Today I hunkered down and started to learn SpeedTree for unreal ( Foliage will play a crucial compositional role in the new version. There is a lot of work ahead to get the look working aesthetically. I ran through building a tree from scratch, testing its lightmaps, and then bringing it into Unreal. For the most part, it’s pretty straightforward.

I began with a birch tree because of the graphic nature of the bark. I used photoshop to create the bark texture and then brought it into Substance Alchemist to make it tile-able. I’m a little stunned. It looks like Adobe just rebranded and changed the pricing structure for the Substance products. Substance Alchemist is now Substance Sampler ( 

Birch Bark up close.

I’m debating if I can get away with only the diffuse maps. This would also save time hooking up textures in Unreal. Due to the stylized nature of the project, I think it can use generic leaves for most trees with slight changes in their hue and saturation. Once I had an initial shape that was working, I discovered the “randomize” button. This feature will quickly generate variations of the same tree…which was awesome.

I then took everything into the Unreal Engine. It’s been almost 5 years since I used it last…so it was a bit of a learning experience for me. The last time I used it was on the el-Hibeh reconstruction (

The above image is the first pass (definitely ignore the sky). I need to explore a more illustrative direction…but I think this is going in the right direction. Using subsurface scattering seems to soften the overall look. Before calling it a day, the last thing I did was bringing in the longhouse and applying the shaders to the exterior pieces.

That’s it for now.


Published by Kris Howald

I was immersed into the world of virtual archeology for my Masters Research Project at Ryerson University.  The focus of this project was the digital reconstruction of the el-Hibeh temple in Egypt.  After four months I believe I was able to demonstrate the potential this medium has to offer as a way of bridging the past and present. I'm currently visualizing the past, present, and future of a pre-contact indigenous community.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: