Wednesday, July 9, 2014

New Track for Kitto's Train

Whimsy Rail with Original Track Textures
New Whimsy Track Textures

The original textures on Kitto Flora's track look like this:

There are straight sections of varying length and 30, 45, 60, and 90 degree curves, all available on a gravel base or as girders. The fronts and backs of the girders are transparent so the track will look seamless.  There are also left- and right-turning helical sections...

... signals, which stop the train until clicked (or until a certain number of seconds have passed)...

... crossings...

... and left- and right-turning switches to route the train to alternate sections of track.

One of my favorite texture designers was Starship Jefferson, who, alas, no longer seems to be selling textures in Second Life. Happily, his textures are available on the Second Life Marketplace. I invite you too look through his work at his store.

Sweetie and I loved Jefferson's Old Rock Railway textures. Here's the contact sheet...

Here's where you can buy them (for only $199L!)

Applying Jefferson's rail texture no. 14 to the tops of Kitto's sraight track was not a problem-- nor was applying his rock texture no. 20 to the sides of any of the track sections. I created a custom girder texture based on Jefferson's work, and that worked as well-- but the tops of the curved sections were difficult.

Girder Side Section. I Don't Mind Sharing My Work, But Since This is Based
on Starship Jefferson's Work, I Have Reduced the Size to 64x 64 pixels
to Render it Unusable on Kitto's Track
Jefferson handles curves quite differently than Kitto, so his curved sections, while quite nice looking, wouldn't come close to working-- so both Sweetie and I worked independently, attempting to make the the right curve. 

Our approaches were quite different. At first I created a 10 x 10 meter cylinder (the same size as Kitto's curves) and laid down prims for the rail and a prim for each crosstie with the intent to take a snapshot of the ensemblage from directly overhead (That, it turned out, is exactly how Kitto had make his own texture!). I soon abandoned this in favor of doing the same thing with GIMP. Over a base of Jefferson's black rock I laid out two circles of track .5 meters apart, inset just enough (I hoped), and laid in a single tie. By duplicating and rotating the ties, I was soon able to create a complete circle, like so:

Again, I have reduced the texture to 64 x 64 pixels.

Meanwhile, Sweetie used GIMP to do a radial conversion of Jefferson's straight track texture.

Sweetie's result and mine were so close it was impossible to tell them apart visually-- but hers wrapped around the prim more accurately than mine, so we wound up using hers.

Even so, I was unable to make the texture map correctly. The ends of the rails didn't quite line up with other sections, and the difference was just enough to stop me from converting the entirety of Whimsy's rail to the next design.

I wasn't optimistic, for Kitto said to date no one had been able to make a texture work properly on his curves.

Still, with my interest in the train renewed by the arrival of version 3, I gave Sweetie's texture one more trial, and to my happiness and amazement, it mapped correctly. It took a lot of tweaking of texture density and offsets on the x and y axes for that to happen, but eventually it did.

Finally, Whimsy's train now runs on all-new track!

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