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Creating the Model Bank

For your convenience this tutorial can also be downloaded in either HTML format or Acrobat PDF format.

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Part 1 - Preparing the Images

Most of my models are created from photographs taken with my digital still camera (a very cheap model but quite good enough for this purpose) or from frames grabbed from videos taken with my digital video camera. In the case of the Co-op bank, the photographs were taken with the digital still camera. Lighting is important and in this case the strong shadows are a bit of a problem. The main problem, though, will usually be the distortion introduced by perspective. Having got the photographs the first task is therefore to "straighten out" the pictures.

To remove the perspective distortion I use the GNU Image Manipulation Program (better known as 'The Gimp'). This program is available free of charge from http://www.gimp.org/ and makes perspective correction relatively easy. Having loaded the photograph into the Gimp, click Dialog/Tool Options in the main menu and set Tool Paradigm to Corrective and Transform to Perspective. Click the Rotation, Scaling, Shearing and Perspective button in the main toolbar, then click on your picture. A grid will appear on top of the picture, and this can be dragged so that it follows the perspective lines of your picture:

Perspective grid on picture

Once you are satisfied that you have adjusted the grid correctly, click the Transform button in the Perspective Transform dialog to complete the transformation, and then save the picture:

Perspective distortion removed

The next task is to clean up the picture by removing unwanted shadows, trees, people, etc. Although this could also be done using the Gimp, I prefer Paint Shop Pro for this part of the exercise. With a little patience you should find that most of the unwanted parts of the picture can be removed by cutting and pasting from other parts of the picture, or by using the Clone Brush tool. In the case of the Co-op Bank model I ended up with a picture of the essential parts of the front as shown below. I will refer to this image as "the composite image" throughout this Tutorial:

Composite picture of Bank front

Finally, the picture was reduced in size to 256x256 pixels and saved as an uncompressed .tga file. Note that all image files in Trainz must have widths and heights which are powers of 2 (e.g. 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 128, 256, etc.) and TGA files must be uncompressed. Failure to follow these two rules is the most common reason for textures not showing up in Trainz!

Other files were also created as separate images of the bricks and roof tiles:

Brick    Roof tiles

As I had no access to the back of the building I used parts of the front to create an imagined back view:

Rear view

Other textures will also be required for the night view of the building, but we can leave them until later. We are now ready to start creating the model in gMax. If you want to work along with the tutorial, you can download the necessary textures here.

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