With the GrowthNodes Addon we can iteratively displace real geometry. This unlike some trendy shaders, and Cycles with adaptive subdivision that not affect the geometry in the scene. It is also different than just a displacement modifier which displaces the geometry in only one axis, usually z-axis. In fact, the addon put several displacement modifiers on top of each other and apply them as shapekeys. Next, you switch Relative off in the Shapekeys Panel. That way it plays through shapes as a squence using the evaluation time. A problem though, is that there will be intersection of the geometry, but you can stronly reduce that with the Corrective Smooth Modifier.

An update after a discussion on Twitter. While you can displace with vector displacement, the GrowthNodes addon works with real geometry and the vector displacement not. And while you can have as good as the same effect by stacking displacement modifiers manually, the addon will do that for you. Which is pretty handy if you have 120 frames (meaning 120 displacement modifiers). On top of that, what I show here is just the basics and the addon provides more nodes than I show in this article.

How does the GrowthNodes Addon work?

It’s actually not that difficult and once you know the steps, it’s done fairly quick. Here a basic setup:

  • Add a default plane in the scene. Scale it by 3. Enter Edit Mode and subdivide it by 40 or more. And go out of Edit Mode.
  • Make a new Texture in the Properties Panel > Texture Properties. For example Clouds.
  • Open the GrowthNodes Editor (It’s a node editor like the shader editor or compositor).
  • Add Nodes as shown here below.
Simple node setup for GrowthNodes addon
  • Press N in the Node-editor to open the N-Panel and see the GrowthNodes tab.
  • Set Bake Start on 1 and Bake End on something like 100.
  • There you press Bake Nodetree.
  • Next you go to the Properties Panel > Shapekeys. And there you switch off the checkbox “Relative”.
  • To see the effect you slide the Evaluation Time. Mind that the value could go as high as 2000 or higher.
  • You will see intersection, and to solve that: add a Corrective Smooth modifier. Smooth Type: Length Weight. And for the rest try the following settings: Factor 0.5 or a bit higher, Repeat: around 35.
  • Last step is to animate the Evaluation Time in Properties Panel > Shapekeys. (You know probably how that goes, like: go somewhere in the time line, and press i in the Evaluation Time slider.

Install and Download of the GrowthNodes Addon

You can download the addon on Github and it will install as usual. Meaning you can press the green button, download .zip. And then in Blender you go to Edit > Preferences > Addons and navigate to the .zip file you just downloaded.

Relevant addons

Zip Merge

Zip Merge

Merge complex geometry