Tuesday, September 18th, 2018 Posted by Jim Thacker

Check out promising 3ds Max scattering plugin NeatScatter

Prague-based retouching and CGI studio d76 has released NeatScatter, an interesting new 3ds Max object scattering plugin focused on generating non-overlapping instances.

The plugin offers an iterative workflow, making it possible to scatter smaller objects into the spaces left between larger ones, with the option to edit the resulting distributions by hand.

Generate detailed, non-overlapping scatter distributions for close-ups
While there are already a number of 3ds Max scattering plugins on the market, including iToo Software’s Forest Pack and SiNi Software’s Scatter, NeatScatter’s forte looks to be non-overlapping instances.

As well as using an object’s bounding sphere to calcuate proximity to other instances, the plugin can also use a more accurate convex hull representation, or a custom collision mesh.

The distribution of objects is random, based on a few simple input parameters, but you can guide the results by using 2D textures as distribution masks.

There is also an interesting Groups workflow, which enables users to set up sets of objects with different scattering parameters, then have NeatScatter distribute them iteratively: for example, to scatter smaller objects into the gaps left between larger ones.

Once scattered, instances can be deleted manually: either individually, or via a marquee or brush-based workflow. Users can also choose to freeze parts of the distribution and only regenerate problem areas.

Although it doesn’t yet have the breadth of features of longer-established tools, NeatScatter looks a good fit for scenes in which instances have to be seen in close-up, as in the video above of condensation on a bottle.

However, at the minute, the only render engine supported natively is V-Ray: while you can convert a NeatScatter object to a mesh or 3ds Max instances, d76 doesn’t recommend this for complex scenes.

Pricing and availability
NeatScatter is available for 3ds Max 2016+. The MSRP is €119 (around $139), which gives you two installations. At the time of posting, the plugin is available at a launch discount.

If you want to try before you buy, you can download a 15-day demo, and the full user documentation is available online.

Read more about NeatScatter on d76’s product website