Il-2 Shturmovik Cockpit Modeling FAQ

12 September 2002

 
  • This FAQ is a compilation of questions from the greater Il-2 modeling community, listed by subject.
  • Click on the appropriate question in the Table of Contents to jump to the answer.
  • Clicking on any question in the "Answers" section (below the TOC) will take you back up to the page top.
  • Answers are given in the chronological order they were received. :)
  • The following key shows who is answering a given question:

    RD: Roman Deniskin, head modeler at 1C:Maddox Games
    XY: Xanty, Heinkel He 111 External re-work & Cockpit
    JP: Jippo, Ju 87B-2 Cockpit
    LT: Luthier, BI-1, DFS-230 & TB-3 External & Cockpits, I-16 Cockpit, PBY Catalina and German and Soviet Blimps External, Misc. Ground Objects, Il-2 Center webmaster
    M5: Majesty5, Ar 196 External, Ar 196 Cockpit (WIP), FAQ Compiler

If you have any questions (or answers!) that are not included here, please submit them to daniels369 at hotmail dot com... Subject "Cockpit FAQ".

TABLE OF CONTENTS
Section A: 3D CONSTRUCTION

A01. What is the poly limit for cockpits?
A02. With a multi-crewed aircraft, is this poly limit for each position, or for the whole thing entirely?
A03. What scale is the cockpit built at? 50%, like the external models, or 100%?
A04. For two-place aircraft, are front and aft cockpits modeled in separate files?
A05. In the aft cockpit, is it necessary to model the whole cockpit area, or only that which can be seen by the gunner when his viewpoint moves with the gun?
A06. All of the backface polygons that you don't see from the pilot's eye-point...are they deleted? And if so...doesn't that affect smoothing sometimes?
A07. Are there any parts of the cockpit where the entire structure should be modeled (as opposed to having faces removed to save polys)?
A08. What is the object naming convention?
A09. Are there any linked objects? How should the hierarchy go?
A10. What are the pivot positions and orientations for the parts?
A11. How many parts are animated? Can you give an overview of instruments and gauges, etc. which must be able to move?
A12. Are all guages placed flat on the actual surface of the instrument panel, or do they float above it?
A13. In the Bf 109F example file, the gunsight floats at a certain distance away from the instrument panel. Why is it set up this way?
A14. Regarding tubular frames: The intersection point, where for example 6 tubes meet... How do you solve this? Can it be several independent cylinders intersecting with one another?
A15. When the pilot or gunner can see into the rear-fuselage (like in the Fokker situation) must that also be 3D-modeled? Or can it all be replaced by some smartly placed textures? Does it blur or black-out into the distance?
A16. How is the damage created? Does it follow the regular Il-2 damage system?
A17. Can it be programmed that the hood can be opened/closed or ejected whilst in flight?
A18. Is it possible to have a template pilot example to see if it fits well into cockpit?

Section B: TEXTURES & MATERIALS

B01. Should the cockpit use Multi/Sub-Object Material like the external aircraft?
B02. Is the NULL material used anywhere in the cockpits?
B03. What is the practical limit on the number of textures and Materials?
B04. What size and format should the textures be?
B05. Can the alpha channel be used for cockpit parts?
B06. Are flat 2D textures sometimes used to mimic a 3D effect? I don't mean a moderately 3D object like a profiled metal plate, but something seriously 3D like a box?
B07. Can the gauge-texture be a photo or must they be custom made, in Photoshop for example?
B08. Do all guages have a damage model, or just some of them? How many?
B09. Must the modeler provide a 'lit' version for a night situation?
B10. Are light and shadow handled entirely by the game's lighting system, or should highlights & shadows be painted on the textures?
B11. Can you provide examples of standard textures used for gauges? The metal rim, typical '30's and '40's fonts, cracked glass, damage, screws, etc.?
B12. Do you use specific typefaces for lettering within the cockpits? Are these available somewhere for download or purchase?
B13. Is it possible to put the builder's name somewhere in the cockpit? Very small, as proof that that person actually made the plane?
B14. How many gauges are there in a texture? A combination of 4?
B15. What are the dimensions (in pixels) of a single guage on the texture?

Section C: VIEWPOINTS & CAMERAS

C01. How many virtual cameras are there?
C02. Where are the camera's pivot points?
C03. Where is the pilot's eye-point?
C04. What's his field-of-view?
C05. How does the rear gun view animation work; is the camera viewpoint slaved to the gun?
C06. Are there any 'dead zones' where the pilot or crew can't see? Where are they?

ANSWERS
3D CONSTRUCTION

A01. What is the poly limit for cockpits?
RD: Even 4000 if it looks marvelous.
XY: 2500. Up to 3000 in special cases like bombers or very complex parts.
JP: 2500, I think more complicated can go higher like Ju-88, maybe 3500?
LT: Ideally 2,500, but can go to 3,000 or even a few hundred polys more for extremely busy cockpits like the He-111ís nose. Anything above 3,000 is to be specifically cleared and pre-approved.

A02. With a multi-crewed aircraft, is this poly limit for each position, or for the whole thing entirely?
XY: Each position is normally independent. For pilot, same as normal aircraft, although at some point it can go higher, depending on how complex the cabin is. For gunners should be 1500+ but can go higher if required. Remember the guns will be seen from very close, so they will take high poly count. There is an exception when several position will be seen from several crew: in He-111 the belly gunner is below the waist gunners and both positions are almost identical (as if you look down you will see the other gunner's place) and so they are done together with combined count of 3000 polys.
JP: For each position, because only one position is being rendered at a time.
LT: This is for each position separately. In cases of two positions visible from each other, as again in case of the He-111 pilot and nose gunner, each position should be a separate 2,500 file with detail concentrated around the camera spots.

A03. What scale is the cockpit built at? 50%, like the external models, or 100%?
RD: I can take any.
XY: Well, I only know that it can ge re-scaled as required with ease (uniform scale doesn't give much of a problem). However, this is in the case the person doesn't have the external as reference. If you have the external, then is placed in the model, so scale in reference to the external is 100%.
JP: Build to fit external model.
LT: The cockpit should fit inside the external model, therefore it will use whatever scale was used for the external.

A04. For two-place aircraft, are front and aft cockpits modeled in separate files?
XY: For multi-crew, each part is modeled separately unless it is next to the other and visible. Then modeling both (or several) combined may be an option. Otherwise, a basic "shared" model can be done of it 1st, then each position get individual and more detailed in respect of the crew POV.
JP: Eventually yes. Sometimes easier to start with one file, then divide.

A05. In the aft cockpit, is it necessary to model the whole cockpit area, or only that which can be seen by the gunner when his viewpoint moves with the gun?
XY: Rule of gold: Always model only the stuff that will be seen. The rest, either delete it or don't model it ;-) Place a camera, make a mock up space and determine what will be visible and what won't. Important: remember that POV cameras from crew sometimes move when the plane moves extremely, so be always on the safe point when deleting back or side faces.
JP: Yes, everything has to be modeled.
LT: The whole cockpit can be seen from the gunner position using the panning keys (Numpad). Therefore the whole cockpit should be modeled.

A06. All of the backface polygons that you don't see from the pilot's eye-point...are they deleted? And if so...doesn't that affect smoothing sometimes?
RD: You should delete those yourself. Regarding smoothing: Yes, it is affected. The correct way to avoid this is to assign them a material named "NULL". This will exclude them from rendering retaining the smoothing full extent.
XY: Always delete the back faces. Some smoothing may change, but you can simulate the shadows and highlights in the texture department.
JP: They are deleted.
LT: Yes all invisible polys should be deleted to lower the polycount. Keep in mind that the POV camera moves during maneuvers, and that some objects move as well. If you delete the backfaces from the control column for example, make sure that none of them would have been visible from the extreme deflection positions, etc.

