Building Props – Trees and Plants

Building Props – Trees and Plants

15 min

Adding props like trees and plants makes game environments feel more realistic. Prop models can be made by grouping together basic parts. When designing props, look to real life for inspiration. The tree in this example is inspired by this laurel tree found near the Parthenon in Athens, Greece.

Making A Tree

You’ll use a cylinder part to make the tree trunk before creating the branches and leaves.

  1. In the Home tab, add a Cylinder part.
  1. In the Workspace, rename the Cylinder part Trunk.


  2. To change the material, in the Home tab, click the arrow under Material and select wood.


  3. Still in the Home tab, click the arrow under Color and pick any brown.


Rotate the Trunk

To rotate and move the pieces of the tree so that they look natural, you’ll need to make sure Collisions and Snap to Grid - Rotate are turned off. Collisions keeps things from running into each other, while snap to grid only allows objects to rotate or move so much at a time.

  1. In the Model tab, inside the Snap to Grid section, uncheck Rotate so that you can freely rotate the trunk.
  1. In the Model tab, rotate and scale the Trunk so it’s upright.

Adding Branches

Next, duplicate the trunk to create branches for the tree. It might look like nothing has happened because the new part will be in the exact same place as the original.

  1. Right-click Trunk and select Duplicate.
  1. In the Explorer, rename the new part Branch.
  2. Scale the part down.
  1. Rotate and Move the branch into place. If you’re having trouble, make sure snapping and collisions are off.

Duplicating More Branches

The same branch can be duplicated to quickly make more.

  1. In Explorer, right-click the branch and select Duplicate. Then, rotate and move the branch to another part of the tree.
  1. Add two to five more branches of different sizes.
Change Your View As You Build

As you add and rotate branches, move your camera around and make sure the tree looks good from all sides.

Making a Ball of Leaves

Next, group a spheres together to make a ball of leaves for the tree.

  1. Create a Sphere from the part menu. Change the material and color, and then rename the sphere Leaves.
  1. Duplicate the sphere two to four times to make a ball of leaves.
  1. In the Explorer, while holding Shift , select all the spheres.
  1. In the Home tab, click Group. The spheres will be grouped into one model. Rename the model LeafBall.
  1. Move the leaf ball onto a branch.
  1. Duplicate, the leaf ball until you have 3 - 5 on the tree. Rotate and scale each leaf ball to make it slightly different.

Grouping Parts Into a Model

To make a prop model that can be reused, anchor all of the parts in place and then group the parts into a single model.

  1. Select all parts of the tree.

  2. In the Home tab, click Anchor. If Anchored, it will be highlighted dark grey. If you don’t anchor the parts, the tree will fall apart in game.

Not Anchored
  1. Still with all parts selected, in the Home tab, click Group. Rename the model Tree.

Setting The Primary Part

The last step in creating a model is setting the primary part, which is used for determining the position of the model.

To set the primary part:

  1. In the Explorer, expand the tree model by clicking the arrow next to it. This will let you see all of the parts in the model.
  1. Make sure the top-level tree model is still selected. In the Properties window, click PrimaryPart and then, back in the Explorer window, click Trunk.

Getting the Most Out of Props

Make it look like there are more tree models than you actually built in your environment by rotating and scaling the model a little bit each time you use it. You may have noticed other games you’ve played do this quite often.

Building Other Types of Models

Use the same technique to create bushes, flowers, and plants.

  • building
  • modeling
  • intro