• Getting Started In Scenery Design For X-Plane Part 4

    Getting Started In Scenery Design For X-Plane Part 4
    Building Your Airport "Up" And Sharing It

    By Brian Godwin

    One thing I forgot to mention in the modeling article...there is a another source of pre-made models but it is less certain and does entail some non simulator work on your part to make it happen. One of the components of Sketchup is the ability to submit your models to Google in the "3-D Warehouse". This database is searchable so it is possible that someone may have modeled what you are looking for. IF you find a model and IF you can contact the author and IF the author gives you permission to use it you can proceed to the next step.

    Exporting the XP object and texture results in each texture component as a separate image file. You have to stitch the components back together with an image editor, then retexture the model using it. Not an easy solution but it is an option.

    Now that we have the base airport created and models ready, we can start building our airport "up". If you intend on submitting your airport to the Global Airport Library (via the WED option) you should place any (and ONLY) XP library art objects at this time. Now that this option is available to developers I highly encourage participation. Even if you don't have signature buildings, having visual cues on the field is better than having nothing at all. If you find a terminal object that is even close to what you are looking for congratulations! Otherwise, you'll need to leave it out or Frankenbuilding it. This is a technique I learned from Freddy De Pues. It involves taking two objects and joining them together in order to form unique and varied shapes.

    In this first picture there are two vintage airport objects Separately, they may fill the need to depict a good number of GA airfields.

    Maybe, there is one field that is unique enough that it needs something "special". So we nudge them together and we get something that you could honestly envision being at a field with some years under its' belt:

    Obviously, this is a relatively simple example but the possibilities for using all the objects in the stock library are limited only by your imagination.

    This can also be done in all three dimensions. When speaking of the Z axis, I am referring to adding a taller object to a shorter object. While it is possible to designate a Z axis attribute to an object using the MSL (mean sea level) altitude very few people have ever been able to master this. I tried doing this with cars at DFW. Regardless of the value I used for MSL I either got cars on the ground (not on the bridge where I wanted them) or cars that floated between 300 and 620 feet in the air.

    There are objects called facades that you can use for complex and custom shapes and some even include their own lighting that you will not need to fuss with. A facade is an outline that you draw and then XP extrudes it vertically to a specified height. Some facades you can adjust the height and others not so much, but they all have a wall height attribute that can be changed. Whether it changes in the sim or not is another story. I have not found the rhyme or reason for which is which. Another reason to use facades is that you can customize the appearance (of some of them).

    1 Comment
    1. wycliffe's Avatar
      wycliffe -

      I started on this learning curve just before last Christmas and quickly realised it wasn't a curve it was a cliff face to climb. I found so many helpful people many of whom I have credited in some of my work. One of my constant complaints was that there just did not seem to be a one stop shop where you could find all the information you needed to do this scenery building thing, lol.

      I recall spending a few weeks just trying to get my head around OverLay Editor and WED as I thought you used the two together. When I finally realised it could be either or, I then had to decide which one I would use. WED won as I found it easier to use, if easy could be applied to my first attempts.

      A little while later I thought perhaps I could write a kind of "Dummies Guide" to scenery building but was so overwhelmed by the amount of information I thought I would need to put in the guide I kept putting it off. Having followed this series of articles all I can say is well done Brian you have managed to dispell some of the mystique around scenery building in xPlane in a straightforward uncomplicated manner. I congratulate you on a brilliant piece of work that I wish was available when I first started. I particularly like the phrase "Frankenbuilding" and this is a method I have applied in many of my builds, and as you say whilst the depiction of your finished airport may not be accurate down to the last panel, wall, nut and bolt one can make a very fair facismile.

      With the latest upgrade to WED imminent, the ability for WED to align TIFF overlay images without any input from us, is breathtaking and I look forward to that innovation with great anticipation. WED is just looking better and better as the default application to use in scenery building.

      All the very best and thank you once again for an informative and very worthwhile article that I for one will come back to and read again.

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