S-Class Diesel Locomotive


This is a Lightwave modeling project which may or may not end up as a 3D print. It is based on blueprints, a Lima model loco of a similar Australian National Railways GM class loco, and many photos sourced from the internet (particularly the VR Homepage) and photos taken by me at an open day at the Seymour Railway Heritage Centre. The model is of the S303, named the C. J. LaTrobe, Serial No. 57-167, a former Victorian Railways loco, now owned by the SRHC.

Click all images below for a larger view in a new window or tab.


S303 in Victorian Railways livery at SRHC open day, Seymour, Victoria, 17 Oct 2015. At some stage, the original bogies were replaced by ‘flexicoil’ bogies. As I had already modeled flexicoil bogies for the X-31 loco model, I could use them for this project, along with some other X-Class components such as hoses and horns.

Another great reference source was from the DVD series ‘Railroad Australia’, which among other stories, featured a ‘Streamliner’ loco, the B61′ showing lots of driver cab interior shots which were similar enough for the S-class modeling. The series also featured the 2016 Streamliner convention at Goulburn NSW, showcasing a collection of restored and working B, S, GM and other ‘bulldog’ nosed streamliner locos. This was particularly helpful to see details of typical S-Class roof layouts including fan placement.

4-way view of my HO scale ANR GM 32 loco. The S-Class was the Victorian Railways version of the Commonwealth Railways (later Australian National Railways) GM locos. I was going to use this photo as the basis for the Lightwave model, but decided instead to use the clearer line drawing S-class blueprints I found on the web.


Lightwave Modeling

Lightwave 4-way view set up with the line drawing blueprints. The top-left corner blueprint is a bit difficult to see in this screengrab, but is from a double-ended B-Class loco driver’s operation manual, as I was not able to find an S-class top view blueprint. The driver’s cabs of the B and S-class locos are similar.


Various stages of modeling in Lightwave. Modeling the ‘bulldog’ nose and front windows was quite a challenge!


On the B and S-Class locos, the side wall framework is partially visible through the grills, hence the need to construct it in the model.


An S-class loco undergoing restoration at SRHC, 17 Oct 2015, showing the internal framework


Roof added


Rear details and roof fans added. The S-class loco has a second cab with driving controls at the rear on the right side, for drivers known as ‘hostlers’ to perform short haul duties and moving the locos around yards. The hostlers cab also houses the battery boxes.

Test renders

Lightwave is a 2-part program: Modeler and Layout. These renders are from Layout.

Rear, with hoses still to be added. No surface textures added at this stage.

Front, Lightwave 11 Layout. There seems to be a render problem in Lightwave 11 around the nose section at the bottom of the front windows. The render problem is not present using a demo of Lightwave 2020 (see below).

Lightwave 2020 render. The checkerboard ‘watermark’ is because I was using the demo version. Note that 2020 demo has rendered the nose section properly.



Forked out the cash to upgrade my old Lightwave to version 2020 – no more watermark on the renderings!

Beginning the process of surfacing the model. Adding colour shows up problems that may exist in various parts of the model Here, the yellow stripe side section is much too high.


To apply the VR wings detail to the nose, a process of ‘UV Mapping’ is used, whereby polygons which make up all or part of the 3D model are ‘unwrapped’ into a flat image which can be ‘painted’ in Photoshop. The Photoshop image can then be ‘re-wrapped’ onto the 3D model, in this case the curved nose section.

Below: This is the unwrapped nose section in Photoshop. The polygon triangles were exported from Lightwave as a UV Map in the .eps file format, opened in Photoshop, and used as a guide to create the blue, yellow and wings texture. Click image for larger view.

As the polygon triangles and colour texture graphics are on separate layers in Photoshop, it is easy to export only the coloured texture back to Lightwave (otherwise the nose would be covered in visible triangle outlines – I did it accidentally and it sure looked weird!) The coloured texture image is best exported as a .tiff and then imported into Lightwave as a UV image map for wrapping onto the nose polygons. 


Below: Various rendering test images from Lightwave Layout. It took a few goes of UV Map tweaking, back and forth between Lightwave and Photoshop, to get the VR wings positioned correctly. Click images for larger view.


Catching Shadows for compositing

To strengthen the illusion in the final composite images, Lightwave can create a shadow on a ground plate. The ground plate is set to be invisible to the render camera, but is able to ‘catch’ the shadow of the loco, caused by the lighting setup. Usually an ambient light is added to the scene for general lighting, plus a stronger single point light to imitate the sun and cast shadows. The positioning and intensity of the point light is set by trial and error, until the resulting shadows match shadows in the background photo. By adjusting the lighting, the shadow can be sharpened or softened to suit.


Final renders

3D model S303 composited into a photo of the old Coldstream station; nowadays only a short section of rail is left adjacent to the fertiliser warehouse seen in the background. The main rails have been replaced by a Rail Trail between Lilydale and Yering (eventually to Yarra Glen and Healesville). It is doubtful that a mainline diesel such as an S Class ever operated on this line. The headlight glow is a lighting effect from Photoshop. Click for larger view


3D model composited into a pre-1989 photo of Mornington station. Not sure if an S Class ever ran to Mornington, but similar A Class locos (converted B Class) operated nearby from Frankston to Stony Point until replaced by Sprinter Railcars in 2008. A Lightwave ‘reflection map’ image of sky and trees has been applied to the side of the model to make it look slightly shiny and reflective, such as it may have looked like after a fresh coat of paint.

The last train to Mornington was a Hastings Primary School special hauled by diesel loco T356, which ran from Hastings to Mornington and back on 12 June 1981, following which the line was officially closed three days layer. The termite infested Mornington Station (pictured above) was demolished in 1989, with the 5′ 3″ broad gauge tracks being removed in 1991. The station yards were removed and a shopping centre was built on the land, opening in 1999. Part of the line from Moorooduc is operated as a tourist railway by the Mornington Railway Preservation Society.