Getting Started With Gmax
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  1. #1

    Getting Started With Gmax

    Many people ask how to get started with modeling and making contributions to the community.

    In addition to, and to front-end, some of the tutorials and advice listed in other threads here, I offer the following. Please feel free to add to the list in thread responses.

    So, here is the start.

    First, modeling aircraft is one discipline separate from doing panels, sounds, textures, flight models, beta testing or documentation. It starts with modeling.

    There are several development tools available but if you want to start with a good modeling freeware tool until you decide this is what you want to do, Gmax is likely your best choice. It is free to download, or you may have in your FS9 distribution DVD for installation.

    Gmax (Freeware) should be your tool of choice for FS9 development. If you have 3DSMax (expensive license) , then FSX is more suited for that tool. You can use Gmax for FS9 development free of charge. It is a simpler, easier development process.

    If you have Gmax on your computer or FS9 CD, it needs to be installed along with the Help and Tutorial components.

    If you are not familiar with Gmax, you need to go through the Gmax Tutorials to become familiar with the tools in gmax.

    The Help is comprehensive.

    Here are my newest video tutorials posted on YouTube. Video Tutorials

    Here are some basic graphic tutorials I have done. They may be useful after you have installed gmax and have done the tutorials.

    http://www.sim-outhouse.net/tut/fs9/c162/
    ---------------------------------------------------------------


    A Basic GMax Video Introduction:

    Download this zip of the .avi file to play for a basic Gmax introduction:
    http://www.sim-outhouse.net/download...basicintro.zip

    Once you have Gmax installed and the tutorials are done, you must decide what aircraft to model. Once you do, you need to do research for technical info, 3-views, reference pictures, and anything that will help the development process. Here is the Data Collection writeup:
    http://www.sim-outhouse.net/downloads/SOHTeam/data.zip

    I created a set of basic graphic tutorials to walk your through an approach to modeling.
    Those Gmax tutorials are here:

    http://www.sim-outhouse.net/tut/fs9/c162/

    This may help as well:

    Creating a Calibration Box for your 3-views:
    http://www.sim-outhouse.net/download...eam/CalBox.zip

    If you prefer a video approach to learning, my YouTube based tutorials are HERE.

    As always, Google and Bing are your friends. There is a lot of help out there for gmax questions. Same with YouTube.

    The website, FSDeveloper, is an excellent resource with lots of knowledgeable help, tutorials, and advice. Use it.

    There are books for 3DSMax but none for gmax to my knowledge. Concepts are the same.

    I hope this helps to get you thinking about a structured process to get started.

    Good luck, and have patience.
    Milton Shupe

    EDIT: Links updated to reflect new server locations
    Last edited by Milton Shupe; January 28th, 2017 at 11:34.
    Milton Shupe
    FS9/FSX Modeler Hack

    My Uploads at SOH - Here
    Video Tutorials - Gmax for Beginners

  2. #2
    Thanks Milton, as someone who learned from your tutorials I can thoroughly recommend them! :salute:

    If you are not familiar with Gmax, you need to go through the Gmax Tutorials to become familiar with the tools in gmax. The Help is comprehensive.
    I strongly recommend this, Gmax is more capable - and complex - than many realise.


    If you already have some Gmax experience, Mathias earned our gratitude by re-posting the late Gerard van der Haarst's Low-Poly modeling tutorial here at SOH. It's not for the novice, but it's one the pros refer to: very highly recommended!


    There is one book on Gmax, the Gmax Bible (ISBN 978-0764537578) by Kelly L. Murdock - only available second-hand now afaik.
    Tom
    __________________________________________________ ___________________________________________
    Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding. Proverbs 4:7

  3. #3
    Redding Army Airfield Allen's Avatar
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    I've only used Milton C162 tutorial and made a number of aircraft from what I've learned from it.
    "Let Being Helpful Be More Important Than Being Right!" Some SOH Founder.

