Computer Aided Scratchbuilding

Mark Watson Oct 30, 2009

  1. Mark Watson

    Mark Watson TrainBoard Member

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    Well the car shop above is all ready to go, but realized my current layout has no real spot for a maintenance building so large, so I decided to save it's assembly for a later date.

    Instead I moved on to further develop the town on my layout by making a grocery store.
    Store front is based off of this image found online.

    I give you Delphos Grocery.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I gave the grocery a large door for receiving which will interplay with the first building on this thread, The Hanover Freight Depot (Hmm, maybe I should call it The Handover Freight Depot!). Each day a train will deliver fresh produce to Handover. There, we'll "hand it over" to a truck and bring it straight over to Delphos. Going to need to find a produce truck now. [​IMG]
     
  2. Mike VE2TRV

    Mike VE2TRV TrainBoard Member

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    You have a knack for knocking my socks off. :thumbs_up:
     
  3. Pete Nolan

    Pete Nolan TrainBoard Supporter

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    Wonderful thread, Mark!

    I'll add a tutorial I did a few years ago:

    Here's a quick tutorial on how I make walls from photos. First, I take or find a suitable image. What I'm looking for are pictures taken straight on, or nearly so, like this one,

    [​IMG]

    It's pretty rare to find something this straight (and I do not own this particular image). Most photos need some adjustment to become perfectly straight; in fact, the above image has undergone some straightening with Photoshop's "Skew" command. I use the Skew command rather than other commands because it gives me control over all four corners. Other commands that could be used are Perspective and the distortion correction filter, the latter used to take out barrel or pincushion distortion. Most programs have some type of Skew control.

    The second step is to use Photoshop to make some blank walls. I grab an image of bricks , in this case the strip just below the first floor windows, and duplicated it. This is the result.

    [​IMG]

    Sometimes I use the cloning tool to reduce the patterning. The patterning here is pretty bad, but I pretty much left it because I needed only a few little pieces.

    Third step: I switch to a page layout program, Adobe Indesign. Since all I am doing is duplicating images, this could be done in Photoshop or any other image processing software that allows you to copy things. I do it in Indesign simply because it's faster. I don't have to worry about layers in Photoshop, which always seem to sprout up in exactly the reverse sequence that I want. Here's the result.

    [​IMG]

    I may have to touch up a few spots, but that's essentially what get pasted on the roundhouse. I print it on Premium Luster paper on an Epson 2200, which can print 13 x 19 inch sheets. I sometimes tone down the luster with matte permanent fixative, which I prefer over Dullcote. I've also printed on matte paper with photo paper settings. I've just had trouble getting heavy matte paper in the larger sizes. I use an Exacto knife to trim the print to size.

    Here's what it looks like on the layout.

    [​IMG]

    I'm probably going to do it again, with more shadow detail for the windows. I've done many buildings this way. Instead of photos, I've used scans of DPM modules to create my skyscrapers.
     
  4. Mark Watson

    Mark Watson TrainBoard Member

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    Excellent Pete.

    That's very close to the same principals I use when texturing 3D models. The only difference is we have to eliminate all specular light and shadows from the textures. That step allows the texture to be realistically lit, artificially. Sometimes it can be as involved as creating the entire texture from scratch, other times you just luck out.

    Here's an example on my portfolio website of the street scene directly across from my apartment. I was able to grab a fairly usable photograph of the fire station and got away with using most of the original image in the texture. But for the other three buildings I had to illustrate the texture from scratch.

    [​IMG]

    Here's the texture applied to the Fire Station, you can see where some of the photo was pasted over with by better parts of the photo.
    [​IMG]

    And here's the wall texture for the hotel I had to build from scratch.
    [​IMG]

    You might notice that in the final rendered image, the hotel wall looks more real than the fire station. Thats because there's no shadow/specular light baked into the hotel wall, allowing the artificial light and shadows cast by it, to be pure.
     

    Attached Files:

  5. Flash Blackman

    Flash Blackman TrainBoard Member

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    Mark: What thickness of styrene are you using? Do you brace the walls along the mid-sections or only on the corners? Thanks.
     
  6. Mark Watson

    Mark Watson TrainBoard Member

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    The two latest buildings (Delphos and what I think will become a post office) are just .010 inch thick styrene. Handover Freight and the unnamed Mill are with .020 inch thick styrene. I prefer .020 or .030 for doing this, but .010 is all the LHS had on hand this round. All these models are being designed to use .020 styrene.

    No braces here either, not even in the corners, and the end model is quite sturdy given the sheet thickness. I did add one mid-section brace to Handover Freight and the mill, as they both have much longer walls, but still no corner braces. I think the major reason this works is the precision the template can bring to the table. Each piece will just fit.
     
