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September. 22, 2017
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Ship and Solar Tutorials

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Welcome Modders and Plodders. Since I was born BEFORE man ever went into space... (Yes, I'm THAT old)... I've had some experience that some of you might lack, but one experience I have had in my years that I do not want to re-experience is my bad (very bad) experiences with 3D Studio Max. I swear to GOD that company only exists to SCREW their users. So I changed over to MAXON's Cinema 4D a couple of years ago and I've loved it ever since. Now, if you've never heard of it, be advised, you'll need an export plugin called Riptide to get a decent .obj file out of it. AND be advised that it will only work in the 32bit version, which is okay since both the 32 and 64 bit versions come with the program. Now, what is go different about it? Well, I've never, ever used the C4D to .obj export and had problems with reversed polygons...something I can't say for 3DSM, where I had to go over my models for HOURS to flip polys. So, my advise to modders out there who create their own ships is to look into it. Now, I have Milkshape 1.83 and use CMP exporter with NO PROBLEMS! However, prepping the model for .obj export from C4D using the Riptide plugin means that you use .tga textures as C4D cannot use .dds (at least on my older versions) BUT, I usually save my textures as both .tga and .dds (Use DDS1 with no alpha is best and add the 4 to 8 mips for LOD) Plus you have to set up the UV maps for the ship parts...Which if you have Bodypaint 3D with the C4D you can do, but I use a free program found on the web called simply UV Edit which allows the import of the .obj and more detailed maps than I can get using about any other program. (I even used this when I was using 3DSM)

So, Here are the steps for creating a model for Freelancer using Cinema 4D.

1. Create you Uber ship remembering to keep those poly counts down below 5000! (Just an observation, you can so higher if you do the old combining tricks given in other tutorials by other geniuses)...

2. Set up your hard points using named (e.g. HpShield01) very small single triangle polygons positioned and oriented just how you want them to go on the model. Now, listen close kiddies because grandpa here had learned a few tricks. Like having a text file with all those hard points names listed (i.e. HP|REVOLUTE|TORPEDO01 ) and THEN all you have to do is cut and paste the names onto the polygons. BUT!!!! having ONCE created a file where you have EVERY SINGLE POSSIBLE HP Created AND Named...just merge it into the model file and move and orient them to taste. You work for an hour naming them, and have the file for a lifetime of quick modeling afterward. (THIS TECHNIQUE WORKS IN ALMOST ANY MODELING PROGRAM WITH A MERGE FUCTION LIKE 3DSM and GMAX TOO!) Get the list of hardpoint names from the ship creation tutorials.

3. Set up the UV maps for the model by remembering on simple rule. If your model is symmetrical you only have to chop it in halve and add UV maps to that half. This goes for wings, fuselage, ect. REMEMBER! This Model is going into Milkshape for export to CMP AND Mat files so... GLASS CAN HAVE A MAT IN .DDS BUT THE PROGRAM USES IT AS A COLOR GUIDE (e.g. a blue canopy or even a red one) so the texture file only needs to be like a 8 by 8 pixel .tga and .dds file. Once the UV Maps are set up to taste...

4. Create the Textures using the UV maps. (I usually can cut and paste a damn decent texture out of the old Freelancer TEXTURE files available around the site.) The best result is creating them at 2048 by 2048 pixels and THEN reducing the maps to 512 by 512 pixels AND USING THE SHARPEN FILTER! (This last is almost a MUST as it will accurately simulate the detail of the larger map just fine even after the reduction). It's also VERY important to remember that the .MAT files UTF lies like a rug and says the input file is .tga even if it's an 8 mip .dds, so don't let it fool you!

5. Output the file from C4D to .OBJ using the C4D RIPTIDE 32bit plugin (It's free on the web by the way!) DO NOT ROTATE YOUR MODEL IN C4D! Get it into MS3D before you do that!

6. Okay, Import the .OBJ into Milkshape. REMEMBER! Go to EDIT and then REFRESH TEXTURES before they'll show up on the model. Then go into the material editor of MS3D and DELETE the DEFAULT_Mat that's on your Hardpoints. (REALLY NOT NEEDED FOLKS) NOW... Change your textures over from the .tga loading in the .dds versions. Once that's done go to edit- Select all - and then to rotate your model 180 degrees in the Z axis. Once you see it roll over on it's belly, your ready to export it using the CMP exporter. (I use v3 but I'm an old timer). Once it's exported into CMP THEN export your MAT file using the MAT exporter. With those two files. The CMP and MAT files finished on to the next step...

7. Download HARDCMP from the site and then bring your model into it and orient the HP PROPERLY! Remember that your guns should only have one orientation on the top row of coordinates and a 1 in the middle of the second row. Fixed hardpoints on the interior of the model will be all over the map, but you usually on have to edit those coordinates to 0,0,0 and all is well. This goes for the HP's for Runninglights, contrails, docklights and baydoors as well. 0,0 0 works best I've found.

8. Once the CMP is tweeked to you your satisfaction THEN you can start adding SUR Files or going back to the original model to create low poly versions for your LOD files. (Sorry, but I'm going to turn that part over to other experts, guru's, sages, exemplars, and geniuses as I had to bow to their wisdoms to do it.

      So, take your new ship and go out and kill some "Spindly Nomad Incubi" for me, okay?   
                                  = Jeff +

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