FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions
This FAQ is a constant work in progress. If you find a bug or have a question that is not answered below, please do tell! You can find contact information at the bottom. The best feature of any software is stability and this is top priority for the Grove.
Are there twigs included with The Grove?
No. We have users all over the world, and we want you to pick a bundle of twigs that represents the trees of your region.
What are the requirements to run The Grove?
The Grove is an addon to Blender, which runs on Windows, OSX and Linux. If Blender runs, so will The Grove. Blender is free and provides The Grove with all the power of a full 3D software, including exporting models to other software.
Blender is in rapid development, and The Grove is on top of it. The Grove supports the latest official release of Blender, but it will most likely work in the daily builds. Unofficial custom Blender versions may have made changes that stop The Grove from working properly. In this case it’s best to use the official release to grow your trees, and then link or append the trees in the custom Blender version.
Can I grow multiple trees together at specific locations?
Yes, you can simply increase the number of trees for an automatic distribution around the world center. Or you can also plant trees at specific locations or at an angle. To do this, simply add empty objects inside your grove collection (Add > Empty > Single Arrow). Make sure it’s in the grove collection, if not then drag it to the collection using the outliner. Then restart or regrow your grove to plant the trees and start growing. Add as many trees as you like and start growing groves of trees!
Why do twigs disappear when I scatter trees with a particle system?
The Grove uses particles to efficiently distribute twigs. To create entire forests, it would be ideal to also use particles to duplicate the trees. But unfortunately Blender does not support particle systems within particle systems – your twigs will disappear when you try this.
The Blender team has given up completely on the current particle system and are planning to replace it with a completely new, modern system. I have high hopes for this future particle system – from what I’ve gathered from Blender developers, there’s no reason why that system should not support nested particle systems.
For the time being, these are a few ways you can get around this limitation:
- For small groups of trees, simply manually make linked copies with Alt+D.
- For slightly more trees, you can distribute the tree with a particle system – without the leaves. Then when you’re happy with the distribution, make the trees real objects by converting the particles to instances.
- Another option would be to move the tree to its own dedicated collection. Next, convert the twigs particle systems to real, instanced objects with “Make Instances Real”. Don’t forget to remove the twig particle systems from the tree afterwards, or you will have double the twigs. Then create an object with a particle system to scatter the trees, and set up the particle system to duplicate a collection, and pick your new tree collection.
- It’s either that, or you can make all the twigs real objects and join them into the tree, after you’ve grown the tree. Do note that this will create an immensely high-poly object, so you may want to reduce the polygons of the twig model before doing this. That way you lose all the benefits of the twig system, but you can scatter trees around the scene.
Whichever way you choose, do note that trees are immensely complicated objects which will slow down your viewport considerably, so consider setting the draw type to bounding box, and reduce the amount of particles drawn in the viewport.
Twigs are slowing down my viewport. Do you plan on making lower resolution versions?
The twigs system provides huge savings in memory and is quick to render. But the amount of polygons can have quite an impact on viewport performance. There are two easy ways to get back viewport speed.
The first solution makes use of Blender’s brilliant Decimate modifier. Decimate is to geometry what JPG is to images. It has a way of reducing just the right polygons while keeping UV mapping intact.
Add a Decimate modifier to your twig and set the Ratio slider to a low value. Don’t apply the modifier! In the header of the Decimate modifier’s panel you will find two icons, a camera and an eye. Click once on the camera to disable the modifier at render time. Your viewport (and viewport preview rendering) will now use the low resolution twig. Final renders will use the full resolution twig model.
You can also choose to use the Decimate modifier at render time or when exporting a 3D tree model to a different application.
EDIT: The Grove now automatically adds Decimate modifiers to twigs with the Viewport Detail parameter.
When you have many trees in your scene, even a decimated mesh may be too much to handle for your graphics card. That’s where the second solution kicks in, namely to change the way Blender draws particles. Select the tree object and head to the Particle Settings. Scroll all the way down to the Display Panel. Select Circle and increase the Draw Size to match the size of your twig. Repeat this process for the other particle systems, to make your viewport smooth again. When it comes time to render, Blender will use the original twig objects.
Are the Grove’s 3D trees suitable for use in game engines?
The twig system is very flexible. The twig 3D models made by the Grove are made for realism, they capture every detail in a twig. Although they take almost no memory with (GPU) rendering, they are not usable in game engines. However, you can make your own twigs with just the amount of detail you want. You can distribute your own low polygon image mapped branches.
How can I control the amount of polygons of the branches?
As a tree grows older, the branching structure can get quite complex. Although the twig system can save amazing amounts of memory, branches can also fill up your (GPU) memory quite quickly. You can control the reduction of the amount of polygons based on the thickness of the branch, for high poly trunks and low poly branch ends.
Do you plan on covering desert, sub-tropical, tropical and pine trees?
Absolutely, we plan on covering the entire world and are working hard on more twigs.
Does the Grove grow palm trees, bamboo and regular plants?
No. These plants are very regularly repeating structures. The Grove focuses on trees that evolve through branching. The Grove’s twigs are basically small plants, and these are also modeled by hand for the best quality and realism possible.
Can I render an animation of a growing tree?
Yes you can! Read the release notes for The Grove release 8 to learn more.