My enthusiasm for creating plants stems more from an uncontrollable urge to play God rather than from some fond childhood memories of playing in forests. Actually, as a true city kid I preferred staying indoors, leafing through biology books and making up worlds that were better than the one outside. So you can imagine that creating the little biomes for Waterworks was something I enjoyed doing very much.
There’s a certain zen-like state to be found when playing with the basic components of a tree. There’s the trunk, the branches and the canopy. How do you show them in ways that are interesting, yet recognizable? Different shapes of canopy can present different tree ‘personalities’, as it were. Or maybe a tree will be more sparsely dotted with leafs, making the trunk and branches more apparent. Or perhaps the roots stick out above ground, like a mangrove. Taking these aspects to extremes you end up with some distinct stylization of what seem to be different species of tree.
We couldn’t go overboard making them too much fantasy, but still, in the end I think we were granted quite a lot of freedom. Or maybe Mudvark waged silent wars to press my designs through, that I don’t know.
Above images are screenshots taken from Unity. Figuring out how to properly utilize the assets I created took some time and it didn’t help that the FBX export from Cinema is a bit dodgy. To keep the amount of draw calls to a minimum we decided to bake all the lighting and the colored polygons to textures; a process I personally am not a big fan of. I had hoped that simply exporting the FBXs with colored polygon selections would work easily, but alas, draw calls!
The baked textures had to be pretty small, only 512x512 pixels (at least, I think that’s small). After modeling the objects and coloring the polygon selections they had to be given UVW coordinates. Mostly I create objects by hand drawing polygons and points, which gives a less mathematically perfect look, but that also meant manually doing the UVWs, which took for___e___ver.
Safe to say I’m a UVW wizard now :)