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Rail3dWiki — Other Software
In principle, you don’t need anything beyond the Rail3d program and the Editor to run trains and build new models. However, there are some third-party applications and utilities that could be useful:
Bitmap editors are needed for creating and manipulating textures, and come in handy for other things, like preparing nice screenshots to put on your website. Windows Paint will drive you to distraction if you try to use it for anything serious, so you need a third-party application of some sort. If you’ve ever bought a scanner or a digital camera you probably have one already, but if not, two popular options are:
A very popular and reasonably inexpensive commercial product. Very useful for preparing textures is the strong support for layers. http://www.jasc.com/
Freeware (gnu licence) graphics application well-known to Unix users, has also been available for Windows for some time now. Does just about everything, but you might have a hard time working out how. Gimp 2 seems to have overcome the worst of the user interface problems of earlier versions, but it still takes a bit of getting used to: http://www.gimp.org/
This is a relatively new freeware project sponsored by Washington State University — it seems to have a lot of interesting features and looks as though it might be very useful (I haven’t tried it yet — mh). Paint.Net
Fairly cheap utitlity for correcting perspective effects in photographs. Useful for taking parts of a photo and squaring them up to use as textures, and I haven’t found any other tool that can do this. http://www.xiberpix.com
Vector graphics applications are useful when you are preparing a texture from scratch, or using a technical drawing as a template. Ideally you need something that will allow you to create the artwork in vector format, but then render it using bitmap manipulations (filtering, texturing, adding noise, etc.). Unfortunately, there’s not much alternative to expensive programs like Corel Draw, Deneba Canvas and Adobe Illustrator if you want to do this all in one application. One shareware program that does attempt to do this to some extent is RealDraw Pro ($55 in November 2004).
There are a number of free drawing programs around intended for preparing svg illustrations for the web (e.g. Inkscape). You could try making a drawing in one of these, then importing it into a bitmap editor.
Drawing Ruler is an application that I have been developing to make it easier to build models from a set of scale drawings. It allows accurate measurements to be taken from the scanned drawings which can be used to size and position components properly. More information here: http://rail3d.richsoftcomputing.co.uk/drawingruler.php
The program, which I am releasing as a very early beta, allows the skin texture to be loaded and then you can click on the corners of the part you want mapped onto the model.
It very basic at the moment, but does do what it is supposed to…
More information here: http://rail3d.richsoftcomputing.co.uk/download.php?view.22
I’ve put together a simple tool that helps with the contruction of Strips. In effect, it is the Cylinder tool of the editor enhanced with a few more functions, e.g. the ability to control ellipticity and to build spheres and ellipsoids1 . More details on Mark Hodson’s utilities page
A little tool for doing standard manipulations on strips — shift, scale, rotate, flip, and texture remap. Also available from Mark Hodson’s utilities page
A utility for converting dem data to terrain points that can be imported into Rail3D. See Using SRTM Terrain Data for more information on this process. This tool is also available from Mark Hodson’s utilities page.
Converts a node list from a Rail3D layout into an svg graphic which you can edit in a vector drawing program to create a map of your layout.
A much better solution is to use the new layout-printing feature of Rail3D itself (build 98) — R3DtoSVG remains available, but I don’t think it will be developed any further.
This is a freeware utility for converting contour lines on scanned maps into dem data, made available by the Commission Informatique du Commité Départemental de Spéléologie des Alpes-Maritimes (France,06) 2. The documentation is in French, but it’s fairly straightforward to use.
In theory this should make contouring layouts dead easy, but in practice it seems to need so much manual tweaking to get it to work for a given map that it will normally be quicker and easier to do the contouring directly in the Rail3d digitiser.
Download from http://kartomnt.free.fr/pages_en/index.html
I find the powerful multi-file search and replace functions of Helpware FAR invaluable for looking after my stock and scenery files - mh
1 You need the Delphi runtimes to run Strip Tool. If it gives an error when starting up, try downloading them from here: http://stefanobordoni.interfree.it/Stefano/vcl6rtl.htm - It worked for me - rs (↑)
2 Thanks to Alan P for drawing attention to this program (↑)