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Thread: [Award Winner] Making Photo-realistic Trees in GIMP: A Mini-Tut

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  1. #1

    Tutorial [Award Winner] Making Photo-realistic Trees in GIMP: A Mini-Tut

    Hello All,

    Been a while since my last post; alas, school has kept me busy. In making my map of Eriond a few people asked about the method I used to create my trees. I had used Ascencion's Atlas style tutorial (converted by Gidde into GIMP) to create the map, but had added some slight modifications of my own. One such modification was to use the clouds generated "Hills" layer instead as a "Trees" layer. One problem I found however, was that since these clouds were randomly generated, the resultant trees that they yielded also appeared in random shapes, and in random places within my map, causing me to have to erase unwanted trees, and cut and paste trees in the regions where I wanted them. This made me cranky. Not happy with the original method, I figured that there had to be an easier way. After casting about for a bit for inspiration for a new method, I came upon RobA's "Making Not so Random Coastlines in GIMP" tutorial. Thanks to Rob's brilliance, I got my new method, and here it is: not-so-random photorealistic trees in GIMP (see the .jpgs below for an example of what you should be able to get out of this tutorial).

    Thanks to Ascension, Gidde and RobA for much of the inspiration of this method, and to Hohum for beta-testing it for me and providing me with helpful feedback.

    EDIT: After two years of minor revisions, I have decided to rewrite an updated version of this tutorial. This updated tutorial now includes some custom patterns which you can find below. To install these, download the folder, unzip it, and save them to the patterns folder of GIMP. Then open or refresh GIMP and they should show up in the patterns dialogue.

    Cheers,
    -Arsheesh
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Photo-Realistic Forests in GIMP.pdf   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Final Forests.jpg 
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    Attached Files Attached Files

  2. #2

  3. #3

    Default Update: A Few Important Details

    Thanks Rob! By the way, I just tested out this min-tutorial on a portion of my old Eriond map. Here are a few things that are not mentioned in the tutorial, but that I think would be helpful to point out:


    • Forest placement: When I wrote this tutorial, I was not using another map on which to place the forest shapes for these trees, hence, it did not matter where the forests went. However, I assume that anyone using this tutorial will probably already have a map laid out, and will want to be able to view that map when they draw their forest shapes (see Step 1.4.C.). To do be able to view your map as you work, I suggest placing the new layers of this tutorial below your map layers, and setting the layer opacity of your map layers at 60%. That way you will be able to see through your map to the tree layers you are working with below, but also be able to use your map as a guide for placing your forests. Once you have completed all of the trees layers, simply raise these layers to above your map layers, and than restore the opacity of you map layers back to 100%.

    • Adding shadows: (Step 2.4.A.) If you do not have the "Layers Effects" plug-in installed within GIMP, you can find it at the GIMP plug-ins registry located at this link. You will need to register (for free) to be able to download this plug-in. Also, for the example below, I increased the size of the drop shadow to 5, the offset distance to 3, and decreased the layer opacity to 50%. For those of you who do not want to deal with downloading the layer effects plug-in (though you owe it to yourself to do so, it rocks!), GIMP 2.6 comes with a Drop Shadow feature (Filter > Light and Shadow > Drop Shadow). However I have not found it to be as easy to use as the Drop Shadow feature of the Layer Effects plug-in.

    • Forest Colors: (Step 3) Due to the green background of my map, I found that I had to add extra layers of color to make the trees stand out. In the example below, I duplicated both the Green and the Yellow Color layers (Step 3.1-2), and I set the layer mode of the Green Color duplicate to Multiply rather than Soft Light. Depending on which colors you have used for your map, and for these trees, you may find that you have to do something similar.

    With that said, below I have included an example of how the forests of this tutorial might look when applied to an actual map.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Forests Demo.jpg 
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    Last edited by arsheesh; 05-08-2010 at 04:44 PM.

  4. #4
    Guild Journeyer hohum's Avatar
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    Looks Good. You deserve more rep.

  5. #5
    Administrator RobA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by arsheesh View Post
    Regarding adding shadows (Step 2.4.A.), if you do not have the "Layers Effects" plug-in installed within GIMP, you can find it at the GIMP plug-ins registry located at this link. You will need to register (for free) to be able to download this plug-in. Also, for the example below, I increased the size of the drop shadow to 5, the offset distance to 3, and decreased the layer opacity to 50%. For those of you who do not want to deal with downloading the layer effects plug-in (though you owe it to yourself to do so, it rocks!), GIMP 2.6 comes with a Drop Shadow feature (Filter > Light and Shadow > Drop Shadow). However I have not found it to be as easy to use as the Drop Shadow feature of the Layer Effects plug-in.
    One can always go old school to make a drop shadow...

    *duplicate the layer
    *lock the transparency
    *fill with black
    *unlock the transparency
    *gaussian blur
    *move the layer to offset

    -Rob A>

  6. #6
    Community Leader Gracious Donor Jaxilon's Avatar
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    This looks great. I will have to give it a shot. Thanks and take some more Rep!
    “When it’s over and you look in the mirror, did you do the best that you were capable of? If so, the score does not matter. But if you find that you did your best you were capable of, you will find it to your liking.” -John Wooden

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  7. #7

    Default

    He, he. My wife says these trees look like Broccoli florets. She thinks I ought to rename this tutorial "How to make Broccoli Forests". One other thing I forgot to mention earlier:


    • Making room for Rivers: Since I was using a map that already had rivers running through it, I found that after making the shape of the Forests (Step 1.5.d.), I had to go back and paint black over the areas of the white tree shapes where the rivers ran. It's important to do this step before you create the Trees Outline Channel (Step 1.6.). This will save you from having to go back later and do allot of erasing to make room for the rivers. This same tip will of course apply to other geographical features as well. E.g. in the example I gave in my last post, I apparently didn't pay very close attention and allowed the forests to run into the sea. If I had been paying closer attention I could have simply painted black over that portion of the tree shapes to begin with.
    Last edited by arsheesh; 04-17-2010 at 04:02 PM.

  8. #8

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by arsheesh View Post
    He, he. My wife says these trees look like Broccoli florets.
    She's not too far off ;.} (just kidding). They have a small scaling issue, being as large as your mountains.

    But for our purposes (learning) they totally work.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by mramshaw View Post
    They have a small scaling issue, being as large as your mountains.

    But for our purposes (learning) they totally work.
    Yes this tut was really aimed at beginner level. There is a way to scale the tree patterns down without losing resolution but it is somewhat involved for a "mini" tut. At any rate, let me know if you encounter any other issues.

    Cheers,
    -Arsheesh

  10. #10
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    Hey Arsheesh,

    thanks for your great tutorial. It worked at my first attempt. With this I got a new technique creating forests. From my point of view the most difficult part in a map.

    MSZ

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