Instancing and randomness

I have the opportunity to do a fun project at work, and decided I’d give Blender a try. But, I’m curious, what exactly makes an object instanced? I need to make a field of flowers and grasses, and would like to render it in cycles, so I need cheats as much as possible (I have a week to do it). Also, is it possible to make aspects of an instance random, like scale, rotation, even a material color?

u can use array modifier , if you like evenly placed objects.

select and duplicate via “ALT+D” for instanced object (it will share all data, in case of change in size etc, use edit mode)

Have you read the “19 billions of polygons” thread? That scene seems to have a lot of overlap with what you want to achieve.

But yeah, I’m also curious about the differences between instancing methods.

I read somewhere (I thought it was in the Billions-thread, but apparently not) that there’s a big difference between the Array-effect and other instancing. I can only guess that an object with Array is handled as a merged hipoly object at rendertime, whereas proper instancing methods… properly instance the object.
But what falls into that category?
Do different particle instancing methods work the same way?
Objects with linked geometry data?
Duplication on Faces/Frames?
Different sorts of Group-instancing?

If you go with particles you have some pretty obvious randomness options, though I can’t recall that I’ve seen anything for color variation.

Basic tool for random instancing with Blender uses particle system and group of objects. Here is the tutorial; the instancing instruction starts at around 30 min. Start it and go grab a cup of coffee.

Full effect of instancing is called instance Painting. Only tutorial I have on that is with 2.49 version.

There is one other instance modeling technique called Grease Scatter Objects. You can scatter instances from a group of object about Grease pencil mark near a corner. It is one of the Addons.

Thanks for the replies everyone, I will sink my teeth into this info!