A Realistic Looking Plant
You need some experience on Photoshop in addition to 3d max to follow this tutorial. The procedure I am using may not be directly applicable for every plant. In such you are free to modify the procedure.
Take some photographs of the plant you are going to model in 3d max. It is a must, but better to have some reference materials to make it more realistic. I have chosen the following plant.
Take some photographs of its leaves. 3-4 leaves may enough, but if the plant you are modelling is the main object of your seine, take more photographs from different leaves.
- Hold the camera directly facing to the leaf
- Don’t use the flash, use the ambient light
- Don’t let the object to expose to direct sun light while take photographs
Take the photo to Photoshop and clear out everything other than the leaf. Save the picture (leaf_1_diffuse). Prepare 2-3 more maps by repeating same procedure different names.
Go to 3d max and press M to open the Material Editor. Rename the material as leaf 1. Turn on 2-sided in Shader Basic Parameters rollout. Go to Maps rollout; add leaf_1_diffuse.jpg as Diffuse colour.
Go back to parent level and turn on the Show Maps in Viewport button again. Set the Specular Level to a value between 80-100, and Glossiness Value near 50. Prepare the 2-3 more maps for other leaves by following the same procedure.
Go to top viewport and create a plane with the length and width equal to the size of the map (or any other size by maintaining length to width ratio same to maps using). Let the Length and Width Segments to be 1 as default. Apply the prepared materials to the each plane.
Convert plane to Editable Poly and turn on Preserve UVs option in the Edit Geometry rollout. Press Cut button in Edit Geometry rollout and draw a line around the boundary of leaf (may just inside the boundry).
Go to Polygon sub-object level and delete polygon(s) outside the boundary of the leaf. Render the leaf and sharply look whether and background (white) borders are remaining. If so, draw a line just inside existing boundary using Cut tool and delete unwanted polygons.
Exit from sub-object level and rotate the leaf to make it parallel to X or Y axis. Add 6 more additional lines on the leaf as, 2 centre lines and 4 other lines. These lines may not have more number of vertices as the boundary line.
Add some line across existing lines, to make a grid. Try to follow the natural shape of the leaf when you drawing new lines.
Go to Vertex sub-object level and remove unwanted vertices which are placed on straight lines. But don’t remove the vertices on the boundary line. Add additional set of lines in between existing lines to connect the boundary line and the adjacent parallel line.
Go to Element Sub-object level, select and drag the object little bit downwards by holding <Shift> key. Select Clone to Element from Clone Part of Mesh dialog and press OK. Without unselecting the selection, press Flip button in Edit Elements rollout. Go to Border sub-object level and select two borders and then press Bridge button in Edit Borders rollout to connect the two bodies. Make sure to set the Segment to 1 when you are Bridge the two borders. Now your leaf is converted into a solid object. Go to Polygon sub-object level, select the mid raw of polygons of the leaf (in both sides) and extrude them a bit. Weld the last two vertices of the extrude back to original position using Target Weld.
Go to other end of the leaf (where the seam will join to the leaf) and place the vertices in a circular shape. Select the polygons (see figure) and extrude them a bit. Then extrude few more times again using higher extrude values than early value.
No need to apply maps for that part, the early applied may for the leaf will automatically extrude out by dragging the texture more and more. That will be nice for our job.
Now you should have a complete nice looking low poly leaf.
Go to modifier list and add FFD(box) modifier. Click the Set Number of Points button in FFD Parameters rollout and set number of points as 5 points in width, 8 points in length and 2 points in height. Go to Set Volume sub-object level and adjust the volume using Scale, Move and Rotate Toggles until match with the leaf.
Go to Control Point sub-object level and edit it in a way that you like to make it more realistic using Scale, Move and Rotate Toggles.
After editing the shape of the leaf, exit from sub-object level, go to modifier list and apply TurboSmooth modifier with two Iterations. Render the leaf and see; definitely you should have a smooth nice-looking solid leaf, if you haven’t done any mistake.
Take 2-3 copies and mirror objects of the leaf, and change the shape of each object by editing Control Points of FFD(box) modifier to make them unique.
Repeat above steps and prepare 3-4 more sets of leafs. Altogether you will have 12-16 different leafs. That amount will be enough to make your plant realistic.
Place the leaves in a proper way to looks like a plant.
Render the scene to see the final result.
For my render setup I have used Mental Ray Renderer. I have used only Target Area (photometric) light.
Please let me know if you have faceed any difficulties when following this tutorial. I would like to help you.
VN:F [1.9.10_1130]A Realistic Looking Plant,