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Eagle Dynamics The Fighter Collection


Rules and recommendations for creating 3D vehicle and weapon models LockOn


You'll first need a render tool like 3DS Max 3.1 (or higher); an image editor like Adobe Photoshop; and a computer.

To create highly-accurate, quality models, you will need access to photos, blueprints, technical drawings, and cross-sections of what you are going to model. The details of using your 3D rendering software is not covered in this overview; please consult your user manual.

Model Creation:

General recommendations:

Do not use more then 2,000 polygons for a single model; 2,000 polygons is an ample amount to create complex weapons.

It's preferable to have a two or three levels of detail (LOD) for your model; all in one file. If you choose to create three LODs, the second LOD should have 70% of polygons of original model and the third LOD should have 30%. If you choose to create two LODs, second LOD should have a 50% of polygons of original model. The lowest level LOD should have as few as four polygons. Pay close attention to texture mapping when testing your LODs; they must be firmly mapped to the model.

Set Unit Setup to Generic Units with a scale of 1 measure unit = 1 meter.

The model's nose must point towards the right in the Front view and pylon connectors must be aligned with the horizontal axis on level 0 (see picture).

If your model has a cylindrical body, it should have at least 16 sides; 18 are preferable because this will simplify the texturing process.

Texture Material Preparation:

Set a side's resolution scale to 1:1 or 1:2N (i.e. 32x32, 64x64, 64x128, even 128x1024 for some models, but keep it rational). 512x512, 512x1024 and 1024x1024 are more then enough for highly detailed pods and missiles.

You are free to choose your preferred texture-to-model mapping method; just keep your model as close as possible to the prototype.

We suggest that you to split a model into flat pieces and arrange it on plane in a rectangle (spline rectangle or carcass plane). ItТs often useful to split cylinders into four parts. Arrange all parts on the plane next to each other (see picture).

All parts should be aligned above the plane (see picture).

We can now create an initial texture raster by rendering it from a top view and edit it with your preferred image editor. Do not forget to align side resolution and scale to the correct scale options (see 1st paragraph above).

In Max, apply a UVW map modifier to your rectangle and then select all details and apply the same modifier. Next, press the Acquire button and select a rectangle with the shaped mouse cursor set the Acquire Absolute check-box. Parts of your model now have coordinates on the texture.

In the raster image, aligned your model with the BMP and set it as a texture for model material. Examine how the texture lays on the model, correct it if necessary, and begin painting with an image editor.

Texture Creation:

We can now create a texture map from prepared raster file. You are free to choose a tool of your choice but results must support BMP and TGA


  • Gather as many high-quality, high-resolution photos that you can find. This will help to reproduce accurate symbols and texts on the model.
  • Use a multiple layers on your raster image; if your image editor supports multi-layers. DonТt forget to give reasonable name to layers.
  • Don't over-weather the textures. Too many oil leaks and rust spots do not make the model look more real.
  • Use TGA file format if you want to use an alpha-channel on you texture. It's handy when the model has glass or partially transparent parts.
Working with materials in 3DS Max:

Only Standard materials can be used in LockOn; all Multi/Sub objects have no function in LockOn. Here are some suggestions when using Specular Level and Glossiness. Values of 30 and 40 will be painted like metal. An Ambient value of 150 it will look like colorless metal. Note that these values are different for various materials.

There is a four main groups of materials, each with different values of Specular Level and Glossiness:

  • 100 and 100 - glass;
  • 30 and 40 - colorless metal;
  • 50 and 40 - steel;
  • 20 and 20 - rubber.

Materials should be uniquely named with the name of the model within the material name. Because all materials in LockOn are stored in one place, each material name must be unique or such material with non-unique name might be mistakenly applied by a LO engine to a wrong model.

After applying a texture to a model, you may notice that some parts look unnatural. This may happen when using very flat or very glossy parts. In such a situation, it's best to detach these parts from the main model and create cloned textures with different Specular Level and Glossiness levels. For example: 5 and 10 for a missile nozzle.

In regards to the semi-gloss seeker of an IR or TV missile, it's best to detach it as a separate object and use a TGA texture with an alpha-channel (See picture).

The above is not a complete guide but it should be enough to get you started.

>Author: Stanislav Kolesnikov, Eagles Dynamics 3D Designer