This FAQ is a constant work in progress. It hopefully answers most questions. More documentation and tutorials are being worked on.
If you do 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.
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 export to other software.
No. We have users all over the world, and we want you to cherry pick a bundle of twigs that represents the trees of your region.
When using a twig from the twig picker menu, The Grove makes sure the twigs are kept in the scene. But if you manually import a twig from another file, it may disappear.
This has to do with how Blender Addons work, specifically how Operators work. Operators like the Grove create a lot of 3D data and materials. Each time your tree updates, this data is added to your 3D scene. To keep the scene clean, Blender performs an undo just before the Addon is called to do its work. This leaves your 3D scene in the state it was in just before you called the Grove. Quite brilliant, but very frustrating if you’re not aware.
The solution is to first append or link your twig model, and then call the Grove anew. Learn more about Creating and Using Twigs
Unfortunately, not at this time. This also has to do with the way Operators work in Blender. As soon as you use other tools in Blender, your tree will be set in stone. You can not come back and edit the tree or continue growing. I am investigating ways around this, and work is being done to restructure the implementation of the Grove to support it.
When you call the Grove, it checks if you have objects selected. If any of these objects are Empty Objects (Nulls), it will use their location and rotation as the start of a tree. Add as many as you like and start growing groves of trees!
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, to change the way Blender draws particles. Select one of the two twig duplicator objects 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 twig duplicator object. Viewport should be smooth again. While at render time, Blender will use the twig object.
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.
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 reduce the amount of polygons when using the Advanced Mesh build type. It allows you to reduce the profile resolution based on the thickness of the branch, for high poly trunks and low poly branch ends.
Absolutely, we plan on covering the entire world and are working hard on more twigs.
No. These plants are very regularly repeating structures. The Grove focuses on trees that evolve through branching.
Unfortunately, no. Although the algorithm is perfect for it, Blender’s operators cannot be animated. We are however investigating a different approach that might make this work.