Tobias Schmid (benkroft)

27 replies · posted

Collab2021 - WIP - benkroft

Hi, im Working for the FG Nature Assets and will do FG Bushes.

This is my WIP to document my progress and learning.

  • WIP 1:

    I started with a alpha plane and a procedrual texture approach, but i realised it will be really complex shaders to create for a entire bush. Mayby i come back to this idea later, but for single leaves.

    Then i decided to chech some of my reference material i gathered on youtube and watched Gibly tees tutorial by lighing boy.

    How to Create Ghibli Trees in 3D - Blender Tutorial - YouTube

    This style looke really close  and i recreated it.

    This hase some limitations or thing to be solved later.

    Light dependant. Sunlamp controlls generall direction.

     Uses Ambient occlusion Eevee. This gives a bit better details in the shaddows, can be turned off if needed.

    Material (Color) switching dependent on object color value. So we have only 1 instance and 1 material to duplicate.

    Add point light to controll lighted areas  better. Negative values for shaddows. Point lamps without shadows for better performance if needed.

    Not bad for the first day, i gonna check if i can bake texturemaps for this.

  • wow this looks awesome already :D great work man

  • awesome work :)

  • WIP2:

    I tried to Bake the model above but it uses the shader to rdb node which will only work in eevee. So it can't be baked, because baking works only in cycles. There is a option to use the toon shader in cycles instead, but it diden't give me the same nice result.

    I'm not sure if i can store the colors in a indirect lighting map in eevee, did a short test, but it diden't gave me what i want. 

    So i guess this shader is in realtime and procedrual and not backable to a texturemap. Maybe this will be accepted for the entry.

    I already started a second approach to the bushes, with geometry moddeling a leaf.

    Dosen't match the stile yet, but looks promising. Also tried geometry nodes for distribution. on a sphere and procedrualy on a line.

    But i'm not there where i want to be yet.

    Also a simpler variation with a lowpoly plane, single color texture

    I baked the color and combined it with a baked shadowpass, but texture ist quiet blury at the moment with 1k.

    The right bush is with baked textures and left with principled bsdf.

    room for improvement.

    I think i should focus on the modelling for now to get the shapes right , and then come back tho the shaders, although 

    the shaders depend in the  modeling technique a lot i guess.

    My favorit is the Gibly Style in post 1 to focus on.

    • I agree, it does not fit the art style, but it is an amazing result on its own.
      Especially because it sounds so effortless when you are talking about it.
      I will definitely 'borrow' some of it, when playing around with flower leaves this week.

      Thanks for the inspiration!

    • The Ghibli style really match for this art work, I have done same way mine MGBush today ;)

    • WIP 3:

      I tried to reduce the polycount fo my ghibli bush. It already used a decimate modifier, but i cutd reduced i even more to save 80%. Now the geomerty is has 6 verts. Then i have a basic clupp of a bush which i instance a lot in the scene, so technically it dont at more geometry to the scene with instancing, but it slows dawn viewport a bit.

      I figourd out i can usea a basemesh with just 6 verts, so no modifiers needed.

      I also removed the point lights, wich was a huge perfomance issue. And i try to use  it with only 1 sunlamp.

      Did some testing for vertex counts with different modeliing. Hard to achieve low poly wiht details (it looks ok but still high vertex count) . In this example all objects are converted to meshes, no instances, no particle systems. I think instances will save geometry for a small performance drop, so this is my way to go i think.

    • You mentioned at the beginning that you started with the alpha plane approach, and I wonder if there's a good way to take something like a sampling addon generated tree with all of its leaves, and selectively bake it into a minimal number of planes & low poly alpha shapes.  I'm really excited to watch the Ghibli tree video that you shared (once my crazy work week ends, ugh).

    • I think that is possible, i had the same thougt for my bush. i have not a perfect workflow for this but u can use a branch of the sappling tree with leafes, render it out and then u have a single plane with a branch u can then duplicate arround. this is a verry simplified method.

  • WIP 4:

    found a nice technique, polycounts really low

    Stylized Nature: Vegetation, Animation, Shaders (

    also my previous bush a bit polished. close to finishing my homework.

  • "Homework Submission - Week 1 - FG Bushes "


    A sphere shape with a particle system to distribute 3 alphaplanes, simple handpainted alphamap. This is the lowest poly method i found. Total of 10'000 verts for all 4 bushes. Some shaders i tested relay on geometry / lighting , but i cover that later.

    As an alternative this is a ghibly style bush, but it's a lot of poligons arround 50k -200k at minimum. I'm ok to stick with the alpha planes version.

    • crew

      Amazing WIP thread benkroft! You really dug in deep this week. Tons of good info here thanks to your tests / versions. You've earned full points plus extra for your effort 🤝 

      Stylistically I wish we could blend the two and somehow reduce their polycount significantly...Lol I know that's asking a lot. I desperately want to spend some time this week studying and exploring gameart foliage to assist you and the others. Look for a post this week in the nature team thread with some reference and videos to consider.

