Carey House Tutorial 03 - Trees

In this, the third in the making of Carey House tutorial series, we'll have a look at the wider landscape.  All fairly similar Forest Pack techniques to the previous tutorials with a few key differences to create various effects.

There are essentially three different types of plant in the wider landscape discounting the grass, ferns, spider plants etc which form the base ground cover for the whole landscape; Fir trees, Aspen and a simple low level perimeter bush.  

Fir trees provided by 3dmentor


Bush provided by 3dmentor

The underlying ground geometry is split into two meshes; the close up mesh which surrounds the building and the wide landscape mesh.  The mesh immediately adjacent to the building will obviously be viewed at closer range and as such required more detail including displacement whilst the wider mesh simply serves as a surface to scanter trees and bushes on and requires much less detail.  As can be seen from the viewport view below the trees are scatted on both the detailed and less detailed meshes.  This can be achieved by simply adding each mesh to the Surface rollup in Forest Pack.

Mesh detail

I tend to scatter each tree type using a separate forest object thus allowing greater control for density and distribution.  This also makes it simple to isolate each forest object and tweak as required.  In this Scene there are two main forest objects; the fir tress being the primary one with the aspen scatted more sparely in between.  The low level bushes in this instance are used as a distant screening device preventing any glimpses of distant light being visible through the trees.

Fir trees


Perimeter screening vegetation

Combined landscape & building base + FOG (got a little carried away perhaps?)


The trees are scattered across the surfaces and the clearing within which the building sits is created with a spline as an exclude area.  Another exclude spline is used to limit the area of trees so as not to have too much unnecessary geometry 

Clearing in the woods created with exclude area splines

One of the key differences with distributing the trees compared to the ground cover vegetation is that you want the trees to cast shadows and be visible in reflections.  With the ground cover we typically enable Limit to visibility in the Area section of the Camera rollup in Forest Pack which saves RAM and increases viewport speed.  With the trees it is often preferable to disable this option so that they remain visible behind the camera. 

Often, particularly when using a low sun, it may be preferable to enable limit to visibility in order to allow the sun to penetrate the scene.  The trouble with this is that you then lose your tree reflections.  In this instance we used a single spline and added it as an exclude area in the fir tree Forest Pack object with a thickness of 800cm allowing the sun to penetrate the clearing.  This spline can the  be moved if a different sky orientation is required or disabled if no sun is required. 

The trees in the foreground framing the view were placed manually.  This is often the easiest way to maintain compositional control when fine tuning a specific view rather than relying on Forest Pack random distribution.

In the next tutorial we will move on to the modelling & texturing of the house itself.