How to animate a tree growth?

Hi! I am comparatively new to Blender animation and have a question. It’s not a problem to make a tree in Blender, but how to animate its growth? Beginning from the dot there appear a little stem that develops into branches which grow as well, and everything ends up in leaves that grow too. I tried various methods with armature and shapes keys, and it seems impossible to make such a thing because each time it requires more vertices to be added to the model, when blender animates only finished objects. And even in shapes keys adding new vertices messes everything up. Or maybe to split this process into several files? But then it will be difficult to control the smoothness of the object. What do you think?

I never tried, but here’s how I’d try to do it:

use shape keys, but backward!!!

  1. first model your full tree, with prunes, flowers, leaves, stems, branches, trunk and roots
  2. then use shape keys and make them disappear one after the other, most of the time by scaling down to the size of… a weed!

I, too, think, that shapes keys and animation backwards will be the best option. How many keys can be used? It works fine with the base and the first key, but then I need to reduce the number of vertices and add some more keys, and that messes everything up. Can the number of vertices be reduced?

you can NOT reduce the number of vertices while using shape keys… This means you must remodel your tree so that it fit the new shape, with stricly the same polycounts, edges, faces et al. This is where backward process is necessary: you don’t remove vertices, but you resize them down in order to hide them!

How can vertices be resized down and hidden? Mesh will loose it’s shape.

?? I can’t follow you, I don’t understand what is your problem…

activate shape keys
create a second shape key, go to edit mode, select (say…) a leave and [s]key to scale it down. It has disappeared. You can make it as small as you want this way…
create a second shape key, do the same with the roots, for example
create a thirs key, do the same with the radius of the trunk
then you can use IPO curves to animate the growth of your tree, shape key by shape key…

For simple trees, you could also do this with an armature by animating the Scale of the bones. Best is to rig the tree, keyframe the final positions/sizes of the bones at the last frame and work backwards, scaling the bones down appropriately in earlier frames.

It’s very simple. I need the tree to grow from the violin and eventually to have the shape exactly like on the image.
How to archive this?

I agree with CD38, armatures with Scaling is easier than Shape Keys. Make a Armature Rig, then move the bones and scale to make a growing / move-into-position effect.

But then mesh will be yuckily deformed, since with armature animation there’s no way to add or remove vertices. And, if to scale the whole piece, that will be the same as what olivS suggested. It works fine but doesn’t imitate growth. Maybe to use shapes keys and to split the process into several files where some more vertices can be added/removed??

OlivS is correct about the shape keys, and the only limit is how patient you will be with making them - you can have a seperate key concerning each leaf, or all at the same time, but use one to scale them, one to rotate them, and one to locate them. Same for your branches, you can make a seperate key for each, and one key for the whole scale of the tree. You could then key the final on each key, and then play with placements of keys on the shape channels until you like the playback in the viewport.
Remember, you can key the scale all way down to 0 on any of them, so it just depends on how detailed you want the growth - I would make a rotate right and a rotate left, and a stretch/bend for each part.

hey, thats an awesome violin by the way

Thanks for the compliment. And thank you all, guys for your help. I made it work with armature and scaling down without adding / removing vertices. A bit weird, but I will continue working on it. At least I know now that it’s possible. Might be a tutorial, if I find some spare time. Thanks again to everyone and bye.

OK. As I promised, I made the description of what I did, and it became a kind of a little tutorial. If somebody is interested, it is here.

Hey im also trying to do same thing if you figured it out would you summarize it for me

i tried opening this but it didnt work

that post is 14 years old…