How to create a Tree in a Grass Field with Blender 3D – Step by Step

PhD Lecturer at “School of Computer Science for Business Management” – Romanian-American University

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Abstract


What we are going to create in this Blender project mainly focuses on a nature landscape comprising an animated tree, animated grass and an animated sky .For this, we will understand  how to render an image using the cycles render, how certain elements of the sapling addon are working, how to use a hair particle system and tweak the settings to create grass, how to  import  textures, how to use the turbulence force field and the interaction between it and  hair dynamics to create the animated grass and how to use weightpainting and vertex groups.

Keywords: blender, 3D, animation, 3D nature.

Introduction


Blender is an open source, cross-platform  3D modeling software, available for Linux, Windows and Macintosh. The software can be used for 3D modeling, rigging(animating using “bones”), animating using key frames ,creating simulations of basic elements like water and smoke, rendering using one of the three rendering engines(blender render, cycles render and game render), compositing, motion tracking and the creation of games and video editing. Users with programming knowledge in Python can use the internal API module to create specialized tools and customize the application.  Some notable projects existing in the movie industry are: the Orange Movie/Elephants Dream, project Peach/Big Buck Bunny, project Sintel.

 

STEP 1: Getting started with some basic elements


Before we start with the actual project, I will explain some basic shortcuts to get you familiar with the navigation system in this program.

First we will cover the basic controls like selecting an object and camera movement.

Unlike other 3D modeling software  existing on the market, the selection of an object is done by using the mouse right button and not the left one. The view position can be changed by clicking them middle mouse button  and then moving your mouse around in the view port. Pressing Tab changes between the recent mode and edit mode.If by accident you’ve pressed the left-mouse button, that will change the position of the 3D mouse cursor. All objects are going to be added   to the 3D cursor location.In this tutorial we will add all the items at the center of the grid, so to move the cursor back to the original location, you must press Shift+S then select from the menu Cursor to center. Before starting, please download the Assets archive.The  controls will be explained in the tutorial.

Before starting the actual project we need to enable some add-ons. For this we are going to File/User Preferences…

Blender 3D Animated Tree Grass 001 How to create a Tree in a Grass Field with Blender 3D   Step by Step

Figure 1: Opening the menu

 

and we are going to select the add-ons tab. In the search box we input sapling and then enabling the sapling add-on:

Blender 3D Animated Tree Grass 002 How to create a Tree in a Grass Field with Blender 3D   Step by Step

Figure 2 : Searching for the sapling addon

 

 

Before closing this window, if you use a laptop, make sure to emulate Numpad by going to the Input tab and checking Emulate Numpad:

Blender 3D Animated Tree Grass 003 How to create a Tree in a Grass Field with Blender 3D   Step by Step

Figure 3: Emulating numberpad

 

Close the windows now and let me explain what those “things” in the viewport are:

Blender 3D Animated Tree Grass 004 How to create a Tree in a Grass Field with Blender 3D   Step by Step

Figure 4: Explanation of the items in the viewport

 

Now we are ready to start the actual project!


 

STEP 2: Adding the basic elements


 

The first thing we need to do is to delete the default cube. To do this, we are right-clicking  on the cube to select it and then press the Delete key followed by the Enter key. You must know that the mouse must not be moved during this process.

Blender 3D Animated Tree Grass 005 How to create a Tree in a Grass Field with Blender 3D   Step by Step

Figure 5: Adding the ground

Now we are pressingShift+A for adding an object. With the mouse we are going in the menu and select Mesh, then select Plane.

 

Blender 3D Animated Tree Grass 006 How to create a Tree in a Grass Field with Blender 3D   Step by Step

Figure 6: The ground

This will add a plane to the view port.

Now we are pressing S to scale the plane then input 11 and then Enter. This will scale the plane by 11 times.

Blender 3D Animated Tree Grass 007 How to create a Tree in a Grass Field with Blender 3D   Step by Step

Figure 7: The result of the scaling on the ground

 

This plane will be the ground , but before editing anything we will add the basic elements to our scene.

Now we are pressingShift+A  and add another plane. The second plane will be our sky. We are pressing G to grab the second plane, then Z, then input 5, then Enter.

Blender 3D Animated Tree Grass 008 How to create a Tree in a Grass Field with Blender 3D   Step by Step

Figure 8: Adding the sky, scaling and rotating it

If the plane disappeared, scroll down until you see it. Now we will scale it on the y axes by pressing s then input 14, then Enter. Now we are pressing G, then X, then -3 then Enter.The next thing we have to do is rotating the plane by 30 degrees on the y axes. To do this we arepressing R, then –30, then Enter. The image should look something like this:

 

IMPORTANT!

For those who are new to blender, don’t worry if you changed the view direction by clicking and moving with the middle mouse button pressed. As long as you respected the numbers , there will be no problems.

IMPORTANT!

We are going to set the camera view now for the final rendering to exclude this step. We must pan the view port in such a way that we will see the ground and the sky. To do this press Num 3 on the Numberpad to get to the side view. If you accidently pressed the 3 above the letters and not the 3 on the Numberpad(if  you have a pc keyboard), and everything in your viewport disappeared, press 1 and you will get back to the first layer. Scroll back about 2-3 times and then press Ctrl+Alt+Num 0 to center the camera to view. We observe that the ground is smaller than the camera resolution, and to fix this we are going to scale the ground by 1.5. To do this we areright-clicking on the ground plane, press S to scale, then Y to lock to the y axes, then 1.5, then Enter(I wont always write input, when you see a Number that means you input it form the keyboard).  We are now going to drag the sky to the left a little bit , this time using the mouse instead of a Number. First, right-click on the sky, then left-click on the green arrow, then hold Ctrl down and start moving your mouse left. This will move the plane by exactly one cell to the left. Use Ctrl+Z to undo any mistakes. This is the result of all the steps above:

Blender 3D Animated Tree Grass 009 How to create a Tree in a Grass Field with Blender 3D   Step by Step

Figure 9: Camera view

 

The next part covers the editing of the planes, naming them, and adding bumps to the ground.

