we want to copy the bogies and add as an attachment. Doing this from scratch you would need to add position numbers and tinker with the values to get the main mesh and bogey attachments to sit in the right places, the static boxcar already has all that so you only need to replace the meshes and adjust the numbers. Do the PM2IM and Images2TGA conversion for the bogey, copy those files to the same temp folder. Open your clone of the static boxcar in Explorer, copy all those files and paste them in. If you want to be neat you can delete all the files except the config.txt first, since you're going to change the config for the new meshes anyway.
Open in content creator, change the mesh from the boxcar to the new loco, change the bogies to the new type. Save, check for no errors, then commit.
Check in game to see how it looks, the body is okay but the wheels are sunk into the rails.
Position numbers are left/right, fore/aft, and up/down - a minus sign in front of a number changes the offset from center, values are left, aft, and up positive, right, fore, and down negative, this being a positive number 0.7 I want to move it up further so I change to 0.9. Save, check, repeat until it looks right. Paint the TGA files, don't forget to delete the .texture files being careful NOT to delete the .texture.txt files.
Bogies look okay height-wise, but the middle number needs to increase to move them further from center - 4.7 for the rear bogey and -4.7 for the front, change those to 4.9 or 5 and -4.9 or -5 to move them toward the ends.
Clone and reskin several times, fill up a roundhouse with rustoleum rejects.
More layer stuff
Turning into an FAQ - found a loco without too much lettering that I can clean up and reskin for another road, what's a good technique for applying lettering and logos without covering the underlying details? First thing, RTFD, this demonstration is with Paint Shop Pro 7, if you're using Gimp or PhotoShop they should have similar tools, so read the full directions for whatever image editor you have on how to create and work with layers.
Step one, I copy the logo from my image library collection, paste as new layer. Unfortunately covers all the door lines.
Change to layer 1, which in PSP is the background.
Drag a rectangle around the logo and promote that to a layer. The logo itself is on a different layer, so the new layer from selection is only the color and door lines.
Bring that layer to the top;
Which hides the layer the logo is on. Now using the magic wand tool I select the color parts and hit the DELETE key, leaving nothing but the door outlines. After merging layers and saving the logo appears to be painted on rather than a large sticker, before merging you can also adjust the relative opacity of the two layers to taste.