Particle Effects in 3ds Max
Illustration by John Hersey

Super Spray


Particle Effects in 3ds Max

with Steve Nelle

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Video: Super Spray

As non-event driven particle systems in 3ds Max go, the SuperSpray offers probably the most versatile set of tools and potential effects for your scenes. Smoke, sparks, fluid effects, they can all be easily set up using what many think of as Max's Swiss Army knife for special effects, the good old SuperSpray. Let's take a look at how it works. I'll drop a SuperSpray in the middle of my view then rotate and reposition for a better look. Now to get a better visual, we'll change the Viewport Display from 10% to 100%.
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  1. 3m 28s
    1. Welcome
      1m 1s
    2. How to use this course
      1m 4s
    3. Using the exercise files
      1m 23s
  2. 34m 56s
    1. Understanding particle systems
      2m 23s
    2. Comparing event-driven and non-event-driven systems
      2m 58s
    3. Controlling particle timing and quantity
      4m 42s
    4. Adjusting particle size and speed
      2m 55s
    5. Making particles rotate
      2m 36s
    6. Exploring standard particle types
      2m 45s
    7. Using metaparticles for fluid-type effects
      5m 57s
    8. Using a scene object as a particle
      6m 23s
    9. Understanding rendering and viewport redrawing
      4m 17s
  3. 43m 55s
    1. Spray
      6m 4s
    2. Snow
      5m 16s
    3. Blizzard
      3m 25s
    4. PArray
      12m 43s
    5. PCloud
      7m 30s
    6. Super Spray
      8m 57s
  4. 28m 32s
    1. Understanding particle flow
      1m 58s
    2. Navigating the Particle view
      5m 47s
    3. Working with operators
      3m 43s
    4. Adding a test to an event
      4m 11s
    5. Wiring events to change a particle's behavior
      6m 13s
    6. Adjusting particle flow settings
      6m 40s
  5. 40m 34s
    1. Understanding material
      4m 50s
    2. Setting map options and particle edge blending
      5m 53s
    3. Changing particle appearance with age maps
      10m 52s
    4. Blurring moving particles with the MBlur map
      6m 13s
    5. Blurring particles
      8m 16s
    6. Outputting a render for compositing
      4m 30s
  6. 58m 59s
    1. Understanding space warps
      2m 59s
    2. Using Bind to Space Warp
      5m 43s
    3. Adding Gravity to an effect
      4m 47s
    4. Adding Wind to an effect
      4m 24s
    5. Rotating particles with Motor space warp
      4m 43s
    6. Creating swirling effects with Vortex space warp
      3m 45s
    7. Blowing things up with Bomb space warp
      4m 15s
    8. Blowing things up with PBomb space warp
      4m 42s
    9. Making particles follow a path
      4m 3s
    10. Creating wave effects
      4m 0s
    11. Creating ripples
      3m 53s
    12. Deflecting particles off surfaces
      8m 4s
    13. Spawning particles
      3m 41s
  7. 15m 38s
    1. Creating a Super Spray particle system for the smoke
      2m 52s
    2. Adding wind
      3m 9s
    3. Dampening the particle movement
      3m 25s
    4. Adjusting the wind settings for realistic smoke movement
      2m 56s
    5. Creating more realistic-looking smoke
      3m 16s
  8. 22m 7s
    1. Creating the geometry and camera
      4m 39s
    2. Adding the background
      3m 52s
    3. Creating water movement
      6m 7s
    4. Creating the animated material for the water
      7m 29s
  9. 25m 38s
    1. Creating Super Spray water particles
      9m 26s
    2. Adding gravity
      2m 24s
    3. Creating the fountain water material
      5m 30s
    4. Constructing the particle water material
      3m 1s
    5. Making final adjustments
      5m 17s
  10. 24m 43s
    1. Creating the geometry
      3m 41s
    2. Adding the mudslide particle system
      5m 46s
    3. Binding a Gravity space warp to the particles
      2m 41s
    4. Adding the Deflector space warp
      4m 7s
    5. Creating the materials for the scene
      3m 3s
    6. Making final adjustments
      5m 25s
  11. 21m 52s
    1. Scoping out the project
    2. Creating the explosive devices
      3m 11s
    3. Adjusting the explosion settings
      4m 3s
    4. Setting up the shack's visibility track
      3m 22s
    5. Creating the fire effect
      3m 27s
    6. Adding a bright explosion glow and wrapping things up
      6m 50s
  12. 32m 4s
    1. Scoping out the project
      1m 6s
    2. Creating and positioning the particle flow system
      2m 9s
    3. Reviewing the PFlow events
      2m 26s
    4. Building the water drop geometry
      2m 37s
    5. Creating the water drop material
      4m 6s
    6. Adjusting the PFlow settings
      4m 38s
    7. Adding the Collision Spawn Test and deflector
      4m 18s
    8. Turning the drops into steam
      2m 46s
    9. Creating the steam material
      3m 49s
    10. Making the final adjustments
      4m 9s
  13. 47s
    1. Goodbye

