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SpeedTree in Unity

Discussion in 'Made With Unity' started by BHS, Apr 16, 2011.

  1. BHS

    BHS

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    RealTrees, now available! (and now one the Asset Store!)

    RealTrees available here with updated screenshots too:
    RealTrees Forest Pack 1 Thread


    Updated:
    I've been messing around with the tree creator some more and I've really gotten the hang of it. I thought I'd try to do a pine tree so I did I post the results in the post on the 6th page.

    Huge update check out the new screenshots below this post

    Since SpeedTree in Unity isn't possible and Unity has horrible prefabed trees that are 12 ft fully grown trees. I've decided to start making a tree package for Unity that will resemble SpeedTree trees that are have lower tris and look much better and realistic than Unity's prefabed trees.

    So far I have 3 different trees 40 to 50 ft tall (much more to come) that are the same types of trees but are altered and look different. Making a forest scene with these trees will look much much better than traditional Unity trees.

    All trees have relatively low in tris and have billboarded leaves to act like SpeedTree trees. I studied how the trees were done in Oblivion and tried to recreate it the best I could. Now this is still a work in progress so I need some feedback.

    These were made with the Unity Tree Creator and will be available on the Asset store soon.

    Updated Forest Example Showing the Power of RealTrees:

    $RealTrees Forest 2.jpg
    $RealTrees Forest 7.jpg
    $RealTrees Forest 4.jpg
    $RealTrees Forest 3.jpg
    $RealTrees Forest 6.jpg
     
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2011
  2. BHS

    BHS

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    Updated RealTrees bushes fully textured with glare leaves, can cast and receive full shadows:
    $Bush fully textured.jpg
    $bush fully textured 3.jpg
    $Bush fully textured 2.jpg
    $Bush fully textured with some effects.jpg


    Screens of the scaling and comparing:
    $Example.jpg
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2011
  3. antenna-tree

    antenna-tree

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    I'm confused by these two lines. Unity trees are "horrible", yet here's some trees made with Unity?
     
  4. BHS

    BHS

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    Unity trees as in Unity's prefabed trees that they made including their Asset pack. Their Tree Creator is nice, but they do nothing to show off it's true potential.

    Everyone knows that Unity's prefabed trees aren't the best I'm not bagging..I'm just saying there are better ones out there or better ones that can be made using the Tree Creator like so..

    My Tree only has 1,400 tris and Untiy's Big Tree using the Tree Creator has 3,500 tris. See the difference my trees are much more realistic and have over half the tris as Unity's Big Tree.

    Example:
    $Example.jpg
     
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2011
  5. duke

    duke

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    Yeah this is a bit off-the-mark. The example trees are example assets - it's not that they're not SpeedTree trees. What makes ST good is the technology behind it, the trees are just whatever you decide to make in it, and imo you can get great results with Unity's Tree Creator. What you can't get is the other ST stuff, like wind, rendering (on any surface/mesh) and fancy pants LOD'ing.
     
  6. BHS

    BHS

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    @ duke Yes, SpeedTree has a lot of nice features but it's 10k. Using the wind with the billboarding in Unity you get a similar effect to the way Oblivion does their wind.

    Here's my attempt at a birch tree like in Oblivion. It's not perfect because SpeedTree is pretty amazing, but it's close.

    Note: Oblivion graphics were on high and they have a lot of effects...

    My Birch (First Attempt):
    $Birch 1.jpg
    $Birch 2.jpg
    $Birch Scale.jpg

    Oblivion's Birch:
    $Oblivions Birch.jpg
     
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2011
  7. janpec

    janpec

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    Interesting stuff you have there. I like first type of tree you made, that birch tree isnt that good.
    You are right that Unity tree creator uses a lot of polys. Basically it uses more triangles than SpeedTree tree for leaves but it looks worse and more empty.
    What is main stuff you should look up to is:

    -SpeedTree trees have a lot of polys for bottom part of tree (bark) and it looks nice rounded. It is very important that on bottom where tree starts to fade with ground has even more polys and is detailed on that part. This is important becouse it actually creates ilusion that whole tree bark is detailed since this part of tree is most exposed to player when playing, becouse it is near to ground.

