I have a 3d object of barge which I would like to look as if it is say half filled with gravel/small stones and with a 'peak' to simulate a pile of gravel created by a conveyor which is filling the barge from above.

I need some tuition if someone can give me some clues especially at this time when I am grieving (sorry) a loss and can't think straight and trying to keep busy.

I will attach a blender file (I have yet to apply suitable texture images for the sides and hull).


  • $\begingroup$ I'm very sorry for your loss, John. For the question: is it just going to be a fixed mesh? You do not need any kind of filling animation/simulation? $\endgroup$ Aug 21, 2023 at 7:29
  • $\begingroup$ @GordonBrinkmann word for word.... snap. $\endgroup$
    – Robin Betts
    Aug 21, 2023 at 7:30
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks Gordon and Robin. Sorry I should have stated I just want a fixed mesh not an animated one eg assume that barge has been filled as far as required and no more gravel will be coming. $\endgroup$ Aug 21, 2023 at 7:58
  • $\begingroup$ As others have said, sorry for your loss. I'd suggest using a plane subdivided quite a few times set at the level of your 'gravel', selecting a vertex where you want the centre of the 'peak' to be and moving it up on the Z-axis with Proportional Editing enabled (O-key). $\endgroup$
    – John Eason
    Aug 21, 2023 at 8:22

2 Answers 2


I guess one way could be to add a plane that fills the inside of the barge. Subdivide it a few times in Edit Mode, best way maybe to use loop cuts Ctrl+R here to create a different amount of subdivisions in length and width to keep the faces mostly square.

subdivided plane

Then with Proportional Editing enabled by either pressing O or using the button in the menu bar, select a few vertices here and there and move them slightly up or down with GZ to make the surface not look so perfectly flat (unless you want it like that).

proportional editing

Choose one spot where you want the pile to be and move it slightly more upwards. Depending on how you want it to look like you might need a higher resolution than my example. Or maybe change the falloff in the menu next to the Proportional Editing button.


To make it look smoother you can also add a Subdivision Surface modifier afterwards, just make sure you have Boundary Smooth set to Keep Corners to make sure the edges do not get rounded and no longer fill the barge completely.


Now there are two possible ways:

First, you could add a Displace modifier to your plane. Give it a new texture by clicking the New button.

add displacement

On the Texture Properties tab I chose a Voronoi texture with a very small size. But note, how fine the details look like is determined by the resolution of the mesh - I have set the Subdivision Surface modifier to viewport and render levels 5 for this.

displace texture

Another way would be to do it with Geometry Nodes. While the plane is selected, open a window with the Geometry Nodes Editor and click New to get a new nodetree. Since you are not yet very familiar with Geometry Nodes, I just give you an overview which nodes you need and in which submenu of the Add menu you will find them after pressing Shift+A (of course you can also search for them):

  • Group Input and Group Output are there by default after creating a new nodetree
  • Distribute Points on Faces under Add > Point
  • Instance on Points under Add > Instances (important: not Instances to Points!)
  • Ico Sphere (or other object as gravel): Add > Mesh > Primitives
  • Random Value under Add > Utilities
  • Join Geometry under Add > Geometry

Now you plug the Group Input into the Distribute Points on Faces, that output into Instance on Points > Points where you also plug the Ico Sphere into the Instance socket. The Random Value node set to Vector gets plugged into the Scale input. Now the Instances output gets plugged into the Join Geometry node as well as the Group Input and then connect the joined mesh to the Group Output.

And this is how it looks like, the values you might adjust to your liking. In the Ico Sphere node you can set the base radius of the gravel objects, the Random Value node's Min and Max values are the scaling range for varying the size of the gravel.

geometry nodes setup

As mentioned above in the list of nodes, you can also use a different object than the Ico Sphere, for example a Cube (or even a collection of custom gravel objects, but for simplicity we use primitives). The advantage is it has less vertices and maybe you want less "rounded" gravel. To place the cubes more randomly you can add random values for the Rotation on the Instance on Points node as well:

cubic gravel

In the file there are two planes: one with the Geometry Nodes version, the other with the Displacement modifier (the latter is hidden).

  • $\begingroup$ Curses! Too slow again! <img src="https://blend-exchange.com/embedImage.png?bid=ZDsgx6pd" />. :^) (Just used a procedural material rather than fiddling around with particles...) $\endgroup$
    – John Eason
    Aug 21, 2023 at 9:56
  • $\begingroup$ @JohnEason I skipped the simple texture part because I thought from how the question was phrased he was going for something with more real displacement/geometry instead of just having some bump. But at least my Displacement modifier is using a procedural texture, too ;) But taiyo was even quicker... $\endgroup$ Aug 21, 2023 at 10:05
  • $\begingroup$ I forgot that I already had a procedural gravel material setup in my assets or I'd have been a lot quicker! :^) $\endgroup$
    – John Eason
    Aug 21, 2023 at 10:10
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Everything from scratch :) Always amazes me what approaches people come up with, nice setups! $\endgroup$
    – taiyo
    Aug 21, 2023 at 10:36
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Thanks Gordon and John. You have ALL been so kind to show me different methods to use. Not sure what I will use yet and so won't accept any answer as the 'solution'. Having an emotional day and may leave this a bit. I should also have advised that my (gravel) barge will most likely only ever be view from as far away as 1000 feet oe more (aircraft flying over). Later I will reread ALL solutions and maybe work each one just for the learning. Thanks HEAPS to ALL again. I consider you to be my 'mate'. $\endgroup$ Aug 22, 2023 at 1:29

Sounds like a use case for a Particle System. First you need to prepare the surface where all the stones should be. Create a plane and subdivide it appropiately:

enter image description here

Now lets shape the conveyer pile. Select some vertices to be the peak, enable Soft Selection and adjust the radius of influence:

enter image description here

I think it looks a bit more realistic if it's not flat everywhere else, but that is artistic freedom:

enter image description here

Now lets prepare some stones. I just beveled some cubes for demonstration. Create some versions of them and group them under a new collection:

enter image description here

Now the Particle System comes into play. Select the plane and add the Particle System modifier to it. Head over to the Particle Properties Tab and make some basic settings:

  • select Hair mode
  • tick Advanced (this causes the Rotation option to pop up)
  • tick Rotation and set Orientation Axis to Normal (other options work too)
  • under Render > Render As, select Collection
  • now the Collection option pops up where you can finally select the prepared stones collection in Instance Collection
  • also tick Pick Random

You should see now something like this:

enter image description here

Tweak the particle settings until you're satisfied. I changed the number of spawned stones under Emission, the Randomize value under Rotation and the Scale and Scale Randomness values under Render and achieved this result:

enter image description here

Oh and.. i wish you all the best.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I really like this answer because it looks so lame in the first stages, and then all of a sudden bam, perfect gravel $\endgroup$
    – pipe
    Aug 22, 2023 at 15:37
  • $\begingroup$ @pipe Haha thx, i tried my best to bring the tension to the point^^ $\endgroup$
    – taiyo
    Aug 22, 2023 at 16:21

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