Space Tree Pro

by Michel's add-ons & more in Models

Space Tree Pro, a new way to create trees

Space Tree Pro lets you create trees in minutes.

Trees

  • can be made to interact with the environment, reacting to impenetrable object groups or shadow areas,
  • can be used to duplicate similar trees by simply copying them and regenerating them with a different seed,
  • can be made truly distinguished by shaping them with a grease pencil or outlining crown shapes with object groups,
  • are not limited to single trunk trees; multiple trunk trees or even hedges are just as easy.

Space Tree Pro is all about versatility. Where an established solution like Sapling is about hero trees and indeed allows for a more direct control, Space Tree Pro is about interaction with the environment, creating many trees in the middle distance without sacrificing their individuality while still offering you a efficient work-flow, a great deal of control, uv-mapped tree trunks and a handy starter pack.

Interact with the environment

Trees are assets that can define a scene. They can be the centre of attention, an important prop or just a background but in all those cases they add to the general mood by their shapes and colours. A key factor in the believability of a scene is how well the trees blend in with the environment. And this is where Space Tree Pro comes in, with it's ability to create crown shapes based on how much light is available at a certain location, it's awareness to prevent branches from growing into impenetrable buildings and the possibility to grow multiple interacting trees or bushes at once.

Create unique trees fast

Space Tree Pro offers a large number of options to shape a tree and stores this information along with the tree object itself. This allows for a quick way to generate similar but unique trees once you are satisfied with the general shape. Simply duplicate your tree, choose a new seed and update the tree. Trees along with their properties can be stored in any .blend file, which makes creating libraries of trees straightforward. You are not limited however to create trees with simple crown shapes: tree crowns can be shaped using groups of objects for their general shape, starting points for trunks can be defined using groups of empties and the general shape of a crown can be influenced with the grease pencil. In fact it is possible to create a tree or bush with just the grease pencil which gives you the possibility to create for example shrubs that are trained along walls or very irregular and distinctive 'hero' trees.

Get started immediately

Space Tree Pro comes bundled with several example trees that you can use as a basis for your own trees. A comprehensive and fully illustrated manual is provided as well and a YouTube play-list is provided with several walk-through tutorials.

Customize your trees

Shaping trees is not enough to create a convincing impression, leaves and fruits are essential too. You can of course use the sample trees provided or reuse the particle systems bundled with them but creating your own particle systems with leaves or other objects is possible as well and documented in the manual. In fact almost any aspect a generated tree is customizable. Each generated tree is uv mapped and comes with several weight and vertex color maps that can be used in bark materials or to control a particle system and all these features are documented as well.

A fully illustrated and comprehensive manual in pdf format is included with the product. It contains installation instructions, several work flow centric tutorials, an extensive reference section and a Q&A section. A YouTube play-list with several tutorials is provided as well. The section below is an excerpt from the manual that covers the creation of simple trees, while this list of introductory videos aims to give you a good taste of the possibilities:



Revision information

VersionDateBuild 
1.021-jun-2015201506201446initial version
1.110-jul-2015201507100830added option to make particle systems unique, plus minor cosmetic tweaks (removal of unnecessary print statement)
1.204-oct-2015201510041334add new skinning methods for trunk, bumpiness to basic crown shape and some pruning options
1.221-feb-2016201602211426Blender 2.77 compatibility update (add-on stays backward compatible with older versions as well)

Simple trees

Trees can also be made from scratch in a few distinct steps. The idea is to work from the ground up by defining first how the branches will develop, then how the general shape of the crown will look and finally adding detail like bark and leaves.

Adding a new tree

Add a new tree object in the 3D view by selecting Add → Mesh → Tree. A tiny skeleton of a tree will be positioned at the 3D cursor.

Controlling the branches

The next step is to increase the complexity of the branch structure. We can do this by adjusting three important properties in the Trunk and branches panel: Markers, Segment length and Kill distance. By setting Markers to 400, Segment length to 0.25 and Kill distance to 2.0 and clicking Update tree we get a much more developed branch structure:

The central idea in the algorithm used by the add-on to generate a tree skeleton, is to distribute markers inside some volume and grow a branch in small steps towards the markers that are closest. When the growing branch reaches a marker this marker is removed (coloured red in the illustration below). In the process of growing and removing markers the relation between markers and existing segments changes: a branch may grow a new segment but some markers may still be closest to the previous segment because they were outside the kill distance. This will lead to a side shoot.

So by lowering the Kill distance the growing tip of a branch will remove less markers, leading to more side shoots and thus a more complex tree. By shortening the segment length and increasing the number of markers we then improve the definition of the tree.

Shaping the crown

The outline of the crown of the tree is mainly determined by the shape of the volume that contains the markers. By default this is a sphere located straight above the 3d cursor, resulting in a straight trunk and a spherical crown: 

In the picture above we can see both the generated branches (in green) and the distribution of the markers in the crown volume (in grey). The shape, position and size of this volume can be controlled with properties in the Crown panel. Setting Shape to 2.0, Taper to 1.8 and clicking Update tree will give a wider crown:

Adding bark

Until now we defined the tree skeleton but we didn't give give it any body. In fact if we would render the tree right now it wouldn't be visible because it consists of just vertices and edges. By checking the Skin option and clicking Update tree we get an actual trunk:

However a trunk without any material assigned is just a dull grey pipe, therefore select a material in the Bark material selection box and press Update tree.

Adding leaves

Although many trees lose their leaves in winter, most situations call for trees with leaves. These can be added in the Leaves panel. Space tree pro comes bundled with a small selection of particle systems with leaves and flowers in the examples.blend file that you can append  to your scene and then select from the Leaves selection box.

[end of excerpt]

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