Author Topic: Pak128 Tree Update Project  (Read 19220 times)

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Offline Sarlock

Pak128 Tree Update Project
« on: October 01, 2012, 03:24:16 AM »
As I will be progressing through the entire tree set and adding snow versions and doing general updates, I'll start this discussion here to document the progress of the work.

Before I begin I want to finish off my douglas fir tree project.  I've lightened the trunks of the trees as well as did some smoothing of the colours on the top green tree set.



In a game setting:  Old version <-- || --> New version

OLD: NEW:

OLD: NEW:

Tell me what you think.  The objective points of view that you've been giving me has been fantastic, I tend to overlook a lot of things because my eyes glaze over after looking at the tree for so many hours in a row.   :P
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Offline Sarlock

Re: Pak128 Tree Update Project
« Reply #1 on: October 01, 2012, 03:31:36 AM »
For reference on what these trees actually look like:



If they grow within a thick forest they have only a bit of green at the top and a long, barren trunk.  If they are growing at the edge of a clearing and get a lot of sun, they will keep their foliage much further down the trunk, like most evergreens do.
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Offline Roads

Re: Pak128 Tree Update Project
« Reply #2 on: October 01, 2012, 04:22:00 AM »
Sarlock, IMHO, the trees, beginning with the limbs, look nothing short of wonderful!

The trunks, I think need to be lighter still.  I don't envy you the task.  I played around with the trunks for a few minutes to see what I could do and the results were pretty awful - make that downright awful.  So as far as I'm concerned if you do nothing else with them, I'll still think you've done a great job.  In the game they will look much better anyway since I assume they will be mixed with other trees and you won't see rows of trunks.

Offline mEGa

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Re: Pak128 Tree Update Project
« Reply #3 on: October 01, 2012, 12:59:16 PM »
About trunks.
IMHO, I think that color is too black. A clearest brown color could be more realistic ?
I like very much your snow effects.
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Offline Roads

Re: Pak128 Tree Update Project
« Reply #4 on: October 01, 2012, 08:21:06 PM »
Sarlock, I hope you don't think I'm intruding here.  Just been playing around with this trunk in PhotoFiltre(thanks mEGa), with the spray can and light gray.  Please look at the bottom left tree trunk:



« Last Edit: October 01, 2012, 08:33:34 PM by Roads »

Offline Sarlock

Re: Pak128 Tree Update Project
« Reply #5 on: October 01, 2012, 10:44:36 PM »
Thanks for the input, Roads, I appreciate you taking the time to tinker with the picture and throw some ideas out.  It helped me to visualize a much ligher trunk colour.

I have been playing around with the trunk for a while today and this is what I've come up with so far.  If the tone is a little closer to what looks best, I'll refine the colours a bit, the lines between the light side and the dark side are a bit too straight and need to be smoothed a bit.



Edit/Addition:

This is a forest with a density of 6 trees per tile:

« Last Edit: October 01, 2012, 10:51:59 PM by Sarlock »
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Offline Roads

Re: Pak128 Tree Update Project
« Reply #6 on: October 02, 2012, 12:04:24 AM »
Sarlock, yours looks good now!

Mine was too speckled...I was thinking of how bark looks but the pictures are just too small to portray that.

Offline Sarlock

Re: Pak128 Tree Update Project
« Reply #7 on: October 02, 2012, 05:05:20 AM »
Yeah, I tried the same thing, it just didn't look right.  The trunks are only 5 pixels wide so there isn't a lot of options available with such a small area.  I'll update the other trees to have the same trunk colouration as well as smooth out the spring versions in the middle to remove some of the light/dark contrast that I fixed in the top set.

I'm going to be working down the climate zones starting with rocky(alpine) and tundra.  I'll borrow from existing tree content as much as I can, but I want to ensure that each tree matches the other trees in that climate zone to create a proper "feel" for each zone.

For alpine/tundra, the evergreens are typically pine and spruce, grow quite high and spindly (due to the short growing season and heavy snow burden) and are interspaced with deciduous trees such as white birch and larch.

I am working on a white spruce tree but I'm not happy with how it's progressing and I might just redraw from scratch.  While taking a break from that frustrating project, I tried my hand at a white birch tree and was pleasantly surprised by my first draft results:

WHITE BIRCH v1.0:

I originally did just one tree but decided it looked better with three trunks placed closer together.  It looks nice nestled up with my douglas fir and hopefully will look nice coupled up with larch and white spruce once I get a design I'm happy with.  It's a bit lighter than I think it should be, so it'll get darkened a bit.

It doesn't have shadows yet.

Thoughts/comments/suggestions/criticism welcome!

