Currently Speed Tree is the most popular tree editor for games and film
First version of Speed Tree was released in 2002 and was intended for games
creation. As its name suggest, Speed Tree is fast, and focused on creation
of trees. But since it was shaped from the beginning to excel in generation
of simple trees for 3D games, sometime it becomes cumbersome when plants
of different, non tree structure have to be created. In my opinion, for
small plants like flowers, even old Xfrog seems to have some advantage over
Nevertheless Speed Tree is an excellent package for creation of 3D trees,
and it was used in countless games and movies. Interface of Speed Tree is
very ergonomic, and responsive. Trees are generated swiftly. When working
on not too huge models, edition is smooth & in real time - by dragging
parameter slider, you see how plant changes, and it is instant. For more
complex models, various preview simplification are available, so plant shaping
can be done in realtime without any annoying lags between definition of
parameter value and result on the screen.
Speed Tree is procedural editor, so it uses graphs to define plant structure
and parameters to fine tune the shape of plant components. Graphs used by
Speed Tree as just a few (branch, leaf) so there is, no advanced graph features
as in The Plant Factory. Such simplification may be appreciated by people
unfamiliar with complex graph editors, but it limits Speed Tree versatility.
Speed Tree offers several cool features missing in other software : branch
bifurcations, tilted branch cuts, extensive system for normals management
and ambient lighting.
Speed Tree has built in wind system which is quite easy to handle, and
provides pretty realistic results, especially with billboard leaves. It
works in real time, so you can adjust wind parameters and immediately you
see how it influences the plant.
Mesh complexity is defined mostly manually, which means that it takes more
time to optimize model than in automatic solutions as in TPF, but in exchange
user has a higher degree of control over mesh subdivisions, so it is possible
to create pretty complex trees without going into millions of polygons,
and even with million polygon models Speed Tree can respond swiftly. Such
excellent optimization tools must be appreciated by games developers.
List of parameters controlling plant components (branches/fronds/leaves
etc...) ist is very extensive. It can be a problem for new users, but there
is build in help which display information about every parameter which is
very helpful during learning process.