By George Maciver

In this tutorial we will make a very simple tree similar to those seen in the jungle levels of Tomb Raider 3. Once you have learned the basics you will be able to go on to make far more realistic trees with a far greater variety of branches.

You can make your trees as high as you like, but for each ‘layer’ of branches and leaves you will need to stack another room. In this tutorial we will make a tree with two layers of branches and leaves.

We will begin by making 3 basic rooms and stacking them.

Go to the bottom room and make a wall where you want the tree trunk to be.

Move up to the second and third stacked rooms and do the same, making the tree trunk go all the way to the top of the highest room.

Prepare your tree trunk for texturing.

Go to the lowest room and roughen up the ground and texture it.

Now texture the roots and the first part of the trunk.

We are now going to make our first layer of branches. So move up to the second floor, highlight the door to the lower room and delete it.

Raise the floor one click where you want your branches to be and then reconnect the room to the ground level.

Roughen up your branches a bit, then go the room below and roughen up the undersides of the branches by lowering the ceiling where the branches are. Be careful while doing this when using the ctrl key to lower and raise floor and ceiling tiles together as you may ruin the door opening by lowering or raising tiles in the actual doorway. If this happens, simply delete the door, fix the wrong floor and ceiling tiles, and rejoin the rooms.
* Notice how I lower the floor and ceiling tiles where branches join the tree trunk and the jungle canopy. This is important as cracks of light show through in levels where texture lines don't match up and you have an horizon enabled. If you have no horizon enabled, or are using a black horizon as in the city WAD, then this isn't so important. If in doubt, see the tutorial on Crack Mode in the Texturing Tutorial.

Do the same with the top layer of branches, then texture your tree. In the screen shots I’ve textured the walls with sky textures to make the tree easier to see.

Before doing the leaves, let’s make a nice sky and finish the top of the tree. There is no horizon being used here so I’m using the sky and sky/leaf textures to make it look like sky. If you were using a horizon you would use the transparent leaf textures instead. First, roughen up the ‘sky’ and then texture it, putting in a few branches and leaves to make it look as real as possible.

Now we’re going to make the first layer of leaves so head down to the middle room and hit the Face Edit and Double Sided buttons (double sided means the leaves will be visible from above as well as from below).

When you’ve done that, highlight the door to the room below and hit the Toggle Opacity 2 button (do not hit Toggle Opacity 1 or you will not be able to move up and down through the leaves in game).

Now add your transparent leaf textures (as opposed to the solid green leaf textures) so you will be able to see through the canopy to the level above and below. By that I mean the transparent textures, NOT making the textures transparent by highlighting the Transparent button next to the Double Sided button. Where you do not want leaves, use the normal transparent sky black colour in the palette. Then do the same with the other branch layer.

For clarity’s sake, so you can see what I’ve done, I’m now going to colour all the walls in with blue sky to show off the tree. Like I said, this is a very basic tree so you can learn the fundamentals. If you wish to make better trees, take a wander through the jungle levels of Tomb Raider 3 and see how the Tomb Raider Level Designers put together such a wonderfully rich jungle environment.

All you need to do now is light your rooms and add a few objects. Lara will be able to move through the leaves and be able to see what’s above and below her through the leaf canopy.

When you test your level in game, use DOZY and fly around your trees to make sure Lara can go up and down through all the leaves. It’s easy to hit Toggle Opacity 1 by mistake, so if it happens, simply delete the door and rejoin the rooms, hit Double Sided and Face Edit again and then hit Toggle Opacity 2. When you apply one texture, all the others will reappear for you as they were when you first applied them.

If when you’ve done this you see zig zaggy lines looking up through the tree canopy, it means the ceiling of the room you’re looking up through was textured before you textured the floor of the room above with leaves and the two sets are applied to your level. Simply delete the doorway between the two rooms, use transparent sky textures on the ceiling of the room below, rejoin the rooms as detailed above and the problem will be gone.

And here is a screen shot from the original Jungle Ruins to give you an idea of how these simple trees can look in game:

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Last update: 16/08/2007