Monday, October 5th, 2015 Posted by Jim Thacker

F12 releases The Grove

F12 – aka developer Wybren van Keulen – has released The Grove: an interesting new commercial Blender add-on for generating realistic tree models for “visualization, art and film”.

The resulting geometry can be exported from Blender in standard file formats, including FBX and OBJ.

Settings to mimic the growth forms of real trees
The Grove provides a parametric approach for controlling the form of a tree, which should be familiar to users of standalone applications like SpeedTree, PlantFactory and Xfrog.

As well as standard settings for controlling branching and gravitropism, the software offers options that mimic the way growth hormones flow through trees, and the way that real trees self-prune branches.

The form of the tree can be influenced by a surrounding environment – for example, to mimic the effect of prevailing wind direction – although the output doesn’t include actual wind animation.

Instanced ‘Twigs’ add fine details
Once the overall form of a tree has been set, The Grove fills in details by using ‘Twigs’: instanced geometry representing not only actual twigs, but leaves, flowers and fruit.

There are 12 readymade presets – all broadleaved trees, and mainly common European or garden species – but users can also use their own custom geometry. The Twigs are sold separately to the base application.

The software also includes a library of readymade bark textures.

Export to other DCC applications in standard file formats
As well as providing a dedicated tree-generation tool for Blender users, The Grove has also caught the eye of artists within the wider CG community.

Although it lacks the advanced functionality of standalone applications – for example, the option to control the form of a tree by drawing it manually – since Blender itself is free, it looks a cost-effective alternative.

For anyone interested in generating geometry for export into other DCC tools, this thread on The Foundry’s forum shows some early user tests.

Pricing and availability
The Grove is available now for the current release of Blender running on Windows, Linux and Mac OS X.

The software is currently available at a 20% launch discount, which makes the price of the base application €109 (around $123) and that of the Twigs €9.70 ($11) each, excluding tax.

Read more about The Grove on the product website