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Xfrog

Type of Program: Modeling Editor
Supported Platforms: Windows 95/98/2000/ME/XP
Company Name: greenworks organic-software
Version: 3.5 Full
Price: $239
Installed Size: 1.1G (Including Models)

Download/Homepage
When you want to design models of any type of plant life then Xfrog is your program! With Xfrog you have complete control over all aspects of the designing phases. You tell it what type of plant you want, how many branches it is to have (if you decide to create trees). You design the way the leaves are formed and bending in the wind. You decide which is the best orientation it should have with regards to the direction of the sun. In short, you are pretty much in total control! One note, do not mistake Xfrog for cheap imitations of other plant modeling software. It is a far cry from others and you should be prepared to spend some time with it in order to get all of its worth. Xfrog is simply great!

Take a closer look at Xfrog and see for yourself if it does not have everything you might need in creating either static plant models or animated models. Just remember, you can build virtually anything that either is in nature, or something that maybe nature forgot. First off, Xfrog takes a different approach from other applications in that it uses a procedural graph networking system that then allows you to link many different components together. Each linked component can be built on a hierarchical tree where all those linked together affect each other. Whether you want to make a model of an exotic tree, a blossoming flower, or create an animation of a flower, Xfrog can do it!

When you begin to build in Xfrog you have primitives to work with such as cubes, spheres, circles, cones, etc. All of these combined together ultimately give you your hierarchical structure. These components when manipulated with algorithmic methods give you pretty much all the features found in nature itself. When looking closely at any real tree, leaf or plant you can duplicate it within Xfrog. When you then combine all these many different components, assign them values you can see how your model can take on the form of nature itself.
The Interface of Nature Itself

Xfrog's main interface provides all your menus. It is subdivided into sub windows where you have the Hierarchy, the Model View, the Parameter Editor and the Libraries window. From these windows you have the power to design, create and manipulate your model to perfection! Each sub window as you will see gives you these powers where you can tweak many different attributes of the entire model, or single out sections of a branch or leaf and adjust its properties to the finest degree. While you work on your model you can see immediate results in the Model View window so you know what each effect has when applied.


At the bottom of the Main Window you also have the Status Bar. The Status Bar also provides you with the option to reduce some of your model's Polygons. Though it does not give you great control, it does do a fairly adequate job for most models. You would probably be better off checking into another program this company has named Xtune for greater flexibility in reducing Polygons. So now that we know what Xfrog can do, let's take a closer look at some of the sub-windows.
The Camera
When you start Xfrog the Camera icon (also called Root) is in the Hierarchy Window. The camera is the initial origin of the hierarchy that is displayed in the model view. Every component that is eventually linked to the Root component will then be displayed in the Model View window. Components that are not linked to the Root component are not displayed. The Camera has a set of parameters that you can adjust.
The Hierarchy Window
The Hierarchy is the place where you create the structure of your model. For each component that you place here you will be linking it to another component thereby creating your hierarchy of your model. Linking different components to the model hierarchy sets up the construction of it.

As you continue to build elaborate models you can easily follow the hierarchy in this window. You can also click on any of the components to further adjust any of that component's properties. Of course the more complex your model, the greater this hierarchy will be. The great thing about this is that you never lose track of where any component is (you can give each component names that make sense to your model) and tweaking any component or changing its link style is just a matter of a few clicks away!

You will learn that this window soon becomes your best friend in that you will most likely rely on it about as much as your Properties windows. Navigating through this window soon becomes second "nature."

So don't be afraid to build as complicated as a model as you need. By utilizing this window you will be able to see at a glance all of your components and their properties.

Now that we've talked a little about components, what exactly are they? Think of a jigsaw puzzle. As in putting together a puzzle you could think of each piece of the puzzle as a component. When begin linking the pieces of the puzzle together you are in essence creating one large hierarchy of components. In Xfrog components are much the same idea and are viewed in the Hierarchy window.
The Components
Xfrog provides several different components to use in any of your models and in each component you will be able to fine-tune any of its properties through the Properties windows.
1) The Simple component is used to create only one instance of a primitive.

