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The Ecosystem Painting Tools Improvement and Feedback Thread

So now that we know the Ecosystem Painting Tools are early in development I think it’s the best time for us the community to share our needs and ideas as well as giving feedback every once in a while we have a word about these awesome tools.

As a large outdoor environment creator addicted a must have feature that these large environments can benefit from is the way of foliage painting. The very basic form would be a circle to paint with which we already have. A more advanced form is giving each foliage a landscape layer name and it only paints on that layer. But I would want to paint it using masks yet regardless of the landscape layers. I’d want to import a brand new mask as a guide for distributing each model and that mask could look like anything but the masks I have used to texture the landscape layers. So I think that’s a good thing if we could just give masks to our foliage instead of giving layer names.
We could even make a shader for distributing the models? using masks in the shader, tiling, rotating, mixing with splat map using lerp etc. and the output would be the mask we want the foliage to be distributed according to. That’s just an idea.

This thread is here so we keep all the awesome ideas coming for Epic. So go ahead and tell them what you need and I’ll add your requested features to the OP right here!
Also please come up with a short text like half a line voicing the idea and in front of that write the explanation. I’ll add the ideas here and Epic can further read the explanations in your posts if they are interested. Thank you :slight_smile:

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  • Import masks for distribution of foliage regardless of landscape layers.

  • Presets/Biomes that contain all meshes for that “biome” and rules for their placement for easy switching between different types of nature.

  • Hotkeys for everything you will use often, like switching preset/biome.

  • Support for tons of meshes, the current interface of the foliage tool is only suitable if you have very few.

  • Being able to make plants cluster in certain ways, setting up min and max cluster size and maybe have a couple of different cluster types using some noise generator.

  • Having the usual foliage settings like density, align to normal and all that.

  • Being able to set certain species to never spawn within X meter of another. For example I wouldn’t want a bush that needs lots of sunlight to spawn under thick trees that provides lots of shadow.

  • Being able to place any actor, especially blueprints, not only static meshes. This would open up for having plants you can pick for example.

  • Some way of overriding settings, like placing another smaller volume with certain biome settings within a larger one.

  • Landscape painting working together with foliage/ecosystems. For example when Plant X spawns a cluster, the landscape changes the ground to a layer that fits the species. Also adds erosion when there aren’t a lot of trees.

  • Meshes in biomes can be added to some sort of subgroups, and then specify rules between them.

  • Once rules are created, you no longer need to manually paint. just enclose an area with a spline, assign a biome, and everything will be populated naturally.

  • Being able to use the terrain to affect how objects are created/placed.

**

Ecosystems is by far the tool our project needs the most.
The current foliage tool can be used to create any detailed landscape you want, but it’s not very viable for large landscapes. Either you use a big brush which will uniformly scatter everything all over the place, no clustering, which looks bad. Or you use a small brush to do it by hand but that would take extreme amount of time, especially with the clunky interface (although, it’s being improved upon).

I would like anything that can naturally place plants following rules I set.

  • Rule presets or Biomes of you like that contains the meshes I choose and they get placed following rules I set, within a volume or within the area I paint with something like the current paint tool. This way I don’t have to select every mesh I want within a forest every time I change area. We could have a Temperate Broadleaf Lowland preset that automatically place the meshes I choose for it following their rules and when i change to a more elevated area I don’t have to tinker with settings, just select my Temperate Broadleaf Highlands preset or whatever and keep working, now only placing meshes that are suitable for that altitude.
  • Hotkeys for everything you’ll be using often, like switching presets.
  • Support for tons of meshes, the current interface of the foliage tool is only suitable if you have very few.
  • Being able to make plants cluster in certain ways, setting up min and max cluster size and maybe have a couple of different cluster types using some noise generator.
  • Having the usual foliage settings like density, align to normal and all that.
  • Being able to set certain species to never spawn within X meter of another. For example I wouldn’t want a bush that needs lots of sunlight to spawn under thick trees that provides lots of shadow. That way they would only spawn in open clearings in the forest.
  • Being able to place any actor, especially blueprints, not only static meshes. This would open up for having plants you can pick for example.
  • Some way of overriding settings, like placing another smaller volume with certain biome settings within a larger one, for spawning water plants in and around a pond within a forest that follows another preset for example.
  • This might be overkill, but I would love to have landscape painting working together with foliage/ecosystems. For example when Plant X spawns a cluster, the landscape changes the ground to a layer that fits the species. Sure, we can do it the other way around, but that only works if you want to have a million landscape layers. Also having the landscape erode around trees and such so it looks more natural, sticking up more under a tree.

