How to Make Cherry Blossom Flowers

Discover how to create a fun cherry blossom scene using Blender

Length:
1 hour 34 mins
Software:
Blender 2.67
Difficulty:
Intermediate
Rate:
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 4.8/5 (115 votes cast)

In this tutorial you will discover how to:

  • Model a cherry blossom flower
  • Create a beautiful translucent material
  • Use depth of field effectively

Alright boys, it’s time to put our manly passions behind us and endeavor on something a little more “feminine”. No guns, grenades or explosions this time. We’re making flowers. And pink flowers at that.

What spurred this on? Well recently here in Korea (and Asia) it was cherry blossom season. Which meant that for one week, parks and roads were filled with these beautiful white pinkish flowered trees.

My wife and I at a parklands in Seoul, Korea

My wife and I at a parklands in Seoul, Korea

If you’ve never experienced it before, it’s quite mesmerizing. You feel like you’re in a surreal Dr Seuss world where the trees have turned pink and white.

I was so inspired by the experience that I decided right then and there that I would try to recreate the feeling in Blender.

So here it is…

Finished Result

Download the Finished Result

Resources

Text Version

Modelling the Petals

Delete the default cube and lamp and replace it with a plane.

 

Press N to bring up the sidebar and load this background image (modified version of this texture from CGTextures). Set the size to 1.

 

Subdivide the plane 3 times (W).

 

Turn on sharp proportional falloff (O) and grab the top left corner and drag to the shape of the petal.

 

Use proportional falloff to push and pull the vertices around the petal, till you have created a rough ‘cage’ around the petal:

 

Rip the very top vertex (V) and move it slightly to the side. When we add the subsurf modifier later, this will create the little divet which appears in the cherry blossom petal.

 

From top view, press U and select Project from View.

 

Go to the UV image editor and load in the same image texture, and position the mesh as shown (make it slightly larger than the petal).

 

We want to avoid that ugly protruding tip, so grab the top two vertices and push them down slightly as shown:

 

The petal is currently actually much wider than a cherry blossom’s petal, so in top view, scale it down along the X-axis (S, X) by 0.7.

 

Select the edges of the petal and using sharp proportional editing, pull them up to create the concave shape of the petal.

 

Add a subsurf modifier, turn on smooth shading, and position the mesh, so that the root is at the origin point as shown:

 

Now we’ll create the Petal’s material. Go to the node editor and create this setup:

You don’t need to add those colored boxes (frames) that’s just to help you understand it

 

If we render this right now with a lamp, we get this:

Petal is great success!

 

Creating the flower

Tilt the petal on it’s axis as shown (the steeper you make it, the more newly bloomed it will look)

 

Go to top view, and with the petal selected, press Alt+D (linked duplicate) and rotate it roughly 60 degrees:

 

Repeat this process to create 5 petals:

 

Now is the tricky part; rotate and position the petals so that they aren’t intersecting each other. You’ll need to twist some and position others so they are behind etc.

 

Once finished, you should be rewarded with something like this:

Crikey! That almost looks like a flower!

 

Making the Pollen Stems

A cherry blossom wouldn’t be complete without some white stems sprouting from the center. So we’ll create some with a simple cylinder.

Position your cursor in the center of the flower and add a Cylinder. Press T to bring up the toolbar, and set these settings:

 

In side view, go into edit mode and scale the top of the cylinder down, then add two loop cuts (Ctrl+R).

 

Select the top vertices and using proportional falloff (O), tilt the pollen stem sideways slightly:

 

Now we’ll create the little yellow bud on the end. Position the cursor at the top of the stem and add a sphere with these parameters:

 

Scale the sphere down so it appears as a tiny ball at the top of the stem:

 

Turn on smooth shading and add a subsurf modifier level 1.

 

Go to the materials panel and add a new material, then call it White Stem:

 

Go to the node editor and create this setup:

 

Create another material, call it YellowBud, and in edit mode with the sphere selected, press Assign.

 

Go to the node editor and create this setup:

 

In top view, press Alt+D (linked duplicate) and rotate to another position. Repeat this till you have roughly 30 pollens:

 

Huzzah! The pollen is complete.

 

Modelling the Stem

When we look at this reference photo, we can see how freakishly ugly the stem actually is:

Clearly God designed the stem as an afterthought.

Clearly God had other things on his mind when designed this alien looking thing.

But alas, let’s get started on creating it.

