After installing the add-on in Blender, you will find The Grove in the 3D view. Open up the side bar with the N-key. Click on The Grove and add a new grove.
The Grove is a 3D tree growing software that makes growing 3D trees easy and fast. To start growing your first tree, simply press Grow a couple of times and watch nature take its course… Clicking grow will start a simulation cycle with many steps – first pruning last year’s growth, adding new branches, then growing, bending and thickening new branches.
You may want to lower the number of growth Cycles to 1 to see what’s going on each single year. Continue pressing Grow and as the tree grows taller you’ll notice weaker branches being dropped, heavier branches bending down under their own weight – all kinds of effects that form a tree during its life.
Try growing some of the many included presets – they cover a wide range of tree characters. 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
Like in the real world, pruning your tree has a big impact. Pruning can be done at any time during a tree’s life. It’s good practice to grow in 5-year increments, and after each cycle you can prune your tree if necessary, to guide and shape your tree.
Click Prune and then draw cutting lines in the 3D view. Press SPACE to confirm and cut the branches. After pruning, you can 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, while others need some explanation. Hover your mouse over any parameter to read its tooltip. Try re-growing 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 could increase Favor End 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. Next, scroll down to the Turn tab and take a look a To Gravity and To Gravity When Shaded. Ash trees have quite heavy branches, but they still manage to strongly grow upwards, 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 – remember to hover over them to get an explanation of the effect.
When tweaking growth parameters, it is best to do it without twigs, to better see the branching structure.
When you have a tree standing, try fiddling with the Bend parameters. Branch Weight and Leaf Weight are pretty self explanatory, as well as being 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.
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 Thicken > Tips.
When a node is a branching point where two or more branches merge into one, the Thicken > Join Branches 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 – in fact, 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.
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.
There is no button to stop The Grove – you just keep growing and tweaking until you’re satisfied. While growing, all of Blender’s functionality is at your disposal. You can view your tree from all angles and even enable interactive viewport rendering. You can come back to your tree at any time to continue to grow, prune or tweak the tree’s twigs.
Now that you’re up to speed, Learn about all of The Grove’s features.