iToo Software ships Forest Pack 6.3 for 3ds Max
Originally posted on 14 June 2018. Scroll down for news of the 6.3 update.
iToo Software has released Forest Pack 6.0, a big update to its object scattering plugin for 3ds Max, adding the option to scatter objects using particles and splines, and extending the Effects system.
The update also overhauls the UI and introduces a new Update Manager for installing add-on content.
The ‘ultimate scattering tool for 3ds Max’
Described by iToo as “the ultimate scattering tool for 3ds Max”, Forest Pack is designed to distribute objects across a scene: as the name suggests, usually plant models, but also rocks or buildings.
The plugin can generate scenes with hundreds of thousands of scattered objects, with a point cloud display mode to improve viewport response, and the option to convert Forest Pack objects to Max’s native instances.
The scattering process is fully parametric, and object distribution can also be controlled by image maps, splines or painting directly onto terrain geometry.
Forest Pack can scatter both static and animated objects, with the option to randomise both texture maps and the time offset of animation cycles, or control them via image maps.
New in version 6.0: more customisable user interface
The result of two years of development work, Forest Pack 6.0 revamps the plugin’s increasingly complex UI, making it possible for artists to configure the interface to suit their own workflow.
Changes include the option to show or hide individual rollouts, collapse groups, resize lists and disable popups. Items with long names also get tooltips showing the name in full.
Distribute objects using particle systems, splines or reference geometry
There are also a number of new ways to control the distribution of scattered objects, including the option to use particle systems created using 3ds Max’s Particle Flow toolset as a distribution source.
Objects can also be distributed along a spline or linked to reference objects.
The latter includes the option to instance objects to the faces of reference geometry; and the instances move with the reference object, making it possible to animate their positions.
The default method of controlling distribution via image maps has also been extended, with 13 new maps.
Effects system now lets users stack expressions, and to use curves and maps
The Effects system introduced in Forest Pack 5.0, which enables artists to control the distribution or properties of scattered objects via mathematical expressions, has also been extended.
The update adds the option to stack multiple effects, with each new effect added to its own layer; plus the option to use curves or maps to control attributes; and 30 new preset effects.
The system can also be combined with the new distribution modes, with Effects now supporting a number of particle and spline properties.
New Update Manager and asset libraries, overall performance improvements
Other changes include a new Update Manager to streamline the process of downloading and installing add-on content, including asset libraries, presets, and other artists’ effects.
The release also three new libraries: lawns, ‘green walls’, and a new trees starter library comprising 21 models representing 11 individual species.
Updated 18 September 2018: iToo Software has released its new sets of free photoscanned resources via the new Update Manager.
Under the hood, the firm has introduced a new memory management system that it claims improves scattering performance by “up to 150% for large distributions”.
The two new libraries add 40 3D rocks, grouped into six presets, plus six 3D leaf presets.
Updated 1 February 2019: iToo Software has released Forest Pack 6.1.5. The update makes it possible to edit Forest objects during interactive renders and see the effect of the changes in real time.
It works in both the Virtual Frame Buffer and 3ds Max’s new viewport IPR system, and supports changes to both the distribution and texturing of scattered objects.
Updated 24 April 2020: ForestPack 6.3 is out, adding support for 3ds Max 2021. Most of the other changes since 6.1.5 have been bugfixes, but you can see a full list in the online release notes.
Pricing and availability
Forest Pack 6.3 is available for 3ds Max 2012+. New licences start at €220 (around $250) including one year’s support. There is also a free Lite edition. It’s feature-limited, but can be used on commercial projects.
Visit iToo Software online
(The download link for the Lite edition is at the foot of the Forest Pack product page)