The next part covers the editing of the planes, naming them, and adding bumps to the ground.


 

STEP 3: Edit mode


 

We are now starting to add detail to our ground. This step doesn’t require too much effort and you can do it the way you like, not following exactly what I do. We will start by selecting the ground plane and going in the top right menu(the one with the scene, world etc) and scrolling down to the selected item that is named Plane. Double click on the plane and rename it ground. Then we double click on the other plane named Plane 001 and we name it sky.

Blender 3D Animated Tree Grass 010 How to create a Tree in a Grass Field with Blender 3D   Step by Step

Figure 10: Changing the names to ground and sky

 

The next thing we have to do is to add detail to the ground. To do this select the ground plane by right-clicking on it then press Tab to get into edit mode, then press w, then choose Subdivide. You can use the mouse middle button to move the view it you are still in the camera view. We now can specify the Number of cuts in the left menu. Input in the box 100 like below:

Blender 3D Animated Tree Grass 011 How to create a Tree in a Grass Field with Blender 3D   Step by Step

Figure 11: Changing the number of cuts

 

Now press z to change to wireframe view. This is going to show only the outer and inner rims of the planes, so our view is not obstructed by the sky. The next thing we do is to press A and deselect everything(A switches between select everything and deselect everything). Nothing will be selected when nothing is orange like this:

Blender 3D Animated Tree Grass 012 How to create a Tree in a Grass Field with Blender 3D   Step by Step

Figure 12: The subdivied plane

 

This is where we part ways. It is almost impossible to do the same thing as me so fell free to experiment. We will add the big bumps to the ground now by using the C key but before that we will change our view from perspective to orthographic and we go to top view. We are doing this by pressing the Num 5 on the Numberpad, and then pressing Num 7 to go into top view:

Blender 3D Animated Tree Grass 013 How to create a Tree in a Grass Field with Blender 3D   Step by Step

Figure 13: Top view of the subdivied plane

 

We now have to use the circle selection tool to select  a curved path for the hills. This will be done by pressing C the scrolling up till the circle around the mouse pointer will be smaller than the mouse cursor and then create your first selection(the circle should almost not be seen around the pointer). Try to do this selection as close as possible  as me:

Blender 3D Animated Tree Grass 014 How to create a Tree in a Grass Field with Blender 3D   Step by Step

Figure 14: First selection on the subdivied plane

 

Right-click to throw the tool.

Now press Num 0 on the numberpad and make sure that the selection is almost like mine:

Blender 3D Animated Tree Grass 015 How to create a Tree in a Grass Field with Blender 3D   Step by Step

Figure 15: Camera view of the selection

 

This is how we analyze the error. We are going to use this selection to make sure the hill is not to close to the center of the camera. We are going back in top view by pressing Num 7 on the numberpad. We are going to make another selection and after this we are going to deselect the first selection. We use the same method as before: press C then scroll up until the circle is barely visible and make another selection something close to this:

Blender 3D Animated Tree Grass 016 How to create a Tree in a Grass Field with Blender 3D   Step by Step

Figure 16: The first and second selection on ground

 

Now to deselect the first selection, we are going to press C again , now we are going to scroll down till the circle has a radius a little bigger than the selection width, then middle-mouse-button click on the first selection making sure the circle is not touching the second selection:

Blender 3D Animated Tree Grass 017 How to create a Tree in a Grass Field with Blender 3D   Step by Step

Figure 17: The second selection

 

If you failed and you erased a part of the second selection, don’t worry. the result might be more interesting than mine. Go to the next step and try it before using Ctrl+Z to undo the mistake.

Now we are going to camera view by pressing Num 0 (from this point I will not say “on the numberpad” anymore) and we are going to press O (not zero!) to switch to proportional editing. The next thing we are going to do is pressing G then Z, then 1, then Enter. Now for the circle that appeared around the selection, feel free to experiment. You can modify the size by scrolling up and down. This is the size I was satisfied with:

Blender 3D Animated Tree Grass 018 How to create a Tree in a Grass Field with Blender 3D   Step by Step

Figure 18: Using proportional editing to create hills

The next thing we do is to smooth the plane. We do this by pressing Tab to go into object mode, then from the left panel, we choose in the shading section we choose smooth. We now go back in Edit Mode by pressing Tab.

Now we are going to make the second hill, the one close to the camera. We are going to right-click on  the plane somewhere near the end  of the camera border . Look at the position of the axes:

Blender 3D Animated Tree Grass 019 How to create a Tree in a Grass Field with Blender 3D   Step by Step

Figure 19: The landmark for the second hill

 

We are going to use that as a landmark to determine the position of the second big bump/hill . We are now going in top view by pressing Num 7 and we start creating the second hill. We are now pressing C then we scale the circle down just as we did with the first hill. I will not upload a picture here. Just go straight up from the landmark and make a selection like the one before. we just need the end of the hill. Now we press Num 0 to go to the camera view and then we press G, then Z, then 1 , then Enter. Press Z to see how your result is looking like. After pressing G, I scaled up the circle to get a nice hill like this:

Blender 3D Animated Tree Grass 020 How to create a Tree in a Grass Field with Blender 3D   Step by Step

Figure 20: creating the second hill

 

We are now going to make the small bumps by using the Displacement Modifier.

First, we will switch to Objet Mode by pressing Tab. Now we are going to expand the right menu until all the small tabs at the top of the second menu can be seen:

Blender 3D Animated Tree Grass 021 How to create a Tree in a Grass Field with Blender 3D   Step by Step

Figure 21: The second menu’s tabs

 

Here we will select the wrench tab, this is the Modifier tab.

