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Up to date as of January 23, 2010

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< Trainz

Contents

Newcomers start here

The first thing you have to do is install Blender. So go directly to http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Trainz/Tutorial_for_Blender#Getting_started and follow the instructions on installing Blender and the exporter.


The recommendation is to watch the video tutorials http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Trainz/Tutorial_for_Blender#Video_tutorials_from_Blender.org before attempting the basic house tutorial but it is not essential to do so.

Next you need to create something then export it.

  • Development stage: 00% (as of February 19, 2008)Tutorial to build a basic house:

To texture this house download kuid:86627:2491 or any version of it. You want the texture file from it "Terrace one.tga". Use that file and the texture tutorial to texture the house. It is 3.25 mb download so if you don't have a first class ticket you might do better downloading it from TPR http://trainzproroutes.com/downloads/index.php "Leopold Lane" under buildings.

  • Development stage: 00% (as of February 19, 2008)Tutorial to texture a basic house:

To export the house:

  • Development stage: 00% (as of February 19, 2008)Tutorial to export a basic house:

To convert it into a moving house:

  • Development stage: 00% (as of February 19, 2008)Tutorial to create a moving house:

If we change the shape we can actually get a reasonable basic wagon out of it.

Also please note that Paul Hobbs has three blender tutorials here: http://www.44090digitalmodels.co.uk/

These tutorials cover a lot of material quite quickly and Paul is very knowledgeable.

About this page

The intention of this page is to assist people in exporting their Blender creations directly to Trainz using the Blender Exporter for Trainz. Only items that are pertinent to the exporter will be described here. If you are stuck in Blender or have a question about Content Creation itself, then you find a lot of explanations and experienced people under the following links:
Blender Documentation
Blender Community
TRS2006 Content Creation Guide
Trainz Discussion Forums

Tutorials:

Video tutorials from Blender.org.

Start with the Interface.avi then follow with the 3dview.avi

Blender getting started tutorials
Blender video tutorials
Blender animation video tutorial View this one to see how to make a roof.


Under the heading Textures is a basic tutorial that will guide you through creating a cylinder in Blender then exporting it as a scenery object and also as a wagon into Trainz. Sample config.txt files for cylinder are available on the DLS. Please do the video getting started tutorials first.

Blender is a big complex product but we only need a sub section of the features for building models for Trainz, so start with the tutorial under Textures then have a look through the getting started videos, especially the interface ones.


Things you may find useful when working with Blender.

Under File is "load factory settings", in Blender it is possible to change the default this one gets you back to sanity.

When texturing with an external .tga file the exporter expects a certain type of texturing. Even if you can see it in Blender it may not export. F6, choose as texture type "Image" and load your image file.

b is box select, ie select everything in the box.

Trainz requires absolute sizes and positioning, type "N" to bring up a properties page so you can type in dimensions directly. Note the name is entered here OB:a.limback etc. You can select or search and select an object in the outliner window / view, then mouse over to a 3d view where you can tab to edit. You may need to experiment in outliner to find the view that lets you select.

Working with four windows above the button window makes sense. If you go into user preferences (click the mouse just below the file add labels and pull them down) click on the view name button each quadrant will be labelled.

Number pad 0 is camera view, the others are 1 3 7. <Ctrl>3 or <Shift>3 gives the opposite side etc. 5 changes from ortho view to perspective.

fa: next to the www.blender.org 2.46 gives the number of faces, multiply by 2 to get poly counts. M move the selected item to a different level to see the poly count for a selected item. You can reduce the poly count be selecting unseen faces then deleting them.

F9 brings up the double sided button to turn off double sided texturing.

Use append (<Shift><F1>)to combine things from two files. http://wiki.blender.org/index.php/Manual/Using_Linked_Libraries

To change the texture file name F6, then change the file name under still.

To pick out an item by name use the outliner.

When creating an animated load note that the first and last frame seem to interact so the highest load should be the frame before last or a wagen with no load may show the high load when empty. Also export with the frame number set to the highest number.

To tile a texture in Blender "Select your plane, press F, press A until all the faces are selected, and then in the UV image editor press A a few times untill everything is selected. Press S and scale it up. That is it... just scale it bigger then the UV texture window and it will automatically tile for you"


The following link shows how to (use) import blue prints into Blender.

http://www.the-blueprints.com/index.php?tutorials/blender/

Importing from GMAX into Blender

The process is:

http://www.44090digitalmodels.co.uk/

first tutorial setting up GMAX.

