Trees, Forests & Treetops

My experience so far is mostly architecture, not landscape so I’m kind of in new territory with the task of setting a building into a forest with a clearing. Does anyone ever model the expanse of dense forest by just lifting the ground plane to treetop level and and let an aerial image texture on that represent the mass of trees without modeling every single tree? How do you feather that into some real trees at the edge or a clearing? Possibly an interesting approach to keeping the polygon count down?

Yes, yes, I’ve seen Twinmotion’s forest paintbrush which is pretty cool. I have Skatter, but I just wonder if anyone else has done a kludge like this to avoid placing hundreds of trees.

I wouldn’t recommend to model or use skater to place a lot of trees on a model, it will increase the size of your file too much, you can use pngs and convert them to components always facing the camera.

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Do you have any street views or site phots looking towards those trees. Are you ultimately going to show that massing in perspective?..section? That may change my answer for you.

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That’s a good idea. I don’t actually have one as yet, but I’ve asked for pictures. I usually rely on a building somewhere for Match Photo, but there’s not anything really to do that with. Trial and error with the 3D Spacemouse might get close enough though.

That is a first thought. Skatter can be used to place the FaceMe tree components as well.

Hi Mr Coolidge,

depending on what/how you want to present, you can use 3D trees from Cosmos and V-Ray Scatter or you can use 3D trees from Laubwerk. You can configure the latter according to your needs, with many levels of detail.

with V-Ray Scatter and Cosmos trees

with Laubwerk trees and V-Ray

You can test with this kit Plants Kit Freebie

Of course, you can use Skatter and its many settings and ‘Render only’.


your idea is good for a background effect viewed in plan or aerial oblique.
but for a setting near your subject matter youd want to use 3d components.

assuming you dont want a enscape or twinmotion style render then i’d do the following:
for this one I’d make or import some really basic blobby/polygonal trees and use the aerial as a material for their foliage.

that will give you the right look and scale to match the real scenery and aerial, while leaving a suitable impression of the landscape without trying to fake it or appear as though youre designing it. This method can also acheive the correct degree of accuracy for plans and sections if you require surveyed dripline or extents of vegetation (for some projects this is important)

of course you can take any image into Fotosketcher for an artistic effect.

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Thanks. I forgot that V-Ray had it’s own scatter function. Tutorials on that have been a bit of a struggle, but I’m finally getting somewhere. Does it have a masking feature like Skatter so that you can make the exceptions to the forest to form a clearing?


You can use Skatter from Lindale in ‘Render only’.

There is a ‘Distance Tex’ for grass

The discussion is from December 2022:

''Note that we are currently in the process of bringing most Scatter features available in 3ds Max to SketchUp.
Limiting the scatter area based on object proximity will be one of the key features of this update. Scattering along a curve or in a volume will also become possible.
The Scatter improvements will be coming to V-Ray 6 with an update.‘’

You could split the surface at some distance from your building and apply the Scatter only to this part to avoid the vegetation colliding with the building.

That’s what I did to create the clip from the previous post. And the SKP file is only 705kb.
Of course, the shape you cut around the building can be irregular.

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