Alpha Trees - Render massive forests, fast!

Hey Andrew, great addon, just bought it on Blender Market, I love what you have done. Just a quick question in Cycles, how do we get rid of all the black frames from the planes that are generated?

Edit Nevermind, just raised the transparency in the light paths area.

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Yeah, I think I’m going to make that change automatically when you add a particle system because it can be a bit unintuitive to figure out for the first time :slight_smile:

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Andrew Can I ask for a feature in some update in the future? Is there a way to add a toggle to lower on the Z axis the trees if it is possible. I know the addon Scatter has that. The trunks all look to aligned if you get my gist. For distance, it is not relevant, but for some closeups, it looks fake.

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Just for the record, you have already sliced my time in Half, and am immeasurably greatful for your work, I haven’t even addressed rendering time, wow, this took 2 minutes to render, with minimal effort. but I had to ramp up to about 99 on transparency.

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Yeah, that’s a good idea! I could probably try and add it in the next update.
In the meantime, If you want to improve in your scene, you could try adding another biome with a smaller scale. then make them only appear at the back and it should break up that straight line a bit.
You could also try editing the tree object inside the particle collection to remove the trunk, but that’s a little more involved:
edit object demo

Hope that helps!

(Also, thanks for the encouragement, it really helps to see that the addon is helping people!)

Update time!

I’ve added two new options for trees in particle systems: width and z-offset (as suggested by @Vesper! ). These two make it really easy to create ground foliage like bushes:

Individual imported trees have also had an update so that now they can share materials, track to a camera, and copy all of these settings between each other:

I’ve also been working a lot on just finishing up all the loose ends that were leftover from before the release, for example, I’ve updated the UI to be more consistent and a little easier to use. I’ve also improved the icons so that the tree icons now use the material previews, which means that they will update to show an accurate representation of the material:

material icon demo material icon without

It can result in some squashing of textures, but I think it’s worth it for making it easier to find specific trees, and you can always turn it off in the preferences (They have also been improved)

Apart from that, I’ve also just added a bunch of little improvements:

  • You can now define the addon category in the preferences (Good for cleaning up the n-panel)
  • Transparency bounces in cycles will automatically increase to a suitable amount when adding a new particle system (also definable from prefs)(Also thanks @Vesper for pointing it out)
  • When loading a biome from a file, it will no longer create a new biome slot if the current one is empty
  • Redid preferences UI for easier use
  • Improved copying for materials so that now you can modify the control node group without it giving you an error

+ a bunch of QOL and behind the scenes stuff :grinning:

(I can’t update the product page just yet, but it should be live by tomorrow morning)

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Quick update, the store pages have now been updated to the latest release, so if you’ve bought it, you should be able to download it now!

Also, I know that it’s probably a little late, but I’ve finally got round to making a proper trailer video:


It was actually pretty fun to make, but it took a while.
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I LOVE it. Thanks a lot!
One Question: is there a chance to move the trees a little? Maybe dump question, but I don’t get it. (I know - the trees are “just” 2d plates, so there is not much space for moving anyway, but little would help).

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Thanks!
Do you mean as in animating the leaves, or the tree as a whole?
I do plan on adding both of those features at some point in the future, but they slow down rendering a fair bit, so it could be a while. Otherwise, if you are using a particle system, you could fake it a little bit by animating the “random rotation” value to maybe give them a bit of sway.
And if you really wanted to, you could modify the material by distorting the image vector with a noise texture and animating that. (Though that’s a fair bit of work, and is quite advanced. Let me know if you want to do this and I could give you a hand).

Sorry if that’s a bit wordy, I hope it helped :slight_smile:

Billboard technologies have great potential for cinematic detail into the horizon. Blender needs lots of love and attention in this regard, and Andrew seems to be an excellent python programmer and an artist to boot.

I like how this implementation pays attention to normals and translucence.

There is another addon, that takes rotation into account. This can provide more variation in general, and perhaps, be more usable with distant buildings. I have to test it:

The billboard/imposter systems get even more advanced with “Octahedral Impostors” or “Volumetric Billboards” paper, the motherlode of them all:


Though the latter, would require core rendering support in Blender.

Here is an old video we did using billboards for most of the grass:

We are hoping in the future, those billboards (and their artifacts) can be pushed towards the horizon, and close up replaced with full geometry.

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Wow, thanks for reaching out, this is some really good stuff!

Especially the Imposter Baker addon, I had never seen it before! There are some really nice optimizations in there that I’ll want to try and implement, like reducing transparency by making the origin off centre.
I had actually looked into baking from multiple angles before, but I never managed to get a material that was convincing enough, so that’s a real goldmine! I also like the idea of packing all of the angles into one texture, because otherwise I was worried that the file sizes would get way too big.

“Octahedral imposters” also seem very interesting! I did a quick search and found this article on using them in UE4, that goes really in-depth to explain them:


Whether or not I could implement the technique into blender though is another matter, as it is quite advanced, and has a very interesting shader that may not be possible to recreate.

Thanks for the pointers though, this could be very useful for improving the addon!

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Hey, just got the addon a few days ago. I can’t seem to create an Alpha from imported Evermotion trees even though it meets all the checklist criteria. I’m consistently getting an error saying it “Can’t find materials for branches, leaves, or fruit. Can’t split mesh.”. I’ve assigned the correct corresponding materials so I’m not sure what’s going on here. Does the Alpha Creator only work with Botaniq?

Hi, that’s a pretty weird bug. That error was written a while ago, so it’s a bit misleading, what it means is that those materials aren’t applied to any geometry on the tree mesh. The addon uses these materials to split the mesh into two objects that can be rendered on different layers, so if the materials aren’t applied to any geometry, it can’t split the mesh, and the process fails.
So make sure that the materials are actually applied to some of the mesh, and see if it works then.

If it still doesn’t work, do you think you could upload a blend file with the tree in it? I’ve never used Evermotion trees, so I’m not sure how they work.

Hope that helps!

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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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