Now before going any further, we are going to change the rendering engine from Blender Render to Cycles Render. You can find this setting at the middle of the top menu(close to the middle of the screen for my resolution)Inside the tab you will see the Add Modifier button combobox. Click on it and on the 3rd column, select Displace. Don’t worry about the plain acting weird. It is normal. From the Texture menu select New and rename the texture small bumps. Now we must set the strength around 0.1:

Blender 3D Animated Tree Grass 022 290x300 How to create a Tree in a Grass Field with Blender 3D   Step by Step

Figure 22: The displacement modifier settings

The next thing we do is going to the Texture Tab and changing the texture type. To do this go to the tab that looks like a chess board.

There we will change the texture type from Image or Movie to Clouds and then set the Size to 0.45:

Blender 3D Animated Tree Grass 023 How to create a Tree in a Grass Field with Blender 3D   Step by Step

Figure 23: The displacement modifier’s texture settings

 

This is the result I’ve obtained:

Blender 3D Animated Tree Grass 024 How to create a Tree in a Grass Field with Blender 3D   Step by Step

Figure 24: The result of the displacement modifier

 

Now we will move the plane on the X axes by 1. We do this by pressing G, then X, then 1, then Enter.

We are going to set the right lightsource by moving the view until you see the light source and then right-clicking on it. Now we are selecting the light Tab , it’s the 3rd from the right in the second right menu. Here we are going to change the lamp from Point to Sun. Then we click on the Use Nodes button. The next thing we do is to set the color of the light. Click on the color node and go to the Hex tab. There, input the code FFF477.  Now we are changing the strength to 5.5 . While still with the mouse over the strength tab, press I to create a keyframe. This will allow us to change the strength of the light. Set the size to 0:

Blender 3D Animated Tree Grass 025 How to create a Tree in a Grass Field with Blender 3D   Step by Step

Figure 25: The sun settings

 

Now we are going to position the light source so it fits our needs. This is  something you can modify to fit your needs , but changing the view is not. We start by going into side view by pressing Num 3. We are now pressing R then drag the mouse from the right side of the screen to the left side of the screen until the light line will have an angle between 30 and 45 degrees:

Blender 3D Animated Tree Grass 026 How to create a Tree in a Grass Field with Blender 3D   Step by Step

Figure 26: The direction of the sun ( right view)

 

Pres Ctrl+Num1 to go to the back view and do the same thing, nut now move the mouse form your left to your right(the angle must be bigger than the one of the sky, or else the sky will cast shadows on the ground):

Blender 3D Animated Tree Grass 027 How to create a Tree in a Grass Field with Blender 3D   Step by Step

Figure 27: the sun direction (back view)

 

Now we are going to move the camera a bit closer to the ground. We do this by pressing G then holding down Ctrl , then moving the mouse to the right until the camera moves to the right ,then  Enter.

Now we will add the force field that will animate the grass. To do this we will press A once or twice until everything is deselected. We are now pressing Shift+A to and from the menu we chose force field, then turbulence:

Blender 3D Animated Tree Grass 028 How to create a Tree in a Grass Field with Blender 3D   Step by Step

Figure 28: Adding the turbulence force field

 

We are now grabbing the blue arrow and moving the mouse up above the plane:

Blender 3D Animated Tree Grass 029 How to create a Tree in a Grass Field with Blender 3D   Step by Step

Figure 29: The location of the turbulence force field

 

We are now going to set the strength of the force field. To do this we are going to the last tab of the second right menu(the physics tab that looks like a bouncing ball)then in the strength change it to 9, the size to 0.2, and the flow to 10:

Blender 3D Animated Tree Grass 030 How to create a Tree in a Grass Field with Blender 3D   Step by Step

Figure 30: The turbulence settings

 

With the mouse in the viewport press I then from the menu choose Location:

Blender 3D Animated Tree Grass 031 How to create a Tree in a Grass Field with Blender 3D   Step by Step

Figure 31: Inserting the location keyframe for the turbulence force field

 

WARNING!

Before going any further, I will set some settings that are absolutely necessary for me. Depending on your PC/Laptop performance,  if you have a powerful one, you can skip this step. I am rendering this on a fourth generation Intel i3 quad core processor . The end result took about 4 hrs of rendering time with the following settings.

  1. For powerful PCs

To change the rendering mode blender uses form cpu to gpu, go to File-User Preferences-System and look for Compute Device. If your gpu supports CUDA, you should be able to change the field to gpu:

Blender 3D Animated Tree Grass 032 How to create a Tree in a Grass Field with Blender 3D   Step by Step

Figure 32: Changing the rendering mode from cpu to gpu

 

Close the window and then from select the first tab form the second menu to the right that looks like a camera, then at the Feature set there should be an option for CUDA/gpu. For more information go here

  1. For less powerful machines

We are now going to change the number of frames and the frame rate of the animation so that it will only take aprox. 4 hrs to render(on my PC). We do that by going into the first tab of the second menu . Now, in the dimensions menu, we are going to change the end frame to 100 and from the frame rate menu we will choose custom. We will now change the value of the fps to 20:

Blender 3D Animated Tree Grass 033 How to create a Tree in a Grass Field with Blender 3D   Step by Step

Figure 33: Changing the rendering settings

 

 

For the rest of the tutorial, I will use the shortcut (A,B) after some values. This means the first value is the value for the pc cases: A for powerful  PCs and B for the rest.

