Cambridge Branch Lines

Modelling Cambridgeshire Railways in the 1950s

RailWorks Tips

Wed, 05/23/2012 - 12:58 -- ruth

These are a few of the things I’ve learnt over the last couple of years creating this RailWorks route:

Texturing Large Routes

RailWorks is a 32 bit application, but for a larger route it is quite easy to require too much memory. One of the easiest ways is to do a lot of ground texture work. RailWorks keeps an undo history of the texture you are replacing, but it seems to do so in a memory-intensive way, and you can easily consume a gigabyte of memory in a short period. If your route is small, this may not matter (because your total memory usage is low enough), but for larger routes RW will run out of address space and crash.

The solution I’ve found is to keep an eye on the Windows Task Manager’s Performance tab: note what it says before you start RW and take action if the memory gets more than about 2.5GB more than that. For example if it starts at 2.2GB then the danger zone starts at 4.7GB (though you may, sometimes, get more than this). At this point, you could save the route, exit and restart, but I find it as good to switch to asset mode, select an asset, and repeatedly “move up” (v) and “move down” (b): about 20 odd times. At the end, use (j) to restore the asset to ground height. This replaces the terrain history with “up/down” history, freeing the memory used for the terrain in the process. You can now return to terrain editing until the next time.

Laying Lofts

Sometimes I need to lay a loft (a variable length section of something, for example track), on a curve that ends in a straight, and the straight section needs to be exactly at the right angle. The way I approach this now is to:

  • Lay the curve just slightly longer than needed,
  • Switch to the “cut” tool and use the arrow on that to better judge the correct point to cut the curved loft such that it carries on straight at the right angle.
  • Lay the straight section and judge whether it’s right. If not, I then undo the straight and the cut and try again, or move the straight away and recut (this requires I didn’t cut enough away to begin with).

Fields and Farmland

One of my passions in creating scenery is to get the right “feel” of farmland. One element of this is that of field boundaries and the different colours fields have, and it adds immeasurably to the feel of a route to get this right. If you look at real landscapes, the “grass” colour is not the same green for each field, and the field boundary is not always the same either. Variation in your selection of ground textures is key here. Similarly, take note of the way some fields are bordered by a few bushes, and some by a thick high hedge: not all hedges are alike.

In the route I use textures called “Grass Lawn”, “Acorn Grass 1”, “FP BY Green Grass 10” helpful, with occasional use of “Lush Grass”, “Dark Grass” and “Bare Grass”. Sometimes I let “Green Grass”, the default texture, stay, but because it’s the default it does have an unfinished ring to it!