|30-06-2007, 05:19 AM||#1|
Tutorial - Creating an Energy Ball: An introduction to Particle Flow using 3DS Max 8
Skill Level: Intermediate
Heyya fellas! My name is Ryan Smith and i'm a student at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh in the Game Art and Design major. this is my first tutorial in a line of planned tutorials that have to do with Particle Flow in 3D Studio Max 8+.
What i am going to cover in this tutorial is how to make a very simple energy ball form, and then throw it forward and have a really neat particle trail behind it. Below is the overview of what will be discussed.
-Creation of energy ball sphere and materials
-Creation and discription of PFlow birth event that "Creates the energy ball"
-Creation of energy ball particle trial
-Video Post glow effects
The animation is going to be a total of 4 seconds long so set your time scale to 180 frames.
Creating the energy ball mesh
What we want to do here is just create a standard sphere that isn't too big... about a radius of 15-25 should do just fine depending on how big you want your energy ball. But keep in mind the larger your scale is in the 3DMax world the more particles your going to need to have to make it look flush. So keep it small, like the picture.
Rename your first sphere something along the lines of "Energy Ball Sphere", then create an even larger sphere around it, and name it "Energy Ball Creation Sphere" or something along those lines, just so you can distinguish the two. Go into the larger sphere's properties and move the visibility down to 0, so we wont be able to see it when we render it.
The reason we have the larger sphere is because we are going for the look that energy is being harnest from the air around it to "Charge it up". Think about goku charging up a spirit bomb in DBZ or the Jehuty charging up a energy bomb in Zone of the Enders... something similar to that effect.
The particles will be spawned from the outside sphere's normals, and then drawn into the inner sphere to create the effect.
Next, we want to give the Energy Ball Mesh the appearance that it is growing in size, so scale it down a little bit, put your keyframe on 0, hit autokey, and move your time slider to frame 90, and scale it back up so it matches the size it is in the above picture. Make sure you turn autokey off.
Now that we have the the basic animation of the ball growing into this big dense sphere, we can start to build the basic particle flow that creates the particles that "charge" the sphere.
Creating your Particle Flow Event
Okay now open up your particel flow menu by hitting 6 on your keyboard, or go to Graph Editors > Particle View. Right click in the top left space and go to New>Particle System>Empty Flow, then right click again and go to New>Birth Event> Birth and space them however you like and link the Render operator to the Birth Event.
You should see a white area in the bottom with a bunch of test events and operator events, this is called the Depot... if you can't see it go to your particle view toolbar, go to Display>Depot. Now drag the following operators into the Birth Slot like in the above screenshot. Drag a Position Object, a Force, and a Delete operator into your birth event, and a Cache operator into your Render Event. For now, turn your Delete node off by clicking on the nodes Icon (it looks like an X)... it should turn from a colored blue logo to a greyscale one... just click it again to turn it back on.
Now i'm going to explain a little bit about what each operator does and what to change in each one, so listen up as it may get a little confusing ^.^
If you click on any of the nodes in your events a parameters rollout should come up on the right side of the particle view window.
Now, click the Birth event and you should see some pretty self explanatory options such as Emit Start and Emit Stop. Set the Emit Start to 0 and the Emit Stop to about 55. Next check the Rate box and set the rate to 2000. What this is doing is telling the flow to start emitting particles at frame 0 at 2000 particles per second and stopping the emition at frame 55.
Now if you try playing your animation you wont see anything because currently we havn't told the birth event where to spawn the particles from, so now we are going to change that. Click on your Position Object operator. Under the Emitter Objects rollout, click add, and then select your outer sphere in your viewport. In the Location rollout, make sure "Surface" is selected in the dropdown menu. What this has done is tell the particles to start emitting from the outer sphere, but they dont go anywhere, they just kinda sit there... We want them to be drawn into the inner sphere, so in order to do this, we can do a couple of different things like use a speed operator, but instead we are going to use a Force operator so we can get alittle bit more controll and some cooler looking effects.
