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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.
Now, let's take a look at how to use nParticles to create a particle system. First of all, before we start I am in a file here called Emitters.mb. And this has actually couple of different layers here and we are going to use these throughout this particular lesson. So to create particles we go under nParticles > Create nParticles and there is a couple of different tools here. One here is called the nParticles tool and that allows you to place particles one by one throughout the scene. You can also create an Emitter, which is probably the most common way of creating particles. You can also emit from an object, so from the surface of any object. You can also fill an Object. Now, this is new in nParticles, in that you can actually fill an object with particle and then use those particles later.
Now, the particles you create can be any number of different types and these can actually be changed later. You can start with Points, Balls or Spheres, Clouds, Thick Clouds and Water. I am going to leave this on Cloud and let's go ahead and actually create using an Emitter. In fact, let's go into the Options here and see what we have. We can obviously give the Emitter a name. We can give it a type, either Omni, Directional, or Volume and we will go through those. You can give it a Rate; how many particles per second will this emit. Then in addition to that we have Speed, a Randomness Value to the Speed and additional things for if you choose a Volume Emitter or whatever. So I am going to leave these at the defaults and just go Create.
Now, what this does is it actually creates an Emitter here at the origin. In fact, let's go ahead and give ourselves some more frames, so I am going to give myself 200 frames here so we can actually see how this emits. You can see that it creates an Emitter that emits a cloud or cloud-like particles. Very, very simple. Kind of nice. Now, if we want we can actually go into the Outliner and we can find that Emitter that we have created. We can go into the Attribute Editor and if we want we can change our Start parameters.
So for example, if I want it to be Directional instead of an Omni, I can do that. What Directional does is emits the particles pretty much in one direction, almost like a spray. We can also do a Volume Emitter and that actually emits from any number of different types of volume, such as a Cube, or a Sphere, a Cone; really any of these basic primitives and you can see that, that emits those particles from that particular object.
So we can also create Emitters from other types of objects, we can actually emit from an object itself. So I am going to go ahead and select this Emitter and this particle system here and just delete those. Let's go ahead and turn on this EmitObject layer and we have the letter M. So all I have to do is just highlight that and we can use that as an Emitter by going Create nParticles, Emit from Object. Again, we have a number of options here, most important of which is the Rate in particles per second. If we create that, you can see now that the object itself is emitting the particles.
Now what happens here is that if we select Omni, every point in that object becomes an emitter. So we are creating a number of different emitters. Instead of just having one point emitter at the origin, we have a number of different ones along the surface here. So what we can do is go into our Attribute Editor and we find geoConnector. That's the node that we want. We can turn down this Tessellation Factor to turn down how many points on that surface we are actually emitting. So we can actually create a little bit more detail, that sort of thing, in terms of how this particle is emitted.
Now, the last way is to fill an object. So I am going to go ahead and turn off this Emit Object and actually I am going to go select this particle system and delete it in the Outliner. Now, let's go ahead to the last one, which is FillObject. So I am just going to go to this layer here called FillObject and turn it on. So that's just a basic cylinder with the top cut off and what we can do is we can actually fill this with particles. So I am just going to go nParticles, Create nParticles and I am going to change this to Balls, so that we have a different type of particle. Then I am just going to go FillOjbect.
Now, what this does is it fills that particular object with spheres. Now, the thing about these spheres is that they have dynamics already applied to them, so they have gravity, so when I play them, you could see they actually fall down. Now, if I want to I can actually use these particles and use this container to actually direct the particles. Now, what I can do is I can make this container into what's called a Collision object. What it does is that it collides with the Balls and it contains them. So if I select that cylinder and I go Create Passive Collider, now the balls just kind of settle into the bucket. So now I have a bucket filled with spheres.
Now, because these obey the laws of gravity I can do something else. So for example, I go here and say frame 20, select the cylinder, set a keyframe here, and then let's just go ahead to say frame 50 and then let's just go ahead and dump that out. So I am just going to go ahead and set another keyframe here, so this is the keyframes. So all we have to do now is just run the simulation. There we go. We are dumping out the bucket essentially.
So that's a really easy way to create that sort of particle system. Let's go ahead and show you this one more time. So you can see how gravity and the fact that this is a collision object allows you to create a very complex effect very simply. So as you can see, there is a lot of different ways to create a particle system using Maya's nParticles. So go ahead and play with some of these and then we are going to move on to some more stuff.
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