Mar. 30, 2023, by the Adobe Substance 3D Assets team
Photoreal Photosynthesis: 3D plant & foliage models
Today the Substance 3D Assets platform introduces a new range of content: foliage and vegetation. These new resources make it easier than ever to introduce a touch of plant-based vibrancy into your scenes.
We’re adding 29 new plant materials to bring verdant life into your scenes. The textures in this collection are highly detailed, ensuring that they look as great close up as they do from further away. This is one reason why these assets are great for populating the environments of both micro-, small-scale projects and larger-scale creations.
Moreover, we’re bringing together 100 plant-themed assets in a single collection, Herbarium, so that you have everything you need at your green fingertips. The collection includes models, materials, and more; it’s simple to add photorealistic organic elements to your ads, archviz scenes, video games, or other creative projects.
The Foliage collection contains models, atlases, and materials — including, as mentioned above, the completely new 29 parametric plant materials. As a reminder, ‘parametric’ simply means that, as with all the materials on the Substance 3D Assets platform, every material included in this collection is eminently modifiable, with changeable parameters that allow you to alter the appearance of your asset in an essentially infinite range of ways. A leaf can be verdant and vibrant – or it can be brown and dry, sickly, eaten away at by bugs, or whatever else you need. Everything depends on the specific requirements of your project.
(Above) Plant materials generated from a random seed; this ensures that, as in nature, no two leaves need be exactly alike.
Random Model Parameters
To create more complex leaves, you can tweak the whole appearance of the leaf, modifying characteristics such as the width and length of the leaf, or the number of holes present within it. If speed is of the essence, or even if you aren’t feeling super-creative, we’ve also added a random mode, that you can activate as needed. This will hide some parameters, but will also give the random seed generated a much greater degree of influence over the leaf, permitting infinite and very distinct variation.
Tweaking the parameters of the monstera deliciosa material.
The foliage content is compatible with Substance 3D Sampler and all major rendering apps to adapt the design to your needs.
Material parameter tweaking in Sampler.
We’ve also taken care of the translucency of leaves, so they react correctly when light passes through them.
How Can You Use This Foliage Content?
When the models and parametric materials of this collection come together, the results can be outstanding.
Moreover, using Substance 3D Painter you can map the leaves onto your model, so that everything looks exactly as it should. For instance, you can use the Warp Projection Tool to warp the texture so that it exactly fits the 3D shape of your model, as seen in the video below:
Highly detailed materials make it possible to obtain photorealistic results, even when texturing a simple mesh.
By applying materials to the models, you can adapt and tweak until you obtain the exact result you have in mind.
This release also includes a more generic tileable leaf material, allowing to you to quickly texture the plant-themed models on the platform:
Basic Leaf material
First choose your model from the 3D Assets library; you can then simply drag and drop it into Stager’s viewport. To texture leaves, you again drag and drop to place your material on each leaf — and voilà.
Then you only need to adjust the parameters of your chosen material as needed, modifying characteristics such as how dry it appears, or how healthy it seems, to suit the needs of your project. Finally, you render the image in the necessary format.
More Advanced Workflows
Should you wish to dive even further into the possibilities that this collection of assets opens up, the short video above lays out the steps involved in creating the mesh of a plant of your own, using the assets provided in the Herbarium collection.
Put very simply, the process of using these assets to create meshes of leaves, and of stems, is relatively straightforward. You can then ‘build’ your plant from these meshes as required. See the above clip for more information.
This technique has been used to create the plant model above, as well as the examples below.
Dracaena (left), Sanseviera (center), and Areca Palm (right).
Foliage for Virtual Photography and Staging
Virtual photography is increasingly becoming a popular method for companies to generate photoreal images of their concepts or products while greatly reducing the costs and time requirements associated with physical prototyping and more conventional photo shoots.
Chlorophytum leaves — detail.
A 3D artist can reveal the volumes of the hero object in order to highlight its central premise and set a narrative; the artist’s creative decisions concerning the scene will create a range of stories around that object or an environment.