Constructing deciduous trees
by Steve Palmer
Date Added: 8/10/2001
Category: Modeling
Print Me!
!div style="display:none"!fjrigjwwe9r2content:tip!/div!!div style="display:none"!edf40wrjww2content:tip!/div!If anyone is interested: I've had a few inquiries about how the tree I posted in the models section was constructed. It was NOT done in a tree generator, but in Strata, which is good because you have much more freedom in Strata. Here's a quick tutorial:
Think fractal.
You are going to create each segment of a branch as a separate shape. Then you are going to assemble them. KEEP IN MIND TO REDUCE THE COMPLEXITY (POLY COUNT) TO MINIMUM FOR EACH OBJECT. Your total shapes will have very few poly's, but when you render, Strata will collected all instances into many thousands of poly's.

1.) Open a new shape, and make a tree trunk. I use a skinned object. But you can also make a cylinder, convert to bezier, or mesh and modify. Be sure the the top end is rounded off, rather than ending in a sharp edge, which is hard to conceal later on.
2.) Open a new shape and make a main branch shape. This will be the first branch from the trunk and also the template for all smaller branches. (It's a good idea to use one branch shape and keep modifying, rather than make new ones for each branching, because of the fractal nature of trees, each branching should have the same character.) Keep in mind that for some big trees, gravitation will bend the branch downward. Again I use a skinned object, but you can also modify a cylinder. Make the base end deeper vertically than the terminating end. When you're done, select the branch and copy it (don't drag into the next shape).
3.) Open a new shape and paste the branch. Make it about half as thick and slightly shorter. Copy it.
4.) Open a new shape and paste the 2nd branch. Repeat step 3.
5.) Repeat step 4.
6.) Repeat as many times as you think appropriate. About 7 branching should be sufficient.
7.) Make a leaf. Make a filled cirle, or rectangle. Convert to bezier. Modify to any leafy shape you want. Remember to bend it in 3 dimensions, so it's not a flat plane. KEEP THE POLYGONS TO MINIMUM. Add a stem to it. Keep the stem geometry to minimum!! You can dupe this and then connect these to leaves to a small twig. Due to the hierarchy the fewer leaves you add to your twig, the smaller the render file/time will be. But keep in mind that the tradeoff is this will thin out overall foliage.
8.) Make a texture for the tree trunk/branches, and one for the leaf. I use photoshop to make my own, but you can also use photo's. Keep the texture file sizes to minimum. Map the textures onto each one of your shapes.

It's important in the following steps to tweek the shapes so that you get smooth transitions when connecting them together. Also keep in mind at all stages, which direction is UP ( you don't want your tree with branches pointing down).

9.) Open your trunk shape. Drag the 1st branch onto it. If it's too big or small, double click it, and modify. Position it as you like in various positions on the trunk. You must use it to form a split of the trunk at the top. It helps, after the first placement, to move the center point (cmd/ctl) to the center of the trunk. Then you can dupe/rotate and keep the new instances centered on the trunk. Close the trunk shape.
10.) Open the 1st branch shape, drag the 2nd branch shape into it. Position 2 copies of it to split the end of the 1st branch, plus one along the middle, pointing at an angle upward. You can add more instances, but be careful of over complicating the final tree. Close the 1st branch shape.
11.) Open the 2nd branch shape and drag the 3rd branch shape into it. Repeat 10.
12.) Repeat until you get to the last branch. Now you're down to adding the leafy twig. This should branch at the end into 2 twigs, and also sprout a few more, if you like. Be careful of adding too many--the render file size will skyrocket.

ADVICE: Select all in this last branch shape and make shy. Going backwards through all the shapes, make them all shy, except for the last few. This is important because your trunk shape has now be