  4. #4
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    As an ex- draughtsman/design engineer, I create my models using AutoCad for the 3 views from either a 3 view available on the web or from photographs & known dimensions. From this drawing I can then measure the dimensions & create the basic box or cylinder sizes for each object. I prefer it this way as I have not been very successful doing it as described in the basic P38 tutorial. This way I do not need the calibration box. Wings, tail etc are made from cylinders squashed to get the basic aerofoil shape, then poly/point dragged to get a near realistic profile. For taper wings I just reduce the end profile to the required chord size & then position it to suit.
    The slice function can then be used to add 'cuts' that can be manipulated to suit.
    The other thing that is not well explained (at least when I first started in Gmax) was the mirror function, & the use of the dimension boxes at the bottom of the screen.
    Keep saving your work as you progress using a sequence number or letter so that you can keep your past work - most important- as Gmax will leave you suspended when it (or you) cause(s) a glitch & you have to start again!!! This way you only tend to lose you most recent work if it does.
    Good luck & keep going forward as it can be frustrating at times.
    Keith

  5. #5
    Great stuff!
    I would add Gerard's low poli tuto to the list.
    http://www.sim-outhouse.com/sohforum...erard+Tutorial
    Actually, I don't know why it's not stickied.
    Mathias


  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Mathias View Post
    Great stuff!
    I would add Gerard's low poli tuto to the list.
    http://www.sim-outhouse.com/sohforum...erard+Tutorial
    Actually, I don't know why it's not stickied.
    Thank you Mathias for that reminder. I have now "stuck" it. :-)

    For those budding developers who have FSX, can you tell us what the process would be to use Gmax for FSX development, or point to a guide?

    EDIT: I also corrected the picture issue from post #12
    Milton Shupe
    FS9/FSX Modeler Hack

    My Uploads at SOH - Here
    Video Tutorials - Gmax for Beginners

  7. #7

    The dreaded MIRROR Button

    Quote Originally Posted by Dev One View Post
    The other thing that is not well explained (at least when I first started in Gmax) was the mirror function...
    Thank you Keith, that reminds me of the Universal Warning.



    Use the Mirror modifier instead (or there'll be weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth...).







    If you use the Mirror button you'll get the same result in Gmax (or 3ds Max as here), but when the model is exported to the sim you'll see something like this:-







    YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!
    Last edited by hairyspin; October 14th, 2017 at 13:47.
    Tom
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    Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding. Proverbs 4:7

  8. #8
    Redding Army Airfield Allen's Avatar
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    Using the wrong mirror function will flip the normals when displayed in CFS2/FSes...
    "Let Being Helpful Be More Important Than Being Right!" Some SOH Founder.

  9. #9
    @ Milton: Thank you, Sir! :salute:
    Mathias


  10. #10

    Clear 3-views in Gmax (and 3ds Max)

    This one comes up often - my plans are all blurry in Gmax, I can't read them!!








    Set these options in Customize/Preferences:-





    Once set you can forget about this, so most of us forget all about it!!
    Last edited by hairyspin; October 14th, 2017 at 13:50.
    Tom
    __________________________________________________ ___________________________________________
    Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding. Proverbs 4:7

  11. #11
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    very handy Milton! thanks to your expert advice and tutorials even my first aircraft is starting to shape up! another thing i cannot stress enough is to make incremental saves... has saved my bacon more than once! :salute:

    Attachment 75301

  12. #12
    As a general overview for the inquisitively motivated about the what and how regarding the overall aircraft folder design, one might find this put things in perspective.
    Milton Shupe
    FS9/FSX Modeler Hack

    My Uploads at SOH - Here
    Video Tutorials - Gmax for Beginners

  13. #13
    Redding Army Airfield Allen's Avatar
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    You may want to devide the Graphics Programs into few sub cats.

    Graphics Programs

    Texture Maping
    LithUnwrap (Via Tempest Quake III MD3 import/export plugin for Gmax)
    Gmax

    Basic Graphics Programs
    Photoshop (Pay)
    Paint Shop Pro (Pay)
    GIMP (Free)

    Converting texture to CFS2/FS usable format
    DXTbmp

    For doing CFS2 aircraft you will need DP Edit and the aircraft source file. DP Edit use Meters as it unit of measurement. If you made your aircraft using some other unit of measurement you will need to change the unit of measurement to Meters in Gmax in order to do the DP for your aircraft.
    "Let Being Helpful Be More Important Than Being Right!" Some SOH Founder.

