Alpha Trees - Render massive forests, fast!

Yeah, I tried again in Blender’s default new scene but got the same error. All the materials are applied, so, I’m still baffled. I couldn’t upload the file in my reply for some reason, but you can download a copy of it here.

Ok, thanks for uploading that, I’ve found the problem. It was a bug that meant that the material types were automatically assigned regardless of user input. The reason it only showed up in this tree is that the names of the materials aren’t very descriptive, so it just defaulted to giving them all the “trunk” type.

I’ve fixed it now, so it should be released sometime in the next few days. In the meantime, to fix it, just add the word “leaf” to the leaf material names, and that should make it work on the old version.

Hope that helps!

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Thanks, that works! :slight_smile:

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Hi guys, It’s been a wee while since the last update for Alpha Trees because I’ve been getting a lot more work outside of blender to do, but I should be able to get back to proper development of the addon.

I’m currently working on improving the weight map tools, starting with implementing curves to control the distribution, which lets you make some really cool real time effects:

I’m also going to try to redo the weight layers UI to make it a bit more intuitive.
This should go live sometime in the next week unless something really catastrophic happens :sweat_smile:

I’ve decided to push back porting the addon over to geometry nodes until they are in a more final state, as at the moment they are pretty liable to change, not to mention that particle nodes are also in the works. Instead, the next big project will probably be to allow for custom generation, which means adding support for alpha grass, terrain, etc. It’ll be a lot of work though so it will probably take a while.

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Ok, I’ve finished the curves, they’re actually really powerful now! I’ve added a bunch of pre-sets, which make it really easy to quickly experiment with effects, and they also let you play around with the sliders for those sweet sweet real-time effects:

particle edit curve

I’ve also redesigned the weight layers UI to be way more intuitive (new/old):
New weight UI particle add group

And it also has a bunch of thumbnails for the different generation types:
particle add group 1.1.2 types

Hopefully, I’ll be able to implement more types in the future, but they can be pretty annoying to get working properly (camera clipping is the main one)

This is now live, so if you have the addon, you can download it and have a play about with the new features!

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Update 1.2.0

The main focus of this update is improving the distribution tools, for example, adding curve controls to the weight system and improving the weight layers UI.

I also finally added camera clipping, which is great for easily optimising large scenes!

You can use it like any other of the procedural weight layers, from the new menu:
image

Other than just weight painting though, I’ve also made a bunch of improvements to the rest of the addon, so for example, you can now add multiple tree particles at a time to a biome, and you can now also copy whole trees from one biome to another!

Apart from that, there are a bunch of bug fixes, and quality of life improvements as well:

  • Fixed a bug where the addon would override the user-defined material types when generating trees, leading to errors in a small number of cases (Thanks for reporting this @sidburnd1!)
  • Fixed a bug where deleting biome settings held by multiple objects would also delete the objects.
  • Fixed edit weight group button not editing the correct group.
  • Added Y-level control for particles.
  • Made the “make editable” button in the generation panel more intuitive to use and added info.

+ a bunch behind the scenes stuff.

enjoy :grinning:

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There’s a great new video about the addon from AskNk out now:

So thanks a lot to him for doing that!

Hey Andrew, I got a question and perhaps a feature request. I am trying to animate the rotation of the trees but it seems that it does nothing. Am I doing something wrong or is this not a feature yet? The purpose is that sometimes I use different cameras, some come from the front and then panning to the lateral angle. The issue is the trees just appear as planes. and at certain keyframes I would like the trees to rotate say 90° CC. Right now they don’t do that. Can you let me know what you think of my situation?

Hi Vesper, I just had a look into it, and it seems that those values cant be animated because they modify internal particle settings, which also cant be animated. I hadn’t noticed that before now, so I’ll remove the option to animate them soon since it doesn’t do anything.

I’m planning to add an option to track to the active scene camera, which should fix your problem, and it should be out fairly soon, but I don’t think there’s really a way to get around it at the moment.

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Update 1.3.0

There is a new way to optimize your scenes even more: LODs!
Now when trees are generated, they will automatically create two more versions at 1/4 and 1/8 the resolution of the original. These are great for lowering memory usage even further, as, at long distances, you can’t really tell the difference between them.
In heavy scenes, changing all trees to low quality can reduce memory by a few 100MBs which can really help for machines with low RAM and VRAM:

before you can use this, you will need to update the trees in your library, which is pretty easy from the import panel.

