How to model a 3D Hedge

1) Create a spline that will be the central axis of your hedge. Now clone it and hide the resulting copy (we will use that later).

2) Give it a rectangular thickness and write the desired dimensions of your hedge. In this case 40 cm wide and 70 cm length (this one is the actual height). After having done that convert your spline to an editable poly.

3) Create a leaf from a plane and assign a material with a leaf texture to it.
*you may probably wonder why I haven’t used a simple plane with opacity map… actually I have found out on that if you use vray it is less hardware consuming if you use geometry converted to vray proxy rather than planes with opacity maps. If you want to use opacity maps, feel free to do so, and continue with the tutorial.

Now the fun begins…
4) Create a particle array (under “create”, “particle systems”).

5) Under “object based emitter” click “pick object” and select the converted spline.

6) Under “particle generation” be sure to set the following parameters:
-speed – “0”
-emit start – “-100”
-emit stop – “0”

7) Under “particle type” check “instanced geometry”, than scroll down to “instancing parameters” click “pick object” and select the leaf geometry that you made.

9) Under “rotation and collisions”, “spin speed controls”, set the phase to 90 degrees.

10) Scroll up to “particle quantity”, and set use rate to “1500”. This parameter actually sets the number of leafs that your hedge will have. Therefore, it would be wise to keep viewport display as “ticks” and not “mesh” and the percent of displayed particles at 10%.

11)Now is the time to do some test renderings to help you decide upon the number of leafs needed.  Bellow is a result that I’m happy with.

However, as you can see, there are some large gaps between the leafs; I wouldn’t want to increase their number because it would make the scene much to heavy, and it won’t even look real… so here is what we do:

12) Model a few branches using simple box modeling techniques, like in the image bellow:

13) Unhide the clone of the spline that you’ve made at the beginning at the tutorial, and use the spacing tool to clone the branches along that (tools => spacing tool)
If you don’t need a close-up of the hedge in your rendering you can actually skip this step, since the branches won’t be visible from distance.

The only thing that needs to be done is to convert all this to vray proxy (that is if you’re using vray; if not, than you’ve finished the tutorial).
As you can see, you can not convert the “parray” to editable mesh/poly. Fortunately, there is a way to do this, but before you need to change the “percent display” from 10% to 100% in the basic parameters rollout of the pArray. (Be careful, because this may cause the software to crash, due to high memory consumtion)
You can do this with the “mesher”; go to “create”, “compound”, “mesher”. After having created it, go to “pick object” and select the pArray.
Now convert it to editable poly, attach the branches, than do the vraymesh export to create the vray proxy.
That’s it!

If you have any problems, post a comment and I will be glad to help.

Modeling 3D hedges like this is a lot of fun if you have enough harware power… otherwise it can become frustrating due to frequent crashes and slow viewport navigation. Therefore, if you are not doing an animation and the camera position of your still rendering permits it, I recommend faking 3d hedges in renderings using photoshop.

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  1. Arno says:

    Great tutorial Hedge looks great…just don’t understand one thing.

    *you may probably wonder why I haven’t used a simple plane with opacity map… actually I have found out on that if you use vray it is less hardware consuming if you use geometry converted to vray proxy rather than planes with opacity maps. If you want to use opacity maps, feel free to do so, and continue with the tutorial.

    If I make a proxy of the leaf plane, I can’t select the proxy in the Parray system…

    Or do you mean something else

  2. Thanks for the feedback Arno.
    Regarding your question, you should convert the final hedge model to proxy. As you have noticed, if you convert the plane you won’t be able to select in Parray.

  3. Arno says:

    Oke i misunderstood, thanks for your reply

  4. Todd says:

    Thanks for this helpful tutorial.

    I would like help on one isssue……….I completed the construction of the hedge up to step 11 and then rendered it. The final render shows the leafs correctly but I can clearly see the solid “Rectangle” outline of the hedge displayed in the color I assigned it. So basically I am looking at a green snaking rectangle with the tiny leaves poking out of it and no “holes” or natural open areas within the hedge.

    What am I doing wrong?

    Thanks for your help.

  5. You are not doing anything wrong. You just need to delete the converted spline. Sorry for not having mentioned this :) I thought it was obvious.

    Let me know if you have any more questions.

    Best regards,

  6. jan H. says:

    hey great tutorial.

