NY Signal drawn
3D Object Design is really quite easy. Basic 3D objects are drawn in profile, then "extruded" to the desired thickness (or length), For example, cylinders are first drawn as a circle. The circle is then extruded into a pipe with a single command. If your original circle was filled, you'd have drawn a solid log rather than a pipe.
Complex objects are drawn a piece at a time. Each piece is rotated into its proper orientation, then positioned relative to the existing objects. Object groups can be nested, so in this example a single wall was drawn first. It was duplicated, then replicated and rotated into position. The roof was drawn next, then the roof and walls were grouped into the building. This same process can be used to create most any 3D object, from simple to complex. Click to see animation of this building being built from scratch in less than 2 minutes (3164K)
For just a slight increase in rendering time, you can easily design buildings with open windows, just like Walt's Gas Station. First, you define the boundaries of the windows and doors with lines. Then you use the corners of the window and door outlines as bases to draw a few rectangular polygons. The walls are then tilted and aligned and a roof is added. As you rotate the building or move around it, you can see through all the openings just like a real building. Click to see how to build this open-windowed building in 2 minutes (4083K, this is a long file but it's very helpful)
As shown below, Dick Parker combined several trucks, domes, and other shapes to create a most realistic rendering of a 1930's switching scene.
With 3rd PlanIt's powerful 3D Object Design capabilities, you can populate your railroad with custom equipment and accessories, as well. The NY Signal used throughout the TrackPlanning.com web site was designed in 3rd PlanIt by Walter Griffin and is now part of the Object Library for everyone to enjoy.
The level of realism available with 3rd PlanIt is unlimited. If you examine the signal carefully, you'll see that each light is, in fact, a sphere visible from both sides of the signal. Each signal head has two face plates connected by sheet metal, and sheet metal shades are located over each lamp. The decoration atop the pole resembles the prototype in great detail, as does the ladder and access stand made of metal grate.
The same 3D object design capability can be used to document the working details of your layout. The "Tortoise" brand turnout machine shown here is part of 3rd PlanIt's Object Library. It is dimensionally accurate to an actual Tortoise, allowing you to located them on the plan before building your layout. This lets you distribute joists and other support beams to avoid conflict with the turnout machines. You can even document your wiring in the track plan for future reference!
Designers of custom buildings have all the design tools necessary to plan detailed models of the buildings you will be using on your layout. Walter Griffin's excellent renderings of DPM's "Carol's Corner Cafe" and "Freight House" show details throughout the building, even down to round door handles. Dick Parker's rendering of an Andrews truck is immediately recognizable, and Erhard Baltrusch prepared this accurate representation of a modern German freight boot. You, too, can design any building you desire and place it on your layout design for evaluation. An extensive Object Library provides buildings for you to use if you'd rather use prefabricated models.
You can design objects of many different types using 3rd PlanIt. View a step-by-step pictorial description of how the Tires and an Axle illustration was created by clicking the link or the picture at the right. You can also enlarge the Solar System model.
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