After some holidays, back to bizness ;)
For X-Frontier I need some models of stations and space ships. 3D modeling is a task I dont like very much, I'm not very good in it, so I dont want to spend a lot of time to learn how to use complex 3D modelisation software like Blender or GMax (a free version of 3DS Max). I need SIMPLES and efficients tools.
In 2003 I discovered a small and simple 3D modeler called AC3D. 30 minutes only are necessary to learn how to use it !!
One other interesting feature of the software is the texture mapping tool, quite intuitive and easy to use ! And finally, AC3D allow to save model on disk through a human readable text file format; I writed a parser for the AC3D files in my homegrown 3D engine to import all 3D models created with this software.
In the other hand, the main inconvenience is, while the 2003 version (3.6) is a simple modeler, you cannot create very complex objects !
Recently I choose to use Google Sketchup to create complex 3D objects. The problem is that google sketchup only allow object export in the collada format (an xml format for 3D meshes), quite complexe to parse, and as I didnt want to spent time to write a new parser for my 3D engine, I started researches for a tool that allow conversion from collada format to a file format compliant with my old AC3D version (3.6).
I visited the AC3D web site (http://www.inivis.com) and I noticed that the last version (6.8.14) was compliant with the collada format.
Furthermore, 6.8.14 version bring some interesting improvements, like boolean operations, extrusion, enhanced texture mapping, triangle selection directly in the 3D view, and more !!!
So I finaly decided to buy the license (this is not a free software !) for the 6.8.14 AC3D version ! (around 120 $)
3D models production chain for X-Frontier is the following :
- Starting the rough complex meshe under Sketchup. Exporting in the collada format
- Importing the collada format under AC3D.
- With AC3D : adjusting the model (moving/correcting some vertex/face, adding details), and setting texture mapping coordinates.
- Saving the model in the AC3D file format.
- Importing the AC3D file format in my 3D engine framework, converting the model to my 3D engine data format.
Some models yet created:
Space city :
Space station (texture mapping not finished !) :
Ship : a small commercial cargo (work in progress)