This is an operator which can really add some cool dynamic effects to your particle flow. What force does is bind a space warp like wind, drag, gravity, etc, to a certain event in your patricle flow, so with that being said, we need to create a force that draws the particles inwards towards the center of the sphere. We can use a Gravity modifier and set it to spherical, but if we do that we can't get any turbulance witht he particles, so instead we are going to use a wind modifier, and place it at the center of the inner sphere... make sure it's directly in the center of it. Now go to your wind properties and rename it to Energy_Init wind or something like that.
If you dont know where the wind modifier is (shame shame) it's in your creation panel under space modifiiers. Now go into your wind properties and change your stuff to what the picture above says We are telling the wind modifier to influence the particles spherically instead of directionally at a streangth of -0.1. The Turbulance is set to .25 at a frequency of 6, and the turbulance scale is set to .08. The cool thing about having a really small scale is that you can really SEE the subtle changes instead of it being really chaotic... it makes for really nice smoke effects and energy effects so keep that tip in mind ;D. Now that our wind modifier is set up we can link it to the Force operator, so go ahead and go back into your Particle View and select your Force operator and add the wind modifier to the Force Space Warps box. Another useful operator that kind of smoothes the particles out is the Drag Space Modifier... it's not necessary but i usually always use it cause it just kind of polishes it out so to speak, so if you want to throw one of those in there. Set the Drag's Time Off to 180 so it doesn't turn off halfway through the animation, and in the Damping Characteristics menu set the X, Y, and Z axi to 5.0. then add that to your Force Operator event. Now what you should get if you play your animation are a bunch of particles that spawn from the outersphere and get sucked into the inner sphere and just jumble up there. We are almost at the desired effect we are looking for!
The Display operator is a verry important operator because it tells 3DMax how to display the particles in the viewport... The cool thing about this is that you can set your particles to render out as geometric shapes using a Shape Operator, and tell the display to display them as dots or ticks to save your videocard hefty work. It also speeds up production time. There is a colored dot directly to the right of the Display node. If you click that you can tell what color you want the viewport to display your dots, lines, or whatever you choose. this helps seperate and distinguish different particle events and systems when you get to the complex stuff.
So for now set the Type to Lines and make it a light blue color.
*NOTE*- Remember, without a display operator you wont see anything in your viewport so remember to always have one in your events or you'll be scratching your head in confusion.
This is super important... if you dont have a delete operator your particles will stay active forever and eat up your processor. Also, Delete operators correspond with a particles age, which is important for setting Particle Age Materials. For instance... if i set my Delete operator to delete particles based on their age after 25 frames, it tells the Particle Age Material that we will be applying later to phase shift through the 3 stages of the material in 25 frames... if there is no delete operator the material just stays in the first phase because it has no clue when the particles age will end... ya follow?
Anyays, now turn your Delete Node back on, in the properties select By Particle Age... now this is tricky because you have to use your viewport to time this right. Look to see when the first couple particles hit the center of the inner sphere... if that happens at frame 25, then set the Life Span of the option to 25 so it deletes the particles after 25 frames of them coming into existance. The Variation option is like a Give or Take option... so if you have Life Span as 25, and variation at 5, Particles will live between 20 and 30 frames.... Cool huh?
Now play the animation back, you should a really neat charging up effect as your energy ball grows into existance!
Before we go on i'm going to explain the Cache Operator... What it does is store the particle positions and information in a cache file so your computer is not computing particle positions everytime you move your slider... so if you go into your cache operator parameters and go down to Memory Used and set your limit to like 100 million K, and hit update, you should have no problem storing all the data.
Okay, it's time to do something that actually yields some results when you render the picture so lets get cracking... This next part is rare because i havn't seen many PFlow tutorials that show you how to use textures properly.
I'm going to introduce two new operators here: The Shape Facing and the Material Dynamic Operators.... these are like tag team operators that go well with eachother, because the Shape Facing creates a simple 1 polygon square that faces the target camera at all times, and the Material Dynamic operator actually applies material to that face. so drag those 2 operators into your particle event.
