Thursday, March 31st, 2016 Posted by Jim Thacker

F12 ships The Grove Release 3


F12 – aka developer Wybren van Keulen – has shipped The Grove Release 3, the latest update to his promising commercial Blender add-on for generating realistic tree models.

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.

Rather than provide simple, biologically arbitrary inputs, the controls mimic the factors determining the forms of real trees – right down to self-pruning and self-shading – resulting in more realistic-looking models.

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, sold separately to the core app.

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

New in Release 3: more sophisticated growth parameters
The Release 3 update adds a number of new parameters designed to help replicate the growth forms of real trees, including Shade Avoidance, Gravitropism Shade Influence and Lateral Takeover.

The first two mimic the way in which the overall form of a tree reflects its tolerance of shade: essentially, whether the branches shoot straight up towards the light, or spread out laterally.

Lateral Takeover controls the extent to which individual branches fork. You can read a more detailed description of all three parameters in F12’s release notes here.

Intelligent polygon reduction
In addition, Release 3 improves the polygon-reduction system introduced in the Release 2 of the software, matching the new poly count to the thickness of each section of a branch.

The update also adds 13 new bark textures for Australian trees, including Eucalyptus and Banksia species.

Pricing and availability
The Grove is available now for the current release of Blender running on Windows, Linux and Mac OS X. The base application costs €109 (around $123), while individual Twigs €9.70 ($11) each, excluding tax.

Read more about The Grove on the product website