Painting Foliage Textures

You can do a lot of different things using Jungle DVD. One of our favorites is to use the tubes to paint textures of foliage. These dimensional foliage textures can create highly realistic and detailed forest canopies that follow the form and contour of a terrain.

Ever seen an aerial view of a forest canopy? Not only do the tree tops have a irregular form, but the canopy itself follows the contour of the underlying geography. If there's a hill, then the forest canopy rises to follow it. This tutorial uses a similar approach to painting foliage textures. You'll learn how to use Jungle 3D to paint foliage canopies you map to terrain models.

This tutorial differs from our previous tutorials on painting trees. Here, you're painting foliage canopies that will map to terrain models seen from above. You're still painting foliage growth patterns, but they characterize the overall environment of your scene, not just a tree.

Most any version of Paint Shop Pro will do, from 6 through 8. If you don't have PSP, download an fully working evaluation version. We've provided the Jungle 3D tools you'll need. Simply create a Jungle 3D folder on your desktop, extract the PSP tubes into it and have some fun.

1) Begin by copying the Pyracantha tube (.tub) from the Jungle 3D Tools folder into the "Tubes" folder located inside the Paint Shop Pro program folder.

2) Launch PSP and open a 500x500 pixel file.

3) Select the Picture Tube brush on the Tool Bar. Display the Tool Options palette using the F4 key and choose the Pyracantha tube.

4) Create a new layer and name it Brush, then use the Group icon to place it in a group as shown.

5) Select the Brush Layer and begin painting using random "upward" strokes. Move some strokes off the edges, but keep lots of open areas. Don't be afraid to use Undo if things look too clogged.

6) When you're done, choose the Brightness and Contrast adjuster (Shift+B) and darken the foliage.

7) Darkening and lowering contrast defines the shaded, underneath areas of the brush. To paint the lighter, outer leaf surfaces of the foliage, create a second Brush Layer above the first.

8) Use dabs to paint areas of highlight along top of the shaded layer. You want the dabs to create the illusion of lighted surfaces. That produces the illusion of depth which helps to make the 2D texture appear as though it's a 3D model. Be very sparing because you want to see some of that shaded foliage along the edges and beneath the brush.

Of course, you can work with more than two layers. You can mix different kinds of foliage on the layers as well. There's no right or wrong way, so be creative.

9) Once you're done painting, call up the Brightness Contrast adjuster and balance the two layers so the shaded layer contrasts correctly with the outer areas of foliage.

10) Now choose the Merge Group command from the Layer menu (right click on "Group" displays the same menu options as the Layer pull-down menu).


11) If you really want to push the dimensional form, try using the Inner Bevel filter (Effects: 3D Effects: Inner Bevel).

12) Raytracers like Bryce sometimes soften the focus of 2D textures. Sharpening is a good way to compensate for that effect.

13) If you want to make further adjustments, use the Hue Saturation Lightness filter (Shift+H) to change color, or use a feathered Lasso tool to select and modify individual areas of foliage.

14) That's it! You should have a realistic, dimensional looking foliage layer. All that's left is to flatten the file and save in a file format a 3D program can recognize. Actually, it's a little more tricky than that. The file needs to be saved with a precise foliage mask.

15) Before a mask can be saved, the Background color must be the same as the foliage or the texture won't look right. Use the Dropper tool to sample a dark area of the foliage layer and Fill the Background with that color.

*Professionals preferring to work in Photoshop can skip to step 20 and complete the texture in PS.

16) Close the eye of the Background so only the foliage remains visible.

17) Select the Merged Brush layer and expand the Layers menu and select "From Image" on the New Mask Layer fly-out as shown on the next page below.

18) Select "Source opacity" on the Add Mask From Image window and click OK. Then click on the Save Selection icon at the top right of the Layers palette as shown above.


19) A small preview similar to this one will appear in the Save Alpha window. Click on Save if it does. (If the preview is empty or all white, check to make sure the Brush layer is selected on the Layer palette, and that the Background eye is crossed out.)

20) Photoshop professionals may find is easier to save the PSP file as a .PSD and open it in Photoshop. In PS, simply select the Brush layer, choose the Select: Load Selection command using Layer Transparency and select Save Selection. The alpha channel is saved. Similarly, experienced 3D artists may want to jump to step 33 to see how the textures and models work together in a scene. Otherwise you're done.

21) From this point on the tutorial uses Bryce, but the principles apply to most any 3D program.

22) Create a Terrain model. You will need to lessen the vertical dimensions and smooth out any sharp angles since they distort the texture and destroy the illusion.

23) Select Objects: Edit Object (Ctrl+E) to display the terrain editor, or click on the E by the model.

24) Use the assorted buttons to Lower and Smooth the terrain model. The model should have modest contours as the example below right demonstrates. A real foliage canopy has steeper sides, but vertical dimensions and sharp angles distort the texture and need to be minimized. The dimensional shading created during the painting process will compensate for the model's flattened form. The effect becomes evident after texture is mapped.

25) Map the texture to the model by selecting Objects: Edit 2d Pictures (Ctrl+Alt+M). Click on a blank button, then find the Brush texture you painted in PSP. Choose Open and Enter to save.

26) Make the terrain model active and display the Materials Lab (Ctrl+M). Use the image shown here for reference.

27) Click on the P icon to choose a 2D texture for the model.

28) Display the picture list fly-out and choose the Brush texture you loaded.

29) Use the Mapping Modes menu to select Object Top, which means the foliage texture will map to the top of the model (Parametric will work also). Select Pict Interpolation at the bottom of the menu as well.

30) Expand the Shading Mode menu and choose Blend Transparency. Cast Shadows and Receive Shadows are already selected by default.

31) Move the blue glass bead icon for Transparency to the first column in the Optics section of the Surface menu. The blue bead for Diffuse and Ambient should be in column A of the Colors section as well.

32) When you've completed the various adjustments, the texture is mapped to the terrain. You can verify the mapping looks correct using the small preview window near the upper left.

Enter to accept the changes.

33) Here are some tricks we used in the hunting dogs image. To augment the illusion of a dimensional canopy of brush, we used the Copy and Paste commands to make a duplicate of the terrain model. Then we spread them. We took one of the terrains and moved it higher than the others. That's because we wanted to separate the brush canopy from the ground, just as it grows in nature. That lets shadows fall on everything below. (In the side view example at right, the lower ground terrains have been flattened a bit more.)

34) Try it yourself. Duplicate the Brush terrain, lower and flatten it a bit, then apply a ground texture from your materials composer.

35) Change the camera angle so that the POV (point of view) is at an oblique angle between 45 and 90 degrees above the terrain. If you've got some Poser dogs, put then into the scene and render those puppies with it.

The example shown here used 5 identical terrain models. Four use foliage textures painted the same way this tutorial describes. The bottom model uses a simple dirt texture. The biggest problem with the result is we painted the foliage textures way too small. The 500x500 pixel textures start to pixelate when the camera moves in or the render size increases. Painting larger textures using bigger tubes solves that problem, and Jungle 3D can paint very large textures.

Painting Foliage Textures is the third tutorial in the Jungle 3D series. It compliments the Painting Trees and Painting Shadows tutorials. Be sure to try those too if you haven't already.

Best of painting,

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