Vegetation and Lighting

While using the UE4 engine for the past 2 weeks i am finding things in which i am not sure how to get it to work or is a bug.

Unreal Editor 4.3

-Lighting and Shadows
-Best Practices

**Lighting and Shadows:

I cannot seem to get veg tool placed foliage to play with baked shadows, but they seem to work fine in dynamic or as a brush.

**Best Practice

  • Currently i am putting large scale trees as dynamic shadows, small trees and bushes baked shadows and ground cover no shadows? (Is this a decent setup that will run properly on a medium-high core PC with fairly large scale levels?)

  • Tangent Space Normals: This settings seems to affect vegetation immensely and i almost always turn it off now since i get better results if so, but is this ok? or is there a way to still have tangent space normal’s and get a good looking tree?

  • I am currently about to evaluate Speedtree for UE4 and was curious if it would make alot of issues i have easier? (Materials, Material importing/setup, importing, Shading? etc)

  • Masked VS Translucency: I realize trans is quite expensive but is there ever a moment where some veg assets look better or can be used this way?


-Just posting some of the materials that are being used by the above foliage to see if i am on the right track or if you have any suggestions?



Some more settings from my test world:

Sun Settings

World Settings

Grass Veg Tool Settings:

Hi Dynako,

Currently Static shadows cannot not be baked onto foliage. Foliage is able to cast shadow and receive dynamic shadows though.

This was mentioned in the 4.3 release notes here.

It’s mentioned a little ways down on the page:

New: Support casting static shadows
from foliage. Note: We still do not
support static lighting or shadowing
of foliage.

Thank you!


I believe this is something planned for the future just no ETA on when it will be implemented.

I’ve bookmarked this post and will be sure to post here once it has been added to the engine! :slight_smile:


Hey tim,

thank you for the quick reply. Is this something that is on a list for the future? It would be so nice for vegetation to at least receive shadows since it looks so odd.

What would you suggest i do in the mean time? Duplicate the veg and make a darker version to put in shaded areas? Turn on dynamic shadows in certain heavily veg placed shaded areas?

Alright sounds good to hear,

Also any suggestions on my best practice or materials section from above, i feel like i am learning it quickly and its starting to look decent but i don’t know if what i doing is correct or at least on the right path.

again i appreciate your quick and helpful reply’s!

Oops! Meant to answer that part too and forgot! :\

Either of these methods could work for you. If you’re not releasing anything soon then I would suggest possibly using dynamic shadowing for those meshes. If you’re releasing sooner then using a darker version may be the best alternative.

Performance wise, if there aren’t a lot of these meshes in a confined area you’ll be okay with dynamic. If you’ve got a lot you will probably see more of a FPS hit since these meshes are casting shadows.

If you want to test the performance, setup a simple scene to test one with dynamic and one with the darker version. Granted the darker version could be a simple material instance. :slight_smile:

Let me know if you’re having trouble or need any more clarification.