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Big Dog - Birth of a Steam Locomotive

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    Big Dog - Birth of a Steam Locomotive

    Morn’n Folks,

    Well – I must be crazy but I’ve got the urge to try out the latest version of 3D Canvas 8… I model with 3D Canvas and texture with Paint Shop Pro 9.1 – the right tools make all the difference… Seems like a recurring theme in the modeling forum – is a curiosity of what goes into building a model… I’m no expert… I’ve built 1.95 steam locomotives and textured 3 or 4 diesels… It really isn’t rocket science – if you model off scale drawings - it’s almost like a big connect the dots puzzle… Just figured I’d start a thread and see how it goes – hopefully I can stay motivated enough to complete this… This is just a high level overview which hopefully will help someone decide to take the plunge… While I do steam - these same principals would apply to just about any locomotive or piece of rolling stock...

    So you want to build a steam locomotive ???

    DAY 1 - PREP WORK

    First – find a prototype… One that has some good resources such as performance specs – scale drawings – and – photographs work best… You really want to choose one that you will be content to stare at for a great deal of time over the next six to nine months (your mileage may vary)… My area of interest – as for many – are the railroads that ran through my home town when I was a kid - well maybe before I was a kid - and - the steam engines that they used… Luckily – I have scale drawings for a few of them…

    This is the 90’s series Consolidations used by the L&HR… From what I understand they were some of the largest Consolidations ever used in the US…


    Railroad Photos organized by Engine Model, specializing in NE Pennsylvania


    Well – to start - get comfortable with the drawings/photographs and note any prototype specific details that may be different… For modeling off the scale drawings we need to prep them for use in the modeling software… The easiest way to do this in 3DC is to match the work area - to the size of the background image you plan to work off of… After scanning the reference drawing - we need to determine the pixels per foot… For this instance – it works out to 20.5 pixels per foot… This is very handy – since - I can now measure anything on the scale drawing… The size you need to use will vary on the length of the locomotive… For this instance I needed about 56 feet to center the locomotive and have a few spare feet on either end to work with… So the images needed to be 1148x1148 pixels to equal 56 feet…



    You want the pivot point of a steam locomotive to be the center of the drivers… I always mark this for a clear reference…. Extend your drawings from this point to have 574 pixels on each side… Once you complete the images – just set your workspace in 3DC to the same 56 feet and your images are ready to load… We should be ready to start modeling…



    To be continued…
    Last edited by scottb613; 01-31-2011, 09:10 AM.
    <a href=https://www.trainsim.com/forums/filedata/fetch?filedataid=80663&type=full title=thumb_80663.png >thumb_80663.png</a>​ My Blender Models

    #2
    I love your little tutorial there. However, I was always told that when modelling a steam engine (physical or digital), the tender was a good place to start. I assume that the tender comes later, right?

    Comment


      #3
      Wow Scott! Very informal. Weren't you the one building the L&HR Northerns?
      What has happened here?

      Comment


        #4
        Hi Sanjay,

        I guess you could start with the tender - they are two separate models - so one really has no relation to the other... The locomotive is obviously more complex - so maybe if you are trying to get your feet wet - it might be a good idea to start on the simpler one... My first locomotive - I just dove in - I used a detailed tutorial by Paul Gausden from the http://msts.steam4me.net/ site to guide me... My last tender was pretty complex with a centipede drive that took some work...

        Hi Luke,

        Yeah - that would be me - it was a Mountain though... That's my .95 part I mentioned above... I kind of burned myself out a bit as it took about every spare moment I had for almost a year... It's been sitting idle for about a year now... It only needs a small bit of some texture work and some LOD's... I'm hoping starting a project gives me the enthusiasm to get'r done... Honestly - the modeling is fun - the texture work is a bit of a chore... Out of all the hours spent on the project - I would say 1/3 was modeling and 2/3 was texture work... Here is where she sits now...

