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- Working with particle forces and the Emitter object
- Using Thinking Particles with the MoGraph Tracer
- Understanding the Dynamics engine
- Combining Thinking Particles with Dynamics
- Creating dangling objects with spline dynamics
Skill Level Beginner
Thinking Particles is an incredibly powerful Particle System, but it's even more powerful when used in combination with MoGraph. I'm going to create a very basic scene. Let's start off by going to the Content Browser and into the Presets, and under Studio, and then we'll go in to Simulation, and then Thinking Particles, and go into Presets. And here in the Emitters, we're going to grab the TP Standard Emitter. So let's go to TP Standard. And if these words are getting cut off and it's bugging you, you can do two things. I can resize these guys larger, or I can change the view to a list.
So let's scroll down, and there's the TP Standard Emitter, and if I double-click on that and rewind it back to zero, hit Play, you can where there we've got our Thinking Particles. Let's go back to the Object Manager, and what I want to create is a situation where I've got particles spitting out and falling down on to a Plane on the floor. So let's orbit around here just a little bit so we can see it better. And I'll raise it up, let's click on the Axis Band here and Drag it up. Now don't worry that the circle didn't go with it. If you rewind back to zero you'll see that the circle snaps back to it's location.
That's one of the things with Thinking Particles, you always have to rewind back to zero and Play forward again because Thinking Particles does not go backwards in time. The next step, we want to have some Gravity in the scene. And if we go back to the Content Browser, and we're going to go up one level. It's inside the Effectors Folder. If we double-click on that, we're going to scroll down and get the TP Planer Gravity. Let's double-click on that to add it to the scene, and now when we rewind and hit Play, you'll see that our particles are falling down. They're spraying out really fast, the speed is overcoming the Gravity right now.
So let's stop Playback, and go to the Object Manager, and under the Standard Emitter, let's bring the Speed down. Let's change it from 1,000 to, say, 250. Rewind back to zero and hit Play. Now you can see our particles are falling down. Let's go also to the Gravity Object and increase the strength of the Gravity, so our particles will fall down to the ground faster. Let's stop Playback.
Now what we need to have is a Plane for them to interact with, so let's grab a Plane Object in the scene, let's make it a little bit larger so there's no chance of our particles missing the Plane. And now what we need to do is to tell the particles to interact with the Plane, and there's another great Preset Object for that too. Let's go back to the Content Browser, make it a little bit bigger. And this time we'll go up one level, and this time in the interaction, let's go to -- scroll down and find TP Object Collision. And we add that to the scene by double-clicking on it and go back to the Object Manager.
On the TP Object Collision Object, under the Thinking Particle Settings, we're going to tell the particles what object to collide with. So let's go to the Plane and put it into the Collision Object field. And when we rewind back and hit Play you'll see that -- oh, man they're not colliding. The reason that they're not colliding is that in order for particles to collide with an object, that object has to be made a polygons and not parametric. So let's make the Plane editable. So I'll hit C on the keyboard. And now the Plane is made of polygons. And rewind it back to zero and hit Play.
You can see that now the particles are bouncing off. The next thing we need are some actual particles. These little plus signs that represent the particles don't actually render. So let's add a Cube to the scene. And let's take that Cube and make it small, let's make it, say, 50x50x50. Maybe just a little bit smaller than that. Let's make it 25 x25x25, that's even better. And let's make it a really obvious color, I'm going to make it green, so let's double-click in the Material Editor and make new material, and then Drag out all of the red and blue, and then put that onto the Cube.
Now we need a Particle Geometry Object. Let's go to the Simulate Menu, and go to Thinking Particles, and add Particle Geometry. And then on the TP Standard Emitter, we have to tell it to use that Particle Shape, which is this Cube. Let's put that into that Particle Shape Field. And now when we rewind and hit Play, there's our Cubes falling out and bouncing off the floor. Now, you can see that our objects are kind of colliding with the floor. They are going through it just a little bit. Go to the TP Object Collision. I'm going to adjust the offset just a bit. R ewind it back to zero and hit Play.
