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Creating a 3D Grid of points in Blender 3.0

In my spare time, one of the things I like to play with is rendering stuff in Blender. While I'm very much a beginner and not learning Blender professionally, it is a lot of fun to play around it!

Recently, Blender has added geometry nodes (which I alluded to in a previous post), which are an extremely powerful way of describing and creating geometry using a node-based system.

While playing around with this feature, I wanted create a 3D grid of points to instance an object onto. When I discovered that this wasn't really possible, I set to work creating my own node group to do the job, and I thought I'd quickly share it here.

First, here's a render I threw together demonstrating what you can do with this technique:

(Above: Coloured spheres surrounded by sparkles)

The above is actually just the default cube, just with a geometry shader applied!

The core of the technique is a node group I call Grid3D. By instancing a grid at a 90° angle on another grid, we can create a grid of points:

(Above: The Grid3D node group)

The complicated bit at the beginning is me breaking out the parameters in a way that makes it easier to understand on the outside of the node - abstracting a lot of the head scratching away!

Since instancing objects onto the grid is by far my most common use-case, I wrapped the Grid3D node group in a second node group called Grid3D Instance:

This node group transfers all the parameters of the inner Grid3D node group, but also adds a new position randomness vector parameter that controls by how much each instance is translated (since I couldn't find a way to translate the points directly - only instances on those points) on all 3 axes.

(Above: instanced cubes growing and shrinking)

Now that Blender 3.1 has just come out, I'm excited to see what more can be done with the new volumetric point cloud functions in geometry nodes - which may (or may not, I have yet to check it out) obsolete this method. Still, I wanted to post about it anyway for my own future reference.

Another new feature of Blender 3.1 is that node groups can now be marked as assets, so here's a sample blender file you can put in your assets folder that contains my Grid3D and Grid3D Instance node groups:

https://starbeamrainbowlabs.com/blog/images/20220326-Grid3D.blend

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