Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Making Of Realistic Environment Vegetation - written by Ando-Studio

Introduction :
The purpose of this lesson is to explain the approach we take in order to produce realistic terrain in our projects. One of the biggest challenges today in exterior renderings is to produce realistic and rich terrain. in the past(few years ago), clients and cg artists were satisfied with a low level products that mainly were a rough description of the geometry and materials ( particularly low poly models) . Today  it's a deferent story and there are several factors pushing forward the work level and clients expectations :
1.      Greater computing power is more accessible to all people
- Market demand - the common people exposed to 3d in the daily life (commercials, film, etc.) So as clients  they have greater demands and expectations.
2.       Advanced vegetation software is available on the market.
3.      3d industry level constantly  rising - more 3d artists become professionals and producing high level renderings.
4.      web learning through tutorials and professional tips become available to all and free.
Therefore, the level is constantly rising in the 3d market as well as requirements, but beyond the technical aspect of the location of objects in the scene, vegetation location and setting lights, there is the artistic aspect, in our opinion, that distinguishes between medium and good illustrations and excellent simulations that has character. In order to insert an artistic aspect to the renderings and take it a level higher than other ordinary renderings the one should be exposed to art and define his own artistic direction or join an existing art stream.
We are going to explain the basic approach and method that we use in our works and concentrate only in vegetation and not in other aspects that make an excellent rendering, like lights, photography, post production etc. 

Reference :
Finding a good reference is the basic step. It is essential because it make the work much focus and easy. What work well in nature will work good in simulation, with a little tweaking to make it feet to your project. The reference picture of a natural area and vegetation would give you a lot of information regarding heights, color combinations, mood, density of trees and leaves, types of vegetation and more.
You could always check your work comparing to something similar to find out if its giving you the same effect and atmosphere you want to achieve. So a good reference pictures are first step.

japanese villa referense

TNA project forest reference



Models :
Next step is to find all models you decided to use in the scene. You don't have to find the exact tree or bush, it's  important to find vegetation that gives to feeling and atmosphere you want to give to your scene. It's important to use a high poly vegetation in front of the render frame
while you can use a low poly vegetation in far areas of the scene just to fill in green areas. After you picked up or made your vegetation, merge it all to one scene and arrange it in one line and give each type a different color. Now turn them all to vray proxies (don't forget to keep a copy of the vegetation as mesh in a separate file, just in case...). Now you can scatter it in the scene.

TNA vegetation set




Composition :
In order to arrange the vegetation in a proper way you have to take in mind few things :
1.      Don't over load your scene with too many types of trees etc. Keep it simple. Use up to 5-6 types of trees in a large scene, one type of low bush, one type of ivy and a ground cover that is appropriate to the landscape you're dealing with(city, forest etc.). Overloading will also cause a large memory usage and crashes
2.      Layers. Make your vegetation orderly. Even nature has its order. Set your vegetation so it would look like you're looking through several layers. A bush or tree close to the camera and far vegetation for background. In-between you should put vegetation that doesn't block your architecture, but emphasis it. Give it a sense of complexity by looking through a bush or tree which is high detailed and its close to the camera. That way the whole scene is detailed.
3.      Balance. Make a balance between high and low vegetation. Make a connection between the architecture and the nature by growing ivy on the building and place near trees that embrace the architecture. You can also place vegetation in places the wasn't treated well, to cover and block them.
4.      make a composition of colors. make some deference in the leaves materials so it would look diverse. other way a large area with trees would look a mass of flat green.
5.      try to use unique vegetation and not the kind of vegetation everybody put in their renderings.
6.      repetitive vegetation make your image less realistic. use scatter plug-ins, or do it manually, to diversify trees and other vegetation heights, scale and rotation.
7.      max layers. work with 3ds max layers so you can hide and unhide vegetation in area you don't see in specific view.
8.      atmosphere. don't forget that vegetation control also on the scene atmosphere and feel. amount of sky that can be seen through the trees can make you feel something while low trees and large amount of sky can make you think different (warm, cold, secure, exposed etc.)
9.      trees shadow is texture. use trees shadow to "break" empty loan areas and empty walls. the shadow will "paint" a nice texture on it and make it interesting.