This is very simple, in it's parameters all you really have to worry about for the disired effect is choose what camera you want the shapes to face... Here's a little trick... to quickplace a camera, just postion your perspective viewport to where you want your camera to look and hit Ctr+C... now you have a camera. So in your Shape Facing parameters under the Look at Camera/Object box, click the button that says None, and then select your camera.. now if you render the image out at like frame 30 or 40 using your camera viewport, you should see little squares that are the color of whatever your display node is facing the camera... if they appear to be facing upwards instead of at the camera, try clicking the Use Parallel Direction box in your Shape Facing Paremeters. It should solve the problem.
If you want to increase the size of the polygons, go to Size/Width and under the Units scrollbar, move it to like 2 or 3 or whatever you want your size to be... i have mine set at 1.0.
This is super simple... i dont even touch any of the options except for sliding my material into the None box. Most of your tweaks for the material will be made in the actual Max Material Editor. So lets move onto that.
Seriously, motion blur goes a super long way in making your effects look realistic in smooth... in order to set motion blur to your events, right click the dark grey area in your even box (it's at the top of the box where the event name is) and click on Properties. In the General Tab all the way at the bottom right under Motion Blur, check the Image box and set it to about 5... the higher the number the greater the blur.
Give it a test Render you should get something like this.
Keep in mind at the time i took this picture i had a material applied to the energy ball mesh that started it out as opaque and slowly moved it to solid which i'll go over next.
Energy Mesh Material
Hit M and open up your material editor. Pick a slot and rename it Energy Mesh Material, set self illumination to 100 and set the diffuse to falloff, make sure it's set to perpendicular / parallel and the falloff direction is in the viewing direction of camera Z-axis. next go back to the main material and in the opacity map select Noise.
Turn on Autokey and bring your slider to 0, and set your values for the noise as follows: Set noise to Fractal and in Noise Parameters dropbox set your High threshold to .9, and your low to .07. Change the Size of the noise to 5... The size is something you can change if you want to get the desired effect... which you'll be able to see after you finish the animation. Nest make sure the PHase is set to 0.0.
Now bring your slider to frame 120, and set the high threshold to .1, when you do this the low should automatically change to .099 and you should get a solid sphere. finally set your phase to 5.0 and then turn off autokey... if you did it succesfully a red bracket should appear over the scrollbar arrows in your noise parameters options. now play the animation and watch your material, it will materialize into existance.
The top right picture is what mine looks like at frame 28.
Go ahead and apply that material to your Energy Ball Mesh. Next we are going to set a visibility animation to the energy ball mesh. Turn autokey back on, and slide your bar to 0 and go into the Energy Ball Mesh properties. In the Rendering Controll dialogue set visibility to 0, then slide your time bar to frame 90 and then set your visibility to 1. If you did it right a red bracket should appear by the scroll arrows.
Next we are going to start to tinker with the actual material that goes on the particles. Go into your Material Editor and click on an unused material and name it Energy Particles. Set the diffuse color to the same color blue that you have in your falloff material from the Energy Mesh Material... *tip: you can right click the color and copy paste it*. now in the Shader Basic Parameters check the Face Map box and in your Blinn Basic Paramters set self illumination to 100. Set your opacity map to Particle Age.
Set color 1 to black and leave the map slot blank.
In Color slot 2 add a Gradient Ramp in the Map slot
In the Gradient Ramp Paramaters manually flip the black and white sliders and set the gradient type to radial.
now go back to the Particle Age map and in color 3, copy paste the map from the Color 2 map slot to the Color 3 map slot.
Remember in 3DStudio Max, in an opacity map, black means totally Transparent and white means totally Opaque. So by using Particle Age in the Opacity map we have told the Particle material to be transparent at birth, and Fade into existance by using the Gradient ramp, which gives it a circular smooth look instead of just a square when we render it out... since the particles will be deleted inside of the sphere, we dont have to worry about them fading out and looking smooth because we wont be seeing them. so we just copy the map to the 3rd slot.
To apply the particle material to your particle, go back into your particle view, and in the Material Dynamic operator, just slide your whole material into the slot. Render it and you should notice tha the particles appear to be fading in. The particles towards the outer invisible sphere should be more transparent than the ones towards the inner sphere. Cool huh? Now we are finished with the first third of the tutorial.
