Vegetation is the name of another nature asset add-on for Blender. This time it focuses on trees, shrubs, and bushes exclusively. This is a smart move since digital 3D grass is a quite saturated market that needs some complementary assets in the Blender space.
In short, the assets are of high quality as expected, but they are also heavy to work with. The add-on is easy to use and has a straightforward interface. Apart from being high quality, the primary selling point is easy animation through the accompanying add-on.
The add-on is available on Blender market.
External link: Blendermarket Vegetation add-on (affiliate)
Vegetation is a 3D asset library. It contains trees, shrubs, bushes in various categories and some pots. The asset library is of high quality, as expected from a product at its current price point.
Aside from the high-quality models, the primary selling point is the animation system that comes with the assets.
Here are the asset categories:
The ornamental plants are groomed hedges and bushes. These are the thumbnails for this category in the Pro version of the add-on.
It is not obvious at first but the two first assets in this category are meant to be put into the pots. They are about ten times smaller than the other assets and first I thought it was a bug. But when the add-on creator pointed it out to me it was pretty obvious.
You could say that each asset come in four different variations, thanks to changes in the material that adapt the asset for each season.
As you import trees you will also notice that they differ slightly each time. The rotation, scale and colors are randomized slightly making it easy to insert variations quickly. A very welcome touch.
Here are some more examples of thumbnails in the add-on.
There are more assets, but this should give you a good overview. Keep in mind that there are no grass assets, even if there is grass in some thumbnails.
The assets work in both Eevee and Cycles as well. Perhaps even better in Eevee.
The assets look great, and it is quick and easy to bring them in with variations into a scene. Apart from the animation feature there are also some other neat functions, like snapping assets to the ground and randomizing variations of selected assets.
It comes in two different versions. Pro and lite, with lite containing about 40% of the nature assets.
I would say that this package primarily targets freelancers and studios that need to expand their nature asset library.
The lite asset pack may be more targeted towards hobbyists, but like all asset libraries, a lite version is often riskier.
If updates are released, you may or may not get them. You can't be sure while if you go with the Pro version, you know that if there is an update, you will get it.
They design the pack to work with architectural visualization and exteriors. Parks, gardens, and forests are the type of scenes that first come to mind.
It is too heavy for any real-time applications, but animations are high on the priority.
For anyone who is considering the Vegetation add-on, I would suggest having a decent desktop to work with. A fairly new core i7 32Gb of RAM and a decent graphics card with at least 8GB of memory is where I personally would draw the line.
In my case I unzipped the zip file the add-on came packaged in and pasted it into my add-ons folder. The add-on worked from the start with no issues, and I could enable it in preferences.
Once installed and activated, it appears in a new tab on the right-hand side of the 3D viewport. Open the N-panel and you will find it.
The tab is conveniently called "Vegetation".
If you have trouble installing it, I suggest you check out this article where you can learn more about installing and managing add-ons.
Related content: 30 Blender addons (install, manage, free and paid)
Once the add-on is installed and you found it in the interface, you have a thumbnail drop-down menu at the top. Here you find all the assets neatly divided into categories. There is also an "all" category that displays all assets available.
The interface is clean and meets my personal criteria for an asset add-on.
Assets come in as regular mesh objects with an animation controller parented to the asset. Leaves and trunk is contained in the same object with the leaves in their own vertex group. handy for easy selection and manipulation of both the trunk and the leaves separately.
Below the asset selector we can choose the season. As we change the season, the thumbnails will change and so will parameters for each of the asset to match the picked season.
We can also choose to add the asset to the 3D cursor or the center of the world. A nice addition.
Before we come to the animation settings, we also have a randomize operator and a snap tree to ground function. Both works well and I haven't found any bugs with them.
The randomize button will randomize some parameters of the selected assets but will stay within the season it was added as the first time.
It would have been nice to see that if we selected another season than the one, we originally picked the selected assets would adapt to that new season. Perhaps something for a future update.
The animation system is based on a simple deform modifier for the trunk and a displacement modifier for the leaves. Not revolutionary, but a well-tested system that gives believable results.
We can choose from some presets with different wind strengths.
We can further adjust the materials in the shader editor. For instance, we can add snow or moss on the trunk and change the season in the material.
There is primarily one node group for the trunk and one for the leaves.
In most scenarios, the assets look absolutely fantastic. There is no doubt about that. But there are a couple of things that concern me.
First, the mesh. Here is a comparison between an asset from the vegetation library and a generated tree trunk from the groove 3D Blender add-on.
The vegetation add-on has this kind of topology on all assets that I have tested. On closeups this sometimes causes shading artefacts and shadows can be jagged with this kind of topology. The assets are also harder to change with an uneven geometry.
Though I don't think this is a total deal breaker. You get a lot for your money with the vegetation add-on, but I think you should know the topology is far from ideal.
Here is an example leaf as well.
Transparency is heavily used in the materials and likely increase render times in Cycles. But in Eevee I think this works well. It seems to render as expected. In Eevee the alpha transparency mode is set to alpha hashed by default.
Related content: How to use alpha transparent textures in Blender
So, what is the final verdict?
The topology and heavy use of transparency is certainly drawbacks that you can feel when working with the assets. But at the same time, it is a well-made pack that looks great. The add-on is simple and works as it should and the animation features are very welcome.
As you may saw in one image above, I could render both aerial views and mid-range shots without a problem. Closeups also works well if you are not unlucky to get a trunk that has too bad topology in your shot.
External link: Blendermarket Vegetation add-on (affiliate)