Apart from that, I’ve also added a bunch of other stuff:

  • Instead of just freezing the screen when generating a tree, the addon now provides useful feedback about what stage of the process is being computed.

  • Fixed a bug with trees not having accurate shadows by default in Eevee

  • You can now track a tree to the scene camera, which is useful when using multiple cameras. It updates on frame change, so it may not show up instantly in the viewport when changing the active camera (just change the frame to fix this) Thanks @Vesper and some others for suggesting this!

  • Some more UI improvements

This is a bit of a smaller update because I’m gearing up to tackle the change to geometry nodes, as it seems like 2.93 has really improved them. Geo nodes will be a huge improvement for everything (speed, flexibility, posibilities), and I have a lot of ideas for how to improve things (think wind animation for a start! :smiley: )

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Bro I am literally on the GEO NODES Bandwagon. I still have a lot to learn, I am still learning ways to work with them. Instancing and duplicating and rotating is so easy. Maybe there is a way you can create some premade node group setups. I would be excited to see if you could work something like this into your pipeline?

There are some ideas in here that coupled with your concept would make your incredibly fantastic addon basically, formidable.

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I know, it’s pretty incredible how powerful the new system is! The devs have done a great job creating something simple enough that it’s easy to use, but complex enough that the eventual possibilities are massive!

That’s the plan for the update. Basically, under the hood, biomes will be replaced by custom node groups, which opens a ton of possibilities for expansion.

I actually bought the Erindale Toolkit when it first came out, and I would definitely like to try and replicate some of its features (especially real-time camera culling!). I think I’ll have to brush up on my vector maths though because there is some pretty mind bending stuff in there!

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Dude Look at this, I just used this in Geo Nodes Check it out using your trees and Erin Tools

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Damn, that’s pretty nice!

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Yeah man, camera culling all your trees with some kind of tracking enabled, will turn alpha trees into a beast. I don’t know why I would ever use any other tree system if I am running through the woods or strolling through the woods. It would totally feel organic, the quality of your images at 2k are more than enough, unless of course you need to capture light bounces off of specific geometry, I don’t see the need to ever use full geometry again. Especially for game design.

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Thanks, that means a lot!
There are definitely quite a lot of cases where it’s better to use real tree models (like when you need shadows from the side), but I’m actually quite surprised by how good the trees look even close up in your scene!

I’ve finished the first prototype for the Geo Nodes system! It has all of the features of the current version, plus first support for wind animation, and it also works great with the erindale camera clipping node (which is still pretty much magic to me atm), which can really help to optimise scenes! :

This is only a proof of concept at the moment, and it doesn’t actually work with the addon yet, but it already feels a lot better than the traditional partical system method. Even when playing in real time with Eevee, it can keep up pretty well at 25fps on my laptop, and in general, everything feels a lot smoother and more responsive.

Once I have a functioning version of the addon, I’m also thinking about uploading beta versions for people who already have the addon, though, I’m not sure if it is a good idea.

This is still in the really early stages, so if you have any suggestions, feel free to say, and its quite possible that i could add it! :smiley:

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WHAT THE SHURIKEN bro…I absolutely love your development and you are right @erindale is a Sorcerer with this toolkit. But I am starting to wonder if you two aren’t bred from the same cloth LOL. The swaying in this is so unbelievable. I am wondering how did you get the tracking to work. I was trying and trying…couldn’t get it to work properly. I am really curious to see how you are going to get this optimised for ease of use. Are you planning on still having things in the NPANEL with quick shortcut buttons that relay to GEO nodes? Or will these be node trees we have to append?

Thanks! This is the node tree for the camera tracking (it’s actually fairly simple, but it took quite a few attempts to figure it out :grimacing:):

Don’t worry, everything will be managed by the addon, and the UI probably won’t change too much. It’s mainly just the internals that need to be updated. Interestingly, geo nodes have actually simplified the process, so by the end of this, the addon may even have less code than before!

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Just a heads up that Alpha-Trees is now 25% off in the Blender Market spring sale!