Read the latest developments from iToo Software

Wednesday, 18-march-2020


#VisualisingAtHome is our modest attempt to mitigate the trials of working from home in the Archviz industry. It’s a way for us to come together, though we are physically more apart than ever, and stay strong as a community.

Wherever we live, we’re going to be adjusting to some changes to our working habits for the next few weeks. It is everyone’s responsibility to get through this challenging time as quickly as we can by staying at home to quell the spread of the virus. 

But that doesn’t mean we can’t talk. To build solidarity, stave off loneliness, relieve anxiety, and prevent boredom, we thought we could share something every day using the tag #VisualisingAtHome for the duration of the lock-down, a kind of light-hearted quarantine diary if you will. A tutorial, WIP render, a case study a handy tip or trick, an interesting article, it doesn’t matter. The important thing is that we talk. We encourage artists to follow up by sharing their stories as well.

And remember, if you have any questions during this time, we are still here and you can reach us as normal on

Stay safe! 

The iToo Software team


Day 1 - Try not to climb the walls (build them instead)

Boredom easily sets in when you are #visualisingAtHome, but you can make the most out of any free time you might have, rekindle your interests, and polish your skills by learning new tricks. At iToosoft, we’re taking this opportunity to go back through our catalogue of classic #ForestPack and #RailClone tutorials to identify those that are still worth a look, and update others to take into consideration recent changes to our plugins.

So first up, let’s go back in time 7 years. Who watched our Masonry Wall tutorial when it was published way back in 2013?

It was one of the first tutorials released when the new node-based version of RailClone was announced and to this day we think it still does a pretty good job of going over the basics.  Still, RailClone - and our tutorials - certainly have come a long way since then!

Take a trip back in time and watch the Masonry Wall tutorial here:

Day 2 - See the Lite

#visualisingAtHome can be a great opportunity to learn some new skills. As well as working hard on the development on Forest Pack 7 (more about that soon), some of our team are polishing their skills in photogrammetry for new libraries, Unity, Unreal, Substance tools and lots more!

What new skills are you planning to learn? 

If you're new to Forest Pack, then we’ve got a great tutorial to help users who want to learn the basics using the free Lite version. There’s even a quick introduction to RailClone at the end too, so  If you’ve been waiting for an opportunity to learn Forest Pack, there is no better place to start:

Day 3 - Take stock of successes 

Now more than ever it’s important to highlight our shared successes. So, while #visualisingAtHome today we’re also celebrating the 15th anniversary of Evermotion. 

To mark the occasion, Evermotion has kindly given away a whole scene, with interiors and exteriors, completely free.  Not only is it full of handy looking models, but the exterior vegetation is all scattered using #ForestPack and should be easy to reuse in other scenes. 

Check it out on Evermotion’s website:

Day 4 - Here’s mud in UI!

Take time to save time with the latest quick tip tutorial in which we share a couple of things you can to help speed up Forest Pack’s user interface draw speed, which for some users has slowed down in recent Max releases.

We’ve looked into this, but it would appear to be down to the switch of 3DS Max’s UI to QT - especially on PCs that have multiple CPUS such as Dual-Xeon and Ryzen processors. Unfortunately, the underlying issue is a bit outside of our control, but we are currently trying our best to make improvements.

Until then, perhaps these tips will help out while you’re #visualisingAtHome:

Day 5 - Break down complex tasks

While #visualisingAtHome today we were discussing the best ways to deliver new training. We’re considering splitting long tutorials into smaller more manageable chunks. 

Some of earlier tutorials were released in this format such as this Stadium tutorial that has a separate video for the guard rails, advertising hoarding, seating, audience and roof. Is this something you would prefer?

Day 6 -  Master distribution modes

If you already know the basics of Forest Pack but you never had time to go further, the intermediate Modern Barns tutorial might be a worthwhile watch while #VisualisingAtHome. Almost all of this 5 part series is still relevant today. All that is apart from the spline cloning tool which was rewritten in Forest Pack 6 to be fully parametric. It can now be found in the Distribution rollout along with the ability to scatter on PFlow and Reference objects. 

