AuthorTopic: GR#011 - Trees - Canopy Styles  (Read 56670 times)

Offline Scribblette

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GR#011 - Trees - Canopy Styles

on: April 03, 2009, 01:32:09 pm
Hullo, all you marvellously talented gnawable brains.

I've stalked through here and several other pixel communities the last few years, slowly - ever, ever so slowly - studying every little bit of work that I can, saving and sorting oh so many pixelations into my little research folders, desperate to learn and hopefully incapable of giving up. I long believed I couldn't ever draw, but after discovering pixel art and putting in a good deal of effort I discovered that if I give anything long enough, I can do it. Give it a million years and I might even actually do it well.

It has become increasingly clear that my progress may be so slow because I haven't sought out guidance and critiques from those in the know. Frightened of being told to abandon it altogether for having no hope, and some such nonsense. :-[

In short, I'm boggled and feeling at my wits end tonight. I would love any tips or secrets - the ones you're willing to share, anyway - on how to better draw the foliage of trees. Especially more time efficient methods. I've spent ages trying to find information on how to draw trees and have hopefully already read everything on this forum regarding it. If I may have missed something, feel free to link. Going for another search after posting this.

Below you'll see a little WIP sheet with my 'experimental study of trees in pixel form'. Or something. None of the trees are finished pieces, as I felt all of them failed on some fundamental level - I know something's wrong beyond what I mention below, but I don't know WHAT. That's why I'm here. :)

Reference material was mostly trees from this forum thread example sheet, work by HulioG (on this forum), a trunk outlined from work by Zyndicate, and one from RMXP. I'm looking to design a tree you'd see many of in a game map, so am not looking to make it too asymmetrical.



Things I think I know:

- Ignore the very early attempts on the far left and bottom right, please!

- The base of the trunks was crudely shaded simply to give me some idea of depth - I didn't think they required primary focus just yet. I figured not ALL beautiful pixelled trees have branches visible - or show very little. I did try to get the shapes and structures down though. Foliage etc has not been intentionally anti-aliased yet as I was trying to get an understanding of form and so forth before fully polishing off anything.

- Layer Tree on the top right has perspective issues, I think - I somehow made each 'layer' of leaves look exactly like that - layers. Instead of bunches of leaves in a more, uh, globular fashion.

- Leafy Tree involved creating several leaves of similar sizes and pasting them one by one to create bundles. It seemed not the most sensible method to 'learn to draw' by for the time involved, but providing I manage to shade it properly, it might look most like traditional pixel art and be a wiser path to follow? I thought as I was trying to study form, I would focus on ones I'd draw completely.

- Ball Tree was the easiest and I think may have been the best attempt. However, I don't know how to translate that into having leaves, rather than being blobs of colour. I haven't yet figured out how to paint leaves in. Also the perspective wound up too flat. I feel the far right version (before highlights) looked better. I have since been trying to google how to shade flat top mushroom shaped discs for being similar but haven't found anything... they're a bit odd, something about two main highlights before the terminator?

- Pepper Tree confused me. Until it came to the last three lighter shades, it seemed to be coming along quite well. I haven't completed the last few shades as they were simply more of the same 'create leaves clustered and scattering towards the next shade' and I realized that wasn't working.

I'm not sure if the issue is my color palette. I have tried several. I'm also partly colour blind.  :noob: I also find the lighting to be confusing to work out. It's to the top left, behind and above the trees.

Does anyone think I was on the right track with any of my attempts? Any advice on a general direction to follow would be much appreciated.

I apologize for not having written this earlier in the day when I may have been a tad more coherent and less scatterbrained. I've let trees keep me from dinner and it's now near 1am... eep.

Thanks for your time.
« Last Edit: February 16, 2015, 05:10:04 pm by ptoing »
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Offline Dr D

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Re: WIP - the trees! Augh! Save me from the trees!

Reply #1 on: April 03, 2009, 03:13:06 pm
I don't know why you're so down about yourself, those trees look terrific, maybe if you'd see some more of them through to the end, they may not turn out as bad as you think. I've never been able to draw the canopies of trees, and this post helps me a lot. (Saving it.)

Leafy tree is my favorite, but they all stand out spectacularly in their own way. (Some are more realistic while others are more 'cartoony'.)

Offline JJ Naas

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Re: WIP - the trees! Augh! Save me from the trees!

Reply #2 on: April 03, 2009, 03:47:40 pm
I think you're going in the right direction. A little more contrast probably wouldn't hurt, but it's all a matter of the context. There's obviously no right approach, you can aim for realism or try to be very abstract and stylized, that all depends on what the rest of the graphics of the game look like.

I once made this chart where I tried to put trees in order from the most realistic to the most abstract. I've never posted it before because I forgot the names of some of the games these trees were taken from.

« Last Edit: April 03, 2009, 03:51:49 pm by JJ Naas »

Offline Scribblette

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Re: WIP - the trees! Augh! Save me from the trees!

