Confessions of an Onsite SpeedTree Trainer

Least Used/Understood Modeling Features

Sonia Piasecki, SpeedTree trainer

As we have added features and capabilities to the SpeedTree Modeler through the years, an increasing number of customers have asked for help in getting the most out of our software.

Some users want to create that one perfect tree from concept art. Others want to reduce polys, make initial tree design more efficient, or move assets through the pipeline more quickly.

For whatever reason, demand for onsite SpeedTree training and consultation is on the rise, and in just the last few months I’ve been to Europe and across the United States providing guidance, tips & tricks, and a sounding board to artists working with SpeedTree. As I’ve visited game and animation studios, a number of common themes have emerged:

Curves. Many users have a general understanding of how to use curves in the modeler, for example, to make the radius of a trunk/branch thinner or branches and leaves shorter in specific areas. However, as many will notice when using the program, curve functions are implemented on almost every property. The profile (blue) and parent (green) curves can control leaf collision, segment count, LOD, the amount of branches or leaves, etc. Also, the curves can be set to affect different levels of the generators, for example, to control pruning from not only the branch’s base to tip but also from the trunk’s base to tip.

The combination of ‘Leaf Collision’ with ‘Cull’ curves under ‘Segments.’ By using the green curve and adjusting which level to apply to the curve, you can control how much of the cull value to apply. ‘Leaf Collision’ can affect not only the leaves on the branch it’s growing from, but on the parent of that branch and so on. By setting these levels, the user can control the amount of leaf collision applied on the base of the trunk to the top of the tree.

Generation Styles. It’s easy to get caught up with using the original ‘Classic’ mode, but tree creation can be more effective, faster and a lot easier by using the generation modes added as of version 7.0.  The new modes (Proportional, Proportional Steps, Absolute, and Absolute Steps) often provide a simpler interface and easier control over node placement.  You can access them by editing the “Mode” property in the “Generation” group.

Fantasy vs. Reality. SpeedTree is usually used to generate realistic vegetation, but the modeler can be used to create unique and beautifully stylized trees as well. One approach is using geometric or organic shapes to get either a cartoon-ish or out-of-this-world look. Users can also bring their own textures and meshes into the Modeler.

Interested in customized onsite training and consultation for your SpeedTree Modeler team? Contact about scheduling a visit.