        L&HR Mountain


        Railroad Photos organized by Engine Model, specializing in NE Pennsylvania






        Railroad Photos organized by Engine Model, specializing in NE Pennsylvania


        Last edited by scottb613; 02-09-2011, 06:48 PM.
        <a href=https://www.trainsim.com/forums/filedata/fetch?filedataid=80663&type=full title=thumb_80663.png >thumb_80663.png</a>​ My Blender Models

        Comment


          #5
          Originally posted by Traindude View Post
          I love your little tutorial there. However, I was always told that when modelling a steam engine (physical or digital), the tender was a good place to start. I assume that the tender comes later, right?
          i have heard this too, but i was told it was so you wouldn't get bored and not to finish it.

          and that is one massave consolidation! were they built ike that, or were they converted from camelbacks?

          Comment


            #6
            DAY 2 – THE BEAUTY OF 3D CANVAS

            Well – before you drop your first shape you really need to have an idea of what your modeling philosophy is going to be… The more details you model – the easier your texturing job will be – however – the greater poly count will degrade performance in the sim… If desired – it would be pretty simple matter to model down to each large nut and bolt – which some people do… My philosophy – in the end – I’m a fan of high frame rates… Stutters and lag really ruin the whole train sim experience for me… I want to be able to run and enjoy the model when I’m done – or – it’s not worth the effort… I’m pretty stingy with polys and willing to sacrifice small details and use rough shapes - if the big picture looks reasonable… The MSTS graphics engine is really pretty poor so much of your effort is wasted anyway... I believe the Mountain illustrated above came out to like 11k OR 12k – which – for the amount of detail included is pretty economical… If you take the time – textures – can be used to convey a great deal of detail without the costs associated with polys…

            I’m a huge fan of 3D Canvas… Before I chose 3D Canvas – I did try both TSM and GMAX… For me – I just couldn’t get into them… I know each package has its fan base and merits – but – for those of us with less talent - 3D Canvas is the only way to go… The power of 3D Canvas is its scripting language… Paul Gausden (Shape Viewer fame) has built so many tools specifically designed for building trains – it will cut your development time in half…

            TRAINWORKS ENGINEER – is the very first plugin you will come to love… You need to spend a little time up front gathering specific values and measurements for your model… These parameters include such things as dimensions on all the wheels – number of drivers – number of leading/trailing wheels – relative positions of all the wheels – dimensions on the connecting rods – dimensions of the cam/bearings – etc etc etc… I convert all the dimensions to decimal feet to feed them to the plugin… Once populated – you hit the “Start Building” button and the plugin will generate a complete set of wheels for the drivers – leading trucks – trailing trucks – connecting rods – bearings – axles - cam – and – even a rudimentary frame… These parts are all fully animated and ready for use – with the wheels at a 90 degree offset on each side - as required for a steam locomotive… I’m still amazed every time I run it… The plugin stores all your values – so – if you don’t like something – just go back – modify the values – delete the existing model - and – generate a brand new one from scratch… The plugin will also generate the appropriate alpha channel if you use the alpha wheels… It's almost like cheating - LOL - almost...

            Trainworks Engineer Parameters

            Pilot Truck
            +Include
            +Fully Modeled Wheels
            +Relative Group Position
            +Pilot Box Height
            +Axle Number
            +Axle Facets
            +Axle Radius
            +Wheel Radius
            +Hub Radius
            +Relative Axle Position
            +Spokes Number
            +Spoke Width
            +Spoke Taper
            +Spoke Rotation
            +Rim Thickness

            Drivers
            +Include
            +Fully Modeled Wheels
            +Relative Group Position
            +Solebar Height
            +Solebar Length
            +Solebar Width
            +Solebar Thickness
            +Axle Number
            +Axle Facets
            +Axle Radius
            +Wheel Radius
            +Hub Radius
            +Relative Axle Position
            +Spokes Number
            +Spoke Width
            +Spoke Taper
            +Spoke Rotation
            +Rim Thickness
            +Animate Wheels and Connecting Rods
            +Connecting Rods Include
            +Connecting Rod Offset
            +Connecting Rod Width
            +Connecting Rod Depth
            +Bearing Radius

