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Thread: Can a non-artistic person create a decent route?

  1. #1
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    Default Can a non-artistic person create a decent route?

    As a new Trainzer watching video's on route creation I ask (somewhat rhetorically)... must you be an artist to create visually pleasing & realistic routes? It seems like there is so much "artistic vision" required.

    Again... question is somewhat rhetorical. But comments welcome.
    Last edited by 1611mac; December 6th, 2018 at 10:31 AM.
    Eastern US (NC)
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  2. #2
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    No you don't need to be particularly artistic, but you do need to be observant. By that I mean you should look at scenery for its different colours and shapes. Also, download other people's work and analyse what they have done - look for their detail. That will help you develop techniques of your own.

    Regards
    Bob
    Bob Cooper

  3. #3
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    I'm sorry, but I cannot agree with Bob. My answer to your question is negative.

    I've been creating many routes in Trainz since about 2006, but they all look ugly, unrealistic, embarrassing comparing to the routes available in DLS. No matter how much time I spent studying, disassembling finest examples, reading tutorials and spending even more time doing my own - they all look bad. I believe, while you don't have to be Picasso, you must poses certain degree of artistic ability, or to have a T(rainz)-gene. I guess I don't have it, I'm limited, this is why in my case the answer is definitely: No.

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    That's just not true man.

    You may just be bad at building routes, not everyone who isn't artistic can't design routes. That seems like a personal problem. It's really a matter of using the right assets and practicing enough. But if you simply aren't good at something then no amount of practice is going to help you dude.
    Its Ktrain! For gods sakes its Ktrain! Typos are a thing you know!

  5. #5
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    Let me say this... I don't particularly enjoy "art" but... watching someone create a route is like watching those old Bob Ross painting shows on PBS. Something is put down that seems like nothing... but by the end it was such a necessary thing to do for realism. But ugly splotches of dark spots in the beginning are, in the end, washed out "holes" in the bank of a beautiful river.... etc etc.. Seems like it would take an artistic eye to do this.
    Eastern US (NC)
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  6. #6
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    You can also use photos for individual items that you intend to have in a route. For distant scenery you can take a picture of it then section and resize the picture. You can even use a photo to reskin an existing item.
    There are quite a few photo realistic items on the DLS

    Cheers,
    Bill69
    If you are going to try cross-country skiing,
    Start with a small country.



  7. #7
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    I agree with Bob, and no I am no artist in the visual sense. I'm a Classically trained pianist, but that's different than a photographer or a painter. So in a short answer: Yes you can do it. Download routes that you hold your interest. There are some that are going to be better than others, but you'll find something that strikes your fancy.

    After exploring around the route, take it apart. Look at how the author put down the roads, the textures, and how he placed the buildings and trees and poke around sampling the content with the get asset tool in the scenery items to figure out what was used. Pull this route apart with plans of taking it down to its barest elements. When done with this strip down to the basics, go about creating modifying stuff.

    There are some questions that will go through your head.

    How would you do something better?

    Right off the bat nearly 15 years ago this month, I did that with a few routes, and found I never liked floating tracks and roads. Gawd do they annoy me just as they did back then.

    How about the trees? Are they those billboard things that look like plastic sheets with trees printed on them? Try looking through your trees, or download others from someone else, or try Speed Trees, or do the opposite.

    How about textures? Some people don't mix up the textures and they don't vary the scale so the textures look like carpet squares. Try playing with that too.

    You see by the time you've done this, you may have gotten some good tips. In the end I found myself following the best builders in their day back in December 2003 and early 2004. I learned a lot from these guys and how they did things. If you do what I did, you'll start to emulate them in their style - add in a blank baseboard and continue adding to a route you like in the same style as the original. It's tough at first, but it gets easier.

    When starting your own project, set a theme and stick to it, and by all means start small. Yes. That small project, which should be considered a throw away to practice and learn on your own, will be the starter set. Once you've got things started, work on a larger project, or plan on adding to this and continuing. I still have my original route in both it's original form and a much later, much, much better update which has grown into an empire. This is a common theme amongst us Trainzers. We will build a route that will take a lifetime. Seriously unlike other programs, this one has roots that stick around. Imagine I can still load up something started in December 2003!

