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In LightWave 10 Essential Training, author Dan Ablan provides thorough, step-by-step instructions on building 3D models, scenes, and animations in LightWave 10. Beginning with a tour of the interface and LightWave's two main programs, Modeler and Layout, the course covers key concepts such as building models from basic polygonal shapes, assigning textures, and employing lights and 3D cameras to build real world scenes. Also included are tutorials explaining particle animation, dynamics, and bones. Exercise files accompany the course.
You've probably heard us talk about particles at some point and I always wondered what they were. It might be a little scary to you to even use them, but they are really quite useful. You can make things like sparks and flames and fire and water and all kinds of cool things like that. But before you do that, you have to learn how to control them. So let's take a look under the Items tab. I am going to come down under Dynamic Object and choose Particle. Now when this panel comes up, you've got two options. You are going to have a HyperVoxel Emitter. That's what HV Emitter means.
You also have a Partigon Emitter. Let's just start with the Partigon. You can give it a name but Emitter usually works and we will click OK. When you do that, you get a nice little box right in the center of the screen and then the FX_Emitter panel comes up. To begin, just hit the Play button and particles are generated, that easy. There's not much more to it but what if you want to control them a little bit? What can you do with these? Well, if you look under here, under the Generator, you've got a Birth Rate and you can tell it how often those particles are birthed, how soon they come out.
You can generate that by a Second or by Speed or by Collision, by Wind, but for the most part, you're often going to do it either by Frame or by Second. This is the most common. The Nozzle of how those come out. It could be a Sphere or a Box. The Size Effect, I am usually going to change that from Mass Change and I will show you why. The Key Effect, we are not really going to have any at this point, but you would do it for an envelope value or a parent value. But the Generator Size is important. Now a lot people want to size an emitter down in their actual layout and that doesn't necessarily always make the best alternative.
You generally want to set the size in here. So I am going to go to 0.2, 0.2, 0.2, and why would I do that? Well, let's say you have somebody walking around with a pipe and you want this to be smoke coming out of a pipe. Well, we can't have this super large emitter like a giant fireplace on top of their pipe. You need a little small one. So you change the Generator Size. Particle Limit is how many particles would be generated in total. So 100 particles per second and you have 1000 of them that can be generated. Let's come back here a little bit. So in the Particle tab, you can set the Particle Weight.
Now this might work a little differently than you think. You would think that increasing it adds more weight and in fact it's kind of the opposite. So if I open this up and put more weight, well nothing really happens. The reason is I need to give the particles some motion. So we'll come back to that after I put the motion on. Well, we want them to have a little bit of velocity on the Y. We just want them to come up and look what happens. The default 60 frames can start to get annoying. So let's open this up to about 300 frames, give ourselves ten seconds so we could see things happen.
So, now that the particles have motion on the Y just by increasing the value of the velocity on the Y axis up and down, we can go back to the Particle Weight and the more I increase this weight, the lighter the particles become. If I bring it back down to the 1, you can see they kind of get heavy and they stall. Let me zoom in so we can see that. They are kind of stalled at the top. So the lower that weight value, the more weight is applied to the end of those particles, opposite of what you might think.
Now the speed of this might be a little fast for let's say a pipe, like little smoke streaming out. Well, two things have to happen. First, I need a lifetime. How long those particles are going to be visible as they come out? The default 60 frames actually can work for us, but the plus or minus, we used the plus or minus value earlier in Modeler to create different level of bevels of randomization. Well, you can do the same here. Lifetime randomization could be maybe 20 frames. So, some will last a little longer. Some will last a little less, and now they start dying off a little bit sooner.
Just give it a little more realism. If you go to the Etcetera tab, the Etc, you can change the Gravity and if I just bring this negative gravity down on the Y, well, it really doesn't do much because I'm already putting the velocity up on the Y. What if I put it perhaps on the X? What's going to happen? I am pushing the particles off to the side, just like that. So that can work really well. You have to think in gravity in terms of 3D space.
Don't think of it in real world up and down, but you can have it on the Z, you can have it on the X, and the gravity is just a force we can push the particles to. It's pretty neat. So to make them last a little bit more, we can come back to the Life Time and put that back up to about 90 and now they're actually streaming out just a little bit more. The last thing I want to do is I don't want them to actually start right at 0. If they are right here at 0, and they're starting, I already want them out.
So if I look at my timeline, they start right about the 100, 90 to 100. So what I am going to do is go to Frame 90 and see if that works well for us. You can set up a pre-role. So, if I come down to Fixed in the Generator tab, the Start Frame at 0, I can make -90. So 90 frames of the particle generation has already happened by the time I get to Frame 0 and what happens is that those particles, as soon as the animation starts, are already in place and that works really well. If we want to slow those down a little bit, we can go to Motion tab and we can bring the Velocity down a little bit.
So our initial velocity for the Y is 430mms. We can bring the overall velocity down a little bit and we will rewind and play. Now they travel just a little bit slower. So the interactive feedback that you get from these particles is great. Simply making changes, you can see them right here in layout. Now the difference between this partigon that I have created versus a HyperVoxels Emitter is basically this. If I come down to Virtual Preview Render and we take a look here, you can see that I have got my particles and my overlay.
I am going to turn my Overly off from this dropdown here and while I really can't see anything in here, if I go to the Surface Editor for these partigons and I make them 100% luminance and come back, and I'll put these on 60s here and I press 6 to get to my camera and press T to move the camera in like this, right mouse to move it up and I press F9, I can actually see those little particles. That's great for many things. Little bugs and sparks, but it's not good for smoke.
So, that's the only difference when you, say add dynamic object of particle. HyperVoxel Emitter or Partigon Emitter. Everything else is same except that partigons will render on their own. They are single point polygons. The HyperVoxel Emitter is used to create smoke and we are going to load HyperVoxels to show you that. Initially to get started with particles, it's really pretty simple. Load up the Partigon or the HyperVoxel Emitter and play around with it. Put some motions on it and if you are not seeing a result, move the motion even more.
A lot of people tend to get hung up when they make little changes and they don't see results. So they think it doesn't work. If your value is at 1m perhaps and you go to 1.2 and it doesn't change, well type in a value like 10 and see if you get a really strong change and then bring it back a little bit. Really experiment with those tools, so that you can understand how these particles work.
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