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iToo Software has presented a new version of Forest Pack, its scattering plugin for 3DS Max. The latest update simplifies the user experience by letting the user customize rollouts and groups to reveal only the needed ones. It also adds resizeable lists, tooltips, and an icon creation mode.
Several significant new tools expand and improve Forest Pack’s already easy-to-use parametric workflow, opening up completely new ways of working with the plugin. For everyday users, new UI customization options allow you to adapt Forest Pack to suit the way you work.
Parametric distribution has been overhauled to make some areas of the plugin much faster and easier to edit. The new path option allows you to distribute objects interactively along a spline, and a new interactive reference mode lets you place and attach items to thousands of objects. The ability to place objects on particles opens up a whole new way of working with Forest Pack and exposes it to a huge range of new workflows.
This is the first Forest Pack release to include iToosoft’s Update Manager, a simplified way to download and manage presets, libraries and effects that separates the plugin from the content. Using Update Manager you only need to download what you need and it enables us to release new content at any time. Using the system you can download our latest libraries including a free high-quality tree pack, featuring 11 species ready to drop into your renders.
Decoupling the content from the core plugin also allows us to release new features at any time using Forest Effects. These are small expressions that can be used to extend the functionality of the plugin to do things that aren’t already a part of the core package. In this update, the entire effects system has been updated to introduce support for maps, curves, particle age, and speed, plus the ability to use multiple Forest Effects at one time. You can easily create your own effects and share them with colleagues or the wider community.
Finally, it wouldn’t be a Forest Pack release without improvements to performance and compatibility. 3ds Max 2019 is supported on its release, and for the first time both Forest Pack and RailClone are compatible with Arnold. Scattering performance is increased up to 150% when creating large distributions, and we’ve improved stability when working with V-Ray IPR mode.
As usual, a Lite version of this release is freely available to download and use commercially.
UI – your way!
Forest Pack was first released in 1999, and since that time it’s developed into one of, if not the, most advanced scatterer available for 3DS Max. We appreciate, however, that for some projects you don’t to use all of the features that the plugin has to offer, so in Forest Pack 6 we have made it easier to customise the plugin – your way.
The biggest change is the ability to choose to display only the rollouts you want to see. To turn rollouts on or off, go to the new Settings option in the General rollout. Here you’ll find a list of all the tools Forest Pack has to offer.
Just uncheck the ones you don’t regularly use and you end up with a much more streamlined interface for day-to-day use. Advanced users will also appreciate the option to disable the warning pop-ups that Forest Pack occasionally displays.
Once you’ve customised the rollouts, you can further modify the UI by collapsing unneeded groups. Go into any rollout and wherever you see the >> symbol you can hide the contents of that section. Just click it again to reverse the process.
There’s no need to save UI preferences either, your choices are retained between sessions so you don’t need to make changes every time you open Max.
Sometimes it’s the little things that make a big difference in day-to-day work. We’ve made a simple change to lists which are now resizeable, making it much easier to deal with scatters that use a large number of source objects. For items with long names, we’ve also added a tooltip to the list boxes. Just hover your mouse cursor over an item to see it’s full name.
RailClone users got used to being able to create an empty object without selecting something in the viewport just by clicking and dragging. Forest Pack now has this Icon mode option as well, creating a unified experience across our plugins and making it much easier to set up scatters using the new distribution modes.
Finally, another small change but one that had been regularly requested by users: It is now possible to select all of a Forest object’s dependencies (including geometry, areas, surfaces, etc) in a single click by picking Select All Forest Dependencies from the Quad menu. This is useful if you want to quickly save portions of your scene to a new file for use as an XRef or any other purpose.
New distribution modes
The Distribution rollout has been overhauled with several new and improved modes.
Image-based distribution remains the default, although even here we’ve added 13 new distribution maps to create more varied scatters. Brand new though is a drop-down menu found at the top of the rollout that allows you to switch to one of three new modes: Path, Reference or Particle Flow.
A new Path mode allows you to distribute objects along a spline with controls for adjustable spacing, the ability to offset objects either side of the spline, or alternatively to place items on vertices.
Multiple paths can be used by adding them to the spline list, and you can choose to randomize the order of items or even create patterns based on their order in the geometry list.
You can use all of Forest Packs existing transform randomization tools in this mode, but when it comes to rotation, you also have the option to automatically align objects so that they follow the direction of the path!