Rendering Techniques: Creating Customized Trees | Ali Hooten | Skillshare

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Rendering Techniques: Creating Customized Trees

teacher avatar Ali Hooten, Illustrator & Educator

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

5 Lessons (34m)
    • 1. Rendering Trees > Introduction

    • 2. Rendering Trees > Lesson 1

    • 3. Rendering Trees > Lesson 2

    • 4. Rendering Trees > Lesson 3

    • 5. Rendering Trees > Lesson 4

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About This Class


This is the very first of a series of classes on hybrid rendering techniques (analog and digital). Creating customized trees aims to show a quick and easy way to make some beautiful rendered trees, specific to a species or location, and bring them from a hand rendered image to a rasterized graphic for a digital drawing. 

M A T E R I A L S   N E E D E D

  • white trace paper
  • Prismacolor markers (or similar)
  • camera or iPhone
  • thin black pens (Micron work well)
  • computer with Adobe Photoshop

S K I L L S   L E A R N E D

You will be able to make your own trees, in either plan or section view, to apply to an architecture or landscape architecture drawing. You should also pick up some basic Adobe Photoshop skills used to adjust size, layers, color, and saturation to name only a few. These techniques could also apply to many other forms of analog drawings used to communicate in a digital final product.

Meet Your Teacher

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Ali Hooten

Illustrator & Educator



Hello and welcome! I am very excited to continue and share what I have learned over the years designing, what I continue to learn, and build a community with like-minded creatives.

I have taught in several different capacities over the years, most notably teaching as a full-time instructor at a University, creating courses in product design, architecture, and visual communication. I think every design needs to be created with intention, apply critical thinking, and understand the bigger picture and end use (and user). I think it is more important to learn how to think rather than any particular tool because technology and expectations are constantly shifting. It is not about “keeping up” but rather about resilien... See full profile

