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    Using a Line Drawing Program to Design Buildings

While Model Builder has several different building plans included with the software you may eventually want to create more. With Model Builder the program is designed to allow you to easily import your own designs. There are a few things that you need to be aware of when you are looking for software to design your own buildings. Your file must be saved as .wmf or .dxf file to let it stay a line drawing, so the lines do not dissapear as you add materails on top. These files are associated with two different forms of software; the .wmf file is associated with vector drawing programs such as Adobe Illustrator or Corel Draw or others. The .dxf file is used by drafting software such as Auto CAD or Turbo CAD.

Line Drawings are a fixed overlay on top of building materials in Model Builder.  They work like Model Builder’s Building Plans.  Check office supply stores or check online for inexpensive or free line drawing programs.  You can import .wmf and .dxf files

.wmf  files must be created in a vector format drawing program like Corel Draw or Adobe Illustrator.

 .dxf files are created by CAD type program.   Do not use filled shapes when creating your line drawing or you will not see the Model Builder textures below the line drawing.  See :Help”, “Building Plans” for more information on resizing/moving your line drawings once imported

If your line drawing imports into Model Builder smaller or bigger than you designed it, use Model Builder’s width and height dimensions to adjust the line drawing to your expected size.  To verify size, put a piece of material onto your line drawing and check the expected dimension


Drawing Programs

Adobe Illustrator and Corel Draw are very advanced digital drawing programs capable of creating anything your mind can see. This makes them ideal programs for creating layouts for your model railroad using Model Builder. You can use the palette that is on your screen to draw your outline or you can invest in an external drawing pad so that you can use a scale ruler to ensure that your new layout stays within the appropriate scale.
It is very important when you are drawing out your new layout; you keep it in the scale you plan on using. Once you have imported your line drawing into Model Builder and have it saved as an .mb4 file you can change scales just as you would with any of the included files but you need to start out with a set scale drawing.
When using either Illustrator or Corel Draw do not save any of your work with shaded areas as this will show when you print out your final design. Again remember that when using either of these programs you need to save or export your files as a .wmf format for importing them into Model Builder.

Free Programs

You can also make line drawings using the free options currently available. Windows computers all have Microsoft Paint which is a simple drawing program. A file created with paint can converted to a line drawing. Using a free program such as WinTopo which is able to convert .jpg images into vector .wmf files.

Drafting Software

Auto CAD and Turbo CAD programs are designed with creating architecture in mind. They come with a full range of drafting tools that will allow you to work in 2 or 3 dimensions and include custom tools to create the curves and arches that you will find in buildings all over the world. The Turbo CAD software will allow you to save your designs in both .wmf and .dxf files along with a host of others. This software is specifically written with architectural design in mind.
The most important thing to remember is that your initial line drawing should be drawn to scale so that the textures, doors, windows and other items in Model Builder will work with your new design. In reality it is ok to free draw your building but if you do you need to be aware of proportions because you cannot change the size of your line drawing once it is imported.
One other way to design your new building is to import a photograph of your own into Illustrator and create a line drawing from it; you can then adjust the size of your template to fit in with the scale you are using. Once you have your line drawing you can import it into Model Builder and complete it using the tools and materials available.
Some of the above software requires a little bit of time and practice to learn to use it but once you have tried it a few times you will find that designing your own buildings can be a lot of fun. This is a great way to customize your model railroad or any other model project you have in mind.


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