General project and community related discussions and offtopic threads.
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Yes, I think this is not possible with instanced groups.
There is a Blender addon that does something similar, "Tissue": http://www.co-de-it.com/wordpress/code/blender-tissue
However I think it creates one big mesh, not instances.
It would be interesting to know how geopattern/vraypattern works internally, because it seems to me like this can't be done with the usual instancing (where each object only has a transformation matrix). You would probably need something like a deformation cage/lattice?
I have almost no technical knowledge about how something works in 3D, therefore I have no clue how, however on their website it says:
VrayPattern technology is fundamentally different from the technologies that are used in scattering. Scatters are multiplying individual objects, but pattern is actually a 3d procedural texture. The consequence of this is unique opportunity but lot of restrictions. The unique features include: Possibility to literally not limit duplicating of elements. Automatic deformation of objects in accordance with the shape of the surface Low memory consumption when rendering.
As they say, it is different from regular scattering. I think if it were done with lattices, every geometry patch would need an individual deformer, my logic says it would be too massive to compute. In real world it seems simple do make something, like a fabric, follow another object's surface.
This feature was developed by Andrey Kozlov, also the maker of Fstorm, I bet he knows the secret ingredients .