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Create grass using Bryce's terrain editor

Grass in Bryce

Author: - esha - Printable Version
Step 1: Create a Terrain
Step 2: Grow some grass
Step 3: The right material
Step 4: Cover a larger area
Step 5: Additional details
Tools Needed
* Bryce 5 (works in Version 4 too)


Have you ever made an outdoor scene, and your Bryce lawn looked more like some green flooring than real grass? Instead of importing grass objects, here is another method to create a nice lawn.

Step 1 - Create a Terrain
Open Bryce and click on the terrain icon (the mountain).

Click on the small 'E' to open the terrain editor.

Step 2 - Grow some grass
I find the realtime linking in the preview very useful, so I recommend to turn it on (it is turned off by default):

In the top right corner of the preview window you can see a small arrow. Klick it and choose 'Realtime Linking' from the menu.

To get a flat lawn first we have to get rid of the mountain. In the editing tools palette click once on the blue button next to 'New'.

The terrain canvas window will turn black, the preview is empty.

Now we want to 'grow' some grass: Click and hold the small green button next to 'Spikes' and drag slowly to the right. 

In the preview you can see how the grass appears. When it is high enough release the mouse button.

HINT: One short click on the spikes button makes the grass grow to maximum height. But dragging slowly gives you more control.

You can repeat this one ore two times more to make the lawn more dense.

Since you don't drag exactly the same distance every time, the grass will have slightly different height which will look very natural.

In the preview you can see the lawn you will get (if you can't see anything, turn up the brightness of your monitor; the lawn is short, therefore it looks very dark in the preview).

Click OK to leave the terrain editor.

A test render shows us what the lawn looks like. Of course we need a good material now.

Step 3 - The right material
Click on the small 'M' to open the material editor.

Click on the arrow next to the preview to open the material library.

Click on the arrow in the lower left corner and choose 'Vegetation'. In the category 'Leaves' choose one of the mats, I prefer 'Default Leaf 8'.

Click OK to close the library.

Now we can optimize the mat for our lawn:

Switch off the specularity, it will not be visible on the single blades of grass.

Increase the ambience value to make the green lighter.

Click on OK to confirm.

Now we have a nice small piece of lawn.

Step 4 - Cover a larger area
Cover a larger area with lawn

Click on the small 'A' to open the attributes palette.

To make life easier I recommend to change the odd size value of 81,92 to 80.

Click OK to close the attributes.

Press Ctrl-D to duplicate the terrain.

Click 'A' again to open the attributes.

For 'Origin X' set the size value, in this case 80.

Click OK.

Now there is a second piece of lawn exactly next to the first one.

Repeat the process (duplicate, open attributes etc.), but this time enter --80.

Now we have 3 terrains.

Hold down the shift key and select all three terrains. Click on the 'G' to group them together.

Press Ctrl-D to duplicate the group, open the attributes and set the 'Origin Y' value to 80.

Repeat this with the value --80.

Now we have quite a large lawn which consists of 9 terrains.

Of course you could group the groups and duplicate and translate them again. If you want to do this, you have to enter positive/negative values of 240 for the origin, because you are handling a group of 3 terrains(3 x 80).

But keep in mind that from a certain distance you won't see the single grass blades anyway, so there will be no need to encumber your system with dozens of terrains.

HINT: In some places the grey ground plane may look through, this is because the blades of grass are not as close as in a real lawn. Apply a green material to the ground plane, and you won't notice it anymore.

Step 5 - Additional details
For close-ups you may need a finer lawn. You can create it by increasing the resolution of the terrain in the terrain editor.

Click on the grid symbol in the terrain editor palette and choose a higher resolution.

If you now start creating spikes, you'll notice that they look much finer.

Of course you can use the spikes on hilly terrains, too.

Use the same method as described previously, but in the terrain editor do NOT click on 'New' but apply the spikes to the existing terrain.