We are continuing our project now.From the Timeline(middle bottom of the screen) click on the last button here:

Blender 3D Animated Tree Grass 034 How to create a Tree in a Grass Field with Blender 3D   Step by Step

Figure 34: Timeline buttons

 

This will change the frame from frame one to frame 100/250(A,B) . Now we will move the  force field by two units on the X axes by pressing G, then X, then 1, then Enter. We are now pressing the I, then choose Location to create the second keyframe.We are going to do this for the sky too. We are now right-clicking on the sky to select it, then in the bottom Timeline we press the first button or input in the 3rd box 1,then I, then Location, then we move the plane to the right by pressing G, then X, then -1.5, then Enter. Now we are going to the middle bottom of the screen and we are pressing on the last button from the play menu or imputing in the 3rd box 100/250(A,B). Next we are pressing I, then Location to create the keyframe. The animation is  following a curve but we need an animation that follows a straight line. We are now changing the viewport to the Graph Editor. To do this , we are going to the bottom left corner of the viewport and we will change the menu there from 3D View to Graph Editor:

Blender 3D Animated Tree Grass 035 How to create a Tree in a Grass Field with Blender 3D   Step by Step

Figure 35: Changing form 3d view to the graph editor

 

We are now scrolling back a little and we pay attention to the numbers at the bottom. Then we press B for box selection and we draw a selection box around the yellow squares in the middle of the graph editor from . It must include frame 0 and frame 100/250(A,B) to work:

Blender 3D Animated Tree Grass 036 How to create a Tree in a Grass Field with Blender 3D   Step by Step

Figure 36: The area selected (between 0 and 100) for animation changing

 

We are now pressing T then from the menu we choose Linear:

Blender 3D Animated Tree Grass 037 How to create a Tree in a Grass Field with Blender 3D   Step by Step

Figure 37: Changing the animation form a curve to a line

 

Since we are in the Graph Editor, we will change the animations for the sun and the sky too. We start by selecting the sky from the top right menu and we are now making this animation linear like the last one by pressing T , then choosing Linear. Next we double-click on the lamp in the top right menu and change the name to Sun. With it selected , we press n to open the right-side menu, then we click on the Add modifier buttonand we are selecting Noise:

Blender 3D Animated Tree Grass 038 How to create a Tree in a Grass Field with Blender 3D   Step by Step

Figure 38: Adding the noise modifier for the sun

 

By adding the Noise Modifier, we are creating the effect of a cloudy day, when the sun enters and exits the clouds. We are now going to tweak the settings of the modifier. We are changing the value of the scale to 27.7, then the flow to 19.7, then the strength to 9.6:

Blender 3D Animated Tree Grass 039 How to create a Tree in a Grass Field with Blender 3D   Step by Step

Figure 39: The sun noise modifier’s settings

 

We are now switching back to The view port by clicking on the  menu at the bottom left of the graph editor and choosing 3D view:

Blender 3D Animated Tree Grass 040 How to create a Tree in a Grass Field with Blender 3D   Step by Step

Figure 40: Changing form the graph editor back to 3d view

 

This is a good time to save our project. We do this by pressing Ctrl+S. Set the path of the project and then name to what you want:

Blender 3D Animated Tree Grass 041 How to create a Tree in a Grass Field with Blender 3D   Step by Step

Figure 41: The path and name of the project

 

For the next part we are covering the grass, the grass material, the ground texture , the sky texture and  sky material.


 

STEP 4:Creating the ground, grass and sky


 

We are starting by selecting the sky then  from the menu in the left bottom side of the viewport the Node Editor:

Blender 3D Animated Tree Grass 042 How to create a Tree in a Grass Field with Blender 3D   Step by Step

Figure 4: Changing to the node editor

 

Now we are pressing the New Material button at the middle bottom of the Node editor to create a new material:

Blender 3D Animated Tree Grass 043 How to create a Tree in a Grass Field with Blender 3D   Step by Step

Figure 43: Adding a new material

 

In the Node Editor, we are pressing Shift+A then from the menu we choose Texture-Image texture:

Blender 3D Animated Tree Grass 044 How to create a Tree in a Grass Field with Blender 3D   Step by Step

Figure 44: Process of adding an image texture

 

Now we are pressing Shift+A, then input, then Texture Coordinate. We are now linking the nodes by left clicking on the circles then drag to the next node. From the first node(Texture coordinate) we are dragging from Generated to the second node(Image Texture) circle Vector. Now we are left-clicking on the diffuse node, then press Delete. We are going to replace the default diffuse material with an Emission one. To do this we are pressing Shift+A, then Shader-Emission . We are now linking the color bubbles of the 2nd and the 3rd node and we are uploading the sky texture by clicking on the Open button in the 2ndnode then, from the Assets folder, choose clouds.jpg. Now connect the Emission to the surface. This is how it should look like:

Blender 3D Animated Tree Grass 045 How to create a Tree in a Grass Field with Blender 3D   Step by Step

Figure 45: The complete material for the sky texture

 

Now we are selecting the ground in the top right menu:

Blender 3D Animated Tree Grass 046 How to create a Tree in a Grass Field with Blender 3D   Step by Step

Figure 46: Selecting the ground from the top right menu

 

We are now going to add a ground texture to the ground. To do this we are clicking on the new button at the middle bottom side of the node editor to add a new material to the ground. We are now adding the nodes  .We are now adding a texture mapping node by clicking Shift +A, then Vector, then Mapping. We are adding the  Image texture node by pressing Shift+A, then texture-image texture and we are adding the  Texture coordinate by pressing Shit+A, then Input-Texture coordinate. We arekeeping the diffuse node. Now we are uploading  the ground.jpg  texture inside the Assets folder by pressing the Open button in the Image texture node.

Blender 3D Animated Tree Grass 047 How to create a Tree in a Grass Field with Blender 3D   Step by Step

Figure 47: The complete ground texture

 

In the Mapping node we are going to change the X and Y scale values to 3.This is going to repeat the ground texture:

 

Blender 3D Animated Tree Grass 048 How to create a Tree in a Grass Field with Blender 3D   Step by Step

Figure 48: Changing the scale values for the mapping node

 

We are now switching from the Node Editor to the 3D View by clicking on the bottom left menu of the Node editor and choosing 3D View:

Blender 3D Animated Tree Grass 049 300x161 How to create a Tree in a Grass Field with Blender 3D   Step by Step

Figure 49: Changing from the node editor to the 3d view

 

Now we are going to add some detail to the sky because it looks  like a flat plane. We are going to select the Sky by right-clicking on it then we are pressing Tab to go to edit mode. Now we are going to subdivide the plane by pressing W, then Subdivide. Now, from the left side second menu, we are going to change the number of cuts to 9:

Blender 3D Animated Tree Grass 050 How to create a Tree in a Grass Field with Blender 3D   Step by Step

