How to make trees - Scroll down to see the results of using background images

In this tutorial I’ll show how to completely make a tree 3d model for games using Blender and the Gimp. I guess the same things can be made in photoshop.
I assume you have at least basic knowledge of Blender. If you don’t, click here.

I strongly recommend using background images when modeling the trees! The results end up a lot better and more realistic!

First, let’s start with the textures:

Some images used here are copyrighted by Steve Baskauf:
You can use these images for most educational and personal purposes.
2. If you want to use the images commercially, contact the copyright owner.
3. If you use these images on the web, credit the copyright owner and link to the Bioimages site (

For the tree bark, make a 256x256 or 512x512 texture:
File->New->Set width and height to desired resolution->OK
Find a tree bark texture, could be using google images, watch out for copyright, or you could just go out and take a photo yourself, make sure you’re using the type of tree you want if you don’t want to make an hybrid tree, copy and paste it, use the grab tool to grab the image until you can only see the bark. If you can’t, look for a bigger image or scale yours to less. If the tree image is too big, you can have more parts of the bark by scaling it down.
When you’re done, go to Layer->Anchor Layer in the image window.
Next make this texture seamless. Go to filters->map->make seamless. This could have some undesired results… If it does feel free to post your image and I may tell you how to fix it.
Here’s mine (I got it from a website, using goole. I used the resyntesizer plugin and copied one side and flipped it horizontally):
Original Image (© 2002 Steve Baskauf)
Modified image (© 2002 Steve Baskauf)

Now, for the leaves.

This time create a 256x256 image, I don’t think you need a bigger one, this time we’ll use transparency:
File->New->Advanced Options->Fill with transparency->Set resolutin to 256->OK
Now, browse for or take a photo of a leave, and paste it on the GIMP. Take the erase tool and erase everything except the leave… it will be scaled down so don’t worry if you make some little mistakes.
I use this for the example (ALSO © 2002 Steve Baskauf)
Now when you’re done just copy, paste and scale the leave many times, until you fill the image. It should end up looking like this:(© 2002 Steve Baskauf)

Now let’s go with the modeling.
Just randomly, I picked the tree species Paulownia tomentosa (princess-tree)
If you want you can make flowers for it, if your game’s time is at summer…

The tree trunk:
Now fire up Blender, here’s the reference picture I’m using by Paul L. Redfearn, Jr.
Go to the top view if you aren’t there and add a circle. It can be 8 verticles. We’re making a lowpoly tree, DON’T use the default 32, it’s way too high poly.
Now go to the front view and Extrude (E) the thing up 10 units. Now go to wireframe view and select the lower verticles (B on your keyboard, box select). I teell you to go to wireframe view so you can see through the model and select the verticles you can’t see on solid view.
I know there’s a button that lets to see trough in solid view, but this is easier to explain to beginners.
Now extrude them down 1 unit. We’ll make the roots this way. Select half the verticles of both circles (B on your keyboard, box select) Extrude them to the right or the left, depending on which you selected. Select the end and scale it down and grab it down.
Do the same thing, but in quarters with the rest.

It should look like this:

Now that you know how to extrude, I believe you know how to create edges and faces using the F key. Just try to immitate this geometry for the branches:

That’s it! The basic model of the tree it’s done. Now we just need texturing and leaves.

UV texturing:

Now we’ll apply a texture, and if you’re not using Blender materials (which makes the engine run faster), static shading.
In 2.46, enter edit mode with the tree selected, or face select mode before 2.46.
Select all faces, in 2.46 hit the U key and select “reset”. In 2.45 don’t do anything.
Now I assume you know how to make a new window and handle the UV image editor. Go open the image you created for the bark texture and apply it for the tree.
You may have to enter textured display mode to see it.
Now for the shading, go to vertex paint, in the edit buttons choose a black color and shade the tree so it looks like this. If you just add a vertex color it will bake lightning on it, but it normally looks too dark.
It now should look like this:

Now with the leaves. There are many ways to do this.

I’ll start with the halo faces, add a plane in top view, apply the leaves textures we made to it, and position it facing to the -X layer IN EDIT MODE, select it, go to the texture face menu, disable collision and enable halo.
Now go to object mode, select the leaves plane and duplicate it near the branches, try to use as few as possible and to make the model look like a tree.
Here’s the result, it can look a lot better.:

With more patience:

Now with the next method. First add a plane and use the knife tool to cut it on half, then extrude both sides, scale them to 0 and remove doubles, grab the 2 verticles on the middle and pull them up, it should look like this:

Now just get in top view, hit U and project from view (bounds), apply the texture, duplicate it around and in the branches. It might end up like this:

You might duplicate the leaves and rotate them by 90 degrees (Z) so it looks more volumetric.
Using a texture with more leaves would look better. It just looks okay when I just made it but when I come back it doesn’t look right.