    -SpeedTrees in Unreal Tournament 3 look better than Oblivion. Take a look at their normal maps. All trees in that game have very strong normal maps, i have checked it on my own. This adds a lot of depth to bark. Afcourse if you have tree with really flat type of bark then you dont do use that strong normals.

    -Use 2 types of leaves texture. This adds more realism to leaves and more variation. Almost all trees in UT3 or Oblivion have 2 types of leaves.

    -Ambient occlusion. Unity tree creator trees have AO by standart, but since you are making them in 3d app, you wont have it. You should somehow bake it on trees becouse it adds nice depth. Take a look at that birch tree picture you made from Oblivion, it has strong AO on top.

    -The most important thing are rotating leaves. You would need to do that trough some script or somehow, but if you wont have rotating leaves you cant achive nearly anything similar to SpeedTree.
     
  8. BHS

    BHS

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    @ janpec Yeah I'm trying to hit all that stuff and that's why I'm slowly getting there. I'm really starting to get the hang of the Tree Creator. I try to have 2 types of leaves textures but good leaves textures are very hard to come by to make them look good with Unity's trees. I have to edit every texture I use. I have the rotating leaves that what the billboard does and it really helps to bring the SpeedTree feel.

    Thanks for the suggestions, what exactly didn't you like about the birch? I wasn't working very long on that one so I didn't have a chance to tweak it. This is my second attempt at the birch tell me what you think.

    It's hard to get the colors down because I have to tweak them using GIMP

    Birch Tweaks:
    $Birch Tweaks.jpg
    $Birch Tweaks 2.jpg
    $Birch Leaves Tweaks.jpg

    With Effects like Oblivion's:
    $My trees with effects like Oblvions.jpg
     
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2011
  9. AcidArrow

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    So you are trying to emulate trees from a 5 year old game and you are coming up with something that is actually worse.

    Anyway, the Unity tree creator is a nice add-on and all that, but it's not very powerful. If someone wants really good trees, they'd have to model them in a 3d package. If they don't want to do that, they can just play around with the tree creator and try and improve the results, which is what you're doing.
     
  10. Infeecctteedd

    Infeecctteedd

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    AcidArrow, Oblivion uses SpeedTree which costs 10K per title. It's FOR making trees, it being five years old is completely irrelevant. Don't be so disrespectful and he has good ideas.
     
  11. AcidArrow

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    SpeedTree has evolved a lot since. Have you seen any more recent SpeedTree examples? It's not the same software it was 5 years ago.

    And btw, respect is earned, it's not a given.

    Either way, I won't post on this thread any more.
     
  12. Dreamora

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    Good idea :)
    Will definitely be of interest at least here, be it just to learn from examples.


    But up to a given point I've to agree with what AcidArrow potentially meant, but I would like to be specific on what I mean exactly:

    1. The trees are very specific.
    For most games they might not be usable at all if the majority of your trees are "heavy trunk pines" basically. This kind of tree only exists in a dense forest where light does barely not reach the ground anymore, they don't exist in the wild as standalone trees normally or at forest borders, your screenshot there shows how out of place they basically look

    2. You mention Oblivion a few times in your comparision. Do you intend to offer Tree Creator based bush setups and alike along it, one of the tricks upon which Oblivions vegetation worked to look and especially feel as good as it did, which then can be used to give a stronger impression and feel of dense vegetation on the player level?

