Middlebury

Particle animation

Introduction

A particle emitter is an object that uses its vertex points or its faces to create new objects. These new objects are either lines or dots that can have luminosity, velocity and color among other properties. Essentially particles allow for the random generation of texture across a mesh. This means that instead of drawing individual hairs the computer can randomly generate the particles that will simulate a hair. This allows the user to accomplish two types of tasks. The first task is to make more realistic looking objects such as the sun, comets, fire, dust and smoke. The second is to make objects themselves, such as fireflies or grass. Many more types of objects are also possible if one has a thorough understanding of the particles menu. A good description of the particle settings can be found here. The following is a relatively simple tutorial which describes how to use particles to create some common objects.

Tutorial

  • I
    • a) First we will make a sun. Press x to delete the box at the center of the screen. Now press spacebar then add->mesh->UVsphere. Add two UV sphere’s. Now resize one of them by pressing s so that it is a little bit smaller than the other. Now press F5 to get the shading menu and add a link to object. Then press f6 to get the texture button and press add new. In the box on the right hand side of the texture menu that says texture type choose Musgrave. Under the Musgrave box there is a drop down menu choose Hetero terrain.
    • b) Now go back to the shading window F5 under the material menu in the color section choose a black. This will give you sun spots. Then on the far right of the screen click on the “Map To” tab. Click on the pink box and change the color to orange. In the next menu over choose the shaders tab and turn spec off and set emit to 1. Now you have your plasma.
    • c) Next click on your other sphere and follow all of the same steps as in section b) but make the texture noise and the colors yellow and orange. Under the links and pipeline menu click on the halo button and change the halo size to 0.2.
    • d) Now Press f7 to enter the object menu. In the top of this window next to the frame counter there is a physics button click on that. Under the particles menu press new. The tab next to this menu is the particle motion menu click and hold on this and drag it next to the particles menu. Now set these two menus to these settings.
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      Now you have a sun.
  • II
    • a) Second we will make a comet. Again add two spheres. Resize one of the spheres so that it is smaller than the other. Then parent, control+p, the larger sphere to the smaller. Add a path for these two spheres and scale the path so that it stretches the entire plane. Then in the IPO editor set the curve to span from 1500 frames. Line up the objects to this path and then make the smaller sphere follow the path by selecting the smaller sphere and pressing contol+p->follow path.
    • b) Now select the smaller sphere set it as a halo as above then set the halo size to 0.40. Set the alpha channel to .008. Now go into the particle window and as above set the particles as in this window.
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    • c) Now select the second sphere also set it as a halo keep the alpha at 1 and set the halo to 0.10. Then set the texture to noise. In the same way as in the outer sphere of the sun set the noise colors to blue and white. Now set the particles as in this window.
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  • III
    • a) Now we will create grass. This one is a little different instead of moving particles we will create static particles. This is actually probably the easiest of the particle animations so far. Add a plane that looks like this.
    • b) Then create a particle animation using these the particle settings
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      and these materials settings.
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    • c) Then add a grass texture. You do this by getting a jpeg image of grass then selecting the grass. Now click the button at the top of the menu that looks like leopard print. Under texture type choose image then press load and navigate to your texture through the popup menu and press select. Line up the camera so it is about eye level with the plane and render. It will look pretty close to actual grass. As with all of these animations you can then tweak the values to your liking.
  • IV
    • a) Fire there are a couple of ways to make fire. The simplest requires only two cubes set as emitters. This works best when the fire is a campfire in the distance. First create a cube spacebar add->mesh->cube. Then go into shading mode make these the settings. Then particles and make these the settings. Now create a second box. Add a noise texture to this box. As describe in the sun instructions. Use these the settings for shading
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      and particles.
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    • b) Now place the two cubes on top of each other. To add realism you can change the particle type to a vector and manipulate other settings to bring the fire closer to the ground. One alteration is this setup.
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