SpeedTree vs ZBrush

I am weighing in the options between SpeedTree and ZBrush and would appreciate any feedback from the community.

I know that I can probably sculpt some realistic trees in Zbrush, and then probably finish them up in substance painter. However SpeedTree looks like a pretty good option for building trees. On top of that, Speedtree supposedly will provide an animation for each individual leaf, providing the potential for creating a more realistic environment. I honestly don’t quite know how I could do that efficiently with any other software package. Any recommendations?

Also, a SpeedTree license will likely cost around 900 dollars whereas I already own a ZBrush license. I might consider buying SpeedTree if it is worth saving me the time. What do you guys think I should do?

Does the UE4 subscription include the ability to model your own trees, or is that just for the SpeedTree SDK. I don’t know the difference.

Yep, you’re getting full modeling package with some license limitations. You can’t use it outside of UE4, can’t resell created assets without asking SpeedTree permission and etc. If you’re just going to use it for your project then you won’t bump into any issues

edit: Check out this page for details

Your options for Speedtree are to buy a subscription license for the software which will allow you to make trees yourself, or you can buy trees that are pre-made and you don’t need the subscription. Using Zbrush would be a lot more work than necessary compared to using Speedtree.

Okay. Another reason I ask is because the trees will play a big role in the overall game. I want the player to be able to climb the trees, so it is important that the trees are aesthetically pleasing. The layout of the tree and it’s appendages themselves will be important as well. With this in mind, will SpeedTree still be a good option?

Yes, I had the pleasure of using SpeedTree myself. It is initially overwhelming but after a few days I understood how everything worked. To start, you use the generator tools to procedurally build your tree or foliage, then use the tools to manually adjust the limbs or remove them altogether until you get what you want.