A07. Are there any parts of the cockpit where the entire structure should be modeled (as opposed to having faces removed to save polys)?
XY: If it is not seen, then it shouldn't be there. Unless the object moves and by so it would show its back or sides, then you leave those parts (this of the control column or stick).
JP: One has to remember that some objects will be movable, and maybe can be seen from the other side as well.
LT: No, except for reservations in question #A06.

A08. What is the object naming convention?
XY: Always name parts in respect of what they are. No convention, but NEVER use spaces. For example the front panel that contains the instruments could be named "fpanel" or the pedal "pedal_r". Use names to easily locate parts and where they are (left or right, etc). Also, if a part is damaged, then it has a "DMG" at the end (i.e. "fpanelDMG"). A good idea is to use prefix for the instruments. Like "c.altimeter" and "c.altimeter_m" (for the needle of meters) and "c.altimeter_k" (for needle of kilometers).
JP: Use reasonable naming, for example, gas lever = GasLever01.
LT: No spaces in object names. Other than that the only requirement is clear descriptive names - not Cylinder07 and Object26 but Seat_CoPilot and ControlColumn_Top.

A09. Are there any linked objects? How should the hierarchy go?
XY: Linking is good for seeing if the parts work together (like the stick), but most parts will get collapsed into a single one. So linking is not important, and almost non-existing. In case of a gun, the link would be: Mobile part of gun (if any) < gun (collapsed) < gun holder/support. Remember that parts don't fall off if they aren't liked. So instruments and all will be as is. Even needles are not linked (unless Roman uses that for progamming reasons. I do not know).
JP: I haven't used any.
LT: No linked objects.

A10. What are the pivot positions and orientations for the parts?
XY: Same as the external. If it moves, then it should move around its green pivot (Y). Look at the ailerons section on the external "manual". If it doesn't move, then you just go to "heirarchy panel" and then in "Pivot", select "Affect Pivot Only" and then "Reset Transform". That will align non-moving parts to the same axis. NOTE 1: I asked Luthier and he said that no matter what he did, he always seemed to do the pivots slightly wrong. I guess the game engine is very "picky" on how they should be placed, so even if this is the way, they may be wrong in the end. NOTE 2: Be especially careful with dials and needles. Make sure you test their rotations in local coordinates to see if they turn OK and that they don't touch the instrument itself.
JP: I haven't used any special orientation, pivot point in the pivot point ;)
LT: Same considerations apply for all cockpit objects as for the external model.

A11. How many parts are animated? Can you give an overview of instruments and gauges, etc. which must be able to move?
RD: Well, I never thought of it, as it seem quite obvious for everyone. Those of course include stick and pedals, engine, flaps, gear and dive brake controls, and aerial instruments (excluding pneumo-, hydro-, and oxygen systems, and battery instruments).
XY: Animated parts: Well, most parts are individual, so if they need to animate them, they will. Look at the MG 15 in Stuka or the wheel handle on the I-16. The part is collapsed and the pivot set, then they program the animation. Nothing is up to the modeler. Parts that animate are the dial needles, stick, guns and other small details. AFAIK nothing is done by the modeler.
JP: Moving parts of instruments like needles etc., throttle-, prop pitch-, flap-, landing gear-levers at least.
LT: Animated objects are: Stick, rudder pedals, throttle, prop pitch, pneumatic flap and gear levers (360-degree rotating wheels and cranks are not animated). Animateable gauges are too many to list. Usually if itís something obscure like the electric needle temperature in the BI-1ís rocket engine, or the gear wheel pressure indicator, those will not be animated. Itís best to provide needles for all the gauges in the cockpit that can possibly be animated, and maybe have some of them remain static when the cockpit is put into the game. A needle is only two polysÖ

A12. Are all guages placed flat on the actual surface of the instrument panel, or do they float above it?
XY: Gauges (clocks) are mapped on a polygon over the panel in which are mounted. Just slightly off it, to avoid contact and visual problems. Shadows are then simulated by painting them on the panel (texturing magic).
JP: They float just a little bit above it.
LT: They should float maybe a couple of mm above the dash just to prevent any kind of graphic artifacts on certain video cards. Some instruments though like the artificial horizon sphere or the compass band should have a part of it sunken into the dashboard.