Figure 50: Changing the number of cuts

 

The result of the sky is:

Blender 3D Animated Tree Grass 051 300x161 How to create a Tree in a Grass Field with Blender 3D   Step by Step

Figure 51: The sky and the divisions

 

Now we are pressing A to deselect everything then we are going to select the middle edge of the plane by using Alt+Right-Click on one of the edges between the intersection points of the edges:

Blender 3D Animated Tree Grass 052 How to create a Tree in a Grass Field with Blender 3D   Step by Step

Figure 52: Selecting the middle horizontal line

 

The next thing we have to do is making sure we have proportional editing on by pressing O. We know it is activated by looking at the bottom menu when these two menus are activated:

Blender 3D Animated Tree Grass 053 How to create a Tree in a Grass Field with Blender 3D   Step by Step

Figure 53: The proportional editing button

 

Now we are grabbing the red axes by left-clicking on the red axes, then while holding down Ctrl, we move our mouse against the direction the arrow is pointing , and we move the plane by 2 units. This is how big the Circle must be for the selection to have a nice effect:

Blender 3D Animated Tree Grass 054 How to create a Tree in a Grass Field with Blender 3D   Step by Step

Figure 54: The size of the proportional editing circle

 

Now we are going to grab the blue arrows by left-clicking on it, then while holding Ctrl down, moving the mouse until the plane moves up by 2 units:

Blender 3D Animated Tree Grass 055 How to create a Tree in a Grass Field with Blender 3D   Step by Step

Figure 55: Moving the sky to give it a better shape

 

We are now going to Press Tab to go to Object Mode, then we are pressing S to scale , then 1.5, then Enter, then Tab.

Let’s now take a look at how it looks like by pressing Num 0 to go to Camera View, then pressing Shift+Z  to go into rendered view.

Now we are going back to solid view by pressing again Shift+Z.

We are now going to apply the scale of the ground. To do this we are selecting the ground, then we are pressing Ctrl+A, then Scale.

We are now going to save this by going to File, then Save.

From the second menu to the right, we are clicking on the Particle tab that looks like 4 stars( the one before the last one). Here is where we will start creating the grass. This step is going to slow down the viewport. We are right-clicking on the ground, then in the Particle tab, we are clicking on the New button to create a new particle system:

Blender 3D Animated Tree Grass 056 300x31 How to create a Tree in a Grass Field with Blender 3D   Step by Step

Figure 56: Adding a new particle system

 

Now we are going to change the type to Hair and the Segments to 3. You can input what number you like in the seed section. This is going to change the position of the initial hair. Tweak this to your liking when we are done with the grass settings:

Blender 3D Animated Tree Grass 057 How to create a Tree in a Grass Field with Blender 3D   Step by Step

Figure 57: General particle system settings

 

In the Emission section we are going to set the number value to 1100 and the Hair Length to 0.25:

Blender 3D Animated Tree Grass 058 How to create a Tree in a Grass Field with Blender 3D   Step by Step

Figure 58: The particle system’s emission settings

 

For the Hair Dynamics section we start by checking the box before it and expanding the section. Now I will give a basic explanation of what the settings that we change are doing. The mass is giving the weight of the hair. The Stiffness will make the grass bend less by making it stiff. The Damping affects the bending of the grass(higher numbers, less bending , same as stiffness). The internal friction changes the friction between the hairs. The Steps are changing the quality of the animation( higher numbers, better quality, but takes more time to render. We are now going to change the mass to 2.4, the stiffness to 2.5, the damping to 0.8 and the internal friction to 0.46. we are using a step value of 2 for improving the rendering time:

Blender 3D Animated Tree Grass 059 205x300 How to create a Tree in a Grass Field with Blender 3D   Step by Step

Figure 59: The particle system’s hair dynamics settings

 

We are going to skip the  Cache  and Render sections for now. In the Display section We are changing the display to 30 % . This is going to improve the speed of the viewport.

Blender 3D Animated Tree Grass 060 How to create a Tree in a Grass Field with Blender 3D   Step by Step

ass Figure 60: The particle system’s  display settings

 

In the Children section we are choosing Simple. Let me now explain the settings that are going to be changed. The Display number is changing the number of displayed  Children in the viewport and the Render number affects the final rendering number of children. The Clump value is changing how clumped together are the children. The sape value is going to change the straight lined hairs to curve ones. The Roundness value is going to change how close the tips of the grass are. Under Roughness, the Random value is going to change the direction of the hairs segments.

We are changing the value of the Display to 50 and the value of the Render to 100(you can set them both to 100 if you want to see how a clump of grass is going to look like at the end of the project, but this is going to slow your viewport). Now we are changing the Clump value to -0.579, the Shape to -0.31, the Radius value to 0.9 and the Random value to 0.043:

Blender 3D Animated Tree Grass 061 246x300 How to create a Tree in a Grass Field with Blender 3D   Step by Step

Figure 61: The particle system’s children settings

 

In the Field Weights section, we are setting the Gravity to 0. Letting the gravity on is disrupting our animation:

Blender 3D Animated Tree Grass 062 274x300 How to create a Tree in a Grass Field with Blender 3D   Step by Step

Figure 62: The particle system’s field weights settings

 

We are skipping the sections to the last one called Cycles Hair Settings. Here we are going to change the Root, Tip and Scaling values. The Root value represents the thickness of the grass root, the Tip value represents the thickness of the grass tip and the Scaling value Represents the speed of change between the root value and the tip value. We are changing the Root value to 0.24, the Tip value to 0.18 and the scaling to 0.02:

Blender 3D Animated Tree Grass 063 How to create a Tree in a Grass Field with Blender 3D   Step by Step

Figure 63: The particle system’s cycles hair rendering settings

 

 

The result that I got is like this:

Blender 3D Animated Tree Grass 064 How to create a Tree in a Grass Field with Blender 3D   Step by Step

Figure 64: The grass resulting from the particle system

 

Now we are going to change the grass area. We do this by changing from Object Mode to Weight Paining mode form the middle bottom menu:

