Using GrowFX to create an Oak Tree

Helionic Studio 2020-05-19 10:17 tutorial  > Making of  > modeling

A tutorial by Helionic Studio.

An author's bio: Hello, I am Piotr Duda an architect, architectural visualization artist and founder of Helionic Studio and Paramo3d. Helionic studio is a small team of creatives that combines architectural knowledge, tech and art to communicate ideas. We translate designed space into a captivating visual message that connects architects, developers and ad agencies with their audience.

One of the most important elements of architectural visualizations is greenery. In this tutorial, I will show how to enhance a standard GrowFX tree library on the example of MaxTree vol. 12. As the main tool, we use archviz standard which is 3ds max 2020 and Corona Renderer 5 to tweak it to get a more realistic result.

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Let’s begin with a very simple scene lit with HDRI. The used HDRI comes from the VizPeople collection ad was adjusted in PS to get the right exposure. This operation will be described with more details in one of the further blog posts. When we set up lighting and camera for our test we can take care of our tree.


First, we should define our direction by gathering relevant references. I have downloaded a few of the oak trees with acorns.  The basic set contains neither seeds nor detailed leaves. Real oak leaves are a bit wavier.


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We will need to edit the GFX file and modify some parameters. As a result, we received a cavity in the midrib and wavy blade.

Tip: I recommend hiding currently unedited parts of the GFX model or make adjustments on a copy with reduced size and complexity as each iteration may take a minute.


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Photoscanned acorn

Before you seed acorns you should prepare stems. Important thing is to set proper values in Vector Direction: Strength and Path parameters: Steps


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The acorn comes from CGTrader and also needed mesh and shader adjustment.


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  1. UVW Map displacement wasn’t placed evenly on the seed and editing the mesh was quicker than Unwrapping or tweaking all PBR maps
  2. The base part we didn’t need
  3. Repainted diffuse channel to get rid of the dark splotches
  4. Added some detail to the model to bring out the cupule and the nut

Final touches

Manually placed acorn


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Almost all acorns were generated randomly by GrowFX but the composition needed some changes. As we see most of the acorns in the focus area on the right are oriented outwards and we have feeling that our look is directed out of camera frame. We have to add an element that will bring our sight back. I have added the oppositely oriented acorn to balance the composition.

Camera settings


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To get more control over the depth of field in the image we used ‘Use simple (EV)’ mode. The lower f-stop number is the more explicit effect we get.
To simulate chromatic aberration we used color bitmap which is available in the Corona Renderer documentation site.



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… and After




Autor's Links:

Author: Helionic Studio Editor: Michał Franczak
Tags: 3d trees oak growfx vegetation vegetation 3d grenery trees growfx grenery
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