Building in GMAX - texturing 2

While the principle is the same for both versions of the simulator, there are some big differences as well. I will need to cover these separately in parts, hopefully without too much confusion. Just be aware that if I am referring to a particular version, I will say so.

If you haven't already created the model, now would be a good time to start up GMAX and do so. You can use either the FS2004 or FSX gamepack, just be aware that they are not interchangable. If you wish to design for both, I suggest you begin with the FS2004 gamepack. It is also possible to create simple models which work in both, using the fS2004 gamepack, but here I'll show a method to design two versions, both of which are tailored to the specific sim version.

You really want to begin here at the end of the model building tutorial from page one -- with a single model built using the Extrusion method. That way we can all start at the same point, but you could start with any of the three different methods if you wish to extend yourself a little.

So where were we? Oh yes, here we go:

Now's a good time to have a closer look at the building.

Whereas the pitched roof in our model is in the centre, in reality it is just offset from the front. We can fix that by moving the two vertices forward.

By the way, we are not going to be modelling the roof as it appears here, with the overhanging eaves. I will leave this up to you to figure out.

We can just move the pointed bit of the roof into the correct position. To do this, we could select the two top vertices, but since we are really moving the roof edge, we may as well use GMAX's ability to select and manipulate Edges. So using the Edge selection, we can click on the top ridge edge -- I would do this in Perspective view. Now I'll change to Left View for clarity. Using the Select and Move transform tool (the crossed arrow thingie:) we slide the edge towards the front of the building until it's in the right place.

Actually figuring out the correct place is a bit beyond the scope of this tutorial, but there are a lot of ways to do this. You could measure it accurately, but one simple method is to create a background template. Here I've placed our texture sheet onto a simple plane, making sure that the dimensions are accurate (twice as wide as it is high) and scaled it to match the building model. Now, still in Left View, I can move the Vertices until they align with the photo. Using the left view allows me to select both vertices (left and right) or any edge I wish to shift, by dragging a selection box over them. Even though I can only see one vertex from the left view, I know that I will select two using this method, and move them in unison. This is very important -- you can get into a mess if you try to move vertices one at a time, and expect them to line up at the end.

The selected vertex is shown in red -- at the centre of the Transform Gizmo -- but note in the right panel that it says '2 Vertices Selected' which is what we want.

While were shifting these vertices, it becomes obvious that the front edge is higher than the back edge, which is why we've shifted the front edge (by moving the two vertices) upwards.

Let's not get too far ahead, though, so we'll get back to the basics of texturing.

First we need to create a Material using our texture. To do this, we'll open the Material Editor. That's the red ball on the top Main Toolbar.

To create a new material, click on New. The New Material chooser will open. For FS2004, choose Standard. For FSX, choose FlightSimX. The Material Editor will now show your new material. You can give it a more relevant name if you wish, by typing over the current Name.

To apply the texture to the material, click on the little box to the right of the Diffuse colour unde Blinn Basic Parameters.

This will open the Material Navigator. Note that it should default to 'new' materials. Double-click on Bitmap. Now you need to navigate to the location of the texture file -- the one you should have saved as a BMP at the start of the texture tutorial:)

Now select the model of our building, and press 'Apply' in the Material Editor. You will need to click the button 'Show Map in Viewport' the first time. Even then, the texture may or may not appear on the model -- that's because we've messed around with the mapping by moving vertices etc. Don't worry about that, we'll fix that in the next step -- mapping the texture to the model.

Mapping the texture to the model
See, I told you that was next.

To map the texture to the model, we are going to use Unwrap UVW. This is available in the Modifier List under the Modify Tab. Drop the Modifier List down, and click on Unwrap UVW. The texture should appear on the model, albeit a bit messed up. Why is it a bit messed up? That's to do with the various mapping choices which GMAX offers. If our object, which started out as a box, still remained a box, rather than an Editable Poly, then GMAX would know to map it as such. In fact, you can experiment with that a bit here. If you've applied the Unwrap UVW modifier to the stack, delete it. (Or just Undo if it was the last thing you did.)

Now apply the UVW Mapping modifier instead. You may get the same messed up mapping, but note the Mapping Parameters here. It may be that it has defaulted to Planar. Click on Box, and see if it helps. Since the object started life as a box, it maps best as a box.

Try the other parameters. You can get a good idea how the varous shapes are mapped for ease of use.

Be aware that if you apply the texture to the original box, it will appear better in GMAX, but ultimately this serves very little use -- we are going to completely remap it anyway.

You don't really need to do that step -- although you can leave it on the stack if you wish. Now reapply the Unwrap UVW modifier.

Expand the Unwrap UVW in the stack, and click on Select Face. (It'll differ a little from this screenshot, as the object should appear in the Stack as an Editable Poly, rather than a box.)

Now you can select each Face on your object separately. Why would you wanna do that? Well because our object is more complex than a simple box, and our texture is a lot more complex than a simple texture, we really want to map the texture to each face separately.

Let's try the front of the building. That's the main face shown below. Click on the front Face to select it. Now click on Planar Map in the rollout parameters.

You don't really need to understand the various mapping systems, or what is happening when you press Planar Map, but I'll cover that in very simple terms.

Basically, what we are doing when we press Planar Map is to 'break' the current mapping system, and reset that particular face to the full texture. By breaking the current mapping, it removes the dependence of the co-ordinates of that face on any other face. That means we can move the co-ordinates of the selected face, without moving the co-ordinates of any other face. You can experiment with this -- try applying textures to faces without reseting to Planar Map, and you'll see how you can get into a bit of trouble.

Now, to edit the position of the texture on the selected face, we click on Edit.

Here's the Edit UVWs window:

Note that all the faces are represented here, as a series of vertices and lines. To edit the UVWs we move the vertices. However, to tidy things up we can turn off all but the selected face, using the Filter SelectedFaces button:

Note the the Edit UVWs window has its own toolset to manipulate points. You can move them, rotate them, scale and mirror them. What we want to do here is just to fit the rectangle formed by the selected vertices, to the image of the front of our building. We can select them two at a time (for ease of use) and slide them around, holding down the Shift key to confine to a particular dimension.

Play around with this window. It's one of the most powerful tools for flightsim mapping, but with a bit of a learning curve.

Here's what we want to end up with:

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