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Allen View Post
    ...If you made your aircraft using some other unit of measurement you will need to change the unit of measurement to Meters in Gmax in order to do the DP for your aircraft.
    You must build your FS/CFS model using metres as the model file unit (System Unit in Gmax), but Gmax does allow you to use different units in the viewports; so if you have a mix of data in metres, feet and inches you can switch the units while modeling to suit your data without affecting the System Unit.

    I've done this a lot in both Gmax and now 3ds Max without any problems exporting to the sim.


    Allen, I think you meant to include Photoshop in your list? If you're lucky enough to have PS there's the nVidia plugin which handles .DDS format files extremely well: it also works with Paintshop Pro later versions (8 and above afaik). Another free bitmap editor for painting textures is Paint.NET: it supports layers and also handles .DDS files.
    Tom
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    Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding. Proverbs 4:7

  15. #15
    Redding Army Airfield Allen's Avatar
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    You don't have to use any unit of measurement to export out of Gmax to FS2002/FS2004/CFS2. The thing is DP Edit is ONLY in meters. If you build your aircraft using feet and inches you need to change to meters to do the DP. (Unless you like to do the converions by hand or a DP that has Hit boxes that are wacky.) You only need a DP for a CFS aircraft.

    Yes I ment Photoshop. I fixed my post.

    One of the nVidia .DDS plugin WILL work back toPaint Shop Pro 6. I use PSP6 on Win XP SP2. The nVidia .DDS plugin say it is V3.02. I used DDS when I was modding Battlefield 1942. I will try PSP6 on Win7 and see if the plugin will work as well.
    "Let Being Helpful Be More Important Than Being Right!" Some SOH Founder.

  16. #16
    Great and useful posts guys.

    For any kind of measure conversions, this tool is invaluable:

    http://joshmadison.com/convert-for-windows/

    Distances, speeds, volumes, temperatures, etc.
    Milton Shupe
    FS9/FSX Modeler Hack

    My Uploads at SOH - Here
    Video Tutorials - Gmax for Beginners

  17. #17

    Incremental saves and backups

    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Wynn View Post
    ...another thing i cannot stress enough is to make incremental saves...
    Excellent point Matt, and a tidy model btw!

    Gmax provides two methods of incrementing file names, so your work is saved in a progression of numbered files

    ReallyCoolModel01.gmax
    ReallyCoolModel02.gmax
    ReallyCoolModel03.gmax
    ... etc.


    The first is in the Save As menu option:-





    Click on the '+' button and your file is immediately saved with the number at the end incremented. I find if the number is 200, the counter will wrap back to 01; manual intervention is needed to take it past 200.




    Then there is the fully automatic option. Go to Customize/Preferences:-






    With Increment on Save ticked, just save your file and it will have the number incremented automatically. If there is no number Gmax will append "01" and go from there.

    Which method you use is up to you, or you can do it manually if you wish..... :isadizzy:



    You will also see the Auto Backup options in the above pic. I use the maximum number of 9 and Gmax backs up my work every 3 minutes so I have up to 27 minutes recovery time available if I crash Gmax - and I have, I have!



    To recover a backup, use File/Open, navigate to gmax\autoback and select All Files and you'll see the .gx files - these are your automatic backups (if you enabled them...). Use the time and date to select your most recent one.







    Your eyes have not deceived you, there are more than 260 files in my Tempest VC project - so far! Many of these files are megabytes in size, but gmax files compress really well. Compress your older files (I use WinZip) and space consumed drops by around 90%!

    Many projects go on quite a while and lots of people get hit by hardware failure, especially dead hard drives, and lose their work. Use a backup strategy! CD or DVD writers are useful, as are additional hard drives.


