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Trees are a major component of any successful landscape. Unless we're dealing in, rolling fields of grass, or a barren rock-scape on the Moon. Chances are, we're going to need some trees. We can make trees, or we can use the ones that come with Unity and modify them quite easily. Making a tree, is an art in itself and we need to think about all the different variations within that species and how it should look. Not just but one but when we have many, many of them onscreen at any one time. Trees are a part of the terrain.
Our sprayed on terrain objects. This way they can function with the terrain, plant along the terrain, and randomize on that terrain. Before I get to making trees, I'm going to get a working light on my scene. After I got the color on the ground and the cliffs, it started to get a little dark. And I'll put in a directional light just to be able to really see what's going on. Later we can fine-tune the lighting and really get the mood going. But quite often I'll get some working lights in just so things well, show up in the view.
I'll choose game object > create other > directional light. This light is placed here at, well wherever it landed. I'll move this light up, and what really matters is where it's aiming, not where it is. It's just a locator and it's infinitely wide. I'll press e to rotate and spin this light around. Next I'll crank up the intensity. Clicking and dragging on any of the titles here with a value scrolls that value up, so we don't have to go and grab the slider necessarily, although we can.
Or we can enter a value in exactly. By just dragging on intensity rolls that up for us. Now I've got some bright light. I'm going to leave shadows off because I don't really care to adjust their performance for the moment. And, I don't want to see large, flickering shadows when I'm trying to edit trees. I can see my hills, and all the detail of my, well, tiling cliffs at the moment. Now for some trees. I'll import in the Tree Creator package, and then get started on modifying an existing tree. I'll go in my Standard Assets, right-click, and choose Import Package > Tree Creator.
In the Importing Package dialog We've got materials, and a bunch of textures for different kinds of trees. I'll turn off some I know I'm not going to use, to save a little bit of space in the project. I'll uncheck all of the palm textures. With those off, I can look at any others, and see if I'm going to use them. We can switch out textures if we need. And for the moment, this looks pretty good. I'm going to leave in the sycamore leaves, pine branches and big tree materials, I'll click import and let Unity bring this in.
Now on my standard assets folder, I have a Tree Creator folder and in Tree creator I've got trees and sources. In Sources I have materials and textures and these are all my different tree materials Back here in Standard Assets in the Tree Creator under Trees, I've got a big tree and big tree textures. Selecting BigTree, shows us an node-based tree over in the Inspector. Trees here in Unity are node based. They're not necessarily modeled as we'd think of modeling a polygonal model in 3DS Max or Maya.
These trees are constructed by starting out with the tree, adding branches, and then leaf groups. And we can tell by the numbers on each node that there are More than one of those node. 25 of those branches. 9 of the one below it. 225 leaf groups, and so on. What I'll do is to clone this big tree, bring it into the scene, and then modify it. With the big tree selected, I'll press Control D to duplicate. It'll duplicate the tree, naming it big tree one. I'm going to rename it to oak, so I can find it easily.
This may not be exactly an oak tree, but I'll try to approximate the spread as well as I can. Now with the oak selected, I've got the oak available in the inspector, and I can start to modify it. What I'll do is press F to focus in. Clicking out of my terrain and even zooming back further, I'm going to take this oak, and land in the scene almost off camera, in one of the corners. I'll pull this in. Landed on a corner press after focus and there's that oak tree. Now I can modify it and leave this tree alone, I'm never going to see it in my game because we'll simply never get this far.
What I'll do now is stretch this out. I'll go into my oak tree and start picking those branches. Picking this first branch, the main trunk here, shows the spline and its knots or handles. We can take each of these, press w to move, and pull them to stretch out that tree. I'll make it a little bit taller and the tree will up-res and re-stitch itself. Then I'll add a little bit of a wiggle along here and slim out that trunk. Now I've got a taller tree, I can even start to move, rotate and scale pieces as needed.
We can continue editing if we like, but I just wanted a little bit taller of a tree, I'll use this one, and use the controls in the tree brushes to add hue variation. I'll scroll back, reselect my terrain, and press F to focus. I'll focus in on picking the terrain. And, zooming around until I can see everything. It's okay if F doesn't focus correctly to scroll around to where you need. Now I'm ready to paint in the tree. I'll click on the tree brush and in the place trees tool I need to define a tree.