Page 6 and 7 refer to Tempest game pack this gives you a MD3 export. It also tells you were to download the tempest game pack. If you get desperate I think I have it somewhere. Getting out of GMAX is the most difficult part.

Then go here: https://svn.sourceforge.net/svnroot/...trunk/blender/

copy all the scripts into your Blender script folder.

Import md3.

references:

http://blenderartists.org/forum/showthread.php?t=91838

http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Blender...pts/md3_import

[1]

Getting started

What you need to create content for Trainz with Blender is obviously Blender itself and the Blender Exporter for Trainz. The script was developed for Blender 2.45, but any later version should work also. To use the Blender Exporter for Trainz, you must unzip the archive and copy the included file trainz_exporter.py into the script directory of Blender. This is normally the folder scripts located in the subdirectory .blender, so if you install Blender on a Windows system using the default path, you have to copy the file trainz_exporter.py from the archive into the folder C:\Program Files\Blender Foundation\Blender\.blender\scripts. On some Blender installations it maybe found in Application Data\Blender Foundation\Blender\.blender\scripts under document and settings, application data maybe a hidden folder / directory in windows which makes locating it difficult sometimes especially on Windows 7 machines where you may have to turn off UAC to reach it.

Every time Blender starts it scans this directory and include any scripts found into its menu structure. So if you start or restart Blender after copying the exporter script then you call it using the Blender menu File > Export > Trainz Export. After selecting what you want to export and if no problems occur you find yourself in Blender's file save dialog. Choose the desired location and filename and press Save to finally create the resource file. You should always check the Blender console for infos or warnings, as the exporter only stops at fatal errors.

Blender settings

Whilst we are still experimenting to find the best Blender settings to get the best results in Trainz based on what we have found out so far here are some suggestions:
  • In Blender you can't scale units like in GMAX(where you have to set in preferences that a system unit should be one meter), simply assume that one BU(Blender Unit) is one meter, that's it. The exporter has a conversion of one Blender unit to one meter as part of the script. If you want to use imperial units, then you may wish to explore Blender Mesh Attribute Editor
  • If you want to move an object to an absolute position, then change to Object Mode(Hotkey TAB) and press N. In the now visible Transform Properties window you can enter the values you need. But beware, LocX, LocY and LocZ are local values, only if an object doesn't have a parent these are world coordinates. If you have already assigned a parent, then you will see and must enter the location relative to that parent.
  • Not all material properties visualized in Blender will have effect in Trainz, and some effects in Trainz are unable to be visualized in Blender. So don't trust what you see in Blender and take a look at your creation in Trainz.
  • Regarding textures, only diffuse, opacity, reflection and normal maps have effect in Trainz. You can also export meshes without any texture.

Objects

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Meshes

Meshes are the Blender objects you will see in Trainz. You can build your objects by manipulate Blender primitives or even place vertices and create faces. Just keep in mind the following things:
  • center your creation around the point of origin, as Trainz place this point at cursor position when you insert the asset
  • Faces can be double or single sided, in Blender this is a mesh and not a material option. You will recognize the difference only in Trainz, as Blender render faces always double sided.
  • every mesh needs a material; you can use one material for different meshes
  • keep an eye on vertex and face count
The Exporter only recognizes meshes which are visible during export. Make sure all objects you want to export are visible and you have selected all needed layers too! There are two reasons for this behaviour: First, nothing will be exported what you not see(maybe a long forgotten test mesh). The second reason is that you can hold big or animated objects in one Blender file and export only the needed parts by changing visibility(here the layers comes into play).