    3. Optimizing trees for poly budget is great! :)
    But the target should be to reduce without changing or destroying the visual look (larger leaves with better / denser textures) and no longer make it a replacement for the "high poly tree". Your trees at least on this stills are seriously lacking the density of normal vegetation.
    Your oblivion up-birch comparision shows it to a shocking degree. Yes speedtree has a few more tricks up its sleeves, after all the tech is $10k with the asset package being 2-4 times as expensive, but the lack of density here is also caused to a large degree by the leaf texture which covers nearly no area and does not give an impression of a dense, leaf filled tree at all.
    In case you used the free ones that come with Unity I would definitely recommend to create a few own good ones with better constrast and generally a denser feeling than what Unity provides out of the box as I don't see these textures as good at all (they worked for U2 style trees but with the new one they are worse than what TreeMagik G3 offers out of the box)

    That are at least my points as a developer and as a player who has to experience or endure them in the end where they would destroy the impression pretty badly unless we talk about a Fallout alike post-apoc styled game.
     
  13. BHS

    BHS

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    Thanks everyone for the suggestions.

    @ Dreamora Yes, I have my own custom leaves textures but it just takes time to get them looking good with the Tree Creator (Hours of tweaking and editing). Once I really get the hang of things I'll be able to create trees faster. I'm using the polys where needed, but increasing the LOD in the trunk sometimes isn't worth the poly count. You'll get a slightly smoother look for 200 more tris and the difference is hardly noticeable, but that's why it takes time to tweak and edit. I'll eventually find a perfect mix to create great looking trees. But I'm glad you're interested, I'll use your suggestions. And yes I know the trees are random but I'm just comparing to Oblivion right now I'll get to the more realistic ones. I'm planning on having a HUGE collection of trees like SpeedTree does.

    If anyone wants a tree made please give me an example and I'd be happy to give it a try.
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2011
  14. Dreamora

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    Fully agree, on the trunk the gain is really hard to notice unless you cut a whole tree, cause good textures can really make a 8 sided trunk look like a 16 sided one yet the poly count is half as high.
    My comment there was more related to leaves or what I would call "visual density" or volume of a tree, cause its the leaves that make it a tree and not a dead trunk in the end and if they barely reach out from the trunk they just feel very wrong and unnatural.
    Its naturally always a balance act cause large leaves with detailed "multibranch leaf textures" have their backside on the fillrate impact due to overdraw and leaf crossings. As polygons normally are cheaper than pixels (in the sense that the budget for not so fast hardware is higher on the triangle end than on the pixels end), I would see to balance it towards using a few more leaves instead of a large leaf texture and larger leaves in case of a "which side to favor" situation.
     
  15. BHS

    BHS

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    Ok I get what you mean with the leaves. I am trying to create a more full look with the trees. I just found a setting that allows me to edit the leaves to get the leaves to look more full because it allows me to move and rotate all the leaves so they aren't all bunched up right on the branch. I think I'll have it down soon I'm getting the hang of it. I'm working on a bush right now, but I did have time to mess with the Birch and it's looking much fuller now. I'll have more time to mess with it in a little.

    Does this look better?

    Birch Fuller:
    $Brich Fuller.jpg
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2011
  16. BHS

    BHS

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    Updated screens of a forest made with RealTrees*

    Feedback?
     
  17. Frank Oz

    Frank Oz

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    Have you thought about making them in ZBrush instead? Little more work, but you can come up with some very creative and unique looking trees, plus LOD's via Decimator. Would require a little extra work for setting up wind effects though.
     
  18. Demostenes

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    Oblivion has one advantage, soft vegetation. Difference between soft vegetation (unity 2.6) and current is huge. Anybody who is claiming, that current version is better is blind (and Unity team lickspittle). We definitely need soft shaders for unity vegetation (with normal maps for bark). Just try to take tree model and give it normal diffuse shader (plus normal map for bark). Difference is tremendous.
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2011
  19. janpec

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    Frank i dont think you can make tree in zbrush. First it is not practical, and neither is usefull. Sculpting tree for normal map is out of option, since tree needs tiled normal map texture. Also you cant make 1 sided polys for leaves very well in Zbrush neither.

