Plant model creation. Discussion

I’m gonna start creating assets for The Forester now. Spring is just starting over at my place, and it will be possible to get out and photograph stuff to get textures and inspiration etc.

I want to see if anyone else is doing plants assets, and want to share their knowledge. Get some discussion going perhaps.

I’m gonna start things off with a test tree that I’ve made. It’s a spruce.

The plant consists of three parts.

  1. The trunk.
  2. The large branches.
  3. The textured green branches on each large branch.

    The image above shows the objects on which the green branch-textures are put. They make up 3660 triangles in total.

    This can be reduced a good deal. They have 2 joints, which may be a bit excessive. Also, I do not reduce the number of these objects further up the tree (i just scaled the branches down), which should absolutely be done.

    It should be possible to get that down to 2-2500 triangles in my estimate.

    The trunk and the large branches use the same material. They have a massive 12720 triangles atm, but, this number is very inflated. The branches are very high res (32 subdivisions and 2 joints + endpoints gives 128 verts per branch). Just reducing that to 16 subdivisions will cut the tri-count in half. There is also no need for 2 joints far up the tree.

    In my estimate, it should be possible to end up at around 5-6k triangles for trunk and branches.This gives a total of around 8k triangles for each tree, which I think is a good number.

    Here’s a picture of the tree-mesh:

    There’s a lot of work to be done in reducing the complexity of the mesh, and cleaning it up, but I like the general shape of the tree. It’s not a perfect spruce, but that’s basically how they look over here. A little “scruffy”. I guess the foot looks a bit weird, and I’m not sure I like the bottom part of the branches very much, but these are minor tweaks. The main work will be to reduce the number of triangles. After that comes better texturing, lightmap creation etc.

    I use blender for models btw, and Gimp for photo editing and texture creation. To get normal maps I usually just desaturate the images and use the normal-map plugin. It works well for simple stuff.

    Gonna keep adding stuff here. I’ll post once the tree is re-made into a better looking lower poly version, and then include it with the forester lib.


With a tutorial to boot!

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This tree is really nice!

I have really no opinion on the triangle count, but maybe 8K is a bit to much? The tree models I’ve seen before is roughly around 3-5K, but they might not look as good as your tree…

Maybe some LOD levels could be appropriate? One high poly, one lowpoly and then your impositors :slight_smile: Not sure how one should implement a smooth lod transition between the highpoly and lowpoly tho…

This just some random thoughts, still to early in the morning for me :stuck_out_tongue:

Nice work.

8k is still a bit high for a tree IMO…but your tree looks already very good.

Branches are barely visible, I guess you could have only 4 or even 3 subdivisions for them…with smooth normals and normal maps, it would be only noticeable at very close range.

The trunk however should be fairly cylindrical. 16 subdivisions sounds good.

Did you ever try the decimate modifier? it triangulates the mesh and can reduce its polycount.

Usually it’s just mess up your mesh and that’s bad for deforming models but maybe it can be ok for a tree…at least for the trunk and branches…

I don’t know if it’s a good idea, but it could worth the try.

If you use the tree-generator addon (sapling) you can simplify the modelling process quite a bit and you have good control of the polycount. It is in the base release from 2.59 but not enabled by default.

Here is a good tutorial on it:


Thanks for the tips all. These new trees are about 8k. I know it is possible to bring down probably around 2k or so by modifying the branches (the green areas should be scaled up a lot). Gonna push it down to 5-6k then start focusing on making them look good. Photo time today!!


That is pretty cool. I did not know about that. Gonna have to check it out.

@remorhaz that’s a nice feature, I didn’t know about that either :slight_smile:

@androlo we just bought one of those pre-made tree packs at work and most stuff seems to be between 4 and 6k so I think you’re shooting for the “sweet spot”


Nice, that’s good to know.

Btw I find this particular tree-type very hard to model. They are so thick, and covered with branches from top to bottom.

Hah! These ones are just above 5k (like 5020 or something). The mesh I think looks ok now. Not perfect, but enough atm. Maybe extend the branches some more…

Now time to work on the textures.

@androlo said:
Hah! These ones are just above 5k (like 5020 or something).


Looks really really good :)

They look so sweet!

Will our models be released with forester? What are you making?, a game? or are you like me just finding pleasure in graphics programming?

Sorry for all the questions, just wondering :slight_smile:


I am adding this model to forester (or some later version of it, probably gonna clean it up some more and fix the textures first). I’ll add a bush and some more stuff as well, so that forester gets its own assets.

@androlo said:
I'll add a bush and some more stuff as well, so that forester gets its own assets.

We could make asset packs so they can be successively updated and/or extended later. One can add models from an asset pack to the project quite easily and you could predefine the paths etc. as well. Once you have some set of models I can look into this if you want. Obviously others not using the SDK can download the zip files as well.


Ok great. I’ll make some more models the coming weeks.

That blender tree plugin was brilliant, i need low poly trees (i’m trying to render 100s in a top down rts game)

i literally built a forest in 15 minutes…

Props to @remorhaz

The trees has been fixed a little, but in this screen I applied Nehon’s shadows to them. Just amazing…



Yeah, it really is :slight_smile: good work!

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There are no shadows from the terrain?


No it’s such a low res terrain I chose not to use that. I’m also using the old terrainshader from the terrain tutorial. not sure it would look good.

Also I guess it’s not a very good shot; trees clumped together, trees are the only shadow casters etc, but I was so amazed by the shadows and how they increased the quality of the tree. This is the last time I ever use a model without shadows or a proper lightmap. Or at least I will not design a model again without having shadowing in mind.


Maybe, maybe not. But yeah shadows makes a real difference, (I think that’s why they are invented in the first place :stuck_out_tongue: ).