How do you uv texture a complex tree with branches?

Ive got an idea for an image that I want to make with blender.
It involves a giant tree with lots of branches and plenty of foliage.

The thing is, I want to make the tree look as good as possible, so I will certainly need to uv texture it, but how dow I go about UV mapping it?

Obviously I need to cut the UVmap up like in the video tutorials. But if I for example, cut it up so that branches are separate from the trunk, how can I make sure that any textures I paint will smoothly follow through? Specifically bump maps?

Now before anyone suggests one of those automatically “tree-generating-apps”, let me just say that Im very confident that these programs will not be useful for what I am envisioning.

If you are building your mesh from scratch add a uv map before you begin to extrude / subdivide / mangle your mesh and you will have some kind of uv on the final mesh as well.

Another method for a mesh built from scratch would be to add seams as you go and then when finished apply lscm to unwrap.

UVmapper at will attempt to give you a decent layout.

Sorry can’t be more help.

slowly :stuck_out_tongue:

Apparently I havent been clear in what I am asking.

My problem is not that I dont know how to uvmap or lscm unwrap, the problem is, is that no matter how you handle it, a complex tree with lots of branches sticking out at odd angles needs to have UV seams. I dont see how you can UV map it otherwise.

The way that I see it, the typical unwrapping setup would probably be so that the main trunk of the tree would have only one seam, but each of the branches would also need to have a seam at the point where they connect to the main trunk.

If you wanna texture the tree organically, and without use of repeating textures, HOW would you go about making sure that the textures blend into each other at the seams?

If you Calculate “From Window” with all your faces selected in Face Mode, Then scale your UV’s bigger than the image in the UV Editor (so only some faces cover the image), then the mapping will be repeated to all (the other) selected faces back and front. No need for seams. Just make sure that the image resolution is good for the size of the faces (IOW, that faces don’t get UVMapped with close-up of a pic of bark.


Fixing texture seams:

  • Cover them with leaves.
  • Paint over them with the UV paint tool (UV window -> View -> View Paint tool; Click the pencil button in the header.) You will see painted changes in real time.
  • Make a basic procedural texture for the bark first, then export it with Texture Baker, and then paint more details in your image editor. But don’t paint over the seams! Now the procedurals will make the separate map pieces blend into each other.
  • According to JoOngle, there’s some kind of new 3D paint tool in Tuhopuu.
  • Texture the pieces like you normally would (with seams). Then, when you’re finished, use the Clone/Stamp tool in your image editor to fix seams. Save often and do image reloads in Blender.

Good luck painting “a giant tree with lots of branches and plenty of foliage”! :wink:

The tree is going to be made of many separate objects. And if you start modeling those individual leaves individually, you will soon see little puffs of smoke coming out of your CPU after several hours of grinding.

A realistic tree, or any other complex object, demands that you pay close thought to “what says ‘tree’ to me?” And then, “how can I get this effect, to an acceptable degree, while doing as little work as possible?” Welcome to the fine art of “faking,” or “cheating,” a shot.

As an illustration of my point, obviously what’s going to be the bugaboo is “those damned leaves.” Calculating the bounce of light over hundreds or thousands of leaves, one at a time, will take hours. :o Hours that you just don’t have.

This approach is “anatomically correct,” to be sure, but always remember that what you need is not a correct model of reality: what you need are a few million pixels on a rectangular video screen! If you can get there, acceptably and quickly, without laboriously modeling “reality,” so much the good.

Perhaps therefore you dream up the idea of taking a sphere, crunching it up by selecting pixels and scaling them in and out, then grabbing the proportional-editing tool and mashing around some more, then making the whole thing transparent and plopping onto it a texture (mostly transparent) which consists of an image upon which you have loosely spattered a bunch of squares of various shades of brown and green. Yes, you are effectively “spray-painting a chicken-wire tree and tossing a hunter’s camoflauge net over it!” It works in the movies; it will work here. The computer can solve that sort of problem very quickly and it will give you a whole lot of very realistic-looking texture, especially if you arrange your depth-of-field so that most of it is out-of-focus anyway. One or two in-focus leaves, right in the foreground close to the camera, will provide all the visual information that the viewer needs to interpret all those other blobby shapes out there as “leaves.” But the computer does not have to render them. Take it as far as you can go. A little more spray-paint on a transparent plane, rocking back and forth in front of the camera maybe halfway through the tree, will suggest just-enough motion of leaves to imply a windy day, and no one will notice that the other leaves don’t move with it.