    I have this problem;
    you wrote; Under “object based emitter” click “pick object” and select the converted spline.
    pick object stands in grey so i can’t pick any objects?
    I’m probably forgetting something here. (i’m not so experienced in max)or maybe it’s because i you max design 2009?

  7. Hi jan,

    I really can’t figure out why you don’t have “pick object” active.
    What I can tell you is that it has nothing to do with the fact that you use max design 2009.
    Are you sure you have followed all the previous steps correctly?

  8. Mark says:

    also… i find that ‘deleting’ the original shape cuses the whole array to be deleted.
    easier step, well kinda, is to set the ‘opacity’ of the original shape to ’0′ and the mesh/shrubbery should be just fine then.

  9. Mark says:

    to jan… (1st… i’m using 3ds max 2009)…
    after clicking to get to the “particle array” click and drag on-screen to ‘create’ a cube that represents the particle array.

    after that, the “pick object” under “object based emitter” should be clickable.

  10. I find you can’t beat Maya’s paint effects when it comes to foliage. Simple create the plant, convert to mesh, and import it into Max!

  11. DongoBongo says:

    Thanks man………

  12. Hayri says:

    Hey mate, Im using this on Maya, since its on maya the spline technique for us is called CV Curve tool.

    Step 2 where you say give it a rectangular thickness, do you mean, I should create a rectangle and attach it with the Curve (Spline) Or did you create the rectangle out of a spline. Thanks.

  13. Hi Hayri,
    I have never worked in maya so not sure how helpful I can be on this. In 3ds max, when you draw a spline you have an option to give it thickness (radial or rectangular). This is somewhat similar to a loft object, where you have a spline path, a spline shape, and the shape is “extruded” along the path.
    However, you can use any type of technique as long as you end up with an editable poly/mesh in the end.
    Hope this helps.

    Best regards,

  14. danny says:

    The spline part has got me lost. I am creating the shape I want with a line, outlining it, and then extruding it. I am sure that is were i am going wrong.

  15. Hello danny,
    From what you have written, I assume you are using loft objects, or “extrude along path”. There is nothing wrong with that; in the tutorial I have made it a lot simpler… just draw a spline, make it renderable (under the “rendering” rollout check “enable in renderer” and “enable in viewport”) and assign a desired thickness. In this case I have chosen “rectangular” with 40×70 cm.
    Hope this helps.

    Happy new year!

  16. Cool :D hope to learn a lot from you guys.. and good luck.. this very informative tutorial.

  17. Hayri Yildirim says:

    Just got back to this tutorial, I found out how its done on maya. Create a CV curve tool, then create a rectangular cube, high but squashed, then select the face, havind had the face selected select the cv curve line at the same time. Click Extrude and it will extrude however in extrude option box change the division to how ever many you like to give it a nice curve.

    P.S. Alex could you post your leaf texture on here I cant seem to find a good one.

  18. Dirk Eichstädt says:

    Thank you for that great tutorial. took me some time, because some things didn’t worked at the first time. but with the final render it looked perfect. u made my day, thank you :-)

  19. Richard says:

    Thanks for the tutorial. My question is the same as Todd. How though do you delete the converted spline. Is there a spline still there. If so I can’t see it to delete it.
    Thanks again.

  20. Vpower says:


    - Select the converted spline.
    - Right-click for quad-menu and select Object Properties (below clone).
    - Under render controle, untick Renderability

    Voila! invisible

    (Note: emit start is minus100, not 100)

  21. Mlcalesco says:

    Hi Alex! Thanks for your tuto. I’m not sure if this topic is active, but I have a doubt. I’ve created the hedge but in the render the plane with the leaf doesn’t show the transparency (I’ve created using the transparency map). So, the final image shows small solid rectangles (planes of the leaf) on the hedge. What is wrong? Thanks in advance.

  22. @ Mlcalesco – The opacity map must be a black and white texture used in the opacity slot.

    @VPower – Thanks for the input.

  23. Mlcalesco says:

    Hi Alex. I used correctly the opacity map. Without the parray tool the plane shows the leaf with the transparency and texture. When I apply the particle array the combined object shows solids planes (no transparency and no texture on diffuse and opacity channels). What could be wrong? Thanks again.

  24. James says:

    Mlcalesco, try to assign your leaf material to Parray, it worked for me.

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