hi guys,

this is great!! sorry for the comparison, but anything similar to e-on’s vue ecosystem system, or e-on’s carbon scatterer is great! the list looks complete enough, but god is in the details. so i will add a list of things i assume are contained above:

  1. meshes in biomes can be added to some sort of subgroups, and then specify rules between them. so for example if a biome includes a tree mesh and a mushroom mesh, then there’s a rule that states that mushrooms will grow close to the tree. both the tree and the mushrooms have their own cluster/scattering algorithm, but they will also be placed by that interaction rule. at the end you will say something like: trees are scattered according to X or Y pattern (how steep the terrain is?), fallen leaves will be around x meters from trees. mushrooms grow close to trees. grass it’s all around the place but denser if far from the trees. fruits may be placed on the floor but close to trees too. stones are “repelled” by trees. etc.

  2. once rules like the above are created, you no longer need to manually paint. just enclose an area with a spline, assign a biome, and everything will be populated naturally. if biomes (set of rules and meshes that go with them) can be somehow saved, you can replicate natural terrains in minutes, and probably better than doing them manually. of course, they should be editable.

  3. being able to use the terrain to affect how objects are created/placed (another rule?). so for example if the terrain has a certain angle, a tree will grow bent or something, and aligned accordingly. just to be clear, i’m not talking just about the scale, location and rotation of the tree, but about the actual mesh. this is something e-on stuff has, that is easy as they use their own vegetation creation tools, etc. but my idea is that if what is placed is some type of actor, if this terrain/biome/rule info is fed into the actor (or read by it), then we can procedurally generate a mesh customized to it’s environment. not sure if it makes sense?

  4. at the end, for me the power relies on the rule system. maybe if these rules can be listed here for us to take a look, more interesting things can come up!

thanks for putting time into creating all these great tools!

Added to the OP. Please keep the ideas coming. :slight_smile:

Also dear Epic, as mentioned community would be able to give more and better feedback when you let them know more specifically about what you have currently under development.

Thanks.

I’m a fan of using a foliage volume to indicate where I’d like the spread of foliage, along with rulesets for the foliage, and to an extent, NPC spawning as well. Without seeing a demo of what is currently being thought out, it is kind of hard to say. I think this should have its own dedicated twitch stream tbh.

Being able to import a distribution layer mask is actually a pretty good idea.

hi, any chance you guys can give us a more detailed description of what is being added? thx!

So now that 4.8 is out everybody feel free to give feedback on the tools. :slight_smile:

Here is an issue with the grass tool. As you see I have painted a little grass texture with a hard falloff but yet randomly some grass patches bleed way outside the painted area.

There are many good parameters in foliage painting tool such as Scaling where it randomly scales the meshes to make really good variation in the painted foliage according to the values we give it. Currently the grass tool doesn’t have many of these useful parameters the foliage painting tool has and it can greatly benefit from those parameters if added. Preventing all instanced meshes to be exactly the same scale.

I would like to know if/when the feature, that was talked about, that would let us set different meshes for different “ages” of a foliage type is coming?
I’m currently struggling with too many foliage types which competes with each other and would love to be able to just have one foliage type per species so I don’t need multiple to handle. All our trees have multiple versions of different ages and currently they’re fighting each other instead of spawning younger versions at higher steps, working together.

Is this feature being worked on and if so, when can we expect it?

Thanks in advance!