Edit/Addition:

I played around a bit more and tried an experiment.  I added a small amount of ground cover/small trees to the base of the mature/adult white birch.  I'm not sure how this will look in a forest with other trees and near cities, so just playing around to start with.

WHITE BIRCH with ground cover v1.0:

I put it with some douglas fir to space it out a bit.  I can't decide if it looks right or not, but it fills in the trunk area quite nicely.
« Last Edit: October 02, 2012, 05:24:11 AM by Sarlock »
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Offline Sarlock

Re: Pak128 Tree Update Project
« Reply #8 on: October 02, 2012, 05:39:04 AM »
Shadows added:


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Offline Roads

Re: Pak128 Tree Update Project
« Reply #9 on: October 02, 2012, 06:26:11 AM »
The White Clump Birch.  I love that tree!  You have done it justice here and thank you very much!  I can't wait to see it in game. :)


Modify:  Actually I like it better without the "suckers" at the base but that's just me...

Offline greenling

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Re: Pak128 Tree Update Project
« Reply #10 on: October 02, 2012, 05:22:09 PM »
Sarlock
The trees they you have make looks very good out.
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Offline Sarlock

Re: Pak128 Tree Update Project
« Reply #11 on: October 02, 2012, 06:21:24 PM »
A thought about tree design:

There are 5 stages of tree growth built in to the game.  We have chosen to designate these 5 growth phases as sapling[0]-->young[1]-->middle[2]-->mature(predominant)[3]-->aged/dying[4].

In looking at many of the graphics for aged/dying trees, some are excellent and some are just rehued (browns, mostly) versions of the adult tree with a few branches removed.  Some are completely dead.

I got to thinking about this and had a thought.  One thing that happens is that because most of the trees are of the mature variety (not sure on the actual percentage, but it's certainly over 50%), there tends to be a lot of repetition in treed areas, especially with trees that tend to stand out because of shape/colour/etc.

There are two approaches that I think may help to alleviate this a bit:

One would be to draw a second version of the same tree but change it so that it is not a copy of the first tree of that type.  This would give us two mature trees for each tree variety, making forests more varied in appearance.  The downside of this approach is that an entire second set of drawings needs to be created for each tree and this is a lot of work, though we could reuse the young tree varieties from the original set as there isn't enough of these in game to cause a repetition issue.

The second thought was to change the growth stages of the trees to be instead:  sapling[0]-->young[1]-->middle[2]-->adult #1[3]-->adult #2[4]
Adult #1 would still be the tree most often seen in a forest but there would be enough #2 to break it up a bit.  The middle tree is generally large enough to offer enough variety to the adult trees.

I prefer option #2 as it doesn't entail drawing a second set of trees and I don't think that the dying trees currently add much from an aesthetics point of view.  They may only make up 10% of a forest but it could still lend some variety to the adult trees if they were drawn as an alternate adult instead of a dying/dead tree.

Thoughts?
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Offline Sarlock

Re: Pak128 Tree Update Project
« Reply #12 on: October 02, 2012, 08:47:33 PM »
Tired of me yet?   ;D

WHITE BIRCH v1.1:

TEMPLATE:


Input on the trees appreciated at this point before I go ahead and create the seasonal versions.  Easier to refine and fix the summer version first than to have to change them all afterward.

The contrast with the white bark is very appealing to the eye.
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Offline VS

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Re: Pak128 Tree Update Project
« Reply #13 on: October 02, 2012, 11:11:00 PM »
In no particular order...

No, not tired. Enjoying the graphics :) A lot.

This should probably come before everything else: We don't worry about image duplication, at least on the technical side. Simutrans recognizes identical sprites when loading paks, so memory consumption is proportional to unique graphic count. This means you can have two 1:1 trees, only differing in one age graphics, without any performance hit at all. Trees also have DistributionWeight, so it is easy to compensate for the imbalanced probabilities that might result from such practice. So... you can simply draw variants of ages or seasons as you please! (To be fair, we poor humans are somewhat worse at managing redundancy organized in this way, so try to stick to whole rows/columns in the hypothetical table ;D )

Saplings didn't exactly work for me either, and I can even rationalize why :D Perhaps your local variant grows as white from young age, but over here, the young trees have at first brown, then maybe grayish bark and turn into the characteristic w/b perhaps at some 3-5m. Otherwise, I liked the idea. If you managed to pull this off, you could have two versions with & without these.

