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Bryce 5 Tutorial
Custom Tree Roots

How to create custom tree roots

By Kathy Estibeiro


Originally published on

Custom Tree Roots

This is a tutorial to make a root cluster to improve your Bryce trees.  It uses a terrain object.

Figure 1

First create a terrain and enter the terrain editor using the "E" button at the side.  Click once on the "eroded" button.  Don't confuse it with the "erode" button.

Figure 1b

To get a smooth profile without over doing it, click at the grid at the bottom of the tools and change the size from 512 to 64.  Then click it back up to 128 or so depending on personal taste.  Experiment with different combinations to see the wide range of possibilities.

Figure 2

Now paint out the darker areas of the terrain map using the natural contours of the Bryce terrain to leave a shape that looks like tree roots.

  1. Clip the terrain with the bracket at the side to hide anything that is coloured red.
  2. Set the brush behaviour to "Elevation".
  3. Set the brush size small.
  4. Use a light and diffuse flow rate for the brush.
  5. Set the elevation to black and begin to paint.

Carry on all the way around until all of the roots are masked and shaped reasonably naturally.

Figure 2b

Have a look at it in the main screen.  Try adding some slope noise to roughen the texture up if it appears too polygonal.

Figure 3

Now it's time to create the tree.  Bryce trees are beyond the scope of this tutorial but here is a recipe for a starting point:

Trunk Leaves
Distribution: 10 Foliage Shape: Mountain Ash
Branches per Segment: 1 Scale 4
Branch Start Angle: 105 Number of Leaves: 8
Branch End Angle: 95 Distribution: Staggered
Trunk Thickness: 2 - 93 Texture: Material
Branch Thickness 41 - 95  
Texture: Material  
Shape: Sycamore  
Gravity: 4
Randomness: 70
Figure 3b

The final result will look something like the picture below but Bryce crashed in the making of this tutorial so the resulting tree is not the same as the recipe above.

Figure 4

For better control over Bryce trees, it's best to rescale them using XYZ scaling, rather than the settings inside the tree editor. These are the dimensions of the tree and root cluster:

  Tree 1 Root Cluster
Origin -13.82 79.36 -20.48 -19.97 7.86 -17.41
Position -13.82 79.36 -20.48 -19.97 7.86 -17.41
Rotate 0 -31.00 0 0 0 0
Size 151.59 183.58 147.7 80 19.91 80
  x y z x y z
Figure 4b

Make sure to set the root cluster's texture to be the same as the used in the tree trunk. In this case, a sycamore texture was used on the tree trunk and on the root cluster.

Figure 4c

Finally position your tree over your root cluster. Use the top down view for rough placement and then fine tune the placement with the camera view or directors view depending on choice.

Custom Tree Roots Tutorial © 2004 Kathy Estibeiro (Kathye) and used here with permission.

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