Reply #3 on: April 03, 2009, 05:09:15 pm
Thanks, Dr D! I'll be glad if my struggles can help anyone - just don't read too much thought into each pixel stroke, as I tend to do with everything I examine. :)

Will experiment more with Leafy in the morning and see how it comes along. It'll probably point out all the flaws in my concept of where light falls for shading, so I'll be sure to do that on another layer...

If you want a well done Leafy tree, check out Final Redemption Fruit, a little down the page - if you log in there's a GIF that shows the WIP stages, but unfortunately it doesn't demonstrate whether he cuts and pastes leaves, draws them all together or even how long it takes to know if it's efficient in any way.

JJ Naas, I rather like that Golf game tree, have saved it to pick apart in the morning. :) Reminds me that I haven't dithered my trees there at all yet, and perhaps that could be what fills in the bulk between leaf layers, rather than a half dozen more layers of leaves.

As per style, I was hoping for a somewhat more realistic approach to trees, but I'd rather go with something that both looks good and can be done time efficiently - a little 'cute' doesn't hurt too much. I'd much rather learn how to draw it all. I may need to do something about my monitor - two laptops, two PCs (one LCD, one CRT) and none of them are color calibrated, and I'm left wondering whether everyone else uses too much contrast, or I just use too little! I use more than some but less than others... so I don't know yet! I just try several palettes.

The trees I've been most admiring have been these works (again, not by me, see links for where they're from)

HulioG's '08 piece, though I should try his '09 style.


Helm's edit of Zyndicate's work


Pokemon Rangers: Shadows of Almia (the non-Pokemon-esque tiles surprised me)
http://files.nintendic.com/nintendo-ds/pokemon-ranger-2/pokemon-ranger-2poke03.jpg
Fill doesn't exist anymore, still kept the link though, but removed image tags to surpress malware errors from Chrome. -Crow

I haven't seen that particular Pokemon mentioned here yet (may have missed it) and must point out that if anyone out there is struggling with cliffs, they've got a whole variety of beautiful cliffs in screenshots on the nintendic website well worth the study.

The Aveyond series have a couple especially good Conifer-type trees thrown in amidst the rest, if you can spot them. Couldn't find any non-resized-jpegs on the spur of the moment to include.
« Last Edit: March 17, 2013, 03:21:37 pm by Crow »
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Offline JJ Naas

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Re: WIP - the trees! Augh! Save me from the trees!

Reply #4 on: April 04, 2009, 07:25:05 pm
A thought came to me...

Doing realistic isometric pixel trees as game hart is a little bit difficult because first of all if they were meant to be really realistic, like this, then you wouldn't be albe to see individual leaves or almost any of the trunk (from a isometric perspective). However, using bonsai trees as a reference for game art purposes might be more helpful than using photos of real trees. With bonsai trees you get the cuteness, simpleness, individual leaves and often an isometric angle as well.

Offline Scribblette

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Re: WIP - the trees! Augh! Save me from the trees!

Reply #5 on: April 05, 2009, 02:35:03 am
Heh, I thought of that too :) I've been studying and drawing bonsai trees the last few weeks :) unfortunately most bonsai trees I've found are tailored for 'character' and are thus VERY asymmetrical. Worse yet, they tend to be flat-on view, and I'm trying to get the isometric and 3/4 view. The other thing is most bonsai trees I've found are taken with lighting from the front or from several different angles, making light + leaf study harder (at least in my mind) to do on a single tree.

I realize that near-perfect is as close as I'm going to get though - that tree you linked was the best I saw. If you see any better ones out there, please do link! My brain hurts from too much bonsai googling.

My first attempt vaguely used that as a model - I'll have to give it another go, especially since I had no clue whatsoever at that point, and I might have more luck now. :)
« Last Edit: April 15, 2009, 05:07:56 am by Scribblette »
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Offline Dusty

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Re: WIP - the trees! Augh! Save me from the trees!

Reply #6 on: April 05, 2009, 03:55:19 am
I think trees are just one of those things you have to play with until you get something you like, because there are SO many ways to even approach just the basic shape.

Offline Scribblette

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Leaf by leaf

Reply #7 on: April 15, 2009, 05:01:23 am
Sorry for the delay in updating. Easter + half attempts that didn't pan out, etc.

The thread isn't about which approach is 'right', but hopefully will be a 'how to' for strugglers on some approaches which are (a) most aethestically pleasing and (b) most time efficient. Or deconstructions of some of the fantastic trees out there. :) I'm not claiming to be a fantastic artist or authority on what works best - I'm just exploring.

This post is an experiment with the 'leafy' style that Dr D liked.

As far as I can tell, there are three basic approaches to constructing a tree leaf by leaf.

