Graswald Addon Blender Review 2022

Graswald has been around for quite some time. It has gently developed and matured during that period. In its current configuration, I’d say it’s both a good-looking and durable device with a few too many bells and whistles. Let’s take a closer look at what I mean in this review.

What exactly is Graswald? Graswald is a Blender add-on and asset bundle for 3D artists that want to make realistic nature models. Focusing on grass in particular. It includes approximately 700 unique models as well as an add-on that extends Blender’s particle system to assist spread nature assets among emitter objects.

Graswald (free version)

This is the Graswald Pro scaled-down version. It has roughly 500 models, to be exact, 473. This applies to the majority of models, however, the add-on misses some of the Pro edition’s capabilities.

Pro features include things like physics simulation/animation, greater material control from within the add-on, and the option to build your own assets. However, you can add asset packs that have already been developed to this tire.
Personally, I wouldn’t mind if the material elements were removed. After all, materials can always be tweaked directly, and I don’t want to learn too many sliders and buttons. An add-on like this should reduce rather than increase complexity. This means that the fewer buttons and sliders I have, the more control I have. Because each person has their own tastes, striking that balance may be difficult.

However, the lack of one-click animation may be a deal breaker for this tier. At least in my case. Even though I don’t utilize the animation option too much. This feature saves me enough time on a single project to justify the next tier. However, most freelancers and hobbyists will find this to be a decent price if they can live without it.

We can also use this tire to upload model packages if we have any hanging around. We also receive a tool to construct such packages with the Pro version below.

Graswald Pro (paid version)

Like the standard Graswald version, this edition contains both the add-on and assets with ready-made materials and particle system.

It has approximately 700 models as well as animation capabilities. Above the basic edition, I believe those are the primary selling points.

We can also add and build asset packages that we can utilize in conjunction with this add-on. We may also utilize the above-mentioned packages built using the Graswald standard edition.

This update also adds a slew of new particle system and material parameters, allowing us to tune our grass indefinitely.

Other purchases have shown me that the highest tier also receives the greatest attention. This implies that any future features or materials will almost certainly wind up in this version. However, you never know if additional features may be introduced to lesser tiers.

To get a complete comparison list, visit the Graswald website, select “Buy,” then scroll down to the comparison table link.

How to install Graswald

Graswald is installed in Blender like any other add-on. You will receive a zip file after downloading it. The file is around 1.3GB in size and may take some time to download on a slower connection.

Select preferences from the edit menu. Install the add-on from the add-on area. Then choose the Zip file you have downloaded and click Install add-on.

Because the add-on is rather huge, the blender may freeze for a brief time. It contains all of the assets, which Blender will copy to its add-on folder.

After that, make sure the add-on is enabled by checking the box next to its name. Close preferences after that.

How to use the addon

We’ll find a variety of sections under the new Graswald tab once we’ve found the add-on on the right side properties panel.
We’ll need an object to distribute our grass assets across to get started with the add-on.

Let’s start at the top and work our way down.

We add particle systems to our picked object in the outliner area.

Behind the scenes, Graswald employs Blender’s particle system. If you’re familiar with it, you’re probably aware that it’s built up of containers, each of which may have a collection of particle system parameters.

This implies that we have particle system slots and then real settings that may occupy one or more of those spaces in this instance.

With the + icon next to the presently empty list, we add a particle system to the selected item. Then we hit “Create new settings” to fill that slot with options that we can tweak and reuse across other particle systems.

The list of settings, as well as which objects are presently using them and the particle system container name, may be found by pressing the settings tab. This is a pretty useful summary.

Returning to the systems tab, the lower right corner of the list has a down arrow. We may rename all of the particle systems we established in this area according to the grass we select in the following section.

There’s also a fbx export option. When I originally attempted this, I received a notice telling me that I needed to save the file first, which is odd because the built-in exporter does not have this requirement.