This is where i'd save my project incase Max Crashed.
Lets move onto the second birth Event that causes a really neat particle trail when we launch our energy ball. Turn on Autokey and move your slider to frame 90 and select the Energy Ball mesh.Set a key at frame 90 by clicking the button that looks like a... well... a key. then move your slider to frame 110 and move the sphere about 600 units on the X axis so it looks like it really gets hurled out there. Turn autokey off. Add some motion blur to the sphere by right clicking on it and going into it's properties. Set Motion blur to image and make it 3 or 4.
Open up your Particle view and drag a new Birth Operator into the view and link it to the Render event. Rename the New Birth Event to Energy Ball Trials. Now add a Position Object, a Force, a Shape Facing, a Material Dynamic, and a Delete Operator into your new Event.
Set your Birth to start at frame 90 and end at frame 120 or whenever your ball stops and set the rate to 9000 per second. Next, set the position object to emit from the Energy Ball Mesh, and check the box that says Inherit Emitter Movement. Set that multiplier to 10% with a variation of 15%. In the Display operator set the color to blue and make it display Dots. In the Delete Operator set it to Delete by particle age at age 30 with a variation of 5.
You should get something that looks like this:
Now the particle trial is really kind of boring... they just sit there, so lets throw in some wind modifiers to get a cool dispertion effect. Throw two directional wind modifiers in your scene, point one upwards and then offset the other one at about a 45 degree angle and pointing alittle towards the left or right. your call. Rename them Windtrial 1 and Windtrial 2 so you dont mix them up with your other wind modifier.
Set the paramaters like this:
Next add a new drag space modifier and set the damping levels to 20 on the X,Y,and Z Axi.... remember to set turnoff time to 180.
Now that we have the forces we need to give it a cool effect, go ahead and add them into your force operator for the second birth event... You should now have something like this:
And your PFlow should resemble this:
Now Set your Shape Facing to your desired Camera. Now it's time for the last material.
Last edited by Tater_Salad; 30-06-2007 at 09:28 PM.. Reason: putting in stuff i left out
|30-06-2007, 07:53 PM||#2|
-Energy Trail Material
This is easy because it's pretty much the same as the first particle material we did, except there are a few differences... so go ahead and copy paste your first particel material into a new slot and name it Energy Trail Material. Make sure it's not an Instanced Copy.
Go into your opacity map, which should be a particle age map with the same gradient ramp as the other one. Move the map from Color 3 to Color 1, and set Color 3 to black. (Bottom left) Go into Color slot 2 map which should be a gradient ramp still and lower the values to a darker shade of gray like shown (bottom right).
Setting it up like this makes the particles fully visible and smooth emitting from the sphere, and fading out over the particles lifespan. Go ahead and add your Particle Trail Material to your Material Dynamic operator in your Energy Trail birth event. Last we want to motion blur to this event so go into the properties and set motion blur to 5.
Save your progress.
Play your animation and you should see the effect we are aiming for... you can even render out the animation (make sure it's from the camera) and see if you like it. Once you do this you will notice that i's kind of bland. it really doesn't look like energy. What we need to do from here is set the 2 birth events and the energy mesh to have seperate object IDs so we can take it into Video Post and add some glow effects to it.
I'm not going to go into too much detail in video post because max's user reference has some good tutorials and explanations on how to make this work.
Open Particle view, then go into your Energy Particles event properties by right clicking the grey box at the top of the event box and under the general tab set the G-Buffer Object ID to 1. Next go into your Particle Trail event properties and set that G-Buffer ID to 2. Next right click your energy ball mesh and go to properties and set that G-Buffer ID to 3.
Remember we now have
Energy Particels = ID 1
Trail Particles = ID 2
Energy Ball Mesh = ID 3.
This is important to do because when we set up our three image filter events in video post, we have to have the corresponding IDs to get the desired effect.
