Alpha Trees - Render massive forests, fast

Massive update!

Firstly, I’ve implemented a new method of generating normal maps, which gives sharper, more consistent results with much simpler code, in the same amount of time (if not a little faster). This also removes a lot of potential for bugs:

Secondly, I’ve redesigned the entire generation UI and process to be a little more intuitive, and I’ve also implemented the great suggestion by @kkostovas for users to be able to select a category for each material, which means that trees finally won’t be limited to just two materials anymore! These are automatically filled when you add a new material, and it’s right about 95% of the time. If the addon is unsure about a materials type though, it will be highlighted:

New gen panel material types|155x195, %

unsure demo

Currently, there are five material types, but that could change. In the future, I might also add the ability to render each type on a different layer for even more control when they are imported.

Thirdly, I’ve added a batch mode:

batch mode

So you can finally generate more than one tree at a time!

As always, any thoughts, just say :grinning:

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That is looking like an excellent update.

Yes exactly, a flat image of the terrain from one angle. Or maybe it could be many terrains. To create something like this Mountain.

Again it could be pointless but since we already can set it up for a tree I assume we could set it up for any object really.

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That’s a pretty good idea, but it would probably need a new addon or a big change in the current addon. You can get some pretty decent results though, so maybe it’s something I should focus on:

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Is that a plane?.. :rofl: Looking good. Also imagine that would be in the distance as a last object.

I don’t know what is involved coding-wise so you will judge that. Lets see how other people find the idea.

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I’m afraid so…

I’ve done some thinking, and I can probably implement this as a different type of generation. For example, you could select from a list of Tree, Terrain, Grass, etc. and It would automatically generate it with correct maps. If I do add it though, It will probably be as an update after the product has launched, because it could take some time. Great idea though!

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Wait…did I hear Clouds/Smoke/Steam? :innocent: Just brainstorming.

Awesome work, no rush really.

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New features!

I’ve been doing some experimenting with generating procedural weight maps, and I’ve added some options to generate vertex groups based on height, slope and curvature:

I’ve also implemented the next part of the biome system, which is saving and importing biomes so that they can be imported to multiple files:

This works with single biomes and collections of biomes. The next step is now just to be able to export whole biomes in a for that can be shared with other people. Apart from that, these are probably the last big features that I will add before release! From now on, it’s just polishing, making sure there aren’t any bugs and making some promotional material. Thanks again for all the support, it’s really helped motivate me to get this done :grinning:

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Hi,

I was just looking into using the Botaniq trees with your add on, but I get an error when importing. I did install your latest version.

It happens also when I use “plant tree” directly :wink: And then hit execute all…

Probably I do something wrong?!

Any thoughts on this?

Thanks!

Hmm, that is a very odd bug, and I’m not sure what is going wrong… Certainly, the generated maps are not supposed to look like that. I notice that you are using E-cycles and I wonder if that has something to do with it.
Are the render settings very different for E-cycles? I’ve never used it before.
For the moment all I can suggest is that you try generating the trees again in a new file, preferably just in a normal version of blender.

As for importing, I’m not sure how, but it doesn’t look like you have a tree selected (In the box above the import button, a menu should appear if you click it)

I will try looking into E-cycles, but it is very expensive, so I don’t think I will be able to test it myself. I hope this helps, but please let me know if it continues…

Hey Strike,

thanks for your reply. Hmmm.

Maybe ask Mathieu the E-cycles guy, he is very kind and approachable, and he says its 100% compatible with Blender and the add-ons. So its in his interest as well if something does not work.
So, I am pretty sure he will assist to find out what is going on if its E-cycles which creates the issue.
Might be also because its based on 2.92.

I’ll try tommorow also with the standart version. Its a tad late here now.

Thanks for looking into it.

Update time! Sorry, it’s been a while since the last one, but I’ve had a bunch of work to do recently, and I haven’t had quite as much time to work on this. I should be able to get back at it properly now though.

I’ve now implemented importing end exporting of packages, which will allow users to share trees and biomes in a .zip file. It can then be installed on the other person’s computer if they have the addon:

I’ve also added the ability to edit the settings of specific trees once they have been rendered:
edit tree demo

I’ve also started polishing everything up so that it’s more user friendly and intuitive, and I’m going to start working on some tooltips in addon, and some external documentation.

3 Likes

Hi,

this looks still very cool, where can I find the latest version?
I am now using Version 0.4.3.
I would like to test it further and, I am also interested once you go commercial :wink:

Regarding the error I reported further above, I found out that the scene to create new tree renderings needs to be really empty before start with. Once I deleted my own camera and light, planted a botaniq tree and hit execute all it created the correct masks. Horray!

One thought, even if it means more render time, would it make sense that the addon renders the trees from 2-3 angles and, if one is willing to accept that than uses 3 faces per tree instead of one? That would help to avoid with issues when seeing the trees at an angle or when we render a video.