Here’s the original tutorial:
And here’s a video about the updated distribution modes:

Day 7 -  Put some (RailClone) colour into your life

If you have some spare time today while #VisualisingAtHome, we recommend taking a look at RailClone Colour, a map that’s capable of randomising bitmaps and/or applying tints from a map or a gradient. It’s even possible for it to sample a colour from a surface to create patterns.

If you’re thinking that sounds a lot like Forest Colour, you’d be right! It’s basically the same features you’ll find in Forest Pack, though fewer people are aware of it. Like Forest Colour, RailClone Colour is also included in the Lite edition.  Here are 4 short videos that take you through the main features.

Day 8 -  Turn over a new leaf

Spring was in the air today while we were #visualisingAtHome, and with the leaves on the trees about to explode into colour, now would seem like a good time to revisit how to randomise, tint and control foliage textures using Forest Colour. The tutorial discusses Autumn leaves, but the techniques are a great way to add variation any time of the year.

Day 9 - Use a farm to stay calm

When #VisualisingAtHome you may not have access to the rendering horsepower you did at the office. Instead of waiting around for render to finish, one solution is to send your work to a cloud-based render farm. Here’s a list of render farms that are up to date and compatible with Forest Pack and RailClone:

Day 10  - One touch of nature makes the whole world kin

Remember nature? You know, that green stuff that birds live in? We’re sure you do, but to help jog our memories while we’re #VisualisingAtHome, here’s a tutorial that explains how to create plant-packed renders in little more than an afternoon.

Day 11  - Lifting the curtain

This was the first tutorial that explained how the 2D array in RailClone works. It shows you how to create a procedural building facade and it’s still relevant today. The only small change is that we made it easier to draw the Y Spline. In the Generator’s settings you can now choose if it is calculated on the XY or the YZ axis! Check it out if you have a few minutes while #VisualisingAtHome

Day 12 - Working together 

When #VisualisingAtHome collaboration is more important than ever. In this tutorial, we worked with Bertrand Benoit to explain how RailClone can be used to model modular architecture. It covers several handy techniques to make an almost entirely procedural modular atrium by creating glass facades, an elaborate elevator shaft, plus a skylight and tiled floor.

Day 13 - Get inspired!

If you’re #VisualisingAtHome and you miss the beach, why not take a look at this guest tutorial by Mickael Riciotti who was Inspired recreate the sand from Pixar’s short film Piper using 3ds Max, V-Ray and Forest Pack Pro.

Day 14 - Mending fences

If you have a spare 5 minutes today while #VisualisingAtHome, check out how to use the Sub-Evenly macro for RailClone. It allows you to distribute regularly spaced items in between existing evenly segments. Perfect for picket fences! The macro is currently only available in the tutorial’s exercise files so be sure to download them from the tutorial page:

Day 15 - Keep trying not to climb the walls (scatter plants on them instead)

Today’s recommended tutorial while #VisualisingAtHome was one of our most popular when it was released. It addresses a question we still often get asked - how do you scatter items on a vertical surface? The most common reason for this question is for creating green walls. In fact, it was requested so often we added the presets to the built-in library making them even easier to create! 


Vertical Surfaces:
Using the green walls library:

Day 16 - Have an eggcellent day!

Many of us may have a day off from #VisualisingAtHome today thanks to Easter holidays. If you’re still at work though, you can still mark the occasion by taking another look at a special Easter-themed instalment of our quick tips tutorials for #RailClone and #RailCloneLite.

Day 18 - Tutorial Tuesday: Creating Gutter in 3ds Max with RailClone

If you have a spare 3 minutes while #visualisingAtHome today, why not watch our latest user requested tutorial and learn how to use the gutter and downpipe presets that are included with #RailClone Pro.