I tried again after saving the file, but the exporter gave me an error. The files, however, appear to be preserved. A single fbx file contains the complete scene, as well as a texture folder.

I’m not sure why this is included, but it doesn’t concern me because it’s not an essential feature of the add-on and I can always use the built-in fbx exporter.

Aside than that, I couldn’t discover any serious issues. If I try to add a particle system to a non-mesh object, such as the light, a notice appears in the bottom info bar, indicating the error.

When testing add-ons, problems like these are frequently overlooked; instead, we receive a cryptic python error, leaving us unsure if the process was performed halfway or not.

Except for the not-so-obvious fbx exporting option, thus far, great error handling.

Changing grass species

This is where Graswald glows the brightest. There are plenty of grass types to spread, as well as detritus, moss, and leaves. Flowers, tall and short grass, and other variations exist for each species. Some just have one version, but many of them have three or four.
These models are of exceptional quality. There is nothing to criticize.

The custom thumbnails and icons in this area, as well as the outliner above, are also appealing to me. It adds a beautiful finishing touch to the user interface.

The collection may be filtered by kind, such as grasses, weeds, or fallen leaves.

We also have the option of selecting the species from a drop-down menu or a typical thumbnail viewer. This is really useful because the thumbnail viewers in Blender take a long time to load, however the icons load instantly.

Growing the grass

This add-on seeks to supplement Blenders particle system in the growth phase by exposing parameters in the interface so that the user doesn’t have to look for them in the particle system interface every time.
Personally, I’m not a big fan of this sort of interface because the target audience is most likely already familiar with the particle system. But I recognize that it is done with good intentions.

I don’t mind if one or two add-ons try to overlay Blender’s UI like this. However, if a dozen add-ons are all attempting to slap their own interface on top of Blender’s particle system, node graph, or whatever, it becomes difficult to manage.

With that considered, Graswald’s implementation is rather nice. The settings are organized into categories based on their effect and are simple to comprehend.

The one thing I frequently miss is the ability to regulate distribution using a texture. I’ll have to return to the particle system settings and put a texture there for this.

The beauty of the density setting is a great feature that I truly like. If you set the density to something like 100, which is considered “moderately dense,” the number of particles will adjust as the size changes. The perceived density won’t change.

When you slide the density value from 0 to 100, the slider adjusts to the higher number, such as 250, and the maximum density becomes 500. Set it to a lower number, and the maximum value reduces once more.

Small details like these contribute significantly to a product’s overall quality and feel.

There’s a great feature in the “orientation” area. I’d want to draw attention to a location where the assets may be oriented towards the sun. It’s a neat feature.

Despite my typical opposition to placing an interface on top of an interface, I believe it makes sense in this situation.

Changing the material

Leaving aside my reservations about stacking interfaces on top of each other, I think the material portion is well-organized. The various sliders are simple to comprehend and perform as expected.

Each species has its own substance, and the sliders accessible differ according on the species. The material component for the Creeping Bentgrass looks like this.

At the top, we have three quality levels to pick from, depending on how far our grass will be from the camera.

The pass index value comes next. This is the material pass in Cycles that we can use to mask out the material in the compositor. However, I recommend using cryptomatte instead because it supports anti-aliasing on the mask, which results in a much smoother edge.

When the advanced options are enabled, Graswald’s interface expands to include more sliders than a 4k screen can accommodate. I’m grateful that these are neatly tucked away and only exposed when I absolutely need complete control.

Optimizing the grass

The viewport draw type can be changed. Otherwise, it’s under viewport display for each item in the object data tab. We may, however, alter the draw type for the entire particle system at once here.

The show percent slider is derived from the particle system’s options. It just alters how many particles of the displayed particles are visible in the viewer. This is a really useful optimization feature that is clearly highlighted here.

The optimized material checkbox appears to convert the material to a shader that emits light. This checkbox may also be found in the materials section. However, it appears to operate only when the material quality is set to high. To be honest, I’m not sure when I’d want to utilize this because there are different levels of material quality.

