i550 Model - Next step?

Virtual Skipper 5 offer the possibility to import own boat 3D models.<br>
3D artists and players can now meet here to share models and advices.<br>
Virtual Skipper 5 offre la possibilité d'importer vos propres modèles 3D de bateaux.<br>
Les artistes 3D et les joueurs peuvent maintenant se réunir ici pour partager leurs modèles et conseils.
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Joined: 27 Jul 2010, 22:48

i550 Model - Next step?

Post by mindgasm »

This weekend, I just converted the CAD files for the i550 from .vwx files to a number of other formats, including 3ds. I have been working on cleaning up some of the lines in SketchUp, and now have a decent model for the i550.

It only makes sense to now pursue the next step of turning it into a VSK model, but I don't know the next steps I need to take. I don't know if my model is suitable, etc.

Can anyone provide some guidance? I have been googling for the last two days to find some information, but I can't seem to get over the initial hump.

Any help would be greatly appreciated! 8)
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Location: Gold Coast (Australia)

Post by najevi »

If you've googled and also searched this forum then you probably won't find any new information at http://vsk.wikia.com/wiki/Boat_models but, perhaps as you do learn how to create the XML for a new boat, you might consider contributing to that wiki article so that others can learn from your experience.

Best of luck!
it's better to spin and fin' than to fit and quit! Image
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Joined: 12 Jun 2007, 08:00

Post by David_Number1 »

This was written by GBR13697 at vsk-aus a few years ago, it is basic but will show you all the steps. You could also have a look at the sampleboat that comes with the boat importer.
Creating a Custom VSK5 Boat
This is a basic summary of what you will need to do. It is far from complete, and I take no responsibility at all for any resulting screw-ups!
That said, I hope it helps.

Starting Out and Required Programs
Start by downloading the Boat Importer from http://vsk4.virtualskipper.com/files/Vs ... orter2.zip and read the notes.
Also have a good look at the sample boat model and the sample BoatParam.xml. These will give you an idea of the meshes that must be prepared as part of your 3d model.

You will need to use 3D modelling programs. The first stage of modelling can be done in DelftShip (free download). The result must be exported as WaveFront .obj files to 3DS Max.
The Boat Importer will only accept a 3DS model exported from 3DS Max. This program costs megabucks, but you can download a trial version that will work for one month. Unfortunately, most of that month will be taken up learning to use what is a very large and powerful application.
You will also need Photoshop or similar to make the skins, although there are free or cheap alternatives that can be used.
Finally, you will need to make up the BoatParam.xml file. This contains all the performance parameters, and is written in xml code (as are many web pages). You could use Dreamweaver or similar, but any text editor will do at a pinch.
There is lots of material on the BoatParam file on the forum at http://www.virtualskipper-lejeu.com/forum. Read it. BoatParam.xml can be 1500 or more lines of code, and every entry on every line will have to be tested, adjusted, retested.

Learning the Applications
By the time you have finished your project, you will be quite an experienced user of the above applications. There is simply no alternative to putting in the time to learn how to use them. You will have to make full use of the help files, manuals, tutorials, user forums etc. Nobody can teach you how to do this through a VSK forum. Some of the more experienced modellers will help you through the really tricky problems, but you have to learn the applications yourself. It is just a part (and a big part) of the whole process of building a custom boat.

Start with the hull shape. You only make one side. The program fills in the other side symetrically. The deck and topsides can be built up by extruding edges in from the gunwhales, in stages, towards the centreline.
There are tools for making rudders and keels. Booms, Masts, Spreaders, and Rigging can be made using the Cylinder tool. Work in Layers, keeping each part in a separate named layer. Items made using the tools will go into new layers automatically. You can add planes for bulkheads etc., but keep them a couple of mm away from your hull or they will cause a bump on the outer skin.
Save a copy under a progresively numbered filename at all important stages. You don't want to have to start from scratch after weeks of work if you screw up.
The DeckZ mesh is what keeps the water from showing through where parts of your model are below the waterline. It must go above the outer hull, but below any of the topsides including the personpit floor. This is no problem with a yacht where there is plenty of room between the two, but can be tricky in a dinghy where the personpit floor may also be the outside hull skin. One solution is to treat it as a foam sandwich construction, where DeckZ is the sandwich filling. You can make the outside skin, replicate it and scale it down to 97% for DeckZ, and repeat again with a further scale down for the inside skin. Either way, think about it early on. It can be a real problem if left to the end.
When you are finished, export each layer separately as a Wavefront (.obj) file.

