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Modular Tree Creation Tutorial

Daniel Castillo from Elite3d explained the benefits of creating trees using a modular workflow and talked about his ZBrush skills. 


Daniel Castillo is a Senior Artist at Elite3d. Well known for his awesome sculpts, he recently shared his techniques and tips in tutorials available on Levelup.Digital.  

Benefits of Building Modular Assets

Using a modular set in games allows developers to create several iterations out of just a few pieces, so this way, it can be more efficient if we compare it with having big assets with unique shapes and no option to edit or change the shape. This allows us to have variation in our environments.

For example, in the case of trees, instead of making just one unique model, the idea is to separate the pieces, let’s say trunk, roots, and branches and make them individually. This way, we can combine them, bend them, rotate them and so on.

Tips and Techniques

It’s interesting to make the pieces as different as possible. The idea is that each piece has to be worthwhile to include in the set. But just be careful with color variation in some cases. For example, in my Creating Modular Trees tutorial, since I had to combine different branches and roots with each other, I matched the color between these parts in order to maintain some coherence.

Also, it’s very important that the pieces are pretty neutral in shape deformation, meaning, instead of sculpting some bent tree trunk parts, I should make it straight so that I can bend it, later on, more purposefully.

ZBrush Skills

For me, what has always worked is to practice a lot and to watch tutorials on the subject matter. This is pretty obvious but it’s the truth. I think it’s a balance between those parts. Even experienced people using ZBrush should watch tutorials or talks, like GDC conferences and ZBrush summit. It’s a great opportunity to see how the great artists work, how they use the tools, their workflows, so for me, it’s an invaluable source of knowledge. 

And once you have learned from them, you can include their techniques into your own workflow. 

Daniel has two tutorials available on Levelup.Digital. Essential Rock Creation Techniques and Creating Modular Trees for Games.

Daniel Castillo, Senior artist at Elite3d

Interview conducted by Kirill Tokarev 

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