In this tutorial we will demonstrate the Blender skin modifier to create base meshes. We build a simple tree using this modifier.
I want to start with the simplest 3d object possible: One vertex. To create one vertex in the center you can add a plane:

Add a plane

Add a plane

Select the whole plane in edit mode then (A key) and press Alt – M key to merge the selected vertices. Then choose At Center:

Transform a plane to a single vertex

Transform a plane to a single vertex

The result is one vertex in the center of the plane which is the point 0,0,0. With this vertex selected add the skin modifier:

Add a skin modifier

Add a skin modifier

Now your vertex looks like a cube, you can see a thick mesh-like geometry around it but actually it is not a mesh. Use the E key and extract the vertex a few times:

Extrude branches with skin modifier

Extrude branches with skin modifier

you can select each vertex and do new extractions. Even subdivision can be made for selected vertices:

Subdivide an edge

Add subdivision for 2 vertices

But the shape is rather rough, so let’s add a subsurf modifier to it:

Add subsurf modifier

Add subsurf modifier

There is one special thing when it comes to scaling: Select a vertex, press Ctrl + A key and move the mouse. This is the method to scale the branches for the selected vertex:

Change the size of a vertex in a skin modifier

Change the size of a vertex in a skin modifier

Also other operations like moving or rotating vertices are possible:

Select many vertices and scale or move

Select many vertices and scale, rotate or move

 When your shape is defined you can turn the object into a real mesh by first applying the skin modifier and then the subsurf modifier.

Use proportioal editing for mesh

Use proportioal editing for mesh

To tweak the shape you can use proportional editing for example or later on add sculpting to the tree to make it look more realistic, perhaps a little bit like this:

Simple tree sculpt

Simple tree sculpt

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