Forest Pack is the world’s most popular scattering plugin for 3ds Max®. It provides a complete solution for creating vast areas of objects, from trees and plants to buildings, crowds, aggregates, ground-cover, rocks, and more. If you can model it, Forest Pack can scatter it.
Create without restrictions with iToo Software Forest Pack.
Countless studios rely on Forest Pack’s production-tested algorithms and native shaders to render scenes with virtually unlimited numbers of objects and polygons, all without putting a strain on computer resources.
Take your renders to the next level.
Simulate natural distribution patterns and get the most out of your assets using advanced mapping and randomization tools, or fine-tune your scatters with granular control over every aspect of the plugin.
Forest Pack is fully multi-threaded and highly optimized for speed and efficiency. A typical scene can effortlessly use over 100.000 objects each with 1 million polys. Not to mention, it can render in just a few minutes.
Points-Cloud display mode faithfully previews scattered objects in the viewports as they will appear in the render. Amazingly fast, indeed, this mode allows you to move and edit items in real-time while maintaining an accurate preview of your scenes.
From the moment you pick a scatter area Forest Pack is fully parametric. With no destructive editing, you make design decisions at any time. Furthermore, you see the results in the viewport instantly.
Recreate the limitless variation found in nature with the ability to randomize distribution, objects, and transforms, as well as animation, bitmaps, and tints. Mimic natural growth patterns using the innovative Clusters feature.
Maps Control when you need it. Drive parameters using maps and expressions or use Tree Editor mode to scatter along splines, on markers. Similarly, you can even edit and place individual objects.
Ready to Use
Use Forest Pack’s built-in Library Browser to select and assign plants with a single click. Over 100 models are included in Forest Pack Pro. Equally important, you can create your own presets and share them effortlessly with colleagues.
Forest Pack offers unprecedented power, speed, and flexibility to create landscapes that look great and render fast. In addition, create scenes that can be viewed from any angle and minimize the need for time-consuming post-production.
Forest Pack has unrivaled animation features. Use animated meshes and proxies then randomize their time offset. Furthermore, drive playback using maps to provide even more ways to create jaw-dropping VFX for film, animation, TV, and motion graphics projects.
Forest Pack fits perfectly into interactive design processes. Scatters are fully parametric so making changes is fast and easy. In other words, spend less time spent updating scenes and more time spent designing.
What’s New in Forest Pack 6?
Several significant new tools expand and improve Forest Pack’s already easy-to-use parametric workflow, opening up completely new ways of working with the plugin. For everyday users, new UI customization options allow you to adapt Forest Pack to suit the way you work.
Parametric distribution has been overhauled to make some areas of the plugin much faster and easier to edit. The new path option allows you to distribute objects interactively along a spline, and a new interactive reference mode lets you place and attaches items to thousands of objects. The ability to place objects on particles opens up a whole new way of working with Forest Pack and exposes it to a huge range of new workflows.
This is the first Forest Pack release to include iToosoft’s Update Manager, a simplified way to download and manage presets, libraries and effects that separates the plugin from the content. Using Update Manager you only need to download what you need and it enables us to release new content at any time. Using the system you can download our latest libraries including a free high-quality tree pack, featuring 11 species ready to drop into your renders.
Decoupling the content from the core plugin also allows us to release new features at any time using Forest Effects. These are small expressions that can be used to extend the functionality of the plugin to do things that aren’t already a part of the core package. In this update, the entire effects system has been updated to introduce support for maps, curves, particle age, and speed, plus the ability to use multiple Forest Effects at one time. You can easily create your own effects and share them with colleagues or the wider community.
Finally, it wouldn’t be a Forest Pack release without improvements to performance and compatibility. 3ds Max 2019 is supported on its release, and for the first time, both Forest Pack and RailClone are compatible with Arnold. Scattering performance is increased up to 150% when creating large distributions, and we’ve improved stability when working with V-Ray IPR mode.
UI – your way!
Forest Pack was first released in 1999, and since that time it’s developed into one of, if not the, most advanced scatterer available for 3DS Max. We appreciate, however, that for some projects you don’t to use all of the features that the plugin has to offer, so in Forest Pack 6 we have made it easier to customize the plugin – your way.