A13. In the Bf 109F example file, the gunsight floats at a certain distance away from the instrument panel. Why is it set up this way?
JP: Because it was that way in the real aircraft, but unviewable parts are not modeled.
LT: Because the handlebar is obscured from view and thus not modeled.

A14. Regarding tubular frames: The intersection point, where for example 6 tubes meet... How do you solve this? Can it be several independent cylinders intersecting with one another?
RD: I am personally against using of any sort of boolean operations on these. We just make tubes that go through one another, and may be cap the intersection to our liking.
XY: Geometry can intersect into each other with no problems. However, visually it will be quite poor (they will fight to get on top and would look like jelly). For tubular frames, I use "boxes", and so if three get intersected, I would collapse them and make a box to join them. Otherwise, use a bigger piece modelled as a "joint" (so you hide the other intercepting bars behind).
JP: Just make them go into each other.
LT: Of course. Use your own judgment to pick the best modeling approach. Usually the one with the least polygons is the most preferred method.

A15. When the pilot or gunner can see into the rear-fuselage (like in the Fokker situation) must that also be 3D-modeled? Or can it all be replaced by some smartly placed textures? Does it blur or black-out into the distance?
RD: Of course you can do a trick to replace some things with textures. As for the fade out - there are no fog in cockpit.
XY: Interesting point. In He-111 pilot can see the gunner crew, which had to be modeled. So all the nose area is modeled roughly and then pilot position and gunner position take it from there. They are two different models. One for pilot (with all gauges etc.) and the gunner, which can see some parts from the pilot. But they are two different models. The rule is: If you see it, but is not the normal POV (like in the back), model it in low res and low detail. Otherwise, they could be combined as one model (see how much polys that would be) and then use it as two positions. Camera would change, but model stay, or make some parts appear or disappear when switching position, depending on POV and visibility. Best to plan it in low res, then ask Roman or modelers at Maddox.
JP: Black it out because it will be darker (as in real life) than other parts that get more light. This is done by using darker textures. 3D modeling is needed only in the very front.
LT: This really depends on how much can be seen. The He-111ís nose gunner is actually located inside the same compartment as the pilot - for him the whole thing should be modeled in geometry. For something like a portion of the other cockpit seen through a window or a door or a small opening, just take a screenshot of the other position from the approximate location of the current POV and place it there. If itís a large opening it might be better to place it on a low-poly hemisphere so it appears more or less 3D.

A16. How is the damage created? Does it follow the regular Il-2 damage system?
RD: Well, the new yet unpublished standard has the following options to damage your cockpit: When attacked from right, when attacked from left, when have instruments broken, when the front armor glass is shot, when the engine is springing oil. It's up to you what to do with these. ;)
XY: Damage: Basically, second set on the panel (mainly the front panel) that is fallen, with a new texture (holes and damage scars) and a DMG extension in name. Placed where it should be. Gauges can be then duplicated (with damage texture mapped and dials fallen, etc.) or omitted. All use the DMG extension in name. Then, when damage occurs, they are swapped with the non-damaged. Glass holes are sprites, two-poly squares placed over the glass canopy. They have a texture on them and use transparency from alpha channel. Parts that can be damaged are: panel/clocks, glass holes, smoke/oil marks on windscreen (mapped and alpha).
JP: Mostly with damaged textures. Bullet hole are done with two-poly squares.
LT: No, just place some strategic bullet holes around the cockpit as a single object, and maybe make several layers of it. Also, for the gauges you should have the Instruments_Normal object(s) and Instruments_Damage object(s) which show the destroyed objects in texture.

A17. Can it be programmed that the hood can be opened/closed or ejected whilst in flight?
RD: Well, since there is no such an option in Il-2, no key or command, there is no use for opening hoods.
XY: I don't think so.
JP: It would need a key binding, until that no.
LT: No.

A18. Is it possible to have a template pilot example to see if it fits well into cockpit?
JP: Yes. :)
M5: I have used the low-poly External pilot/gunner models from the Ju 87 to check the cockpit arrangement of the Ar 196's External model. However I don't know if such a trick would be valid for the Internal cockpit model.

