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With Motion's real-time playback engine, creating particle systems can actually be a really fun experience. So if you're unfamiliar with particle systems, let's go ahead and build one so you can understand what I'm talking about. Now open the Layers panel if it's not already open, and I want you to look at this background, I just input a still as reference for our particle system. See, most of time as you build particle systems it can be rather processor intensive. A lot of times I'll just export a still referenced for my background, so I can make sure that colors and everything are matching, and then I can import my animated Motion particles into my finish animated comp once I have things set up.
To get started with our system, let's select our background layer, lock it off, and just create a new layer that we can put our particles in. Now if you go to the Library, under Particle Emitters you can see there are all kinds of presets, so just see you get a feel for what we can create with particle systems, check this out. You can create really nice flowing complex graphics by using particle systems, and a lot of times I like to use things that add depth to my scene.
So if we look at our reference background image, you can see that I've got something that has kind of playful colors, even though they are muted back a little bit, but it is still kind of flat, even though I do have some shading on the circles and stuff. In order to add depth, I'm going to add a kind of playful particle system. So rather than using one of these presets, we'll go ahead and start from scratch. Now if you go in the Library down to this folder, third from the bottom, content, you may notice in the subfolders here there is an option for Particle Images.
In here these are little PNG files that you can use to actually create your particle animations. So if we look at these different files, you can see they all look slightly differently, and they're really small, see, 87x101. And these are ping files, so they are way less than a megabyte. Now I want to create something that looks kind of like sparks, so I'm going to scroll down here and see if I can find anything. And rather than making you wait as I scroll, let's just click on the search field and start typing spark. Okay great.
So I can click through here and check out all the different sparks that are available, but I know the one that I'm looking for is Spark11. So let's just add this to the scene by dragging and dropping it right up into our group layer. Now since this is rather tiny, it's sort of hard to see when we have the layer selected, so let's just deselect the layer, and there you can see how it's appearing. Now as I'm looking at this--let's zoom in here--as I'm looking, I can see there is kind of a dark halo around this, so I just want to check the media settings.
If you right-click on your particle image and go to Reveal Source Media, under Media over here you can look at the Alpha Type and this is set to Straight, but I can see kind of these black edges, so what I want to do is look at pre-multiplied black and boom, sure enough, you can see, there is the nice bright image that I was looking for. So sometimes even though an items in the Library, you may need to go ahead and change how its alpha channel is interpreted.
Now to actually create a particle system from any graphic element, what you have to do is select that element--and I'm just going to press Shift+Z to resize my canvas so you can see what's going on here. But with the elements selected, if you come down to the lower-right side of your toolbar, there is a Particle Emitter button. It's the second one from the right. If you go ahead and click that, you'll notice not many changes. That's just because the playhead's right here at the start of our comp. Now most of the time when I create particle systems I let Motion play back in real time, but do to how we're recording this I may start and stop a fair amount. So I encourage you to get working by leaving Motion playing back as you're making our adjustments.
So let's get started by pressing the spacebar, just so we can see what's going on. Now I see pretty easily that this is creating this explosion of little sparkles. Now I am just going to stop playback back here, so I have a fair amount of the particles on the scene. Now most of the time when you adjust particles you want to get started by making your adjustments in the HUD. See in here I can adjust the Birth Rate, which is how many particles come out every second, or I can adjust the Life, which is how long each individual particle lives.
We can adjust Scale, okay, these are the overall scale of the particles. So let's actually bring this down quite a bit because I just want nice little tiny sparkles moving throughout my scene. Now Emission Range, if you click and drag, notice now I'm getting some adjustment in the graphic here of the HUD. If I just drag the edge of this, I can control how this is actually going to be emitted from that point. Now there are plenty more particle system controls.
If you click on I button, that'll go ahead and open the Inspector. You can see there are a bunch of other settings for adjusting your particle systems, but this movie was about creating them and as you can see, we've already created our first particle system.
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