    Hope this helps.
    Last edited by hairyspin; October 14th, 2017 at 13:55.
    Tom
    __________________________________________________ ___________________________________________
    Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding. Proverbs 4:7

  18. #18
    Great points; they have saved my bacon many times. BTW, I have had projects with 950 files saved incrementally. I usually eliminate most of the early stuff when the project is done, then I zip them up.
    Milton Shupe
    FS9/FSX Modeler Hack

    My Uploads at SOH - Here
    Video Tutorials - Gmax for Beginners

  19. #19
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    Hairyspin, thanks for that auto save info - I didn't know it existed!!! I tend to dump my saves as well as the test .mdl's onto a USB stick.
    Keith

  20. #20

    Undo

    You'll want to undo things you've done from time to time and Edit/Undo or Control-Z is your familiar friend like in many programs. You can set how many levels of Undo are available in Customize/Preferences:-






    You'll see I have 60 levels set, which gives plenty scope to turn back time without resorting to my automatic backups.




    There's another Undo method for those oh nuts... moments which is not so well documented. Here I meant to rotate the rudder and have rotated both fin and rudder instead - and in the wrong direction!






    Before letting go of the left mouse button, click the right button and voila! Instant Undo!
    I use this a lot...
    Last edited by hairyspin; October 14th, 2017 at 13:58.
    Tom
    __________________________________________________ ___________________________________________
    Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding. Proverbs 4:7

  21. #21
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    Gmax export problem with some textures not transferring - they show in Gmax but not in FS9 - I keep getting this problem on my other models & the only way so far to overcome it has been to redraw the item & remap it. This time though it ain't working on a couple it items - a toroid for the tyres & a plane surface.
    I've tried converting to a mesh & pressing UVW remove - which it does in Gmax & the FS9 export, but they still do not take the texture when re-mapped.
    Any ideas folks - I'm losing a lot of hair.
    Keith

  22. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by Dev One View Post
    Gmax export problem with some textures not transferring - they show in Gmax but not in FS9 - I keep getting this problem on my other models & the only way so far to overcome it has been to redraw the item & remap it. This time though it ain't working on a couple it items - a toroid for the tyres & a plane surface.
    I've tried converting to a mesh & pressing UVW remove - which it does in Gmax & the FS9 export, but they still do not take the texture when re-mapped.
    Any ideas folks - I'm losing a lot of hair.
    Keith
    Keith,

    Remember that gmax will use any size and shape texture but FS needs a "power of 2" texture, and in the correct format.

    So be sure that your gmax textures are power of 2, and 24-bit bmp or a jpeg copy. Then copy your 24-bit to FS and convert it to 32-bit with alpha or DXT3 with alpha.

    Now, also remember that it is the texture name, not the material name, that FS needs. :-)

    Hope this helps.
    Milton Shupe
    FS9/FSX Modeler Hack

    My Uploads at SOH - Here
    Video Tutorials - Gmax for Beginners

  23. #23
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    Thanks Milton, but I don't think that is the problem as the other parts that do work are mapped with the same DXT3.bmp texture, just a different part of it.
    I have however bodged a fix for the tyres by merging & rescaling from another of my aircraft & redrawing the panel that was a plane, with a box & deleting the sides & back...... The vagaries of Microsoft or autocad????
    Anyway a screen shot of it (WIP) is on Britsim.com.
    Keith

  24. #24
    I would however be interested in what the problem is. If you would send me the part exported as a gmax file, I'll take a look at it.

    You can use the email in my profile if you choose to do hat.
    Milton Shupe
    FS9/FSX Modeler Hack

    My Uploads at SOH - Here
    Video Tutorials - Gmax for Beginners

  25. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by hairyspin View Post
    Thank you Keith, that reminds me of the Universal Warning.


    Use the Mirror modifier instead (or there'll be weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth...).

    Get rid of it - Hold alt + left click and drag the mirror button down, then delete it when prompted.
    ctrl + left click drag will duplicate a button.


    The gmax interface is highly customizable, you can create your own buttons for the most used functions.

    Note: Gmax saves all interface changes automatically, however if you save a custom ui it can be used on different computers or uploaded for others.

    Attachment 77179

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