converting flight sim air craft to card models

Discussion in 'Aircraft & Aviation' started by patriot missile, Jul 31, 2006.

  1. hey guys i was just wondering if there is a way to convert the texture files for aircraft in flight simulator 2004 into something that can be rebuilt into card models and how would you do that? there are 100's of different models that can be built from the wright flyer to the boeing 7x7 ;-)

    GEEDUBBYA Active Member

    Howdy Patriot,

    I hope you find the answer, there are so many sim models out there that look great. I have a air tractor model (cropduster) that I am so wanting to convert or have someone convert. The model will open in meta and in my other 3d program "anim8or" I can even open it in pepa, but the poly count is too high. If someone wants a crack at it, let me know I would love to see it become a model since its something I see almost everyday here in south Arkansas.

    Have a good day,

  3. i am hope some one knows how to do it too, i found 3 versions of a C-141B,,, a VC-10 tanker, and a ton of old vintange airliners ,, just about any type of plane you can think of (drooling)
  4. Stev0

    Stev0 Active Member

    There was great support for creating models in Gmax to the MS Flightsim games but where Gmax is dead I have no idea where the support has gone.
  5. Funnily enough...

    I have a utility which can read some of the Microsoft flight sim .mdl files and output the models in several formats including metasequoia (.mqo) files.

    I have just added it to the Parts Bin/Tools part of the forum.

    Fill yer boots!
  6. Gil

    Gil Active Member

    Big Rock Data Mountain

    Where to begin? Your question has a very long answer and besides it's technically complicated.

    First off most models made for flight simulator are of a certain format compatible with the game. This losely translates to a low polygon count model commonly used in video and computer games. These models are all made of polygons which represent the surface of the actual machine. On top of this is the texture map (which describe how the polygons are to be colored and shaded) and is applied to the models geometry through uv mappings so you can use 2D paint programs to do it. UV mappings need to be situated on the 3D surfaces by a uv mapper so that the paint applied doesn't appear distorted (this is an art form by itself). Once a uv template is in place for a particular 3D model it's a straight forward process to apply new paint jobs to it (make sure to lock the template layer).

    This takes care of models for flight simulator and video games but cannot be simply "unfolded" to produce a papermodel. The use of paper means that the surface can only be curved in one axis the other must remain fairly straight. This means that the model has to be built from the ground up to accomadate for this which elimates the "mesh models" from FS. 3D designs produced in CAD programs like Rhino are then unrolled (or the surfaces are "developed" this is the proper term for unrolling surfaces). The 3D model can have material textures applied to it and can be painted in 3D with software like 3D Paint but still has to go through the uv mapping process. Usually paint textures are still painted in a 2D Paint program due to the amount of effects available and that they're well understood. Rhino has limitations in this area as it doesn't really have an interactive 3D paint/view capability and you have to go out for uv mapping and paint. One method that does work is to use the photo realistic renderer in Rhino (Flamingo) to achieve a surface look. An orthographic 90 degree photo is taken of the section at high resolution. This image is then processed in Photoshop and applied to the uv template as a layer onto which the usual paint detail is added. Sounds a little crude but it works better than you'd suspect. One other item that can really add a realistic look is a method called ambient occlusion. This is a 3D pass render which is generally called a baked texture wherein a texture map with shading is permanently applied to the geometry of the model. Only problem is that if the scene shading changes your model will appear strange do to it's permanent shading. Ambient occlusion overcomes this to a large degree by a method wherein the model is precalculated for lighting effects and then shipped with that information. It only affects the figures luminance but when combined in a Photoshop composited image can make the difference between computer drawn and can't tell that it isn't real (it's really that good). Once all the layers are ready they need to be mapped back onto the unfolded surfaces. Pepakura can unfold a textured model which combines the painted uv template with the 3D geometry whereupon it can be unfolded. This is the part that's missing in Rhino unfortunately. I won't get into all the details but suffice to say this is the big showstopper for accomplishing all of the above with Rhino. It can be done using Rhino as the 3D modeling tool but it's a fairly complex and requires some precise coordination between several software packages to get it right.

    The short answer is you can't get there from here. The long answer is above and the investigation is ongoing..., -Gil
  7. wunwinglow

    wunwinglow Active Member

  8. Stev0

    Stev0 Active Member

    Rhino just got an update... It's pretty much close to version 4.
  9. goney3

    goney3 Member

    Look no further than OGLE (The OpenGLExtractor)


    *quote from the website:*
    They also have a "semi-working" texture exporter... but they should have that working hopefully soon. You can try it and see if it will work with Flight Simulator. :)

    I see this as a great way to get 3D models turned into paper versions quickly... I just need more free time to play with it.

  10. sjsquirrel

    sjsquirrel Member

    Looking for interested test builders.

    When Geedubbya posted hi9s picture of the crop duster above, it just so happened that I had been at the airport a day or two earlier and seen 6 planes much like it. These were search and rescue, and forest fire spotters, but a very similar plane. I thought it would make a good model too, so I had a look at the mesh Geedubbya had and have already got a beta build going.

    I should have a beta of the full model in the next couple weeks and I'm looking for test builders. Anyone interested?
  11. Kevin G

    Kevin G Member

    Instead of trying to strip the model from a flight sim file has anyone thought of maybe contacting the designer? I have been into FS for a long time, still fly with a virtual club on a regular basis and lots of the FS designers are great guys. Not to mention that just taking the model is wrong without the permission of the designer in the first place.

    GEEDUBBYA Active Member

    Howdy Kevin,

    Yes that is what I did in order to get the mesh that sjsquirrel is now working on. I simply contacted the designer, was upfront with what I wanted to see done with his 3d model and informed him that should a paper model be made based on his 3d model, he would be given credit for being the designer of the 3d portion on the paper model.
    Usually, if you are up front with people, they are more than happy to accomodate you, the designer of the air tractor mesh that I got had already tried to make a paper model of it, but not knowing anything about paper models, had never undertook it seriously so he was more than happy to supply me with the mesh.

    Have a good day,

    Greg aka GW

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