Ivy can add age and depth to any scene, whether it is growing up the side of a building or filling in a garden. In this tutorial I will be showing you how to make Ivy easily in Blender using a in-built addon called IvyGen.
For this tutorial we will be using Blender 2.79, but this will work on any version of Blender.
To start we will want to equip the IvyGen addon. We can do this by hitting the shortcut CTRL + ALT + U or finding it in File — User Preferences. This should open a new window. Next go into the add-ons tab (found at the top), once there you can click on the search bar in the top left corner. Search “Ivy” and the addon will appear. Click the little check box next the the addon name and we will be ready to go! (Fg. 1)
Creating the Ivy Mesh
Now that we have added our IvyGen addon in, we can start adding ivy to our mesh. For this tutorial I will be adding the ivy to a sphere (if you want your ivy separately, just add it to a flat plane then delete the plane once finished). After we have added in a sphere we can left click on the surface of our sphere to move our 3D cursor to where we want to add in our ivy. Lastly use the shortcut SHIFT + A while the sphere is selected and navigate to Curves — Add Ivy to Mesh. (Fg. 2)
Perfect! Now we have ivy on our model, all we need to do is adjust some values until we get the perfect ivy. We can find the tuning values in the tools tab on the left side of the screen (Shortcut T to toggle). With these sliders we can adjust the volume of the ivy, how much it spreads and how far it lifts off the object. There are quite a few different values, but only a couple are important. I will start with adjusting the length slider, which makes the ivy branches longer and makes the entire plant look bigger. I will double this value on my sphere so we can see our ivy much better. After adjusting any values we need to hit the ‘update ivy’ button at the top. Depending on the scale of our changes it may take a few seconds to load. (Fg. 3)
Now that our ivy is spread across the sphere nicely, we can adjust some other sliders. Increasing the Ivy size value will make your ivy look bigger and smaller, with higher values making it look smaller and lower values making it look bigger. I find 0.015 or 0.02 works well. You also can also adjust the Gravity Weight slider which makes your ivy move closer or farther away from the surface of your object. Lower values make the ivy spread farther away from the surface, and higher values make it move closer. For this project I will be using a Gravity Weight of 1.25. (Fg. 4)
You can also adjust the seed to find the right ivy placement for your object/scene.
Texturing the Ivy
Now that we have our ivy looking good, we can start with the materials. Select the ivy leaves and go into the material editing layout. NOTE: After selecting the ivy mesh you won’t be able to change any more of its values in the tools panel.
Before making our material, we need some lighting. We can do this by opening up an HDRI map. See our article on where to get HDRI here. After you have some basic lighting, we can add in a principled shader which will be the base of our material. Next we need an ivy texture, which you can find on the texture site of your choice. When you’re looking for a texture, try to get one that includes normal and roughness maps.
If you were able to get a texture with normal and specular maps then add in 3 image texture nodes. Set 2 of them to ‘Non-Color Data’. Plug one of them into the roughness input of your principled shader. Then run the other one though a Normal Map converter and into the normal input. Now apply the diffuse texture onto the third one and attach that to the base color input. You will now need some transparency for your leaf. Do this by adding a mix shader and mixing the principled shader with a transparent shader. Finally plug the leaf diffuse texture’s alpha into the factor input of the mix shader. (Fg. 5)
Next you can select the vine part of the model so we can texture it. You may have to go into wireframe mode to find it under all the leaves. For this material we will be doing exactly as we did for the leaf material, but not using an alpha. (Fg. 6)
Now you should have some pretty good looking ivy! A lot of the realism is in the materials, so don’t be afraid to experiment with your own. If you enjoyed this article you can read the last one here, or support us on patreon here.