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Xfrog 4 for Maya 6

Flash tutorials for Greenworks users By Ko Maruyama
Xfrog from Greenworks Software creates organic growth shapes that are usually used to create shapes like trees and other plant life.  Because of Xfrog's obvious modeling solution for plants, many of the tools in the software are named with words that might be used to describe trees.  Xfrog fits into the workflow of many 3D software packages. Jan "Walli" Schleip has put together some excellent Flash tutorials to demonstrate Xfrog within Maya.  Thanks to Walli and Greenworks for allowing me to publish Walli's flash tutorials.

Creating a Lowpoly Tree

Greenworks' Xfrog4 offers several different approaches to modeling trees. Ultimately, its up to the modeler.  Whether you want a detailed tree, or a lowpolygon tree, Xfrog can deliver it.  If you haven't already purchased the plugin, you can download a FREE DEMO (Mac / Win / Linux) version from the website at xfrog.com.

Additionally, youll need the Flash Player from Macromedia to view the video tutorials.  Download it here in case you haven't installed it yet.

Some notes at the beginning:  
  • Making objects children of a Xfrog component: left-click the object in the Xfrog Visor, then CTRL+left-click the parent object (Branch, Hydra or Phyllotaxis) and click the Child button
  • Taking objects out of the Xfrog hierarchy: left-click the object in the Xfrog Visor, then click the Free button

Click HERE in order to download the tutorial files

Basic Branching Structure

 At first we have to build the basic branching structure of our tree.  We will use the Branch component to do this.  Left-click the branch icon to add a Branch component to the scene. You can use the Xfrog4 visor to access the curves that make up the branch component (one curve for the path, one curve for the profile). Add a second branch object to the scene and make it child of the first branch. Use the different parameters of the branch component until you are satisfied with the overall look of the branching structure (Node Growth, Node Angle, Thickness, Node Distribution).

Higher Branching Levels

 For the higher branching levels, we will also use the Branch component. But this time well replace the nurbs curve with a custom profile - a flat one.  To delete the nurbs curve, left-click in the Xfrog visor, then choose Free (and afterwards delete). Then you can assign your custom profile curve. Next left-click the curve, then CTRL+left-click the branch component and assign the profile by left-clicking the plus icon of Shape Curve.

Putting Everything Together

 Now that we have built the stem and the main branches, as well as the higher branching levels - now its time to put everything together.  Left-click Branch2, CTRL+left-click Branch and choose the child - the lowpoly branches are added to the tree. Adjust parameters like Nodescale, so that the lowpoly branches fit to the rest of the tree. Dont forget to assign a material to Stem and main branches.

In these few steps we're able to build a nice tree with a reasonable polygon count.

Fine Tuning

Here are some hints to fine tune your tree models:
  • Add a bump material to the bump channel of the bark
  • Use a specular map to remove the halo around the leaves
  • Reduce number of polygons by removing unnecessary control vertices

As you can see, its possible to create a tree with a low polygon count in a short time.  If you have questions about Xfrog4 or this tutorial feel free to contact customer support of Greenworks, or visit the Xfrog usergroup.

If you want to save any of the movies for offline viewing, then please use the following links (right-click, then choose "Save as") :

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Ko Maruyama is a freelance animator in Los Angeles.  In addition to working on film and broadcast animations, Ko teaches at Pasadena's Art Center College of Design - focusing on motion design.  When working, writing or testing software allows, you can find him lending a hand in the After Effects board and lurking among the Cinema4D, Visual Effects and Photoshop posts within the DMNForums.
Related Keywords:Greenworks, Xfrog, Maya, Cinema4D, 3D Trees

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