  • WIP 5:

    I wanna share my progress with baked textures to a simple plane.

    Someone mentioned this link in the last stream:

    Autumn Tree

    I analized it and saw a opportunity to improve my bush, i was already on the right track .

    I started with the leaf shape, doing it procedrually. (later i think of modelling it with highres geometry to bake then)

    The i created a twig by duplicating the leaf and add a branch. This then can be baked to a plane.

    I struggled a bit with the baking proces, also the alpha masks aren't perfect yet (u can see the original shape of the leaf plane).

    I baked from selection to active. Later i want to bake normal and roughness maps too.

    Then i added 2 loopcuts to simple deform it a little, to make it look better from different angles. (this can be optimised and removed later for better performance, cutting it from 9  to 4 verts)

    The materials setting first loked kinda strange with the alphatransparency. I use blend mode alpha hashed and shadow mode alpha hashed as well. For some reason alpha blend doesent work for this, the leafs ar kinda see through and show faces behind them as well.

    First i thought it was a problem with backface showing or backface culling, but its the blend mode itself.

    Alpha hashed looks good, and alpha blend has shading problems.

    Use shade smoth to get rid of hard edges in lighting reflections.

    And here is the WIP for now.

    I think the technik works excellent, now its time to do a clean leaf, proper bake and some color variations in the shader and match the referenc better.

    The bush is a bit small still, but the vertex count is at 720 verts, really low.

    let me know your thoughts on this, happy to share and improve further.

  • WIP 6:

    I modeled a simplified leaf with geomerty, made a branch like in WIP5, then baked the maps to textures on  a single plane.

    I want to improve the leaf / branch  form and bake output.

  • "Homework Submission - Week 2 - FG Bushes "


    I canceled the bake idea with real geometry and tried the procedrual approach.

    The texture looks really nice. I still need to find a good way to interaction with light.

    I still need to upload it to google drive, working on it.

  • crew

    Hey benkroft , this is looking great! I'm always a sucker for good procedural materials, and I LOVE how much experimenting you've done on this so far. 

    For this project, I actually prefer the approach where each clump of leaves is an image texture (whether that's baked or painted) for a few reasons. First, to get this to interact well with lighting, we're going to have to adjust the normals, and that can only be done if the particles are converted to real geometry and all of that geometry is joined together as one object. With the current setup that's based on the object coordinates, that important step of the workflow completely breaks the texture. 

    Secondly, I would much prefer to see the silhouette show actual leaf shapes, even if they're really small, than a generated texture. The procedural texture does look good and I could definitely see it being used in a game, but in the interest of tying all of these assets together to create one unified looking whole, that's one thing I think we have to stick to. Your WIP #5 seems to be right on the money in terms of direction. You could add some procedural variation to that if you feel it needs it. 

    Easily full points for this week. Keep up the good work!

  • WIP 7: 

    Hi jlampel 

    I worked a on real geometry. Is this the right way or did you mean that i can bake the twig / branch to a single plane to save geometry.

    Because this is about 80'000 verts, will that be ok? 

    Can we use a bit of procedrual shaders in the final result like the nodes below to get color variation? 

    In terms of style i'm close i think, i probably will delete the high frequency details in the texture.

    I have the branches invisible right now. I will handplace some on the final model, they dont need to be distributed everywhere.

    • crew


      I was thinking baking the groups of leaves and small branches to a single plane to save on geometry. You could also paint on that texture to give the leaves some subtle veins and gradients so they don't look quite so simple, sort of like you did here with procedural textures:

    • WIP 8:

      I modeled a branch with individual leaves, then baked all maps to textures. Alpha mask was a bit tricky at the edges,  but i found a way to get it. Finally appended as particles. Some procedrual color variation. 

      This is without lighting information but thanks to normalmaps it will work fine. Maybe i add some translucency.

  • "Homework Submission - Week 2 - FG Bushes " 


    Happy to finish this week. It was great.

    For next week i try to emphasise the clumps more with color gradinents or so. And the overall silhouette can be improved.

    Anything else to keep an eye on?

    • crew

      These are looking great! Exactly what we're looking for. In addition to what you already mentioned, I would love to see some more really subtle variation in the leaf color in the texture, and the normals copied from spheres via the Data Transfer modifier so that the light makes them look more rounded. On a technical note, I also think we should go with Alpha Clip for the leaves to improve performance. Keep up the good work!

  • "Homework Submission - Week 4 - FG Bushes " 

    Final Model

    jlampel theluthier 

    I finished my polishing and saved the Master version. I have 3 collections, each with a individual bush.

    I have tried 1 material, with a color switch with the vertex colors, to change from green to orange. But then i decided its simpler and easier with 2 materials.

    Waiting for all the implementations. Was a fun and good learning excercise. Any final thoughts from your side?

  • benkroft, your bushes look fantastic!  Great work.