Bionatics, developer of 3D plant modeling and simulation tools for the CG industry, launched version 4 of its 3D plant modeler natFX for 3ds max.
natFX's version 4 offers new features including the addition of a new modeling function for real-time called "Volumetric Mode", as well as "Sculpt Trunk", which is used to sculpt and deform trunks to give trees a more realistic form.
The "Volumetric Mode" combines a full 3D modeling for trunk and main branches with impostors facing the camera for the foliage. This technique associates realism of the tree with medium polygon count and low texture count. It also privileges the density of the foliage while respecting the architecture of the branches.
The "Sculpt Trunk" features allow the control of the roughness of the trunk. This feature is useful to create natural roots at the bottom of the trunk to give a nice connection with the ground. The user has access to a library of various displacement maps samples which could be applied to the trunk of any plants. Users can also create their own displacement maps to create special effects on the trunk such as nodes, cracks, bumps or any kind of deformation.
These additions were developed in keeping with full compatibility with the Mental Ray rendering engine. Progress was also made with regards to memory consumption which has been reduced allowing the user to heavily populate scenes with even a greater number of trees. Tree animation skeletons can now be exported to real-time engines in 3ds Max format.
"This latest version was developed to integrate even better into an Autodesk 3ds Max production workflow," said Stephan Gourgout, Vice President and Sales Director. "It answers, in large part, the needs requested for the last 12 months by our clients from the varied industries such as architectural visualization, to the production requirements of the video game industry and the 3D animation film studios, who need to build rapidly complex real-time or pre-rendered scenes."