GroBoto 2.3 review

At first glance, GroBoto 2.3.3 looks like it might be just another 3-D modeler—until you launch it. Then you discover an entirely different process for creating 3-D models and scenes that actually forces you to think creatively and organically. It’s fun and addictive, almost game-like.

It isn’t until you’ve spent several hours playing with GroBoto that you realize you might actually have several uses for the models you created, say in art projects and motion graphics production. Unfortunately, that’s when you find yourself wanting more than GroBoto can deliver.

GroBoto (developed by Braid Art Labs, but distributed by Smith Micro) is a 3-D modeler and renderer of unique, true-geometry objects (as opposed to splines and polygons) and shapes that utilizes a so-called robo-organic method. With this technology, the models literally grow with the movement of the mouse, creating fractal-like, sci-fi structures and images. The program is for anyone who wants to play with 3-D imagery to create cool objects and scenes, or artists, illustrators, or animators who want to expand their creative horizons.

Modeling tools

There are several ways to create models (called Bots) in GroBoto. Many of the models are generated as preset components that you build or expand on. You don’t just click to add a shape, but rather click and drag to organically build and expand the elements around your model.

This is both fun and frustrating, as you don’t have complete control over the output and you will rarely be able to create the same model twice—unless you really learn how to control this application’s individual Bot elements. You aren’t limited to the automated modeling features, however. You can modify and apply many primitive shapes and sub-Bot elements to your model as individual components.

As intuitive as GroBoto may first appear, it presents a difficult learning curve when it comes to modeling and texture editing, and the documentation doesn’t explain things well. Many of the tools are not logical and don’t work as you might expect. As with Bryce back in the mid-1990s, you are probably better off not having any prior 3-D application experience, as that will most likely just further confuse you when navigating GroBoto.

For example, the method of controlling the orientation and positioning of models, lights, and camera angles is very different from that of most other 3-D applications. But once you understand how the tools work, they are actually quite intuitive.

Unfortunately, GroBoto only allows you to export an OBJ format 3-D file, so none of your textures get exported with the model. This is a shame, as GroBoto’s texture editor is exceptional. Though many applications can import OBJ files, in many cases you’ll lose the individual Bot objects and textures, as the file will import as one complete model object.

NEXT: Texture editing

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