 1. Create a leaf cluster, copy and paste it repeatedly until canopy is complete, then shade accordingly. Quickest, but runs the risk of looking 'flat'.
 2. Create several leaves, copy and paste them in layers encircling the tree. Runs the risk of looking like a circular stack of leaves.
 3. Create several leaves, copy and paste them into several layered clusters, then shade. Slowest, and can lose your sense of depth without a reference.

I've not seen examples of 1 & 2 that I actually aspire to, so I tried #3 with larger leaves in the hopes of saving time. Using 3 colours, I drew six base leaves which were then flipped or rotated. The lighting is not perfect, the tree is not anti-aliased and I shaded in a wide brush in broad strokes etc. Ignore the trunk!



Shading involved using another dark color on a partially transparent layer - this was a BAD IDEA. I hoped to merge layers and adjust the palette for the three colours impacted, but it didn't work at all (especially not for a planned hue shift as seen on trunk. Silly me.) Would have been better to shade each leaf appropriately. Saved for possibly doing that in the future. At least it doesn't look as flat as unshaded.
 
Unfortunately it wound up too much like a #2, likely because I didn't use a trunk or branches to help direct structure or to be exposed between leaves. It would have done better with more slight variations on some of those leaves, and probably best not to have any flat-forward facing leaves. It is also very easy to lose your sense of depth when it comes time to shade. All up, it seems this method may be less time efficient than just drawing the entire thing outright?

I'll re-try 'ball tree' next as I think it was quickest. Will try to get the highlights right this time, and I'll see if I can distinguish the leaves without making it an ugly mess. I'd still like to create something like Zyndicate's tree - it was used as a structure reference for leaf placement above.

Does anyone have any thoughts on how Elk achieved that square leaf effect in his example here? Was it simply done with a square paint brush, or a scattering tool to help get the density right?

Any input welcome, as always.

Edit: Is it worth cross posting to PixelJoint forums for input as well, or is it mostly the same people on both forums?
« Last Edit: April 15, 2009, 05:15:28 am by Scribblette »
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Offline Mathias

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Re: [WIP] Tree / forest / canopy study

Reply #8 on: April 15, 2009, 05:37:20 am
Sounds like your a Photoshop user like me. You may not realize that a lot of guys around here cringe at the mention filters and advanced brushes, etc. Lotta purists here, which isn't a bad thing. I could be wrong, but guessing from my time spent here - less merit will be awarded to pixel art done with advanced image editing techniques, therefore less crit assistance due to wained interest. I, however am all about expediency and 100% approve all yer efforts, saving time is important.

I love this thread so far. Never seen "trees" themselves deconstructed. I hope you find that perfect tree producing recipé, I'm watchin' and waitin'. I have yet to attempt any trees so I can't really help you at this time.

Not a big fan of Elk's blobby tree, I can imagine a number of ways in Photoshop to produce that type of texturing. I do love the ensemble one, though. And in comparing it to yours I see that a perspective trick is used that you may've overlooked - he's scaling down the leaves as they get farther away from the viewpoint. His tree consists of branches supporting "spheres" of leaves so the leves in the middle of each sphere are the largest. His applied diminishing perspective is exaggerated to acheive the effect and it's nice. Highlights also falloff as the eye rounds the sphere. Did you notice that? This is something your copying and pasting method will not help you do, unless you create a set at all scales, which is starting to seem complicated but still feasible.

Btw, I like youir current result's basic lines. It's simple and has character. The bulbous protrusion in the front saves it from looking like a boring symmetrical umbrella shape, restoring some naturally-shaped appeal/visual interest.

more sweet trees I just stumbled onto
« Last Edit: April 15, 2009, 05:50:50 am by Mathias »

Offline Scribblette

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Re: [WIP] Tree / forest / canopy study

Reply #9 on: April 15, 2009, 06:10:41 am
No, I use Graphics Gale. :) Graphics Gale brushes work without anti-aliasing. The larger brush is basically a cross of 3x3 pixels. No soft edges. It has layers, and you can set the transparency of a layer. It also has alpha-transparency, but I don't know how to use that inside of Graphics Gale beyond mixing a palette together. I understand that'll put off some purists, but perhaps they can find the strength to ignore the 9-color leaf shading and focus on the structure as intended. If not, my apologies to them. ^_^

I don't understand Photoshop well enough to use it - it's difficult for a newbie. I need to look up tutorials on it online some time! I suppose if I did use it I could draw things in that stemixing style since tutes on that are extensive, but I would lose the control and understanding that comes with being good at raw pixel art. Plus I don't know how I'd avoid anti-aliased edges if I was to use burn/dodge tools etc. :/

Ensemble tree - not sure which you mean. The '08 one by HulioG? I'm meaning to give that style another shot too. When I tried painting trees in their entirety I did neglect the size of leaves as they move away, so thank you very much for pointing that out. I think if I'd made a second set of smaller leaves the leaf by leaf one would've been much better, as I lost a lot of the curves I intended for as per Zyndicate's piece. With smaller leaves I could've structured softer protusions for more character - therés a hint of what I meant for on the lower left corner.

You might notice that the ones you linked follow the #1 method I listed - he created a leaf cluster, flipped it, pasted it about and shaded appropriately. I didn't think it was the right angle for me to imitate, though? I've seen his work before, and it's great, hey :)
« Last Edit: April 15, 2009, 07:19:08 am by Scribblette »
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Offline JJ Naas

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Re: [WIP] Tree / forest / canopy study

Reply #10 on: April 15, 2009, 08:43:03 am
In the big picture you sketched out how the branches would go and that's a very good idea, you should just follow that construction. I mean, like..



1. Let's say you choose this

2. This is what you have done

3. The leaves seem to be spreading out from only two dirrent places.

4. But the end of each major branch should be a point from which the leaves spread out, helping to break the shape and make it more natural and random.

A bit like this, very rough and actually not so good but anyway:


I adjusted the colours more to my liking, you can keep your palette, just a little bit more contrast would still be nice.

Offline Scribblette

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Re: [WIP] Tree / forest / canopy study

Reply #11 on: April 15, 2009, 02:20:02 pm
JJ - I like what you did, and what you say makes sense. It does look more natural than mine, though perhaps I'd adjust the trunk to allow for something a little more cone shape. Thanks! :)

I had this image in my head that somehow I'd wind up with a whole bunch of smaller tree tops and no central mass if I used that trunk pointed out, so just used Zyndicate's tree as reference and tried to imitate structure. As mentioned above, my intent to use a better palette screwed up when I tried to 'cheat' my 3 colors + dark transparent color + palette adjustment. As is colours would definitely need more contrast. Also it turns out my monitor needs calibrating throughout the day - I was definitely lacking contrast to begin with! o_O

I've started a proper attempt at that bonsai tree you linked, and will hopefully be properly demonstrating step 4 as you suggested. Even as crude colour blobs it is looking a lot better. :)
« Last Edit: April 15, 2009, 02:25:06 pm by Scribblette »
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Offline Mathias

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Re: [WIP] Tree / forest / canopy study

Reply #12 on: April 15, 2009, 02:59:44 pm
Yeah JJ Naas, pretty clever making a quick "tree skeleton" in order to know where to put foliage, makes a lot of sense. I hadn't really taken note of that in the original post. We do the same with people do we not?

Hehe I'm referring to the only tree labeled "ENSEMBLE" - the 4 palette-swapped instances in the top right of the image, odd swampy lookin' tree. Graphics Gale eh, I've heard about. I don't think I can ever not use PS, I'm too used to it. I encourage you to continue to learn, you sound like you'd be at home once you learned it. Been a PS user for over ten years, it's second nature by now. PS can do everything you just mentioned and yes there are ways to dynamically alter pixels with dodging/burning, smearing, whatever you want, while working with layers and maintain limited palette. Hint: Adjustment Layers. But all of this is pure evil.



Offline Mathias

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Re: [WIP] Tree / forest / canopy study

Reply #13 on: April 15, 2009, 03:33:22 pm
And what's up with the "stemixing", it doesn't even produce pixel art. I didn't spend much time browing through that huge post of his, but it seems like one guy's workflow with digital drawing with tutorials kinda mixed in. When the person teaching a method gives examples that two finished examples that suck I don't feel real compelled.

Offline Scribblette

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Re: [WIP] Tree / forest / canopy study

Reply #14 on: April 15, 2009, 03:39:22 pm
Ahh, the one by Ensemble w/ Opacus in the Keen Minds thread. Took a while to figure out it wasn't in this thread XD

I'm rather fond of Graphics Gale, but there are quirks I get frustrated by. Any non-rectangular selection once pasted comes with white filling in the gap to make it a perfect rectangle, resulting in unnecessary clicking. Hopefully I'll get some time to devote to photoshop tutorials tomorrow.

Stemixing - ya. It's quick. It's easy. It's cute in its own way, but it's certainly not pixel art, and I haven't tried it. I'd like to create plants with a better sense of form/depth, and I like the crisp appearance of pixel art.
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Offline Scribblette

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Re: [WIP] Tree / forest / canopy study

Reply #15 on: April 16, 2009, 08:22:13 am
Ugh. I think I'm going backwards. :(

I tried using the bonsai tree as a reference. I drew a trunk and tried to get it at the angle I wanted, which is a little more top down than the picture provided. I then tried to just block out the colors so I could have a starting point... but I can't seem to get them even vaguely right.

The lighting on the reference tree is all over the place, courtesy being surrounded by white walls, I guess. I tried treating each branch-end cluster as its own half-sphere for lighting purposes, but it falls apart and doesn't make sense to me. I'm missing the basics, but shading more balls and cones on paper isn't helping me.



Any advice would be appreciated. I'll keep fiddling with it when I get more time - will try to extend the foliage on left and right 'around' the tree, rather than just on the sides.

Edit: Forgot to include picture. I apologize to your eyes.
« Last Edit: April 16, 2009, 08:26:57 am by Scribblette »
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Offline st0ven

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Re: [WIP] Tree / forest / canopy study

Reply #16 on: April 16, 2009, 04:29:45 pm
Hey man, i wanted to say that i definitely appreciate your struggle and i like some of the elements that you have going on here. the trunk of the tree in your first image next to the 'flat tree' text i think shows the most promise in trunk design, i was hoping to see you use that one for the basis of your experiments.

I wanted to run through with this with you , so i actually decided to download one of the video capture programs in the off topic forum thread and give it a go from scratch. unfortunately just like every other program that i tried using yesterday, it crashed at the very end after i stopped recording, so that just added some whipped cream on top of my cursed luck sundae for the day.

so ill post the image in a very early stage, toock me about 15 minutes to get to this point.



i dont think that this alone is going to say much for the process that i was using to get here (and yeah i realize it still looks really rough and the branches/leaves needs more balancing), so when i have  a few minutes at work, ill make a simple animation of what each layer might look like and the order i drew it to get to where i am here. not nearly as good as a recording but itll have to do. Just to try to briefly explain into words, i do like your practice of forming out the skeleton of the tree with the branches, no detail is required there as youve been just scribbling them in just fine, so long as you get a nice balanced skeleton of the leafwork required in the tree you should be alright. From there, made a layer behind the tree branches, used a really dark, desaturated greenish blue and paint in large globs of leaf clusters. this stage forms the general shape and balance of the bulk of the greenery. The only thing on this layer im worried about is shape and balance, no leaf detail goes here. Then i made a new layer that goes over top of that one and the tree branch layer to start filling in the details of the highlights.

perhaps tonight ill try a different piece of software and try recording the next phase in detailing even though i dont think that stage is as critical to watch via video.


*edit* wtf is going on with the img encoding? will fix that at work. have to run!
« Last Edit: April 16, 2009, 05:33:04 pm by st0ven »

Offline Turbo

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Re: [WIP] Tree / forest / canopy study

Reply #17 on: April 16, 2009, 04:55:39 pm
Did you mean this one,Stoven? You copied the filename wrong.


Just dropped in to say that this thread is awesome, and that i immediately saved every picture in here to my references folder. Also, very useful reference sheet, JJ Naas.
« Last Edit: April 16, 2009, 04:57:27 pm by Turbo »

Offline Dr D

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Re: [WIP] Tree / forest / canopy study

Reply #18 on: April 16, 2009, 05:36:29 pm
Scriblette, your updated attempt on the leafy tree is my favorite. I really like the whole look of them, very pleasing to the eye. Although it may be less realistic than what you're looking for.

And, yeah, love this thread, seconding Turbo.

Offline st0ven

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Re: [WIP] Tree / forest / canopy study

Reply #19 on: April 16, 2009, 05:40:12 pm
thanks turbo! was in a rush in the morning, had to catch a shuttle.   :yell:  now i just feel silly.


*edit* just had some time to do a little update on it, not much, but progress none the less. i still will make that progressive animation thing but it wont be as exact to how i actually drew it like a video would have been. also im clearly not the authority on foliage so im actually enjoying doing this with you so that i can work at some tree skills as well, its fun to have people to study with!

« Last Edit: April 17, 2009, 12:37:28 am by st0ven »

Offline Scribblette

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Re: [WIP] Tree / forest / canopy study

Reply #20 on: April 16, 2009, 11:57:24 pm
My crash was courtesy of Spybot S&D's Teatimer eating my monitor calibration software. ::) Fortunately it was only bad blotting that I lost.

Thanks St0ven! What you've provided there is plenty helpful, and should help me start off on the right foot when it comes to shading. And it'd save me time on trying to erase the darkest layer over the brances later on when looking to expose a little trunk. Eesh. :) I can also see now that my bonsai is horribly off balance at the front. Hard to draw foreshortened branches to look at the right angle, especially as just silhouettes! Have to rework the trunk.

I don't know about videos. I'm still a big fan of a collection of saved WIPs (as is probably obvious!). I'm especially curious about painting in clusters with appropriate lighting and the detailing stage.

I'll be making a slightly larger version of the trunk next to the flat tree later on - I thought I'd thrown off the perspective on the branches and thought I'd try for simpler trees first. Had a reference x4 the size from a Secret of Mana tileset. Buried somewhere on my laptop, must find.

EDIT: Awesome, St0ven. Given how long it takes me to get as far as you did so quickly, there's probably a lot to be learnt if you do manage to get video recording to work on your PC.

