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[WIP] Trains and Rails World

Hey Everyone!

Some time ago I created a series of mini trains for 3D printing in my free time and it was a ton of fun!

You can read a bit of backstory about that here:

Or check a few more photos here:

Artstation Album

Few weeks ago during the 2022 Game Industry Conference I had the chance to look around at the Poznań Game Arena too, and I’ve just fallen in love with all those great indie games. Some of the developers were giving away free stickers and after grabbing the first few I had the urge to collect as much as I could. :D I guess childhood memories kicked in, does anyone else remember those albums with the collectible stickers?

So these little stickers got me thinking, how cool would it be to have my train series as colorful stickers!

But unfortunately the models were for 3D printing, STL files from CAD program, messy topology, no UVs, never been painted.

Anyway, fast forward to the boiling point when I could not resist anymore and I sat down to remodel one with UVs and textures.

This was inspired by the hungarian M62 Szergej. (These are my childhood favorites. I remember standing next to the train tracks close to my grandma’s house and watching these massive iron horses pulling 50+ fully loaded cars behind them.)

It's using this texture:

(I know, I know, so much wasted space, could be more compact. :) )

If you are a train fan, you can spot right away that the M62 locomotive has 6 axles and this one only 4.

The reason behind it is that when I came up with the first designs I made an art decision to fit all of the models to a 1x1 base plate. This limitation made designing quite challenging. I could fit all 6 axles under the train, but then the body/wheel ratio would be something that I don’t like. So… I did my best to make it look okay even if it’s wrong, focusing more on the recognizable silhouettes and main forms. And this example is not even close to what I had to sacrifice with my very long steam locomotive designs. :)

I am also not making a difference between the american and european couplers and every model is using the same, kinda cartoonish buffers. I made this decision to make the 3D printed models “compatible” with each other regardless of what locomotives and cars you put together.

I still have not ordered sticker papers to print the first test versions :) But what I did is that I exported it to Unreal Engine 5, out of curiosity, and quickly made a few more models around it.

At this point I was like, what the hekk, why not… And made one more locomotive.

It’s pretty easy to model and texture them with this art style. This one took me like 7-8 hours to finish. And this is a brand new one, there is no 3D print ready base model to work with, which means some of the time was spent on checking references, proportions, forms etc.

As you can see I was fine tuning the proportions and details until the very last step, and still made a few adjustments after recording these steps.

And this is where I am now:

Still not sure where this is going...

...but 2 things I know:

- I will remodel more of my previous models to in-game models.

- I will dig deeper in Unreal Engine (spent almost the whole last decade working with RED engine, kinda forgot what is what in UE :) ) and make them move, maybe even I will try to make a mock up video about how a game would look like what I have somewhere in my head.

I’ve figured I will make posts like this to keep record of the progress. Whenever I have something to show, there will be a bigger post about it. As for now I go back and try to figure out how to make DoF in UE5. :) This is Photoshop DoF on the last shot, somehow I can not make it work on the simple CameraActor, no matter how I change the parameters…


  • lucardo
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    lucardo polycounter lvl 2

    This is so cool!! Hahaha. Your models looks so nice. They are so cute, but densely detailed. Nice job!

  • wirrexx
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    wirrexx ngon master

    great breakdown and lovely work!

  • CsabaSzilagyiArt
  • iam717
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    iam717 triangle

    A nice looking passion project that look like a lot of fun, great way of tackling things, glad you want to make a small video of a game "trailer"(ha), i was going to say that immediately(make a game). Then i thought wild west and more can be done if you wanted to add more.

  • CsabaSzilagyiArt

    Thank you, @iam717 !

    We will see how far I can push it. :)

    In the meantime I had an other idea and made a "quick" test.

    Do you guys remember those car card games?

    I printed out a bunch of train cards. From the 3D printing project I have a ton of renders to use, I collected their data long time ago, so all it took to throw them to the cards, print and cut them out.

