Bonsai scene

I’m working on this scene, the tree (done with “Add Curve: Sapling”) and the dirt it is planted in are just place holders for now until I can manage to model a decently realistic bonsai tree. 4-5 tries yielded bad to moderate results on the tree.

I would like pointers on modeling a realistic tree and critique on composition and materials/lighting.

Apart from textures, completely done in Blender 2.61 with compositing and rendered in cycles.


The tree you have their looks like a scaled down version of a larger tree, not like a Bonsai! That is your issue.

Of course, it all depends on what you want this to be, an old bonsai or a new one. If you are going for an old bonsai, then what you really need to to sculpt the tree using Sculptris (or blender sculpt, but for this form i think that sculptris would work wonders). Using sculpting you can get a very natural looking form, that has very few faults that you get from generated or box modeled natural forms.

If you ARE going for the young bonsai effect, the leaves don’t look right to me still. The leaves really should be fewer, and spaced apart. Also their shape is not very natural. They look like the leaves off some small bushes, the kinds of plants not used for Bonsai. So find reference images of different types of Bonsai, and that way you can see the types of trees used, and make a “hybrid” of some that you like.

All this coming from somebody who isn’t a plant expert, but none the less. In my eyes what brings down this image is the tree itself, which should be the focus of the scene.

Have fun!

I agree. I think the tree is way to big in comparison with the knife and the tree grows straight up, that’s what breaks the scene, just have a look at more reference images and you will get the requested result.
Actually I love your background and this floor texture :wink: Keep it up!!!

Wefyb & TornTom: Absolutely, Wefyb’s picture is the style of tree I want to end up with, just having a very hard time modelling it. Thanks for the reference picture Wefyb, its hard to find ones without too many leaves so I can see the underlying structure of the branches.

DustyKhan: I actually considered the particles approach last night, but I didn’t have time to try it out. Might use lattices or curves to get a more organic look. Thanks for the offer of the .blend, your thread gives a very good insight into what you were working on though :slight_smile:

I started doing this tutorial and used a bonsai as my model/bg image, it was pretty easy!

I love Bonsai trees. But they do not look like full size trees. You can prune the roots and trunk but a lot of the trees have really big leaves.
Think of the difference between a human and a dwarf. They are the same but the proportions are different.
Also depending on how old they are. Google pictures of Bonsai, they are beautiful.

Alright, tried this again, better imo, but maybe not quite there. This is going to be a pine tree in a “cascading” style. Still haven’t put on the pine needle clusters.


Secong attempt is much better; its curves are too smooth.

Although it’s small, the shape gives a feeling of age, yet the look - its roundness and smoothness indicate youth.

Good attempts tho - carry on; will be interested how you continue.

To be fair the first attempt wasn’t an attempt at all, I just used sapling :slight_smile:

This is teaching me a lot though, and you’re right about it being too soft, luckily the way I modeled it, it will be easy to fix.

I did learn a lot of other stuff trying to do this, mainly cycles materials, but also UV unwrapping. Still not completely satisfied with the latter, but I might just call that part of it done for now.

My gut-impression here is that you ought to immediately go back to your first impression of the scene, and improve upon it.

My main (and, really, only…) objection to the first scene is that you are completely missing the highlights on the front surfaces of the leaves. And, one of the key reasons for this, is that the background has this huge bright-spot(!) that is stealing the entire show away from those poor leaves. (They just don’t stand a chance.)

So… let’s take a look at that real-world photograph kindly contributed to us by “Wefyb.” Yea, indeed, I think this is no accident. In this example, the backdrop is both very soft and subdued (thus: not competing with the subject in terms of brightness), and definitely blue (thus: not competing in terms of color family). Your current backdrop choices unfortunately do both. Your subject is fairly devoid of highlights, whereas your background is presently full of them. Try reversing the two, as the professional photo offered by Wefyb did, and see if the same magic does not happen for you as did happen to that photographer.

Consider: both of your interpretations so-far are suffering from the same malady … the background is competing with the subject, and winning. (Kindly do not take my words to heart, as being “too” critical or as stinging “too” much, for I surely do not intend them to be so!) Give your poor subjects a fighting chance. The human eye is always attracted to the brightest area and to the sharpest contrast. See to it, then, that these areas are your subject.

(Just to be clear: each of your two very-different concepts … express two entirely-different, and very-good but IMHO needs-improvement … treatments of the subject. But, again purely IMHO, both of them suffer from the same avoidable fate. Study Wefyb’s professional photograph …)

OK, thanks for all your comments and help.

@sundialsvc4: I see where you are coming from, but I kind of like the “competition” between the defocused background and the foreground, it fits with the daydreaming kind of late afternoon mood I am going for.

In any case I am burning out on this project and am getting ready to call it finished. This is my first Blender project ever (and a huge learning experience), and my first 3D project in years. I will take all of your points into consideration but I need to finish it or it never will be :slight_smile:

Finished image: http://blenderartists.org/forum/showthread.php?247836

You’re second is getting the right idea, but still a little flat feeling, make sure there are branches and things coming toward, away, and at angles from the camera. Other then that going well!