The biggest change is the ability to choose to display only the rollouts you want to see. To turn rollouts on or off, go to the new Settings option in the General rollout. Here you’ll find a list of all the tools Forest Pack has to offer.
Just uncheck the ones you don’t regularly use and you end up with a much more streamlined interface for day-to-day use. Advanced users will also appreciate the option to disable the warning pop-ups that Forest Pack occasionally displays.
Once you’ve customized the rollouts, you can further modify the UI by collapsing unneeded groups. Go into any rollout and wherever you see the >> symbol you can hide the contents of that section. Just click it again to reverse the process.
There’s no need to save UI preferences either, your choices are retained between sessions so you don’t need to make changes every time you open Max.
Sometimes it’s the little things that make a big difference in day-to-day work. We’ve made a simple change to lists which are now resizeable, making it much easier to deal with scatters that use a large number of source objects. For items with long names, we’ve also added a tooltip to the list boxes. Just hover your mouse cursor over an item to see it’s full name.
RailClone users got used to being able to create an empty object without selecting something in the viewport just by clicking and dragging. Forest Pack now has this Icon mode option as well, creating a unified experience across our plugins and making it much easier to set up scatters using the new distribution modes.
Finally, another small change but one that had been regularly requested by users: It is now possible to select all of a Forest object’s dependencies (including geometry, areas, surfaces, etc) in a single click by picking Select All Forest Dependencies from the Quad menu. This is useful if you want to quickly save portions of your scene to a new file for use as an XRef or any other purpose.
New distribution modes
The Distribution rollout has been overhauled with several new and improved modes.
Image-based distribution remains the default, although even here we’ve added 13 new distribution maps to create more varied scatters. Brand new though is a drop-down menu found at the top of the rollout that allows you to switch to one of three new modes: Path, Reference or Particle Flow.
A new Path mode allows you to distribute objects along a spline with controls for adjustable spacing, the ability to offset objects either side of the spline, or alternatively to place items on vertices.
Multiple paths can be used by adding them to the spline list, and you can choose to randomize the order of items or even create patterns based on their order in the geometry list.
You can use all of Forest Packs existing transform randomization tools in this mode, but when it comes to rotation, you also have the option to automatically align objects so that they follow the direction of the path!
Live linking to reference objects
The second new mode allows you to place objects on reference markers. Use the button to add reference objects one at a time, or use to select multiple reference objects using Max’s scene explorer.
Items will be scattered either one per individual marker or one on the center of each face if you’re using meshes as a reference objects. You can also choose whether or not you want to align the objects to match the rotation and scale of the references.
Once linked, items are interactively attached to the markers so if you want to move an object, just move the marker. Not only is this helpful for fast iteration and art directing images, but for the first time, it also makes it possible to animate the transforms of individual objects in a scatter.
New to Forest Pack 6 is the ability to use PFlow as a distribution source, allowing you to combine the unique flexibility of particles with the rendering power of Forest Pack to achieve things that were not previously possible.
To use a PFlow object as a source you just click on to add it to the list. Multiple PFlow sources can be used in a single Forest Pack object.
Animators will be pleased to know that Forest Pack’s PFlow integration supports animated particles and it’s possible to use their scale and orientation information to affect the size and rotation of scattered items. You can even randomize any animation applied to the source objects using Forest Pack’s existing animation modes and use Forest Pack’s innovative effects feature to add new features that use the particles’ speed and age to control nearly any of an item’s properties.
Downloading content with Update Manager
Forest Pack 6’s Update Manager is a new solution to download, manage and install libraries, presets and effects. From now on you will no longer need to wait for a new plugin release to get new content!
Update manager opens during installation, or automatically when new content is available. To launch it manually, open it from the Start menu, or use the Update button in Max.
The first time you launch Update manager, you’ll be prompted for your login. These are the same details you use to access your user panel on the iToo Software website.
Once you’re in, Update Manager shows all the packages that are available to download. You can also see the packages you have installed by going to the view menu and selecting Show Installed.
To install packages, just makes sure their checkboxes are ticked… and click Install!
Your new packages will be automatically added to the Forest Pack library – ready to use. There are also offline installation options for those that need them.
