Xplane scenery making course for beginners

  xplane is a full-fledged flight simulator. You need to purchase basic system software, but after that you can get many aircraft and scenery (such as airport scenery) for free. That's because people around the world provide such data for free.

  It is good to get and use such data at first. However, from the beginning, Xplane software includes WED (WorldEditor) and OverlayEditor, which are scenery editing software, and Plane Maker, which is an aircraft making software.

  I can't use Plane Maker yet, but I started to make my own scenery in the summer of 2018 and enjoyed the fun.
 I wanted more people to enjoy the fun, so we decided to make a referral for beginners.

However, I first refuse to be in trial and error.

1.  Make a heliport

  For those who have just started a flight simulator, helicopters are more difficult than Cessna. At first I couldn't even take off, so I wondered if I could really use it. But now I can hover.

 It has something to do with making scenery.

 I first decided to make a scenery because I wanted to set up a home. I wanted to place my home object in Xplane and see it from above.

  Scenery basically starts with making an airport. However, we cannot create a runway in a residential area. However, small heliports can be placed without disturbing the surrounding landscape.

 Therefore, we will start with the installation of a heliport.

 Then, from the heliport as a starting point, create and arrange necessary objects around. Helicopter control naturally improves as the helicopter checks the performance.

(1)Find the latitude and longitude of the place where you want to install a heliport

  In WED, enter the latitude and longitude values to set up the heliport. Therefore, it is necessary to check the latitude and longitude of the place you want to place first.
This can be looked up using google maps.
This time, I decided to make a heliport on Yuge Island in the Seto Inland Sea in japan.
 I have not been there. I searched for a candidate site as a photo image on a google map.
 I thought that the area around Hibi Park was good, so I checked the latitude and longitude of the place.

(2)Open wed and make a new Airport.

 WED is the software of such an icon in the folder of Xplane.

 Before opening this, it is recommended to create a folder named japan yugeshima in the Custom Scenery folder first. Then, the data of future work will be saved in this folder.


  If you create a folder called japan yugeshima first, this name will appear when you launch WED. The reason why it is prefixed with japan is that when you open WED, you can find what you named japan, so it is easy to find. Open this japan yugeshima.

 The first thing you do when you open it is to select Create Airport from the Airport tab.

  Even if the folder is named japan yugeshima, it is necessary to enter the airport name anew. Here also japan yugeshima.

  TypeAirport Type can be selected from Airport, Heliport, Seaport, so select Heliport.

(3)Install a helipad.

  Click the helipad mark in the toolbox, then click on the middle screen to create the helipad. However, since this place is a place where I clicked appropriately, I will align the latitude and longitude from now on.

Enter the values you have checked in advance in the latitude and longitude fields.

At first it is 50m square, but it is too big, so I changed it to 15m square. Surface can be selected from concrete and grassland. I'll make it into grassland later, but for now I'll keep it concrete.

  In fact, if you enter the latitude and longitude and press the enter key, the helipad will move and disappear from the screen. In that case, select Zoom Package or Zoom Selection from the View tab and a screen centering on the helipad appears. You can also zoom with mouse scroll.

(4)Save and output for Xplane.

 Once you have done this, save and output the data to the Xplane scenery. First, save it on WED, then press Export apt.dat ... to output it. At this time, you will be asked for the name of the save. From now on, I will open and make corrections, so a simple and easy-to-understand file name is good. The name is made by adding the date of making yuge424. yuge is fine.

 Not needed if only a helipad. However, when other objects are created, you must also press the Export Scenery Pack.

(5)Go to the helipad on Xplane and make sure.

  I closed the wed, launched Xplane, chose the helicopter for the aircraft, and chose japan yugeshima for the location.

  Then, it became such a slope, and the helicopter began to fall with a slipper. I pressed the pause button to stop the movement and checked the location from the outside.

 Hibi Park should actually be flat, but not in the simulator terrain. This is the case. Looking far away, I found that there was a flat terrain where it protruded into the sea. Let's go here.

 You can also move the helipad by opening the WED and selecting the helipad with the arrow tool in the toolbox. If it is a little movement, that would be fine. Because of this distance, I could not move well, so I rewrote the new latitude and longitude.

 It looks good this time. In this place, I can place hangars.

  When viewed from above, the helipad is visible at the bottom of the screen. It is now possible to fly around here. If you look for it, you may find a narrow flat land where you can make a runway. Seaport of seaplane seems to be able to make in this Yuge Island.

 It's relatively easy so far, so please try it.

2.Build a helicopter hangar

Once you have a heliport, let's build a hangar.
A rectangular parallelepiped building is easy to make, so it is recommended as the first building to build.

(1) SketchUp Make download

 A 3D object placed in a scenery is called an object. Xplane has a file called OO.obj in the scenery folder, which is the data of the object where it is placed.

