View Full Version : No Aircraft WIP

September 28th, 2009, 08:23
Hi all,

a few month ago, I wanted to start/learn aircraft modelling all by myself from tutorials and there are some great tutorials out there. However, I gave up after two weeks or so, because I didn get the results I wanted to get.

I figured that it makes no sense to go through the tutorials, without knowing the interface of Gmax/Max, because often I had no idea what the tutorial wanted to tell me. I tried a few things to get used to the interface, but it wasnt really that easy. Finally I decided to join the Game Institute, where I am taking three 3ds Max courses now. OK, that was the introduction. :)

I started the first course about 4 weeks ago and the project in that course is to model a tank. It can be any tank. A real tank, a sci-fi tank, a cartoon tank etc. Well, I decided to go for a more real one and chose the Abrams M1A2 tank. I am not really trying to model it exactly, I am just using it as a reference. So far I spent about 35 hours or so, where I used the first 15 hours to get familiar with the tools. So I think I spent about 20 hours on that model so far and a lot of things are still missing. So this is an early WIP shot.

Even this is a tank, my final goal is to model aircraft. I post these WIPs here, because I do all this, because I want to model aircraft in the end and a lot of nice and talented people hang around here, who might have one or the other advice for me. So I am really a newbie and please be nice with me ;)

Here are my first shots and comments are more than welcome.



September 28th, 2009, 10:39
Looks okay, Pete. When what you're building takes on the appearance of something in real life is when modelling comes alive for me. How's the poly count on the tank? (Utilities Panel - Polygon counter) And do the tracks animate yet? That would be really cool!

Beware of using too many polygons on details which are seldom seen, unimportant or are too small to make out. There are no hard and fast rules for this, other than the smallest size a sim will display: deciding which details to model and which to leave to the texturing stage is the continuing modeller's problem. But I like the fact you've modelled a barrel interior on the howitzer and MG - empty (see-through) holes in a model are off-putting when the model loads in the sim.

Are you modelling this in gmax or Max? Whichever it is, best to stick to one modelling suite for now as there are significant differences in the tools and manner of working when you get past the basics. The tutorials supplied with gmax are good for getting used to the tools, but don't use the P-38 as a how-to to build an aircraft - Milton's C162 tutorials are much more like it! Wish I could afford Max, mind you...

September 28th, 2009, 11:16
Hi hairspin,

thanks for your reply. The poly count is pretty large at the moment. It's around 30,000 polys, where the tracks are using most of them. I would say around 15,000. So the model itself is not too bad on poly count I guess, right?

Thats part of my project. I have to animate the tracks for the final presentation, but they are moving already ;)

I completely agree with you. I should not put too much detail on parts you wont see really or which are too small. I lot of things could be done probably by using textures and bump mapping. The howitzer and the MG are not modelled by barrels. I bevelled in the tips, but this cant be seen on the pictures.

The first module I am taking is about getting used to Max, its interface and all the tools. We don't have a poly limit for the first project, because they want us to "play" around, so we get a feel how things can be done. When the modelling is done, we will continue with creating textures, applying these textures to the tank etc. Finally we will do the lighting, camera settings, animation and rendering. So the first module is all about learning the software and producing a descent model.

The second module which I will take after it will concentrate on modelling organic shapes, like characters and other objects. Als we will learn uvw mapping, advanced texturing, fixing mesh problems etc. This module will focus on modelling for games as well. What are the do and don'ts and also there will be a poly count limit.

I am using Max 2010 and I will stick to it. Because I am a student at the Game Institute, beside my day job, I was able to get a student version. However it's not just a student version. I got the Entertainment Creation Suite 2010, which incorporates Max 2010, Maya 2010, Mudbox 2010, MotionBuilder and SoftImage. Here I bought the version which has no time limit for approx. $230. So I can use it as long as I want. I am just not allowed to use it for commercial stuff. When I am at a point, where I might need the commercial version, I will buy it, but thats some time in the future. So I can just recommend taking a course or two at the Game Institute and get a Max Student version.

Milton Shupe
September 28th, 2009, 15:52

That is awesome looking modeling there. Keep up the great work and studies. We will be able to learn from you as well. :applause:

September 28th, 2009, 21:36
Thank you so much Milton!

Getting a comment like that from you is really motivating since your C162 tutorial got me all started. The reason why I gave up in the past was not due to the fact, that the turtorial was bad. In fact it is awesome. It was due to the problem that I was a complete newbie and had often no idea what you were talking about. I will for sure come back to it, when I will start modelling aircraft in about 6 month or so. I have another three courses to go ;)

Like I said, the second course will focus on modelling for games, creating organic shapes, uvw mapping etc.

The third course will be all about character modelling and animation. From concept art/drawing, to modelling, to texturing and finally animating that character and I think even this course will also help me getting better.

The fourth course is not directly related to 3d modelling. It is a texturing class, which will focus on creating realistic textures and everything that comes with it. When I will do this course, I will probabaly start with modelling an aircraft in parallel.

So am I focused? Yes I am! :) ...and of course I will share knowledge or info, if I know something you guys don't know.

Milton Shupe
September 29th, 2009, 04:07
That sounds like a really nice and comprehensive course. I admire you for doing it. :applause:

October 1st, 2009, 07:51
The only "fly in the ointment" is that there is no export and tool support for FSX past Max 9.3...

For FS9 modeling, you could likely locate an X file export script for Max2010.