In addition to the manager, Forest Pack 6 includes new content, Including a new preset library for quickly populating vertical green walls, Lawns which can be built up in layers to create a number of different looks, and our brand new trees starter library that includes over 20 high-quality models in 11 species. To see all the content included with Forest Pack, see the online library browser.
New in Forest Effects
Forest Pack 6 sees some significant updates to Effects, the innovative feature first released in the previous version that allows you to extend the functionality of Forest Pack using simple expressions. To see an overview of effects, check out this introductory tutorial.
If the idea of maths terrifies you, don’t worry, Forest Effects also allows us at iTooSoft to be much more responsive to how people are using our tools and roll out new features at any time, without needing to install new software or wait for a major release.
If you do create your own effects, you can share them with friends and colleagues by saving them as .eff files which are lightweight and easy to distribute.
Support for Multiple Effects
In Forest Pack 6, effects got an overhaul. One of our most requested features was to be able to stack up multiple effects. Almost like a series of filters that affect the scatter. With the release of Forest Pack 6, we’re pleased to be able to include this feature.
To add an effect in Forest Pack 6 you simply go to the Effects rollout and click on to add an Effect layer. You can then load an effect from the Library by clicking the button, create your own effect by clicking the button to open the Effects Editor, or open or save an effect file using the Import and Export buttons found inside the editor.
To add multiple effects, all you need to do is repeat this procedure. The order of effects is calculated from the top of the effects list downwards.
To make effects even more flexible there are two new Parameter types. Firstly you can now use curves to control nearly any attribute in Forest Pack, for example, to create a procedural animation of an objects transforms. Secondly, we’ve added the ability to read maps. This allows you to control a much wider range of attributes using images than was previously possible. For example, when combined with curves it’s possible to create a fully procedural transform animation that is then offset using a grayscale map.
There are many new effect functions included complementing the new distribution modes including the ability to control attributes using particle age, particle speed, path position and path tangent.
30 New Effects included
30 new sample effects are included and best of all thanks to Update Manager we can add more at any time. It will even let you know when new content is available!.
That’s not all…
There are dozens of improvements and fixes included in Forest Pack 6. To see a full list of the new features, improvements, and fixes check out the release notes.
Diversity – Clusters
Real-time camera clipping
Scale and Rotation maps
Render Without Limits
Billions of Polygons
Create scenes with virtually unlimited geometry. Renders with hundreds of thousands of objects each with millions of polygons are now possible thanks to Forest Pack’s advanced geometry shaders, compatible with most popular render engines.
WYSIWYG scattering is possible with Forest Pack’s point’s-cloud display mode. Preview huge polygon counts while maintaining viewport responsiveness and avoid time spent rendering previews.
Convert to Instances
Convert Forest Pack objects to Max instances with the click of button. Ideal for sharing with users or computers without the plugin, using renderers that aren’t already natively supported, or exporting to real-time engines. For large pipelines we provide the ability to export data in an XML file.
Meshes and Proxies
Add almost any geometry and Forest Pack intelligently converts it to native render instances on the fly, so there’s no need to spend time creating proxies. If you prefer proxy objects, they’re fully supported too.
Meshes and Proxies
Scatter groups of objects and preserve their composition. Useful for clumps of flowers and grass, the contents of a group are handled as individual objects so although their position relative to one-another is retained, they can still be individually randomised.
If you’re able to output an object as a mesh, you can use it in Forest Pack. This includes parametric objects like GrowFX plants, Laubwerk Trees, RailClone styles, and even nested Forest Pack objects!
Control the exact composition of a scatter using probability values. Percentages are automatically normalised so there’s no need for tricky maths.
Include and Exclude Areas
Use Include areas to add scattered objects. Use Exclude areas to remove objects from an existing scatter. There’s no limit of the number of areas that can be combined, so you can design complex relationships and dependencies to create the perfect distribution.
Closed splines are the fastest way to define large irregularly shaped areas. Alternatively use open splines with an adjustable width to create paths, hedges, and many more linear designs. Splines are fully parametric and changes update instantly in the viewports. You have complete control, each area can be overridden to include its own distribution map, density and scatter items.