Related tutorial:

Making a large grassy field or forest

Making a large grassy field or forest

Author: Flak Printable Version
Step 1: Making the grass
Step 2: Making a grass picture object
Step 3: Multi-replicating the grass
Step 4: Randomizing the Grass
Step 5: Grass onto the ground
Step 6: Gap Filling in the field
Step 7: Results and other uses
Tools Needed
* Bryce 5
* Adobe Photoshop Elements or other paint program


This is a technique for making a large grassy field in bryce without reducing your PC to a smoking pile of plastic and metal. The same technique can be used to make a distant forest while minimising the polygons and hence file size and render times.

Step 1 - Making the grass

The grass that we will be making will be made from a series of 2d picture objects. To do this we need to make or find a grass texture as well as a transparency map that will give the grass the "shape" we want.

For this tutorial, this is the grass texture I used - the angle seen in the grass texture matches the sort of lean I envisage the grass in the field to have. The jagged uneven look of the grass will be made with the alpha (transparency) map, so don't worry too much about trying to draw individual blades of grass in this part.

I then made the transparency map - this one was made in Adobe Elements using its default grass brush. This transparency map will give the grass its random sort of shape.
Step 2 - Making a grass picture object
After creating the scene that you want to put the grass into, the next thing is to make the 2D grass picture objects. 

To do this, firstly click on the "Da Vinci" figure in the "create" palette in bryce. Then load the grass and transparency maps that you just made into the appropriate channels as shown and click on the tick. This will then give you a grass object in your scene. You should then scale the grass so that its the right height and size when compared to everything else in your scene.
Step 3 - Multi-replicating the grass
First move the grass to a height well above the rest of your scene and then view your scene in the "From Top" view mode - this will just make life a lot easier later. Move the grass object to one corner of the area you want to cover in grass. Now, with the grass selected, click on the Edit>Multi-replicate.

Make a row of grass objects across the width of the field in your scene (the x-direction) where you wish to have the grass. The number of grass objects you will need will depend on how big an area in your scene that you want to put grass in and on the size of your grass object. 

When this is done, select all the grass objects in that row and use the Edit>Multi-replicate option again to make a rectangular pattern of grass objects that now covers roughly the area that you want to cover with grass (multireplicate in the z-direction this time). When you are doing these multi-replications, make sure that the "Size" is set to 100% and the "Rotate" is set to 0 degrees. 

You should now have a rectangular shaped grid of grass objects that roughly covers your field (when viewed from above).

Step 4 - Randomizing the Grass
If we just dropped this lot of grass onto the field terrain, then we'd end up with artifacts in the resulting grass - i.e. there would be furrows or patterns/lines appearing in the grass. To make sure there aren't any, we need to randomize the positions of all the grass objects. We do this by using bryce's randomize function.

Go into the Edit palette and click on the randomize arrow - this will bring up a series of randomizing options. Choose the "2d disperse" option. Now click on the randomize dot and drag the mouse slowly over to the right while holding the left hand mouse button down - this will randomly move the selected grass objects around. When things are looking reasonably random and not too spread out, then you can release the mouse button.
Step 5 - Grass onto the ground
The next step involves dropping the grass down to the terrain. To do this, select all of the grass and then click on the down arrow symbol next to this selection. This will then (after a short wait as bryce does some calculating) drop all the grass down to the terrain of the field.

If there's any obvious gaps or grass that has landed where it shouldn't then you can either add more grass to those gaps or move the wrongly placed grass out of the way respectively.
Step 6 - Gap Filling in the field
After rendering your field you will see, in general, a few small gaps in the grass. The easiest solution I've found here is to use a clone brush or cut and paste technique in a painting program to fix these problem areas.

The important thing to remember here is to clone an area from the grassy field from the same "depth" (or distance) into the field as the gap you will be filling - this will ensure that the haze effects with distance will remain consistent across the field.

Step 7 - Results and other uses
After fixing up the gaps, you will have your grassy windswept field. The exact same technique can also be used to make other backgrounds such as a distant forest.

If you have any questions concerning this tutorial, feel free to send me an email at (make sure you spell that email address properly) and we'll see if we can find you an answer.