 To create objects such as scenery buildings, it is better to use SketchUp or Blender. Both have plug-in software to output objects for Xplane.

 Blender is free software and it is easy to create curved objects such as spheres. However, the operation screen is too complicated for me to use yet.

 In that respect, sketch-up is easy to operate, and you can create a three-dimensional object intuitively. However, there are differences between the paid version and the free version, so care must be taken when installing.

 SketchUp Make is a free version. It was created by a company called Trimble. There is SketchUp pro, which costs around 100,000 yen.

 I have this trial version, but I put it in first and failed.

During the trial period of about one month, I made various things.

Of course, after the trial period, the software can no longer be used.

 Then I added SketchUp Make, but SketchUp Make couldn't open the data created by the pro trial software.

 In other words, SketchUp Make is a free version and the version is old. The old version could not open the new version of the data.

 There was a free version of SketchUp that works online, so I opened the Pro version of the data, resaved it so that the older version could be opened, and opened it with SketchUp Make.

So you should use SketchUp Make from the beginning.

 It looks like the screen above is now available for obtaining SketchUp Make. When I got it, I downloaded it not from a screen like this, but from a list on Trimble's page.

 It seems that you can download it without any problem.

The free version is not available for commercial use. The purpose column should be a hobby.


This is a plug-in software to output data from SketchUp to Xplane. Download from org.

(2) Find resources

 I searched on the web for what kind of hangar. This hangar isn't too big and looks good on Yuge Island. This is a helicopter hangar at Toyooka Hospital in Hyogo Prefecture.

 After creating the shape of the building, there is a task of coloring. At that time, you need a texture file.
 Texture is like wallpaper or paint on an object, but also refers to texture. Some textures have only simple colors, but you can also use photos as textures.
 So it is convenient to capture such photos. I used a software called Photoshop to cut out photos from the hangar at Toyooka Hospital. The blue-grey one is the roof pattern seen from the sky on Google Maps. This took a screenshot and cut it out.
 For beginners, working with images is one hurdle to overcome. I'm used to Photoshop software and keep using old versions that were sold alone.
 It seems that Photoshop is now purchased with monthly payment. That's fine, but Photoshop Elements, which can be purchased separately, is sufficient. This costs 17,800 yen.
 All you need to do is cut and paste the image, adjust the color, and output it to a png file. If such software is free software, it is still OK.


This is a postscript.
 I learned that there are Photopea and Ginp in free software. Photopea is a tool similar to Photoshop. This is enough to make a png file.
 Gimp is a high function. You can do various things, so if you want to take this opportunity to learn how to use it, this is also a good idea.


(3) About texture files

 This time, I created such a texture file. I introduced these at the beginning, but in my case, I often create a texture file after starting to make a shape by sketching up. In my case, I don't make sketched-up shapes after I make a proper drawing or drawing. As soon as you draw a rough sketch, you start sketching up the shape. We often do trial and error on sketch-ups.
  At that time, you often realize later that you should have something like this.

It is better not to change the texture file once it is created. If you paste a texture in the middle of making it, and create a new texture later, there will be two kinds of textures in one work, and it will be a problem when outputting to Xplane. Xplane is basically one texture file for one object. (I will make another one at night, but I will explain how to do it later.)

☆ It is wrong that it is better not to change the texture file. On February 18th, 2020, I was taught the right way on Xplane Flight Simulator BBS in Japan.
 After modifying the texture file, overwrite and save it. Then, simply press Reloard Textures in the Sketchup Tools section and the sketchup texture file will be replaced with the modified file.

 Put the created texture file in the same folder as the heliport. The file name is useless in Japanese. Only English.

 This is the blank paper I have for the texture. The point to note here is the pixel size. Xplane supports 64x64, 128x128, 256x256, 512x512, 1024x1024, 2048x2048, and 4096x4096, which are multiples of 64. 1024 x 1024 is enough for this building.

I prepare and use two types of paper: this blank paper and the paper with a transparent background.


(4) Launch sketch-up and create a hangar shape

 This screen appears when you launch Sketch Up. A man is standing, but this is a measure of size. This person will get in the way and will be deleted later.
 The first thing to do is open the model information from the window and change the unit of length to decimal meters. Other parts can be left as they are.

 I always forget this, and later realized that I changed the dimensions of the model information to meters.

 Those who usually use the unit of feet are fine.  Meter length is used in Japan.

The tool has a major mark. Click this and pull on the red and green lines from the origin to mark the required size. I chose 15m.

People are selected and deleted here.

Next, using the rectangle tool, pull from the origin to the marking, and a plane is created like this. After that, use the extrusion tool to pull the plane up 6m.

Such a solid was created.

 There is already a small room next to the building. This is made in the same way as the following method. If you look at the actual photo, the entrance of the hangar is a little concave and the eaves are on the top. Make this.