            Trailing Truck
            +Include
            +Fully Modeled Wheels
            +Relative Group Position
            +Pilot Box Height
            +Axle Number
            +Axle Facets
            +Axle Radius
            +Wheel Radius
            +Hub Radius
            +Relative Axle Position
            +Spokes Number
            +Spoke Width
            +Spoke Taper
            +Spoke Rotation
            +Rim Thickness

            Options
            +Meters or Feet
            +Track Gauge
            +Tire Depth
            +Driver Wheel Facets
            +Truck Wheel Facets
            +Vertical Offset
            +Extra High Poly Wheels


            Trainworks Engineer and Alpha Mask



            The wheels can be generated with three detail levels with varying number of polys…

            1) Alpha Wheels – (2338 polys) - uses the traditional 2 layer “alpha” wheels with spokes hubs and rims modeled – with 3D connecting rods and bearings… This is the one I prefer - as you have the most flexibilty - I used this method to create the Boxpok drivers on the Mountain…
            2) Fully Modeled Wheels – (5440 polys) – drops the alpha wheels for a fully 3D wheel and spokes…
            3) Extra High Poly Wheels – (6720 polys) - for those of you where polys are no object – adds 3D cams and modeled flanges…


            Alpha Wheels (2338 polys)


            Alpha Wheels - cut away


            Fully Modeled Wheels (5440 polys)


            High Poly Wheels (6720 polys)



            So with a minimal effort and no real modeling -we just created probably around 15% of the overall model with a simple click of a button… LOL – once you go 3DC you will never go back… This plugin will generate diesel or rolling stock wheels for those so inclined… Just about every characteristic has the ability to be modified...

            Now - if you have done all your homework correctly - you should see your brand new wheel set (wireframe) superimposed - perfectly - over your reference drawing... It's pretty satisfying getting to this point - as it validates all your setup work... I love it when a plan comes together...





            To be continued…
            Last edited by scottb613; 01-31-2011, 09:14 AM.
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            Comment


              #7
              HI Scott,
              GEEZ!!! I can't believe I missed this post.

              Jim
              Jim

              Comment


                #8
                Scott,

                Thank you for taking the time to create these mini lesson tutorials. I look forward to reading your other lessons in this thread.

                Comment


                  #9
                  DAY 3 - BASIC SHAPES

                  Well - now it's time to do some basic modeling... I always start with the biggest parts first and work my way smaller... For a steam engine - that means the smoke box - boiler - firebox - and cab... These shapes are usually fairly easy and a good way to start so you get the basic shape down early...

                  A little primer on 3D Modeling... Any 3D modeling software comes with basic shapes called "primitives"... These shapes are the basic building blocks for just about anything you wish to model... 95% of my objects start out life as a cube or cylinder... Once you start modeling with your primitive - you need to forge it into whatever shape is needed by your model... You do this by manipulating these shapes by adjusting - "points" - "edges" - "faces" - or the entire "object" itself as illustrated below... In addition - there are various operations that will allow you to do more specific advanced operations to speed your modeling time... It takes a little time to get used to navigating - but - most software packages have some canned tutorials to aid the learning process... It's not really that bad...


                  Primitives and - Point - Edge - Face - Manipulation



                  Advanced Operations - Extrude - Bevel - Point - Inset/Extrude



                  Back to the locomotive - start by dropping a few primitives on the work space... Cylinders for the smoke box and boiler - a cube for the firebox should do it...


                  Primitives - Smoke Box - Boiler - Firebox



                  The smoke box is really simple - just a basic cylinder sized and positioned in place... You can attach the smoke box to the boiler - but - the shorter shape will be easier to texture on a 1024x1024 ace...


                  Smoke Box



                  The boiler is a bit more complex as we need to perform a couple of extrusions and size it accordingly to achieve the conical shape... Once again - having the scale plans to model off of makes this a pretty simple task... Once sized and shaped correctly - I just delete the unnecessary faces that will be hidden by the firebox...


