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Problem with Trees! How to make it LOW-POLY?

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Hi there, I am modeling for a new freeware game and have a problem with the trees. How can I easily make a low-poly tree (about 500 polys) and still make it look good? I modeled the log, then I put planes on branches but it still looks crappy. Don't bother about the missing transparency, ingame it works. This one is made with planes along the branches. On this one the planes are on a sphere. Can anyone help me out, how to place the planes in the most efficient way and maybe give me a hint how to make the leaves texture look good? It is really ugly but I dont know how to make it perfect for fitting in any place of the tree. It should fit in here, so no photorealism is needed I am looking forward for your help

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According to my Graphics professor, billboarding (that is, a flat plane that rotates to always face the camera) is often used for bushes and trees. It's not strictly three-dimensional but it makes a decent imitation. And the speed is a definite plus; you only need two polys. :)

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I have no experience on the matter, so this is just a possible suggestion:
why not look at how the guys making speedTreeRT are doing it?
You could just download their demo product or watch their screenshots and maybe figure it out?
hope this helps :P

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From the looks of your demo scene, a seriously realitic looking tree will look bad. players usually notice the contrast in detail, and without knowing why, they dislike the graphics overall.
I know its a work in progress, but since you have sort of basic shapes (the bridge and the house), you could get away with a basic shaped tree. Also, I dont know anythign about your game, but that modeling style would look pretty cool in a cartoon-ish type world. Also, its way easier to make cartoony trees look cartoony than it is to make real trees look real. Even if you went to a cartoon style, you could easily change the graphics to match any style you want, and that would add some individuality to your game that other indie freeware doesnt have.
But thats just an idea and a biasm towards my interest in cell shaded fantasy games.

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Have you tried larger and more differing textures overall? Right now it might look cheap because you re-use the same texture so obviously all over... and sparingly I might add. You might want to think of a tree as more like a canopy surface, than the particle-ish planes you've thrown in there now.

As ever,
**Cosmic**

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