Currently I am working on a next release of my Space Tree Pro addon. One of the things it will feature is randomization of the basic ellipsoid crown shape and some additional bundled tree examples. The one shown below is has photo realistic hazel leaves and has is crown slightly randomized.

I know of course that hazel trees or bushes normaly don't grow in a prairie like environment :-)

Features that will probably make it into the next release:

  • Randomized crown outline
  • Randomzied shape, offset and distortion of the crown shape, making it easier to create unique but similar trees
  • A better looking trunk mesh
  • The possibility to remove random branches, adding character to trees
  • Several new, ready to use example trees
This new revision will of course be free of charge for people who already bought the addon.

Pro-Lighting: Skies Demo

I am working on some additional sample trees for my Space Tree Pro add-on and one of the things I really wanted is some easy yet professional lighting setup and guess what, out of the blue comes BlenderGuru with a very handy addon :-) It works really well and makes cycling between different HDRi setups pretty simple. just a sample from a WIP promo piece:

Renderman for Blender vs. OSL

Everybody is thrilled because of Pixar's decision to offer a version of Renderman that is free for non-commercial use, and rightly so because it will enable a lot of people to get acquainted with this industry standard.

Even better is the support by Pixar for a tight integration of Renderman with Blender, in the form of an open source add-on. This add-on may not be production quality yet, but once you have installed Renderman it works out of the box:

Open Shading Language

From my point of view Renderman is extra interesting because it supports shaders written in Open Shading Language (OSL) which means that we should be able to port OSL shaders written for Cycles to Renderman. In the image of Susanne the patterning on her head was actually done by plugging in this simple OSL shader:
shader marble (color Cin = .5,
               float freq = 1.0,
               output color result = 0)
{
    float sum = 0;
    float freqVal = freq;

    point Pshad = transform ("object", P);
    for (int i = 0; i < 6; i++) 
    {
        sum = sum + 1/freqVal * abs(.5 - noise( 4 * freqVal * Pshad)) ;
        freqVal = 2 * freqVal;
    }
    result = Cin * sum;
}

Workflow

There are a couple of restrictions and quirks so let me walk you through the steps I took to get this shader running.

Compile the shader

Renderman will not compile OSL shaders automatically for you like Cycles does, so you will have to do that yourself. If you do not have the oslc compiler installed separately the easiest way to do this is to create a Cycles material first that contains a Script node. When you refer this Script node to an external .osl file it gets compiled immediately to an .oso file and this .oso file can be used as is by Renderman.

Link it to the diffuse color

First select a PxrOSL pattern by clicking the dot next to the baseColor, and then type in the full path to the shader, but without the .oso externsion! (circled in red)

You will notice in the node editor that a PxrOSL node is wired up to the PxrDisney shader.

At this point you can render your scene.

Quirks

If you look closely at the PxrOSL node and at the code for the shader you see that the input and output sockets correspond just partially to the input and output parameters of the shader. Indeed, all input parameters are completely ignored and there is an extra float output socket called result1. The types and names of the input and output sockets are it seems defined in the file /opt/pixar/RenderManProServer-20.0/lib/RIS/pattern/Args/PxrOSL.args and are the same for all OSL shaders. So as far as I understand it, you can use different shaders but they all should use the same names for their input and output sockets (I think this is in line with other Renderman patterns). For this example it meant that I had to rename the output color from Cout to result to get it working (otherwise you get a rendertime error complaining it cannot link to the result socket). Maybe I am looking at it from the wrong perspective as I know next to nothing about Renderman, It is workable of course, just define enough suitable input and output parameters and use those predefined names in your shader but it feels a bit restrictive. Anyway, it is a very promising step. I am studying the add-on to see if I can tweak the OSL node part and maybe help out the original author.
If you would like to know more about programming OSL you might be interested in my book "Open Shading Language for Blender". More on the availability of this book and a sample can be found on this page.

Space Tree Pro pine tree WIP

Yes it is possible, you can create pine trees with Space Tree Pro as well:

The relevant settings are shown below.
The trick is in the Straight Weight setting and the tapering (the Shape parameter). And of course a particle system based on scanned twigs. For now it's just a single twig based on an image from wikipedia but I will scan soem more form the trees in our backyard (because even if it is cc0 I only want to distribute my original work ).

The branch distribution is not optimal in the sense that real pine trees hardly have any branches that point upward but ill try to tweak it some more.
Space Tree Pro is available on Blender Market.

Scenic view made with Space Tree Pro

Just another image to promote my new addon Space Tree Pro.

Animating a Space Tree Pro tree

The animation is not the best in the world but it does show how easy it is to animate a tree that was generate with my Space Tree Pro add-on.
The steps that were take were simple:
  • Create a lattice object and move/scale it so it enfolds the tree and its leaves
  • Add a lattice modifier to the tree: select the tree and then the lattice, type Ctrl-P, choose lattice
  • Add a lattice modifier to the leaf emitter: add modifier, select the same lattice object
  • Add a shape key to the lattice and let it deform the objects
  • Keyframe the shape key on the lattice
  • Optionally: keyframe the rotation on the Leaves particle system

Sunset

I am working on some additional images to promote my new addon Space Tree Pro and although primarily intended for trees in the middle distance you can create hero trees as well.
The tree was created by distributing a group of icospheres to shape the crown and the rock and the wall are part of an exclusion group, so growing branches did not penetrate them. All branches drop a bit below the volume set by the icospheres because of tropism. The scene looks like this: