Keyframable or animated growth of foliage

Hello guys, hopefully Im in the correct category.

Im thinking of starting a small cinematic project inside of UE.
The idea or short film, consists of a school slowly being overrun by nature; grass, vines animals and all alike.

I was thinking of using the foliage system that comes with UE in order to brush all the grass, but the question is, would i be able to keyframe or animate the foliage, slowly growing. Both globally and maybe small clusters or “trails”. Something like the falloff system in C4D if any of you are familiar with that Controlling Animation with Effectors in Cinema 4D - YouTube (timestamped)

From some google searches i cant really find an answer to this and was hoping some of you wizards could help!

Hi Nanoid,

I think something like this is likely to use a whole bunch of combined techniques to get what you are looking for.

Lets say you wanted to overun the school with vines, moss, grasses etc.

You could start with the “Hero” assets, large vines with thorns and and leaves. rig these in your chosen 3D app and animate the bones moving along a path so the vines creep across your scene.
For further away vines you could us an animated opacity mask to slowly reveal them.
add a few particle systems to this where the sprites themselves are not moving but simply grow over a few seconds.
You could also add a flipbook/sprite sheet to this to show buds opening, leaves changing colour etc.
Again use masks to add decay and moss etc to walls and maybe lerp between the 2 texture versions.

There maybe better ways of doing this using the foliage system but it’s certainly not something i’ve come across in working with it.

Hope this helps.


Look Up Material Parameter Collections, Material Instances and such.
It’s all just Material Magic

Thank you guys so much for the replies! :slight_smile:

You’ve definitely given me something to play around and explore with.
Normally id do all of this stuff in my choice of 3D app but the scale is simply too big which is why im looking into using UE for it.

If anyone else reads this thread and has some input or just anything it would gladly be appreciated!