 


TEXTURES & MATERIALS

B01. Should the cockpit use Multi/Sub-Object Material like the external aircraft?
XY: I didn't use a Multi/Sub-Object Material, but it could be used. I asked Roman and he said it didn't matter, that he would see if it is necesary. I used a Material for each texture. The gunners only use two or three textures, so only three materials are used. In the cockpit, there were about 20-25 Materials, one each for each map in use.
JP: I haven't seen any need for that. But it can be used.
LT: Not necessarily should, but it may.

B02. Is the NULL Material used anywhere in the cockpits?
XY: I didn't use a NULL Material at all, and Roman never mentioned one.
LT: I donít see why it should, but I suppose you might use it if you can find a purpose for it?

B03. What is the practical limit on the number of textures and Materials?
XY: Many Materials and textures (maps) can be used, but with moderation. The total file size (all .TGA files in cockpit) shouldn't exceed the 5MB mark unless necessary.
LT: Total number of textures depends largely on texture size - you should try to keep the total file size of all individual textures at no more than 3-4MB.

B04. What size and format should the textures be?
XY: Maps are maximum 256x256, targa files in 32-bit with alpha if needed, otherwise 24-bit. There can be many, but a number about 15-25 should be OK.
JP: 256x256 Targa (.tga), with possibly an alpha channel.
LT: Individual texture size is no more than 256x256x32 .tga, however you can use other smaller sizes like 256x128, 96x96, 16x16, etc.

B05. Can the alpha channel be used for cockpit parts?
XY: Yes. It can be used for cutting holes & shapes, using the alpha from the source file (.TGA 32-bit).
JP: Yes.
LT: Absolutely.

B06. Are flat 2D textures sometimes used to mimic a 3D effect? I don't mean a moderately 3D object like a profiled metal plate, but something seriously 3D like a box?
RD: Somewere it is used to represent spherical lever handles, and wires of course. I don't know if you can come up with more.
XY: Sometimes. If it far away or if changing the POV the viewer wouldn't percieve that it is faked 3D volume, then it can be used. For example the trottle ball in the MiG-3 is painted. Some other cockpit elements too. Use it wisely.
LT: Yes of course. The technique I often use is to model a far-way model as a high poly mesh with high-res texture, take a snapshot of it from the playerís POV and map the shot onto a flat 2D sprite. 2D sprites are also used to create nice spheres for non-movable lever handles, etc.

B07. Can the gauge-texture be a photo or must they be custom made, in Photoshop for example?
RD: Most of the gauges in game are photos heavily processed with Photoshop. Plain photos are just awful. A few are built from scratch, as we could not find good photo references for those.
XY: It can be a photo. However, when that is used, all textures should resemble the same "look and feel", and same gamma. Otherwise, mixing them will make it look like a collage cockpit, and therefore, the quality will be poor. I advise re-doing or retouching them to make them have a very similar style or look.
JP: Better results can be achieved by drawing them.
LT: I suppose you can use a photo as long as it doesnít stand out from all the custom Photoshop around it.

B08. Do all guages have a damage model, or just some of them? How many?
RD: You decide.
XY: Some of them. Think of how and where it would get damage in an attack, then model it (to a degree). In He-111 the frontal main panel had damage, with a total of four gauges broken and one missing. It is up to you. But leave some intact! We still need to land. :-)
JP: Only some of them.
LT: Up to you completely, destroy whatever you feel like.

B09. Must the modeler provide a 'lit' version for a night situation?
RD: If you want a phosphorous paint glow in the darkness, make a grayscale texture of your gauge texture, where the glowing parts are white. If you need a lamp, put an omni light there.
XY: The night textures are basically a black & white .TGA of those parts that are light-emitting: The numbers and marks in the gauges are whiteish and the rest (non-emitting) are black. This will be used in a special channel (like the alpha) when the time comes. There may be also a light placed in the cockpit. In this case, place a light and set the attenuation and colour appropiately.
JP: Not always, usually yes.
LT: Yes. You should have the following textures: Day (no damage); Day (damaged); Night (no damage); Night (damaged).

