Wednesday, September 24, 2014

DAS Tree Creator Maxscript

Progress continues on the DAS Tree Creator Maxscript for creating fully 3-dimensional trees using opacity/cutout mapped "Branchlets" or "Fronds" for the primary leaf regions. The script is very robust yet easy to use, giving the artist control over the structure of the tree, the level of detail and mapping, plus the ability to edit the tree as a mesh object. Below is a capture of the current UI from the script:

The script is intended to make good looking trees for real-time applications, not to try and replace existing programs like Onyx Tree Storm, Laubwerk, or X-Frog trees which make photo-realistic trees for pre-rendered applications. Trees generated from the script can look very good with as few as 1500 poly's but the user can control the level of detail and create better looking trees at the expense of poly counts.The user has control over the shape, size and detail of the trunk as well as the number, shape, size and detail of branches. Using your own created "Branchlets" (several examples will be included with the script) you can customize the canopy shape and density. The script has the ability to make conifers as well as deciduous trees and even bushes. Below is a screen capture of a test making a Birch tree. The total number of polys is less than 1700 (the viewport stats include a few hidden entities).

Though most rendering engines have gone away from opacity mapped trees, it is still needed in the real-time applications where millions of polys for foliage is unacceptable.
A release date is not set but it is my intention to make this a commercial script.

FBX exporter Maxscript for UE4 by Tom Shannon

Tom Shannon has written a Maxscript to assist with the tedious process of exporting scene objects to FBX for use in Unreal Engine 4. I came across Tom's script while doing some research online, but haven't had a chance to try it out yet.You can find info and a download link here:

There are several youtube video links posted as well.
Thanks Tom!

UVW Unwrap for Unreal Engine 4

Users of Epic's Unreal Engine 4 will know that you need a UVW layout with no overlapping faces for static mesh shadow computations. By default this is UVW channel 2 but you can change it to whatever channel you want inside UE4, especially if you have some complex mapping using several channels already. It couldn't be easier to setup in Max. First, just apply a new UVW Unwrap Modifier to your object and change the Map Channel to the last unused number. Then open the UVW Editor and under the "Mapping" menu item choose "Flatten Mapping..." Typically you can accept the default settings and your done! Below is the result with a Standard Max Teapot Primitive:

If you're not happy with the results you can try "Unfold Mapping..." and/or the "Pack UV's.." option from the "Tools" menu. The integrity of the layout doesn't really matter since it's just being used for shadow casting. It's not really important that these UV's be packed efficiently. The only critical issue is that none of the UV's can overlap or the shadow casting algorithm will fail, you'll get a warning from Unreal and there will be no shadows computed for that mesh.