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How to create branches with leaves for Speed Tree and other modeling programs?

polycounter lvl 2
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harrycrowe2001 polycounter lvl 2

Hi there!

I am currently so puzzled on how to create foliage for games. I have looked at the polycount guides on foliage creation but its not exactly what I am looking for. I am currently making trees in Speed Tree. I found out that my trees were far too high and with inspection at games that use SpeedTree I now realise that some branches are not geometry and in fact planes with branches and leaves. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mHdgyNqaQqM I have been looking at this video for creating the branches and it is awesome. However when it comes to leaves I don't know what to do. I took some photos and have turned them into maps and added them to the branches and they look a bit bad. The biggest issue I am coming across is then trying to render those branches out into texture images to add to my trees. I am so confused on how to proceed. Does anyone have any good suggestions or any other way of approaching this? Even shrubs and grass I still can't seem to figure out. I look on Youtube and I can't seem to find any helpful videos that explain this whole foliage stuff for games in depth. If anyone has any useful links or advice I would really appreciate it :)


  • Alex_J
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    Alex_J grand marshal polycounter

    I'd try to get the entire tree blocked out first, then iterate on the branches. Same idea as blocking in the proportions of a character before working on the secondary and tertiary details.

    What you have looks perfectly fine. I mean it has so few leaves I'd expect this thing is either dying or it is autumn and they are mostly fallen off. In any case, having some reference is going to be invaluable so that you know what right looks like. The more time you spend understanding the plants, the more accurately you'll be able to represent them.

    For the actual textures, you have lots of free, high quality references to learn from - speedtree includes lots of freebies and megascans has lots of stuff as well. For creating textures from photos - like the step by step process - i think gnomon has some videos showing the process in photoshop. It's a painstaking process, hence the value of these libraries like megascans and speedtree.

    Any tutorial that shows how to convert scans into textures or photos into textures - whether its foliage or rocks - is going to show you the basic idea of it.

    How to render the tree is going to depend on where it is going, but if you are using speedtree that is mostly automated so at most you may make some minor tweaks to teh shader in your render engine.

    On youtube, Ben Cloward has some great tutorials on how to make a foliage shader from scratch in unreal. If you want to understand the how and why of the textures used that's a great place to start. Even if you stick with speedtrees shader this will help you understand how the different textures are used.

  • harrycrowe2001
  • Benjammin
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    Benjammin polycounter lvl 6

    You bake out those branch/leaf cards from speedtree - look for the 'export material' button in the file menu. It will capture your viewport and export out the maps you need. The process is a little finicky (though apparently better in SP9), but gives good results. You then feed those textures into materials on your actual tree, and the final game export packs everything together.

    If you're using Unreal, you have the megascans library, which is full of leaf and bark textures :)

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