Unity 4.3 Essential Training
Illustration by Mark Todd

Adjusting particle systems


Unity 4.3 Essential Training

with Adam Crespi

Video: Adjusting particle systems

Once we've made our particle system, we have nearly infinite ways to customize it, and make it look exactly like we want. What I'll do with these cattails is to put a new material on, cattail puffs. And then get them configured to stream little white puffs out across the lake from the edge. I'll start out by making a new material. Clicking on the Materials folder, right clicking, and creating a new material. I'll name this new material, cattail puffs, and then change the shader over to particles. Once it's named, I'll drop down under the Shaders, and choose Particles and Additives Soft.
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  1. 2m 57s
    1. Welcome
    2. What you should know before watching this course
    3. Using the exercise files
      1m 24s
  2. 21m 21s
    1. Designing the game
      4m 39s
    2. Setting the project
      4m 9s
    3. Exploring the Hierarchy, Scene, and Inspector windows
      5m 45s
    4. Creating and transforming objects
      6m 48s
  3. 21m 34s
    1. Organizing the Assets window
      2m 55s
    2. Exporting objects from 3D modeling programs
      8m 33s
    3. Importing and configuring models and textures
      4m 54s
    4. Setting properties for models and textures in the Inspector
      5m 12s
  4. 29m 8s
    1. Introducing the game environment
      4m 27s
    2. Placing the player controller
      4m 29s
    3. Publishing project settings
      5m 32s
    4. Adding sky and fog
      8m 17s
    5. Fine-tuning the First Person Controller
      6m 23s
  5. 57m 25s
    1. Creating the terrain geometry
      3m 29s
    2. Forming the topography
      9m 54s
    3. Painting the terrain textures
      7m 9s
    4. Painting trees and forests
      10m 55s
    5. Painting grass, shrubs, and 3D geometry
      9m 38s
    6. Painting detail meshes
      8m 46s
    7. Adjusting terrain settings
      7m 34s
  6. 39m 45s
    1. Creating materials and assigning shaders
      8m 56s
    2. Handling multiple materials
      7m 13s
    3. Adding textures to a material
      3m 57s
    4. Manipulating textures
      5m 20s
    5. Adding reflections to materials
      8m 1s
    6. Creating lit materials
      6m 18s
  7. 47m 12s
    1. Creating GameObjects
      5m 2s
    2. Understanding components
      6m 15s
    3. Using colliders for barriers
      6m 22s
    4. Using colliders for triggers
      8m 1s
    5. Exploring physics
      8m 22s
    6. Working with Physic materials
      5m 3s
    7. Adding joints to rigid bodies
      8m 7s
  8. 20m 33s
    1. Setting up prefabs for animation and batching
      5m 8s
    2. Animating an object
      6m 32s
    3. Adjusting timing in an animation
      3m 50s
    4. Animating transparency and lights
      5m 3s
  9. 11m 58s
    1. Importing skinned meshes
      4m 51s
    2. Separating animations into clips and states
      3m 14s
    3. Creating transitions between states
      3m 53s
  10. 30m 22s
    1. Customizing ambient light
      2m 59s
    2. Creating the sun using a directional light
      5m 49s
    3. Using layers and tags for lighting
      3m 32s
    4. Adding spot and point lights
      4m 25s
    5. Using point lights for fill
      4m 30s
    6. Adding and fine-tuning shadows
      5m 10s
    7. Creating lighting effects with cookies
      3m 57s
  11. 9m 15s
    1. Adding scripts to GameObjects
      2m 42s
    2. Using correct script syntax
      6m 33s
  12. 23m 7s
    1. Setting up a 2D project
      3m 13s
    2. Importing sprites
      2m 30s
    3. Slicing in the Sprite Editor
      3m 6s
    4. Layering sprites and setting the sorting order
      5m 12s
    5. Creating 2D colliders
      3m 12s
    6. Adding 2D physics
      2m 25s
    7. Animating 2D elements
      3m 29s
  13. 30m 25s
    1. Creating light shafts and sunbeams
      5m 20s
    2. Using ambient occlusion to add gravity
      4m 37s
    3. Adding depth of field
      8m 40s
    4. Applying motion blur
      5m 46s
    5. Tuning color for mood
      6m 2s
  14. 38m 16s
    1. Exploring water effects
      7m 36s
    2. Working with wind zones
      2m 8s
    3. Using an audio source
      4m 3s
    4. Creating a sound zone
      5m 59s
    5. Triggering audio
      3m 37s
    6. Adding audio effects
      3m 13s
    7. Creating particle systems
      2m 26s
    8. Adjusting particle systems
      9m 14s
  15. 25m 23s
    1. Setting up occlusion culling
      5m 52s
    2. Enabling batching to reduce draw calls
      3m 28s
    3. Testing in the game window using statistics
      4m 27s
    4. Building a development build and debugging
      6m 0s
    5. Building the executable
      5m 36s
  16. 49s
    1. Next steps