    But anyway. Practice, practice, and practice. And one more thing be observant of how things go together. As you go driving about, look at intersections, and landscapes, and look at these with a "How can I make this in Trainz?" point of view. As you get more and more into route building, you'll start looking at roads, highway overpasses, industries, paths, power lines, and all that nifty stuff in real life, and think about which assets you'd use to create them in Trainz. Seriously it does that to you.

    When you get bored or stuck, take a break and look at train books, and videos. YouTube can be very inspirational especially those cab-ride videos, which are really, really interesting.

    And finally above all, have fun. Seriously this is what this is supposed to be all about.
    John
    Trainz User Since: 12-2003
    Trainz User ID: 124863
    TS12 Build: 61388
    T:ANE Build: 90955

  8. #8
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    The old saying, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, is just as applicable to route creation.

    Beyond finding the "right" objects, and with the vast choice Trainz offers that is not an easy task, I find the biggest challenge is to make things look right. If it was real, would it grow there or would someone build it there? Without gravity, it is easy to assemble objects that would never work in real life. Long unsupported bridge spans which would collapse from their own weight. Impossibly long cantilevers, etc.

    But in the end, you have to like the result. If others like it too, so much the better but consider that a bonus. And like John said, have fun. If you're not enjoying it, why are you doing it?


    70337:
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  9. #9

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    No. I don't think you need to be artistic. I do think you need imagination and the ability to visualise what you think the final product will look like. Some knowledge about how real railroads operate might also help.

  10. #10
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    Your worst critic will always be yourself or perhaps your children should you have any. As with most things start small perhaps a model railroad on a few baseboards, a short branch line, or a marshalling yard, it doesn't have to go anywhere or be complicated. As others have said there are many examples or route building on the likes of YouTube etc. Few of us are ever satisfied with what we build always trying to squeeze that last little bit of realism out of our creations but likewise thats half the attraction and frustration of Trainz for many of us. Peter

  11. #11
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    Hi ,
    I started in the beginning to sort out all the assets , first the build-in items you like .
    Then the DLS , you like a item , download it and give the item a letter in front .
    Search for , house - hause - building- industry - stations - trees - shops- lights ...............
    Get familiar with it .
    It's a l˛t of work before but it helps.
    the Netherlands

    russian train fan with PDD-NOS and i'm proud of it

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by JCitron View Post
    -snip-
    Right off the bat nearly 15 years ago this month, I did that with a few routes, and found I never liked floating tracks and roads. Gawd do they annoy me just as they did back then.
    Thanks for the detailed post. Could you please describe further for me a "floating track and road?" After some searching it appears these are tracks and roads that "float" above the terrain? Why does that happen?
    Eastern US (NC)
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  13. #13
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    Thanks everyone for all the wonderful answers and the time spent helping. Very much appreciated.
    Eastern US (NC)
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  14. #14
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    When a track is placed on a perfectly flat and uniform surface, the lower edge can just touch that surface and everything looks fine. If the ground has any undulations, gaps can appear unless the track designer anticipated this and added some underground parts to fill the gaps. The same happens with many buildings that don't have a built-in foundation, gaps appear on uneven ground.

    As for floating roads, that is sometimes a solution to the problem of vehicles not touching the pavement as they travel along the road. (in the spirit of don't raise the bridge, lower the river), the solution was to raise the road and not lower the vehicles. Roads are often 2D planes without any depth. There is a limit to how close the road plane can be to the ground until there are display issues. If they don't cast any shadows, it might not be obvious. What should have been added are shoulders with edges low enough to cover any potential gaps, even if the ground underneath is not uniform in height.

    In both cases, road and track, substituting for others that do have underground extensions might be one solution but it might not be possible. If it is only apparent in a few locations, perhaps some fill could be placed in the offending gaps.
    Last edited by martinvk; December 6th, 2018 at 09:11 AM.


    70337:
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  15. #15
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    Thanks very much.. I've studied some forum screenshots and I think I've seen "floating" items. Now to fire up some Routes....
    Eastern US (NC)
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