Day 19 - Trim the hedges (not real ones, think of the nesting birds!)

When #VisualisingAtHome, the chances are we’re all spending more time than usual in our gardens. Why not use that time as inspiration to create some digital topiary with help from this tutorial that explains how to create hedges of any shape using #ForestPack Pro.

Day 20 - Master surfaces

Today’s recommended tutorial while #VisualisingAtHome looks at how to use Forest Pack's surface tools to quickly populate entire scenes with ecosystems that adapt according to the terrain’s elevation. In the process we share 11 tips for creating this lake scene that can be applied to scattering geometry and optimising renders to create similar environments.

Day 21 - Forest Pack, it’s not just for trees

For today’s tutorial, while #VisualisingAtHome we’d like to share a tutorial to remind you that, despite the name, Forest Pack has many many uses beyond plants and foliage. In fact, lots of our user’s tell us they use #ForestPack to scatter all kinds of weird and wonderful things. Have you used #ForestPack for something other than plants? We’d love to hear about it in the comments.

Day 23 - Making material improvements

Isn’t it nice when things get a little bit easier? Since we recorded this tutorial on creating Cityscapes, RailClone has gained the ability to use the materials from the source geometry making it far far easier for these kinds of scene layout tasks that use stock assets. This feature is supported by V-Ray but is also already implemented in the Corona 6 Daily builds!

Day 24 - Pick up our free plugin Glue, you won’t be able to put it down

#VisualisingAtHome can be a good opportunity to try out new tools, especially when they’re free. Today we recommend taking a look at our free utility plugin Glue. It allows you to project items and instances onto a surface or conform splines onto any geometry. Check it out!

Day 25 - Don’t use old maps to create new worlds

True mastery comes with a thorough understanding of fundamental principles. Why not take a 5 minute break while #VisualisingAtHome today and go back to basics to understand exactly how Forest Pack uses distribution maps to control scatters.

Day 26 - Friday Freebie

If you’re #VisualisingAtHome and you’ve yet to try RailClone, now might be a good time to give the free Lite version a try. It now has even fewer limitations as you can see in this new tutorial that explains how to use the deform features.

Day 27 - Monday Macro

Today’s #VisualisingAtHome tutorial demonstrates how to use a handy  Macro including in RailClone to create several styles of building cladding.

Day 28 - Best of both worlds

People often think of RailClone and Forest Pack as quite separate plugins, but they can be combined in interesting ways. In today’s #VisualisingAtHome tutorial we share the first of a two part tutorial on creating raised beds. In the first part we use RailClone to create the wooden sides.

Day 29 - Better together 

Today we’re sharing the second part of the Raised Beds tutorial. In this lesson we demonstrate how to use #ForestPack to add the plants to the beds we made yesterday using #RailClone.

Day 30 - Do you own Clone? 

While #VisualisingAtHome today, why not take a look at Clone, a free modifier that creates copies of an object by incrementally translating, rotating and scaling the input geometry. In some ways it is similar to 3ds Max's built-in Array tool with one major benefit - Clone is fully parametric! 

Day 31 - It’s just another Macro Monday

Sparea couple of minutes while #VisualisingAtHome today? Why not revisit this handy quicktip in which we explained to get more out of your assets by randomising rotation and mirroring segments to help disguise repeated geometry and textures.

Day 32 - Staying animated while #VisualisingAtHome

Learn everything there is to know about #ForestPack’s animation settings in this detailed tutorial.


Day 33 - A plugin to make your spline tingle 

#VisualisingAtHome gives some of us the opportunity to try out new tools. If you have some time today, why not take a look at SplineOffset, our most recent FREE plugin. It allows you to create multiple clones of splines then increment their offset, translation, and rotation. You even have options to auto-heal overlapping paths and create sequences of material IDs!

Day 34 - Our first ever live stream!

If you're #VisualisingAtHome today, don't forget you can tune into our live stream later at 5pm CET. See you there!

Day 36 - Show us your work!