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Watch the Online Video Course Unity 4.3 Essential Training
6h 49m Beginner Mar 10, 2014

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Interested in game making? Start in Unity—a game engine for mobile and desktop games and real-time simulations. Author Adam Crespi shows techniques used in game development with Unity and introduces the basics of scripting and game functionality. First, learn how to import models and textures, organize your project and hierarchies, and add terrain, water, and foliage. Next, Adam explores how to use lighting to bring the game to life, and add rendering, particles, and interactivity. The end result is a sample game with a lush environment, fully animated characters, and some basic interactive gameplay.

Topics include:
  • Designing the game
  • Creating and transforming objects
  • Importing and configuring models and textures
  • Setting properties in the Inspector
  • Creating the terrain geometry
  • Building materials and adding shaders
  • Creating GameObjects
  • Exploring physics
  • Animating objects
  • Lighting the scene
  • Creating 2D game elements
  • Adding special effects
3D + Animation Developer
Unity 3D Unity
Adam Crespi

Adjusting particle systems

Once we've made our particle system, we have nearly infinite ways to customize it, and make it look exactly like we want. What I'll do with these cattails is to put a new material on, cattail puffs. And then get them configured to stream little white puffs out across the lake from the edge. I'll start out by making a new material. Clicking on the Materials folder, right clicking, and creating a new material. I'll name this new material, cattail puffs, and then change the shader over to particles. Once it's named, I'll drop down under the Shaders, and choose Particles and Additives Soft.

There's different particle shaders available. And what we can see in here is that they're largely geared to be blending together. This is so that we can make particles that are very transparent and blend together and still maintain transparency like smoke. We can also use things like multiply for them to get very darker if we need say, black smoke. And these also accommodate things like sparks being totally self-illuminating. It's up to you which shader you'd like to use. And one shader may not work consistently for everything. So make sure you experiment with the different available shaders in here trying it out to see which one works the best for your given situation.

I'll leave mine as additive soft and then I'll get a texture in clicking on the Samples Sphere and choosing Select in the Texture Slot. I've made a new texture called cat tail puff. Drawn in Photoshop and it's simply a white puff with a feathery edge. I'll close my select texture, and I'm ready to see these particles with this white puff on them. I'll select my particles to start them playing and then drag this cattail puff material right on. We can see the particles change. Alternately, we can scroll down and drag it right into the inspector here under the renderer.

There's our particle material and we can change the shade if needed. Now, what it will is get this place and size out the emitter and then look at the behavior of those particles. I'll turn back on my terrain. Turning it on in the inspector and then I'll also bring on the daylight water For our particles, they start out coming from a point of a cone. And we can enlarge this out into nearly any size we'd like. What I'll worry about with particles is not necessarily how they look initially, but how they behave, and where they come from. I may end up customizing this shader as I get more into it. But really what I'm after is that I've got what we think are lots of little white puffs coming from an area on the bank. I'll pick my particle system, pull it onto that bank edge, making sure I'm nestled in the grass, and then go down to the emission sections. In the emission in our particles, we can choose a rate, and I'm going to lower this down and also use a curve to be able to effect where this goes. What we can see in particles then is a lot of places give us opportunities to either randomize or change subtlety. I'll pick from my curve just an upswing, a slow end. And this just puffs off a few here and there as the particle system loops. It's looping up here in the particle system rollout with a duration of five seconds. So roughly every five there's another puff of these particles. A nice random looking enough array. Rather than a constant stream aiming at us. Now look at the particle shape. This shape actually concerns the emitter. Not the particle shape itself. What we can do is we can tell these particles please come from something. Are you coming from a mesh or emitting from a cone? Are you emitting from a box or from a volume? We can change the shape of the emitter. So instead of one plant giving off seeds, it's most of this side of the lake. I'll change that shape over to a box and then enlarge out that box by clicking and dragging on the size. Here's my x size, getting nice and big. And then my y size. If you notice here I'm cranking out y and it's going out to the side. That's because it's working on the global pivot. When we chained over to local, we can see which direction corresponds to those axis listed in the shapes section. I'll move it over, rotate it into place and then customize how they behave.