Blender 3D Animated Tree Grass 065 How to create a Tree in a Grass Field with Blender 3D   Step by Step

Figure 65: Changing form object mode to weight paint

 

Now we are pressing Num 0 to get into the camera view. There is no need for grass outside the camera view because that will be rendered as well , meaning it will take longer. Now we are holding click inside the camera borders and we are drawing. The ground will turn form blue to red. We will paint a little outside the camera borders so there will be will be grass even at the camera borders:

Blender 3D Animated Tree Grass 066 How to create a Tree in a Grass Field with Blender 3D   Step by Step

Figure 66: Changing the weight of the ground for grass mapping

 

Now we are going to click on the middle-mouse-button to see how it looks like. If there are blue holes in the area where you painted red, leave them be. Those areas will not be seen by the camera:

Blender 3D Animated Tree Grass 067 How to create a Tree in a Grass Field with Blender 3D   Step by Step

Figure 67: The result of the weight painting

 

We are now going to restrict the grass growth to the red area. To do this we are going to the Vertex Groups section of the right second menu and by clicking on the Density field, we select Group:

Blender 3D Animated Tree Grass 068 300x174 How to create a Tree in a Grass Field with Blender 3D   Step by Step

Figure 68: Restricting the grass to the vertex group created through weight painting

 

We observe the grass is now inside the red field:

Blender 3D Animated Tree Grass 069 How to create a Tree in a Grass Field with Blender 3D   Step by Step

Figure 69: The grass restricted to the vertex group

 

Now we are scrolling up and we are changing the seed value until we have grass on all the red areas. Now we are going to create a gradient for the grass. In reality, as you know, when you are looking at the grass in an area that is very close to you, you can see some gaps in the grass, but when you look in the distance, there are no gaps. We are going to use this to create different grass density. To do this we are going to press f to scale the brush down, then from the left side menu under the colored circle there is an option called strength that is set to 1. We are going to set the strength to 0.3. We are now drawing the red area closest to the sky. This is going to make the density of the grass smaller. Then we are setting the strength of the brush to 0.6 and we are painting between the next area closer to the sky:

Blender 3D Animated Tree Grass 070 How to create a Tree in a Grass Field with Blender 3D   Step by Step

Figure 70: Changing the density of the grass

 

Changing the seed in the second right menu to get better results is up to you. Just make sure that near the camera there is enough grass. Now from the left side second menu go to the Cache section. Set the end value to 100/250(A,B), then save the project by going to Files, then Save. Now we are clicking on the Bake button and we w8 until the black box reaches number 100/250(A,B). Doing this is going to show you only 30% of the total grass, so don’t worry if there are holes in it when you click the play button. Don’t be afraid if the grass is going to fly when you are playing the animation.

Now we are going to prepare the material for the grass. I shall explain what material nodes you must add, and the links between the nodes, but circles that must be connected will be shown in a picture.

First, we are pressing Shift+A, then mesh, then cube. With the cube selected by right-clicking on it, we are going into the materials tab in the second right menu ( the one that looks like a ball)  and we are pressing on the new material button. We are renaming it by double clicking on the name Material 002 and naming it grass. We are now switching from the 3D View to the Node editor by selecting from the bottom left menu Node Editor:

Blender 3D Animated Tree Grass 071 How to create a Tree in a Grass Field with Blender 3D   Step by Step

Figure 71: Changing from 3d view to the node editor

 

We are now pressing Shift+A, then Shader, then Mix Shaderand we are dropping it on the line between the Diffuse node and the material output node. Now we are pressing Shift+A, then Shader, then Add Shader and we are dropping  this node between the Mix Shader node and the material output node. Now we are pressing Shift+A, then Shader, then Translucent and we are dropping this node under the Mix Shader node. Now we are pressing Shift+A, then Shader, then Glossy and we are dropping this node above the Diffuse node. Now we are pressing Shift+A then Converter, then ColoRamp and we are dropping this to the left of the Diffuse node, then we are pressing Shift+A, then Input, then RGB and we place this above the ColoRamp node. Now we are adding the last node by pressing Shift+A, then Input, then Hair Info and we are dropping this node to the left of the ColoRamp. Now we are linking the nodes exactly the same way as in the next image:

Blender 3D Animated Tree Grass 072 How to create a Tree in a Grass Field with Blender 3D   Step by Step

Figure 72: The complete material for the grass

 

 

Now we are going to set some settings inside the nodes. We are starting with the easier ones. In the RGB node we are clicking on the color under the circle, then going to the Hex tab and we input the code 00BD17. Now we are changing the Roughness value to 0.108:

Blender 3D Animated Tree Grass 073 How to create a Tree in a Grass Field with Blender 3D   Step by Step

Figure 73: Glossy node settings

 

 

Now we are changing the Fac value Inside the Mix Shader to 0.709:

Blender 3D Animated Tree Grass 074 How to create a Tree in a Grass Field with Blender 3D   Step by Step

Figure 74: Mix shader node settings

 

 

Now we are changing the Roughness value inside the diffuse node to 0.267 :

Blender 3D Animated Tree Grass 075 How to create a Tree in a Grass Field with Blender 3D   Step by Step

Figure 75: Diffuse node settings

 

 

We are now going to modify the ColoRamp node to get the grass in different color form the bottom to the top. First, we are pressing the + 2 times to add 2  color lines. We are now clicking on the first arrow that represents the first line then we are clicking on the color rectangle above the Fac, then we are going to the Hex tab and we input the code 006916. We are going to do the same thing for the rest of the lines. The codes for the rest are ,from left to right, the following: 007726, 009106, 02B449. The distance3 between the lines can be selected randomly, the same as the color. These are my settings:

Blender 3D Animated Tree Grass 076 300x258 How to create a Tree in a Grass Field with Blender 3D   Step by Step

Figure 76: Color ramp settings

 

Now we are selecting the ground form the top right menu and we are going to the Material tab, then we click on the + next to the then form the button before new we are selecting grass:

