F12 ships The Grove Release 6
F12 – aka developer Wybren van Keulen – has shipped The Grove Release 6, a free update to his Blender-based tool for generating biologically plausible tree models.
The update largely focuses on workflow and simulation improvements, but there are new options for growing trees in groups, and new parameters for controlling the distribution of dead branches.
Mimic the growth forms of real trees
The Grove takes a parametric approach to generating trees, with controls that mimic the factors determining the forms of real plants, 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 software is a Blender add-on, but the resulting textured geometry can be exported in standard file formats, including FBX and OBJ, for use in other DCC applicaitons.
New in Release 6: new parameters for controlling dead branches
Changes this time round include new parameters for controlling the distribution of dead branches on trees.
A Stick Around setting causes a tree to retain dead branches, contributing to its overall form; while the lateral takeover system – which causes side branches to take over from a dead branch end – has been revamped.
There is also a new preview option that shows dead branches in red.
Other changes include a new option to grow trees in groups, with the user simply specifying their number and The Grove handling their placement. The form of each tree is determined by proximity to its neighbours.
Simulation and workflow improvements
Other than that, it’s mainly improvements to workflow and the algorithms governing growth simulations.
Van Keulen describes the changes as almost eliminating the ‘butterfly effect’, whereby small tweaks to parameters result in drastic changes to the final form of a tree.
Conifers also get an “enormous boost” in terms of the realism of the forms generated.
There are also new one-click workflows for appending a new Twig to a scene, and for applying a new bark texture to the branches of a tree, with the aspect ratios of the UVs corrected automatically.
Pricing and availability
The Grove Release 6 is available for the current version of Blender running on Windows, Linux and macOS.
The base application has an MSRP of €109 (around $128), while individual Twigs cost €9.60 ($11.20). Release 6 is free to existing users of the software.