 

Add a circle with 5 vertices and position it at the bottom of the flower:

 

Size it so it tightly fits the bottom of the flower, then extrude it upwards and scale it out as shown:

 

Select a vertex at the top and rip it (V). Do the same to an adjacent vertex. Then select both vertices and scale it by 0.1.

 

Repeat this for all 5 edges of the circle, until you’ll eventually have a starfish lookin thing:

 

Take the bottom row of vertices and extrude it downwards. Continue extruding and resizing the rings until you’ve created the rough shape of the stem in the reference photo.

 

Add a solidify and subsurf modifier with the following settings:

 

Texturing the Stem

In edit mode, select any vertical edge loop, then press Ctrl+E and select Mark Seam.

 

Next, select all the vertices (A) and UV unwrap the mesh (U):

 

In the UV image editor you should get a result, which isn’t terrible, but could do with some fixing up:

 

A quick shuffling around of the vertices and you’ll get a much more accurate looking map:

 

Since finding a texture of a pink-to-green-stem is going to nearly impossible, we’re going to paint our own. What what? You’ve never done that before? Don’t worry, it’s far easier than it sounds.

At the bottom of the UV image editor, find and click the button that says ‘New’. In the popup box, set the color to darkish green color (this will be the color of the stem).

 

In the toolbar change the mode to Paint.

 

Press T to bring up the toolbar and set your brush to a darkish purple color.

 

Begin roughly painting around the top end of the stem. Leave a few patches of green for the next step (smudging). If you can’t see the mesh outline, go back to your 3d viewport and make sure you’re in edit mode.

See what I mean by rough?

 

Now for the fun part; change your brush to smear.

 

Using different sizes and strengths of the brush, smear the painting around (mostly vertically) to create a more natural looking plant texture:

 

This is optional, but if you’re up for more realism, pepper the stem with a white and black brush…

 

Then smear it up and down to create streaks:

 

Now do yourself a big favour and save the image now before you forget it, then close blender and lose it forever.

 

With the stem still selected, go to the node editor and use the newly created texture in this node setup:

 

Yay. Looks a little bulbous and alien, but it’ll pass.

 

Displacing the Petals

For added realism, it really helps if the petals are a little more ‘random’ looking than they currently are. And for that there’s only man for the job: DisplaceMant

Go to the modifier stacker and add a displacement modifier, then under Texture click New.

 

Go to the texture panel, select Displace then set the cloud size to 0.65 and Depth to 4.

 

We want each petal that receives the displacement to look different, so for that we need to create a separate object to use as a coordinate marker. So for that, add an empty.

 

Go back to the petal, and in the displacement options, set the coordinates to Object: Empty, and change the strength to 0.1.

 

Now in order to apply this same setup for all petals, we’ll need to select all the petals and select our new petal last, then press Ctrl+L, Modifiers.

 

Finally, in order to make our lives easier, we’ll select all the flower objects and parent it (Ctrl+P) to the stem.

 

Setting up the foreground

Finally we can get to actually setting up the shot. We’ll start with the flowers in the foreground.

First, in order to keep things closer to real life size, select the flower and the empty and scale it down to 0.1 of it’s original size. This will make the stem about 27cm tall, instead of 4 meters.

Why does size matter? First of all, that’s what he said. Secondly, if we aren’t working in real world measurements, we can run into problems later when setting up depth of field for the camera etc.

Position the camera front on to flower by going into front view (Numpad 1) then pressing Ctrl+Alt+0 to move the camera to that location.

 

Next, rotate the stem of the flower towards the camera as shown. It should be pointing slightly upwards and to the left (to guide the viewers eyes to the rest of the scene).

 

Duplicate the flower and place it underneath the first one.

 

Create two more duplicates and position them as shown. The idea being to create the illusion of a branch of flowers up close to the camera.

 

Select a single petal off one of the flowers and duplicate it (Shift+D) then place it really close to the camera as shown. This will create some soft out of focus elements in the foreground.

 

Lighting the scene

The best way to light outdoor scenes is to use an HDR skydome, and I just so happen to have a one from my upcoming Architecture Academy course, that you can download for free here.

Go to the node editor, change the mode to World, then add an Environment Texture node and load in the skydome.

 

If you looked through the camera (without the flowers) you’d see we have a view of the sky with a grassy field.

 

But we don’t actually want the grass in the shot, so we’ll rotate it’s axis.

Add a Texture Coordinate and Mapping node and connect as pictured. Set the X rotation to 19 degrees:

 

Now the grass is out of the shot:

Aren’t we clever?

 

Next, we need some sunlight. Add a sun lamp and set the strength to 3 and the size (of the shadow) to 0.02.