 Draw such a shape on the front side with the rectangle tool or pencil tool. I wrote briefly, but it does not go so easily when I look at it. This is because you may not be pulling on the surface. The rectangle at the entrance of the large hangar should be relatively easy to pull.

 The rotation tool is often used among tools. When drawing a square shape on the front, it is easier to draw toward the front than from diagonally. Use the hand tool to move the screen up, down, left, or right. You should be able to zoom the display by scrolling the mouse.

 The large entrance of the hangar should be easy to draw, but the eaves on it may not be able to draw so that it touches the rectangle. In that case, draw an extension line with the pencil tool left and right on the line above the entrance rectangle, and draw a parallel line on it. Or make a small vertical line, select the unwanted line with the arrow tool and delete or use the eraser tool.

  The small room on the side is also drawn with the extrusion tool after drawing a square line on the surface like this.

 Notice that the building has moved and the corner of the small room is the origin. I selected the entire building and moved it with the move tool. This makes it easier to align when placing with WED.

 When selecting the entire building, you can select the building by enclosing the building with the arrow tool.

 Select and erase the measure line and marking point with the selection tool.
 Make a texture file once you get here.
  I added windows to the small room while I was making it, but I don't know if there are any windows here. The existence of the window was unknown at the stage of examination on the net. However, we have decided that there may be. Therefore, window glass textures are also needed. As you can see, there are things that come to mind later, and you need textures for them.

 So it is safer to apply the texture after all the shapes are completed. However, I want to stick it while making it. If you're prepared to re-paste everything, it's a good idea to paste it on the way.
  Before going any further, look again at the texture file in (3).

(5) テクスチャを貼る

 A window like this opens when you select the paint tool in the toolbox. Drag the texture png file created there and bring it.

 At this time, you will be asked for the file size. Enter the required size. Since the width of the building is 15m, the size of the texture can be pasted if you specify about 30m to 35m. Fine adjustments can be made later. It's easier to avoid making major adjustments later.

 Select the created texture file and click on the place where you want to paste it using the paint tool. Somewhere in the texture file sticks.
 Next, click on the pasted location with the arrow selection tool while holding down the control key. A window will open, so select "Texture"-> "Position".
 Use the selection tool to move and align the texture that appears as if the films were stacked. If the size does not fit, adjust using the red and green pointers. The pointer turns white when clicked and can be moved.
 The red pointer is the starting point. Green scales and rotates. There are other pointers, but this green pointer is almost enough.
 Adjust the position of the texture so that it matches the shutter of the hangar by pulling or shrinking with the green pointer starting from the red pointer. If this is OK, enter key is decided.

 If the texture image is upside down or on a Mac, you can select the rotation or flipping of the position by clicking the mouse while holding down the control key on the texture. Right click on Windows?

 It is a place where you will forget to paste the texture, such as under the eaves. You can output without attaching the bottom. In the case of a three-dimensional object with an opening, such as with the shutter open, it is necessary to apply texture to the floor and inner walls.

 If you don't make it all at once, you'd probably save it, so in that case, overwriting is fine. Save it in the folder with the heliport.
  If the SketchUp2Xplane plugin for Sketchup is installed, the item of Export Xplane Object appears here.
 Press it and an object file for xplane will be created in that folder.
 Occasionally, you will see an indication that some walls are not painted. We will check and make adjustments, but there are times when it is OK to do so without modification.

(5) Place with OverlayEditor

 I used another scenery editing software, OverlayEditor, to arrange the hangar. The advantage of this software is that you can place objects from a diagonal side. WED is alignment from directly above.

 Actually, it turns out that the layout in the OverlayEditor is not appropriate, and the hangar is rearranged in WED. So, please read with that in mind.

 Launch OverlayEditor and open the airport file of yugeshima. You will see a screen like this. If you are not oblique, you can change the viewing angle and direction of the scenery by pressing the fn key and arrow keys on a mac. You can also zoom with mouse scroll.

 When you select the kakuno object and press the green cross button, a building has been created in such a place. Moreover, the orientation is not good.

 To change this, press the command key and the E button to rotate the object, so first determine the orientation of the hangar. Then drag with your mouse to position the hangar.

Save and launch Xplane, go to the heliport and see for yourself.

The hangar looks good, but it's too far away. And so far I realized that it was better not to be grassland. There is no planning at all.

 I made something like this by sketching up. I could have added it to the object in the hangar, but then I had to recreate the texture file and the texture of the hangar, so I made it separately. I tried to place this in the OverlayEditor, but the original helipad position is not visible in the OverlayEditor. Therefore, we decided to relocate the hangar and the concrete surface with WED.

(6) Place with WED

WED shows the original helipad.
 The square that looks green is the original helipad. A concrete surface with a helipad mark and a hangar are placed on top of it. The heading is at 80 degrees, just in the same direction as the heliport below.

