Note: This is part 1 of a multi-part series.

Part 2 is here.

This article will be easier to digest if you have a basic understanding of the user interface of Blender. This article focuses on modelling the cacti and succulents, and the next part will be on texturing them.

One of the main reasons why I wanted to learn Blender was because I saw so many cute 3D illustrations all over Pinterest. And the first Blender tutorial that I followed through on was on making cute froggy. Once I got my handle on the basics of the interface of Blender, I was well on my way to creating stylized cute illustrations with my severely limited skill set. After a year, I have picked up a few different ways to create succulents and cacti.

3D succulent and Cacti models

I always begin by collecting reference images before I start any project. I use Pinterest and Google Images for that. So, let's get started creating some cute cacti and succulents.

I have three methods for creating them:

1. Using Skin Modifier with a Single Vert

Skin Modifiers are a great way to generate shapes quickly.

Adding a single vert
  • I began with a single vertex. Shift+A > Mesh > Single Vert > Add Single Vert
  • Then adding a skin modifier, and a subdivision modifier to the vert.
  • Then tabbing into Edit mode, and in vertex selection mode, extruding the single vert to create the cactus shape.
Extruding the vert to create the cactus.

Vert editing tips:

  • To scale the size of the individual vert, use Cmd+A
  • If you are using a mirror modifier, it should always be at the top otherwise, it messes with the other modifiers.
  • If you want a new vert in-between two verts, you can always subdivide the single edge.
  • Stay on X-ray mode to see the vertices while modelling. You can do that with Alt+Z or toggling the X-ray button next to the viewport shading modes.
Toggling X-ray mode

Here is what I ended up with after messing with the vertices.

Final cactus shape

After I was satisfied with the shape, I made a backup copy and applied the skin modifier and subdivision modifier. So, it is now a single object. Then added another subdivision modifier.

2. Using Simple deform Modifiers

For this method, we are going to create a single leaf and then multiply it with Array Modifier, and bend it into the shape of the succulent with the Simple Deform Modifier.

I started with a single Roundcube, then with proportional editing, I grabbed the vertices and moved them to create a leaf shape.

Front view of the leaf
Side view of the leaf

Once I was happy with the leaf, I added the Array modifier to increase the number of leaves.

Increasing leaves

Then, I added the simple deform modifier to bend the leaves into a succulent shape. Then rotated and edited the single leaf to arrange the leaves.

Simple Deform Settings

Then duplicated and arranged the leaf group to create the succulent.

Final result

3. Using Cylinders

Using cylinders is probably the most basic way to get a cactus shape.

  • I began with a cylinder, then extruded the topmost face and scaled it down.
  • I repeated extruding and scaling down the top face to create the dome shape.
  • For the lower half, I added loop cuts with Ctrl+R and scaled and moved them to create the cactus shape.
Cactus Shape
  • Then I selected alternate edge loops on the cactus and scaled them in.

I added one set of leaves from the second succulent on top of this one. And another cactus completed.

And there we have it, three ways to create these succulents. I quickly created the pots with cylinders and added some rocks and mud to them.

Final Models
Stay tuned for Part 2, where we texture these succulents and set up the final render.