• X-Plane Scenery Tutorial

    These Are The Tools I Use To Make Graphic Scenery

    X-Plane -- You probably have this already, but just sayin'! Version 8.6 through 10.3 should work with my technique.

    X-reloaded -- This is a great time-saving free plugin for X-Plane that allows you to reload scenery without having to re-launch and wait a long time to see changes you make to the color and brightness of your graphics. Available here.

    WED -- World Editor application for assembling the pieces of an airport 'composition' and saving it how and where X-Plane can read it. (Important note: The current version is 1.3, but I just discovered that the only one that works with this tutorial is v1.2. Get it here. Hurry, while it's still there! Engineers--they just can't stop changing things... I'll explain later.)

    GIMP -- GNU Image Manipulator Program is a free Photoshop-like image editor available here.

    USGS National Map -- A web-based source of satellite images for airports in the contiguous 48 United States of America (available here).

    I do not have any experience with other satellite image sources. For use in X-Plane your source must provide public domain non-copyrighted images. Do not use Yahoo, Bing or Google or other commercial online satellite map images for scenery you plan to upload.

    All those tools are available and operate similarly for Linux, Windows and MacOS.

    In addition, here are some online references I use:

    http://www.airnav.com (for airport data and sometimes diagrams)
    http://developer.x-plane.com/manuals/wed/
    http://wiki.x-plane.com/Airport_Creation

    The X-Plane Downloads forum contains many, many, MANY fine resources such as hangar, house and other objects, darker runways and taxiways, and small lights modification resources. Just search the Downloads forum.

    Getting Started

    There are five major steps to creating image scenery:

    • I. Creating a custom airport scenery folder
    • II. Obtaining images suitable for airport overlays
    • III. Assembling and scaling the images for X-Plane
    • IV. Feathering and color adjustments
    • V. Placing the overlay on the airport

    I. Creating A Custom Airport

    When X-Plane launches, it looks for airports by ICAO or sometimes FAA designation in the /Custom Scenery/ folder. If it finds none for the airport you were last at, it pulls the default airport from a file called 'apt.dat' in its /Resources/ folder. So the first thing to do is create a local copy of your target airport in the /Custom Scenery/ folder using WED.

    1. Launch X-Plane and find the airport you wish to dress up using "Location>Select global airport".

    2. Note the ICAO or FAA designation of the airport and quit X-Plane. You have to use what X-Plane designates the airport so that it can find your version, not the default.


    Airport ICAO designation in X-Plane.

    3. Launch WED.

    4. Click "New" and edit the 'Untitled' to the name of your airport. I like to name them with the X-Plane ICAO designation first, then the name of the airport, then the version number; 100 for version 1.00, and so on. Just a suggestion.

    5. Click "Open" and WED will put up the airport editing screen.

    6. Choose "File>Import apt.dat...". Navigate to the main apt.dat in /Resources/default scenery/default apt.dat/Earth nav data/apt.dat and open it.

    7. At the top of the list window that appears type in the ICAO designation of the airport. Then, click the airport name in the list to select it.


    Airport selected in WED.

    8. Click the "Import" button at the bottom of the window, causing the default layout of the airport to appear. (If it doesn't appear, you forgot to select the airport in the previous step. I do this a lot.)

    9. Click anywhere in empty space of the center pane to de-select the airport elements. In the left "Library" pane, click open the "Library" item; this action amounts to a "change" and enables saving in the next step, without your actually making any changes to the airport yet.

    10. Choose "File>Save" and then "File>Export Scenery Pack", then quit WED for now.

    Check the /Custom Scenery/ folder to see that your airport folder was created. The next time you launch X-Plane, it will build the airport from this folder. Do you feel the power?!

    Tags: scenery

    7 Comments
    1. RonaldVermeij's Avatar
      RonaldVermeij -
      Thanks Richard for sharing your knowlegde. These tutorial look great! Keep up the good work.
    1. ricardo_NY1's Avatar
      ricardo_NY1 -
      Very well written. Scenery design in WED is actually quite fun. Tedious at times as is the case with doing anything worthwhile, but it's straightforward and quite simple.
    1. alrasberry's Avatar
      alrasberry -
      Very useful article. I am trying to recreate a second world war airfield in the UK near to my home. My first problem is obtaining photographic images of the airfield, most of which is ploughed up or under industrial units. I know the co-ordinates of the airfield and have information oN the buildings on the airfield and even some photographs of buildings that remain. Is it possible to recreate an airfield in Xplane without a photograph image?
    1. DominicS's Avatar
      DominicS -
      Quote Originally Posted by alrasberry View Post
      Very useful article. I am trying to recreate a second world war airfield in the UK near to my home. My first problem is obtaining photographic images of the airfield, most of which is ploughed up or under industrial units. I know the co-ordinates of the airfield and have information oN the buildings on the airfield and even some photographs of buildings that remain. Is it possible to recreate an airfield in Xplane without a photograph image?
      Hi Alan,

      It certainly is.

      Have a look at the first of these tutorials, and see if it helps:

      https://www.flightsim.com/vbfs/conte...gn-For-X-Plane

      Let me know how you get on.

      Cheers

      Dom
    1. alrasberry's Avatar
      alrasberry -
      Dom,
      Many thanks. Very useful stuff - just need the time!
      Alan.
    1. RikNilsson's Avatar
      RikNilsson -
      Attention please, everybody -- I apologize, but I left out an important step following the select/invert/feather/clear to smooth the edge of your graphic, in section IV, step 5. Following that, you MUST de-select (or select "None") your feathered area, otherwise all the subsequent color adjustments will only affect the graphic image from the feathering outwards. Make that step 5.5 or something

      Sorry about that!
    1. BayAreaAviation's Avatar
      BayAreaAviation -
      Very well written tutorial. It really helped me!

      Thanks!
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