When using background images:

Download .blend


tree_tutorial.blend (674 KB)Tree2.blend (827 KB)

I used this methode (By the past I was inspired by speedtree :slight_smile: ), but when you have a lot of tree, you have your fps which fall…

The second one is great,

I desperately need to make some trees for my game… I just don’t have the balls to do it.

war-p, you have to disable collision and shading as much as possible. And as few polygons as possible. And small texture sizes.


Updated again

For a trunk that size, the diameter of the canopy should be a lot wider.

Sorry, but on my blender u is undo in edit mode and you can’t open images in the uv editor unless the other window is in object mode, could you be a bit clearer please. Also I’m fine with modelling and gimp but a complete noob with the uv image editor so could you add some detail there as I’ve come unstuck and don’t know how to apply textures using the uv image editor.

You’re welcome…
Here’s a tute
PlantPerson: Thanks. I’ll update it again
Edit: Check out the blend. I’m too lazy right now to upload screenshots. It’s 12:30


Tree2-2.blend (814 KB)

Ah just what I needed insanely cool game art here I come.:smiley:

The tree’s got 150 faces!
Here’s a screen

Its too strait I feel. The trunk needs to have some sort of variation in it… Otherwise cool!!

Thanks for the tut!


This tutorial is alot better than this one. This one’s made for beginners, like a simple start. The poly count ends up sort of the same.
I’ll make some free textures for different trees for using with that tutorial.
It’s also much better using background images when making trees.

But with alot of polys (over 3000). I’ll try making the leaves smaller in the texture, and duplicating them. Then it may get around 300… :eyebrowlift:


Paulownia_tormentosa.blend (929 KB)

328 polys :slight_smile:
Doesn’t look as good though.


Paulownia_tormentosa-lowpoly.blend (831 KB)

Southern Red Oak tree.
Used this technique.


oak.blend (832 KB)

Very nice, I liked the southern red oak best as that seems to look more like a tree than just duplicated leaves. I really like this thread! :smiley:
Keep it up.

Thanks. I’ll put these on the first page so people can download them. And everyone can post for ideas for more specific tree species for me to model!

Well after reading through all of this, and many many trials in the past, I decided to kinda mesh together a few techniques of my own with B3D00s and Jeramy Cookes Tutorial, and some helpful advice from Dim on my textures and placement of branches.

The biggest part of all this is the ability to change your tree up on the fly as your adding them to your world.

These trees are designed to be Joined together into 1 object after they are edited to your liking. You can join to more objects as you wish to help the alpha sorting, but with the advances in the BGE and its alpha sorting you may not have to.

Once they are joined into one object, and if you have display lists on and vertex arrays, the BGE doesn’t even notice them.

I call them my Tetra Trees, I know… its weird… but im a nerd…

But you make everything with what I call Control groups, IE there are 4 or 5 main objects that you instance one at a time and place together so all you have to do is change the Vertex colors or even the texture of one of the main control objects and it is immediately reflected onto the tree…

If you guys want ill write a full tutorial on this…

THIS TREE - 676 Faces 145 Objects (not including the control objects)

I have a few Filler objects in there 24 of them, if you remove them you will go down to;

604 Faces and 121 objects NOT BAD AT ALL!

Here is an example of the tree showing the various groups the tree is divided into, and the main 4 control objects on the left.

Here is an example with one of the control objects with no vertex colors on it.

Here is an example with NO vertex colors on ANY of the Control objects.

Here is a shot with some light brown vertex coloring on the inside of all the branches.

In this shot I changed the main texture of all the Control objects to just BARE BRANCHES! I didnt have to change ANYTHING on the main model just the 4 control objects!

This is a closeup!!!

There you have it. If you guys want a tutorial ill write one… Im just not prepared for one right now.



Here is the Blend with the textures, ignore my maple branch, it ended up that way when I rotated it, and my branch texture ended up all fuzzy…;sa=downfile;id=2

Yummy trees Nickadamos thank you so much for sharing! But I cant download it for some reason… I have signed up but whenever I try and download it, it asks me to login and then it just repeats and I cant download it!!! :open_mouth:

:RocknRoll: <— Nickadamos