Join Brian Bradley for an in-depth discussion in this video Vr-Ray Metaballs, part of V-Ray 3.0 for 3ds Max Essential Training.
- In my creating simulations in mass effects and 3ds Max course found here on lynda.com, I step through the creation of a basic gloopy fluid effect using the n-particle system. In this video, I'm going to take that same basic setup and show how, instead of using 3ds Max's standard blob mesh object as we did in that course, we can instead make use of V-Ray 3's new metaball feature to nicely finish things off. If I just hit the play button here, we can see that we have a particle flow system that has been set up to pool and slide in a manner that feels somewhat like a thick, gloopy substance with portions even sliding over the edge of our stand.
We do still, of course, need to finalize the look of the effect, which is where our V-Ray metaballs come in. To set these up, let's set our timeline to frame 88, and then from the geometry section in the create tab, access the drop-down, select the V-Ray option from the list, and then left click to select the V-Ray metaball option. As I want to create this in plain sight, as it were, making it both easy to see and select, we can enable the AutoGrid option, and then simply left click once on the main (mumbles) geometry in order to create a V-Ray metaball object.
We then, of course, need to right click in order to exit creation mode. With the metaball object selected, we can access its parameters in the command panel's modify tab, and in the particles rollout click the positive particles add button. Now as we can't actually see our particle flow source emitter in the scene, we can just hit the H key to bring up the select from scene dialogue and then click on the PF source 001 object in the list. Now in terms of what we see in the viewport on playback, nothing will actually change here because unlike 3ds Max's blob mesh object, V-Ray metaballs are a render time effect.
So in order to see what we're getting, we will need to move to frame 54 or so and then take a render. Now obviously what we are seeing here doesn't really too much like any gloopy fluids that I have ever seen, so we're going to want to make some changes to our metaball parameters in order to accomplish that. In the basic parameters rollout then, let's drop the particle radius down to something a little more in keeping with the original effect that I created. 75 millimeters should work well.
Now as I make each change here, I am going to take a quick region render so that you can easily see the effect that each parameter change is making, even when that effect may actually be taking place under the hood, so to speak. If I take a render then, we can see straight away that that radius parameter tweak has put us much closer to our goal. The threshold value controls how closely the surface we're creating here conforms to the particles being emitted.
Lower values move the surface away from the particles, giving a more homogenous look to the surface, whilst higher values will cause the surface to cling much more closely to the original particle shape. A value of one should work nicely here, as our render shows. The step length option is really the main surface control that governs quality versus render time with lower values producing a more precise surface that will probably take longer to render, whilst higher values do reduce render times, but can produce surface artifacts.
0.5 should be good for us here, although a quick render does reveal that this is one of those parameters that oftentimes makes very little visible change to a still render such as this. Smoothing field bumps is an option that attempts to smooth out the final surface by culling away small stray particles in the system. Turning this on certainly reduces the lumpiness of our fluid, as our render shows, while setting the now enabled smooth radius and smooth expansion options to 0.6 and 0.5 respectively expands the surface some more and closes up some of the gaps that we see.
If we feel that the smoothing field bumps option goes a little too far, we could always leave that turned off and instead apply a relaxed modifier to the metaball object. Now whilst what we have here is looking pretty decent in terms of what I want to achieve, you would notice if you were to click through the timeline and take a few test renders, that on a number of frames the original particles can be seen peeking through the metaball surface, somewhat ruining the look of our finished effect. To stop this, let's hit the 6 key to open up particle view, and then select the PF source 001 node in the graph.
We can then right click to access its object properties, and in the rendering control list uncheck Renderable. This won't in any way affect our metaball surface, but it will cause the original particles to essentially become invisible to the V-Ray engine. Now whilst n-particles and the V-Ray metaball object aren't going to convince anyone that they can be used as a serious fluid simulator, they can, nevertheless, be used to produce some very nice fluid-like effects that may be just what the doctor ordered.
- Using the new UI elements, Quick Settings, and revamped Frame Buffer
- Understanding color mapping modes
- Adding V-Ray light types
- Working with the V-Ray Sun and Sky systems and dome light
- Using irradiance mapping and light cache
- Working with diffuse color maps
- Making reflective materials
- Creating a translucency effect
- Using the new SSS and skin shaders
- Ensuring quality with image sampling
- Working with the adaptive subdivision engine
- Controlling the physical camera
- Working with FX tools such as VRayFur and VRayMetaball
- Stereoscopic 3D rendering
- Using Render Mask
Skill Level Intermediate
Q: This course was updated on 02/02/2016. What changed?
A: We added tutorials on the new 3ds Max camera tool, which replaces the defunct V-Ray Physical Camera. The author also includes a method for creating a V-Ray camera via scripting.
Q: This course was updated on 04/19/2018. What changed?
A: New videos were added that cover V-Ray 3.1 to 3.3 updates.