A First Model in Gmax


This tutorial will enable you use Gmax to create a very simple scenery model  for use in Trainz. This should hopefully give you enough of a grounding to go on and produce more complex models. It's normally right at that start that people run into trouble with Gmax, doing the simple things that seem so obvious to experienced users. Once you have produced a simple model like this, you will have learned all the basic steps required, and can then concentrate on adding the bells and whistles.

This tutorial assumes you have Gmax installed and set up as in my "Installing & Setting up Gmax" tutorial, or Paul Hobbs' equivalent. If you are running through the standard Auran "Trainz Asset Creation Studio", then you will find that Gmax appears rather differently.

Some Gmax Basics

In this section we will take a look at the Gmax interface, and learn how to use it. It may look a little intimidating at first, but it will soon become quite familiar. Many of it's functions are totally unnecessary for making simple models and can be ignored for now. Another point to bear in mind is that almost all of the features of the Gmax interface can be changed if you don't like the way it looks, by using the "Customize" dropdown menu.

I am going to assume that you are familiar with basic 3 dimensional geometry, as otherwise this tutorial will become very long and tedious. If you aren't, then you can wade through the Gmax help files, or read a book on the subject.

The first and most obvious thing you will see when starting up Gmax is the four windows (or rather viewports) in the middle. These are all different views of your model, from the top, the front, the left and a perspective view. Only one of these will be "active" at a time and this will have a white border rather than a grey border for the others. The active viewport is the one that you are currently drawing in, and everything you draw is relative to that viewport.

Active Viewport in Gmax

It is very important to distinguish between world axes and viewport axes. All the viewports have a set of axes drawn in the bottom left, showing which way world axes run in that viewport, but when drawing anything in a viewport, the viewport axes are used, not world axes. Viewport axes always run the same way as if you were drawing a graph on a piece of paper, Up is the Y axis, Right is the X axis, and into the screen is the Z axis. So for example if we were to draw a box in front view with length 10, width 4, and height 2, then in world co-ordinates the height (Z) is 10, width (X) is 4 and the length (Y) is 2. This is why it's often safer to draw most things in the "Top" viewport, because then the world and viewport axes are the same.

Making the Model

For this first model, we are going to make a sign on a post. The first bit is to make the post. In the command panel, make sure "Create" is selected, and select "Box". Centre-click (on the mouse) somewhere in the "Top" viewport to select it. Now left-click and drag out a rectangle (without releasing the left mouse button). Release the mouse button and move the mouse upwards to give our box some height (you will see the height changing in the other viewports). Left click again to fix the height (It doesn't matter yet how big our box is - we'll sort out a suitable size next)

In the command panel there are boxes to define the Length, Width and Height of the box we are creating. Just click in one of these boxes, and type dimensions to fix the size of the box. By default the dimensions are in metres, but you can just as easily type imperial dimensions using the quote for feet and double quote for inches. So for example typing 5'10" in the height box would make the height of our post 5 feet 10 inches high, typing 4' would make it 4 feet 0 inches high, and just typing 2, would make it 2 metres.

Type in dimensions for our post of length 2 inches, width 2 inches, height 5 feet.

Making a Texture

Texturing the Model

Setting up for Trainz

Exporting the Model

Getting your model into Trainz

Page updated : 19 Dec 2015