Maya 2009 New Features
Illustration by John Hersey

Maya 2009 New Features

with George Maestri

Video: Adding forces to particle systems

Now, previously in Maya you had to create separate wind and separate gravity and other forces separately in order to have them affect the particle system. With nParticles, it's all built-in, which makes it a lot easier to set up. So let me show you how this works. We are going to start with nParticles, and let's go ahead and set our preset to Balls. Then we are going to just create an emitter. I am just going to go ahead and move that above the ground plane a little bit and this should just be an Omni emitter and let's go ahead and emit those spheres.

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Watch the Online Video Course Maya 2009 New Features
1h 40m Intermediate Dec 11, 2008

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In Maya 2009 New Features, George Maestri demonstrates several breakthrough updates in the latest version of this 3D modeling, rendering, and animation tool. He explores the upgrades to the interface and covers soft selection and other modeling tools. George then delves into more complex new features, including the Asset Manager for organizing objects and nodes within a scene; animation layering to blend, merge, group, reorder, override, and add to preceding layers; Maya Muscle, for creating lifelike skin motion; and nParticles, a new particle system. Exercise files accompany the course.

Topics include:
  • Working with the new interface
  • Organizing assets
  • Creating muscles
  • Sculpting muscle shapes
  • Working with nParticles
  • Creating emitters
  • Animating with layers
Subject:
3D + Animation
Software:
Maya
Author:
George Maestri

Adding forces to particle systems

Now, previously in Maya you had to create separate wind and separate gravity and other forces separately in order to have them affect the particle system. With nParticles, it's all built-in, which makes it a lot easier to set up. So let me show you how this works. We are going to start with nParticles, and let's go ahead and set our preset to Balls. Then we are going to just create an emitter. I am just going to go ahead and move that above the ground plane a little bit and this should just be an Omni emitter and let's go ahead and emit those spheres.

As you can see, they are actually falling down; they actually have gravity applied to them. So if we keep that emitter selected and go over to our Attribute Editor, let's just go ahead and see how this works. Well, we have got the emitter. We also have the ParticleShape, which is what defines the actual particle, which makes them for example Balls rather than Clouds and we also have the nucleus tab, which actually defines the forces, such as Gravity and Air Density and the Wind Speed and so on and so forth.

So if we go over here to the ParticleShape and we scroll down to Dynamic Properties, we can turn on or off the Wind or the Gravity. So if I click this button here, that means it's going to Ignore Gravity, which means gravity is not going to affect it, and now you can see it gets more of that cloud shape because the particles are just moving in the direction in which they were emitted. As soon as I turn off this tab, it means that Gravity is back on and you can see how the spheres respond to gravity.

Now, if I go over here to the nucleus tab, you can actually affect Gravity. You can turn gravity on or off. You can actually affect the strength of Gravity here so I can make gravity weaker or I can make it stronger. Now, 9.8 is earth gravity, or 9.8 meters per second squared. You can also change the direction of Gravity. Right now it's -1 in the y direction, which means it pulls straight down. If you want Gravity that pushes up, you can certainly do that.

You can also change the Air Density and the Wind Speed. Let's go ahead and turn up the Wind Speed a bit and see what happens. Well, you can see how the wind actually does affect how these particles move. You can also turn on what's called a Ground Plane. Now, what this does is you can actually create a Ground Plane for those spheres to impact with or to collide with and then you can see now that when they actually hit 0, they fall on the floor.

Now, we can also change some features about the particles. Let's go back to this ParticleShape tab here and go back down to Dynamic Properties. One of the things we can change is the Dynamics Weight. We can also change how it conserves energy. So when it hits the ground, do you want it to bounce like a marble, or do you want it to kind of slow down and not conserve that energy as much? So if I turn down Dynamics Weight here, you can see how it affects it. You can do this interactively as well.

The other thing is how much drag does it have. So for example, if I turn up Drag, you can see that it's actually dragging in the wind a little bit more. So let's go ahead and turn Drag way down, you can see how that affects this. Then we can also Dampen. What that does is obviously it dampens the effect of the forces. Let's go ahead and turn that way back down again.

We can also give the particles mass. This is probably the most important one, because what this affects is how external forces, such as wind, affect the particles. So if I have a heavy mass particles, the wind is not going to affect it as much as if I have a 0 or near 0 mass. So for example, when this is really high, the wind doesn't affect it hardly at all, but when this is low, you can see how the wind even blows these particles across the floor. Now, one of the nicer things about this is that you can actually scale the mass of a particle with age. So for example, I could take this basic mass here and scale it down as the particle ages. Now, these particles aren't aging; they live forever. So this isn't going to really work on this. But you can see how you can actually make the particles lighter as they get older. This is probably good for things like smoke or something like that, where you want the smoke to bellow up and then kind of float off in the wind as the particles get a little bit older.

So in addition to these forces that are built into the Particle System, you can certainly use the other forces that are available in the standard dynamics model, such as any one of these fields here, such as Air, Drag, Gravity. Any of these forces will work on an nParticles field. But typically, I like to use the built-in Wind and Gravity because it's so much easier.

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