As to dead trees, hard to say. You are probably right that they do not add to aesthetics... much. On the other hand, I remember actually liking seeing some of the trees dead. A forest with these just felt more real, somehow. No offense meant to your elvish side! ;) Theoretically, you could have two variants of a species, and for their last ages one dying and one "rare", while still reusing the first 3 ages... I don't want to imply that you should paint so many, though! Just thinking aloud :)

Anyway, tree life cycle period lengths are 1:1:1:6:3, so focusing on adult #1 = win :)


Err, it is tomorrow already? In the end, don't mind my rambling that much. I'm probably too sleep-deprived...

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Offline Sarlock

Re: Pak128 Tree Update Project
« Reply #14 on: October 03, 2012, 03:00:17 AM »
Excellent comments, VS, great information.  I assume you mean 1:1:1:6:1 for the tree occurance ratios.

It is good to know that duplicate image content does not consume additional memory, adding an extra picture or two for additional trees won't matter as much when the rest of the pictures that come along with the file for completion are just duplicates of other images from other files.  Doing additional drawings isn't that hard once I get the basic design and colours set.  It's the time between the first drawing and finally getting a design we're happy with that takes a lot of work.  Making another mature douglas fir tree or two at this point isn't a lot of extra work.

The birch trees here behave in the same manner, they have brown to grey bark in their younger years as well.  The smallest tree I made is 50 px high, which by the pak128 scale already makes it 8m+ tall, so I didn't worry about it.  The game may say it's a 3 month old tree but the image is more like a 10-20 year old tree...

I had to remove the suckers at the bottom of the birch trees because they made the base too wide and they would sometimes overlap on to roads.  If the consensus is satisfied with the birch tree design, I'll make the fall and winter varieties.
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Offline Sarlock

Re: Pak128 Tree Update Project
« Reply #15 on: October 03, 2012, 06:30:16 AM »
I took Shunter's tree133 (spruce tree) and made some modifications to it:





The distance shot reaffirms to me that I'm on the right track... it's instantly recognizable as a boreal style forest with the conifer/birch mix.

Before I continue, since I'm fairly new to this side of the game, is it acceptable that I modify a previous artist's work?  I took Shunter's excellent tree, lightened up some sections, added a few more branches, decreased the size a bit and made it a bit skinnier (its size seemed a bit overbearing).  I don't want to step on anyone's toes.
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Offline Fabio

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Re: Pak128 Tree Update Project
« Reply #16 on: October 03, 2012, 07:41:26 AM »
1) modifying other's work: very acceptable (I'm kind of doing the same these days with the snow project), as long as you quote the original author in the copyright string.

2) birch: the removed suckers could be reused as saplings for age 1, IMHO.

3) great work!

Offline Roads

Re: Pak128 Tree Update Project
« Reply #17 on: October 03, 2012, 07:51:19 AM »
Truthfully and I really hate to say this but I do not like the modified conifer.  The foliage looks too angular and rigid - like a clump stuck on the tree.  Also being truthful, it is undoubtedly better than I could do so you will hear no more complaints on this particular tree from me.

Offline Sarlock

Re: Pak128 Tree Update Project
« Reply #18 on: October 03, 2012, 02:21:23 PM »
I don't offend easily, Roads, I like the honesty :)
The original tree had a lot of almost pure black in its center.  I added some more foliage and brightened up the tones considerably, but I think you're right... it's still too dark in those middle sections and it makes the pieces of foliage stand out as if they are floating there.  I'll do some more work in the dark sections and try to bring them out a bit so that the brighter sections don't stand out as much and there's a smoother transition between the two areas.

Good point, Fabio, that's what I'll do with those saplings.  :)
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Offline VS

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Re: Pak128 Tree Update Project
« Reply #19 on: October 03, 2012, 03:49:15 PM »
Another thought. Since age 0 variant is used for hiding trees with transparency off, it should be somewhat minimal.

As to the spruce, I guess I'm easily impressed? I'm an engineer, not a botanist ;D It seems to fit, although seeing it alongside the fir might help, too.
« Last Edit: October 03, 2012, 04:10:16 PM by VS »

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Offline Sarlock

Re: Pak128 Tree Update Project
« Reply #20 on: October 06, 2012, 12:24:13 AM »
Been busy the last few days, but I found a few hours here and there to chip away at this project.  I've changed the spruce tree a bit, tried to resolve some of the deep shadows and angles with some smoothing and introduced summer and fall versions of the birch tree.  The fall version is a bit bright, but I love the contrast!  I'll darken it a bit later, but for now here it is:

SPRING:

(Note that I haven't smoothed out the douglas fir tree spring version yet)

SUMMER:


FALL:
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Offline Dwachs

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Re: Pak128 Tree Update Project
« Reply #21 on: October 06, 2012, 08:07:25 AM »
Great trees !