    Ik Animation i think that most important part you have to hit are rotating and proper set leaves. Forgett about texture. It is important that you get mechanic correct. Leaves have to rotate towards player all the time. And if you take a notice at SpeedTree leaves you will see that almost all leaves are placed on Y standart vertical position and are not placed like yours in different dirrections. This way you can reduce poly count for trees on half and while they rotate it still looks way more full than normal created tree.
     
  20. the_motionblur

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    I think what Frank Oz meant: model your base mesh in ZBrush. Do all the main branches etc. there.
    You guys need to stop thinking that there's only one software solution for a problem.

    I jump from Zbrush to Cinema to Blender to Photoshop to Cinema to Zbrush ..... just use the tool that fits best for what you want to achieve.

    Also: Blender hat a very cool three creation script. It was geared towards rendering but I think with the right settings you could also use it for LowPoly stuff since the most important thing it did was fill in the small twigs and planes for leaves. I don't remember if you could create fewer planes or thos HigPoly meshes only. Also it was a python script for BigBuckBunny. Don't know if it still runs....
    It was cool, tohugh.

    That said: Yeah Speedtree might very well be awesome. I don't see how the built-in tree editor is bad though. While maybe not being as advaced as Speedtree it is integrated into Unity. And I think you have quite a lot of options to create anything from realistic to fantasy. For any special looking trees there's still modeling by hand.
    It would probably be cool if at some point Speedtree was integrated into Unity for everybody who already has a license and wants to use it. Yet - personally I'm extremely happy with the integrated tree editor. I don't have a Speedtree license and don't plan on buying one. And I think the Editor integrated into Unity is pretty powerful already. And it's not even a Pro-Only feature.
     
  21. Frank Oz

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    ZBrush works great for trees and you can make completely unique and original looking trees that no generator is going to come up with. Though Speedtree can come close, but then for $10,000 I would bloody expect it to, and to give me a massage too!

    Part 1: ZBrush
    ZSpheres -> Adaptive Skin -> Sculpt -> Texture -> UVs -> Decimate

    Part 2: Lightwave/Maya billboard leaves/branches
    Mesh Paint Leaf cards/billboards and image branch cards/billboards

    Part2 (alternate): Particle leaves
    Unity -> particle emitter one shot leaf billboard particles


    I did start to do a quick example, showing a method where you create the branches as separate objects with ZSpheres, then place them all as subtools into the same object, move them around and duplicate as required until you're happy with the shape, then remesh all of them to generate a single tree mesh where the joins between the branches and trunk are perfect and automatic (even Speedtree doesn't get the welding perfect all the time, just passable), then just sculpt and paint it however you want. But naturally as ever, Spotlight crashed it, so meh, not going to the trouble, crashes annoy me into apathy.

    The other method of course is to model the full tree as ZSpheres, but I kinda like the separate method as you can reuse the same parts and add them together in different ways.

    Examples of ZBrush trees:









     
  22. Dreamora

    Dreamora

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    New screens look better :)
    All thats now needed to make it look much more like a real forest are bushes which cover the bottom area where we move in, filling it with vegetation so you can no longer look out of the forest as if you were standing between a few trees only.
     
  23. cupsster

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    It's just me or that screens are realy dark?
     
  24. janpec

    janpec

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    All this trees are awesome but i still stand by my point. You cant make proper "standart" tree in Zbrush. The main advantage of proper standart trees with Unity creator, SpeedTree or any other treegen software is that they use tileable UVs across bark or even leaves somethimes. This means that if you sculpt tree in Zbrush you cant tile that normal map extracted becouse it is unique detail all over the tree.
    If you would do trees like that and then use 40 of them in 1 frame,....well good luck, you just might play a Picture game.
    It is also a bit confusing when it later comes to leaf creation.

    But yes if you want to create really unique trees which are not later placed on terrain as "tree mesh" but rather just some random asset then its ok to use Zbrush.
     
