Face Me...with a difference

Here’s a Face Me component that I thought might provide some food for thought…possibly in areas unrelated to vegetation. It’s a system I developed some years ago. The Face Me plant is in a fully 3D pot, so it occupies a real 3D space in a model. So that the image doesn’t look obviously billboard when viewed from a higher angle, I’ve chopped it up and layered the pieces at approx. 45 degrees.
Face me shadows always look really weird…especially when orbiting (shadows ought to stay put and not get fatter and thinner, depending on the billboard’s angle to the sun), so the plant itself doesn’t actually cast a shadow at all. This also has the advantage of not having to cut out a vignette shape around each different plant image so that it does. What I have cut out is a vignette shape that I call a shadow caster. This is painted with a completely transparent png file, which can then be left at a high opacity %; and the edges are hidden. This results in it casting a shadow even though it’s completely invisible (in SU, not necessarily in a renderer). There are a couple of these hovering stationary above the pot, so the shadow stays still. They can simply be duplicated and resized to cast shadows from any appropriate veggies, including trees.
I’ve imported the FM component into a blank file so that it works on first inspection. The plant without the pot only has 6 faces.


figplant.skp (589.5 KB)

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Another trick that can be added is a 2D floorplan plant symbol on a tag of its own that you turn off in 3D views, and maybe a face me version of your shadow caster with edges visible, to show in hidden-line elevation views…
Thanks for reminding us of these great stratagems.

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Thanks Anssi. Feel free to extract the shadow caster, unhide the edges and paint it white.; maybe fill-in some of the holes in the middle.


I see, smart :slight_smile:

I’ve used the transparent png thing for a glass bottle once, I needed some shadows but also transparency below 70%
transparent (almost) png, 90-99% opacity, did the trick. cas shadows but not visible.

the 4 layered (and angled) face me elements are a nice touch, the give some feeling of parallax to the plant as you say, instead of a flat thing.

That’s a really neat trick!

Some renderers don’t like follow me faces , so there are still times when a cross billboard might be better suited - especially as those have a fraction of the geometry again

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Yes, Some renderers don’t like the shadowcasters either…they come at as some ghostly blob, but they’re fine for presentations directly from SU. I guess you could do something similar for some FM people also, by having a generic human-shaped shadow caster perpendicular to the sun, on the axis of rotation. The only problem with people is that they’ve got two feet, whereas a plant’s generally only got one stem.