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Watch the Online Video Course Particle Effects in 3ds Max
5h 53m Intermediate Oct 15, 2010

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

In Particle Effects in 3ds Max, Steve Nelle shows how to create a wide variety of particle special effects including smoke, water, and explosions. The course provides a detailed explanation of both event and non-event particle systems in 3ds Max, in addition to addressing the importance of a particle's material, the use of Space Warps and Deflectors, and creating fluid effects using MetaParticles. Six start-to-finish projects are also included in the course, which show practical techniques for creating ocean water for underwater scenes, mudslides, and more. Exercise files accompany the course.

Topics include:
  • Controlling particle timing, quantity, and rotation
  • Comparing particle system types, such as PArray, Super Spray, and more
  • Using instanced particles to customize a particle's shape
  • Understanding how to set up a particle flow
  • Wiring PFlow operators and tests to change particle behavior
  • Creating realistic-looking particles using maps
  • Adding Gravity and Wind
  • Using Space Warps like Vortex, Motor, and PBomb
  • Making particles follow a path
  • Spawning particles
  • Creating realistic smoke
3D + Animation
3ds Max
Steve Nelle

Super Spray

As non-event driven particle systems in 3ds Max go, the SuperSpray offers probably the most versatile set of tools and potential effects for your scenes. Smoke, sparks, fluid effects, they can all be easily set up using what many think of as Max's Swiss Army knife for special effects, the good old SuperSpray. Let's take a look at how it works. I'll drop a SuperSpray in the middle of my view then rotate and reposition for a better look. Now to get a better visual, we'll change the Viewport Display from 10% to 100%.

The emission on the SuperSpray starts at the middle of the particle icon and travels in the direction of the arrow. Although the particles emit from a single point in space, their spray can be adjusted using the Off Axis and Off Plane values near the top of the settings under Particle Formation. I might change the Off Axis Spread to 20 and the Off Plane Spread to 50. If we now orbit the view, we'll see the difference that's made as far as particle dispersion. I'll perform my orbit using the Alt+Middle Mouse combo. Now as with all of Max's particle systema, you can quickly change the way the particles are displayed in the viewport.

With the SuperSpray, you have options for Ticks, Dots, Mesh, all of the particles are now looking quite small, and BoundingBox if you're using instanced geometry. For this illustration I'll take my display back to Ticks. Now as far as particle timing, by scrubbing the timeline you'll notice the SuperSpray is set to initially emit particles only over the first 30 frames of animation. So inevitably you want to crank that number up to whatever frame number fits your effect in project length. To add to that emission time, we'll go into Particle Generation, changing the Emit Stop value to 100.

You can see how that change now allows us to emit particles over the entire length of our timeline. Why don't we also increase our particle Size and switch over to using the Mesh display within our view? I'll do the latter first. We'll go to the backup to the top, changing the Viewport Display type to Mesh. Now for the Size, we'll find that value under Particle Generation, a little further down. In the category, let's change our Size to 10. As for our particle type, we've got all the standard particle shapes to choose from. We'll find those under the category named Particle Type.