3DS Max
Import each .obj file as a mesh, and save the whole project as a native 3DS max file. Again, get in the habit of backing up in stages. At this stage, keep all your meshes separate, and don't be tempted to collapse them into the final meshes prematurely. For instance, you wont be able to change the rake of the mast once it is just a part of the hull.
Flat sails can be made up as planes, converted to meshes, mirror cloned to make the other side, and collapsed into a single mesh.
Curved sails can be modelled using splines. The other side can be added with the Shell modifier.
Sails and Booms will need to have their pivot points moved to the right place, and correctly angled. Get the meshes in the right place, and Reset Xform, before you do this.
The WaterLine mesh is a simple section of the hull at the waterline. (Watch the capital L in the mesh name).
Surface is a box around the whole model that VSK recognises as its outer dimensional limit to determine when one boat touches another.
Many meshes need Low Resolution versions. Just clone the finished originals, and reduce the resolution of the clones.
Before you collapse all your bits down to the final meshes, think about how you want to do the mapping. Mapping is the process that converts the 3d surfaces to 2d diagrams or templates that can be skinned. It might seem obvious that the Deck mesh should be the Deck. However, you could use the Deck mesh for boom, mast, rigging etc. All these bits are likely to be the same colour, so the Deck template can be block painted in black and cover all these bits in one. Small bits of the rig will be a pain to sort out and paint if they are all mixed in with hull surfaces.
The real deck could just be the top of the Hull mesh, so that the hull and deck will be part of the same template. This could make the templates, and skinning, much easier.
When you are sure, collapse your separate components down into the final meshes required by the Boat Importer. Back up first.
The final stage is mapping, using the Unwrap UVW modifier. Front/Back or Left/Right mapping works best with sails, or Box mapping for Hull. Some of the meshes will be part of the same template. The Hull template will include maps for the Hull, Deck, Boom, and Keel meshes. Map the first mesh, but keep it in one section of the grid. Render it as a UV template, and then save it as a bmp file. You can then use the bmp file as a background, so that you can map the next mesh into another area of the grid. Render and save it, and combine the 2 bmp files in Photoshop. The result can be used as the background for the next mesh, which can be placed in another vacant area. The two sides of a spinnaker can be mirrored and placed on top of each other, so that both sides can be skinned at the same time.
Finally, export your model as Solid.3ds

Boat Importer
Put all the required files in the Workvehicle folder in the correct location, following the instructions in the notes. Info.txt is a very simple text file identifying the boat. You can use the BoatParam file from the sample boat to start with, but any features of your boat that are not in the sample boat (eg an asymetric spi) won't work until you create the appropriate section in BoatParam.
Run the importer, and try the boat out in VSK. If it fails to import, you are probably missing a mesh, or a mesh is incorrectly named. It may also be wrongly specified in BoatParam. Initially, the performance will be all wrong because all the parameters will be those of the sample boat, and not your boat.

This is a very tedious process. As I said, BoatParam.xml can be 1500 or more lines of code, and every entry on every line will have to be tested, adjusted, retested.
Many of the parameters are arrays. For instance, the VPP section sets the maximum boat speed for each windspeed and each angle to the wind.
There will be sections for 5k wind, 10k, 15k, etc. Within each section there will be a line with entries for each TWA ( 40 45 50 60..........)
Below that there will be another line showing the boat speed corresponding to the TWA above ( 4 4.5 6 7..........)
You need to read up on the notes from the forum so that you understand what each section does, and how it works.
Many of the sections will be repeated for each sail (eg VPP for Genoa, Code0, Spi)
Some sections will be missing from the Sample Boat BoatParam.xml, and you will have to insert them.
Each entry of every line of every section has to be worked through, and the result tested in VSK. Some will need adjusting many times before you are happy.
You can save a copy of BoatParam.xml as [YourBoatName]BoatParam.xml without the brackets. If you work on this file, each save will be implemented in real time within the VSK5 Editor.
Run the Editor and start a test race. Press numeral 9 to display the polars etc. Clicking on Reload will then implement the last save of the [YourBoatName]BoatParam.xml file with whatever adjustments you made, so that you can see the effect immediately. You can then readjust, save, reload, until you get it right. Remember to save the final version as BoatParam.xml and rerun the importer.

Your templates should be more or less done as part of the mapping process. Do a few skins, and save them in the usual way to the correct locations. You can also save templates to the appropriate folder.
Camster has done some very good notes on templates and skinning.

Install Creator (Clickteam free download) will do the job. All it has to do is recreate the right files in the right folders in the right locations. These should all be present by now on your computer. If it all works as it should, they just need putting in the same place on the computers of those who download your model. In VSK5 all these folders are in User Documents. Use the application to create an exe. installer program, and zip it. Then upload it to your chosen forums and websites.

All done. Nothing to it really!