UE4 Foliage Help Needed!

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Soul Exist polycounter lvl 2
Hey everyone. I'm working on some foliage for in-game use and here is my grass. Now the problem is I have to make shrubs/bushes now. I attached images of my grass to show the quality I need to maintain. I have no idea how to approach something like bushes. I'm trying to remove speedtree from my workflow and I can't seem to do well without it. I'm struggling to get this and It's the branches that are killing me. idk why I can't wrap my head around it. any tips and tricks you guys may have that you can share will be greatly appreciated. Here's the grass. 




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  • killnpc
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    killnpc polycounter lvl 6
    that grass looks sick
  • spahr
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    spahr polycounter lvl 8
    Grass looks great! One thing I do to ground foliage is mask out wind for any parts of the foliage that contacts the ground. The other thing is to add a PerDistanceFadeAmount to the material so the distance culling does a soft scaling, rather than a popping. But that grass is great, nailed it.

    For the bushes, what kind of bushes are you referring to? Basic ground plants you can take a photo and slap it on a poly, bend it up, dup it around and viola. But more complicated ones, I use speedtree :P. You can always hack speedtree and make a nice high poly tree, and 'Simplify' it, and use that baked texture for your hand build mesh. But why dont you want to use speedtree?
  • Soul Exist
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    Soul Exist polycounter lvl 2
    Thanks for the tip! I also should have attached an example. Here  are kind of bushes I'm looking to make. As for not using SpeedTree, It just feels like it removes the artistic aspect of things for me. Plus i've never done foliage manually before so I thought i'd get used to it just in case SpeedTree isn't an option for me somewhere in the future. 
  • melli06
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    melli06 polycounter lvl 2
    You could make cards for large clumps of bush and then have smaller clumps inside? I have never attempted making a bush before so... good luck!  :p

    also grass looks sweet!
  • Soul Exist
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    Soul Exist polycounter lvl 2
    I made progress but now I have to find a way to optimize it and make it look better. I'm trying to get the best balance of quality and performance that I can. It's REALLY high poly and I do get that something like this can never used in a game unless looking at a bush was the game itself haha. I just needed to hurry and get something in engine before i completely lost my mind. I'll be polishing my workflow and approach in the meantime for more reasonable results.
     That trade off 
  • Steppenwolf
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    Steppenwolf polycounter lvl 9
    Thanks for the tip! I also should have attached an example. Here  are kind of bushes I'm looking to make. As for not using SpeedTree, It just feels like it removes the artistic aspect of things for me. Plus i've never done foliage manually before so I thought i'd get used to it just in case SpeedTree isn't an option for me somewhere in the future. 
    For bushes like this i usualy make a solid opaque core with a tiling mat (ideally created from the same texture as the leaf cards so it blends well) and then have cards sticking out.
    As for speedtree taking the artistic aspect away. I don't think it's possible to make such bushes inside speedtree from scratch without knowing how to do them manualy, or at least in the process learning how they could be done manualy. It's just a tool that saves massive amounts of time. Without artistic input it just creates generic procedural trash.
  • FreneticPonies
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    FreneticPonies polycounter lvl 2
    Nice progress!

    For LOD 0 your polycount is close to fine, low in some ways even since the bushes are so bare at the moment. Heck if you limited it to really close LOD 0 and transitioned to a lower poly lod just a few "meters" away you should actually up the polycount by cutting off the edges of the transparency cutout, as overdraw would kill you a lot faster than polys would. Speaking of which, its all the tiny oblong polys in your branches that'll kill performance faster than the individual leaf quads.

    But beyond immediately in front of the player/camera lowering the polycount is definitely a good idea. You can start by turning those clusters of leaves into single alpha cutout planes/quads EG:


    You can then turn the entire branch model into a quad for an even lower LOD, and go beyond that even if it still holds up well enough.
  • Soul Exist
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    Soul Exist polycounter lvl 2
    I think just found the best way to make branches using Zbrush Fibermesh. I'm sure this can be a truly overpowered technique if used correctly haha. Going to adjust branches for better baking onto a quad.


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