--

I wonder how much harder - or easier - I'm making it by drawing as large as I am. It's difficult to work out the lighting on something like a tree - especially this upper top left angle traditional to games. Most of the light visible on the tree would probably be reflected light, then. To get the hang of lighting, I figure maybe I should go draw a giant cone, then explode it from within. Maybe that'll help?

Last night, my partner helped me with some advice I'd never heard before - squint when you're shading something. Somehow it seems to make it easier to see whether something 'looks right'. It worked with some sketches I had (balls and cones, yippee) so hoping it'll help with this bonsai attempt too.

Must resist... urge to squeal... like schoolkid... with autograph... squee?
« Last Edit: April 17, 2009, 06:53:23 am by Scribblette »
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Offline Scribblette

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Re: [WIP] Tree / forest / canopy study

Reply #21 on: April 17, 2009, 12:29:16 pm
As I wasn't able to work out what was wrong with my bonsai attempt at the time (volume on the left but flat on the right and confused how to colour blot it out) I started from scratch again. With st0ven's advice I considered the tree branches better while working, knowing that parts of it would be on display. I have still color blotted it to start with, to be as close as possible to getting the basics right - form and lighting.

I think also perhaps the top of the tree skeleton doesn't obey the same perspective as the base of the trunk. I might try to improve the curve at the base of the canopy to match it too. Two brighter canopy highlights are available in the palette for later use, but all the darker ones are already in there. I suspect I use too many colours for a newbie.

I 'think' this is close enough for me to continue on properly. I'll update the image as I progress and note in the edits, but I doubt I'll get much done on the weekend. The hungry monster in the living room will be stealing most of it, I expect...



Edit: Updated. Hit ctrl-f5 if you can't see the giant yellow haybale on the lower right.

I feel like I started off on the right foot but screwed up when it came to lighting foliage. I feel like there's some core fundamental that just hasn't stuck in my head yet and do not know what it is. This looks like a hay bale. I don't know how to capture leaf clusters yet.

Sigh. I like the general design of the branches (haven't anti-aliased or shaded or anything to that yet - just the structure I like) so hopefully will come back to it when I'm more knowledgeable. For now I think I'll abandon trees and work on weeds and very small bushes instead. Maybe I'll learn the something I'm missing.
« Last Edit: April 24, 2009, 06:44:33 am by Scribblette »
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Offline Dusty

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Re: [WIP] Tree / forest / canopy study

Reply #22 on: April 17, 2009, 09:48:14 pm
In your first post, in the sprite sheet the very first 'leafy' tree is the one I like the most. It has the form and a sort of 'puff' to it that really reads tree, in a beautiful way as well. What's wrong with it?

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Re: [WIP] Tree / forest / canopy study

Reply #23 on: April 18, 2009, 11:44:59 am
at least your "pepper tree" is a good reference for my little growing forest ...
The "balls" approach seems dangerous to me ... It could too easily lead you to "brocoli" trees.

(will come back and try to learn/give more interesting advice, promise.)

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Re: [WIP] Tree / forest / canopy study

Reply #24 on: April 20, 2009, 05:48:13 am
In your first post, in the sprite sheet the very first 'leafy' tree is the one I like the most. It has the form and a sort of 'puff' to it that really reads tree, in a beautiful way as well. What's wrong with it?

I was concerned I wasn't learning to draw a tree so much as learning to copy and paste, so wanted to try another approach. Plus I was worried it'd look too messy. I thought I'd practice with larger leaves first since they'd be quicker, but as is now clear that just wound up with a very different looking tree.

I accidentally saved over it too >_<

Edit - nevermind my color depth issues. Color depth can't be changed to x bit when it already IS x bit. I'm surprised I can put one pixel next to another...

Edit #2 - I don't mean to abandon the leaf by leaf approach, though. Will likely come back to it depending on progress with other styles.
« Last Edit: April 24, 2009, 06:50:56 am by Scribblette »
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Project Broccoli updated (again)

Reply #25 on: April 23, 2009, 06:48:23 am
Ow. My brain.

I've been studying the trees from Orcs! by Big Brother, but I can't get my head around the final highlighting stage where they complete the impression of leaves. I don't understand how he'd draw the leaf cluster (stem with one each side and maybe four before end point) in a colour and then remember the shape inside it to highlight properly... or something.

The WIP image of 'Project Broccoli' above has been updated.

I feel horribly like I'm missing out on some fundamentals somewhere, and I don't know what they are - as if to get this right I'd have to have been a painter or some such, as if others can just paint 'almost right' from the start, while I spend forever working from the ground up.

Not that I mean to give up - I'm just hopeful there's some advice out there on how to capture leaf clusters properly. Otherwise I'll have to consider a simpler cartoonish or cell-shaded type design to make progress at a decent pace. Advice on that is welcome too.