The modifiers section follows. Each model has a subdivision surface and a decimate modifier in its stack, which are set to 0 for subdivision and 1 for decimate by default, thus nullifying their effects.

With these sliders coupled to the relevant modifier values, we can either raise or reduce the mesh resolution.

Changing the physics

This is one of the Pro version’s selling factors. The physics system may be finicky at times, and malfunctions are common. As a result, I recommend starting with a small number of particles and gradually increasing the complexity and testing parameters.

However, for short animations, it works well with the default settings, with just minor modifications.

Here are a handful of quick tests for you. Keep in mind that the image quality may be poor because it was generated in Cycles in under 4 seconds per frame on an RTX 2070 Super. However, it offers an idea of how an animation may appear.

It’s worth noting that in the second test, the image abruptly jumps; this isn’t a video malfunction; instead, it’s a result of the

General settings

We may alter certain basic settings and use the Package management system in this part. I won’t go into great depth about the package management mechanism. However, it enables us to develop packages that can be imported and utilized within the Graswald interface. Graswald packages can only be generated in the Pro edition, however non-Pro versions can import packages made in the Pro version.

We also have other basic options, such as linking versus appending on import, default draw mode, and a scaling parameter that we can experiment with if we believe the assets default size is improper.

The cons of Graswald

Apart from a few kinks, such as the fbx export capability, there are essentially three problems that spring to mind when discussing shortcomings. The interface, I believe, is the first. This is a problem for many asset-related add-ons.

Graswald performs an excellent job at exposing parameters in a single location. However, several critical elements are missing, such as a solid means to manage texture distribution. To get things rolling, I’ll need to use both the particle system and texture tabs.
When I have to exit the Graswald interface to do this, it negates the point.

I can also imagine how useful it would be to have an easy way to add wind direction in the physics tab. The existing system just creates mild turbulence in general. Because it’s so simple to screw up your animation, the physics tab also requires some limits. The package management system is the second. Personally, I would reconsider the overall usefulness of such features. Graswald, in my opinion, should not be an asset management add-on and should not seek to attract assets into its add-on.

Instead, I believe they should concentrate their efforts on integrating Graswald with other asset management systems. That is, however, easier said than done. Because there is no defined method for managing assets, it is impossible to say how people manage their assets.

Hopefully, Blender’s future asset management system will alleviate this problem, and we won’t require an add-on for every type of asset we have.

Finally, I’d want to discuss performance. Using high-quality assets puts a strain on your machine.

The Graswald crew has little control over this situation. You just need to do one step at a time and not rush, or Blender would come to a halt regularly.

There are mechanisms in place to assist us with this, but you should be aware that these assets are not buttery smooth to deal with until you optimize them.

The pros of Graswald

I’ve seen the greatest grass assets in Graswald. The assets are the true star of this package. This is the package’s key selling point, as well as a significant advantage of employing Graswald.

There are also some noteworthy features of the add-on. I don’t have to wait for the thumbnails to load, for example. Instead, I may utilize the drop-down option to choose whatever species I want. This is an excellent illustration of how to get around Blender’s constraints.

Other elements that I love are how effectively the density parameter works and the fact that I can select to display only the key material properties or all of them using a checkbox.

A really useful feature is the drop-down menu where I can quickly pick different material qualities.

I also enjoy how we may rotate assets in accordance with the revolution of the sun.

I could go on and on with instances of things that speak to me about the add-on, and I often find myself sitting for far longer than I should, fiddling with the particle system settings simply to see how lovely it all looks.

Final thoughts

Graswald has both positive and negative aspects. Overall, I believe it is an excellent approach for incorporating nature into your settings. It’s the technique I’m presently using when I require realistic grass.

The most significant aspect is the asset’s quality and ease of addition and usage. I believe Graswald nailed all of the important aspects, and I would strongly suggest it to anyone who needs excellent nature on a daily basis.

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