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Working with particle attributes

From: Maya 2009 New Features

Video: Working with particle attributes

So now that we know how to create particles, let's show you a little about how to make them look interesting and different. So we have got this file here called Teapot_01.mb and this is a just a teapot that's emitting some steam and the steam is just basically a particle system. So I can select those particles and go into the Attribute Editor and let's go through some of the attributes of this particle system to show you how we can affect the way that it looks. I am going to actually zoom in here so we can see the particles. Now, under the Particle System we have got a number of different tabs here. We have got the actual Particle System itself, which is really just positional, where is this positioned. Then we have 1 or 2 ParticleShape tabs. Then we also have what's called a Spray and that's for the type of emitter that it is. This is actually kind of a directional emitter. Then we also have the nucleus, which is basically the physics controls of this Particle System, and we will get into that a little bit later when we get into forces, but this is where the forces are located.

Working with particle attributes

So now that we know how to create particles, let's show you a little about how to make them look interesting and different. So we have got this file here called Teapot_01.mb and this is a just a teapot that's emitting some steam and the steam is just basically a particle system. So I can select those particles and go into the Attribute Editor and let's go through some of the attributes of this particle system to show you how we can affect the way that it looks. I am going to actually zoom in here so we can see the particles. Now, under the Particle System we have got a number of different tabs here. We have got the actual Particle System itself, which is really just positional, where is this positioned. Then we have 1 or 2 ParticleShape tabs. Then we also have what's called a Spray and that's for the type of emitter that it is. This is actually kind of a directional emitter. Then we also have the nucleus, which is basically the physics controls of this Particle System, and we will get into that a little bit later when we get into forces, but this is where the forces are located.

But we are just going to go through some of the ParticleShape attributes here. Now, the first one is Count, but that's really just the number of particles that we have at the moment. The next one here is important and this is called the Lifespan; how long do you want these particles to live? Do you want them to live forever? Do you want them to live a Constant life, or a Random range, or if you want to lifespan Per Particle? So if I change this to Constant, you could say I want them to live however many frames or seconds. Random range from this to this with a Random seed. We are going to keep this on Live forever.

We can also change; let's go down through these, we can change the Particle Size. So we can make them small or big, really whatever size we want. We can randomize how big or small they are. We can also worry about Collisions. Do you want them to Collide with other objects, or do you want them to Self Collide; so do you want them to collide with themselves? So for example, if you had particles representing marbles, you would want them to collide amongst themselves. If it was steam, you would want it to collide with other objects but not themselves.

We can also add in things such as Bounce, Friction, Stickiness, that sort of stuff. So for example, if you wanted to do Foam, you might want them to collide and stick together or something like that. Next, we have Dynamic Properties, which allow us to change the Mass and the Weight and how it's affected by forces and we will get into that. Then we also have one here called Liquid Simulation. When you turn that on what it does is it allows this to simulate water. So it will create particles that will not compress. So water is pretty much a viscous fluid so it will not compress as opposed to say a cloud or some gaseous sort of effect where it actually can compress. So liquids kind of keep the volume of the particles together.

Then Output Mesh. Do you actually want this to output as a mesh and how do you want that to output? For example, if we are doing a thing such as a Blobby surface, how do you want that to output? Then we can go down here and we can go down to Shading. Now, this is actually probably one of the most important rollouts, because it really determines what type of particle you are creating. These are familiar to anybody who has used the other types of particles in Maya, and we have a number of different Render Types.

First one is MultiPoint, which basically is almost like sparkles or something like that. It's basically points. So each one of these -- in fact, let's just go ahead and create some here and we will highlight these. You can say MultiPoint or MultiStreaks. You can see these are streaks. In fact, we might want to make these a little bit bigger, so let's go ahead up to Radius here and just make them a little bit bigger, see if we can affect those. We can also do Numeric. What Numeric does is it just gives you a Particle Number, so each particle does have a number; this is more for debugging.

You make them Points and we can assume we make them bigger if we want. Spheres. Again, we can change the size. Sprites. Now, Sprites are really handy, because what those do is those allow you to map images. So each one of these is a rectangle and you can actually use texture mapping to map an image to that, which can be really handy. Streaks and again, we can create them bigger or smaller.

Then some other ones here such as Blobby Surface, which again creates -- let's go ahead and make these a little bit smaller so you can see how Blobby Surface works. Now, what Blobby Surface does is it creates kind of more of a watery type of effect. Cloud, which is steam, which is basically what we were doing. Also Tubes. Now some of these, ones with the s/w behind them, will render in the Maya Software Renderer. Some of these will not. All of these will render in Mental Ray and they will also render in the Maya Hardware Renderer. Now, typically for these types of particles systems we just tend to render them in Mental Ray.

Now, in addition to this we can also create Opacity and we can actually Scale the Opacity so it actually can be completely opaque to completely transparent. What this does -- now, this is actually new to nParticles -- is that over the lifetime of a particle, makes it go more transparent or less transparent. So what this ramp does is it keys off of this Opacity. When this top value is one or if it's less than 1, this value is essentially that and then it just translates all the way down to 0. This one is always 0. This top one is whatever number is in here.

Then we can also play with color. In fact, you can also do color by time. So you could actually make the color change over time. So for example, if I wanted to I could say the age of the particle affects the color. This is great. Previously, in Maya Particles you had to go through all sorts of gyrations to make this work and this just puts it right here, right in front of you, makes them a very easy. You can also do the same for incandescence or a number of other things.

Now, if you are familiar with Maya's existing particles systems you can still do particle array attributes like you have done before and this is where it gets a little complex. So those are some of the attributes that you can use to change how a particle looks.

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Maya 2009 New Features

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George Maestri
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