There we go, that's going to feel a little bit better. I don't want to be able to see this Cube that's here in the center of the floor, that's our actual Particle Object that we're spitting out. Let's add that under a Null Object. I'll add a new Null Object to the scene. Let's call this one TP geometry hider, and put the Cube under that object, and then make both dots on the Null Object red by holding down the Opt or Alt key, and then click twice. Now that's safely hidden. We can put that at the bottom of the scene where we don't need to touch it anymore, and then deselect it.
So now we got our basic scene set up. What I want to be able to do is to trace the position of these Cubes with MoGraph Tracer. So let's add a new MoGraph Tracer to the scene, go to the MoGraph Menu and add Tracer Object. And in the Tracer Object is the Trace Link Field. Normally, with regular objects you would Drag the object itself into the tracing field, but with Thinking Particles, what you need to Drag in here instead is the actual Particle Group. So the way we get the Particle Group is by going to the Simulate Menu, and going to Thinking Particles, and going to Thinking Particles settings. And let's twirl this open, and Drag the word Original into the Trace Link Field.
Let's close the Thinking Particles Settings Window up. Let's rewind back to zero and hit Play. And you'll see that the particles are not being traced, and the reason is, because I Dragged the word Original into this field, the Particle Emitters do not know to use that Original. If I go back to the Thinking Particle Settings, and in that setting there's an All. On the standard Emitter Object, under the Thinking Particle Settings, if the particle group field is left blank, then Thinking Particles by default will use the All.
By Dragging the word Original into the Particle Tracer Object, let's select it so we can see that. Oops, I accidentally clicked on the Particle Geometry Object. Let's click on the Tracer. And in that Trace Link Field, when I Drag the word Original into that Field, that overrode that default All setting. So now what I need to do is go back to the Standard Emitter, and under the Thinking Particle Settings, let's Drag the word Original into the Particle Group Field. And then let's do the same thing for the TP Object Collision, drag in Original into that field as well, and now when we rewind and hit Play, we'll be seeing those Traces. And you can see there's our Traces.
Those splines coming out are being generated by the Tracer Object. So that begs the question, what can you do with those Splines? If I render Cmd+R or Ctrl+R, you see that the Splines don't actually show up. So what I want to do is to use that Tracer inside of a Sweep NURBS. Let's go to the NURBS Objects and add a Sweep NURBS to the scene, and under the Sweep NURBS, replace the Tracer. And the Sweep NURBS needs a second Spline object to trace along these pads. So let's go into the Spline Primitives and add a Circle, and let's make that Circle really small, let's call it, say, 10 units.
And then put that circle into the Sweep NURB write above the tracer, and we're going to end up with Geometry for that. Let's hide the Cubes that are actually generating that. And we'll go into the Particle Geometry. Let's hold the Option or Alt key and then click twice on that, and that hides those Cubes. Now let's rewind back to zero and hit Play again. You can see now we've got this Geometry coming out. Now the scene's going to go kind of slow and chunky, that's because it's generating a lot of polygons. The way we can reduce the number of polygons being generated is to reduce the number of particles being generated.
If we go to the Standard Emitter, and under the Particle Number, let's reduce that, let's cut it in half to, say, 50. Then we'll get a decent Playback here. You don't have to do that, we could just make a preview movie and see that. So if you need to have more particles, it's okay. I'm just doing that so I'll be able to get a better playback here in the Editor Window. Let's rewind it back to zero and hit Play. You can see now we have a much better Playback, until it reaches a certain point. The longer those Splines get, the more Geometry is being generated and you'll see the computer go slower and slower, until it hits the loop point again.
Using Thinking Particles and MoGraph together is a really powerful combination, and you can have a lot of fun with it. Do some experimentation and see what kind of crazy stuff you can come up with.