In this top 10 list we explore the best add-ons for Blender to use when creating nature environments. All of these add-ons have high quality and comes at different price ranges. This is the list of add-ons we will take a closer look at.
These are the add-ons we are going to cover in this article:
These add-ons fulfill a wide range of functions, from asset libraries featuring grass, rocks and trees to add-ons that generate geometry or help you light the scene. Some are material related while the last one is an alternative to the official build of Blender that will speed up your rendering significantly if you have a fairly recent Nvidia GPU.
Let's dive in.
With this add-on you get the best grass assets available for Blender in my opinion. Julius Harling, the guy behind Graswald is a great guy who has put his soul into this and has been very responsive when there has been any problem for me.
Graswald is an asset library with over seven hundred unique grass assets. There are multiple variations for each gras species. Including longer and shorter variations and with aging kept in mind.
The models are relatively efficient when considering the high quality. It is not something that you take and put into you game but for any visualization, images, or animation they are gorgeous.
Recently the Graswald team released a scatter add-on to improve the functionality for scattering your assets. It is free for anyone and you can get it here:
External content: GScatter for Blender
Graswald also includes weeds, leaves to scatter and a few different flower species that really help to sell the overall feel of real grass.
You can read my full review here:
Related content: Graswald review
Or go directly to their website:
External content: Graswald website
Botaniqs strength is threefold. It covers many areas of nature. From grass to shrubs, plants, and trees. The add-on is easy to use, and the assets feel very efficient to work with.
If you are just going to get one add-on for your nature environment scenes, I would get this one. There is a vast variety of assets available as well as detailed settings for anyone who want to customize to their hearts content.
I can easily see myself pull off a nature scene or garden in record time with this add-on.
The asset quality is excellent, and it comes with varieties such as succulents, palm trees and a pot collection to combine the included plants with for interior scenes.
Botaniq has developed rapidly over the last years and they keep adding assets. In a recent update they also added rocks as an asset type with a nice collection to start with.
Animation is another recent update.
The team behind Botaniq, Polygoniq also makes a handful of other add-ons of very high quality. Traffiq, Materialiq and Renderset.
Check out my reveiew here:
Related content: Botaniq review
Or grab it from Blendermarket.
External content: Blendermarket: Botaniq
The Grove 3D is the best add-on available to create trees in Blender. It is very simple to get started. After you install the add-on you can select a precet and start to generate trees of that type.
This is not an asset library, instead this add-on generates trees based on a very advanced algorithm. The benefit is that you get an infinite number of trees with great topology and control.
The downside is that you need to bring your own twigs or buy them separately from the site. You also need your own bark textures.
But given the number of trees and variety you can get from this add-on it is simply the best option for creating trees in Blender.
If you think the price tag is a bit too steep, you can check out my guide to the built-in sapling tree generator. It is a much more capable tree generator than what it generally gets credit for.
Related content: How to create realistic 3D trees with the sapling add-on and Blender
The grove itself can be found here:
External content: The Grove 3D website
It wasn't too long ago I got this add-on. But I can say that it is now the default way for me to add light to my scenes. This add-on is a "sky creator" if you will that prides on using real-world values to generate the most realistic sky lighting possible.
I used to get HDRI images from hdrihaven.com, and I still do, but a lot of the time I just stick to turning on this add-on and adjust the settings until I get the lighting I want.
One of the advantages with a procedural sky system is that you can animate the parameters. Something that we can't do very well with an HDRI image.
It is a really cool add-on that can reduce the time it takes for you to light your environment scenes tremendously.
Apart from a sky with a sun and starts a recent update has also added procedural clouds as a beta feature to check out. It looks very promising in my opinion.
If you are interested, check it out here:
External content: Blendermarket: Physical starlight and atmosphere
This is an alternative to physical starlight and atmosphere, and I would say that they are pretty much on par with each other in terms of quality. True-Sky has a few different tires with different functionality, and you can read up on the differences on the sales page.
Pure-Sky focuses primarily on Eevee with a lot of post-processing effects built into the add-on. For instance, lens flare, volume and cloud features. These are all Eevee only.
It also features shadow catcher.
If you are primarily using Cycles, I would probably go with Physical starlight and atmosphere, but for those that also work a lot in Eevee, Pure-Sky is a great option.
External content: Blendermarket: Pure-Sky
Not really an add-on, but a great product none the less. These are two great asset packs made by CGGeek. It is perfect for those that are on a tight budget but want to have some high-quality nature assets to play with while at the same time support a great Blender content creator.
These are really two packs, one tree pack and one nature asset pack at just $10 each.
In the tree pack there are four different trees. That may not sound like a lot but the material randomizations help to create a surprising amount of variation.
The nature pack has a good amount of variety, with some grass, plants, leaves and rocks. All models are relatively low poly and won't bring down your scene even at relatively high number of scattered assets.
You can check out the packs here:
External content: Realistic Tree asset pack
External content: Realistic Nature asset pack
ANT landscape is a built-in landscape noise generator tool. It can generate a wide range of landscapes in different sizes. From mountains to valleys and plains to name a few variations.
It is relatively easy to use with straight forwards settings. The add-on is included in Blender so all you need to do is to enable it in your user preferences.
If you want a guide on how to use it, I have written one that you can access here:
Related content: How to use Blenders free terrain generator: ANT Landscape add-on
This add-on is made out of pure genius. It allows you to access many of the free cc0 asset libraries that you can find on the internet directly from within Blender. Sites like texturehaven, cc0textures and hdrihaven to name the most common ones.
Related content: Top 10 material libraries for Blender artists
You can open a webbrowser and and copy paste the url into this add-on and it will download the selected texture resolution and setup a material based on the principled bsdf shader using the textures from the URL.
It can improve your material workflow quite a lot and it is free, just like the texture libraries you can access with it.
Get it here:
External content: Lilys surface scraper
Extreme PBR is one of my absolute favorite add-ons, much like Lilys surface scraper, it takes advantage of the many cc0 texture libraries out there and bundles them all up into one neat add-on.
It adds features to control certain parameters for the materials from its own add-on interface making it easy to adjust any material imported from the library.
There is a huge upfront download since it includes over 1100 materials, but once you have downloaded and installed it, it is super easy to use and fast since you already have the library locally on your hard drive.
External content: Blendermarket Extreme PBR
Related content: Top 10 material libraries for Blender artists
K-Cycles is not an add-on, instead it is a completely new build of Blender that focuses on improving Cycles. Giving it substantial speed improvements and several post-processing effects as well as a great denoiser.
K-Cycles requires a relatively new Nvidia Graphics card and is only available for Windows users. But the speed improvements alone are worth the low cost of this build.
On top of that the developer has worked hard to introduce several post-processing effects right into Cycles, such as bloom, flares, tone mapping to name a few.
If you already have a 20xx or 10xx series Nvidia graphics card and want to improve both the render speed and remove some or all of your post-processing effects, get this.
External content: Blendermarket: K-Cycles
There are many great add-ons for Blender these days and both the quality and the market as a whole is growing every day. Today we looked at some of the best add-ons for working with environments in Blender. Helping with things like assets, lighting, rendering and materials.
If you found this article to be useful, make sure that you check out the Artisticrender book. It can also help you to become a better Blender artist.
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