Well it ain't pretty, and it's primitive, but it's mine. Just to see how it's done, I created my own "spacecraft" for Orbiter. I call it the Uglybug. It's a limited edition - this will be the only picture ever shown! I also have renewed respect for modelers and add-on makers who make things they want to make and make them look a lot like a real spacecraft (this was sort of random). I'm sure with practice I can get better, but this was just a 2-3 hour exercise with software I never used before, and it served its purpose. Thanks to Harmsway whose basic "UFO" tutorial got me started.
- Anim8or is a freeware 3D modeling tool that's pretty flexible and easy to learn but is rather different from my previous 3D CAD experience - as usual, letting go of assumptions, reading some of the documentation, and experimenting can go a long way.
- I exported the mesh to a 3ds file and used 3ds2msh (one of several mesh conversion utilities) to convert to Orbiter's special .msh format - this got me a silvery gray "ship"
- Orbiter lets you create a basic spacecraft with only a text configuration file to define the mesh file name, mass, thrust, and other basic flight properties. I modified Gene Harm's ufo.cfg and KSC test scenario slightly and was able to fly my gray blob around the VAB
- It was too drab, so I grabbed a little bitmap spray-paint doodle I had done to use as a 256x256 texture. I followed some tips from Greg Burch, also on Harmsway's site, to apply the texture and create a painted model
- After a few more small steps (e.g., convert .bmp to .dds texture file with another utility), I had a cheap looking paint job for my Uglybug
- Finally I grabbed one of Vinka's examples for his spacecraft.dll (which allows use of exhaust textures, animations, and other cool things without programming), and I modified its .ini file to work with my mesh (no animations yet, but it's a start).