    Don't mind the design, I spent like 2.5 seconds on it, right now it's not important, just wanted to see if they are fun to play. And it's not bad. :) I think I will use the new train models to make proper cards as well later.

    For now I go back to re-model one of these locomotives with colors and add to the "game". :)

  • JohnnySix
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    JohnnySix polycounter lvl 15

    These are great! The narrower gauge definitely is an improvement.

    Man, seeing these (and the epic style ) makes me want to see these in some sort of railway sandbox game, just to see them chugging around ( a much improved ) SimCity 1 style railway system :D

  • CsabaSzilagyiArt

    Thanks, @JohnnySix !

    I am a Transport Tycoon fan myself, I can see them running around between factories and mines when I close my eyes. :D

  • gabrielgarga
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    gabrielgarga polycounter lvl 9
  • CsabaSzilagyiArt

    Download: Grasshopper Coloring Page

    An unplanned byproduct of my hobby project is this... train coloring page. :D Rendered with Blender's Freestyle.

    You can download the full resolution PDF (including the coloring guide) with the link above.

    Feel free to share your finished versions here in the comments!

    Keep in mind:

    - Print out only the first page of the PDF

    - If you plan to use water colors or markers, use proper paper.

    Have fun!

  • rexo12
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    rexo12 greentooth

    omg, that's such a cute idea!

  • Keimoj
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    Keimoj polycounter lvl 7

    This looks great! I love the looks! :D

    I was wondering about the customized UV layout that you could just add an extra texture map that you lay out the different color areas as masks. That way you could just set color in Unreal and even randomize those. Here is my crude example:

    Instead having specific colors like such.

    You could maybe make all gray texture.

    and extra mask map with the different sections :)

  • CsabaSzilagyiArt

    Thank you, @Keimoj !

    Fantastic idea! This would not limit the color variations on the texture! :)

    I wonder if the same idea would work with gradients where you can set the colors in the materials?

    Because right now this is not a gradient of one color, but a few hand picked values. I am pretty sure this could be done in Unreal. I will investigate this direction.

  • Neox
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    Neox high dynamic range

    it's pretty simple actually

    you need a gradient mask (left image) and a 1 px high gradient ramp (right image), you plug the mask into the UVs of the ramp. tada

  • CsabaSzilagyiArt

    Thanks @Neox !

    But what I meant to ask is is there a parametric node where I could pick the colors without using texture? So the only texture I would use is the mask?

    [BTW I just went through all the images about Airborn on Artstation on the other day. Lovely stuff! Hope I could play with the real game someday! :) ]

  • Neox
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    Neox high dynamic range

    ah technically you could do that by stacking LERP nodes together. the more points you want the more complicated it gets. but it is doable

    basically you lerp, color one and two between two points, then lerp the resulting ramp with color 3, that with 4 etc.

    here is an example for 4 colors and adjustability for 3 gradient positions, as found on artstation, just save. copy and paste into your material editor. then add your gradient on the top connection point


  • CsabaSzilagyiArt


    By the way this way would be cheaper than using textures?

    I can see the benefit to get rid of textures and have virtually unlimited resulotion with parametric gradients, but can this make the material so complex that it's not worth it at some point? When a lot of color variation runs on the map at the same time? Or material instancing will handle it?

  • Neox
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    Neox high dynamic range

    I would say, this comes down to the usecase. Lerp is pretty cheap math and you dont do complicated things here. I would also say, the textures you will need are quite cheap anyways. So i guess it's more a matter of personal taste? I mean you could just go in and test this out just do a bunch of meshes and materials this way and another that way. I assume unless you are building something massive or your hardware goal is on a very low end, either would be very fine.

    Compared to say whatever a current gen game does in their shaders AND their textures.

  • Keimoj
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    Keimoj polycounter lvl 7

    Haha I just hope that there is some merit from my suggestion :D I have no surefire option as I haven't dabbled lately with UE4/5 but I would think there is way to pull it off :) as @Neox said some stacked lerp function might work well. I'll have a look too.

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