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Each particle system in 3ds Max gives you the ability to control your particle size and speed. To show you where you can find the adjustments, I will be using a file named Particle Settings Size and Speed. Let's start with controlling just how fast or slow your particles travel. You'll find the setting under Particle Motion. That'll be in the Particle Generation category on the right-hand side of the screen. Now a particle speed is probably best defined as the initial speed at which a particle leaves its emitter, a higher number representing a faster velocity. Let's start the playback and we'll change a few things around.
I can do that by simply tapping the forward slash in the keyboard. Now under Particle Motion let's change Speed to 2. Now you can see the difference that's made. Let's try 22. Now the particles are speeding away at a much faster pace. Let's go back to the original default value of 10. Now directly under Speed, you have Variation, which can be used to adjust or vary the initial speed of a particle. Higher values will ensure that each particle in your system isn't traveling at the exact same velocity. Let's start the play again and we'll change the Variation to 25.
Now, why don't we take the speed down to about 5? A little tough to see with this type of viewport display, but a little variation does indeed make things many times look a little more realistic. Now as far as controlling a particle size, staying in the Particle Generation category, we have a couple of different settings that we can adjust. The Size setting controls the overall size of each particle, with larger numbers producing better particles. Let's change that Size value to 5. Okay, with the larger size we can now take advantage of displaying our particles using their actual mesh.
To do that, we'll go back up to Viewport Display, changing the option to Mesh. Let's now return to the Particle Size category. Once we are there, let's change the Size of the particles from 5 to 10. Let's go ahead and play this back and we can see the difference there. Now, let's go back to the Speed and we'll just build the speed and the speed variation. Once we are there, I will begin playback. We'll change the Speed to 3, and the Variation to 50. Now, the Size settings also have controls called Grow For and Fade For.
Grow For controls the number of frames over which the particle will grow from very small to whatever size you set for the Particle Size value. Fade For on the other hand determines the number of frames over which any given particle will shrink down to 1/10th of its size prior to dying off. So particles can be setup to start small, then grow up to their setting size, or be programmed to gradually shrink in size before fading away, an effect that many times you will see when creating dust and smoke, where a dust cloud for an example will grow larger over time than gradually diminish in size before fading away altogether.
So that's your controls for adjusting both size and speed. Next, we'll take a look at controlling a particle's rotation.
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