This is an attempt to show the best process for creating tree components from photos.  I also tried using Adobe’s new Photoshop CS5 tool, Refine edge, in the process. In terms of rendering a the photo’s edge, the traditional methods using Select by Color Range proved superior.  SketchUp seemed to show Refine Edge’s marks in the .png of the tree.

The technique that seemed to speed up the component process was using Photoshop to find the tree’s edge using the Magnetic Lasso tool, then converting that selection edge into a Work Path.  The Work Path was exported to Illustrator, then exported as a .dwg.  In SketchUp, the image is brought in as a texture and the .dwg is imported for the outline.  With some scaling and rotating they are put on the same plane.  The square surrounding the image is erased, the new .dwg outline is hidden and the component is made. 

The largest benefit is the speed by which the outline can be created and the reduction in the number of edges ( 999 with this process compared to 2592 when outlining it by hand around this tree example).

Try the process and let me know if you have similar results.

* Note, I have since found out that Alan Frazer wrote steps to exporting Photoshop vectors to SketchUp in Feb. 2008.  Great minds do think alike!  This process shows how to use some of the new features in CS5, how it can drastically reduce the amount of edges, and shows the steps in the images below.

 The SketchUp model of the Bald Cypress tree below can be found here:

John Pacyga