View Full Version : Rollercoaster track?

02 February 2007, 06:59 PM
Hey guys. I'm wondering if you have any methods on how I could model the crossties (the bars connecting the rails) on this type of rollercoaster. I've done it in the past by make one tie, then spacing it along the line, but the bars dont match up around tighter twists. I'm wondering if you can do something liek this using splines and lofts?
|I need it to be in this pattern: |\|/|\|/|\|/|

Any ideas?

02 February 2007, 07:43 PM
In Blender you can use array modifier and curve modifier to produce such a track. Basically you model a segment of track and a curve profile that you use to produce the final result. See tracktest.blend file found at to get better idea of what I mean by this.

Your 3D suite may have similar feature that you can use in case you cannot use Blender for this task.

02 February 2007, 07:58 PM
Unfortunately I'm on Max R7

I'll check out Arrays but i'm not sure MAX does it like blender does

02 February 2007, 09:15 PM

I had to model something similar in the past, DNA :)
What I did is modeling the track flat and then I distorted it and bent it. It worked perfectly and was fast I suggest you do the same. If you want more details please drop me a line or reply here

02 February 2007, 09:50 PM
Not sure i want to actually distort the mesh. In real life it's jsut beams that are cut to different sizes, and I feel like if you added a bend/twist modifier to it, it would look off.

02 February 2007, 09:16 PM
animation snapshot along curve in maya mabie? This is similar to an issue I was having trying to make chains in maya. I never really figured that one out. it would be nice to do the chains along a curve so you can animate them too.

Also I had an idea to duplicate the cross beams. Using the option box command to rotate the and move the beams as it duplicates. then draw a curve along the sides for the rail.

03 March 2007, 03:09 PM
I actually played with Snapshot, but it ends up doign the same thing the Spacing tool would have done. In reality I need some sort of lattice option that would create splines that I could loft. I dont think anyhting with a mesh is going to work.

03 March 2007, 05:04 AM
Can you be more specific about what's going wrong when you use the spacing tool?

03 March 2007, 08:31 AM
Hmmmm.... that one's slightly tricky....

Well, have you tried using a deformer to bend the sections of track? You might be right about it "looking off", but it could be worth trying. You might luck out and it could end up looking ok. Or it might look like crap as you predicted. Only one way to find out!

As far as what you'd model and repeat, you probably already figured it out, but modeling the sections between the big support beams/poles seems like a sensible way to break it up.

Maybe I'll run it by one of my teachers and see what he has to say.

03 March 2007, 03:32 PM
The problem with the snapshot tool is that the beams around turns arent supposed to be the same shape as the original mesh. They have to change their shape to connect to the other beams. The closest thing I can think of is to do the Snapshot tool, but do it on every part of the crosstie. Like... one for each | | | | and one for each \ \ and one for each / / /. Is there a way to have a start offset on the snapshot tool? I know there is on Spacing, but I can do auto-rotation through snapshot.

03 March 2007, 11:15 PM
I see what you mean about the spacing tool.

Lightwave's rail clone tool can do what you want, but if you don't have access to LW, you will probably need to write something in MaxScript.

03 March 2007, 12:12 AM
Any idea if Maya has tools like this?? I've been thinking about making a switch sometime

03 March 2007, 12:13 AM
Hi! I understand why you have doubts about the bending, but give it a go. It might have alittle distorsion, but you'are not going to do close ups, are you? I think it would be worth trying.

good luck

03 March 2007, 01:44 AM
You're saying I should use the Path Deform tool monica? If so, how would I make it bank around turns. This isnt like.. a single turn i need to do, I need to be able to make an entire ride like this. Here is what i've done in the past. This is done using the Spacing tool. As you notice, over tighter turns/hills the ties just dont match up. I have a sinking feeling the only real solution is some script, but i am completely inept in Maxscript.

03 March 2007, 03:46 AM
Spacing looks to do an acceptable job in track sections that have a relatively mild curvature. Could you use the spacing tool for the bulk of the track and manually clean up the severely curved sections?

Do you have to use this style of track? Most coasters seem to use a different style of track ( that would be much easier to model.

You could try asking around some of the online civil engineering and CAD forums for some hints on how these tracks are layed out in CAD in the first place.

03 March 2007, 04:36 AM
Yeah it looks OK when it's on slight curves, but the nature of that manufacturer is to have very tight turns. I can do the other manufacturers that you linked very easily already, that's why this is pretty much the last step I need to figure out before I can move on. I have manually edited around cuves before, but when you've got 2,000 meshes along a line, it takes days and days and days to do it. Seems like there would be an easier way!

03 March 2007, 06:01 AM
You're probably stuck with Maxscript.

I don't believe Maya has any better tools for this kind of thing, either. This kind of complex procedural geometry is pretty much the domain of scripts regardless of which CG package you use.

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