Edit: Updated, but no point making a new post/comment about it. I really don't know what I should be doing to improve and only seem to be going backwards, so I am stopping the foliage of that one there. It is not working out despite numerous different style attempts. As suggested I may return to the leaf by leaf approach, but I will start with weeds, radishes and small saplings instead. Maybe I will learn the 'missing something' in the process.
« Last Edit: April 24, 2009, 06:51:38 am by Scribblette »
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Arf. Project Broccoli Phase II

Reply #26 on: April 24, 2009, 10:01:51 am
Sometimes I think I'm human. Then I remember that I'm like a dog with a bone. And. I won't. Let go. Of your trouser leg. Grrr. Dog don't care if not bone, dog just want CHEW.



Project Broccoli continues. This time I grabbed the palette and style from a tree in RPG Maker XP - I think it was an edit someone did. RMXP uses 2x2 squares and a cross for some of theirs, but I was curious how it'd look with 3x3.

A MARVELLOUS IDEA CAME TO ME! All I need to do is do the exact same thing with not 3x3 and not 2x2 but 1x1 squares and OMGS IT'LL BE PERFECTS!!  :noob: - yes, sarcasm.

The third and fourth phase of shading here were very rough and detracted a bit. However, I feel like I'm making some progress with my 'hidden fundamental something that is wrong'. Specifically, I think it can bypassed by cheating.  ::)

Edit: Updated, now has three rows of trees. Still battling with pillow shading.
« Last Edit: April 28, 2009, 04:05:34 am by Scribblette »
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Offline ndchristie

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Re: [WIP] Tree / forest / canopy study (updated 24th)

Reply #27 on: April 24, 2009, 02:07:04 pm
the biggest thing, and i think it's been said, is that leaves do not actually form spheres most of the time, they form something more like muffin heads.  imagine, say, a bucket of concrete, holding out your hand, like a branch, and spraying it all over it.  That's probably as close as most tees will come to a sphere form - it's a really flattened, lumpy and droopy ball.  evergreens on the other hand tend to have better upward motion, even the bally ones like olives.  Either way though, few trees have branches which spread their leaves equally in all directions.
The other big "oops!" is that tee branches do not form themselves soooo influenced by their neighbors.  they are far more independent from branch to branch, producing these overlaps you'll see in the photo.  You've got them hitting like little nations, where each branch and its leaves inhabit a space exclusive of all other branches - this isn't how it works.  A branch will fall where it wants, for better or for worse.
Last, you're pillowshading a bit.  try to consider the whole as you work.

googling simply "tree" comes up with i think the est example:

« Last Edit: April 24, 2009, 02:12:39 pm by ndchristie »
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Re: [WIP] Tree / forest / canopy study (updated 24th)

Reply #28 on: April 24, 2009, 02:56:55 pm
Thank you for the constructive input, ndchristie.

I tried to set it so that the branches that were most prominent were the ones I developed twigs on, that I might have some idea where to start leaf clusters - and to keep it easy to distinguish between branches by avoiding overlaps on the front - but I get now that it's going to be a lot more complicated than that.

Maybe the horrible fundamental was the pillowshading - I think it got worse the more I did. I'm still not sure how to capture the light (lack of core knowledge maybe, so more sketch practice required), but will keep trying - I practiced with balls and cones, not gloops of concrete, unfortunately. It seems most tree pictures come with the light from up front and left, but I don't know if that makes them easier to shade.

Hoping I improve from here and can actually put the advice into action.
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Offline ndchristie

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Re: [WIP] Tree / forest / canopy study (updated 24th)

Reply #29 on: April 24, 2009, 03:26:23 pm
I know that trees can be a tough subject for a lot of people, but I can't help but think that you're making things a little too complicated.  This is nature we're talking about, just feel things out gesturally.



here you have a 5-minute tree drawn while drinking coke and listening to Queen Jane Approximately.  It's nothing stunning, but there's not anybody I know that would look and say "brother, that's no tree."  It has all the important things - a sense of air, a sense of volume, a sense of light, and organic asymmetry.  It's also small, which makes that easy.  When working fast for studies it's a good idea to take GBA or DS sizes because they are so wieldy.  I think that's a good exercise for anything - pick out a longish song you love with a modest beat (don't race yourself) and only work until the song stops.  Under Pressure is another good one that I work to.  After you've thrown all that down you can go back and polish, but don't try and polish from the start with all the leaves and little ditty dots and things.
Beside it is a similarly quick doodle shown not because i think it was particularly successful, but because you can see how i started with just largely places shapes and just began to fill in over.  this can help get stated.  Remember: wieldy :).
« Last Edit: April 24, 2009, 03:36:21 pm by ndchristie »
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Re: [WIP] Tree / forest / canopy study (updated 24th)

Reply #30 on: April 24, 2009, 03:34:01 pm
I sure hope it's less complicated than I've been thinking. That'd be such a relief. Even if I'm lost on good ways to add fine detail, I'm lost anyway if I'm still pillow shading!

