Join Andy Needham for an in-depth discussion in this video Creating trails, part of X-Particles 3 for Cinema 4D Essential Training.
- The trails object is one of my favorite ways to visualize particle flow in x-particles. I've gone ahead to save a bit of time and created a system with an emitter and some turbulence. And we're going to use the trails object to visualize the particle flow of this turbulence effect. Currently we've got some particles coming out. And if we add a trail object, we can do this from the Generators section. Just by choosing Trails here. Or if we select our emitter and choose the trail object, it will be automatically added to the emitter field.
We just need to move it into our generators. If you have multiple trail objects, they will each need their own emitter. Because the emitter can only carry one set of particle data. So a trail object sharing emitters will produce some really random, unwanted results. So just bear that in mind. Let's rewind and play. Then I'll just make these trails a bit easier for you to see. You now have trails and we can see the particles flowing in the turbulent field. Let's have a look at some of the trail properties and just get familiar with this object.
The trails from particle birth is just going to generate trails immediately as soon as the particles are born. We could uncheck this and you're not going to get any trails. We can check it on and trails will then be generated. So you could key frame this to trigger trails or use an action, for example. We'll come back to the algorithm settings shortly The Trail Parameters section allows you to control the extent of the trail over time or using length. So you have lots of control over this and if we uncheck Full Scene Trail, currently the trails will be 30 frames length and, of course, you can add some variation.
Frame sampling, we sample the particles' position. Default is every one frame and this setting will get an accurate representation of the particle movement. You can increase this for less accurate trails. In this section, we can choose some options for when the trails reach their desired length. So we can freeze the trail. And if we just have a look at what happens there, particles will keep on moving. We can also freeze the particle. And we can choose certain options that we want to freeze there.
You see that happening? Or you can just not freeze anything and they'll just all carry on traveling together. Let's add a material and we'll check out the trail thickness options. I'm going to create a new x-particles material. And I'm going to just add a bit of random color to it. Drop it directly onto the trail and if we just render this... So we'll look at some of the trail thickness options now we've got this material on there.
By default, the algorithm is set to "Do Not Set Thickness." But you can control this using a specific value, the particle radius, a shader, or one of my preferred methods is to use a spline. This graph represents the length of the trail. So if we drag this down, we can start the trail small. One click to add a point, and we'll bring this last one down. This is the profile we'll get for our spline thickness. I'm just going to generate the trails again.
If we render this, we're now getting a kind of tapering effect here. We could also control this using the material. If we go to the size properties and choose the size over Life, going to set up something fairly similar to what we just had. Over with the spline settings, just so that we get a gradual fade in and fade out. We'll get a completely different look but it's quite interesting.
We can, of course, control this with some additional scale and variation. So now we have control over the length and thickness. Let's finish up by looking at the algorithm. The algorithm determines how trails can be used to connect particles. So with no connections, no particles will be connected to one another. We could change this to Straight Sequence. With Straight Sequence selected, the particles will be connected by index. We can get some interesting looks if we change the emitter.
Let's just change it to fire out from just the center. And it's kind of like a tentacle. If we change the mode back to No Connections, we get another interesting look. Quite a cool wave-like pattern. Let's just bring the emitter back to where it was before. And, of course, we can play with all these other settings.
I think you should go ahead and check out different algorithms. And I just want to show you one more, which is a favorite of mine. Choose the Nearest by Distance. We'll just generate some new particles. So just choosing the nearest one by distance only, so you'll get some flickering there. But if we can choose All Within Distance, we have a bit more control. We can slide the distance property to increase or decrease the connections.
I'll just add some thickness back to the spline. We'll add some trail thickness back using the spline. I just want to make sure that I don't have anything on the material controlling thickness. So I'll uncheck this box. And if we render now, we'll get a really cool looking result and I really like the kind of shading that we're starting to get here as well. So we can now use the emitter to drive the trails object, and visualize particle flow. We can control the length and shape of the trails, and create different looks by adjusting the trail algorithm.
- Working with the Emitter tabs
- Adjusting particles with modifiers
- Creating visible particles
- Using sprites
- Colliding, freezing, and lighting particles
- Caching in X-Particles
- Applying constraints
- Adjusting materials settings
- Sculpting particles
- Saving and loading presets