Blender 3D Animated Tree Grass 077 How to create a Tree in a Grass Field with Blender 3D   Step by Step

Figure 77: Selecting the grass material for the grass

 

 

Now we are going to the Particle Tab and we scroll down to the Render area. There, we are choosing in the material tab the grass material:

Blender 3D Animated Tree Grass 078 How to create a Tree in a Grass Field with Blender 3D   Step by Step

Figure 78: The grass render settings

 

 

In case there is not enough grass on the field, or you can see the ground on the far hill, we can increase the number of hairs, we can repaint the hill in red color, or both. To unlock the hair settings, we have to go to the Cache section and press the button Free Bake. This will allow us to change the number of hairs in the Emission section:

Blender 3D Animated Tree Grass 079 300x270 How to create a Tree in a Grass Field with Blender 3D   Step by Step

Figure 79: Unlocking the hair settings from the cache section

 

Blender 3D Animated Tree Grass 080 How to create a Tree in a Grass Field with Blender 3D   Step by Step

Figure 80: Changing the number of hairs

 

To repaint the hill weight, we are going to change from the Solid View to the Weight Paint view in the bottom menu, then in the menu to the left we are changing the strength of the brush to 1 and we are painting the hill that was green and light green to red, but only on the hill:

Blender 3D Animated Tree Grass 081 How to create a Tree in a Grass Field with Blender 3D   Step by Step

Figure 81: Increasing the density of grass particle on the hills

 

We are now right-clicking on the cube in the middle, then we are pressing Delete or X, then Enter to delete it. Now we are going to File, then Save.

The next part covers the most difficult part of the tutorial: the tree.


 

STEP 5: Creating the tree and the tree animation


 

WARNING!

Before starting this part, there is a big observation to do. The sapling modifier is not stable! That means if you make the mistake to select something different in the viewport, scale the tree , move or anything else, all the tree settings are gone and you will have to start over from the beginning. I had to do the same tree with the same settings about 10 times, and each time you are getting a different result.

We are starting by hiding the grass completely so that it won’t slow our viewport. The sapling modifier will make our viewport to slow down a lot. To do this, in the Particle tab, where it writes ParticleSystem, to the right there is an eye that will hide the grass completely (in the viewport only. The renderer will still see the grass.) . We are clicking on the eye.

Now we are switching from Weight Painting mode(if you are there, else ignore this step) to Solid View mode from the bottom menu. Now think about the place you want the tree to be. Press Num 0 to go into Camera view and then left click on the ground position where you want the tree to be. I shall keep the center of the axes the place where the tree will be added. Press Shift+S to get reset the cursor to the center of the axes.

Now we are pressing Shift+A, then Curve, then Add Tree. If you closed Blender, the addon will not be there. You will have to reactivate it by going to File, then User Preferences, then in the addons menu, in the search box write sapling, then from the right of it check the addon.

After adding the tree, we notice that a new menu appeared in the left section of the screen. We are now going to scale the whole section up then we are going to drag the second menu up so it will be close to this:

Blender 3D Animated Tree Grass 082 How to create a Tree in a Grass Field with Blender 3D   Step by Step

Figure 82: Scaling the left side menu

 

From the left menu , check bevel, set the bevel resolution to 2, then in the Scale box, input 3.5 (that is the size that fits in my camera borders, you can change it to your liking) You can change the radius scale to 1.8 if you think the tree is to thin(optional ):

Blender 3D Animated Tree Grass 083 300x243 How to create a Tree in a Grass Field with Blender 3D   Step by Step

Figure 83: The geometry tab settings

 

We are now selecting form the Settings combobox the Branch Splitting :

Blender 3D Animated Tree Grass 084 How to create a Tree in a Grass Field with Blender 3D   Step by Step

Figure 84: Changing from geometry to branch splitting

 

Now we are changing the Levels value to 3, then we are changing the Base Splits  value to 5, then the first value under Split Angle to 36.93, then the first value under the Split Angle Variation to 43.8:

Blender 3D Animated Tree Grass 085 300x271 How to create a Tree in a Grass Field with Blender 3D   Step by Step

Figure 85: The  branch splitting settings

 

We are now going to the Leaves section of the Settings Combobox:

Blender 3D Animated Tree Grass 086 How to create a Tree in a Grass Field with Blender 3D   Step by Step

Figure 86: Changing from branch splitting to leaves

 

Here we are changing the leaves number from 25 to 20.Now we are changing the Leaf Shape to Rectangular and the Scale to 0.2, then we are checking the Show Leaves checkbox:

Blender 3D Animated Tree Grass 087 How to create a Tree in a Grass Field with Blender 3D   Step by Step

Figure 87: The leaves settings

We are now changing the Settings combobox to the Armature setting:

Blender 3D Animated Tree Grass 088 How to create a Tree in a Grass Field with Blender 3D   Step by Step

Figure 88: Changing from leaves to armature

 

We are changing the Wind Speed to 0.2, the Wind Gust to 0.4 and the Frame Rate to 0.8,then check the Use Armature and Animate Armature checkboxes:

Blender 3D Animated Tree Grass 089 How to create a Tree in a Grass Field with Blender 3D   Step by Step

Figure 89: The animation settings

 

Now we are waiting until the program is responsive.

The tree is now almost finished. We are going to add a bark texture to the tree trunk and adding a texture and a material to the leaves.