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1. Rendering Trees > Introduction: Hi, My name is Alexandra, and this is the first of a series. I'm gonna go over a couple different hybrid rendering techniques that is using some kind of analog drawing, whether it's using watercolor, pen, pencil or marker and then turning it into a digital final product. We'll go over how to actually draw the trees by hand, using a couple different techniques, especially if you're using the marker, how to make them look a little more natural and then bringing those trees into Adobe Photo shop, cropping them out, adjusting their color, their hue saturation. A couple of other adjustments that we can use for that and then bringing them into a file, getting them ready to export and paste into, say, a plan section or elevation drawing and then adjusting it further and there to make really beautiful and products and learning how to render your own trees so hope to see you all in the course 2. Rendering Trees > Lesson 1: hello and welcome toe Lesson one in rendering techniques how to create your own customized trees. In this lesson, we will go over how to draw your own trees using white trace paper, prisma color markers or any other markers. You can even try this with watercolor and some black ink pens. All right, so to begin, layout your trace paper on the table. You can also take this down if you prefer and pull out a few different workers. I put out three different types of greens and start to kind of circle some trees. It's OK if they're all the same size and you can see here I'm starting to dab the marker onto the trace paper. The ink actually really pools on trace. That's why it's really nice to use that rather than some other type of paper. It acts more as a watercolor, which you can definitely try watercolors as well. Um, this lighter green, I'm starting to pull a little bit, but I'm just going to start here with three trees that are fairly basic, showing the three different colors. Feel free to choose any colors. However, you will be able to adjust the hue and saturation in Photoshop as well as the size. So would it started another row, starting with a stark green and really dabbing and pulling a lot of that ink and then bringing in another color green marker toe. Add to that to give a little more texture really important to note here that I'm creating an area of shadow and of light on the trees to give it some depth. When you put these in any kind of site plan or floor plan, you really want to make sure you're thinking about the angle of the sun so certain to mix. A few other greens would have do a couple different options. And then, after I do about nine trees, go through and show you how to put on the black ink. Someone continue dabbing the ink, mixing some colors all the way through the nine trees. Another thing to really think about when you're drawing these trees is to research what is native in your area, what is already existing on a site. Whether you're proposing trees or showing existing trees, what species and what those characteristics are, you can really start Teoh, make them we need could represent the area. Right now, I'm showing some fairly generic trees, but thinking about what could best representing communicate where you're trying to show that's relevant to that site. So what? To go ahead with this last one mix all three of the greens tried to give a little more of a shadow line and mixing those inks together. And then it's important to let the trees dry for a moment, maybe a few minutes on the trace paper before you add the black ink. That way it'll go on top and not start to blend all the different things together. So I really like the micron 005 here, however, you can use any kind of ink you would like. The black comes through really clearly and crisply. Usually, drawings are black and white line work, so starting with the first tree, I like to add little circles in the middle to represent this stem her some standard drawing guidelines, however, and start to get creative here. Now I'm gonna add a little more of a squiggle to represent maybe a more disingenuous tree cover and even add some gaps of fully edge in here as you can see just kind of arbitrarily drawing some squiggles within that to represent a different kind of tree. Maybe the starker one is a coniferous. Trees could be some type of pine or spruce with more jagged edge and a couple stem and branch lines in the centre. However, I don't want to add too much and make it more of this black and wait line work. That's really distracting, so there's gonna add a few moving on to the next one. Maybe this is more of a decision. This tree could be some kind of large oak and adding a little bit of texture inside. Tracing areas were that being pooled to call those out, but not adding too much. So I'm going to keep going through all of these and start to add different outlines and give them more character again. You have a lot of freedom here and definitely worth looking at what kind of trees you're proposing or our existing in the area. So you're showing that has specific characteristics within your drawings. Another important item to be careful about is to not smear your hand all on top of these markers. I have definitely done that in the past, and it's doable to clean it up In photo shop, however, it will make it a lot easier and smoother toe. Just be cognizant of where you're putting your hand. You know, some people like to our medical gloves to protect that. However, you'll be fine without it. So finishing up these last few trees, adding some small variations and them I'll see which ones I really want to choose. I probably won't use all nine. However. I like to make an entire palette before going digital. So if you want to add more than nine trees, go ahead and do so. It's better to draw them all at once and then bring them in on our next lesson into Photoshopped. Ted it. Hm Herriot's hopefully have some beautiful trees and we'll see you in the next lesson. 