F12 ships The Grove Release 7
F12 – aka developer Wybren van Keulen – has shipped The Grove Release 7, the latest version of his Blender-based tool for generating biologically plausible tree models.
The update adds support for the new features in Blender 2.8, and introduces a fully non-destructive workflow, making it possible to re-edit trees at any time.
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.
Van Keulen advises artists not to use Release 7 in production until a final build of Blender 2.8 is available, but comments: “I’m so excited about [it] and there’s just no fun in waiting!”
One feature of Blender 2.8 that The Grove makes use of is the Collections system, which makes it possible to view a Grove system as a hierarchy, separating the twigs and growth properties from the tree itself.
Faster, more interactive, more non-destructive workflow
The update also makes workflow both more interactive – it is now possible to pick a twig and “see it appear immediately on your tree” – and more non-destructive.
On the latter front, it is now possible to re-edit trees or add wind animation after they have been generated, even “after using other tools [or] saving and loading your scene”.
Under the hood, individual tree-generation processes like growth and pruning have been split into separate operators, which should improve performance with larger scenes.
Users also now have more control over when the software rebuilds the form a tree, with non-essential rebuilds now triggered manually.
Other changes include improvements to wind animation and branch smoothing, plus a number of UI changes. You can find a full list via the link below.
Pricing and availability
The Grove Release 7 is available for Blender 2.8 only, running on Windows, Linux and macOS. For users of Blender 2.79, Release 6 is still available to download.
The base application has an MSRP of €109 (around $123), although at the time of posting, it’s available at a launch discount. Individual Twigs cost €9.60 ($10.80).