For more intuitive scattering, use Forest Pack’s advanced brush tools to paint areas on any surface using a mouse or tablet. Painted areas remain fully parametric with separate controls for distribution map, objects, and density. If you want to edit with standard spline tools, you can easily convert between paint and spline areas with the click of a button.
Scatter objects on uneven surfaces using XY mode for landscapes and terrains, or if you need to scatter geometry on all sides of an object – use the UV coordinates instead. Control the scale and density of scatters using slope angle and altitude, and randomise objects on stacked surface to quickly populate building interiors!
Forest Pack objects can be used to influence each another. Using falloff curves you can control the density and scale of a scatter around the perimeter of another Forest’s objects. For example, automatically adding fallen leaves under trees or excluding grass from under hedges are just a couple of examples in a multitude of applications.
Need to remove scattered objects from around objects? No problem, just add the geometry as an exclude area and they are removed instantly. Alternatively, invert the curves to populate objects only around the perimeter. Even huge objects are supported, the algorithm is highly optimised for high-poly geometry.
Forest Pack uses black and white maps to create distribution patterns. A white pixel creates a tree, and a black pixel a gap. Over 20 default map types are included, but you can easily create your own for any type of design.
If the built-in patterns don’t include the design you need, you can use procedural maps or images to create any distribution you want.
Simulate the growth patterns found in nature with Forest Pack’s unique Cluster mode. Group plants of the same type together with many controls for shape, noise, and edge blur.
Match Colour on Bitmap
Create your own cluster patterns by matching plants to colour found in a bitmap. This is ideal for matching planting plans provided by Landscape Architects.
Perfect Edges every time are easy with Forest Pack’s innovative Edge Mode. This feature can automatically remove elements from the scattered geometry to ensure that boundaries are crisp and clean.
Control the size and density of objects around the perimeter of a scatter area using Falloff Curves. Used in combination with include and exclude areas, it’s easy to add or subtract items around the base of other objects, including other Forest Objects!
Control scale and density using Altitude based falloff. For example due to lack of oxygen, trees often get smaller and more sparse at higher altitudes.
Control scale and density using Slope based falloff. Prevent trees growing on surfaces that are too steep to create naturalistic growth patterns on terrain
Forest Maps allows you to randomize the maps applied to scattered objects. You can choose to shuffle the maps by object or by element for maximum control and life-like variation.
Randomize From Map
Create a palette and tint colours using a texture swatch! Forest Colour can extract random values from a bitmap to allow you to easily match colours from photographs.
Add even more variety by tinting maps. Colours are selected at random from a user definable gradient and applied using one of five transfer modes and a randomizable strength parameter.
Quickly apply Forest Colour maps and apply automatic material optimisation with a single button. In some circumstances scenes can render up to seven times faster after optimisation. e circumstances scenes can render up to seven times faster after optimisation.
Use Texture on Surface
Sample the texture from a map applied to the surface area and use this to tint the overlying objects. For example, you could use aerial photography of fields to create natural colour variations in a grass scatter.
Minimise strain on your computer’s resources by limiting the scatter to the camera’s field of view! Create a fly-by with millions of trees, without wasting resources on trees that are outside the frame!
Switch the geometry and materials of scattered items based on their distance from the camera or their size in the render view to help speed up renders and manage RAM!
Distance Based Falloff
Use falloff curves to change the density and scale of a scatter based on distance from the camera! If you have multiple cameras in the scene, you can use their environment range to set a different value for each one.
By using a probability graph you can precisely control the chances of a value being selected from a given range. This is ideal if you want to randomise the transformation of objects within a few narrower bracketed values instead of across the entire range. For example, if you are scattering buildings on a town grid, you could create a probability curve to ensure they only rotate at 0, 90, 180, and 270 degrees.
Position, Rotation and Scale
Make the re-use of assets nearly impossible to detect by randomising their position, rotation and scale. Set a simple minimum and maximum value and Forest Pack takes care of the rest.
Use grayscale maps to control the position, rotation and scale of scattered objects. Alternatively use colour maps and set the XYZ parameters using RGB values for maximum control.
Probability maps allow you to control the probability of a value being selected using a grayscale map. Scatter objects in black areas of the map will not be randomised, objects in white areas will receive a value selected from the full range.