This was saved and output to Xplane.
 If you load an object that was placed with the OverlayEditor with WED and rearrange it with WED, the placement data created with the original OverlayEditor will be lost. We need to be careful about that, but this time it is fine.

 I opened a helipad on Yuge Island with OverlayEditor. The nice thing about OverlayEditor is that you can make fine adjustments while watching the terrain. You can also see objects placed in WED, so most of them should be placed in WED, and what you want to fine-tune while watching the road, etc. should be placed in OverlayEditor.
 There was trial and error on the way, but I managed to do it.

Next, I will write about nighttime lighting and indoor lighting, but please wait for a while.

3.Relocate heliport due to mesh difference

 Xplane's standard scenery is based on terrain data called standard mesh. The roughness of the terrain data. The standard is one elevation data point in 90m square. If this is a UHD mesh, the accuracy will be 30m square.
 By the way, the Geographical Survey Institute provides 5m mesh elevation data.
 The data volume increases as the mesh becomes finer. The terrain is getting closer to reality. However, if the amount of data increases in the flight simulator, it takes time to read and process, the load on the personal computer will increase, and it may be impossible to fly smoothly.
 The iMac cannot be replaced with a graphic board even though the main memory can be expanded. In a flight simulator, it's better to have as good a graphics board as possible.
 It seems that the latest iMac upper model has a better graphic board than my current iMac.
 Please select the mesh according to the performance of your personal computer.

 My iMac has a UHD mesh that takes a while to load first, but the flight is still smooth. So I used UHD mesh everyday.
However, it seems that he used it after returning to the standard mesh before making this scenery.

   Looking at the aerial photograph of Yuge Island, he thought that the area around Hibiki Park was flat, and set up a heliport.

 I noticed later that the standard mesh had been used, and the heliport that I made back to the UHD mesh was on such a mountain slope.

 I flew by helicopter looking for a flat place there. It was this place that was flat. This is actually the site of the Yuge Merchant Ship School. It's good here too, but the place near Hibi Park, which I thought first, is not flat at all, but the slope is gentle, so I decided to move there.

 For relocation, use WED to enter new values for latitude and longitude. I started Xplane, checked it, and fine-tuned it with WED.

 I don't really know what to do on Yuge Island, but if a helicopter needs to arrive or depart, the ground of Yuge Merchant Ship, the schoolyard of an elementary school, or the parking lot at the port will be used.

 However, in the flight simulator, if you create a heliport in this way, you can start from this place when you start up.

4.Make night lights

 People who have been flying at night on the Xplane may have been amazed at the realism of the lights of the streets and roads.
 You can enjoy the night scenery by turning on the night lighting even with your own scenery.

However, I am in the middle of trial and error in this field. So I can only tell you what I can do.

 The lighting in the hangar's small room and the light illuminating the shutters were modified by me. Heliport lighting is originally provided with the helipad.

 What I'm doing by trial and error is to create lighting that illuminates the ground like a helicopter light. It is currently not working.

Here we explain the simplest way to make building windows and street lighting.

 The easiest way is to light the windows in the hangar's small room. When making the hangar by sketch-up, I made one texture file. Copy it and make another one. Just process it for night, add _LIT to the file name and put it in the same folder.

 The problem is that it is processed for night use. This is the png file for night. The texture location is not changed. It looks like Xplane knows the position coordinates in the texture file.
  Lighting or changing the color of the area where the night lights are, and reducing the lightness of the rest.

 First of all, as for the window, the original window shows the blue sky, so it is not enough to raise the brightness of it. So I painted it here with a yellow color.

For the shutter part, I set the light described below, but I have not yet learned how to illuminate the wall with that light. So we brightened the shutter as if the light was illuminated.
 Graphics software such as Photoshop is required for these processes. You need software that can change the brightness and color of the selected area.
  If you can create such a nightly texture file using such software, that's OK.

The lights in the windows were not brightened by placing a light source inside.

 The light that illuminates the shutter is created in a different way, not a texture.
 Sketchup has a text tool. Use this to enter light commands.
 The text tool allows you to enter text where you draw the line from where you want to be the light source.
  I use the command "LIGHT_NAMED amb_street_light" in my hangar.

 This is the command in Xplane11 → Resources → bitmaps → world → lites → lights.txt and open the lights.txt.

Street lights such as street light work well.

LIGHT_PARAM I haven't yet learned how to set parameters starting with full_custom etc.
 I wanted to create something like a spotlight to illuminate a helipad or hangar, but I haven't done that yet.
 But it's relatively easy to make the room light lit, so it's a good idea to try it. It's okay to make a building at home and turn on the gate and entrance lights with the command of street lamps.
 If you can build a building, try lighting at night.