We can choose between Spheres, Cubes, and Facing should we be creating a material driven effect. Under Particle Type, we can also choose to use Instanced Geometry. This will give us the option of being able to pick an object from our scene as to the look of our particle. Let's take a look at how that would work using a teapot. I'll go back to the Create tab, under Geometry, creating a Teapot on the lower right-hand part of our view.

Now to make the switch over to using our Teapot as our particle shape, we'll reselect the SuperSpray, then change our Particle Type to Instanced Geometry. Once we've done that, we'll have to identify the Teapot as being that particle shape. You can do that a little further down in our settings. Under Instancing Parameters, click on the Pick Object button, then select the Teapot. Because we have our particle size set up to 10, obviously things are blown out of control. With that teapot now selected and the original size it is, we'll change the size of our particles on our SuperSpray back down to 1.

Let's now scrub the timeline to see how things look. Now the SuperSpray also offers a particle type called MetaParticles, which comes in real handy when creating fluid type effects. We're going to be looking at MetaParticles in detail in another video, but let's see if we can set something up real quick to give you an idea of how they work. Now they are very render intensive without changing a couple of specific settings, so please follow along with me closely. Let's start by going back up to the top of our controls, changing the Viewport Display to 50%. We'll now for effect change the Spread settings, Off Axis going to 10, Off Plane staying at 50.

Now we'd also like to make it so our MetaParticles don't die off after a certain number of frames. So under Particle Generation, we'll take our Life value to 100. This is where we need to be more careful. Let's first take our timeline back to frame 0. You can do that by simply hitting the Home key on your keyboard. For our MetaParticle effect, we'll now change the size of our particles to 30, and we'll vary that size by 50. That'll mix things up a bit. Okay, now that we've done that, and you are at frame 0, let's go and change our Particle Type from Instanced to MetaParticles.

Now before scrubbing the timeline we've got another big one here. Under MetaParticle Parameters, turn off Automatic Coarseness. Now that'll activate the Evaluation Coarsenss for both Render and Viewport. For the Viewport Coarseness, change that to 5. What this does is control how accurately the particles are calculated, in this case within the viewports. The higher the coarseness value the fewer the calculations. With those fewer calculations though, comes a lower detailed particle flow.

So at a viewport setting of 5, we won't be slowing ourselves down too much and still we'll get some detail to our particles. Now with that in place let's go and scrub our timeline. So that's pretty cool how that works. Now if you want a little more viewport detail, you can crank that number down to let's say 3. You are going to need to let the quality of the components in your computer determine just how low you can go. Now if you scrub the timeline and you start choking, you might have taken things done a little bit too low for your system resources.

Scrub the timeline again and you can see how things have turned out. To finish things up, I want to take things back to the Standard Type particles. The SuperSpray also has control for Spawning Effects, where one particle can spawn or divided into several. Now these settings allow you to specify as to what happens to your particles once they either die off or if they collide with something else in your scene. This comes in real handy for creating things like metal sparks for example. Coming off of a grinding wheel and breaking into dozens of smaller pieces as they hit the floor.

That can all be controlled with spawning. Lastly at the bottom of the SuperSpray controls, you have a series of preconfigured presets that could be pulled right off the shelf to get an effect up and running in as little time as possible. Bubbles, Fireworks, Welding Sparks, they're all there. These controls that I've just highlighted will make for the possibility of hundreds of different effects, making the SuperSpray a real go-to tool for particles. Now we're going to be using this power packed system for creating several of the effects that we've got coming up, but don't limit yourself to what I'm showing you.

This baby is chock-full of things that it can do, so get to playing around. You learn the ins and outs of the SuperSpray and you're going to be a good deal closer to being able to call yourself a special effects master. I'll save the scene out as SuperSpray Particles Completed, if you'd like to take a look.

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