Friday, November 4th, 2016 Posted by Jim Thacker

E-on ships PlantFactory 2016

E-on software has released PlantFactory 2016, the latest update to its line of software for creating animatable 3D plants, adding support for biologically plausible growth simulations.

Users of the higher-end editions of the software also get a new Preset Variations feature, and the option to export plant models with configurable level of detail.

Create plant models for use in other software via a range of workflows
First released in 2013, PlantFactory enables users to create plants by adjusting procedural parameters, building a node graph, or drawing forms directly.

This update is the first in over 18 months, e-on having been acquired by Bentley Systems in 2015.

In all editions: growth simulation – or the ‘grow me a tree’ button
One key addition available in every edition of PlantFactory 2016 is the new Growth Node, described by e-on as “basically a ‘grow me a tree’ button”. You can see it in action in the video above.

A “dense feature” within the software, the node determines the entire form of a plant, with users simply plugging in Age and Root inputs, and adjusting its internal parameters to control the final result.

PlantFactory performs a “biologically inspired” simulation to determine the form of the plant, with parameters reflecting factors influencing the growth of real plants: an approach also seen in new tools like The Grove.

In Designer, Studio and Producer: Preset Variations for use with Vue
If you use the Designer, Studio or Producer editions of the software, you also get Preset Varations, a new feature that enables users to generate small variations to a plant, such as variant flower colours.

It’s really designed for use with applications that can make use of the variations when instancing the plant, such as PlantFactory’s sister products Vue Infinite 2016 and Vue xStream 2016, also released this week.

In Studio and Producer: configurable level of detail
Users of the Studio or Producer editions of PlantFactory also get new options for generating customisable level of detail (LOD) models from a single plant species.

The LODs can be generated automatically; by setting the properties of nodes within the graph manually for each LOD; or by using the new LOD selector node to switch in entirely different graphs for each LOD.

PlantFactory’s sister applications Vue, Carbon Scatter and LumenRT can make use of the LODs stored in a PlantFactory scene file without directly exporting the geometry.

To get full LOD export functionality, you’ll need the Producer edition of the software.

Producer’s new global LOD options enable users to control the number of LODs, plus their distribution rules according to a plant’s size on screen, meshing type (triangles, quads or both) and subdivision type.

Users can also set separate types of geometry for use in offline and real-time rendering.

Pricing and availability
PlantFactory 2016 is available now for 64-bit Windows XP+ and Mac OS X 10.6+. The base Artist edition costs $199, Designer costs $495, Studio costs $995, and Producer costs $1,995. See a feature comparion table.

There is also a free PlantFactory Exporter, which lets users edit assets from e-on’s online maketplace.

Read a full list of new features in PlantFactory 2016 on e-on software’s website