Join Rob Garrott for an in-depth discussion in this video Creating particles with the Emitter object, part of Cinema 4D R12 Essential Training.
The basic particle system is really easy to use and at the heart of this system is the emitter object. Now the emitter object is a generator object. That means it needs a child or multiple children in order to produce some sort of result and it exists underneath this icon right here. These are all of the basic particle system objects and here is the emitter object right here. It's a generator object. So it has a green object. I will hit Play on the keyboard which is F8 or you can click on the green triangle there to start the playback. And you see that when it plays back, the particle system automatically starts spitting up particles for you. It's that simple.
In order to provide a fast response for the particle system, by default it does not show any objects and right now because the particle system doesn't have any under it, if it has no children, it's not spitting anything out at all. So if I scrub forward in time where I can see my little dots representing the particles, if I click on the Render in Active View button, I get nothing. So we need to provide the particle system with something to actually spit out. So I am going to go and add some cubes here. So I will add a cube. Now my cube right now is larger than the particle emitter. So I am going to scale it down, hit T on the keyboard to grab the Scale tool and then just drag it down until it's smaller than the emitter itself. There we go.
Now that we have the cube smaller than emitter, I'll make the cube a child of the emitter and when I do that, it looks like nothing happened, but when I click the Render in Active View button, now I can see cubes as particles. Now in order to be able to see those cubes as particles here in the Editor window, I have to activate something called Show Objects. On the emitter object under the Particle Properties, if I click on Show Objects, there are the cubes right here in the Editor window. Now I am going to turn these off for now, just so I can get a good constant playback in my Editor window.
I get a lot more performance with the Show Objects button turned off. So I am going to turn that off right now and I'll just focus on the Particle Emitter properties. So, first step under the Particle Emitter properties is the Birthrate. The Birthrate controls how many particles is the object making and right now it is set to 10, and you can crank this value up. Functionally, there is no limit to how many you can have in there. I will change this to say 1000 by 1000 and hit Play. When I do that, you can see a lot more particles come out.
Now they give you two sets of Birthrates here, one for the Editor and one for the Renderer. The reason for that is your particle system can become very complicated with a lot of geometry being generated. In order to get decent performance here in the Editor view, you want to work with a lower number. So you can have a very high number when it renders, a very low number while you are working, and be able to work a lot more comfortably. The Visibility controls how visible the particles are and if I hit Play on the keyboard here, you will see it doesn't really have an effect here, but if we were showing our cubes it would.
So I am going to pause that and bring that back up to 100%. Start Emission and Stop Emission, very important. This controls when your particle system is spitting up particles. There isn't really an On/Off switch for the particle system. It's this feature right here. So if I want my particles to come out and then burst, I can start them at frame 15 for example, so I'll change that to 15, and then have them stop 5 frames later at frame 20. Now when I hit Play, I'll rewind it to zero and hit Play, you'll see I get a burst of particles.
Let's bring this back to zero to 150 which is the default. 0 by 150. The Seed value allows you to randomize particle systems. So if you have two emitters with the exact same properties, they will spit particles out in the exact same way unless their Seed value is different. Now the Lifetime controls how long the particles live for. Right now the particles are set to live for 600 frames and my Preview Range is only set for 90 frames. So it looks like the particles live for the entire time. If I bring this down to say 30 frames and hit Play, you will notice that my particles don't live very long and the stream of particles got a lot shorter.
Anytime you see a variation in Cinema 4D, it controls how randomly the feature that it's affecting will behave. In this case, the variation on Lifetime will make some of the particles live longer than others. Right now the variation is at 0%, so they are all dying at exactly the same time. If I bring this up to 100%, then you are going to see it's a very random stream of particles. Some are going to live for a long time and others are going to die off right away. Now that's a great starting point if you are going to be making something like a rocket exhaust or a jet stream or something like that, because the particles that exist in that stream, some of them will stream out over a long distance and others will evaporate right away and so you want to have a high variation.
Same thing goes for variation in Speed. If I vary the Speed setting here, some of the particles will go very fast and some of the particles will go very slow. The Speed is set in units and the higher the unit value, the faster the objects will go. So if bring this up to say 500 units and I hit Play, you'll see the particles are now coming out much faster. If I pause this, you will notice that the particles are much longer now. This has no impact on what the particles actually render like. The little particle preview objects that you see here are just designed to give you an impression of the speed of the particles.
Your actual particles do not elongate. In fact, if I hit Command+R or Ctrl+R on the keyboard and render, you can see my cubes look exactly the same. I've got a whole bunch of them in the scene here, but they are not elongated. A on the keyboard will redraw. Rotation controls how your cubes rotate as they emit from the emitter and if I crank this value up, you don't see the previews rotate, but when I render, you will see that now my particles are rotating like crazy. I am going to turn on Show Objects and hit Play. It's going to chunk with a thousand in the Birthrate.
So you can see they are coming out very slow. So let's change the Birthrate Editor function down to say 250, and then I will rewind and hit Play again. So you can see now my particles are coming out all rotated and the other thing you will notice is that when I change the Birthrate in the Editor, I got much better performance. If I click the Render in Picture Viewer button, that's what my particles will render like and that's the Birthrate and Renderer in action. I am going to close the Picture Viewer back up. The last thing I want to talk about here is the shape of the emitter.
Under the Emitter Properties themselves, there are two types, Pyramid and Cone. I'm going to leave it set on Pyramid. The only difference between the Pyramid and Cone is the Angle Vertical goes away. I am going to leave it on Pyramid and be able to control both of these. I'll turn off, under the Particles options, just turn off Show Objects so I just get the particle preview. When I bring the Emitter Size down to a point and I can change this size anytime as you'll watch this, as I scrub this value, the emitter gets larger on each of the X and Y axes. I am going to bring this down to 1 x 1.
Now I have just a point source from my emission. I will hit Play. You can see it's just a little stream, almost like a laser beam of particles coming out of there. If I adjust the Angle Horizontal, let's bring this up and I will scrub it, and it goes all the way to 360. I will stop playback here and you will see that now the particles are streaming out on the XZ plane in 360 degrees. As I adjust the Angle Vertical, you will see that the particles start to spit out now in 360 degrees in all directions.
Even though the Angle Vertical is 180 degrees, because the Angle Horizontal is set for 360, it's going to be effectively all directions at once. So that's how to create a supernova or something like that, that is an explosion that's going to send particles in all directions at one time. That's really it for the basic particle system. As you can see, the emitter has a few features on it, but all of them are really easy to understand and use.
- Exploring the importance of object hierarchy
- Modeling with splines
- Modeling with the Knife and Extrude tools
- Applying materials and texturing
- Creating and manipulating light sources
- Animating in the timeline with keyframes
- Controlling camera movement
- Compositing in After Effects
- Texturing with BodyPaint
- Using XPresso and MoGraph
- Creating particle systems
- Rendering and adjusting final render settings