In Depth: Digital Trees and Plants

In Depth: Digital Trees and Plants

Need to add some trees and plants to your scene quickly and easily? If you’re short on time, budget or knowledge about adding trees to your animation, 3D scene or your still imagery, here are several options to help you get started with adding some arboreal goodness to your work, without having to wait for Spring!


“Consider a tree for a moment. As beautiful as trees are to look at, we don’t see what goes on underground – as they grow roots. Trees must develop deep roots in order to grow strong and produce their beauty. But we don’t see the roots. We just see and enjoy the beauty. In much the same way, what goes on inside of us is like the roots of a tree.” – Joyce Meyer

In our case, it’s what goes on behind the scenes on your computer and with your rendering software! Here are some options to get you started planting your own seeds.

Adobe Photoshop

Julianne Kost talks about adding trees in Photoshop with the Trees filter. It was added in Photoshop CC under the Fill panel, but is now under the Filter menu. I can tell you, it’s a lot faster with this new version.

There are all sorts of trees included, such as aspens, pines, gingko, and Cyprus.

Users can change the amount of leaves, the rotation of leaves, light angle and many other options to make the trees unique.

Download the 2015 Trees pdf for a full list of trees in Photoshop CC 2014.



Terry White goes over this in his 4 Adobe Photoshop CC Hidden Gems video, too.


AxisFX explains how to create a forest scene in CINEMA 4D. This is a bit more abstract but still gives the idea of a forest.

CINEMA 4D Natural Environments Training

We had some new training in our store earlier this year. Helloluxx learn. Cinema 4D Tutorial : Natural Environments. Included with the training are free tree from the plant kit from Laubwerk.

iToo Forest Pack

iToo Software Forest Pack is a plug-in for Autodesk 3ds max, and 3ds max design, designed to give a complete solution for creation of vast surfaces of trees and plants. Below is the demo reel.

The tutorial below uses 3ds Max, Forest Pack, and V-Ray / Mental Ray.

Tree Libraries, Models, Plant Creation Software and Plug-ins

Dosch 2D: Tree Library for Maya & Softimage – Satisfy your digital green thumb and help improve the 3D ecosystem with this handy tree library from Dosch Design.

Laubwerk Plants Kits
Laubwerk Plants Kits offer a new solution for architects and CG artists working in 3ds Max and CINEMA 4D who want high-quality, render-ready trees at their disposal, with adjustable amounts of detail to suit their needs. There are several kits available.

e-on Plant Factory Artist – This entry level version of Plant Factory allows Vue artists to create amazing 3D plants by hand-drawing or assembling pre-made components. 3

e-on Plant Factory Designer – Static Plant Creation for CG Professionals. Created for CG Professionals, Plant Factory Designer lets you hand-draw your plants, assemble pre-made components, build plants from scratch or simply purchase the exact species you need.

e-on Plant Factory Producer – For Production and SFX Facilities. Author fully custom intricate 3D plant models in concert with your production workflow. Hand-draw your plants, assemble pre-made components or build plants from scratch using the node graph.

e-on Plant Factory Studio – For CG Professionals and Small Studios. Designed for CG professionals and small studios, this feature-rich version of Plant Factory creates richly detailed custom plants. Hand-draw your plants, assemble pre-made components or build plants from scratch using the node graph.


Freebie: Xfrog 3D Plant Models – Xfrog has announced they are giving away 160 Free 3D Plant Models, so you can see for yourself why they are the industry leader for 3d Plant models. The sale is over on Xfrog but the free plant models remain.

Nitro4D MagicXtree for C4D – Feeling festive? This holiday tree from Nitro4D might be something you will want to pick up! Best part, it’s free!

The Mantissa – Check out these free Hi-Res trees in FBX format with separated materials! Includes Japanese maples, cherry trees, birch trees and more.

ZTree plug-in for Pixologic ZBrush – Need to make some random trees in ZBrush?  This handy plug-in can help you model trees or vegetation.

Maya Models from Arsa3D – includes trees, bark, and other natural elements.

3D Tree Maker for Sketchup – Create 3D trees in few clicks and add them to your model

More Tutorials

What Makes CG Trees Look Real?

Don’t know how many leaves to include on your tree? Want to make it look ultra realistic? OZBY has a video tutorial showing VRAY and 3DS Max, as well as Photoshop, but the advice is great for any software used for generating leaves and trees.

Cinema 4D: How to Grow a Tree part 1

Download project files at Videofort.com.

Cinema 4D: How to Grow a Tree part 2

Intermediate Bonsai Tree 3D tutorial: 02 High Res Sculpting in ZBrush


New software options and free stuff keep coming out on the plants and trees front. This is an article that I’ll definitely be adding to in the future so if you come across something great, or if you’re releasing your own product, please let me know and I’ll add it to the article next round. Thanks!


Posted by Michele Yamazaki