The autumn birch looks to bright to my eyes. It could also have less leaves.
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Offline VS

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Re: Pak128 Tree Update Project
« Reply #22 on: October 06, 2012, 09:28:09 AM »
Too bright for me, too...

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Offline TommPa9

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Re: Pak128 Tree Update Project
« Reply #23 on: October 06, 2012, 09:43:11 AM »
... yellow? I think, orange and brown can be better. This yellow look so... unrealistic (it may be the best word for this autumn color)

Offline greenling

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Re: Pak128 Tree Update Project
« Reply #24 on: October 06, 2012, 09:59:33 AM »
I think that the Color Red be are Missing in the Trees.
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Offline Roads

Re: Pak128 Tree Update Project
« Reply #25 on: October 06, 2012, 10:03:55 AM »
Sarlock, seems I always fall back on this but years ago when I was canvas painting, one Autumn day I went out and got a yellow leaf to try and match the color.  To my great surprise, compared to my yellow paint, it was green!

I don't know what would work here though, green or gray.  As you said in an earlier post, it is not the color but what we perceive...

Offline Fabio

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Re: Pak128 Tree Update Project
« Reply #26 on: October 06, 2012, 10:28:47 AM »
Probably a bit darker and desaturated...

Offline VS

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Re: Pak128 Tree Update Project
« Reply #27 on: October 06, 2012, 10:50:52 AM »
Hmmm... To expand on my previous comment with yet another 2 simu-cents...

Compared with this: https://www.google.com/search?q=autumn+birch&hl=en&tbm=isch

I think more warm - red and orange hues (thus implicitly darker?) are missing from the "big picture". A bit of desaturation would help the "too bright" problem as well? Sorry, but my colour theory is a bit weak, so interpret these as you see fit :-/

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Offline mEGa

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Re: Pak128 Tree Update Project
« Reply #28 on: October 06, 2012, 01:14:32 PM »
Birch trees in autumn really have yellow leaves, I remembered. Not so unrealistic IMHO.
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Offline Sarlock

Re: Pak128 Tree Update Project
« Reply #29 on: October 06, 2012, 05:07:32 PM »
Fabulous feedback!  Thanks everyone.  I knew they were a bit too bright, but I wanted to release it for now to get some general input.  Birch trees are generally quite a bright yellow when in autumn colors, but even toned down it might be a bit too much.  What I might do is do two versions of the autumn birch to try and tone it down a bit and give it some more variety.

Adding some more shadows should help and I will convert some of the yellow to more brown/reddish hues and see what I get.

I'm trying to assemble the set of alpine/tundra trees, so I want them to all fit together nicely as a group.  I'd like to add another deciduous tree that has reddish/brown tones in autumn to help add autumn variety.

[Add:]

Did some work this morning on modifying the autumn birch:



Generally desaturated the yellows, added more golds and browns, added more transparent pieces.  I might make it even more transparent and include a few branches that are mostly bare of leaves.  Either that or I will make a second fall tree that has that effect, with more browns and bare limbs.

Old picture:

« Last Edit: October 06, 2012, 06:59:56 PM by Sarlock »
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Offline VS

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Re: Pak128 Tree Update Project
« Reply #30 on: October 06, 2012, 08:53:27 PM »
Just 8 bits now:

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Offline Zeno

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Re: Pak128 Tree Update Project
« Reply #31 on: October 06, 2012, 09:52:57 PM »
Oh, lovely. It seems I'll start playing with trees after hating them for ages! :P

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Re: Pak128 Tree Update Project
« Reply #32 on: October 07, 2012, 02:54:00 AM »
I think I should play pal128 a bit more often. :)

Offline Sarlock

Re: Pak128 Tree Update Project
« Reply #33 on: October 07, 2012, 06:42:51 AM »
Found a few free hours tonight and was able to draw the winter versions of the birch tree.  The snow version is identical to the winter version, I didn't see any purpose in making a snowy version because the birch tree bark was already quite light and seemed to fit with both the winter and snowy version.

I drew a spruce tree with snow to go along with the set.  I haven't completed it, but it's good enough to include in these shots:



I'm pretty pleased with the winter birch tree and the conifers.  I might make a few changes, but they seem pretty good.

Here is the shocker... this is a winter shot with 4 trees/tile density.  At first, it's a real shock... seeing this kind of winter shot is a bit startling in Pak128!



Comments/suggestions appreciated!  The snowy spruce picture isn't complete, I want to smooth out the black/snow transition areas a bit and add some highlights to the darker areas.
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Offline VS

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Re: Pak128 Tree Update Project
« Reply #34 on: October 07, 2012, 07:05:35 AM »
Severe climate change detected! Global warming, engage!

If we could constrain citycars to climates, a snow plough would be welcome, I think ;D

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