  25. cupsster

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    @janpec I would second this
     
  26. Artimese

    Artimese

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    Assets store? Why would I pay a cent for something thats already implemented in unity (the tree creator). It makes no sense...
     
  27. BHS

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    @ Artimese Because the Tree Creator ins't a asset it's a tool to make assets and that's exactly what I've done...Made a new asset, everyone knows Untiy's trees aren't the greatest.
     
  28. larsbertram1

    larsbertram1

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    billboarded vs. mesh leaves – i have never tried billboards before.
    what do you think looks better?

    $Bildschirmfoto 2011-04-18 um 22.38.01.png


    both trees share are built with unitys tree creator and have the same trunk and branches.
    billborded version: 1200 tris / mesh version: 1400 tris

    webplayer: http://bit.ly/gzvC6B


    lars
     
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2011
  29. BHS

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    @larsbertram Yes, the billboard one looks better at least that's my opinion.
     
  30. Baardo

    Baardo

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    Going to be honest I thought the mesh one looked better.

    Billboards take me out of the game a lot of times. They can look good from a distance, or if done right, from up close, but when you start examining them more you start seeing the planes rotate which kinda throws me off. If your looking for a nice and conservative tree use billboards, but if you want a nicer tree your better off using meshes.
     
  31. janpec

    janpec

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    I dont know, i am somehow in doubt there too. Mesh one looks almost better but it shouldnt. With SpeedTree it defenetly looks much better having billboard, so probably its Unity rendering or way of handling it that makes it look bad.
     
  32. Demostenes

    Demostenes

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    Mesh is of course better. Billboard is good only for distance and performance reason. Billboard trees for close distance are absolete, from some angels it looks terrible.
     
  33. GaborD

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    I like both.
    The billboarded ones look a bit fuller and lusher, so for some typers of trees I would prefer them. Their leaves are a bit too dark though, otherwise they would look even better.
     
  34. BHS

    BHS

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    I still do think the billboard is better. SpeedTree uses billboarding and they have some of the best looking game trees out there.

    I've been trying to create more trees and it really comes down to the leaves and the way they're angled. I'm trying to create a SpeedTree looking texture so I'll post my progress.
     
  35. janpec

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    Ik do that:

    Make SpeedTree tree with UDK SpeedTree builder and then import it in UDK. Then export texture from tree and assign the same texture on your own tree mesh (billboard leaves). Then post results. The best would be if you could also rip SpeedTree mesh from UDK and use also mesh and their texture, render in Unity and just assign leaves to be billboarder. I am curious if you would get similar look than with SpeedTree or UDK render (display). However i am not sure how can you rip tree mesh from UDK, its not possible to export it in obj or fbx.
     
  36. Frank Oz

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    He'd be breaking the license agreement if he did that, and UT certainly wouldn't allow it on the asset store. Isn't there a SpeedTree demo or something he can use?
     
  37. janpec

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    I didnt meant that he would use it in some game. Just to test stuff to see the differance, to see what are main technical things to imitate the tree.
     
  38. BHS

    BHS

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    Yeah that is a good idea just to see if I had the right textures if it'd look good in Unity right? If you find some SpeedTree textures I'd try it, but I don't know where I could.
     
  39. BHS

    BHS

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    Oblivion's SpeedTree leaves:
    $Oblivion Leaves.jpg
    $Oblivion leaves 2.jpg
     
  40. larsbertram1

    larsbertram1

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    i have to admit that working with billboards is much faster as it needs less manual adjustments than working with meshes or planes.
    for some types of trees this might be the way to go. nevertheless i like more working with with meshes and fine adust the whole shape in my 3d app. even if i loose the possibility to use the advanced tree shaders supporting tranclucency and advanced wind settings…

    5 min. tree with billboarded leaves (1800 tris):
    $Bildschirmfoto 2011-04-20 um 00.58.58.png

    lars
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2011
  41. larsbertram1

    larsbertram1

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    @Ik Animation: this is a speedtree leave card [a = diffuse, b = depth]:

    $speedtreeleavecard.jpg
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2011
  42. BHS

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    Not bad even for being very low res it turned out great. SpeedTree must have a technique about the way they do their textures.

