I just watched a tutorial where the author used a plugin (or script) inside of 3DS Max called Advanced Painter. It allowed him to select an object, and use it to "paint" new geometry onto the surface of a plane.
Specifically, he was using it to "paint" a collection of water drops on a bottle, but mentioned it could also be used to paint blades of grass, plants, etc. in other cases. As the objects were distributed on the plane, they were given subtle variations in their size and shape via range controls within the plugin's interface.
Is there something like this available for Cinema? I'm aware of the Greeble plugin, and might be able to use it with custom greebles, but it doesn't really have enough specific control for my project.