Bones

The term bone in this section stand in general for a helper object to build up hierarchical animation systems. It is not related to the subobject Bone contained in Blender Armatures. Up to now Blender Exporter only recognize Lattices as valid bone-objects.
here are two tutorials to get a clue about animation basics in Blender:
• Animation do this video tutorial first to understand the basics like where the frame number is. [2]
• Next for simple animation such as we use in Trainz do this tutorial. [3]
As soon as you want to animate your asset, there is no way around using bones. You can create bones by placing a Lattice(Add > Lattice) and rename it to something like b.r.something as it is described for the bone naming conventions in CCG.
Note the animation works by making the bone b.r.rot etc a parent of object then the animation is applied to the bone.
If you use bones you need to build up a complete hierarchy, that mean starting from a root bone all other bones or meshes need to be child of this root bone or any subordinated bone. The Exporter will fail if you have loose meshes or bones, because unbound meshes will not shown in Trainz.
The root bone should be located at the point of origin and should not be rotated. Best practice might be to place it in top view (Hotkey NumPad 7) and leave it untouched. The root bone also must not be animated; it serves as parent for any not animated mesh within this asset and for any bone which is not driven by/depending on an animated parent.
To export bones they must be visible; so watch your Outliner and your Layers.

Attachment Points

Attachment points are used in Trainz to attach effects, tracks or even other meshes. To create an AP you have to add an Empty first(Add > Empty). Afterwards place and rotate it like you need and give it a name following the CCG-Rules for APs(a.whatsoever, do you remember? ;)). APs don't need a parent, as this information will get lost during export. To although made animation possible, Trainz use an extended naming schema. Assume you have a bone b.r.john and an AP a.doe. To tell Trainz that a.doe should be animated like b.r.john, you must rename the AP to a.r.john/a.doe. In your config.txt this AP is still to refer as a.doe.
What is valid for meshes and bones, is also valid for attachment points: If they are not visible, they will not be exported.

Materials

Colors

You can manipulate diffuse and specular color in Blender to give the material in Trainz the appearance you want. Both you find at the material panel, Col for diffuse and Spe for specular color:
1 - Blender material panel
There are two other colors supported by Trainz: ambient and emissive.
The ambient color in Blender work different from Trainz and as in most cases ambient and diffuse color will be equal, ambient color is copied from diffuse color during export. The emissive color is used for self illumination in Trainz and not provided in Blender. As things normally have the same color even if lighted or light, the Exporter here also copies the value of diffuse color.
If you plan to use textures you should set the diffuse color to pure white, else your textures will appear darker in Trainz than expected.

Opacity

Also on the material panel you find the slider for Opacity, in Blender called Alpha(slider A down at the right side). A value of 1 means the material is completely visible, a value of 0 render your material completely invisible. If you use texture maps which also affect the opacity, then better leave the Alpha-slider at its right position as the over all opacity will not be higher then the material opacity.

Specularity

Specularity can be adjusted using the shader panel. The interesting sliders are specularity Spec and hardness Hard in the middle of the panel.
2 - Blender shader panel
Slider specularity maintain the intensity of specular color from 0(no specular highlight) up to 2(full specular highlight), while slider hardness define how concentrate the reflected light should be. A high hardness gives a hard specularity(imagine glass or an polished surface), while a low hardness gives a dull shine(like asphalt or rough/dirty metal). The hardness range(0..511) will be scaled down from the Exporter to 0..128. A hardness value below 4 switch off specularity to avoid strange effects in Trainz.

Self Illumination

The brightness without to be lighted. You find the slider Emit in the lower right corner of shader panel. The more emissive you order, the more your material glow in diffuse color.

Textures

This is the area that causes the most problems.

This is the simplest case so do it first, once you have this part working you can add complexity.

Right click the image below and save it as Blender cylinder texture.jpg. Trainz can use .jpg files but it is much better to convert it to Blender cylinder texture.tga.

Blender cylinder texture.jpg

After starting Blender, delete the default cube, and press space, then create a cylinder of 8 sides, press "N" this puts a properties tab up and you can see what object Blender is focused on.

Blender Cylinder.jpg

If you change the numebrs in the properties tab you can change the height and direction etc of the model. Here the cylinder has been raised to 2 metres by changing LocZ value to 2.00 and it's direction by changing it's RotY to 90.

Blender raise and rotate.jpg

Next F5, under 'links and pipeline' select 'add new'.


Blender F5.jpg


After add new F5.jpg

Now F6 and under the texture tab select "add new"


F6.jpg


select 'image' from the texture type.

F6 sel image.jpg

Now under the image tab, press 'load' then navigate to your image file. Double click the image file and its name appears in the navigation widow. Press 'select image' and the details and confirmation will appear in the image tab.