Add and Edit Individual Objects
Use Custom Edit mode to add, place or edit items manually. Fine tune an existing scatter for the perfect render, or start from scratch by placing individual objects.
Distribute evenly spaced items along splines. Objects can be set to orientate themselves to the path, retain their original rotation, or use randomised transform settings.
Position and orientate objects using markers, other objects and meshes for reference! Make sure your planting perfectly matches the architect’s plans by using their imported reference markers to precisely place objects.
Forest Pack enables you to scatter animated objects while maintaining significant memory efficiency. Any animated geometry can be used including proxies. In the default mode, the animations are all synced, but there are 3 powerful options that enable you to randomise and control playback.
Randomise the time offset of animated geometry to ensure that scattered objects are not played back identically! This is far more natural when using plants and trees with a wind animation or any other situation where you don’t want the animation of objects to play in perfect sync.
Control Using Maps
Control the play back of animated objects using maps. You have two options, either set the offset of the animation and let it play, or specify the current frame using a gray-scale map.
Library and Presets
Add a new scatter to your scene in an instant using Forest Pack’s Library Browser. You can store and load billboards, individual 3d objects or entire scatter presets in the library, all accessible with a couple of clicks!
The Forest Pack library contains many predefined styles, ready to use. Forest Pack Pro includes over 150 models and presets, with materials for VRay, Mental Ray, Scanline, Octane, Corona and Thea Render.
Integration with 3rd parties
In addition to the libraries supplied with Forest Pack, we provide catalogues for many third party suppliers including Xfrog, Evermotion and HQ Plants. With the expansions installed, the plants are immediately visible in the library and ready to use
Create and Share
Create your own libraries and easily share them with colleagues or other users. The Forest Library is fully customisable with advanced features including the ability to automatically load materials to match the current renderer and run custom Maxscripts on load or import.
Each purchase of Forest Pack Pro gives you access to a single license for creating and editing Forest Objects, the full library contents, and free unlimited render nodes. For the duration of your maintenance subscription you are also entitled to premium technical support and upgrades.
The versions released during your maintenance subscription are yours to keep forever. If you like to stay up to date with the most recent versions of Forest Pack we recommend you should stay on the maintenance plan, however there are no penalties for allowing it to lapse. If you want to skip some versions, it’s no problem and you can jump back on at any time and download the most recent software paying only for another year of maintenance.
Plugins compatible with 3ds Max 2013 – 2021
3ds Max Design 2013-2015
Supports 32bit and 64bit versions where available.
Forest Pack supports native instancing in the renderers and versions listed below
Arnold 5.1 and above is supported from 3ds Max 2018 onwards. Please make sure the MaxToA plugin is up to date. You can download the most recent version from the Solid Angle website.
Mental Ray is supported in version 2012 – 2017 only.
V-Ray and V-Ray RT supported versions are 2.5 or greater for V-Ray 2, and 3.3 or greater for V-Ray 3, and V-Ray Next and V-Ray GPU update 1.1 or above.
Thea Render 1.3 and onwards
Corona Renderer 1 and onwards
Octane 1.x and 2.x
Moskito Render 1.x
Mental Ray compatibility in Max 2017 and 2018
From 3ds Max 2017 Mental Ray was an optional installation. Forest Pack for Max 2017 still has many dependencies on the Mental Ray libraries and is required by our plug-ins to operate correctly. Please make sure that Mental Ray is installed for 3DS Max 2017, even if you don’t intend to use it to avoid errors.
From 3ds Max 2018 Mental Ray is no longer included, and for technical reasons, we have had to temporarily suspend support.
Billboard Library compatibility
The 2D Billboard library is only supported by Scanline, Mental Ray, and V-Ray.
To use Forest Color and Forest Edge maps with Arnold, you will need to turn on Legacy 3ds Max Map support in Render Settings->System.
Forest Pack 6.3.1
Added support for V-Ray 5.
Forest Pack 6.3
Added support for 3DS Max 2021.
Forest Pack 6.2.1
Added support for V-Ray 3.7.