I'll click Edit Trees > Add Tree. In the Add Tree dialog I need to assign a tree as it's telling me with a stop sign. I'll click on the picker next to the none game object slot, and there's my trees. I'll take from my scene, the oak tree. Here's oak, and I'll close the select game object. I'm taking this tree because I had modified it, stretched it out, in the scene, and that's the one I want to use. If these trees need to bend, you can add in that bend factor. I'm going to leave it alone for now and let my trees be fairly vertical.
I'll click add. And I'm ready to brush this oak tree around. When we brush a tree, we want to think of how big of a swath of trees are we putting in, what's their density, and how much variation can we get in there. In those tree settings, we've got a brush size as shown by this blue circle on my terrain. There's a tree density and clicking and dragging with this gives us a very dense forest. I'll press control z to undo and pull that density back down. Here's a density around 60 give or take and a decent sized brush.
Now crank up the color variation. We want to make sure that they've really got some life to them because its very obvious if they're all really close in color. Next I'll crank up the variation for tree height. This way, I get a large range here in the size of tree. I'll also crank up the width variation. And try to put in as much randomness as possible. I'll try a test brush, and see how it looks. There's a good sized grove of trees. And we can definitely see that hue variation kicking in. zooming down to well ground level.
We can really see that range and height as well. And it looks like these are working. I'll brush in some more. I'll put some down here by the lake and then around. I'll leave some patches open here and there, but put some in behind. It's OK to have some variation. We can also increase the brush size as we get farther away. Adding in, trees sporadically and some groves and clearings and so forth, and then taking down the density as well. It's okay to vary it and that's what really makes it look natural.
If we really take some pains to, move around what we're doing. I'll brush in some more trees, leaving in some occasionally clearings here. Maybe these are meadows or something similar. I'll forest in most of the valley floor, we'll call it, and start to put some in up the hills. I'm going to get some of the hills with trees, but some I'm going to leave bare. I'll bring back that brush size and just catch some of the top of this one. Now, I'll put a few more trees up the side over here because I might see this hill, but I'll leave the ones beyond fairly open.
Just a few more trees in here trying to stay off those rock cliffs. If you miss and accidentally brush some rock with trees, like I've done here, you can erase them. I'll take my brush size down. Hold shift and start erasing trees. Now if you've got multiple tree species going, let's say it's a mixed forest, you can erase those species of trees with the type selected by holding Ctrl. So you have some options in how we place trees in what we're doing. I'll give this a quick test play and see if my trees are Holding up in my view. With my new directional light in the scene, instead of my scene being a warm oatmeal gray inside, I've blown out the floor and at least I can see the ceiling.
I'll press w, smash through the wall, and take a look at the tree. And yes, in case you hadn't gathered, there's a good bit of humor in the making of a game because we do things that are Fairly ridiculous in real life, really wonderfully silly while we're running around here in Unity. This looks pretty good. I've got some really nice forest going on, and the trees recede into that fog. I can definitely see where that fog needs a little bit of adjusting. but I like the density I'm getting. And I like how the trees off in the distance, even though they're out in the fog, are really breaking up the silhouette of that hill.
I'll run around to the other side of that platform. Through the wall, across the blown out floor, out through the other wall, and take a look. It looks good, if you haven't noticed, I test things a lot, and there's a method to that madness. We can't really tell from the overhead perspective if its going to work. We've got to get in and test this game, test this game, and test this game again. And, along the way, even before we add in collision and interactivity, we've gotta run around and check it out, and make sure it looks reasonable.
I'll drop down onto the water, if you're wondering how I'm walking on water, no I'm not possessed of superpowers or something similar. This is a plane I had made in unity, it's a unity game object, so it's automatically got a collider on it. That's how I'm able to walk through water, or actually on water but, actually passing right through the concrete platform of this building. For the purposes of my test and simply getting over here, this works pretty nice. I'll run through, clothesline myself on the bridge, and come back over to the building with a collider on it.
I'll press the space bar to jump, jump through the steel column. Smash through the windows, and check it out from this balcony. My trees look good. I may add in a few more here or there. But I do like the density. But I like how they're leaving the lake shore fairly open.
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