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How to use Geo Nodes in Blender

Tutorials

Written by Hayden

Published on Last Updated on

Understanding Geo Nodes

Geo Nodes, a relatively recent addition to Blender's toolkit, is a node-based system that enables users to procedurally generate intricate landscapes, terrains, and objects. This feature leverages procedural techniques to dynamically generate geometry, textures, and materials, providing an unprecedented level of flexibility and creative control.

Example of a Geo Nodes setup.

Getting Started with Geo Nodes

Accessing Geo Nodes

To begin utilizing Geo Nodes, open Blender and switch to the geometry nodes workspace. This is a preset workspace that is made up of 4 main Editors:

  1. 3D viewport
  2. Spreadsheet
  3. Properties Editor
  4. Geometry Node Editor - This is where your nodes are going to be found in and your main window.

Creating a Basic Setup

Start with a base object like a plane, cube, or sphere. Make sure that your object is selected. Then, add a Geometry Nodes modifier from your properties editor and either add a new Geometry node system or use a premade one by clicking on the dropdown menu and selecting one you have already made. This will enable you to start building your procedural setup.

Alternatively you can also add the geometry node system directly in the geometry node editor by clicking on the new button or using the drop down found to the left and selecting a premade one.

The Default Geo Node Setup

When you create a new geometry nodes system, by default you only have two nodes. A group input node and a group output node. 

They will be connected by a green wire both going to Geometry. It is between this greenwire that you're able to intercept the Geometry data and manipulate it to create your own custom geometry node system.

Understanding Nodes

Geo Nodes function similarly to Blender's Shader Editor, with nodes representing various functions and operations. You can use nodes to manipulate and modify your geometry, add noise and randomness, distribute objects across surfaces, and even create complex ecosystems.

The structure of Geometry nodes

Most nodes have inputs and outputs.

Inputs are found on the left of the node, this is where data is accepted.

Outputs are found on the right side of the node. This is where the new data can be pulled from after it has been processed by the node.

Input and outputs will have different colors and shapes depending on what data is being used.

  1. Green - Geometry data
  2. Grey - Float data (Value with decimals)
  3. Light blue - String data (words and letters)
  4. Pink - Boolean (True or False value)
  5. Dark red - Material
  6. Dark Blue - Vector data (directional data)
  7. Dark Green - Integer data - (number with no decimal place)
  8. White - Collection data
  9. Maroon - Texture data
  10. Yellow - Color data
  11. Orange - Object data
  12. Brown - Image data

As you can see there are a lot of different data types available in the Geometry node system unlike its cousin the material node system. Which automatically makes it much more complicated.

You will generally want similar data being linked up to other similar data types, as not doing so can produce errors. Thankfully error handling is built into the ui and the wire will light up red if it is an invalid connection.

Example of recreating a subsurface and a bool modifier stack

Let's now look at creating an example Geo node setup that will aim to replicate a simple modifier stack. The original modifier stack uses a subsurface modifier in conjunction with a Boolean modifier that creates a sphere with a cylindrical hole cut into it.

Step 1 - Add Geo Node Group

Start with a cube or other primitive object.

Navigate to the geometry nodes workspace and add a new geo node modifier. After that make sure that you create a new Geo Nodes group by clicking on the new icon as shown in the image.

Remember that you can achieve this step in the Geometry nodes editor by simply clicking on the “New” button. This will automatically create a new modifier and populate the node group field with your newly created node group.

Step 2 - Add a Subsurface Node

Use Shift + A to add a new node and search for “Subdivision Surface”

Connect this new node on the wire running between the Group Input and the Group output nodes.

Set the level field of the SubDiv node to 3 (Be cautious here, as if you object already has a lot of polygons you can set the level to be lower or potentially not even need it)

Step 3 - Add a Mesh Boolean Node

Use the add command again but this time search for a Mesh Boolean node. This node acts exactly like the boolean modifier if you are familiar with that already.

Connect this new node in between your Sub Div node and the group output node, making sure the wire from the mesh output from the subdiv is input into “mesh 1”.

Nothing should change as we have yet to set up the mesh that we will be using to cut a hole out from the subdivided surface.

Step 4 - Add a primitive operator

Instead of adding a new mesh like we would have to if we were using the traditional boolean modifier, now we can add the primitive directly in the node tree. Which makes for some really neat outliners!

Add a cylinder node into the node editor and position it beneath the Subdivision Node.

Connect the mesh output with the mesh 2 input of the mesh boolean node.

Upon doing this your entire mesh may disappear. This is because your cylinder takes up the whole size of the subdivided cube at level 3 on the subdivision.

Step 5 - Tweak size and rotation of Primitive operator

In your cylinder node - Tweak the radius value until you see a hole appear on your mesh in the 3D viewport.

Congratulations! You have just successfully created your first geo nodes setup!

Thoughts about Geo Nodes vs Modifiers

If you are coming from Modifiers I am sure you can instantly see the usefulness of these features. It is essentially like creating your very own modifier!

It should be noted that you don’t need to learn these if you feel that that won’t serve any purpose. The traditional way of modeling and creating assets is still very much alive. But if you find yourself doing similar things over and over again. It might be a good idea to author your own custom nodes to speed up your workflow process.

Tips for Mastery

Experiment and Iterate

Geo Nodes offer endless possibilities. Don't be afraid to experiment with different nodes and configurations. Often, the most unexpected combinations yield the most astonishing results.

This is also a really good way to learn what doesn’t work. Now - it may feel like this will be overwhelming, but if you are interested in a more structured learning experience Polyfable does offer a structured lesson plan for learning blender.

Combine with Traditional Techniques

While Geo Nodes offer incredible procedural capabilities, they can be even more powerful when combined with traditional modeling. Use both techniques in harmony to achieve complex and unique outcomes.

Learn from the Community

Blender's vibrant community frequently shares tutorials, tips, and assets related to Geo Nodes. Explore online forums, social media, and video platforms to learn from fellow artists.

Conclusion

Geo Nodes in Blender have opened up a realm of creative possibilities, revolutionizing the way 3D artists approach scene creation and animation. By tapping into the power of procedural generation, spatial realism is within your grasp like never before. Whether you're a seasoned Blender user or just starting, embarking on a journey with Geo Nodes can lead to awe-inspiring landscapes, captivating animations, and a new level of artistic expression. So, dive in, experiment, and let Geo Nodes redefine your 3D projects.

About the Author

Hayden

Hello there, Blendertutorials story begins with an idea. An idea to make learning 3D more accessible and easy. There are a lot of great tutorials out there, but very few that truly have the scope or the functions of blender tutorials. My aim with this site was to create something unique, that may help people achieve their dreams with 3D. Despite the name blender tutorials and myself using the software for near on 15 years, I don't like to consider myself a Blender Artist, rather I am a story teller first and foremost. I believe Blender is a tool and it should be used in conjunction with other tools. It is for this reason that I teach you from the perceptive of a technical storyteller not a Blender Artist. And I feel that that is a defining feature of Blender Tutorials. Yes, we look at the technical side of 3D art through the lens of Blender. But it is all in service of telling a story. It has been such a journey to try and create this service. When I started. I had only limited knowledge of creating websites. Now... well... I am quite happy with the outcome. I have learnt so much on this journey from myself and from all of you that join me on it. Thank you so much for making blender tutorials apart of your learning!

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