Live Modeling - Great Looking Plants from Scratch!

Be sure to join me (Eric), at Noon MTN time (11 am PST) for a fun-filled two hours where I struggle (or succeed!) in creating various organic and detailed plants from scratch…because sometimes you just can’t find what you need out there and have to make it yourself. See you there!

Watch on YouTube (below)…or LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter.

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May I humbly suggest Putin’s underground bunker as the next live model? Revealed: Vladimir Putin's Secret Black Sea Bunker

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Hi Eric,
maybe also low-poly for helping with the distribution of more than a few plants in the project, without using - only render - Skatter from Lindale or Scatter from V-Ray. Thank you!

From Lindale, I’m in anticipation of ‘Special Distribution Types’ in Skatter for creating climbing plants - bougainvillea, ivy, jasmine, ipomoea, lonicera, wisteria, etc.

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Talk about the amazing extension 3d Tree Maker!!
…which is obsolete now as it doesnt work on anything post 2018 as the developer is AWOL

but it’s a full, parametric and insanely detailed 3d vegetation generator… it makes incredible 3d components…really top shelf stuff - and it’s free!

I mean that could be a pretty sweet Live Component process…

Because modelling good vegeation is NOT easy…and you actually want to generate multiple variations so of components you avoid the un-naturrally “copy+paste” effect.

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Good suggestions all…5 min to broadcast!

On the link you shared, I saw an image of a model made by someone on skp of Putin’s bunker, but it was clearly modeled incorrectly, there are blue faces exposed.


Great session guys, good to see an Eric & Tyson pairing. The end resultwas something I could hardly beleive was possible in SketchUp. More of the same please.


Thanks everyone for joining us yesterday. For those that missed it, here’s what we covered:

Started with some real-life Poppy inspiration - taken this past week:

Traced and made components from a material (can be found online or created yourself from your photos):

Combined (from the same components) and customized to make different flowers stems for more variety = better realism:

Used both native tools and ‘Skatter’ extension to randomize copies of the stem components to make the final ‘shrub’ (had time to make some weeds as a bonus!):

With hidden geometry on:

And rendered just for good measure:

Here are the models.

Cheers - Eric


That was an awesome session!

My question about the Skatter plugin vs. V-Ray’s own scatter function is something I struggled with in the past couple weeks. I managed to get some good beginning results from the V-Ray version. (Sorry I don’t have specific permission to share it at this time.) I’m glad it doesn’t bog down the model making an entire forest, but it only works for V-Ray renders, and as far as I can tell can’t produce anything for native SketchUp rendering. Skatter could be used for native SketchUp graphics with the right components (like the ones you made), but all that geometry could bog down the model. I loved the way you made the component have multiple Level Of Detail versions embedded. Right now I see a very deep rabbit hole to go down trying to settle on a favorite work flow method.

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Nice work.
Plant looks good.
Thanks for mentioning 3d Tree Maker - did you play with the advanced settings (to change all materials, branch structure, leaf type and density, even add fruit… ?)

For those who followed this modelling session, I have some additional important tips & workflow improvements, especially to consider if uploading to the 3d warehouse.

  1. Component size - - keep it as small as practicable. yours is 2 feet across.
    If somebody scatters these, then what is going to happen is that the plants will be scattered up to 1 foot into the path (so they’ll look like they’re growing in concrete).

2.Centre the component axis.
Component’s Axis should be centered on the model geometry, so that when it scatters, the centre is used as the reference point, no the edge. Without a central axis, your plants could be scattered up to 2 -3 feet into the concrete.
Also, place the component axis slightly above the ground - this is so that when the plants are scattered or placed into a sloping ground the stems will all project underground - floating stems arent nice.

  1. Growth habit…
    Poppies (and most plants) grow from a central point. You kind of scattered a bunch of stems, which doesn’t look too natural from some angles. This will help with #1 above.

    Reference photos are your friend here.

  2. “Low Poly” does not always equal “fast modelling speed” . Components with lots of sub groups and sub-components are much slower to display when you get large numbers of them in a model.
    Components and groups with individual transformations also require more processing power than those without any transformations (especially if multiple layers of transformations are used -e.g. if the petal is transformed, and then the flower assembly is transformed, and then the whole component is transformed…) .

To alleviate this - explode any components that you possibly can, and avoid transformations (re-set the component size after you stretch or scale it). Do you actually need each petal to be a component? It helps to create it, but then the editability isn’t actually required. It’s a common misconception that sketchup runs faster with many layers of components - there is a point at which a complex component heirarchy makes it run slower than if you just explode everything.
So, for anyone struggling with display speed - try exploding all the leaves on your plants. Hiding edges is also critical.
Some renderers however like having layers of sub-components because they use this to simplify the object when it’s in the background.

  1. Your materials have issues when exploded. This is pretty common with transformed/scaled images.
    Video example of simply opening a component to edit it.,material orientation shifts.
    Explode goes wrong
    Perhaps it’s the use of "Projected’ mode which causes it (and may even have something to do with the model origin)??
    I always open my model in a unique file and make sure the textures remain in place when editing the components.

  2. High poly bits are unnecessary (you covered this in the video but in case people didnt watch) on areas that contribute little to the model:

    In the demo model there are a reasonable number of edges around the leaf component… only required if you want to cast shadows in sketchup, otherwise not required…a rectangle would have done fine.

  3. Use of materials from a single combined image source means they are not very editable and therefore difficult to create more variety. Varity is key when you get a lot of plants - some brown leaves at the bottom or some partially brown flowers… I see many sketchup renders where all plants are in 100% full bloom, even summer + winter plants! To add variety, usually I will use two sketchup models to make one of them a ‘duller’ looking version, then combine bits of each to create two unique components with different shading, scale, etc.
    Scattering Two different Poppy components looks far more natural than scattering just one.

Finally, maybe note that there’s also an issue when I open this model in Pro 2022 (windows). The edges (for example on the leaf component) are not selecatble or editable, even after unhiding and unsoftening. Not sure why. They become editable when flattening the component. Is this s 2023 > 2022 issue?


Eric, you had a good idea to show what can be modeled relatively easily in SketchUp, even in the Web version (without plugins).
Good additions and clarifications, Sam, for those who have now found out that they can model like this in SketchUp.

Thank you, both!

  • (if) someone explode the components, explode them only in the final phase, and before that, save a backup copy.
  • for those who are used to importing vegetation from 3D Warehouse and discover such problems and want to solve them, it is possible with the help of the ThruPaint extension

It is simpler to draw again, using only three-four edges for the circle, and the same for the profile, and then replace the geometry inside the respective component.

But for those who want to directly edit the existing component and reduce the number of edges and faces.

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Yes the texture issue is fixable, but do we know what causes it in the first place? It’s a bit of a pain to fix…especially when it keeps happening.

To be honest, whenever I need to edit these sorts of components, and this issue occurs, I will usually end up replacing the materials with a seamless one, edited from the Materials Browser.
These end up looking decent in a scene, when rendered with appropriate lighting, bump mapping, etc.
And it seems to make the whole model run a bit faster.

In my experience, the “naturalness” of the plant’s shape, size, variation in colour, etc, makes more difference to the realism of an image than the materials…unless you’re in the foreground then you do notice them!