    I was able to make the tree look more full because I used a texture of my own before I put the SpeedTree one on. Here's the results of the tweaks. Thanks larsbertram for getting the textures.

    Untiy Tree with SpeedTree textures (just a test):
    $UnityTreeWithLowResSpeedTreeTexture.jpg
     
  43. Frank Oz

    Frank Oz

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    Particles using the stock leaf shader looks nice and full and cast nice shadows. You just gotta work out a way to make the particles jitter instead of constantly rotate if you want to simulate wind effects.
     
  44. Dreamora

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    even that would be illegal.
    The speedtree licensing on the created assets with the commercial version are very strict.
     
  45. BHS

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    Yeah I agree with dreamora, I don't want to do anything illegal. I'm totally okay with trying to reference or use the same technique as SpeedTree though.
     
  46. BHS

    BHS

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    Alright I attempted a few SpeedTree leaves textures. I found some tree textures on CG textures and had to edited them, apply some teaks, and add alpha channels. It took awhile to edit it but here's my results of the side of the trees very similar to the actual SpeedTree texture fullness wise.

    Update Here's a bush I was just working on I think this one turned out great. I'm really starting to get the way SpeedTree does their textures and their setup of the trees.

    My SpeedTree texture attempts:
    $MySpeedTreeTextureAttempt.jpg
    $My SpeedTree texture attempt2.jpg
    $My SpeedTree texture attempt3.jpg

    My SpeedTree bush texture attempt:
    $Bush 1.jpg
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2011
  47. cupsster

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    that's better
     
  48. larvantholos

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    With that whole zbrush tiling thing, while zbrush is known more for its powerful set of 3d features these days, it has a solid 2d, and 2.5d stuff in it, including the ability to create tile able texturing, there is a good example of this on a video floating around the net on making high rest walkways sculpting unique features in stones, dropping them onto the canvas, and then tiling out variations to use. Beyond doing that tho, you could easily apply this to making your own texture sets in zbrush drawing on the default plane that comes with, you could generate a good high res normal map, and texture within zbrush you could then tile on any low res tree, you can do the same for leaves, in fact you could generate some displacement maps or alphas to draw out the detail onto a plane, and adjust that until you get something very fun and unique. The best part about doing something like this is you could add texturing/displacement for features like knots in the trees, or animal damage all within the same sculpted base texture, this lets you get variety, the advantages of tileing.
     
  49. janpec

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    Ik those last tree look already very good, but still very far from SpeedTree. I dont know what resolution are you using for leaves but if you check out SpeedTree tress you can see that all leaves have pretty high texture resolution. 512x512 is minimum some leaves have even 1024x1024 maps and they even dont cover that huge area. It is very important that you hit leaf texture right. All SpeedTree tree examples have very nice (handpainted, yet realistic) leaf textures. Make sure that you make alpha texture good and that there are no jagged edges. You can assure that with bluring edges in Photoshop of alpha a little.
    The next thing would be bark texture. I have seen that you have standart 1:1 texture map on first birch tree. SpeedTree trees have 1:2 or 1:4 textures for trees usualy which means instead of 1024x1024 they use 512x2048 which means that you can add more variation on texture becouse it is longer and it looks less repeating. This is very important for more detailed standart trees.
    Also make tree a little bent, as you can see all SpeedTree trees are a little under force.

    I might try to create one tree tomorrow, i will post it here if i will have time.
     
  50. duke

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    There's nothing wrong with using ST textures (from oblivion, or better yet, Gothic4) so that you know that you're working with A-grade assets, and getting it to look good should be a matter of tweaking everything BUT the textures. Once that's done then you can create your own.

    It's the same thing when people make shaders - it's better to use existing assets that you know look good in another engine, and get them looking up to scratch with your shader implementation.