I'll push this particle emission back into the grass so there's a range of cattails that spew seeds towards the building. Right now their velocity is just leading them straight up and they're simply drifting and hitting lifespan and dying off. What we can see in here in the particle system section, is that there's a start lifetime and a start speed. What I'll do is take that start speed down to 0, and then put in a force of a lifetime, so the particles are born on that box. Within that volume, and simply don't go anywhere. Now, I'm going to get some force in. I'll open up the force over life time. What we can do is we can say to particles. You have a velocity over a life time. Smoke may start out fast, and then hang in a column in the sky. A force, then, lets us simulate wind. What I'll do is to kick up this force in the world coordinate system and then bring up the y axis. I'll try a y of 0.25 so they just start to rise up a bit. I'll make sure to switch back over to the global coordinates so I can see which way I'm going and then put in the z of, well let's try one and a half. It looks nice but it's the wrong direction. So I'll go negative with the Z. Negative two, a little more strength. If you'd like, you can randomize this. Dropping down the arrow and choosing random between two constants. I'll leave the y alone, but put the z at negative 2 and negative 2.65 because it sounds neat. And now I've got the particles randomly over their life, starting slow and beginning to drift across the lake, dying off before they hit the building, simulating those seeds. As they get closer, we sort of lose them, and only when they're far away can we really see a whole bunch of them together. I'll scroll back up to the top on the particle system, and take the max particles down. I don't want to have that many; just a few there so it's not that noticeable. I'll pull the max particles down to 100. And, we just have a few particles out there. What I'd also like to do is to pre-warm these particles. And what this lets us do is, if we have the particles that need to ramp-up or cycle-in. It pre-warms them. So that when we start out, the particle system is already in motion. It's up to you how much customization you'd like to do. You can get, really, quite crazy with it. Getting in particles on texture sheets, cycling between multiple particles. Changing color over life, speed over life and even putting in animated wind. You can go as far as you'd like, and you can access most of the particle elements in scripting as well. So you can further hook into them. What I'll do is randomize that size and call my Cattails good. I'll drop down in the start size, and choose random between two constants. I'll set this start size then to start at point 1 and go up to point 5. So I get microscopic puffs and slightly bigger puffs. And that's it. And they start out. Blow gently towards the buildings. And disappear before any of them collide with the building. On collision then, we have limited options for collision. Although we can put in pretty decent collision effects. If we open up the collision section we can see that once we turn it on we can collide with planes in a transform and we can add on multiple objects if we need. So for example if I'd like to add the lake surface in I can choose it here in the picker and type in da for daylight water And now the particles that will hit that lake surface may bounce a little bit. Simulating the skipping of puffs across the surface. Within that collision then we can determine it as bouncy, dampening, killing it off, spawning, all kinds of fun things in there. And it's really up to you how far you'd like to go. I'll leave mine alone. I like the way it's looking, how they're born and sort of gently leave the cattails. I'll play the game and see how it looks. I'm in my scene. I don't really see much, because I've got Depth of Field on. But going outside, even picking the right door Can just start to see, maybe a puff or two. I see some little winking over there but it's really hidden. I'm going to take a quick short cut, jumping over the railings and going over to the other building. Yes, as a dev you're allowed to do this. We may end up restricting our flare by raising those colliders. But for now, this'll work. I can just see off in the distance.

My little puffs streaming towards me. As if there's cattails losing seeds. And in the depth of field, looking at the water. I kind of lose track of them. So, they're working nicely. If you'd like to add in multiple particle systems, you can. You can also lower the amount of blur on the depth of field. If you'd like to show off your cat tail puffs. It's up to you how far you'd like to go. And, you can really take these to tremendous degree. So, get in there and have fun making some particles. It's neat to see what kind of life you can add to your animation.

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