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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.
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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