Pseudo-review: GroBoto procedural modeling tool

14 June 2009
1:52 am

Something that's captured my attention recently is the GroBoto 3D modeling program from Braid Arts Labs. I discovered it by chance the other day as I was rummaging through submissions to deviantART, trying to find a new wallpaper image for my computer. I saw a piece that was really striking and the artist explained that part of it was rendered with that software, so I looked it up as I'd never heard of it before.

What initially got me interested was that the program makes use of a lot of procedurally generated "bots" to create a scene. You plug in some variables and drag some sliders and before you know it you have a whole host of really strange and organic creations developing in front of you. I'd immediately downloaded the trial and started playing with it and before long I'd purchased a copy myself. The more I fooled around with it the more I realized that its potential was a lot beyond what had initially attracted me, and in a lot of significant ways its UI was really similar to the one I'm used to in Second Life. The components that make up the bots are little geometric shapes a lot like the building-block "prims" used to make things in Second Life. While it's not a 1:1 conversion, as I fumbled through the interface and documentation I was able to figure out how to start building things in more or less the same way as Second Life.

After a couple hours of work, most of which was spent with trial and error in figuring out how to accurately rotate objects or use the camera, I came up with this more from just fiddling around than anything else:


It's meant to be a sort of futuristic city floating on a semi-sphere. Eventually I'd replace the blue object with a half-globe of circuitry and mechanical pieces, once the rest of the city's finished and fleshed out. Who knows if I'll finish the image but for a first try I was really impressed with the program's capabilities. Overall it was a fun, rather intuitive program for coming up with some surprisingly nifty scenes. And as the software supports exporting to the .obj file standard, it makes it possible to bring your creations back into more professional 3D programs like Maya or ZBrush.

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