Check out these fantastic renders posted to the IToo Software official user group by Michael KH. If you've created some awesome work with our plugins or libraries while #VisualisingAtHome, be sure to let us know by tagging it with #RailClone, #ForestPack and/or #The3dGarden!

Day 37 - Try V-Ray 5 with Forest Pack and RailClone

If you’ve been waiting for #ForestPack and #RailClone to take the exciting new V-Ray 5 beta for a spin, then wait no longer! We have compatible betas of our plugins available now on the forum.

Day 38 - Raise morale, render a canal!

Go back to basics in one of our early Forest Pack tutorials. The 3 videos in this mini course go over the essentials you need to get up and running with ForestPack. We’ve also had a few requests for that boat asset over the years, so if you want a free barge model, feel free to grab it from the downloads.


Day 39 - Think big!

While #VisualisingAtHome today, take a look at these 15 tips for rendering large scale environments based on a fantastic render by our good friends @Polymachine.

Day 40 - Raise the roof! It’s nearly the weekend

Learn how to make bonnet hipped roofs in this quick tip tutorial for #RailClone.

Day 41 - Show good taste, scatter on surfaces that are displaced!

Take 4 minutes our while #VisualisingAtHome today to learn how to scatter on displaced surfaces using Forest Pack’s Effects feature in this handy quick tip tutorial.

Day 42 - Scattering scanned assets

Take a look at this tutorial while #VisualisingAtHome today to learn how photoreal Megascans assets can be prepared and scattered with #ForestPack.

Day 43 - Extend your shelf life

Take some time while #VisualisingAtHome to up your RailClone skills In this Tips&Tricks that demonstrates how to create procedural furniture. Remember, anything with a regularly repeating pattern or that features modularity as part of its construction is an ideal candidate for a RailClone style! 

Day 44 - The LOD lingers on

Chart a course for one of the the less well explored parts of #ForestPack while #VisualisingAtHome today and learn how to set up Level Of Detail to optimise large scatters. 

Day 45 - Weaving magic

Take 10 minutes out of your day while #VisualisingAtHome to learn how to create nifty weave patterns using #RailClone.

Day 47 - Stay in the Loop

If you’re not already a member of our official user group, why not check out the friendly community while #visualisingAtHome today to see amazing work like Loop by Pixelpark CG, created with a little help from #ForestPack Pro. 

Day 48 - Live life on the ColorEdge 

Take a chance on a new plugin while #VisualisingAtHome today and take the free ColorEdge map for a spin. ColorEdge is a procedural texture map that allows you to create a two colour gradient along any visible edge of an object.

Day 50 - Variety is the spice of life

If you own #ForestPack and #GrowFX (or other procedural modelling tools) then check out this tutorial to learn how you can quick create and scatter variations procedurally at render time. #VisulaisingAtHome

Day 51 - Raise the roof this Monday

Ease yourself back into another week of #VisualisingAtHome today with this quicktip tutorial on how to create tiled roofs using the presets that ship with #RailClone.

Day 52 - show some love for falloff curves

One of our favourite features of #ForestPack are the falloff curves that give you a high level of control over how items are scattered around the perimeter of objects. Take a few moment while #VisualisingAtHome to Learn how they work in this quick tip tutorial

Day 53 - Stay on track

In today’s #VisualisingAtHome tutorial, learn how to use #RailClone to make a common track lighting style. It’s compatible with the free Lite version too!

Day 54 - Stay inside the lines

Take a look at this tutorial to learn how to get perfect borders using Forest Pack’s Edge Mode. 

Day 55 - Avoiding repetition

In our final #VisualisingAtHome tutorial this week, we take a look at a trick to randomise things in RailClone while avoiding repetition. Have a good weekend!

Day 56 - The new normal

For our final post, here's one of our favourite tutorials, created in collaboration with Blur Studios, it shares many tips on how they used Forest Pack for the trailer of Mafia III. Check it out!