On the first day working on these assets I wanted to look at our trees, specifically how we could do the leaves. When looking at other games I found an over-emphasis on the overall pattern and small details that lead to the foliage not holding up when seen close up. The leaves look rigid, like a collection of small separate shapes, rather than the whole complete form I notice when seeing real trees.
When looking at trees, it is the motion that leaves an Impressionism (ha art joke) on you – the rippling changes of colour when the wind passes through, the occasional specks of reflected sunlight – not the individual leaf shapes and patterns.
If you look at most depictions of trees and their leaves in cartoons or paintings you will often see trees represented by their overall form and colours, rarely ever are there specific lines or details and when there are, they are mostly used to give a sense of motion not individual details or shape. While this is, in part, due to the time it would take to define each individual leaf through drawing media, it has led to some interesting techniques that I feel video games could learn from.
For Balance I want to try to emulate these styles in our game and to do so I am experimenting with using dense pockets of simple square particles that, through their different colours, motion and rate of addition and de-spawning, would give the effect of a moving, collective, mass of leaves in a constantly shifting form.
In the video you can see my first attempt at this in a basic scene, some examples looking at the effect colour ranges have, some the result of intense rates of re- and de-spawning the particles can have to give the effect of strong winds and so on.
I would like to continue experimenting more with this once we have more solid props and assets to compare to, when I do I will continue tweaking and experimenting with this as I believe this could have some interesting applications for future projects.