Never forget that Star Wars Episode IV actually shipped to theatres with the entire crowd in the pod-race scene replaced by a bunch of painted Q-tips. The shot lasted about two seconds, and was completed in about two seconds, and no one noticed. (It’s been fixed on the DVD.) Get really good at cheating. It’ll save your schedule. Get the shot into the can.

Another useful trick is the “highly detailed close-up.” If you want to establish some particular detail of the tree, CUT TO a one-or-two second close-up of that particular area, showing the detail (the rest of the background will be fuzzy since this is a close-up), then CUT TO a medium-shot from the same or a very close-by camera angle. The viewer will “remember” the detail and will “see” it there, but in your medium-shot it does not have to actually be there. The viewer’s own memory is a great time-saver. The reason why the audience never noticed those Q-tips is that they had already been shown what was “there.” In the subsequent passing-shot that I spoke of, they “saw” alien creatures, not Q-tips.

Here is one I did procedurally with lots of mats. Nice transition, IMO :wink:

Recently I tried creating a seamless texture and mapping it to one of the trees in orco but that produces seams. Doesn’t matter if you choose flat, cube, whatever… Object is just to complex for Blender to map I guess.

Seams can be dealt with post pro or hidden, a smudge brush in GIMP should do the trick. Also, stands to reason at least, if you uv-map the whole tree and have seams, you can lightly apply a procedural (one as close looking to your uv map as possible) over it to smooth out the seams. Just an idea…

BTW, two more suggestions

  1. Since I didn’t see you mention it was for an animation I’m assuming it is for picture. So you don’t need detail all over the mesh, just the part that shows from the camera angel. Save the tree texturing for last so you know exactly what part of your tree will be in view and what will be hidden by leaves… Now from the angle of the camera, only select and unwrap the faces which show. This should unwrap alot less mangled then the entire tree…

  2. Also, you can break your tree off into seperate objects to make it simpler. This way they don’t share the same place in the uv-mapping window. After you’ve uv-mapped them you can rejoin the objects and they will retain thier indevidual uv mapping. The problem is they now have thier own matts and Blender cannot exceed something like 14 matts per object…

UV mapping a tree is a little complex at the most, definately not impossible. When you start, place it in the WIP section, I’ll surely want to follow it.

Ok, I guess I kinda know how to deal with the textures for now.

How do I go about making the leaves?

The thing is I want to make it look as good as possible, so Im worried about having it full of leaves that look identical. Is there any way to get some randomness into it?

I was thinking, it would be really cool if there was a script where you could say, ok, this is leaf type 1, this is type 2, this is type3. Each type would have a slightly different texture and slightly different color brightness. Then the script could place them automatically along some vertexpainted points on the tree, thereby randomly alternating between the 3 types, so that its not always just the same type of leaf next to itself.

Hi !

Here is the trick that I use for the leaves:

When I wander outside and see nice leaves, I take some. Back to home, I put them on my scanner glass, and I get nice textures. I apply them a treatment in Photoshop or Gimp to get also a bump texture and a specular texture.

When I make a tree, I model the leaves, and apply to the major part of them a green material, with a procedural cloud texture to get some random.

But for the closest leaves, I UV map them with the images obtained from the original scan, and it is very realistic !

I did this on the ivy leaves, in my waterfall movie. Unfortunately, on my website, there are no close sight of them. They are too far from the camera, and because of the compression they are not neat…

But believe me, the result is good !


best for trees imo is to uv map 3 or 4 branches using either a cylinder unwrap, or lscm with one seam down the middle. then make everything you can from those branches by duplicating them. another thing to do is make a straight branch like this, put an armature in it, duplicate the branch/rig, then manipulate it as desired and run the apply armature script. delete the duplicated rig and go back to the original, duplicate it, repeat, etc.

here’s a self bumping bark texture i made that you can use if you wish. it’s tilable too, and though somewhat bland, provides a suitable illusion i have found.

Hi Modron !

You are a Genius !

I should have never thought of putting an armature in a branch.

Very good idea .

For now, I only did changes in edit mode, but your method is much handy.

Thanks !