3. Rendering Trees > Lesson 2: welcome back to rendering techniques how to create your own customized trees In less and number two, I will go over how to actually take that photograph of your hand drawn trees and bring it into adobe Photoshop toe edit, adjust change, hue and saturation and some other minor tweaks to make those ready to put into a plan or any kind of drawing that you're planning to bring it into. So welcome to lesson number two. To start off, you're gonna open Adobe Photo Shop and go to file open and bring in the image that you have either emailed to yourself used airdrop or somehow brought that into the flash drive. So pulling up your Autry image, you could have taken this with any kind of camera or smartphone. It's gonna come in something like this. Hopefully, you worked on getting somewhat even lighting and not too many shadows, but it's okay we can work with any kind of photo you have. It just might mean more editing if you have a lot of shadows. So first up I'm going to Dio is double click over here and remove the layer from the background. You can also do that by right clicking and saying removed layer from background. I want to call it original trees. Next step. I want to rotate it So it's oriented how I drew it in a more horizontal view. So if I go to image image rotation good to go 90 degrees counterclockwise, This might depend on how your image came in, whether you need to rotate at all or 180 degrees, 90 degrees clockwise or counterclockwise. Okay, so I've got my raw tree file here ready to go. And if you do not see your layers, you go toe window and make sure the layers menu is checked and then it'll pop up over here . I want to make sure that layer is selected and go over to the magic wand tool. If I hover over here, it should say magic wand tool. This tool bar might look a little bit different depending on what version of a daily photo shop you have. So I'm gonna click on that magic wand tool, and my goal here is to get rid of all of this kind of off white background behind trees. So if I click here in the middle, you can note these dancing dots and dash lines selecting my trees. If I look at the top menu, bar the tolerances 65. If I change that to 30 and re click, note that it's not grabbing all of that off white. So the lower the tolerance number is, the more finicky that magic wand will be, and the higher it is, the more space that might grab. This isn't looking to buy, but you can see over here in my tree my fears. If I go too high, it might start to blend and grab some my image, so I'm gonna actually keep it at 80. That doesn't look too bad. I have some of these little overlaps of marker going out, but that's OK. It's cutting out these, but it's including this little bit. We can do some of those micro adjustments as your next step. So while I have that selected, we're going to push delete. So the first thing you notice is the background goes to gray and white squares. If this is not the case, make sure you're layer over here is off of the background. Otherwise it's going to ask you to make that background, white, gray or content aware. You wanna come back over here and right click just to de select the trees, and we have all of that weight cut out. However, there might be some spots we really want to do some minor tweaks and erasing so one other stuff. You can add a layer on the bottom, right? You create a new layer, but I'm gonna name that rectangle and pull it under my original trees and selecting something that's fairly dark because my paper was originally this off white. I went to apply contrast behind it and make sure I got all of those tiny little pieces out . So if I zoom in here and select my original tree layer and move this around, you can note some tiny little speckles. But also there's edges of the tree that maybe I want to clean up. So I like to give some kind of background that applies Contrast. It doesn't have to be blue, so I could see a little bit better while having the original tree layer selected. There's a couple different tools you can use here. I'm going to start with the eraser tool and in the drop down, select one of the hard ground erasers and maybe toggling the size. Depending on how big I want that you raise your head, making sure that layers selected still, I can go round. And just freehand some of these edges here. Maybe I'm zooming in, been getting in really detailed and go around a lot of the edges. Another tool that is handy is the lasso tool. So up here you may have to tell Go through a couple different options. And while holding down my mouse, I can select some more of that tree that I want to delete all in one go and pushed elite. So try around both of these. Sometimes people prefer just using the eraser, sometimes the lasso tool. You can also change the razor quality hardness and size in the Eraserhead said. This one's a little bit more blurred. You can see here how it's adding more of a blurred lung. So once you go ahead and adjust and edit all of those trees to clean up any background, we're gonna go over here and you can turn off the rectangle. For now. If you'd like to delete it, you can definitely go ahead and delete it and come back to that original tree layer. So the next thing I'm going to actually drag this layer down to create a new layer to make a copy, you can also right click and say, duplicate layer. You were gonna call this call trees, so I'm gonna just their color a little bit and play around with different kinds of trees I would like to have in my library to choose from while that layer is selected. I'm gonna go to image adjustments and three items that I would focus on here. However, you go ahead and play with his money adjustments as he would like brightness and contrast you and saturation in color balance. Thes three should give you what you're going for. If you're just adjusting some trees for a plan, starting with brightness and contrast, I'm going to boost both of those a little bit. Next, I'm going to go down the hue and saturation and I'm just gonna change them all in one, go to something a little bit more fall like we really boosting that saturation in pushing. Okay, so if I turn on and off this volleyer, I could see My trees are a lot more orange and warmer, and you you can also add layer masks. However, I'm just duplicating layers one, because this file has very few layer, so it's not too confusing. And too, I wanted to make this more friendly to beginning photo shop users. So go ahead and use whatever workflow you're comfortable with. I'm just want to show it this way. For the sake of the tutorial rates we have, our full trees are original trees make ahead in delete that rough tangles. I don't need it anymore. And next, I'd like to save this as a photoshopped file. So picture going under file, save as and save it as a PSD file Already have one saved here. That's fairly similar. Can. Now you can see I have this transparent background. If I have one of these layers selected, it can crab the rectangular marquee tool and command see or copy and command V paste. I'm on a Mac. This could be different in other computers. Eso now, I could just kind of copy that exact tree without any of the extras in the background. I can change the opacity of it I can even go up to adjustments and play around with the saturation of that tree in particular, maybe rotating it a bit more, changing the size so you can really get in here and copy and paste these trees. However, we're going to save that for the next lesson. I just want to show you how you're setting this up in order to use these as elements you can always draw from in build your library. So rather than copy and pasting in this file, we're going to save it as a PNG. So when you save a file as a PNG file, it preserves this transparent background. If I were to say this as a another image file, maybe a J peg and if I were to open that file, you can see here it's actually brought in that white background and flattened it all into one image. I would have to go in again, move the layer off the background, select the magic wand tool and delete the white so it's not too big of a deal. Enough. The trees air cleaned up, however, to completely get rid of that extra step. When I say that as a PNG file. When I open it, it's going to come up as its own file separate to the background, maintaining that transparency and no background. So that's really nice to maintain again. You can name your layers, but I would save all your different layers for the Photoshopped file and then save out the different kinds of trees as PNG files so you can go back and use those later and really build your library of different tree types plant types. Maybe you're doing this with completely different images. It's a battle help for your workflow in the future. In the next lesson, we will go over how to actually bring these into different files and manipulate them a bit further. Thanks for watching. 