How To Make Trees In Photoshop

How To Make Trees In Photoshop

Trees in photoshop screengrab
You have access to 34 trees.


If there is one thing that we just love about Photoshop is that it is so rich and feature-laden that you miss stuff. Did you know that Photoshop CC introduced a Tree filter and that it was moved in the CC 2014 release to the Filter menu? You didn’t? Neither did we. Now, thanks to Adobe Photoshop Evangelist Juilianne Kost, we now know where the Tree Filter is located.

In this “How To” we are going to look at using the Tree Filter in Photoshop and some of the really neat stuff you can do with it. Let’s get started.

How To Create A Tree In Photoshop

screenshot of photoshop showing Tree filter
Trees are found in the Render menu.


The first thing you need to do is to create a new Photoshop document and add a Layer named Tree. This ensures you can further manipulate your tree once it is created.

With the Tree layer selected, choose Filters> Render >Tree to open the Tree Filter Dialog box.

How To Use The Photoshop Tree Filter Dialog Box

Screenshot of the photoshop tree filter dialog box
The Tree Filter dialog box.


When it opens, the Tree filter dialog box, shown above, can be a bit intimidating. Let’s go through the dialog box:

  • Base Tree Type: This pop-down lists 34 tree types you can choose from. Each item contains a small image of the tree. If you want to see a larger version of the trees, Julianne Kost has made a pdf of the trees available to you. Let's choose Oak. 
  • Light Direction: This slider sets the direction- in degrees, of the light hitting the tree.
  • Camera Tilt: This slider lets you change up the camera angle for your tree. Let’s choose 7.
  • Leaves Amount: You can go for a winter look- 0 leaves- to full bushiness by setting the value to 100. The default is 41 and I am fine with that.
  • Leaves Size: This slider lets you go from buds – 0 – to full summer foliage – 200 – by moving the slider or entering a value. I chose 100.
  • Branches Height: This slider determines how far up the tree trunk that the branches start. A value of 70 starts the branches close to the ground and a maximum of 300 puts them at the crown of the tree. I went with the default value of 124.
  • Branches Thickness: This slider lets you have some fun. A value of 0 results in a tree with no trunk and the maximum value of 200 results in a rather stately old oak. I went with a value of 150.
  • Default Leaves: Deselect this and you can create a custom tree using one of the 16 Leaf Types in the pop down that lights up.
  • Colors and Shading are self-explanatory.
  • Arrangement: The arrangement slider lets you “customize” the shape of your tree. The values range from 1 to 100. I went with a value of 45.

When you are happy, click OK.

How To Manipulate Your Photoshop Tree

Scfeengrab from photoshop
Manipulating your tree.


Now that you have a tree, what next? If your plan is to create a grove or even forest of trees, your next step is to convert your tree to a Smart Object.

Smart Objects allow for non-destructive editing in Photoshop. For example, if you were to scale your tree down, accept the change and then scale the object up to a slightly larger size, your tree will sprout jagged pixels and turn fuzzy because all you did was to make the pixels larger. Here’s how to turn the tree into a Smart Object:

Open the Layers panel and right click on your Tree layer. Select Convert To Smart Object in the resulting Context Menu. When you do that your layer now sports a small Smart Object icon in the thumbnail. If you double click on that icon your Tree opens in a separate document with the .psb extension. This is the Smart Object.

Close the .psb file to return to the main .psd file and scale your tree. From here you can create copies of the Smart Object and scale and move them around to create quite a few trees.

How To Create Autumn Foliage Using The Photoshop Tree Filter

Changing the foliage color screenshot
Use Custom Color to create autumn foliage.


When you really think about it, creating autumn foliage is much like autumn itself … the leaves change color. In this example I created a Maple Tree and selected Use Custom Color for Leaves. I clicked once on the Color Chip to open the Color Picker and selected Orange from the list. When you close the Color Picker , the tree leaves change color. If you are an absolute purist , open an image containing trees sporting their Fall foliage,  sample a color that catches your attention and use it instead.