                  Boiler



                  The firebox is roughed into shape and attached to the boiler using "weld" functions....


                  Firebox



                  CAB ENGINEER - is another valuable tool used to create - you guessed it - the cab... Take some basic measurements off the plan - insert the values into the Cab Engineer - and - the plug-in generates the entire shape for you... They usually take some adjustment - but - it's nice getting the basic box and curve roof shape to start with... Note: The cab roof doesn't match the plans because the drawings are for a Reading 2-8-0 - which I need to modify to match photos of the L&HR version...

                  Cab Engineer Parameters
                  +Coal Bunker or Cab
                  +Length
                  +Width
                  +Height
                  +Roof Facets
                  +Roof Curve Height
                  +Open Cab
                  +Roof Overhang Front/Back
                  +Roof Overhang Sides


                  Cab Engineer - Insert Values



                  Cab Engineer - Shape Output



                  Cab Engineer - Manipulate to Match Plans



                  So it's starting to look like a steam locomotive already....


                  A Final Perspective View


                  To be continued...
                  Last edited by scottb613; 01-29-2011, 11:15 AM.
                  <a href=https://www.trainsim.com/forums/filedata/fetch?filedataid=80663&type=full title=thumb_80663.png >thumb_80663.png</a>​ My Blender Models

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Wow that makes me want to go model something...
                    Jon Clark - Butler, Pa
                    sigpic

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Hi Jon,

                      Yeah - it does kind of suck you in though... I'm hoping this one goes a bit quicker as I really learned a lot on my last attempt...


                      Regards,
                      Scott
                      Last edited by scottb613; 01-25-2011, 06:59 AM.
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                      Comment


                        #12
                        With regards to that mountain you have had in the works... without those textures that need to be finished (whatever they may be, it's hard to tell what's missing), it looks just plain awful! I wouldn't even consider downloading it! What a waste of time!

                        Just messin,
                        Sam

                        P.S. In all seriousness: What's left to be textured? It looks great as I see it! (and please, I swear, if anybody tells me to be patient because they think I'm rushing (which I'm not, I'm just wondering what is "lacking"), I might have to unload on them!)

                        Comment


                          #13
                          DAY 4 – NOT JUST ANOTHER PRETTY FACE

                          Time to get dirty with a bit more detail modeling… Any 3D modeling software allows you to move objects in three planes – x, y, and z… In addition to movement – you can rotate objects around all three axis… Just to provide an idea of what is involved with creating each shape – I’ll provide a sequence on creating a basic smoke stack… If you want good performance – always keep in mind that more curves = more polys… So whenever you are creating a shape – you want to create a shape that conveys what you need – with the minimum amount of curvature necessary to complete the task… This is just a basic representation as it really takes some tweaking to make the shapes match the prototype as close as possible...


                          Smoke Stack - Add a Cylinder to the work space - A standard 16 sided cylinder comes out to 60 polys - before modification



                          Grab the bottom face



                          Perform an "extrude" with a "flare"



                          Now grab the top face



                          Perform another "extrude" and "flare"



                          To give the rim some depth - just a straight "extrude"



                          To create the hole - perform an "inset"



                          One more "extrude"



                          Finally just move that extrusion in the opposite direction to complete the hole



                          We now have a decent looking smoke stack suitable for adding to a model - about 160 polys worth



                          This process is repeated over and over again for each part on the model... The steps are pretty repetitive and you wind up using the same basic tools (move, size, rotate, extrude, flare, bevel, inset, align, etc etc etc) over and over again... While products like 3D Canvas have many tools - most of the more sophisticated ones are only used on rare occasions... There are other ways to make this same part - I just try to stick with what I know...

                          Continued...
                          Last edited by scottb613; 01-27-2011, 05:45 AM.
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                            #14
                            DAY 4 - Part 2

                            Back to the model...

                            One of the first things I noticed from the photographs is that the L&HR Consolidations had Worthington feed water heaters located on the pilot deck - which my plans do not... It looks like they extended the smoke box a few feet to accommodate the heater... Since it's not on the drawings - I had to swag the measurement... I'm guessing from all the photos - about a foot and a half...