B10. Are light and shadow handled entirely by the game's lighting system, or should highlights & shadows be painted on the textures?
XY: Paint all shadows and highlights as if there will be no light. There are no shadows from the light in the engine, and the amount of shading is very limited. If the front instrument panel is covered, as in the Fw 190, the shadow look is painted on the textures. But don't use pure black!
JP: Shadows and highlights should be on the textures.
LT: You should definitely provide light and shadows on the textures.

B11. Can you provide examples of standard textures used for gauges and cockpit parts? The metal rim, typical '30's and '40's fonts, cracked glass, damage, screws, rivets, bullet holes in windscreen, lights, wear-and-tear, cloth, welds, etc.?
RD: Well of course. Many have already been sent to modelers on demand, but they were specific, and most of them asked for German instruments. There should be two cockpit examples available for downloading on Il-2 Center, I hope those can provide you with some.
XY: Ask Luthier or Roman.
LT: E-mail me (Luthier@il2center.com) for examples.

B12. Do you use specific typefaces for lettering within the cockpits? Are these available somewhere for download or purchase?
XY: Use the font that most resembles the original.
JP: Arial and Trebuchet are good fonts.
LT: No specific typefaces. Try to emulate the font on the actual object you see on the photos.
M5: Some German cockpit equipment labelling uses a font called "URW Topic". This typeface is very commonly used on all things government-related in Germany, both now and in the past. It is commercially available. Just don't ask me from where, exactly. :)

B13. Is it possible to put the builder's name somewhere in the cockpit? Very small, as proof that that person actually made the plane?
RD: Well, it's OK with me, but still, the cockpit is to be seen realistic. So I guess you'll have to find some smart place for it, or disguise it somewhere in the cockpit tablets.
XY: Untrusty, aren't we? I suppose you could, but if it is seen, people may flame you. Anyway, proper credits are given on the readme files, and I guess it can be confirmed by Maddox at any time. I must confess I was tempted to do it.
JP: It is, but is that necessary?
LT: No, unless your name was somehow included in the original cockpit.

B14. How many gauges are there in a texture? A combination of 4?
RD: Usually yes, 4 bigger gauges, more/combined with other details for lesser ones.

B15. What are the dimensions (in pixels) of a single guage on the texture?
RD: A major gauge is almost always 128x128.

 


VIEWPOINTS & CAMERAS

C01. How many virtual cameras are there?
XY: Two in the pilot position, and one for gunners. These are used for reference only, as the game uses probably a different system. Place them where the POV of the crew should be (head) so Roman has an idea where to program it, and for the modeler (you) to see what you do and what to delete/model.
JP: One for every viewing position, not absolutely necesary.

C02. Where are the camera's pivot points?
JP: In the middle of the camera.

C03. Where is the pilot's eye-point?
RD: Where you place it. Actually there are 2 places - normal, and aiming (toggled between by Ctrl-F1). Of course, the "aim" point should be in front of the reticle.
XY: Set the camera at the pilot's eye point. Make a profile drawing (scale) to see where this would be or make an estimate.
JP: Estimate according your model.

C04. What's his field-of-view?
RD: They are 30, 75, & 90 degrees.
XY: FOV for camera are 30, 75 and 90 (close, medium and wide).

C05. How does the rear gun view animation work; is the camera viewpoint slaved to the gun?
XY: I guess it is linked to the gun. Place the camera in the place were the gunner would have his eyes, looking at the crosshair and aiming straight.
JP: It is slaved to sight line, Roman sets it up.
LT: Yes, but players can use numpad keys to pan.

C06. Are there any 'dead zones' where the pilot or crew can't see? Where are they?
RD: It may turn in any direction. Plus, the head shake makes the camera move +/- 3 cm along all axes.
JP: Depends totaly on the model. (usually behind & under seat etc.)
LT: No. You canít rotate the camera directly behind the pilot but it can still be seen by zooming out and panning all the way to the side.