Forest Pack 7: See the light!
You asked, we listened - Forest Pack 7 is out now with a glittering lineup of features and updates that cement its reputation as the most powerful and flexible scattering tool on the market.
Whether you're working with offline renderers or real-time engines, Forest Pack 7 remains the gold standard in scattering and scene layout for 3DS Max.
For this release we focused on significantly expanding Forest Pack 7’s versatility, starting with adding the ability to scatter nearly any type of object. For the first time ever, it is now possible to scatter lights using any of Forest Pack’s powerful distribution modes and randomisation tools.
The new release also adds real-time support with a new beta exporter for Unity alongside support for Chaos Vantage and Unreal Engine via Datasmith. We’ve striven to improve feature parity between the existing supported renderers, and now Corona users can benefit from Forest Pack’s invaluable animation modes. Our API has been updated too, so expect other renderers to follow suit in the future.
A completely rewritten library browser makes using finding and using assets a pleasure. A highlight of the update is the new one-click add object option for adding the selected assets in a scene to a collection.
Talking of assets, colour correcting materials when they come from different sources just got much easier thanks to new tools that allow you to quickly tweak the hue, saturation and value of entire scatters, and even limit the affected colours based on their hue.
Other new features include an improved distribution reference mode that allows you to scatter multiple items per face, support for gbuffer render passes in V-Ray, improvements to make it easier to add scatter objects to the items list, Solo mode in the modifier panel that keeps only one rollout open at a time, items now align with the z position of a spline plus much more.
In addition to new features, Forest Pack 7 also adds new content. Two completely new libraries are included, bringing the total number to 15 collections, comprising over 430 individual presets and assets. As always, these libraries are included free of charge, in fact. buying the libraries separately would almost certainly cost several times the price of the plugin!
Despite the name, now more than ever, Forest Pack is about far more than just scattering trees and plants. Check out the video above for an illuminating overview of what’s new, or read on for 10 good reasons to download Forest Pack 7.
Forest Pack 7's top 10 features
1 - You can now scatter lights
One of the most popular requests in the last few years was that ability to scatter lights. We’re happy to announce that with the release of Forest Pack 7 this is now a reality!
In Corona, you can even use Forest Colour to randomise the tint and intensity of the lights and remix them using Light Lister. If you need hundreds or even thousands of lights in your scene, Forest Pack 7 is the perfect tool for the job.
Sorry, did we say lights? In fact Forest Pack 7 can scatter nearly any other non-geometric object too, including helper objects, VDB volumes (in Corona), splines, and more.
2 - Speed up lookdev with colour correctable scatters
We all use assets from various sources, whether that’s commercial libraries, the built-in collections, or our own models. The trouble with mixing items is that the colours may not work well together and editing the often complex materials can be a real chore!
To resolve this, Forest Pack 7 adds a set of colour correction tools to the Materials rollout that allow you to adjust the hue, saturation and value of every object in a scatter.
If you want to only adjust a part of the scatter, for example, to tweak the leaves but not the trunk and branches of a tree, then you can isolate which colours to correct based on a Hue range. This makes it an incredibly fast and flexible way to make mass changes.
3 - Animation Randomisation in Corona
In this release, Corona gains the ability to scatter and control animated objects. All 4 animation modes are supported so users can randomise the starting point of animations, offset them using a map, control the absolute frames using a texture, or even manipulate playback using Forest Effects.
4 - Export to real-time engines
We can’t ignore that real-time games engines are becoming an important part of our users’ day-to-day workflows, so for this release, we’ve added new features to make it easier than ever to export to other platforms. You can now export scatters using a new early-release feature of Forest Tools and then import them into Unity to take advantage of Unity’s Hybrid Rendering technology for efficient real-time instancing. All this in addition to support for our Forest Pack and RailClone by Chaos Vantage and Unreal (using its powerful Datasmith plugin and associated modifiers).
5 - Single Click add to library browser
How often have you wished you could quickly add new assets and presets to the library so you can use them in other projects? Well, now you can!
Forest Pack 7 includes new library management tools that with one click allow you to add selected objects to the library, collect the necessary assets, build a material library and generate thumbnails. If the library is saved in a network location, it will even become instantly available to the rest of your team.
Far more than just one new feature, the library browser has actually been entirely rewritten from the ground up to ensure it is future proof and easy to update. Along the way we’ve added lots of new usability improvements including a new inspection pane to show you more information about what you have selected, improved selection techniques, new search tools, the ability to control where the free libraries are saved and more.
6 - New Tree Stumps library
Talking of libraries, it wouldn’t be a Forest Pack release without a healthy dose of new content. In the real world, forests are carefully managed, trees are cut down and coppiced regularly. To help you create more believable areas of woodland we’ve added 40 high-quality photoscanned tree stumps to help bring your scenes to life. We’ve even included optimised presets for populating large areas in a couple of clicks.
7 - New Hedges Library
Want more? You’re in luck! Also included is a complete library of 89 cut hedge presets. 10 species are included in five heights ranging from 0.5m to 2.5m that are easy to layout using splines. For more irregular forms, each species has a “topiary” preset that can be scattered on a surface to create any shape of hedge. Several mixed topiary presets are also included for some great looking multi-species hedges.
Even More?? We’ve also added a selection of free samples from The3DGarden.
8 - Improved Reference mode
The release makes the reference mode much more useful. In previous versions, reference mode was able to put a single item at the centre of a reference triangle. In the new version, the position can be randomised, and you have the option to specify the number of items to add per triangle. You can filter by material ID too. For some cases, this can be a handy alternative to using Forest’s Surface scatter modes.
9 - Easier item selection
Sometimes it’s the little things that make a big difference, and when it comes to selecting assets to scatter, small gains can save you a lot of time in the long run. We’ve made it easier than ever to select and scatter assets, starting with a new creation mode. Here’s how it works: first select the objects you want to scatter; next select Forest Pack from the creation panel; finally, select a spline or surface area. That’s all you need to set up a basic scatter.
There’s also a new way to add assets to the items list, and finally adding a new item automatically activates the object picker so you can immediately select what you want to scatter from the scene!
10 - Lots of other feature enhancements and usability improvements
There’s plenty more to get excited about including GBuffer support for V-Ray, a new Spotlight mode in the interface keeps only one rollout open at a time, Forest Colour working on instantiated items, the ability to specify where to save our free libraries, improved randomness for non-image based distribution modes, V-Ray now uses the materials assigned to each custom object, optimisations for interactive rendering, and scattered items now respect the Z position of individual spline areas.
Where to download?
If you've heard enough and you can’t wait to give it a try, Forest Pack 7 is available right now from your User Panel. Just visit the My Products section to download
(Note Forest Pack 7 requires a license update. See this post on our knowledge base for details.). If your maintenance has expired, don’t worry it can be renewed for another year with no penalty for lapsed plans.
Never tried Forest Pack?
If you’ve yet to discover the benefits of Forest Pack, then there's never been a better time. You can try the Lite version free of charge, even commercially. Just visit the product page or use the button below to download the installer. When you're ready to upgrade for the full experience, you can purchase Forest Pack Pro from out online store.