What do you do to make big forest scenes in Blender?

My latest project, a swampy ruined tower.

I’m about one month into learning Blender and still have my training wheels on. What kind of things do you do to make detailed forest environments or similar without causing your CPU/GPU to give up?

I really wanted to put more shrubbery into this one but had to leave it here as my renders began to fail.

I tried using procedural textures but couldn’t tell if that was making things better or worse! I use geometry nodes to instance trees and basically hacked away every detail I could get away with to make this one work. Even so my viewport became almost unusable and I could barely make a change without causing my computer to lock up.

I’d love to hear your tips for doing detailed, realistic scenes without traumatising your PC.

(PS I’d love for you to follow me on insta @sisyartist as I become more and more obsessed with this amazing program)


Background trees can be done as image planes (often called billboards) instead of real geo. For actually working on the scene to make the viewport more responsive select an object that is duplicated a lot, go to Properties panel, Object Properties, Viewport Display and set Display as to Bounds. This lets you see where things are and how many there are without stressing out the renderer.


Oh cool! How does that method work up close? Does it still work? Or better to do a couple mesh trees and then fill in with these?

Thank you, that is super helpful

Image planes are often used for leaves on trees. If you get black artifacts you should go to Render Properties->Light Paths->Max bounces and increase the Transparent enough to eliminate them.

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The problem with image planes is you don’t get accurate shading from the lights in the scene. There’s a halfway house - for a tree for example you could create a simple cylinder or cone and project the image onto that instead of onto a flat plane. You’ll get some shading that way. Check out the UVProject modifier for a good way to do this. Use real trees up front.

Hmmm sounds like I have some learning to do about image planes, thank you very much for that

In discussing technical issues I forgot to congratulate you on the image. Reminds me of the swamp tower in Witcher 1 game. Was that a source of inspiration?

Thank you very much! It actually wasn’t to begin with but as I began laying out the scene I was definitely inspired by the swamps in Witcher 3 and those creepy crones

I featured you on BlenderNation, have a great weekend!

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Thank you!!!