I'll do as you suggest and work with something small and grab one of the ditties to work to. Updates will follow after sleep.
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Re: [WIP] Tree / forest / canopy study (updated 24th)

Reply #31 on: April 24, 2009, 04:14:04 pm

I think the third one from the bottom left would be one worth continuing as well, without actually messing much more with it. Just add the highlights and details as needed, and don't really touch the dark areas. I really like the shape going on but your edits after that seems to have destroyed that form.
« Last Edit: April 24, 2009, 04:15:50 pm by Dusty »

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Twas brillig, and the slithy toves...

Reply #32 on: April 24, 2009, 04:19:50 pm
I liked where it seemed to be going too, but it seems I don't have the knowledge of HOW to add the highlights and details in there - yet. I'm, I'm - I'm a pillow shader! *cry*

I'll definitely come back to it, but first I should work with smaller things to see if I have a grasp of the basics at all. I tend to over reach.

Beware the pillow shades, my son
the lights that bulge, the curves that band!
Beware the colored blobs, and shun
the shading symmetry bland!
« Last Edit: April 24, 2009, 04:30:50 pm by Scribblette »
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Broccoli & Leafy Tree updated

Reply #33 on: April 30, 2009, 05:20:09 am
I updated Project Broccoli II above a few days ago. I've been focusing on other things, but thought I'd complete the leaf placement on the Leafy Tree to just get it out of the way. Only had a short time to mess with it, so it's obviously not finished with anti-aliasing and proper highlighting (and perspective is off, should have gaps for branches, and as always, ignore the trunk, etc), but it clues one in to how such an approach could look.



As advised by people here, I'm moving on to smaller plants, learning how to shade individual leaves, focusing on the basics and making some progress drawing trees that are trees that look nothing like trees yet are interpreted as trees. Updates will be unlikely for a bit.

I think a thread on shading semi-basic shapes that aren't easily googled and don't follow basic rules (from what I've been told) - donuts, flat topped discs and the like - would be more helpful, perhaps.
« Last Edit: April 30, 2009, 05:46:27 am by Scribblette »
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Offline bengo

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Re: [WIPs] Tree / forest / canopy studies

Reply #34 on: April 30, 2009, 05:31:52 am
Looking good, one little thing thats bothering me... the trunk looks... it just looks off to me, keep up the good work.

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Re: [WIPs] Tree / forest / canopy studies

Reply #35 on: April 30, 2009, 05:48:30 am
Aye, it looks very off. I forgot the 'ignore the trunk' disclaimer for shading, but I did mention perspective because of it - the trunk would need to be tilted towards the viewer to work.
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Re: [WIPs] Tree / forest / canopy studies

Reply #36 on: November 16, 2009, 09:54:07 am
Scribblette you might find these "aquatic bonsais" interesting

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http://img104.imageshack.us/img104/5215/84842505.png
http://img11.imageshack.us/img11/5883/starmoos.png

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Re: [WIPs] Tree / forest / canopy studies

Reply #37 on: November 16, 2009, 11:11:03 am
It is rather fascinating, the umpteen-illion ways nature presents plant & mineral forms that'd serve marvellously for tree designs, hey! Thanks for the links. I think one of my favorite designs so far is the logo by, I think it was, Silver Tree Media - like a giant mosaic snail upon snail spiral set atop a narrow trunk. It was the clearest indication that a tree needn't look just like a tree.

I didn't realize I hadn't updated the thread in so long - so many things have been happening and I've been very focused on creating character in people. We're moving in a couple weeks, but I'm hoping to be back on here - with tree work - not long after that.
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Re: [WIPs] Tree / forest / canopy studies

Reply #38 on: November 17, 2009, 10:10:38 pm
Just in case you've not noticed this, but most of your individual leaves are the same size, which tends to lead to it looking like a repeated pattern. Some of the example art trees had all different sized leaves. Might be worth trying..

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Re: [WIPs] Tree / forest / canopy studies

Reply #39 on: November 17, 2009, 10:40:00 pm
In real life there's certain trees with the same size of leaves

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Re: [WIPs] Tree / forest / canopy studies

Reply #40 on: November 17, 2009, 11:34:25 pm
That tree I wanna see where all the leaves are the same size. Usually you always have some younger branches with smaller leaves.
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Re: [WIPs] Tree / forest / canopy studies

Reply #41 on: November 18, 2009, 12:51:17 am
Not sure if you're still working on this but I think your last tree could use some smoother transitioning between the shades of the leaves, rather than jumping from light leaves to dark leaves -- makes it sort of look copy/pasted.


Only like a 5 minute edit, but I think it shows what I mean.

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Re: [WIPs] Tree / forest / canopy studies

Reply #42 on: November 18, 2009, 07:10:14 am
Also, even if the leaves are the same size, they may appear smaller than others because they are in a part of the tree that is futher away from the eye.