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December 12, 2012 / mistergasman

Part 1: create vegetation layers


We need to find a way to create vegetation (textures and plants) on a terrain. As E-On Vue is thé nature reconstruction program we have to think ahead.  Vue uses a square terrain. That terrain uses layers like photoshop, every layer is a seperate vegetation. Vue uses a black and white texture to determine what’s visible from the current layer and what’s not. It works like an alpha channel. The black is opaque, the white is transparant.

So the first step to find a way to seperate every vegetation and save it to a black and white texture.

We export the Archicad files to .obj and import into Blender. We like to use Blender as our ‘base’ program. And leave Archicad as an external program.

Archicad_01  Archicad_02Archicad_03

It doesn’t matter in which software you’ve created your models, you just need to import it into Blender and start from here.

Once everything is imported in Blender, we need to render a top image. From that image, we seperate every vegetation in Photoshop.

We don’t want any perspective. The best way is to create an ortographic camera, as it uses real dimensions as the rendering region. In this case we use a terrain size of 2×2 km.

Always use a scale of 1024, as it performs better on the computer. In this case 2048 x 2048 m.


Now we render from the camera, at a resolution of 8192 x8192 px.

That means we have 8192 pixels per 2048 meters, so 4 pixels a meter. Every pixel is 0,25 m. That’s our finest texture detail on the terrain. It’s enough in this case

Don’t forget to deactivate the texture rendering in the camera, we only want a flat color. It’s easier to select in photoshop. Tip: Add a hemi light to lighten the scene even without shading.


We render the image once with all the objects on the terrain, and once only the terrain.

We can then select easily in Photoshop all the vegetations but can still see where the houses are located.

Photoshop_02 Photoshop_01

Place both renders in one photoshop file, so you can hide for example the render with the objects. To make it more clear and workable, i use groups (folders) to sort my vegetation layers etc.

Photoshop_03 Photoshop_04

create a new empty layer, and name it for example ‘gras’ or ‘road’.With the Magic wand tool or the Color selection tool you can select a vegetation (or add multiple selections). Fill the selection with black. Now you have a vegetation layer created. It’s possible to blur it also if you need a more graduate change in texture. Remember the black is 100% that vegetation, mid grey 50%, white 0%.

Now repeat these steps for every vegetation you need. Important to know is that Vue uses black and white textures for the vegetation ground color, and seperate for the real physical plants.

So if you want physical gras on the complete gras vegetation layer, you can use that black and white texture. If the grass is only allowed on a part of it, you need another texture with that smaller part filled in black. That’s because Vue uses seperate layers: for the ground texture ( In Vue: ‘material layer’)and for the physical plants (in Vue: ‘Ecosystem layer’). both have alpha channels so you can handle them seperatly.

The last step is to save them seperatly as a png or jpg. And always try to name them consistently. The next step is to load them all into Vue on the terrain!


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