4. Rendering Trees > Lesson 3: Welcome toe Lesson number three in rendering techniques How to create your own customized trees. In this lesson, I will be going over how to bring in your edited and adjusted photos and PNG files from Lesson number two from Photoshopped into different various files, whether it be a plan or maybe another drawing that you wanted to add a bunch of layers to to start lesson number three. Go ahead and open adobe Photoshopped and open the file from Lesson two, your final PNG of your trees that you have already edited. So once you open that up, hopefully your PNG maintained this transparent background. If you do have white, take your time and get rid of that backgrounds you have. Individual trees can see over in my layers panel. I have the trees layer selected by toggle that on and off, you could see all of my trees there in the center of the screen and next we want to go through. What do you do now that we have this PNG of beautifully rendered treat that are adjusted just the way you would like it for whatever drawing your completing? And next I want to open up another file. So in this case I'm using a site plan is reference to paste these trees onto the site plan . However, whatever image file you want to start to make your collection of different images that you have rendered, whether it's trees or something else, go ahead and open up that file in Photoshop. Right now, I just have a regular J Peg file labeled Topography of the site plan. So I'm going to end up bringing in select trees out of my raw file here this PNG of tree types to start to really orient them, change the size orientation and tree types, and my site plan to eventually look something like this where I have a couple of different species of trees, there's overlaps and a passive. He's going on different groupings and locations size orientation, etcetera. So once you have that file open, I would go ahead and on the right. We're going to start to organize our layers a little bit more before we bring in some files . So I have the base called a site plan. Instead of on the background layer, I can go down to the very bottom, the layers here and I'm actually gonna create this little folder Icon is a new group, and this is a way to organize all my trees into one folder. Second expand and closed that. So it makes it a little bit easier when I go over here to rendering expand that folder. You can see I have a time of different trees under that tree group. But it's easier to manage when you have a couple of different folders. So I've got that already, and I have that selected. Now I'm gonna go back to my original PNG and with select a tree. So maybe I want to bring in this the center one to represent Aspen's. I'm gonna go ahead and copy it using that rectangle marquee tool, making sure to get everything within that rectangle that I would like to bring over and that that tree layer is selected next time just gonna toggle and click over to my other file that's opened with an adobe photo shop. They have my tree group on my push paste or command V. You can know over here is just gonna come in his layer. Number one. I can rename that layer and place it in that tree group. So the tree groups already there will have to do is put that layer into the folder Dragon Drop and I can toggle and expand that folder open to see what other trees. Aaron there. So while I have that Aspen Lear selected, I can change the size. I'm just holding down shift while I click these different transform points on the image that it's going to keep the proportion. If I do not hold shift, I can start to really change the look of that tree. Um, if I hover over around those transformed points, I can rotate the tree a bit. Mystery has a little bit of shadowing over here, and maybe ill will say this bottom loved corners for my shadows are depending on where that son maybe, um actually, let's turn it to the top left corner of those shadows, typically in the Northern Hemisphere. The sun's actually going to be this way. So we're gonna apply those changes, and now I have a tree layer my concert move around. I can also, with the appliance changes, I can also go to image adjustments and play with the hue and saturation just a little bit more if I desire and push. Okay, okay, so let's say I really like that color and I want a copy of this layer a few times. I can either pull and drag and drop that into the new layer. Or I could just click new layer and pasted a gun. It's easier to just drag and drop, or you can right click again, since I do key player. So I'm going to keep renaming these on. Maybe I'm starting to change a couple different sizes. It's going to ask me to apply some of the Continue doing that with the aspens. Maybe I'm going back over to my original file and having another tree in naming that, bringing it in, changing the size, the color and you can notice this tree is really saturated. Maybe I want to change the opacity, and so I can really start to play with that again. There's ways to do layer masks, and if you are more advanced, please go ahead and do so. If you want to treat all the trees the same, I just want to show this for a beacon or Photoshopped user and how to quickly go through every single tree. So do you want to come back down here? Had somewhere aspens to my file. You can copy the oak around too, so eventually you're going to keep adding more and more trees until you get a composition that either represents the native trees in the area, what you're proposing or an entirely different drawing altogether that has several trees pasted around. So I turned on and off this tree layer, all I have is some topography lines in the background. I have tasted all these different trees throughout here and the very last touch up element that I've done after adjusting where I want all these different groupings of trees. Well, my added a little bit of a stayed border around it. After getting everything where I wanted to be and the right capacity, color layering and overlaps you can see, I added one more layer over here called Fade, and this is entirely up to you, depending on your rendering style and what kind of look