Alpha Trees - WIP nature addon

Hey Guys, for the past month I’ve been working on and off on my latest project:

This is a tool for automating the process of making and using alpha mapped trees, which allows you to render massive forests of hundreds of thousands of particles in a fraction of the time and memory cost of using full 3D tree models.

My general plan for this addon is to ultimately make it a commercial product, but while it is still in development I will be making these early versions completely free.

Info:

ℹ️

The general process for making these trees is shown in this great video by Zacharias Reinhardt:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BtUS8QTsVZA

Though I have made quite a few improvements and updated it for 2.8
For example, I split the models into a trunk and leaf layer and I also add a layer for masks:


This allows a lot of extra control in the materials and for winter/dead trees.
Overall, using the original method, it could take around 15-20 minutes to produce the maps for one tree, which this addon lowers to 30s - 5mins (depending on render settings).

Downloads:

📥

Current version:
alpha_trees_generator_0_7_1.zip (244.3 KB)

First version

alpha_trees_generator.zip (133.8 KB)
material blend file

How to use:

  1. Import your tree model/models and make sure the origin is at the base of the trunk (the addon can currently only do one at a time, but this may change soon.)

  2. Make sure that your tree model has 2 materials, One for the leaves and one for the bark, and that they contain the words “leaf” or “leaves” and “bark” or “trunk” respectively.
    materials

  3. Change the settings to your liking in the addon panel (Though the defaults usually work the best) and…
    Operators UI updated

  4. Either go through the operators one by one or press the “execute all” button!

  5. You can view the progress of the addon in the terminal and once it is done, use the “open render folder” operator to check the maps, they should look something like this:

Tips:

💡
  • This addon was tested mainly on trees from the botaniq tree library, and so trees from this pack should work perfectly out of the box (Something else I want to fix quickly), and if you have the addon installed, you can spawn trees from the addon panel

  • If you want a more in-depth guide to setting up the trees from scratch after creation, watch the part two video here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aLVodLos41Q

Future plans:

some things that I want to implement eventually are (most important to least):

  • Improved UI and User experience (tooltips)
  • Automatic import and setup of trees
  • Automatic setup for particle systems
  • Support for seasons and advanced material effects
  • Procedural animation of trees

Gallery:

🖼️

If you want your artwork featured here, just reply to this post with a link to the image, and I’ll add it with credit and a link (To the reply or to another page for the artwork)!

If you have any questions, bugs or problems don’t hesitate to ask me on this thread

Hopefully, this can turn into something great! :grinning:

21 Likes

Update 0.2

  • Fixed a bunch of bugs
  • Added support for leaf opacity maps as well as diffuse
  • Cleaned up UI for easier use
  • Made operator titles more descriptive
  • Improved backend image search code (So now leaf images don’t have to have “diffuse” and “normal” in the title to be recognised)
  • Added addon preference for show extra operators in the UI

alpha_trees_generator_0_2.zip (117.5 KB)

4 Likes

Thank you very much for sharing this cool helper. I haven’t tested it yet, but it will not work with a dot in the folder name :wink:

1 Like

Ah! Thanks once again!
note to self: don’t write titles in the middle of the night :smile:

1 Like

Hey,

thanks for the add-on.

I wanted to try it for trees a little more in the background, but it seems to interfere with Botaniq and plants their full 3D trees instead.
Still, I do need Botaniq for the foreground…

Does it also work with ModularTree out of the box?

Ah, I think I may not have explained fully what was meant by that plant tree operator.
At the moment this addon can only generate the maps needed, and then they need to be added to your scene manually with the material in the provide blend file.
The Plant Tree operator is simply for fast import of botaniq trees for use with the main part of the addon (I will rename it to be more clear)
I will be adding an importer for these maps very soon though, so check back soon and it should be a lot easier to add these trees to your scene
hope that helps :slight_smile:

1 Like

I haven’t tried it yet, but as long as the materials are set up as described in the first post, the actual tree object shouldn’t matter, and it should just work (please tell me the results though, in case I need to change something)

Yes thank you but unfortunately it does not run with 2.83. Is there a special reason for this?

Oh, I suppose It’s because I updated the bl_info to 2.90, though I didn’t realise that would stop it working in other versions, I’ll change it.

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No thats no problem. It must be something else.

Hmm, what’s the error message?

The open Renders folder works. These are the other two:


Ah, that error shows if there isn’t a camera in the scene for it to render with. Did you use the “Set Up Scene” operator before adding in the tree?
I would advise starting a new file and using that operator first, before adding in your tree.
In the next update, all of that will be done automatically, so you shouldn’t get the error and it will hopefully remove a layer of complication.
hope that fixes it!

1 Like

No, I followed your tutorial and there is already a camera in my startup.blend. But i will have a look at the update.

Ok, Ithink this should fix it (hopefully):

alpha_trees_generator_0_2_5.zip (117.6 KB)

I haven’t manged to implement the scene set up automatically yet though, so you’ll still have to use the operator first.

1 Like

A short test gives me the following:


Linux does not read the double backslash \\ it uses /

Update 0.3

alpha_trees_generator_0_3_1.zip (136.0 KB)

  • Using the “Set Up Scene” operator is now no longer necessary when starting a new file
  • Changed code so Addon should work on all platforms
  • Added proper error messages to common problems
  • Fixed a few extra bugs

Thanks, @MarioPeper for pointing out the holes in the addon (Though I’m sure there are more), If the problem still persists, would you mind sharing the blend file so I could have a look? I think I’ve solved the problem, but I didn’t manage to replicate the error.

1 Like

Nope, unfortunately not. Here is the file after Execute All + error message.
test_alpha_tree.zip (2.0 MB)


Also a hint: It is better to save the files with the . blend file than in the addon folder.

Ooooh, so close! I forgot to update one of the files, but that download should work now :slight_smile:
also, I tried saving in the .blend folder, but that requires that the file be saved first which can be a bit of a pain, and also, having it all in one folder lets you build a library which, will hopefully be accessed by the addon in the future

1 Like