Tips for Modeling Peeling Bark with SpeedTree

On some trees, a standard Branch generator with displacement is not enough to accurately depict a tree’s trunk. In this post, I will show a solution which I developed in order to achieve these hard-to-obtain effects, such as the peeling bark found on river birch trees.

Graphic River Birch Tree

Here are high-detail modeling tips to recreate bark peels:

1. Create a mesh with one side curled and the other side straight; this straight/flat end is necessary in order for the mesh to weld against the trunk.

Wireframe of tree bark

2. To prevent a harsh contrast at the base of the mesh where it meets the trunk, it is important that at the bottom of the texture in the alpha channel, it dissolves into black in a smooth transition.

3. Create a ‘Leaf Generator’ parented to the trunk and import the mesh and texture. Matching the hue, coloration and contrast of the bark and the peel’s texture is also a vital step in creating a smooth transition.

Leaf Generation windows

4. In the Leaf Generation editor under ‘Placement’, enable Weld by clicking the checkbox.

5. Also, under ‘Placement’, changing the ‘Angle’ value to 0.5 and ‘Surface Adhesion’ to 0.973 will make lining the meshes parallel to the trunk possible.

River Birch Tree Graphic

How to achieve a more random and natural look with the bark peels:

  • Add variances to the meshes ‘Size’ and placement attributes.
  • Incorporate and edit the profile curves of the meshes ‘Size’, ‘Scalar’ and placement attributes.
  • Make full use of the attribute controls found in the ‘Generation’ bar.