                            So we'll start by extending the smoke box



                            Add some simple cylinders for the air tanks



                            Add some more cylinders for the piston cylinders and valves



                            Add our smoke stack we created in the last post



                            Add the smoke box door to the front




                            Components from previous models can be stored for future use - way faster than building each part from scratch



                            By hiding simple shapes in the model - they seem to have a more complex shape - such as the latches



                            Latches and Hinges installed



                            The pilot deck



                            Actual modeling view


                            While I've been showing many single pain shots - when modeling I usually have four pains showing the model from different angles... As I'm sure you can see - everything we worked on is really pretty simple... It just takes a little getting used to and a bit of an eye for details... Most of the model will go together with many of the very same steps illustrated here...

                            To be continued...
                            Last edited by scottb613; 02-09-2011, 03:18 PM.
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                              #15
                              DAY 5 - ROTO ROOTER - THAT's THE NAME

                              So what makes a Steam locomotive so different from any other locomotive ??? Steam - right ??? Kind of a - hissing - noisy - fire breathing dragon - belching smoke and steam everywhere... Well - since that's what we are modeling - whether we like it or not - we are going to have to model pipe runs at some point... I really don't know how GMAX or TSM handles them but here is where some more 3DC plug-ins come to the rescue... I'm including handrails in this since they are pretty similar and both have plug-ins...

                              TRAINWORKS PIPE ENGINEER - will automatically build a "pipe" off any selected EDGE of a shape... If desired - you can create some really complex runs with many curves to run the entire length of the locomotive... In addition - you can get creative and even create things such as ladders in a matter of seconds... It's pretty sharp and one of the many reasons I like 3DC so much... Just for the record - in case I sound like an advertisement - I am in no - way - shape - or - form affiliated with Amabilis/3DC - other than being a happy customer...


                              Pipe Engineer Parameters - EDGES
                              +Size - obvious
                              +Facets - how many sides the pipe will have
                              +Offset - not sure
                              +Height/Width Ratio - make oval pipe

                              It's easier to show in pictures...


                              For Demonstration - added a few complex shapes



                              It may be difficult to see - but - I selected some edges - yellow



                              Input Data



                              Hit the OK button - to create your pipe run



                              Delete or Hide your base shape



                              You now have a complex pipe run that may have been difficult to produce without the 3DC plug-in...

                              TRAINWORKS HANDRAIL BUILDER - along similar lines as the pipe builder is the plug-in to build handrails... Handrails are another prevalent feature on almost any locomotive - even those dreaded diesels... This plug-in works off of FACES - instead of EDGES... It will build handrails parallel to any FACE selected - with the number of stanchions selected divided evenly over the length of the rail... It's easy to slide the stanchions up and down the rail if you need to place them in very specific locations...

                              Handrail Builder Parameters - FACES
                              +Orientation - Parallel the X,Y, or Z axis of the shape...
                              +Rail Length
                              +Rail Diameter
                              +Rail Facets
                              +Solid Ends
                              +Stanchion Quantity
                              +Stanchion Length
                              +Stanchion Diameter
                              +Stanchion Facets

                              For pipes or handrails less than .2 feet - I find four sided/faceted shapes are adequate - when larger I bump them to six... There is a trick called "creasing" that will make the edges of the shape seem to disappear - however - it does adversely affect the texture quality of an object... This is fine for handrails - so my four sided handrail will appear round in the simulator...


                              Select a Face



                              Input Data



                              Hit OK - to build the handrail



                              Repeat to build other handrails in any orientation



                              All these little tools add up to save you countless hours of modeling... They are not just for steam locomotives and could be used to build any type of locomotive or piece of rolling stock...

                              I'll post the actual DAY 5 work when I get a chance to put the PIX together...

                              Thanks for looking...

                              To be continued...
                              Last edited by scottb613; 01-29-2011, 11:46 AM.
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