We will create assets (meshes and textures, in most cases) for the following:
In a dense jungle, the ground tends to be covered with a dark, moist, matted blanket of rotting vegetation. For the jungle floor, you can create a texture with several images of moist ground and leaves. Even some dead grass on top and blended properly can work because of the contrast. When overlaid, it looks as if the grass occasionally grew, and then died and became matted down with the rest of the jungle floor. Even if you use L3DT to create the terrain texture, you can create your own climates and use your own textures.
For the trees, I start with the bark. I usually create a base texture in Photoshop and then create the mesh. Creating a texture designed to be cylindrically wrapped around the tree is a common technique, but, with hardware advances (larger textures, faster graphics processing units, and multiphase rendering), I decided to create a tree skin: a texture that doesn’t tile but wraps like a skin around the mesh.
Plants are simpler models than trees but can be more complex in their creation and texturing. Unlike trees, where you can generally get away with one or a few types of tree, a wide variety of plants is necessary to look convincing. Flowers, weeds, grass, mushrooms, and so on can be covering the ground at the same time in any given setting.
There are many types of rocks, formed by erosion, cracking, and other processes. In the jungle, you would expect to see rocks (if you saw any at all) deeply buried in the dirt and covered with moss and foliage. These rocks would tend to be rounded with no hard edges. To model this rock, I used a geosphere, as these tend to deform into rocks better than other.
It has always bothered me that I couldn’t render clouds or a lens flare on a transparent layer. In Photoshop, when you create clouds or a lens flare, you must have a background color. In other words, clouds must be rendered with two colors and can’t fade into transparency like a gradient can.
For most Photoshop users, the Blending Mode function is the answer for a realistic cloud or a lens flare overlay. You can render clouds on a layer above your image and play with Blending Mode until the clouds look the way you want them to.
The subject of caustics is quite complex and involves the process of light converging with light. Caustics are caused by light that is reflected or refracted several times before actually hitting a surface, such as through waves. The more light that is refracted to the same area on a surface, the brighter the area will be lit, hence the bright pattern we see. To calculate the effect of light refracting through water requires complex math, but, thankfully, because of the Caustics Generator, all we have to do is to push buttons and look at pictures.