you're going for. Hopefully, all of your drawings are fairly consistent to each other. I know the fate or this kind of fuzzy white dissolving edges, is becoming a little bit more popular lately. I'll show you how to do that if you want to add one other element to it. Otherwise, this is your complete project. So you have all of your trees on the topography or her background you've done. You've laid them out in a nice composition, edited, adjusted change the size and have the layering capacities there. I will go over in the next lesson. How to do this little fade if you'd like an extra technique. If not, this is the point where you can save your thought PST or Photoshopped file. And then after you have saved that, tell him if you want to go over here and you can right click, flatten. The image is one way to combine all those layers into one background image. This will help with the file size and then save it as an image file. So I know on skill share. It's really helpful to upload a J pig file for your projects. So three course final image it's as a JPEG. I'm going to maintain the larger file and quality and push. OK, so now I have got my final J pig file ready to upload as the course project. Please upload any trees that you've put together. Feel free to share the process and maybe some of the original files that you took of your hand drawn trees. Whether you're using watercolor personal color markers, some other markers, colored pencils or just Inc and share what you've done, maybe you're putting together a site plan. Maybe you are drawing some other elements and creating some digital compositions that are entirely your own. Thank you for watching. And be sure to look at lesson number four if he went to get that one bonus technique of adding a fade edge. Thanks for watching. 5. Rendering Trees > Lesson 4: welcome to a lesson for in rendering techniques how to create your own customized trees. In this lesson, I will go over one little bonus skill of adding the fade or dissolve effect to a final rendering site, plan or image. To begin this bonus lesson about how to add a fade or light white dissolved background to your site, plan image or rendering. Go ahead and open your photo shop, file or dot PSD file from lesson number three and let's look over at the layer panel. So reminder if this does not come out, make sure you go window and your layers is checked so you conceal your layers over here on the right note. Here, we're gonna go for the state effect where disappears lately in the background. And I'm gonna show a couple different ways you can do that. So to start, I am going to go ahead and delete what we're getting up. We're gonna start over so I have tree selected. I'm gonna add a new layer and make sure it's above the other ones. We're to call this feed 01 Next. I want toe select the brush tool. So this is one example of how you might feel to do this. I want to also make sure the same white as my background is selected down here. I can also double click that color. Make sure it's Web colors, go up and have the hex code of F f f f f F solid weight. Go back down to my brush and a couple things here. So noting up to very top here, I want to make sure my brush head has more of a blur around it. If I were to pick something solid like this in my opacity and flow are at the standard 100% and I start to draw around my drawing. It's really solid white someone to go ahead and under that and go select something with a little bit more of a blur. So, likewise, if I start to go over my drawing, you can see this stroke has a lot of a fuzzy edge, so again undo. I don't want to draw something straight your middle. However, I do want Teoh, maybe boost that up to somewhere near 500 go along the edge of my drawing. So no, here it's It's a pretty large brush. I'm also getting rid of a fair amount of my drawing maybe a little bit too much when you show you a couple of adjustments after you do this. So I turned on and off that first fade layer. It's really taking away a lot of my drawing. I can now go over under rapacity of that layer and micro address that maybe I want somewhere around 75% and I can also take that it. Okay, so let's say I want to turn that off and show another example. And let's say that I decided to change the opacity up in the very top of the brush. So I have my brush selected. The white color. I'm still that 500 point, the blurry edge. My mode is still normal, and a posse and floor up here. I can play with the opacity, meets at 65 and go around my drawing, and this is probably something close to where I want it to look like. As an end result. However, if I were to go over here and change the a posse of that layer, my 100% will be at the level the brush was when I drew it. So I have a little bit less adjustments and capability. The comeback leader in change with that feed looks like So it's better to keep it 100% with the brush. But change the opacity over here in the layer, so making sure opacity and flow of the actual brush. The top panel is at 100% and you've been adjusted on the side. They looked at the same outcome, so it doesn't necessarily matter. However, I would recommend to get in the layers panel. So once you have that just the way you like it, you can now flatten the image and save it, just like lesson three. However, we will be saving this with a little bit more of an effect. So I'm going to start by saving as a Photoshopped file and maybe actually saving as I'm just gonna save on top of that because I have these layers, Aiken, delete later and then I'm going to right, click and flatten. My image is asking discourage him layers. This other fate I turned off and I'm going to say okay, I don't really need that layer anymore. Lastly, now I'm gonna save it as an image file. And remember that A J peg will upload better and still sure. So rename your file C L four site plan and we'll say, fade. So I know which one is which. And push save been that quality fairly high? Well, the very last thing you could do with any image in a photo shop. I go to image, image size. I can adjust the width and height by either pixels 4% and I can change the resolution. I like to keep most of the image files at 300 pixels per inch. Sometimes the standard is to go all the way down to 72 with the 300 pixels per inch. Keep it. I'm fairly better quality and width and height. Maybe I could go 800 by 800 toe upload to skill share and then file save. So that's going to save that image as the 808 100 pixels. If I go back to image, image size can see it's there. So if you ever have an issue uploading photos that are too large, that's a quick and easy way to adjust that making sure to maybe save as if you want to save those raw original files. Make sure you always air saving your photoshopped file in maintaining all the different layers. So if you want to go back and edit anything, you have the ability to do so. So that should give you a beautiful rendering. We had the fate effect, hopefully learned a lot from this tutorial. Thank you for watching.