Distribution->Reference by Node->Pivot copies the G-Buffer ID of the reference node in Forest Effects->fpItem.userID
* Note: because a Max limitation, Forest object is not updated when ID changes. You must rebuild manually from Display->Build->Update.
Fixed crashing bug with Mental Ray.
Fixed: fpItem.tintMult is cast to integer when modified in Forest Effects.
Fixed: the process to collect all “maps” folders and add them to Customize->External Files is broken.
Fixed crash with Paint areas and huge coordinate values (i.e. using millimeters with large surfaces).
Forest Pack 6.1.5
Added compatibility with V-Ray Next Update 1.
Improved stability with V-Ray IPR and added several improvement, including:
Added support for Viewport IPR mode.
Items now can be edited on Custom Edit mode while using V-Ray IPR.
Forest Color’s randomise by Element mode now works during IPR mode even when Display mode is set to Proxy.
Fixed a crash that occurred when hiding or isolating objects during a V-Ray IPR render.
When rendering using IPR mode in Corona, Forest Pack objects no longer disappear in the viewports.
Network Licenses are now released on New File and Reset events in Max.
Improved scattering performance and memory usage with small/medium distributions.
Improved performance when loading objects with high material ID values.
“LibraryDir” and “EffectsDir” can now be defined using environment variables.
Removed support for 3DS Max 2012. Forest Pack 6.1.5 is compatible with Max 2013 to 2019.
Fixed the alignment of the first item on closed splines when using Distribution by Path mode.
Fixed Distribution by Path using spacing zero generates the maximum number of items defined on Display limits.
Fixed an issue where animated Effects parameters were not updating correctly.
Fixed an error that occurred when configuration is defined by environment variables, but the HKCU registry branch doesn’t exist.
Fixed performance issue loading objects with high material ID values.
Fixed a crash that occurred when adding items in Custom Edit when Geometry List is empty.
Fixed a bug computing the hierarchy of Elements in Custom Objects (used for Forest Color/Edge Mode).
Forest Pack 6.1.2
With Distribution->Path, Reference and Particle modes, it’s possible to assign a Surface keeping the item’s Z position.
To do it, turn off “Non Image modes->Link to Surface” in the Surface rollup.
This mode is useful to use the “Color by Texture” mode of Forest Color.
Fixed: Items are not oriented correctly when using Distribution->PFlow->Align.
Fixed errors in Lister when there are duplicated object names.
Distribution->Path Distance is set by default to 1 meter, regardless of the scene’s unit.
“Surface->Custom Edit->Link to Surface” has been renamed to “Non Image->Link to Surface”, since this parameter is used both in Custom Edit and Non-Image Distribution modes.
Fixed: “Color by Texture” doesn’t work in Custom Edit mode if “Surface->Link to Surface” is off.
Fixed crash using Forest as a XRef Object.
Fixed missing items when rendering Particle Flow distributions.
Tree Editor is renamed to Items Editor in Settings dialog.
Fixed slowdown evaluating heavy models with displacement maps (as Maxtree models).
Forest Pack 6.1.1
Fixed bug in Collisions checking.
Fixed rare bug which causes a continuous updating of the FP object, when using animated splines and the time slider is not zero.
Fixed crash when applying a UVW Map modifier to the spline in Distribution->Path mode.
Fixed: multiple selection is lost after changing any parameter in the rollup.
Fixed: Density->Y Pixels is not greyed out when Lock Aspect ratio is checked.
Fixed updating issue when switching between Paint Areas and painter is enabled.
Forest Pack 6.1.0
iToo Toolbars (both Forest and RailClone) can be disabled adding the following registry key:
In this Tips and Tricks episode we’ll look at how to use Forest Pack’s animation tools to re-seed other parametric modelling plugins, like GrowFX, to create tree and plant variations without having to store and maintain many source objects in your scene.
iToo software's Forest Pack isn't just for foliage. This tutorials shows how Forest pack can be used to randomly populate large building floors with people and furniture of all kinds. And how Railclone can be used to create floor plates.
Need to add some trees and plants to your scene quickly and easily? If you’re short on time, budget or knowledge about adding trees to your animation, 3D scene or your still imagery, here are several options to help you get started with adding some arboreal goodness to your work, without having to wait for Spring!