Blender load image.jpg


Blender cylinder image.jpg


F5 to change the map input to UV


Blender map input UV.jpg

Change one window to UV/Image editor and tetxure file.


Blender select.jpg

We have to unwrap the image so change from object mode to edit mode.

Blender select edit mode.jpg

Type U to unwrap, selecting 'Unwrap (smart projections)'. Blender smart projections.jpg

Accept the defaults.

Blender smart projections 2.jpg

Blender mapped.jpg

Now to modify the mapping, select the face tool in the UV/Image editor on the far right of the screen shot, you may need to scroll to see it, <Crtl> <up arrow> with the mouse on the UV/Image editor screen may make this easier to see.


Blender select face tool.jpg

Select scale rotate as normal in Blender.

In more detail, in the UV window, select all eight lower end faces and move them over the orange circle then scale them down to fit inside the circle. Do the same with the top end faces and the blue circle. (Reminder, RMB selects a face, Shift RMB selects more than one at a time. Once selected, use G for grab, use S for scale, R for rotate, LMB accepts the change.)

Don't forget to scale down the sides to avoid a dot in the middle.

For a preview of the result, press F12"


Blender Render.jpg

Return to object mode.

Now export the model to Trainz. File/Export/Trainz Export. export to Cylinder.im to match the sample kuid. Copy the cylinder.im file, texture and texture.txt file into a scenery object clone such as kuid 86627:1791 available on the DLS. The scenery object should show up in Trainz. Blender export.jpg

If you don't have the Trainz Exporter get it here:[4] and copy the file into Blender Foundation\Blender\.blender\scripts

To create a wagon or loco we need to add attachment points and have a different config.txt file such as 86627:1792, available on the DLS. First we need it to be rotated so it lies along the track. Note the Y and Z values here.

Blender rotate.jpg

We are going to add more items to the scene and in order to select items easily in Blender we use the outliner, first bring it up then switch the view until you get the outline.

Blender outliner.jpg Blender outliner1.jpg Blender outliner2.jpg Blender outliner3.jpg

Next we add the empty which will become our attachment point.


Blender add empty.jpg

Trainz expects to see a specific name on the attachment point so we change the name in the properties OB: to a.limfront Blender rename.jpg

Now change the z value to .89, the Y value to -4.5 X to 0.

Blender a limfront.jpg

Duplicate (Shift D) and rename a.limback change the y value to 4.5

we also need a.bog0, x0, y-1, z0 a.bog1, x0, y1, z0

and if you are using the sample wagon config

a.bog2, x0, y0, z0

Now save your work (Name your file 'cylinder') and export the model to Trainz. File/Export/Trainz Export. Copy the cylinder.im file, texture and texture.txt file into a wagon object clone such as kuid 86627:1792 available on the DLS. The wagon object should show up in Trainz. Note the sample kuid has two cylinders so if you see one you have been successful.

General

At first some common things to textures:

  • NEVER use packed picture formats, as they often distort colors, wasting resources while loading(to extract they need additional memory and CPU-time) and at last they have the same footprint in memory as an uncompressed picture format. A good format is Targa(*.tga), as it is uncompressed(don't use the RLE-option!) and has the ability to store also an alpha channel if needed.
  • Made your textures as small as possible. What ever should work is the creation of your texture twice as big as finally used and afterwards scale them down with enabled antialiasing. You get nearly the same detail grade as in the original map and need only 1/4 of its memory.
  • Always use "power of 2" values as map dimensions(i.e. 64x64, 128x128, 128x512). Such textures could processed very fast,because "power of 2" - numbers are the native language of your hardware. If you don't abide by this rule your meshes will be white in Trainz. You don't have to use square maps, but you must avoid an aspect ratio above 1:8 (this is unsupported in Trainz).
In Blender in order to access textures you must first add them to the project through the texture panel you find in the Material buttons window(Hotkey F5).
3 - Blender Texture panel - empty
4 - Blender Texture panel - texture object created
After creating a TE-object you have to tell Blender where the mapping information should came from(Map Input) and which material property should be influenced(Map To).
5 - Blender Map Input panel
6 - Blender Map To panel
The default map input choosen by Blender is Orco. For reflection maps that's OK, but for the other used maps the Exporter only accept UV mapping. As mapping target you can choose one or more of the following options:
  • Col, used for diffuse maps
  • Alpha, used for opacity maps
  • Ref, used for reflection maps
  • Nor, used for normal(bump) maps
You can assign other mapping targets and these textures will be exported, but you will not notice the slightest effect in Trainz.
What's now left to do is of course loading the texture itself. In Blender you define the content of a texture using the Texture buttons window(Hotkey F6). The only texture type you can export to Trainz is Image, so you can ignore all other possibilities you have in Blender.
7 - Blender Texture buttons
Now select the appropriate image by pressing Load on the Image panel.
There is only one option left, the option "no texture". The Blender Exporter for Trainz allows you to export models without any texture. This can speed up asset creation due to "quick checks" of the pure mesh directly in Trainz. To export without any texture you simply have to delete eventually assigned texture objects.

