The best way to make trees

Hey there,

I’m quite new to modelling and UE4.

I want to make a forest for my test project and for that, I need trees (you don’t say).

I created a tree without leafes and imported it. The seperate leafes were added to the tree mesh using the foliage tool from UE4.

Unfortunetaly, this is really buggy. Duplicated sometimes have their leafes 10m above, rotating and moving is nearly impossible because of bugged leaves. Also, the performance is bad with many tree-models.

So my question: What is the best way to create and add trees?

Looking forward answers!

Best option really is to just use Speedtree, it’s much faster and has advanced features

Speedtree while no doubt fantastic as I’m sure a lot of idies and others use it, isn’t free and prob. out of range for most of us.

Having said that, and unless I missed something, you can go here ( I just found it by researching this topic to verify ) :

I have no idea, yet, as to the 'quality ’ of this clearly generous free product, but if its not workable , you can always try something like this:

THis one is newer:

Experimentation is needed as free or not either way, I’m not sure how much flexibility either product offers, but GL!

I"ll be needing trees , as of now myself so good luck to both of us :slight_smile:


Hey and thanks for your answers :slight_smile:

Yes, Speedtree actually is out of range. And I don’t want to get used to a trial that I cannot use if I want to go professional someday.

I’ve at least some modelling experience and even if I don’t like blender, I use it often to convert models. What really interests me: How should I handle in UE 4. Should I just model a stump with some branches, and then add the leafes using the foliage tool? Should I create the complete model including textures, etc. in a 3D-Program? Should the leafes be 3D or should I use 2D-Textures?

So what is the best approach to in Unreal Engine 4, offering both good optics and performance?

What I do for my tree models is create the 3d model of the stump/branches, and then take a plane mesh, apply a branch texture, typically with leaves on it (can be found online or made with hi-poly modeling) and position copies of those planes around on the tree. Then, in UE4, I un-tick tangeant space normals in the branch material (I use blender which doesn’t support custom normals) and plug a constant 3vector into the normal spot in the material, with it set to 0,0,1

The material settings are so that the individual planes don’t have dark backfaces, and so that they all shade as a unit, rather than as individuals, so to speak.

@hippowombat, I have no idea how the vector thing works, I’m not there yet, but the process you explained is typical for many games, mmo’s included. You can tell that’s what they all do, as you view trees/branches form a distance or closeISH up, its quite clear they are planes.

Blender can do neat things ( though no doubt very costly for some gaming designs) via particles ( doubtful they can come into ue4 but might be interesting if it could).

IF the free speedtree offering isn’t enough, even for just now, then you’ll need the approach hippo* noted, unless somebody has other ideas. Its a area I"ve not delved too far into I’m afraid, but those are the most logical approaches especially if perf. is something you care about. I’m not sure what you meant by trial, as it seemed they were just a ‘free’ package, are you saying you can’t use them in anything commercial ? I didn’t see any readme, and I have no idea without looking further if its ‘free’ and just lower quality, or what. I saw nothing on download speedtree page that suggested they weren’t literally free.


Apparently there seems to be little confusion about speedtree UE4 offerings here.

Ready made on their site can be bit pricey, but can get a decent deal on their tree packs when they go on bigger sale.

That being said, you don’t really have to use their own trees, you can just subscribe their UE4 tree modeler and make your own. Given that you have the your own textures (modeler comes with some generic ones and some sample trees) and that you are willing to learn the workflow (there are step by step tutorials for this online). The tree modeler itself costs $19/month and you can cancel it anytime. All you create with it during your subscription will be yours to use on your UE4 projects even after subscription, you just don’t get access to the modeler anymore to change their parameters. You can also always resubscribe later on and tweak your existing again. This also mean you are free to use them for commercial use later on as well. With modeler subscription, you can also get free subscriber bonus and discounts from their tree catalog.

If you don’t need speedtree quality for your trees, there’s also free tree generator here that works in browser:

Thanks for this link! I didn’t know this app :wink:


Does this work with wind?

There’s a free add-on for Blender that you can use to generate trees.
Here is a demo:- YouTube the download page:

Hope this helps!

I’ve also been wondering what is the best way to create optimized tree’s.

I’ve found these free assets but haven’t tried them yet

I have the file downloaded, but I’m clueless about how and where to import the file since I’m new to the URE4.

Hi guy’s,

I stumble on this thread since i have a set of custom made for my project and was wondering how to get them to work in UE4, in another game engine i was importing my custom tree with the bone rig for trunk and the leafs were cardboard animated with vertex paint.

So far i found out about the vertex wind animation material node but for the trunk should i also paint a gradient from black to white so it can also animate my trunk instead of using a bones rig?

Thank for anyone who can help a fellow dev since i spent the last 2 hours googling without any success so far.

EDIT: So far i found the pivot painter script for 3ds but it is very confusing since the tutorials are for version 1.0 and they now have 2.0 mentioning it is an easier workflow but there seem to be no real tutorial for it so i will have to try it since i am experience with 3ds and scripts and i will comment back if i make it work.

I know there is speedtrees but i prefer custom since they simply look better when done correctly…

There’s a lot of good stuff here: How to Create Realistic Trees : Blender Tutorial - YouTube for modeling a tree by hand in Blender. You can obviously skip over the material parts because you will be using UE4’s material blueprints, not Blender’s.

For a forest, you probably don’t want all of your rendering quite that detailed. So what you can do is take the branch part of the video and just create planes or similar flat low poly shapes and apply a full branch texture to them. This won’t be as heavy to render as individual leaves.

I am still working on animation, so I don’t have the best answer. However, if you download the Content Examples project (you can get it in the launcher) there is a map that shows off vertex painting features and at the end of the line is a complex wind animated tree. I haven’t quite had the to reverse engineer that yet.

The above youtube tutorial uses a bit of vertex painting or weight painting so if you watch it you should basically have an idea of how to do it. You’ll want to paint your vertexes in Blender to be used later for wind in UE4. For example, you could paint the ends of your branches red and have them fade into pink as they go further in and then pure white at the base of the tree. You can use that in UE4 to have the tips of the branches sway in the wind more than the center of the tree and the base should not move at all.

Treeit. It’s free, and it looks great.

Just downloaded TreeIT and its great, very easy to use, you control the poly count and it allows you to fully customize the entire tree. Plus it being free doesn’t hurt