Using and creating twigs
Can I use my own model as a twig? Can I just distribute simple leaves? Yes, you can! Read on to find out how.
What is a twig
A twig is a 3D model that represents the last generations of tree growth – a small branch. You can use any polygonal object as a twig. Twigs are distributed at branch ends to add incredible realism to your trees.
The twig system is very flexible. The twig models sold on this site are made for realism, they capture every detail in a twig. Although they take almost no memory with GPU rendering, the resulting 3D trees are not usable in game engines. But you can make your own twigs with just the amount of detail you want. You can distribute your own low polygon image mapped branches.
Using The Grove’s twigs
To use a twig, it has to be in your scene. You can use any 3D object, just append or link it into your working scene. Release 6 introduced an automated twig picker menu that lists all twigs in a folder. Simply click on a twig and it will be appended to your scene and used on your tree. To find the twigs, configure the folder in which you store them in The Grove’s user preferences.
Adjusting to the twig’s scale
Twigs and presets are two completely separate things, so you can use any twig on any preset. Of course it would look silly to use a walnut twig on a pine preset, but with some common sense you can use a single twig on more than one preset.
The first thing to do when picking a twig for your tree is to adjust the preset to match the size of the twig. For instance the Paper Birch twig comes in several variations, one covering a bigger branch that the other. So after picking a twig, adjust the Scale in the Simulate panel to make it look right. You may also have to tweak the lateral twig Density in the Twig panel.
Organizing your twigs folder
The Grove expects your twigs folder to be structured in a certain way. Let’s call this folder Twigs – you can place it anywhere you like. If you’ve purchased a twig, simply unzip it and place the folder into the Twigs folder. As an example, let’s use an ash twig and an elm twig. Your Twigs folder will now have two sub folders called AshTwig and FieldElmTwig. Each of these will contain the .blend files for the twigs and each of them will have a separate textures folder. Leave these textures where the are – do not move them to the bark textures folder.
Create your own twigs
You can use any 3D object as a twig by setting the twig picker menu to Scene Objects. Then pick objects from the scene for the end and side twigs.
There are just two things to keep in mind when using an object as a twig. First, its origin (pivot point) should be at the start of the branch. To do this, first place the 3D cursor at the start of the branch. Then press the space bar and search for Set Origin and click it. Then select Origin to 3D Cursor.
Second, the Grove assumes the branch is pointing in the direction of the X-axis. This means that when you are in top view, the base of the branch should be on the left, and it should be growing out to the right. When you’ve got the twig pointing in the right direction, you have to apply its rotation and scale by pressing Ctrl+A and picking Rotation & Scale.
Listing twigs in the menu
If you’ve created a twig yourself, you may want to list it in the twigs menu so that you can use it in other scenes. You can do this by saving a clean .blend file with just the twigs in the folder that you configured in the user preferences. There is a simple naming convention to follow. You can name your apical twig any way you want, but make sure to include ApicalTwig in the name. Same for lateral twigs, include LateralTwig in the name. If you have a single twig to be used for both, you can just include Twig in the name.
Simple twig starter pack
To get you started, here is a small selection of extremely simple twig models that was used early on in development. They have no textures and their geometry is very crude. Play around with these twigs to see how twigs of different sizes work and how even simple twigs can have a high impact. For these simple twigs, you will want to set the Viewport Detail to 1.0, or you will get funky geometry.
To learn more about twigs and how to distribute them, read Build.