Nice looking tank! :)

October 1st, 2009, 23:02
Thanks for the comment Bill!

Yes, I heard and read about the fact, that FSX is not supporting later versions of Max, which is really bad for potential future add-on developers who started with Max 2010, like me.

I thought about exporting the mesh as a .3ds and read it into Gmax and do the final texturing and animation in there. However, that might be a tedious process and if I am used to Max, I might not wanna go backwards using Gmax.

The X file export sript for FS9 sounds good, even I have no idea what an X file is so far. ;)
However, also here I don't know if it makes sense to develop add-ons for such an "old" platform, even if it is still in use by a lot of users.

I really hope that Aerosoft is going for the new Sim, and from what I read, they will for sure support the latest versions of Max. We will see, what the future brings. Most important thing for me at the moment is to learn proper modelling for games and realistic texturing. :)

October 2nd, 2009, 11:55
Both FS9's MakeMDL.exe and FSX's XtoMDL.exe program take DirectX files as their input source.

FS9 .X files may be generated using Pandasoft X plugin:

I see a note there that it's been recompiled to support Max 2010.

FSX .X files are more complex, but it may be possible to add the additional data via another tool that was actually developed to add FSX Material support to .X files generated by FSDS v3.x:

FSDS Tweak -


I have Max8 myself, but quite honestly I use GMax v1.2 most of the time!

October 2nd, 2009, 12:37
Thanks for this great info Bill!

I will definately check this out, when I will start modelling aircraft, my final goal.

I finished the 3D model of my tank yesterday and will now start texturing it. So a lot of fun stuff ahead ;)


October 2nd, 2009, 18:06
I actually prefer the UVW Unwrap Editor far more than the one in Max8. It's cleaner and easier to use...

Also, the Material Editor in GMax is far, far superior to the one in Max7, 8 or 9... There aren't nearly enough possible Material entries available in the Material Editor. Some projects have required as many as 30 different Materials...

October 3rd, 2009, 00:48
Do you know, if the Gmax Material editor is supperior to Max 2010 as well and is it possible to import the material libraries into Max from Gmax?


October 3rd, 2009, 09:32
Do you know, if the Gmax Material editor is supperior to Max 2010 as well and is it possible to import the material libraries into Max from Gmax?


Never having seen Max 2010, I couldn't possibly know...

but, I suspect not since the MaxScript language has changed considerably with each iteration of Max.

Actually, I think it's somewhat amusing that 90+% of Max is composed of MaxScripts and associated support .dll files.

October 5th, 2009, 10:01
Oh OK. Interesting fact you said about the scripts. They do a nice job though ;)

Attached is my final 3D model, which I am going to use for my final scene. I didnt add all the detail I could, since this is not really required.



October 22nd, 2009, 12:39
OK, I have been playing around with texturing the last week and added some textures to my tank. I want this guy to look really dirty. Still all newbie style. Hope it looks realistic....



October 23rd, 2009, 10:11

Nice job so far!

October 24th, 2009, 23:45
Thanks a lot! :)

October 25th, 2009, 06:27
I actually prefer the UVW Unwrap Editor far more than the one in Max8. It's cleaner and easier to use...

Also, the Material Editor in GMax is far, far superior to the one in Max7, 8 or 9... There aren't nearly enough possible Material entries available in the Material Editor. Some projects have required as many as 30 different Materials...

How can anyone seriously say something like that?
The Max unwrapper has a lot of usefull functionality that the Gmax unwrapper simply lacks, namely automatic unwrap features or pelt mapping, selection tools, the freeform tool is a godsend.
The Gmax material editor is rather basic and has only one slot. You always need to retrieve a material from the material/map browser whereas Max has 24 open slots. You have a heap of features from the Max editor, procedural 3d maps to name a few giving endless possibilities.
About the open slots in the editor, that's configurable.
Beside that, you can always drop a material from the scene's material/map browser into any slot you wish, there is no such thing like a limitation in number of available materials. Also, every material can be saved to the library and can be retrieved whenever you wish.

November 2nd, 2009, 21:16
A few new WIP shots of my newbie tank. I textured the treads and the turret and played a little with lighting....




November 2nd, 2009, 22:06
Still looking good! A pity few sims show the model as nicely as a rendered scene in Max!

November 3rd, 2009, 21:28
Thank you!
Yeah that would be awesome, if a model would look like that in a Sim.

I watched an interesting story some time ago, where they were talking about the merge of the gaming and movie industry. They said something like "...in about 7-10 years, when you play a video game, you can not distinguish if you are watching a movie or playing the game". They also showed some real time renders and what they are working on. It was awesome. I guess cool times still ahead :)

November 4th, 2009, 10:11
By that stage, I think an amateur would find building add-ons much too exacting. It's bad enough getting to grips with today's sims, but at least it's still doable.

November 8th, 2009, 05:17
Texturing and modelling of my first model is done. I will now start to texture the props, setup the scene with terrain, skydome, final lighting, camera etc.


Milton Shupe
November 8th, 2009, 17:43
Beautifully crafted and textured! :ernae: :medals:

November 8th, 2009, 21:24
Thank you very much Milton! :)

Two more courses to go and then I will start on my first aircraft....really looking forward to it.

November 9th, 2009, 21:57
OK, the final scene of my very first 3ds Max project. Now, I won't bother you with "no aircraft" WIPs anymore ;)

Sunrise in the desert