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If an RPG falls in a forest, but the trees suck, does anyone care?

4: Adsense

My game, Of Stranger Flames, takes place in a fictional French colony settled in a heavily-wooden bit of terrain.

Forested areas appeal to me greatly, so it makes sense to set my game in a forest.

There's just one problem...



I can't draw trees

That is to say, I couldn't previously draw trees. But I've gotten better over time. I've made some new tree art yesterday! It makes my old art look like trash.

For comparison, here's my previous trees:

And *bum bum bum baaaaa!* here's my new trees:

Still not amazingly fantastic, but still alot better than previously. Hurray for relativistic comparisons. Posted Image

So yeah, it makes my old trees look like trash. An artist friend assures me that this is the way it's supposed to be, saying, "Every five minutes I think 'man, my work from 10 minutes ago is junk'". I'm having exactly that same feeling! Except, it takes me over a year to improve instead of five minutes. Posted Image

The trees have also apparently quadrupled in size. Posted Image
This should hopefully make the world feel more raw nature with a few towns nestled inbetween, rather than some cultivated garden. I'll need alot more "forest debris" as well. I have some shrubs and such, but I'll need fallen logs and other things, dirt forest floor, and etc... We'll see if I can eventually pull it off.

Nov 13 2015 12:46 PM

I think it looks significantly better.

If you want the forest to feel more dense, I'd make the trees 1/3 trunk, 2/3 leaves. But that might make it harder to see the player or whatever is happening on the ground.

Nov 13 2015 12:56 PM

Thanks, I'll give that a shot.

The player and other entities ghost through occluding objects, so that's fine.

Nov 13 2015 01:01 PM

Here's one-third trunk and two-thirds leaves: http://puu.sh/lkeX0/765eb995dc.png

I think it does look nice. I'll probably do a mix, and make the leaves vary.


(note: shadows not yet corrected in that shot)

Nov 13 2015 01:07 PM

I'm a big sucker for forests as well. I think that the trees themselves look really good, but the forest itself looks weird because every tree is almost the same size, it looks unnatural.


What about making some trees taller, others wider, others with a lot of leaves, others with only a few, and so on? That could be achieved using smaller "pieces" to generate the trees: in the case of the trunk, having small trunk pieces, so you can generate a trunk of any height putting pieces together, and in the case of the leaves, having small leaves sprites and putting them at random on top of the trunk.


Of course you need to generate the shadow using the same approach, and that complicates things a little bit :/

Nov 13 2015 03:57 PM

I'm not too worried about the shadows not being exactly perfect - if the forest is heavily wooded enough, I don't think people will notice.


Right now I intend to color-shift the tree tops to add variation, and also move the tree leaves up and down the trunk, giving different sizes (and scale them too). I also have some other species of trees I made yesterday - I was going to use them to "theme" different sections of the forest, but I could sprinkle some of different species in each forest, even while theming each forest with a predominate species and predominate color.

Nov 14 2015 06:10 AM

Here's one-third trunk and two-thirds leaves: http://puu.sh/lkeX0/765eb995dc.png
I think it does look nice. I'll probably do a mix, and make the leaves vary.
(note: shadows not yet corrected in that shot)

Looks great!
Nov 14 2015 08:05 AM

Those trees look fine. I see an old pine out the window that looks just like the ones in your 2nd batch. For variety you could add deciduous trees, as wide as they are tall, leaves green or yellow-orange-red or fallen, or flowering in springtime. If you're going for a mature forest, the canopy blocks out all the light so there's no undergrowth, just dead leaves on the ground. Except an occasional clearing around fallen tree(s) or water surrounded by grass and/or brush.


You might be better off showing just the trunks. I mean, I don't really notice the leaves 50+ feet above when I'm in the woods. It's almost like a cathedral.


P.S. looks aren't everything... 2d rpgs ftw!

Nov 14 2015 09:10 AM

Thanks gents, I definitely appreciate the encouragement and feedback!


I'll try to draw some deciduous trees. (Hopefully I can draw them better than I can pronounce them!)

I definitely need a better forest floor, and I think some light-rays coming through the trees might add to the atmosphere as well.

Nov 15 2015 04:59 AM

As others have said already, new trees look much better in the forest. You can move your old trees to the french garden near your castle :)

Nov 15 2015 03:45 PM

deciduous = dee sid you us :)

Also some shadow along the right side of each trunk will help, and a highlight in the middle of the left half of each trunk will also help make them look like they have depth.

Nov 15 2015 04:44 PM

Dee sid you us, thanks - that helps, I'll tape that to my monitor and hopefully memorize it.


Here's another go at the shading: http://puu.sh/lmUOG/b40ff0e766.png

I'm not sure if I fully captured what you were saying about the left-side highlight?


The trunk-to-ground transition also needs work, but I think I can tackle that some other day after I get a better forest floor.


[Edit:] Here's even stronger shading: http://puu.sh/lmWbB/0c501f753d.png

Nov 15 2015 05:41 PM

The one above the guy's head looks very good. :)  The bottom left one could use some more highlighting, and the three pale ones from the bottom middle to bottom right could use more shadow.  The one to the left of the guy has too greyish of a highlight, try a little yellow or reddish.  The tree on the top right is pretty good, but don't forget the top part of the trunk behind the branches needs some shadow too.  Similarly the one on the top left looks good on the bottom half of the trunk but needs more highlight and shadow on the top half.

Nov 15 2015 05:45 PM

BTW if you have access to any Bob Ross videos, he does a great job at very quickly creating trees with shadows and highlights and needles or leaves, with only a few smears of paint.

Nov 16 2015 09:15 PM
The trees in the first pic look like junipers. The only issue I can see is that junipers typically do not have long trunks. Still, they look REALLY good! Very lifelike!


The trees in the second pic look more like pines.
Nov 18 2015 10:44 AM
Thanks gentlemen, I'll take another crack at refining the forest artwork as a whole based on your feedback.
Nov 22 2015 09:21 PM

maya, or speed tree (and probably others) have 3d tree creation tools. You could make thousands of tree gifs fast that way (add a lil wind animation). This would add a more realistic feel to your game smile.png


But honestly your perspective is off (unless you are going for cabinet view) you are painting them to strait up and down :) and take your treelayer copy it then add a 15 - 20 px gaussian blur to them and then set that behind the tree with a alpha of about 10-30% this will make them feel more blended with the terrain (the px size is based on the image size. it should look more blended so that the trees dont pop out as much form the terrain.

Nov 22 2015 09:32 PM

Thanks for the suggestion! I'm not familiar with cabinet view, but this is the camera angle I'm going for:

(pardon the poor outdated graphics)






Given that camera angle, do the trees still look off?


I'm not good with 3D modelling tools. I was trying to figure out how to do wind; wish I thought of using Speed Tree for that, though Speed Tree isn't free for commercial use.

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