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Tutorial Lesson 3: Changing plant parameters

In this lesson you will learn how to change a few plant parameters using the Parameters panel on the main window.

Open the file from the second lesson

If you haven't already done the
second tutorial lesson, open the file called Tutorial Lesson 2.pla in your PlantStudio directory. If you already did the second lesson, open the file you made now if it is not already open. In either case you should see three Black-eyed Susans in the drawing area.

Concentrate on one plant

We could change parameters in all three plants at once just by selecting them all, but let's use this opportunity to learn something else about PlantStudio.

  1. Select only the original Black-eyed Susan plant (not one of the copies). If you have all three plants selected, you'll need to deselect all the plants first by clicking outside of them all.

  2. Choose Concentrate on Focused Plant from the Layout menu. The main window will move itself around so the drawing area is on the left side and you can only see your original plant. This is a good way to work on parameters, so you can see the results in a larger scale.

  3. Let's also look at the plant in more detail -- choose Draw as Solids from the Options menu.

Look at the parameters

Now let's get to those parameters.

  1. Place your mouse over the line between the plant list and the top section (you will see a special drag cursor), then click and drag down to give more room to the parameters.

  2. Now click on the Parameters tab. In the parameters panel are two major parts: the sections list and the parameters. The 200 or so parameters that make up a plant are divided into the sections you see here.

  3. The General parameter section is probably selected now. Click on a few other sections to see what happens.

  4. The small panels to the right are called parameter panels. You can open them by clicking on the arrows gif/plantstudio00000014.gif on their left sides. Try opening and closing a few parameter panels now.

  5. Also notice that if you hold the mouse still over the parameter panels they produce a hint about their parameter. [If you don't see parameter hints, check the Show Parameter Hints option in the Options menu.]

Get help on parameters and parameter panels
You can get help on each parameter section by right-clicking on the section in the sections list and choosing Section Help from the popup menu that appears. You can do that now if you like, or just look at the popup menu.
gif/plantstudio00090000.gif You can get help on using each type of parameter panel by right-clicking on a parameter panel and choosing Parameter Panel Help from the popup menu that appears. You can do that now if you like, or just look at the popup menu.

Change some parameters

  1. When you are finished looking around, click on the Inflors (F) section, which describes female inflorescences.

  2. We can make a few small changes here that make our plant look better. See the dark panel labeled Architecture? That's called a header panel. Click on the right arrow gif/plantstudio00000015.gif to open all the parameter panels down to the next header panel.

  3. Now you can see some parameters under the Architecture header. In the Number of flowers panel, click on the blue slider and drag it all the way to the right, so it says 30. Your plant will redraw to show more flowers. When you drag a slider, it only affects the plant after you let up on the mouse button.

  4. Actually, we are making a composite flower here, and the simulation isn't really correct. A composite (head) inflorescence has flowers both on the inside and around the edge. The inside flowers are called disc flowers and the outside flowers are called ray flowers. But we only simulate the ray flowers since the disc flowers are very small. Just so you know that.

  5. Now let's fix the Green-eyed Susan. Look down a few more parameter panels to the one labeled Pedicel color. A pedicel is the little stem that connects a flower to its inflorescence. In our simplified model of a head inflorescence, the middle part is the pedicels. Click on the three sliders for red, green and blue values and change the pedicel color to a warm dark brown. That looks more like a Black-eyed Susan.

  6. One more change. The flower looks too spread out, so let's tighten it up a bit. Click the down-arrow gif/plantstudio00000016.gif to close the Architecture panels, then scroll down to the next header panel, labeled Size, and click on the right arrow gif/plantstudio00000017.gif to open it up. Find the parameter in that group called Pedicel (flower stalk) length. Drag the slider down a ways and let go. Look at your flower to see the effect. Keep moving the slider around until the center of the flower looks the right size.

Replace the copied plants with new copies

Now you have changed your original plant, but the copies are out of synch. We can fix that.

  1. First we will return to looking at all the plants. Choose Unconcentrate from the Layout menu. There are your two copies from before.

  2. Choose Draw as Wire Frames from the Options menu to speed up drawing.

  3. Drag the bar between the drawing area and the bottom part of the window up so we can see the bottom of the window.

  4. Let's replace those copies with better ones. Select the two copies and press the Delete key. You can either delete them both at once or separately. [If you can't select them, make sure you are in Select/drag gif/plantstudio00000018.gif mode.]

  5. Now we'll make some up-to-date copies, but let's use the clipboard this time. Select your one remaining original plant, choose Copy from the Edit menu, then choose Paste. You'll see another plant. Drag it to stand next to your original plant. Paste again so you have three plants in total.

Save your file

Now save your plant file to use in the next lesson. Choose Save from the File menu, choose a directory, and type in My tutorial 3.pla.

Move on to Lesson 4: Arranging plants

Go to the Tutorial Index

Read more about:

Understanding the parameters

Using parameter panels

Cutting, copying, pasting, and deleting plants

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Updated: March 10, 1999. Questions/comments on site to
Copyright © 1998, 1999 Paul D. Fernhout & Cynthia F. Kurtz.