Totally Ignorant Newbie - Am I in the Right Place

No 3D skills or experience, but I have a project that desperately needs 3D design and animation. So I’m starting with the most basic of questions: Is investigating/learning Blender the right path to take?

The project is to model transit system guideway and animate it to visualize the completed system in the real world.

The basic “bones” of the need is a program that has basic 3D curve sections that can be connected to form interconnecting quideways. Generically, all use the same rules and constraints in vertical and horizontal curves and transitions.

Specifically, a library of “standard” segments needs to be built for specific physical systems. Each “standard” segment based on the generic segment limited with various fixed parameters.

Example: A generic section can change elevation, length, direction. A Straight section only changes length. Position, angle, height, are all controlled by the end point configuration of the preceding section.

Depending on the coding of the segments, segments might be grouped into standard objects. These standard segments and objects would form the building blocks. Add a straight segment, build further, modify that first segments class to a curve later if the inflexibility of the straight class is too restrictive…

Placing and connecting standard and generic segments and objects in 3D space would create the guideway network. The model is then completed by extruding guideway cross-section the length of all paths, support structure connected, and vehicles animated along the same paths.

Each segment would have a maximum speed along the segment defined by the curvatures and transitions and vehicles could be animated at maximum speed along the entire path or at any speed below the maximum along each point in the path.

There is a program that has some small part of the requirements that was produced for model train layouts, 3rd PlanIt ( If the center line and a couple of parameters could only be exported…

Too much? Too little? Off my rocker?

Just a shout out in the dark with the hope of some guidance.

i’m not sure i understand completely what it is that you are trying to do, but it seems to me that what you describe may be acheived by a game engine logic system, such as the one the blender game engine has.

however, if you are new to 3d, i’m not sure you can learn blender fast enough to reach the level of knowledge needed to achieve this.

You may want to give Sketchup a try - it’s as easy at it gets with 3D. Blender is more than capable of doing all you described but it is a hard program to learn as are all the other serious ones.

I may also advise you to work with someone together or post a paid job ad - you’ll lose 100x less time than learning/trying and have 100x the quality vs doing something the first time. It’s not an easy field, it really takes many years to even get the basics. There are some really great people here from every corner of the world so you definatly get maximum value.


it sounds like a reasonably simple project, doable in Blender from a to z. The only thing a bit more complicated would be the train transit part - however someone with basic rigging knowledge should be able to do that in little time. Modeling and shading don’t seem to involve anything complicated either, but given that you’ll need to do some rigging (attaching the train cars together, animate them along the lines, so on) I’d recommend hiring someone who knows their way around Blender - you can post in the classifieds section.

Thanks for the replies everyone. I really would like to find someone who I could work with. I don’t see this as something that I can really accomplish by learning on my own. But the budget is 0$. This isn’t a commercial exercise. Although, if the developed ideas led to something I’d consider anyone who contributed a partner.
The model railroad planner 3rd Planit actually seems to do everything from the path perspective that I need. But doesn’t seem to export to anything that I could then use in another 3D program to extrude the cross sections I would want to show. I think my first step is to correspond with the developer of that software to see if anything can be done to export the paths it generates. I’d also need to figure out how to get real terrain and maps into that software to layout realistic paths. I might be seriously underestimating how useful that software might be.
There’s also a project that was to create a generic automated transit network (ATN) design tool. But there doesn’t seem to be any news from them. (
For those that still aren’t sure what I’m talking about here’s an example:
Would be nice to know which tools they use, but commercially they don’t want to share any of that. And while there are consulting firms in this field, I essentially want to do a little bit of crowdsourcing and collaborative development away from specific vendors. Or just some personal ideas as a hobby that may one day be presented to transit groups or community organisers.

And a quick postscript:
Rereading the description at Podaris, my idea isn’t original. It is exactly what I thought they were working on.
But given I was not selected for testing when I signed up and the site still says “launch in late summer 2014”, I’ve given up on waiting for them.