Figured I could open a thread for this project of mine I'll be working on for a while. I need a lot of foliage for one of my environments so that's where my focus is right now. I'll be updating the thread every time I create a new piece. The workflow for these is sculpting and hand painting. This is what I have made so far:
Right now I'm focusing on all kinds of plants which can be found in Japan, since that's the setting of the scene I'm working on. Some of the potential species are Thuja, Pittosporum Tobira, Japanese forest grass, all kinds of herbs, clovers and other smaller ground filler plants, various grass types, Maple trees etc. Honestly at this point my main focus is just on practicing foliage creation and I'm picking and working on whatever I feel like at that moment. I'll release this as a separate project at some point as well.
What's your usual texturing process/layer setup and how do you paint it all so damn good? Your color transitions very look natural, realistic.
So, First I export normal, cavity and AO maps from Zbrush to Substance Painter. I create a good base color layer and then add 1 or 2 color variations with some procedural noise. I also create a few more color variation layers that I paint manually. It depends on the plant, it's usually stuff like painting a bit of darker green color in the middle of the leaf and lighter yellowish green at the edges. Then I use a cavity map for the veins. After that I invert the cavity map and apply another color variation for all the areas around the veins. Add a bit of an AO and the rest is just building up the layers by hand painting. So far I've been adding damages with an opacity layer and painted the damaged edges manually. For the final touches I sometimes add tiny dots with some procedural noise as well. The most important thing is to make it look good as a whole, so get the colors right and make all the important information read well from distance, but then I try to add a bunch of small micro information so it looks good even from a closeup.
For the normal, I overlay a couple of masks with a height info to achieve tiny surface variations which represent small veins.
I guess to achieve that color blending you just need to use a low intensity brush and keep adding the color slowly by a bunch of brush strokes. Tablet helps a lot with this.
I've been busy with other work, but I think I'll release a tutorial in a few months, a lot of people want it. I guess it would be better for it to be in form of a video, maybe both a video and step by step screenshots.
Thank you for the layer walkthrough!
Thank you for sharing!
So beautiful! Can you recommend any tutorials for a beginner to get started on, for foliage like this?
Another plant after a long time, I'm hoping to become more active on this project again.
Fantastic! Imo there's few things more immersion-breaking than bad foliage. This is great :)
Thanks a lot! 😃
Btw, I haven't been here for a while and only now see Matt's question. For the sculpting part I thought this tutorial explained it really well:
For the texturing, I'm experimenting and learning by myself really, I wrote a few points about the workflow here before and I'll make a more detailed tutorial once this project finally gets released.
Here's another one.
very nice work
Thank you! 😊
Oh man I love it whenever this thread pops up in the feed.
I appreciate it. Here's another one.
Hey guys, breakdown of this project is now available in the article form, which you can read here:
Thank you! I'll continue working on this when I have more free time again - planning to focus on grasses and trees next. I'll keep updating the thread. 😊
Holy shit! I've been trying to find work like this for a long time
Thanks to you!
Sven, that's a really beautiful piece of art. I've read your article, which is generous and insightful view of your art process, yet as a newbie I've had a question. You mention adding tickness to your leaf. Most foliage tutorials show how to do leaves from a single plane. But what if someone wants to make succulent or some other heavy looking leaf? I've tried to make my own leaf with some tickness on Blender and then export it to Zbrush, but after using Move here and there, and especially after zremesh, I get double geometry - like upper and bottom sides overlap with each other and there're also some extra edges... I wonder how people generally do such thin structures on Zbrush like dragon's wings or elephant's ears, and of course ticker leaves.
Thanks in advance for any tips.
Hey, thank you! Okay, so to fix that issue with overlapping geometry, make sure to enable backface masking in your brush settings when using sculpting brushes. That should help when dealing with thin objects in ZBrush. And when using move brush, make sure the radius is large enough so it influences both sides of the leaf.
All of the leaves I created are low poly planes in the end, and by the "leaf thickness" I was talking mainly about achieving that visual effect on the texture itself (baking the ZBrush sculpt to a normal map). If the edges of the leaves in the normal map have a noticeable soft bevel and a bit of edge highlighting, I think it can somewhat fake the effect and make them look like they have some thickness even when they're still just planes.
For succulents and heavier leaves, I think it depends, I would probably make some of them with planes and others with actual low poly geo. Also depends on other technical factors of the project though. But I would suggest to try different approaches and see what works for you, you can try baking them to planes, and if they just don't read well because of how thick the leaves are from all angles, consider using geo.
Hope it helps and feel free to ask more questions if you have any!
Sven, thank you so much! I'm really grateful for your instruction, I couldn't figure it out myself :) Now everything is a lot clearer for me.
Ok, I'll try again and see how it goes.
Hey guys, I spent some time to prepare the project files which are now available on the ArtStation marketplace:
So, for everyone who has been interested in how it looks like in the background, you can check it out. 🙂 Apart from UE5 scene with the plants, I included Substance Painter projects so you can see how I textured the Hosta plant and you can use the base texturing file to start texturing your own plants, too.