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Creating Plants and Flowers

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Date Added: 9th December 2009
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Figure 9: Petal cloned 5 times around origin. Click to Enlarge

6. Actually, I lied. There's one more step. We need to Triple the polygons so we don't get any non-planar errors when rendering the flowers in layout. Before we finish up the flower, save the single petal as "petal.lwo". We will use this object later on in Photoshop to create the petal texture. Now that we have our basic petal, clone it five times around the origin to create the whole flower (Figure 9.) You might want to vary the pitch of each so that they don't intersect. Be sure to assign a proper surface name to this object. I'm going to call it "Petal_P_Y" since I'll be applying a planar image map on the 'Y' axis. Make sure that you turn on Smoothing. Actually, from now on, smoothing will need to be turned on for every surface that we will make.

Now that we have our first object modeled, we're going to want to save it in a directory called something like 'lily'. This will be where we'll save all our objects. Go ahead and save the flower as 'flower.lwo'. Leave the flower in the first layer of Modeler, and open up a second layer.

Creating the Stamen

Figure 10: Adding the stamen. Click to Enlarge

7. OK, now we'll model the stamen that will end up in the middle of the flower. This is very simple. Just create a cylinder (more like a pipe) with its height along the 'Y' axis. Resize it as necessary to form a thin straw-like tube. Give this a surface name of 'Pollentube'. We'll be able to get away with using a procedural texture for this object so its orientation really isn't necessary in the surface name.

8. Create a small elliptical sphere stretched along the 'Y' axis and place it on the top of the shoot. Surface the sphere as
'Pollensphere'. Bend the whole object a little bit in the top view and rotate it so that it appears to be "growing" out of the Y plane. Now clone the stamen four or five times and give each clone a slightly different rotation. Put the petal that is in layer 1 into the background and resize the stamen so that it's sized relative to the petal just as you saw in Figure 2. Paste the stamen into layer 1 and re-save the flower. Figure 10.

Creating the Stem

Figure 11: Bending the stem. Click to Enlarge

9. Before we can add much more to the lily, we need to have a stem. Instead of using a cylinder, we'll use a box with MetaNURBS so that we have more control over the shape. Create a long stem-like box along the 'Y' axis. Make the box roughly three meters tall and about 50mm wide on both the 'X' and the 'Z' axes. Once again, before you hit , give the box eight segments on the 'Y' axis. Go ahead and create the box, then switch to MetaNURBS mode.

10. Looking at our reference image, we can see that there is a slight bulge in the stem at the top just before it reaches the flower. Since we're using MetaNURBS, we can easily stretch out the top-most segment of the stem to achieve this effect. After you get the top the way you like, freeze it and align the base of the stem with the origin point in all views. Now apply a small amount of bend (as seen in Figure 11), say 15° or so and surface the stem as 'Stembig_Cyl_Y'. Then save it as 'stembig.lwo'. The reason we called it 'stembig' is because we now need to scale it down to roughly 1/3 the size of the original, surface it as 'Stemsmall_Cyl_Y' and save it as 'stemsmall.lwo'. This smaller stem will allow us to add more flowers sprouting off of the main stem.

Creating the Leaves and the Bud

Figure 12: Accentuating the leaf tip. Click to Enlarge

11. Our next step is to create the leaves. Load the model that we saved before called 'metapetal.lwo'. This will be our basic leaf shape. First, drag the point at the tip of the leaf out so that the leaf comes to more of a point than the petal did. Finish adjusting the other points around the tip so that the leaf tapers off to that end point and roughly matches Figure 12.

12. The second major difference between the petal and the leaf is the width. The leaf is clearly much slenderer, so scale the leaf along the 'X' axis until it's roughly half the width of the petal. Now it's starting to look more like a leaf. Resize the entire leaf until its length is about 1.2 meters. Then apply a little Bend to the leaf in the face view, rotate it until it's parallel, freeze the MetaNURBS object at the desired level of detail and voila! A leaf. Surface it as 'leaf_P_Y' with 'double-sided' turned on and save it as 'leaf.lwo'. Figure 13.

Figure 13: Final leaf model. Click to Enlarge

Figure 14: Squashing the points down the Y axis. Click to Enlarge

Figure 15: Bud with stem. Click to Enlarge

13. OK, now we have one more object to model, the bud. This is the easiest object to model. Create a rectangular box about 350mm long on the 'Y' axis and 75mm wide on the 'X' and 'Z' axes. Metaform the box once and select the nine points at the bottom. Squash them down along the 'Y' axis so that the bottom of the bud has a concentration of points towards the bottom. Figure 14 illustrates this step.

14. Now Metaform the bud two more times and create a cylinder with 16 sides and 16 segments that's 500mm tall and slightly smaller in circumference than the stem we made before. Give it a bend of around 20° and line it up with the bottom of the bud so that it looks like a tail coming out of the bottom and align the bottom of the bud stem with the origin in all views, as in Figure 15. Surface the bud as "Bud_Cyl_Y" and the stem as 'budstem_Cyl_Y' and save the whole thing as 'bud.lwo'. See? I told you it was easy.

That's about it as far as the modeling portion of this tutorial goes. If all went well, you should have five objects like those in Figure 16.

Figure 16: The five parts of the lily

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Readers Comments (Newest on Top)
Glen D on Wed, 11 January 2012 2:16am
A great tutorial on how to create vegetation. Even though it is very old, the fundamentals here are great.
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