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Sethodine

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Friday, July 25th 2008, 8:33pm

Using Google Sketch-Up with Freelancer

First of all, I want to say that this is not a tutorial on HOW to use Google Sketch-Up to make a model, there are other tutorials on that floating around the web. The purpose of this tutorial is to show how to convert files from the Sketch-Up format into a format that can be imported into Milkshape.

It's a bit of a workaround process, but it works.

First, build a ship in Sketch up, without using ANY groups or components, because those do not convert properly. Don't worry about texturing it, as you will still do that later in Milkshape like every other ship.

I would suggest seperating all of the pieces that use different textures, because this will make it much easier to select the seperate texture groups later in milkshape. Once the file is in Milkshape, you can move the parts back together until they are touching and look whole. Don't worry about welding the vertices of the pieces, because ships can have holes in them in Freelancer without causing any problems (only .SUR files have to be a single continuous surface, but that's for another tutorial).

Aaaaanways. Once you have your ship model in Sketch-Up, go to 'File -> Export -> 3D model', give your ship a name, and select "Google Earth 4 (.kmz)" for the file type.

The trick here is that a .KMZ file is really just a .ZIP file in disguise. Rename the file extention to .ZIP, and unzip it to wherever you want. Now open up the file that was unziped, go to the 'models' file, and you will find "yourshipname.DAE". This is the real model file. Remember where this is at.

Now, you will need to convert the .DAE into a file-type that Milkshape can recognize. Luckily, there is a converter on the Autodesk website that we can use for this purpose. Go to http://images.autodesk.com/adsk/files/fb…nverter_win.exe to download the Autodesk .FBX Converter.

Once the converter is installed, you can use it to convert the .DAE file into a .FBX, and then convert that .FBX into a .3DS file, which can be imported into Milkshape!

So, to summarize:

1) Make Sketch-Up model without using groups or components.
2) Export that file as a "Google Earth 4 (.kmz)"
3) Change the file extention from ".KMZ" to ".ZIP"
4) Unzip the file, and locate the .DAE file within.
5) Use the .FBX converter to to convert the .DAE file into a .FBX
6) Now convert the .FBX into a .3DS
7) Import the .3DS into Milkshape, and continue ship-building as normal.

And now, for the big question: WHY!? Why even use Google Sketch-Up to make Freelancer models? Well, there are actually a number of advantages to this approach:

The UI is very easy to learn, and it is simple to 'freehand' a model because Sketch-Up is very intelligent--it can guess how long you want a line, if you want it paralell to one of the axis or to a pre-existing line, etc.

Secondly, sketch-up is useful for easily creating continous surfaces, which is good for those who want to experiment with detailed .SUR models that look as good or better then vanilla .SURs. I haven't experimented much with this, but it seems the main problem with most SURs is that they need to be a single concave surface, because if there are any holes it will crash the game. If you build a ship in sketch-up, you can easily copy the ship, maybe resize it a little, draw a quick shield-bubble model and areas for the weapon emplacements, and have an expert-looking SUR with very little effort.

Additionally, you can import other sketch-up models you've made into your current project, so that you can compare scale or copy similar components over.

Finally, the point-of-view tools are very dynamic and powerful. You can look at the model using either a perspective camera or the classic parallel projection that most modeling programs use. It's also easy to move the camera to any angle or position, and there are buttons to quickly change to top/bottom/left/right/front/back views, in addition to an x-ray mode that allows you to not only see, but to interact with parts of the model hidden from view.

I've built better models in 1/4 the time that it took me with Milkshape alone.

Lastly, I want to thank "paulscode" from devshed for most of this information. He's the one that figured out that .KMZ is just a .ZIP, and found the .FBX converter, I just applied that information to how it could be used for Freelancer modelling.

Anonymous

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Wednesday, July 30th 2008, 4:12pm

Re: Using Google Sketch-Up with Freelancer

Just a minor correction...

surs - "concave"

must be "CONVEX"

and does not need to be single, it can be a number of separate components which are then stitched together using Sur Splicer.

That was the easy part! :D

o-]-[

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Friday, September 5th 2008, 4:22am

Re: Using Google Sketch-Up with Freelancer

Quoted from ""Sethodine""

Aaaaanways. Once you have your ship model in Sketch-Up, go to 'File -> Export -> 3D model', give your ship a name, and select "Google Earth 4 (.kmz)" for the file type.

The trick here is that a .KMZ file is really just a .ZIP file in disguise. Rename the file extention to .ZIP, and unzip it to wherever you want. Now open up the file that was unziped, go to the 'models' file, and you will find "yourshipname.DAE". This is the real model file. Remember where this is at.

2) Export that file as a "Google Earth 4 (.kmz)"
3) Change the file extention from ".KMZ" to ".ZIP"


Care to elaborate on these steps. I tried just changing the extension at the time of exporting (i.e. erase .kmz and write .zip) the file but that gave a non working zip file, and I couldn't see how to do it afterwards. I am using vista at the moment, if that is the issue I will use my desktop (currently waiting for new hard drive).
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Anonymous

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Saturday, September 6th 2008, 2:15am

Re: Using Google Sketch-Up with Freelancer

If it's because you can't see the extension (the .kmz part) of the filename of your exported mode, you need to be able to see the extensions of your files in the Vista Explorer.

I don't use Vista - I'm one of its "haters", but then I hated Win98SE and WInXP too before I had to use them in anger - so can't advise you how, but in XP it's in the Explorer Tools... Folder Options page, View tab, and then find and Uncheck "Hide extensions for known file types".

Just export normally as the .kmz file, and then find it using Explorer, click once on the filename, wait 2 seconds and click again to enable name edit mode, and change the extension of the filename to .zip.

Hope this helps?

o-]-[

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Monday, September 8th 2008, 1:56am

Re: Using Google Sketch-Up with Freelancer

gee some one turned the light on,...

worked like a charm

thx StarTrader
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Monday, September 8th 2008, 2:18am

Re: Using Google Sketch-Up with Freelancer

Transfering files from google sketchup to milkshape now seems easy,...
that is until, I can not see the 3ds file that I have imported. I checked on the mesh tool and see that milkshape recognizes my model, but will not give me a image to work with on the screen. I am rechecking things on my transfer and something about lighting, If you know what I am missing please tell me.

Thx
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Sethodine

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Friday, September 12th 2008, 6:44pm

Re: Using Google Sketch-Up with Freelancer

Depending on how large you made the model in sketch-up, you may have to zoom out a lot before you can see your model.

Also, before converting the file, make sure that your model is centered on the axis in sketch-up. If it is floating some distance away from the axis, then it will appear that way in milkshape as well. Because of the limited draw-distance in milkshape, it causes the model to be completely invisible until you've moved it closer into view.

As far as sizing the model properly, I usually use the "man walking" component that comes with sketch-up for reference, then when I import the model into milkshape I use Select All, then I resize the model to 1/10 it's original size. [Then multiply by 10 before exporting it into a .CMP]

A note on textures: One of the drawbacks in this process is that somewhere in the conversion process, every single triangle gets it's own shade of white. Thus, the higher the polygon count of the model, the more unwanted and unusable shades of white show up in the list of textures in the model. As long as you re-group all the parts and give them the proper textures this shouldn't be an issue, but I like to delete all the unwanted textures anyways (I've had to delete over 2000 textures before though, it's kind of annoying).

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