Quick Start

The Grove is a 3D tree growing software that makes growing 3D trees easy and fast.

After installing the Addon in Blender, head to the 3D view and press SHIFT+A for the Add menu. Go to Mesh, then pick The Grove. Press T to toggle the toolbar. The lower part of the toolbar is where you’ll find the interface for The Grove. You might need to drag up the operator options from the bottom, as the tool tabs take up most space by default. If you can’t find The Grove’s interface, click the small plus sign at the very bottom.

Get Growing

To start growing your first tree, simply press Grow a couple of times and watch nature take its course! Pressing the button will cycle through the seasons, first pruning last year’s growth, then growing and bending new branches.

You may want to lower Add Years to 1 to see what’s going on each year. Continue pressing Grow. As the tree grows taller, you’ll notice weaker branches being dropped, heavier branches bending down under their own weight, and all kinds of other effects that form a tree during its life. I hope this gets you excited now you see how easy The Grove is to work with. Next, I’ll go over the most important shaping parameters. Press Restart to start over.

Shaping the tree

Start by growing some of the 40 presets – they cover a wide range of tree characters.

Like in the real world, pruning your tree can have a big impact. Pruning can be done at any time during a tree’s life. To prune, you first have to draw a cutting line in the 3D view. Press and hold D while click-and-dragging to draw a line. Then click Prune to make it happen. Then continue to grow your tree and keep removing unwanted growth.

When you’re ready, try tweaking some of the more advanced parameters that make a tree grow the way it does. There are many parameters in the Flow and Turn panels. Some of them are straightforward, others need some explanation. Hover your mouse over any parameter to read its tooltip. Try regrowing your tree with different settings, experimenting is the best way to learn.

To get a feeling of some of these parameters, let’s pick the Ash preset. After growing an Ash with the preset settings, change Favor Bright to 0.0 and watch it grow a very different tree.

Then you may increase Favor Lead to say 0.8. Observe how this will squeeze the energy out of newly added side branches.

Some of the most interesting effects reside in the Turn tab. Let’s reload the Ash presets to get the default values back. Then scroll down to the Turn tab and have a look a To Gravity and To Gravity When Shaded. Ash trees have quite heavy branches, but they still manage to strongly grow upward, away from gravity. The strong negative value will bend the growth of new branches away from gravity. If you change both values to 0.0 you can observe the full effect of gravity, and it will grow a completely different tree. Try -3.0 And +2.0 to have shaded branches grow down, it produces a pleasing shape.

Try playing around with the other parameters in the Turn tab and remember to hover over them to get an explanation of the effect.

When tweaking growth parameters, it is best to do this without twigs, to better see the branching structure.

Bending

When you have a tree standing, try fiddling with the Bend parameters. Branch Weight and Leaf Weight are pretty self explanatory and fun and interactive to play with.

Note that you can adjust bending at any time during a tree’s life, but bending is also done during growth cycles. When a branch bends further, its leaves might shade a branch below. The pruning algorithm will then prune the lower branches. Thus Pruning, Bending and Growing all work in concert producing a well balanced crown shape – and changing the branch weight requires a regrowth of the tree. Cumulative bending through the years can have a big impact on the tree’s final shape.

Adding Thickness

It would make no sense to define the trunk thickness, as this would change every year. Instead, each branch’s thickness is calculated from the tips down to the base. Starting with Tip Thickness, each node’s thickness is increased with Internode Gain.

When a node is a branching point where one branch splits into two or even three branches, the Branching Thickness Exponent comes into play, which calculates a realistic addition, based on the cross sections of the node’s sub branches. Try playing with this value, it’s fun.

But hey, what just happened to my tree?! As you will see, changing branch thickness will do much more, the entire tree changes shape! As with many of The Grove’s parameters, they all depend on each other. Adding thickness lowers the effect of gravitational bending – although a thicker branch weighs more, the added thickness adds much more strength to a branch. This is just one example of the “butterfly effect” that resonates through all parameters. Creating your perfect tree is a balancing act – don’t be afraid to experiment and regrow.

Adding twigs

To add twigs or leaves, simply pick them from the your library using the twig picker menu. You can also use any 3D object in your scene. Apical twigs are distributed at branch ends, while lateral twigs grow alongside branches. Play around with the twig parameters like Density, and if you’re unsure what a parameter does, remember to hover over it to show its tooltip.

Twigs can represent one, two or even more years of growth. They can also be a single leaf. The best workflow is to always tweak Scale to Match Twig and Density after selecting a new twig or preset.

To keep it fun, especially when trying out every parameter, it is handy to start Blender from a terminal. It will show you what’s happening under the hood. And if you accidentally started a simulation cycle of a 1000 years, the way to stop it is to press CTRL+C in the terminal.

Finish growing

There is no button to stop The Grove. You just keep growing and tweaking until you’re satisfied. While growing, a lot of Blender’s functionality is at your disposal. You can view your tree from all angles and even enable interactive viewport rendering.

But beware! Using many of Blender’s tools will stop The Grove and make your tree final. To save you from accidentally stopping The Grove, I will quickly explain how Blender operators like The Grove work. Only one operator can be active. When you want to rotate your tree while growing, the Transform operator will activate and The Grove operator will be finalized. There’s no way to continue growing the tree.

While growing, you can tweak materials, render dimensions, any property you see on screen. Don’t! When pressing the Grow button or tweaking any parameter in The Grove, Blender covertly calls for an Undo. This conveniently cleans up the previous tree model and its associated materials, particle systems. Yet it will also revert any other changes you made. Something to keep in mind.

Now you’re up to speed, Learn about all of The Grove’s features.