Thursday, April 25th, 2024 Posted by Jim Thacker

F12 releases The Grove 2.1 for Blender and Houdini

F12 – aka developer Wybren van Keulen – has released The Grove 2.1, the latest version of its software for generating biologically plausible tree models.

The update increases the realism of growth simulations, ditching Leonardo da Vinci’s 500-year-old Rule of Trees in favor of a new model that recreates branch thickness more accurately.

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 has been set, The Grove fills in details using ‘Twigs’: instanced geometry representing not only actual twigs, but leaves, flowers and fruit, sold separately to the core app.

The resulting textured geometry can be exported from the user’s host software in standard file formats, including FBX and OBJ, for use in other DCC applications.

Users can also generate wind and growth animations, exportable in Alembic format.

Since The Grove 2.0, the software – originally a Blender plugin – has become a standalone application, with integrations for Blender and Houdini.

Ditching Leonardo da Vinci’s Rule of Trees to better simulate the thickening of branches
The update focuses on making growth simulations more accurate, focusing on secondary growth: the thickening of the trunk and branches as a tree ages.

Previous versions of the software followed Leonardo da Vinci’s Rule of Trees: that the total cross-sectional area of a tree’s branches at any height is equal to that of its trunk.

The Grove 2.1 ditches the 500-year-old rule of thumb – intended to help artists draw trees realistically – in favor of a new model that more accurately reflects how trees actually grow.

According to van Keulen, the old approximation worked well for large branches, but less well for thin, new branches, which play a major role in determining the visual form of a tree.

The update also reworks The Grove’s handling of how trees age – trees can now eventually die, rather than continuing to grow indefinitely – and how they shed dead branches.

Bugfixes address ‘every known issue’ with the software
In addition, The Grove now uses the scientific names of trees at the start of preset names, which should mean that similar species are grouped together when sorting alphabetically.

van Keulen also makes the bold claim that release “addresses every known issue” with the software, and that The Grove is as “rock solid” as it was before the milestone 2.0 update.

Pricing and availability
The Grove 2.1 is compatible with Blender 3.6+ and Houdini 19.5 on Windows, Linux and macOS.

The software comes in three editions. All of them include the Blender plugin, but only the Studio edition includes the Houdini plugin.

The Starter edition has a MSRP of €89 (around $95). The Indie edition has a MSRP of €149 (around $160). The Studio edition has a MSRP of €720 ($772). Individual Twigs cost €9.69 ($10).

Read a full list of new features in The Grove 2.1 on the product website

Have your say on this story by following CG Channel on Facebook, Instagram and X (formerly Twitter). As well as being able to comment on stories, followers of our social media accounts can see videos we don’t post on the site itself, including making-ofs for the latest VFX movies, animations, games cinematics and motion graphics projects.