Now go to your main menu and select Render>Video Post. In the video post toolbar click the Add Scene Event button and select Camera01 or whatever camera you want it to render from in the drop down menu. Then add 3 Image Filter Events and select Lens Effet Glow from the dropdown menu... Label them something so you can distinguish them. I named mine Particle Init for the energy particles, energy ball trails for the particle trail, and energyball glow for the mesh.
Now add an Image Output Event and click the Files button and set up a file that it will output the video post data too... this is just like a render dialogue... but if you dont render it through video post and output into a file you wont get the effects that video post produces.
Now your going to have to drag your time bar to certain spots to set up your glow effect. To set up your glow effect go into your image filter event properties by double clicking the event and going into Setup. Click the Preview button on and the VP Queue button on to see a preview render of your frame.
First setup the Energy Particle Glow... so go into the Lens Effect Glow setup menu and under Properties, make sure Object ID is selected under the Source Dialogue. and set it to ID 1. then go into Preferences and set the Color to Pixel under Color dialogue, and Intensity to about 15. Then in Effet Dialogue set the size to 2. like in the image below.
Then for the Energy Ball Mesh... make sure your id is set to 3.
And finally for the Trails, make sure your id is set to 2.
Your Video Post dialogue should look like this:
Now Execute the sequence. Make sure your rendering the Active Time segment from frame 0 to 180 or 120 or whatever you set your time bar to.
Render it out and u should get this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nXtFdFbncGI
Thanks for taking the time to do the tutorial!
Any questions or comments either post here or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
|GreatTater_Salad! Thank you:||
|07-07-2007, 01:06 AM||#6|
Join Date: May 2007
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Wow i have to say this is by far one of the best tuts i ever followed! You explained everything pretty good and i never asked myself... damn what am i supposed to do now >_<(i am considering my self a particle noob).I am rendering the scene right now and will upload it to youtube (well i guess i made a error at the motion blur...kinda...blury right now )
Well i decided to redo the render with a little less blur and a quick little scene around it!(grabed an old model of a turret i had made some time ago )
Last edited by FetteWorst; 30-01-2009 at 11:01 PM..
|07-07-2007, 07:49 PM||#8|
Fette- That's a really cool render i like it alot... to make it cooler what you could do with the knowledge collected from that tutorial, make 3 different balls for the 3 barrels on that turret, and you can even animate them to spin around eachother or something like a tornado effect as it launches... other than that that is really super cool man!
|23-07-2007, 11:02 AM||#10|
Join Date: Nov 2002
Thanked 2 Times in 2 Posts
Pretty cool man!!! I'm gonna try it for sure
I Love particles... and my mom's cookings
|01-08-2007, 02:58 PM||#11|
Join Date: Jul 2007
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Sweet, I will definitly try this later on. It will also help me understand particle flow. Thanks
|26-01-2009, 04:39 PM||#13|
Join Date: Jan 2009
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Thanks but a small mention
I had been trying the hard way round to come up with the same effect for a week and what I had ended up with required more assets and did not look quite as good; and excellently written tutorial to boot!
The small mention is that I wanted it stated for those newer to 3ds Max that you need to turn on image motion blur in your renderer or you will never see the blur effect despite having set it in the object properties.
|03-03-2011, 03:31 AM||#14|
Join Date: Mar 2011
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
the only thing i was unable to do out of this whole tutorial was "Open Particle view, then go into your Energy Particles event properties by right clicking the grey box at the top of the event box" im pretty sure i know what the grey box is but can someone send me a message with a picture or a video on what i need to do exactly. i use 2011 so that may have something to do with it but idk.
this is what the tutorial got me. i like it but compared to other things ive seen people do its not very good
|03-03-2011, 10:42 AM||#15|
this looks cool.. will have to have a go..
Sketch Book Of Finals: -- http://forums.3dtotal.com/showthread...d=1#post841503
2013 - Work Dump -- http://forums.3dtotal.com/showthread...d=1#post946582
WheelJack: -- WIP http://forums.3dtotal.com/showthread...969#post841969
I'm On YouTube: -- http://www.youtube.com/user/NeilF01
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