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[SpeedTree] Any speedtree gurus here? Conifers

polycounter lvl 7
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tester1225 polycounter lvl 7
So any speedtree masters here? I'm making some background foliage, and the one thing I just cannot seem to make, I.E. I've spent 10 hours now and all of the results have been horrible, is ANYTHING resembling a conifer. I've been trying to make a spruce with zero success - someone shared a sample spruce file they had, thought ok I'll reverse engineer it, but the sample seems to be made in an earlier version of ST because it has what I assume are palm fronds? For the branches etc, and a needle generator too? I'm using the ue4 modeler, and the frond generator is nothing like the one in the sample. 

And I've tried custom meshes for a single stem of needles, I've tried meshes for a thick, bushy atlas, and the results are pretty much always like this LOL:

Yeah, results sad and laughable, I know :D But there's just so little speedtree reference around, it gets difficult when you hit a wall like this. I've tried so many different placement orders I just cannot come up with anything new! And I try to look at reference and think I'm doing it right, but obviously not. Does anyone have any previous conifers they've made they wouldn't mind sharing? I'm not interested in using already made models, I'm just now desperate to understand how to approach this, as I've dealt with grass, bushes, trees, palms and none of them caused as many issues as this!


  • Klunk
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    Klunk ngon master
    looks like you just need to sort your normals out, perhaps with a touch of self-illumination/glow in the needle material
  • Alex_J
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    Alex_J grand marshal polycounter
    I wouldnt call myself a guru but I've spent probably a hundred hours or more in the past year inside speedtree.

    I haven't made much spruces but I've done some pines which is a conifer at least. 

    For my needs keeping it as light as possible was the big thing. In my case, using leaf cards for individual needle shafts like you've done would be too costly. 

    In general, I think using larger cards and fewer gives a better silhouette. Assuming you will have many trees in a forest together, I think having some identifiable silhouettes is more important than a single tree looking "good." I also caution against looking too closely at a single tree. Once you have three and they are rotated different ways it just reads as "forest." 

    Also go outside and look at trees and you see they are all sorts of weird bizarre shapes and rarely anything close to symmetrical. Anyway, my point is just that if you stare at your trees too long they never look right. 

    What you have honestly looks fine to me. I'd just reduce total number of cards because once a few trees are near each other it reads fine with much fewer cards. 

    I'll show a setup I've used for long leaf pine trees: 

    Pretty simple. I setup some leaf meshes, and make sure they have anchors set in a few places strategically. Then spawn new leaf meshes from those anchors, and basically zero out all the parameters and then just change the orientation so that they are rotated to make sure you get a good silhouette from most angles. 

    I dont see much point evaluating anything more than silhouette in speedtree. I send the model to my game project in Unreal because I want to evaluate it with the shader and lighting environment that is being used. Plus, when the wind animations are playing, that also makes a big difference in believability.
    Also, again, I am making forest, not trees, so I evaluate how the forest looks as a whole. It's too easy to get stuck noodling forever on a single tree.

    And here is result what they end up looking like all together. 

    My trees are pretty low resolution compared to modern AAA standards. To get really realistic trees, what I've seen is models that have 30k+ triangles. Mine are more like 5k or less. I also don't use more than 1k textures for the leaf cards. But really realistic trees are usually using 2k. That's just to give idea about fidelity and model size.

    Another tip that might help - you can grab some generic spruce trees from unreal store or whereever that look good. Doesnt need to be speedtree. You can see how they construct the cards, and then you can remake those cards in speedtree and reuse the same textures. 

    A couple things good to know how to do in speedtree is make custom meshes, use anchor points on those meshes, and make use of the orientation tab to directly control the meshes. Also dont be shy to use the art director gizmo to go in an individually adjust cards to tweak for perfected silhouette.
  • tester1225
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    tester1225 polycounter lvl 7
    thank you for the replies guys, I managed to get somewhat a result in the end. Definitely don't look at too close or too long LOL! Luckily it's now in the very background behind other background foliage bits and looks passable, so I'll take it :D
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