Diffuse Textures

Diffuse textures are the most used textures, they basically define the surface of objects. To use them you have to select button UV as input and button Col as output. The texture amount you can adjust with slider Col, located at the right middle of the Map To panel.

Opacity Textures

Alpha textures are used to simulate transparent materials or to make parts of your object invisible. You can create dirty windows or let a simple plane look like a bogey part. An alpha map normaly comes together with a diffuse map, so the needed UV mapping should already be done. As target select Alpha. The texture amount is controled by slider Var at the right side of Map To panel.
You can combine diffuse and opacity texture if you use an image with alpha layer. You need to select the option UseAlpha at the Map Image panel and must select Col and Alpha as targets at the Map To panel.
One little problem can occure if you work with opacity: Due to a bug in Trainz not completely opaque or transparent areas may overlap each other. You can take a look at the problem and one possible work around by downloading the two related examples from SourceForge.

Reflection Textures

These textures are a bit different in usage as the others, because Trainz map them automatically using spherical mapping. How this works you can imagine best if you create a smooth sphere and assign a reflection map. Which map part is shown depend on the direction in which the imaginary ray from the camera to the objects surface would be reflected. That's why you see the whole map on the surface of a smooth sphere.
To use reflection maps you only need to press button Refl in Map Input panel and button Ref in the Map To panel of the designated texture. You will notice that no colors appear neither in material preview nor in render window. That's because Blender use reflective textures to modify the strenght and not the color of reflection. But no fear, in Trainz you get your colors back ;).

Hardness Textures

You can assign hardness textures but you will be disappointed. They don't affect hardness, instead they will be typed as reflective texture during export. This behavior is copied from the original exporter, as any attempt to influence the "shinestrength" so far ends in a complete white unlighted object.

Normal Textures

A normal texture is used to fake highs and lows on an plain surface. To use it you need an UV Map Input and a Nor Map To. Please take care to use an normal map and not a bump map. Both are used for the same purpose, but they contain different data.

Texture Combinations

How a texture influence the object appearance in Trainz is controlled by so called "material name decorations". With one exception the Blender Exporter for Trainz select the appropriate decoration depending your assigned textures. This exception is m.billboard, as this material decoration is used for objects always face the camera. Because the Exporter has no chance to detect if you want this behavior, you have to decorate the material name for yourself with the ending m.billboard. General the Exporter don't overwrite a known material decoration, so if you want to ensure your material will be exported as m.gloss, then simply append m.gloss for yourself to the material name.
a list of all currently supported texture combinations
single textures:
  • diffuse texture
  • reflection texture
  • hardness texture(will appear as reflection texture)
double textures:
  • diffuse & alpha texture
  • diffuse & reflection texture
  • diffuse & hardness texture(the same as diffuse & reflection)
  • diffuse & normal texture
triple textures:
  • diffuse, reflection & alpha texture(in this case the alpha texture affects the reflection texture and not the diffuse texture)
  • diffuse, alpha & normal texture(no reflection or hardness texture allowed)
  • diffuse, reflection & normal texture(no alpha texture allowed)

Events

In case of animation export the original exporters ask you for an event file to bind events to specific frames. To use events with the Blender Exporter for Trainz is similar. Switching a Blender window to Text Editor window and create a new TX object via File > New (Hotkey Alt N). Enter for every event a line with frame number, event type and event name. If you finally rename this TX object to events, then the Exporter will parse this text and create the desired entries in your animation file.

Examples

Examples you find as additional files at the download section by SourceForge

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