We are now right-clicking on the tree trunk(not the leaves) and form the second menu on the right side we are going to the Curve tab (the one after the Modifiers wrench tab). Here we are going to expand the Texture Space and we are going to check the Use UV for mapping option. This will allow us to add texture to a curve without us having to convert the curve to a mesh. Now we are going in the modifiers tab(wrench symbol) and we are Checking the vertex groups option.  Now we are changing from the 3D View to the Node Editor form the menu in the bottom left side of the viewport. In middle bottom side of the screen we are clicking on the New button to add a new material and then we are pressing Shit+A, then Texture, then Image Texture and we are dropping  the node to the left of the Diffuse node. We are now linking the Color circles between the twoand we are clicking on the Open button inside of the Image Texture node, then we go to the assets folder and we choose bark.jpg. Now we are pressing Shift+A, then Vector, then Bump and we are adding this below the rest of the nodes, between the first two nodes. We are now connecting the Color of the Texture node to the Height of the Bump node, then we connect the blue Normal circles and we change the strength to 0.7:

Blender 3D Animated Tree Grass 090 How to create a Tree in a Grass Field with Blender 3D   Step by Step

Figure 90: The complete bark texture material

 

We are now going  back to the 3D view by selecting 3D View form the bottom left side of the Node Editor’s menu then we press tab to go into Edit Mode. Now we are right-clicking to select the leaves and we are switching form 3D view to the UV Image Editor:

Blender 3D Animated Tree Grass 091 How to create a Tree in a Grass Field with Blender 3D   Step by Step

Figure 91: Changing from 3D View to UV/Image Editor

 

On the bottom side of the UV Image Editor, if there is already a texture named Render Result, click on the X button at the end. Now we are clicking on the Open button, then from the Assets folder we are choosing leafe.png:

Blender 3D Animated Tree Grass 092 How to create a Tree in a Grass Field with Blender 3D   Step by Step

Figure 92: Inserting the leaves texture

 

Now we are switching form the UV Image Editor to the Node editor in the bottom left side menu. Now we are clicking on the New button to add a new material. Now we are going to add some nodes and drop them between the Diffuse node and the material output node. We are pressing Shit+A, then Shader, then Mix Shader, and we are dropping it between the two nodes. We are repeating the step once. Now, between the two Mix Shaders, we are pressing Shift+A, then Shader, Then Add Shader. To the left of the diffuse node we press Shift+A, then Color, then MixRGB and we change the type form Mix to Overlay and the Fac value to 0.373. To the  upper left of the Overlay node we are pressing Shift+A, then Input, then RGB, then, in the hex color tab we input  00A82B . To the lower left side of the Overlay node we are pressing Shift+A, then Texture, then Image Texture and we are pressing the Open button, then we select the leaf.png from the Assets folder. Now, above the Add Shader, we are pressing Shift+A, then Shader, then Transparent. Under the left Mix Shader we are pressing Shift+A , then Shader, then Translucent. Under the Overlay node, we are pressing Shift+A, then Vector, then Bump. Above the Diffuse node, we are pressing Shift+A, then Shader, then Glossy and we are changing the roughness value to 1.This is how the node layout must be:

Blender 3D Animated Tree Grass 093 How to create a Tree in a Grass Field with Blender 3D   Step by Step

Figure 93: The complete leaves material

 

We are changing the left Mix ShaderFac value to 0.673 and the Bump node’s Strength to 0.6.

Being a low poly tree, the tree will be animated, but the leaves wont.The leaves might be a little to big so we are going to change this. First, we are going to the 3D View and we are looking to the bottom of the screen to make sure we are in edit mode:

Blender 3D Animated Tree Grass 094 How to create a Tree in a Grass Field with Blender 3D   Step by Step

Now we are pressing A once or twice until all the leaves are selected(light orange color). Then we are switching to the UV Image Editor. Press A once or twice until everything is selected, then press S to scale, then 1.8, then Enter. Now press G, then X, then move your mouse to the left until the right side of the selected rectangle overlaps the right side of the leaf texture behind the rectangle:

 

Blender 3D Animated Tree Grass 095 How to create a Tree in a Grass Field with Blender 3D   Step by Step

Figure 94: Scaling the leaves

 

Now, form the second right menu we are clicking on the Render tab, then in the Output section, instead of /tmp\, we are choosing where we want the file to be saved and instead of PNG, we are going to change to MPEG:

Blender 3D Animated Tree Grass 096 How to create a Tree in a Grass Field with Blender 3D   Step by Step

Figure 95: Changing the output settings

 

 

Now we are scrolling down until we find the Sampling section we expand it and we are changing the rendering value to 50. Higher number gives better results, but takes more time:

Blender 3D Animated Tree Grass 097 How to create a Tree in a Grass Field with Blender 3D   Step by Step

Figure 96: Changing the sampling settings

 

 

 

We are now saving the project by going to File, then Save. Next we are taking a look to what we have by pressing F12 to get into picture render mode and we w8 for the render to complete. Once it is complete we can save the picture by pressing F3. The final thing to do is to render the animation. E do this by selecting Render from the top menu, then render animation. This process will take a while :

Blender 3D Animated Tree Grass 098 How to create a Tree in a Grass Field with Blender 3D   Step by Step

Figure 97: Final render result


 

Conclusion


 

I have shown how to create a lonely tree in a grass field using the open source,3D modeling software Blender 3D.

The complexity of the tools Blender has easily matches the licensed software tools like Maya and 3DS Max and the ability to freely manipulate the program gives it an edge.

I made this project my own way. The ground in the project should have been made with two displacement modifiers but I wanted to have complete control over the location of the hills so I manually created them, in exchange of a more realistic result. Because of performance issues, I chose not to animate the leaves, this creating a less realistic result. An easy fix would be to change the rendering samples to a low value(<10).The pixels will create a pseudo-effect of moving leaves.


 

References


 

1.Beginner Blender Tutorial – Realistic Animated Grass! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X-Z1glEEk0s

2.Create Realistic Animated Trees – Beginner Blender Tutorial

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WlRF5S0aHwU

3.Create a Beautiful Fall Road – Blender Tutorial – 01 : Terrain & Trees!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FzbE7tN_YIY

4.Make a Grassy Meadow in Blender

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zhYtJ_VmvXE

5.Blender Tutorial – Simple Terrains and the Displacement Modifier

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XwaFvZkitxM

Article reviewed and approved by: Garais Gabriel

PhD Lecturer at “School of Computer Science for Business Management” – Romanian-American University


Article Autor/s:

Sertyuio

Bîcîin Iuliana

URA Student

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