  7. Flash Blackman

    Flash Blackman TrainBoard Member

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    Probably true. I was thinking the sides would have to be thicker for H0 scale. Probably depends on how large the building.
     
  8. Mark Watson

    Mark Watson TrainBoard Member

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    Looking at a scale chart, the walls should probably be no less than .030 for N scale, so you probably want at least .060 for HO. If .010 inches is 1.5 scale inches (N scale) then the layered detail on the store fronts of Delphos and the Post Office is way too thin.
     
  9. Mark Watson

    Mark Watson TrainBoard Member

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    Great news everyone! I'm happy to announce the evaluation template is ready for distribution! This will be a free template to those who are willing to provide feedback on their experience with the building process, instructions, and overall satisfaction.

    If you're interested, please send me a PM and we'll get the ball rolling! This is written as an N scale template but can easily be adapted for all scales. [​IMG]

    This is the model I offer, for your evaluation.
    [​IMG]

    And step 4 of the instructions.
    [​IMG]

    Cheers,
    -Mark Watson
     
  10. RBrodzinsky

    RBrodzinsky Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Mark,

    Looks fantastic. Don't think I'm in a good position to actually try building this kit (so many other "must do" projects), but I can take a look and provide feedback on the kit in general

    Are you open to doing some custom design CAD work? I've been trying to come up with the right design for how/what to put over the tunnel portals to my underground station, near the roundhouse.
     
  11. Mark Watson

    Mark Watson TrainBoard Member

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    Actually, yes. If I get some good feedback on this Mill template, I'll have 4 other buildings to hit the market; Handover, Delphos, The Post Office, plus one more being designed now. I'm hoping that everything will be rolling smoothly by Jan 1, and if so I'll then be open to take in new building suggestions. I'll say now though that if you have a building suggestion, you are always free to PM me any time.

    Back to the Mill, here is my newly painted mill. This is an older design than the new evaluation template. The new template fixes some of the dimensions I did not like, such as the height and length of the loading platform, allowing two 40' box cars to be processed at once instead of just one. In the background of the image, you can see Delphos Grocery (Brick w/ green trim) and the Post Office (Light blue and grey). The shorty box car in front of the mill is also a scratch built shell over a Kato 11-105 power chassis.
    [​IMG]
     
  12. Pete Nolan

    Pete Nolan TrainBoard Supporter

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    Neat work, Mark! I've sent you a PM. I'll be happy to build one of these and give feedback. I've been doing it for years, but not with the rigor needed for others.
     
  13. Mark Watson

    Mark Watson TrainBoard Member

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    Today I took a break from editing instructions and re-designing the current models to work on a new building design. I saw this building across the street from the grocery store I frequent and fell in love with the design. It became an obvious choice for a model. I think the left side is great for a small shop like a hardware store and I'll be using the right side as a health clinic or doctors office.

    I'm hoping I'll have the styrene model built by tomorrow night.
    [​IMG]

    And what's that? Interiors!?
     
  14. Flash Blackman

    Flash Blackman TrainBoard Member

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    Pete: How can you print on styrene? My printer will do that, but the ink just bubbles up and smears. It's basically useless.

    Of course, I was printing a sign and not a line drawing. Will that make a difference? Should my printer setting be set on "minimum ink" like greyscale or something? "Draft" or "Text?"

    I have Mystere's pdf file; I am not sure how to transfer it to .020 styrene, but printing would be very nice and easy!

    Should you Dullcote or flat coat the styrene before you print?

    Thanks for the help.
     
  15. RBrodzinsky

    RBrodzinsky Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    It's SF - maybe a massage parlor? :tb-biggrin:
    With interiors comes lighting!
     
  16. Mark Watson

    Mark Watson TrainBoard Member

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    And here is the successful build from the latest template. Victorian apartment with two street level shops.
    [​IMG]

    Also the two top floor apartments enjoy a roof top patio!
    [​IMG]

    Oh, did I mention I built this one in Z scale? [​IMG]
     
  17. RBrodzinsky

    RBrodzinsky Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Looks great, Mark!
     
  18. Pete Nolan

    Pete Nolan TrainBoard Supporter

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    Flash,

    I probably inadvertently misled folks about this. I have a high end Epson printer that uses pigmented inks rather than dyes. And I do print only lines with minimum ink. My printer is the Epson 2200, which uses six ink cartridges (Ultrachrome?) And it can smear, but just a small amount.
     
  19. Flash Blackman

    Flash Blackman TrainBoard Member

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    Yep...I'm using dye for printing. Thanks, Pete.
     
  20. Mark Watson

    Mark Watson TrainBoard Member

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    Let me know how the printing goes Flash. I would think the 8.5x11 template layout would be a bear to fit to a 12x6 sheet of styrene.
     

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