Category Digital Design of Nature

Computer-Generated Plants


For over thirty years, botanists and computer scientists have made considerable efforts to develop effective methods to synthetically generate natural objects. As early as in 1966 the first method for the simulation of a branching structure via a computer was introduced. This method used the so-called cellular au­tomatons, an arrangement of square cells on a grid that could adapt to different conditions directed by a computer program. Based on a simple rule mechanism, and provided the appropriate rules were applied, the model then grew from an initial cell into the adjoining cells and developed a branching structure. Con­trary to these discrete models, later models worked continuously. Since then, multiple different methods have been developed...



It has been over 40 years since Stanislaw Ulam published his pioneering work on computer models of branching structures. In the period that followed, plant modeling has become an area of active interdisciplinary research. On one hand, biologists are interested in plant models as a means for better understand­ing the fundamental mechanisms that govern plant development and structure. Plant scientists are also investigating the use of models for computer-assisted decision-making in horticulture, agriculture, and forestry. On the other hand, the computer graphics community is interested in plants as elements of scenery for computer animations and games. State-of-the-art plant models, combined with advanced rendering methods, are now producing astounding results...


Digital Design of Nature

What is computer graphics and what are the conceptual tasks of research in this area? To the average person the term still conveys more or less the design of lo­gos and the manipulation of pictures with the help of image-editing programs. However, during the past four decades, computer graphics has evolved into an innovative multifaceted field of research and computing that affects many other sciences. In many areas and for many problems we can best convey an under­standing through images that trigger our sense with the highest capability: our eye. And, what is more, aside from algorithms, formulas, and tables, the com­puter graphics scientist often is able to create beauty...