Or, and I am not sure if this works, have the tree faces track a camera? Just thinking out wild.
Might be botaniq trees in the foreground and Alpha Trees in the background is the better option…

The aim is to render eventually something like the forest scenes in here (THIS IS NOT MY WORK, ITS FROM RIVIAN!!!):

Tall order I know, and it may take a looong while to get there, but it can only be done with trees like the ones you have.
As I do have both the scatter add-on as well as Botaniq I think there is a chance.
At least I can try :wink:

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Hi, that’s cool to see!

Thank you for the info about the bug, I need to check if that’s still present in the current version, as that would be very bad to have in a commercial version :grimacing:

The last free version was 0.7.1, which I think you already have, or it’s here

I would recommend however, if you plan on buying the commercial version, waiting for it to be released before starting on a large project like this, as there isn’t backwards compatibility for things like particle systems. I’m hoping to release it within the next 2-3 weeks, so I hope that’s not too long.

Good Idea about having multiple angles of the trees, but I experimented with it at the very start of this project, and it wasn’t really possible to get convincing results from it. One thing I would like to add before release is automatic camera tracking, which would help for scenes a bit of camera movement.
Otherwise, most of the shots in that video could probably be recreated fairly well with the addon, especially the long-distance ones. The ones that couldn’t be done, (without looking unrealistic) are the close-up shots, and the overhead shots looking straight down from above. for them, you could just swap in the real botaniq models and it would probably work well.

Thanks for the interest anyway, and I hope that helps!
just ask if there are any more questions :grinning:

Hey thanks for the answer.

I am testing for now.
So no worries, its not a commercial project at the moment.

Maybe its somehow possible to implement a functionality which automatically places Botaniq models in a certain distance from the camera and than adds Alpha trees further away, kind of blending from one to the other.

Again really just thinking aloud. No idea if thats possible.

Just noticed, sometimes the camera still does not get set correctly. Its angled about 45 degrees down.

Happens when you enter a file which has a camera at an isometric view. You delete the camera, go into orthographic side view and import the Botaniq tree.
Guess one has to be in orthographic mode when planting the Botaniq tree…

One more, plant the tree.
Hit set up the tree, error.
Release the tree, pick it again hit set up the tree, no error & it is set up correctly.

Something along these lines:

Track to camera constraint with your trees object

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Hey, thanks for the info!

I think what you’re describing is a really specific bug that I’ve found to do with the setup tree operator. At the moment I’m not quite sure how to fix it, but that problem is bypassed in the final version by simply removing the operator and making it automatic instead. I’m currently looking into what causes that bug, and I hope I’ll be able to fix it for the free version soon.

Also, about the camera tracking, that’s pretty much what I had in mind, and I just have to make it automatic.
Regarding automatically placing botaniq trees close up and alpha trees further away, I don’t think it will be possible to make it automatic, but if you have the scatter addon, you can use its automatic weight features to change density of particles based on distance from camera here.

Thanks again!

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News time:

I’ve finally added camera tracking!
This makes animations with moving cameras a lot easier, or just for a quick setup of the rotation:

I’ve also started work on some promotional material, and so I made a snowy scene to show off the snowy material effect:

This is the biggest scene that I’ve done yet with the addon, and it handled it really well! I think that adding the trees was actually the fastest part, which is very nice.

In total:

  • 76,300 particles
  • 13 mins to render @ HD and 50 samples on my laptop GPU

I also recorded the process and made a wee timelapse of it (3:35 if you just want the alpha trees part):

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Hi guys, I’ve been working hard to get this addon released soon, and it’s getting very close!

I’ve finally finished the documentation (you can see it here), and I’ve also added a ton of tooltips inside the addon (they can be turned off in the preferences if they get in the way too much):

Info buttons Tooltip

I’ve also created a bunch of trees that will be sold along with the addon as a kind of starting library:

I’ve started on some of the promotional material as well:
Lakeside landscape low
It would be great to get some feedback on it :slight_smile:

3 Likes

Ok, everything is done! I’ve just submitted the product to the blender market, but unfortunately, I have managed to time it perfectly with Christmas, which means that the product probably won’t actually be approved before New Year :frowning_face:.
I hope that this isn’t too much of a problem for people, so I’m contemplating just releasing the Gumroad version before and just not advertising it until the Blender Market one is approved (Though the Gumroad page is not nearly as nice).
Feel free to say if that’s something you would like.

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I’m a big fan of trees. Happy to see this cool add on. Don’t know what to advise you on the release though. I’ve been trying to figure out what Gumroad is lately. I know what Blender Market is! I think generally though you have a good idea about how to get the Gumroad out for people who have been waiting for it.

1 Like