 

Rotate the sunlamp slightly towards the camera to cast a nice shadow over the petals on our main flower.

Render now and you’ll see this:

Finally some fruits of our labour are starting to "blossom". Yeah I know it's cringy, but it's all I got right now.

Finally the fruits of our labor are starting to “blossom”. Yes it’s cringy, but it’s all I’ve got right now.

 

Now for some DoF (Depth of Field). We want the focus point to be on the center of our main flower. So find out the name of one of those pollens, then go to the camera settings and enter it as the Focus object. Set the aperture to F/Stop 4.

Ahh the wonders of dof

Ahh the wonders of dof

 

Creating the branch

This step is rather convoluted for something that’s barely in the frame, but we like to induce pain on ourselves so let’s indulge!

Go to a new layer and add a cylinder with these settings:

 

Lie the cylinder flat, then go into edit mode and create enough edge loops (by scrolling) to create square faces.

 

Select an edge (Hold Alt+Right Click) then press Ctrl+E to Mark Seam.

 

Next press U > Unwrap.

 

In the UV Image editor, load in this texture (which is a modified version of this texture from CGTextures) and scale the UV coordinates to fill it:

 

Go to the node editor and setup this material node setup, using the bark texture:

 

Render it now and you should have this:

Never before has so much been done, for so little.

That right thur is a stick. Give yourselves a pat on the back.

But wait! There’s more! Now we’ll make those bumps actually affect the geometry of the branch.

 

Go to the modifier stacker and add a subsurf modifier (level 3), then a displacement modifier with these settings:

Spectacular results so far, but wait, it get’s worse!

 

Go to the texture panel and for the displacement, set it to Image, and load this displacement texture (which was generated from the original texture).

 

Now return to the displacement modifier, and set the strength to 0.10.

 

Scale it down along the Y axis by 0.5, then switch to rendered view and you should have this:

Now that's either a delicious snickers bar, or something more sinister.

Now that’s either a delicious snickers bar, or something more sinister.

Time to increase the length!

Add an Array to the modifier stacker and place it at the top, with these settings:

 

For it’s first use, place the branch underneath the flowers in the foreground:

 

Creating the Background

Finally it’s time to fill out the background!

Duplicate the branch we created earlier, move it to a new layer, then create a smaller branch off it by duplicating it then reducing the array count to 2.

 

Now duplicate one of the flowers we created earlier and move it to the same layer as the branch. Select the stem, remove the solidify modifier.

Then select all the flower parts, selecting the stem last and press Ctrl+J to make it one single mesh object.

Not only will this make it easier to move the object around, it will also be a lot more low poly so your rendertimes will be quicker.

 

Create several linked duplicates of the flower (Alt+D) and create bunch of 5-6 flowers on the branch.

 

Duplicate that bunch of flowers (Alt+D) several times along the branch, rotating and resizing to create the appearance of random natural growth.

 

Move the branch along with it’s flowers into the background, along the left side of the frame.

 

Duplicate that branch and flowers multiple times and distribute at varying lengths from the camera (this will help with the DoF). Also place a few flowers behind the foreground ones so it looks less bare.

 

Finally, after all this work we’re ready to render!

Not bad! But let’s spruce it up quickly to make it “pop”.

Post Processing

I’m going to use Photoshop, and Magic Bullet Looks to make a few adjustments. You can do all of this with Gimp or with the built in compositor, but I choose these tools because I like their speed.

In Magic Bullet Looks, I’m using a Warm/Cool filter, Diffusion, Vignette, Curves, Saturation and Auto Shoulder filter:

Again, all of this stuff can be done inside Blender’s compositor, but for the sake of brevity I’m using Magic Bullet looks coz it’s faster.

Next, in Photoshop I’m going to add a little color using a large blue and purple brush on a separate layer:

 

Then I’ll change the blend mode to Overlay, and set the Opacity to 20%.

 

At long last we’re finished!

 

Further Inspiration

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial! I look forward to seeing some cool flower scenes from the community :)

PS. In a few weeks time I’m going to be releasing my new course The Architecture Academy! If you could spare a few minutes of your time, I’d love to hear what you struggle with most: Quick Architecture Survey. Cheers!

How to Make Cherry Blossom Flowers, 4.8 out of 5 based on 115 ratings

About Andrew Price

User of Blender for 9+ years. I've written tutorials for 3d World Magazine and spoken at three Blender conferences. My goal is to help artists get employed in the industry by making training accessible and easy to understand. I'm an Aussie and I live in South Korea ;)