I am trying to model this bowl pictured below with rings of elements with slightly varying section, extrusion length and angle. I am wondering how best to go about this? If I added randomization to an array as described here that would deal with the random angle of each element but how then would I go about randomizing the extrusion section shape?
I would do it that way :
First, create your cylinder by using an elongated rectangle. Delete the bottom face.
Add a subdivision surface modifier. Don't forget to smooth it out with Object > Smooth
Add an array modifier to get your row of 3
This is the trickiest part. Add an empty in your scene. Add an array modifier with a constant offset and set the empty as an object offset :
Drive the empty rotation depending on the array count :
Add a displacement modifier, add a new texture and set the direction to "RGB to XYZ".
In the texture tab, set the type to "Clouds" and the color to "Color". Increase the size. There is a soft limit of 2 but you can manually input higher values.
Tweak the displacement modifier strength so that it is believable.
If you want lower frenquency in your displacement noise, you can add another displacement modifier with a new texture, set to a higher size.
I didn't go full non-destructive but you can still tweak some parameters :
Addition (Thanks R. Betts :) ) : To give a nicer transition between the base of the cylindrical thingies and the plate, I modified the base mesh to have a square extended base :
Next add a vertex group, and make sur only the top vertices have a weight of 1.
In your displacement modifiers, make sure the group is selected so that the base doesn't get displaced :
Final result (Eevee - By no means supposed to look realistic :) ):
The blend file :