Join Andy Needham for an in-depth discussion in this video Lighting particles and volumetric rendering, part of X-Particles 3 for Cinema 4D Essential Training.
- Adding lights to our scene and enabling soft shadows will really transform the look of our particle renders. We can use the Light tag to adjust the quality of the shadows, and we can also restrict certain scene lights from lighting our particles. Let's take a look at a typical set-up. So here we have a fun little particle generating machine making the particles you see here. Let's render the scene and see what we've got. We have light in our scene, but without shadows, this is looking pretty flat.
And that's down to the lighting mode we're using on the X-Particles material. Open this up. You can see the Lighting mode is flat. I change this to another mode. Let's try Diffuse, and render again. You can see this doesn't look very good at all, and not what we're looking for. So, let's change it back. I think we better work on our lighting. Okay, so I'm going to select all the lights that I want to have soft shadows, and choose that setting.
Let's just render that now. This is better, but at the moment we're not getting as much definition as we want. I think it's because all the lights in the scene are affecting the particle render, so let's tweak a few settings. You can use the X-Particles Light tag, by just right-clicking and adding it to the three particle lights. So, let's have a look at the properties here. Include tells X-Particles that this light should be used to light the particles.
So the lights we only want to use to render the scene objects, like the particle machine, need to have this tag with Include disabled. So I'll do that. Just Command, clicking, and dragging to copy the tag to the scene lights. I'm just going to uncheck Include, and then drag again one more. Now, I know there's a light on the particle machine, so I can just add one of those there as well.
Let's render this. So you can see that previously we had some brighter particles, and now everything is getting a more uniform look. So we're starting to get there. In the Light Tag Properties we were talking about the settings, and specifically the Density, Sample, and Resolution. You have these settings on the Light Shadow Tab, and Samples is here, and this is a way of controlling the overall quality of the shadows.
So let's increase, just on these ones, the resolution and we'll render. We're going to get an increased render time for sure. Looking at the render time, that was double what we had previously. By increasing the resolution, you get a denser, more defined shadow. So we can just compare with our previous one. A lot softer, more defined here. And as said, at an increase of render time. I'm just going to switch these back to be a lower resolution. I think this particular example would benefit from using the Volumetric Effect in the Material Settings.
I want to achieve a fluffy, cloud-like look. So go over to the Volumetric tab, and enable the setting. You can see in the preview the look of the particles got a bit softer. So I'm going to render this now. It does increase the render times, but I'm starting to get the look I'm after here, yeah. If we compare it with the previous one, if we go back to the one where we had our softer shadows, it's definitely starting to look pretty cool.
Back in the Material Settings, if we lower the Density, the particles are going to become less dense, and we're going to start to see, hopefully, some of the particle machine come through the particles here. This is starting to look great. Yeah, look at that, it's a more subtle effect, definitely a render here. I think to make it even more subtle, we'd have to go down into the low teens, but yeah, it's got the point across. What we've done is taken what were boring, flat particles and given them definition and body by turning on soft shadows on our lights.
The Light tag allows us to control individual lights and control the quality of shadows. We can also restrict scene lights from affecting the rendered particles. Finally we've achieved a fluffy, cloud-like look using the Volumetric Setting in the X-particles material.
- 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