2) The Horn component generates a row of origins

3) The Tree component is dedicated to creating trees

4) The Leaf component is dedicated to creating leafs
5) The Revo component generates a revolved volume

6) The Hydra component is used to multiply other components

7) The PhiBall component multiplies its child components in a spherical structure around a center point

8) The Wreath component multiplies its child components in a ring structure around a center point

9) The Attractor component is used to deform geometry

10) The Hyper-Patch component is another way to deform geometry. It is a cube shaped 3D grid that can be distorted into all directions by dragging the control vertices

The two Tabs gives you access to all available components or to all available primitives. To create any new component you simply drag the component onto any of the already visible components in the Hierarchy window or double click the component from this window. This is how you actually start and complete any models, by adding components to the hierarchy and then modifying its properties.

All models you create in Xfrog are linked components (like the jigsaw puzzle), which in turn will establish your model hierarchy. One component can be the parent of several succeeding components as seen here in this view to the left. Components and their subsequent hierarchies can be disconnected from a hierarchy by dragging them away from it. If you disconnect a component from the hierarchy you can zoom in on that one component (to separate it from the rest of all groups), where you can then concentrate solely on that component's properties.

When you link your components together you will be specifying the way in which are actually connected together. Each link also tells your model how-to place, or how it will place its structural geometry in real-time space. In Xfrog you have two ways to link components. One way is by a Simple link. The Simple linked component generates only one origin. Connecting one component to another via a Simple link will connect your new component to the last one in the hierarchy origin. The second way to link components is by the Multiple link. Connecting two components with a Multiple link will create the new component in every origin generated by the first component. In the screenshot below you can see the differences between these two types of links.
Here’s a “Simple Link”    A “Multiple Link”
 
As with what you would expect, Xfrog allows you to see what you are doing at all times through the Model View window. This view shows your model as you build and configure all of your parts to the plant, tree, flower, or whatever you happen to be creating. You can view the current model in Wireframe, Shading or Gouraud as well as being able to rotate it around its axis and zoom in and out.

If you disconnect any of your components (as mentioned earlier) you can zoom into it and tweak any of its properties here in the Model View window. To make it even easier you can Hide all other components and work only on the disconnected component. This allows you never get lost in complex models. When you are finished detailing the component just Unhide the component(s) and your full model is again seen here.
We've talked about setting the many properties of your components now let's take a look at how this is done. The Parameter Editor window gives you complete access to all the parameters of the different components. Once you click on any of your components this window will change with the corresponding component selected (context sensitive). It is here where you can make your plant appear as if it is bending in the wind, moving with the Sun's shadows, or make your trunk as twisted and crooked as desired.

As seen in the image you can add color and material texture to your model here as well.
The Animation Editor (Full Version Only)

The Animation Editor window is where you add life to your Xfrog models. You are able to animate nearly any parameter of your Xfrog models. The only properties that cannot be animated are material parameters such as colors and textures of course. The Animation Editor window and the Animation Control window are firmly connected since the Animation Control window provides you all the controls needed to edit and view the animation. By using the VCR controls it allows you to adjust the looping, playback rates and more. In the Lite Version you do not have these features.

If Xfrog is not enough you can also get some of their CDs that are full of pre-made models of 100's of different plants and tree life. They have plenty of different CDs available for $99 each. By looking at the many pre-made models you can get a good feel for how models are created. Check out their Web site for more information on these CDs as well as other software applications. They have also recently released an add-in for Cinema 4D.

Bottom line: Xfrog gives you everything you need in an efficient package to create virtually any type of organic plant life you want! If offers several Plugins to many 3rd arty programs too so check their Web site and see if yours is listed. Soon you could be producing computer-generated plants that to the naked eye could easily be confused with the real thing! It does take just a little getting used to but overall is very easy for what it does and what it gives in return. There are several PDF Manuals and Tutorials available from their site and email support is superb! Xfrog should be your genesis when modeling plants. It will "evolutionize" the way you do models from here on out.

Performance
User Friendly
Cost
Ease of Installation
Support
Reviewed by Robert Hall

Purchases can be made online from their Web site.


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