Vegetation Plug-Ins :
It Is Recommended To Use  Several Plug-Ins And Ready To Use Models For Your Vegetation Source :
1.      Evermotion Trees And Plants Models
2.      I-Cube Vegetation Sets (Grass And Lowpoly Trees)
3.      Onyx Trees Plug-In
4.      Ivy Generator
5.      Multi-Scatter Plug-In (I-Cube's)


Onyx Tree :
When You Open The Plug-In It Look Very Simple And Not Sophisticated Tool, But For Us It Turn To Be A Great Tool For Making Large And High Trees.  This Tool Is Very Simple To Use And Can Make A Huge Variety Of Trees.
1.      Start With A Ready Template And Customize It (The Plug-In Comes With Library)
2.      You Can Control And Change Every Part Of The Tree(Trunk, Branches, Leaves Etc.)
3.      the saw feature is great. you can cut branches...
4.      Make Sure To Turn On All Parts Of The Tree Before Exporting
5.      Export To 3ds (Up To 1.5 Million Polygons Per Tree Its O.K.)
6.      In The Export Dialog Box You Can Control The Leaves In More Detailed Way (The Leaves Plates)
7.      Import The File To 3ds Max And Apply Materials(The Uv-Map Is Build In. For Better Leaves You Can Apply Leave Material With Alpha So You Want Get A Sharp Rectangle Leaves)
8.      Turn It To Vray Proxy

Ivy Generator :
This plug-in is great and easy to use.
1.      Open the plug-in from the creation panel(objects)
2.      Click on the surface you want to grow ivy on and press "grow"
3.      If you got a surface that is not solid and got holes or net surface, you can make a plane and grow the ivy on it and then remove it. Otherwise it's impossible to grow ivy on it.
4.      Control the density and growth direction of the leaves. 8cm leaves size and chaos of 1 would make the leaves noticeable from far and want make them look repetitive in the same direction.
5.      You can diverse the leaves materials and combine 2-3 colors of leaves. It make more realistic.
6.      Convert the default material(standard) to vray.

Multi-Scatter R&D  Group :
Simple plug-in that makes a ground cover and scatter trees in just one click.
1.      Open multiscatter from the create panel(objects)
2.      Click in empty place in the scene ( an arrow sign will appear) and then right click to avoid adding another sign.
3.      Open the plug-in dialog box and pick the surface you want to scatter on.
4.      Select the trees you want to scatter(teapot icon).
5.      Control the amount of duplicates and scale, rotation etc.
6.      You can scatter proxies
7.      Make sure your proxy pivot is in the center bottom(it tends to move when turning to proxy)
8.      You can use a line to define an area you don't want to scatter in(border line)
9.      The plug-in doesn't display a outline of the model/proxy but only box, point etc.
10.  Check the preview option on to see changes.
11.  You can use the templates that comes with the plug-in (libraries - with pdf preview). You have to merge the file with the same name from the library(same as seen in pdf), don't merge camera, lights and plane that comes with the scene. Then you just have to choose the distribution surface.
12.  You need a strong computer to deal with huge scene.
13.  Don't try to convert the multiscatter to mesh. It will crash.



thats it !!!

Reference :

Finding a good reference is the basic step. It is essential because it make the work much focus and easy. What work well in nature will work good in simulation, with a little tweaking to make it feet to your project. The reference picture of a natural area and vegetation would give you a lot of information regarding heights, color combinations, mood, density of trees and leaves, types of vegetation and more.
You could always check your work comparing to something similar to find out if its giving you the same effect and atmosphere you want to achieve. So a good reference pictures are first step.

11 comments:

  1. I am reading this tutorial and so far i am stuned !!! I want to congratulate on your studio members for the sahre of knowledge and for cooperation and kindness!!!

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  2. Thank you for this tutorial. Outdoor scenes are harder to get to the realism and you do it well! The vegetation is one of the most important points in the outdoor scenes and you can achieve a great level of realism! Congratulations for your works and the great tutorial. I would like to see a lighting and post-production tutorial! Thanks!

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  3. This is very kind of you. Thanks for the great tutorial. Looking forward for more!

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  4. And how about the setting of lighting, enviroment, cameras,...
    I knew all of steps above, but I can make a sence with the vegetation like that. It's always dark on grass and trees... although the building is bright enough. Can you give some advices....

    Looking forward to your tutorials!
    Sorry my english!

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  5. sometimes you have to add more light to the scene. it depends on the environment etc. but if it dark try to add a larg vray plane over the scene. its very general because i dont know how your scene looks like

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  6. very well said..thanks for the great tut!! more power

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  7. thank you very much for this Ando-Studio!

    @ symphony.arch - i use an environment hdri in the gi environment and when the shadows are too strong i increase the render multiply in the vrayhdri material

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  8. Thanks for precious tips! This gonna be really helpful ;)

    Cheers,
    Thomas

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  9. How did you IVY in Max. I use it still as stand alone software.

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  10. thank you for this helpful tips and guides... I will surely do it as guide..
    Great data for Park City UT Real Estate

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