Leaf Map Makers
While low triangle counts are essential in real-time trees, maintaining
visual aesthetics is just as important. Leaf Map Makers do just that.
They are files that help you create a material texture of a branch
system with multiple leaves. Instead of using individual leaves,
which increases the triangle count greatly, these map makers captures
the same fullness with less than half the triangle count.
Note: These Leaf Map Makers files are created by incorporating a new technique in which we use a combination of various tools which have already been available in the SpeedTree Modeler.
When opening one of our trees designed for games, you will notice that there are three
different types of Leaf Map Makers: Hero, Desktop and Mobile. Each
version has different amounts of twigs and leaves, as well as different leaf sizes to match accordingly to the map maker version.
Hero (used for trees ranging between 15,000 to 40,000 triangles) - Focus on creating a not so full and populated material; normally, 2 levels of branches and smaller sized leaves.
Desktop (used for trees ranging between 5,000 to 14,000 triangles) - Focus on creating a medium populated material; normally, 3 levels of branches and medium sized leaves.
How are Leaf Map Makers Made?
When opening a tree folder, there are multiple Leaf Map Makers that are
already made for the user. You can either make your own Leaf Map Maker
files or just alter preexisting ones into what you need. In
order to make your own, you need to open a new file and model a tree with a branch structure that resembles the tree of the lower polygon tree you
intend to make.
Isolate the main level branch that you want to turn into a Leaf Map Maker by clicking 'Target' in the tool bar and selecting the branch. You can hide the trunk from view by selecting it and pressing 'h'.
Change the viewport camera from 'Perspective' to 'XY plane', which will give you an above/looking down view of the isolated branch structure. You may have to rotate the main branch around the trunk so the branch is centered in the middle of the viewport and the base of the branch touches the bottom of the viewport.
Under 'Windows Properties' , enable 'Show' by clicking the check box under the 'Screen Safe Frame' group. This will make a red box border appear in the viewport that gives you an onscreen guide to stay within.
Enable the 'Screenshot Assist' check box, found in the 'Screenshot Assist' group under the 'Window Properties'. Enabling this allows you to use the controls in the 'Screenshot Assist' group.
Enable and adjust the value of 'Leaf Collision', found under 'Tree Properties'. Leaf collision will cull out any touching and overlapping leaves, which makes a better leaf map.
In the tool bar, select 'Render' and switch the render view from 'Realistic' to 'Unlit'.
The leaf map can then be exported by going to 'File' → 'Export Material' and selecting a background color that matches the leaves.
Altering a Leaf Map Maker?
The Leaf Map Maker can easily be altered for other trees by just
replacing the bark and leaf textures with new ones that corresponds with
your tree. You can change the whole branch structure by editing
any of the generator controls for the branches and leaves.
Additionally, you can edit the leaf map maker by enabling and altering any of the settings under Screenshot Assist.
Screenshot Assist Controls:
The controls in this section adds a variance to the leaves
based on the value that is set.
Hue: Adds a numerical hue variance to the original texture on the leaves in the viewport.
Saturation: Adds a numerical saturation variance to the original texture on the leaves in the viewport.
Value: Adds a numerical value (i.e., lightness/darkness) variance to the original texture on the leaves in the viewport.
Chance: Based on the value set, this controls the probability that the variations occur.
Controls that effect the leaves as a whole based on the value
that is set.
Hue: Numerical value that alters the hue of the leaves as a whole.
Saturation: Numerical value that alters the saturation of the leaves as a whole.
Value: Numerical value that alters the values (i.e., lightness/darkness) of the leaves as a whole.
Normals: Numerical value that alters the intensity of the normals of the leaves as a whole.
Click here to watch our informal video demonstrating the use of Leaf Map Makers in real-time trees.
Click here to download a free sample Leaf Map Maker.