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Animate a Logo Forming from Particles in Maya

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Particles are one of the most powerful and versatile tools that you can use to make your CG art more interesting, and many would agree that no one does particles better than Autodesk Maya. In this tutorial Abed Ibrahim will walk you through the process of creating an animated logo using particles in Maya, and then reverse the rendered animation in any video editing software of your choice.

Republished Tutorial

Every few weeks, we revisit some of our reader's favorite posts from throughout the history of the site. This tutorial was first published in Decemeber of 2009.


Final Effect Preview


Step 1

Open new scene, go to “Create" and open the option box for
"Text”.


Step 2

Adjust the following options then press “create”.


Step 3

Hide the text curves in the "Outliner" by pressing (Ctrl + h).


Step 4

Select all the letters, then go to “Mesh > Combine”.


Step 5

Delete the history for the shape, then go to “Modify > Make Live”.


Step 6

Switch to “Dynamics Menu” by pressing “F5”, then go to “Particles > Particle Tool (option box)”.


Step 7

Press on “Reset Tool”, then adjust the settings as shown.


Step 8

Hide your grid, switch to the front view, and start to draw on the letters. Make sure to fill from the inside and on the edges as shown.

  • Notes:
  • Hold the Left Mouse Button and drag anywhere to draw.
  • Try to draw the letters one by one (start from the edges with one stroke then fill inside with the second stroke).
  • If you missed a spot, press only once to fill that spot.
  • Avoid drawing on the same area again because intensive particle counts will make a sluggish movement.

  • Step 9

    Press “Enter” then, in the “Attributes Editor” for the particle shape, go to “Render Attributes > Particle Render Type > Cloud (s/w)”. Note: When you press “Enter” you have to wait for the program to calculate the particles.


    Step 10

    Press on “Current Render Type”, and set the radius to “0.025”.


    Step 11

    Hide the original text surface in the outliner, then open “Hypershade” and select the Volumetric Node “particlecloud1”.


    Step 12

    Modify the following attributes for the particle cloud:


    Step 13

    Extend the playback range time to “200 frames”, then select the particles, and go to “Fields > Volume Axis”.


    Step 14

    Modify the following attributes for the volume axis field:


    Step 15

    Modify the "Transform Attributes" for the volume field as shown:


    Step 16

    On frame "1", set a key for the volume axis field at "Translate X" with a value of '20'.


    Step 17

    Go to frame "100" then set another key for volume axis field "Translate X" with a value of "-3.000".


    Step 18

    Go to "Window > Settings/Preferences > Preferences".


    Step 19

    Select the “particlecloud1” material, set its transparency to “0”, then set a key on the current frame (200).


    Step 20

    Go to “Window > Settings/Preferences > Preferences”.


    Step 21

    Go to "Solvers > "Create Particle Disk Cache (option box)".


    Step 22

    Make sure that the options look like following image (except for the scene directory), then press create. Note: Wait for the particles cache to be generated, and until it stops at frame 200.


    Step 23

    Select the “particlecloud1” material, set its transparency to “0” or a "White" color, and then set a key on the current frame (200).


    Step 24

    Set the current time in the time slider to “160”, change the transparency to “1” or a “Black” color, and then set another key.


    Step 25

    Repeat the last 2 steps. Set a key for “Transparency” on frame “20” with a "white" color or a value of "0", then set a key with a value of “1” or “black” on frame “1”. Now show the original hidden text shape in the "Outliner". Go to “Display > Show > Show Selection”, or press “Shift + h”.


    Step 26

    Switch to Edge Mode by pressing “Ctrl + F10”, then press delete.


    Step 27

    Extrude the text shape to about “0.250” on the “Z axis”.


    Step 28

    Center the text shape to the particles.


    Step 29

    Select the text, then separate the letters by going to "Mesh > Separate".


    Step 30

    Create 6 new "Blinn" materials with the following settings:


    Step 31

    Name the 6 Blinn materials as the text letters (Blinn1 = M, Blinn2 = A etc..), and then assign the first one to the letter "M".


    Step 32

    Go to frame "66" and set a key for the "M" material "Transparency" with the color set to "White" or "0", then go to frame "64" and set another key whith the color set to "Black" or "1".


    Step 33

    Assign the "A" material for the second letter, then go to frame "54" and set a key for the "Transparency" with the color set to "White" or "0", then go to frame "52" and set another key with the color set to "Black" or "1".


    Step 34

    Repeat these steps for the rest of the letters simply by using the following chart:


    Step 35

    Make sure that the default light is turned on from the "Render Settings" and no other light source exists in your scene.


    Step 36

    You can now render the scene to video (AVI) or sequenced images (TIFF) from any camera view, and then reverse your animation in any video editing software (Adobe Premiere, After Effects, Sony Vegas, etc).

  • Notes:
  • Render 1 extra still image at frame 1 and place it at the end of the video in your video editing program to allow the logo to appear for longer.
  • Changing the Volume Axis Field attributes will show a noticeable change in the particles motion, also using other fields will create different cool effects.

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