Building an airport from scratch using 3DS Max

    • Official Post

    For those of you interested in making a proper airport for your scenery, and you have 3DS Max. I've added a rather large and detailed tutorial on the wiki HERE

    I guess for those of you who don't have Max you can also use it as a guide for other 3D modelling applications as well as the process is virtually the same.

    This was a ton of work (maybe 100 hours of time) but I feel it will be valuable to many users.

    I will be adding the last part (decals) soon but this will get you started.

    Happy Flying!

    IPACS Development Team Member

    I'm just a cook, I don't own the restaurant.
    On behalf of Torsten, Marc, and the rest of the IPACS team, we would all like to thank you for your continued support.



  • Hi Jeff

    Thanks for the tutorial and clearing up the material naming.

    With some of the bigger international airports having oodles of things to model is there a limit on polygons. Plus I noted in the wiki it mentioned having a dense mesh for the outside object, in your tutorial it seemed fairly light so at odds with what was advised. Whats the advice for this.

    Any limit to the maximum textures in a multi subobject.

    All the best


    • Official Post

    Hi Steve,

    Aerofly handles dense areas well so adding an airport with a lot of polygons will be fine, however always try to cut down on your polys wherever you can as a rule of thumb.

    I'm not too sure where in the wiki it mentions the dense mesh since I wrote it. The way that I mentioned in the tutorial works really well. If by dense mesh you mean how many cuts are in your groundpoly then I recommend that you keep it fairly light as if cuts are too close together you may get tearing in your scenery.

    As for the multi subobject textures, there is no limitation but I would still separate model textures.

  • Morning Jeff

    The denser mesh I mentioned is from the original scenery tutorial file, at the very end of the ground section it says

    "As the auto height feature changes the height per vertex, a smoother surface can be achieved by creating a denser mesh."

    I also noted that the Kingman example has a regular polygon base so I assumed this was the preferred method as it shows the denser mesh.

    I know that FSX/P3D do not like the shift/drag method for adding extra objects, we have to use the clone option, also a mirror modifier rather than using the mirror button, does FS 2 have similar restrictions.


    • Official Post

    Ok, so i will wait for a tutorial.

    Yes, further improvements will be made to the AC3D process and of course a tutorial will be added to the wiki.

  • Hi Jeff

    After a short lay off building a 737 sim I'm ready to pick up on my Liverpool scenery.

    Ok so here's the question, is there a maximum number of polygons for an airport.

    Reason I ask is having looked at all the buildings, ground equipment, static aircraft etc the count is going to be substantial. I also note FS2 does the taxi lines etc by polygons. I have managed to get these to work but looking at a typical dispersal there are going to be hundreds of lines, markings, numbers etc.

    Is this the best way to do things or would a texture map over the dispersal be better, guess this would be quite blurred as it would be stretched over a large area.

    Thanks for the help


    • Official Post

    The lines aren't that many polygons, that should be fine. I mean look at JFK, that airport has all the lines as well. And buildings are typically square-ish, again not that many polys. I don't know if there is an absolute limit, I doubt it. More a recommended limit - I guess you could easily go up to the 200,000 mark and beyond without running into performance issues. I'd reconsider at half a million or more if it's just the airport, depends if there is going to be a detailed city nearby I guess.

    Do the scenery builders have any other info to add here?

    Jeff has probably more info to add.

  • Hi,

    Jan is right (as always ;) ). I don't expect a really large number of polygons for an airport.

    Btw, I'm finishing the full airport design package for AC3D including sample data and tutorials right now.
    It will be available within the next few days.


    • Official Post

    In my Key West International Airport (which will be released soon) only has 9,181 Polys and 9,962 Verts total and it's a complete airport with decals and custom models.

    As for any limitations, you would have to have a ton of highly detailed models to end up with a lot of Polys and still not cause performance issues.

    All of the ground markers, runway/taxiway lines, etc. are made by using lines then made into a decal (I'll be adding that part to the tutorial soon) so they don't add much to the total counts.

  • Hi

    I am trying to use a decal for the runway tyre markings. I want to use this approach to give me more control over where they appear.

    I made a copy of the runway, applied a tiff image with a alpha channel, exported as a decal priority 9.

    Whilst it shows in the sim it has some strange edges, appears washed out and whitens rather than fully darkens the runway.

    Any ideas.

    Plus, is there a way of checking the airpost in the sim without having to throw a cessna around, perhaps an avatar view or similar.

    Thanks for the help,


  • Hi guys

    Update to my texture problem, managed to cure it by applying a transparent png file to the tyre marks area with no alpha.

    Also experimenting with taxi lighting. Taxi lights (green and blue) look fine on the ground but disappear when airbourne, guess they are too small to be drawn, yet more work

    Please, please, please developers can we have a ground avatar to help with airport designs


  • Any update on your decals tutorial.

    • Official Post

    A decal in general is just as simple as a plane laying flat over the terrain. There are also a couple of tricks to make things like those long curved taxiway center lines using just a line with bezel then add the modifier 'sweep'. I'll mention all of this in my decals section here.

    But just to get you started, you can group together many objects and make a priority in the hierarchy for overlapping decals. There are some very specific rules for naming that you need to follow.

    so the group name will have the suffix xx_decal__priority0 (0-9 for which priority you want to for that group), then in the hierarchy you need the suffix xx_decal with all of the grouped decal groups in it, then export it as xx_xx_decal.tgi (the same name you have defined in the TMC file. Here's an example of what it should look like (pay close attention to the two underscores before your priority level):

  • Thanks