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Create An Animated Pinboard Effect In 3ds Max - Part 1

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This post is part of a series called Create an Animated Pinboard Effect in 3D Studio Max.
Create An Animated Pinboard Effect In 3ds Max - Part 2

In part 1 of this this two part tutorial, author Cristian Pop will show us three different methods for creating an animated "Pinboard Effect" in 3D Studio Max. Christian will start by describing the easiest method for creating the effect, the Scatter Compound object. He'll then move on to re-create the effect using the power of Particle Flow. For the third and final method, Cristian will show us how to achieve this effect using nodes and rules in Thinking Particles. Let's have a look!

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 April of 2011.


Additional Files/ Plugins:


Scene setup

Step 1

Create a "Plane" in the "Front" Viewport with the following parameters. As you can see, I set the "Length Segs" to 50 and the "Width Segs" to 80, to keep the polygons square.  Always rename your objects to keep everything organized. So change the name of the plane to "Displacement Plane".


Step 2

Add a "Tessellate" modifier to the Plane, to create the pattern shown below. Set it to "Operate on: Polygons" and change the method to "Face-center".


Step 3

Now, add a "Displace" modifier. In the "Displacement" group, set the "Strength" to 80. Under the "Map" group, add the "Human" image sequence to the "Map" slot. To smooth the plane a bit, set the "Blur" to 0.05. This plane will be used to create the "Pinboard" effect.


Step 4

Next, we'll create a low poly pin object. In the "Front" viewport, create a "Sphere" with the following parameters. "Radius" 15.0 and "Segments" 12.0.


Step 5

Convert it to an "Editable Poly" (Right Click > Convert To Editable Poly) and then delete the following faces.


Step 6

Create a "Cylinder" with the following parameters, convert it to an "Editable poly", then delete the "cap" faces.


Step 7

Move the cylinder into place as shown, to create the pin object.


Step 8

Then attach the sphere to the cylinder, using the "Attach" option.


Step 9

In the "Hierarchy" tab, set the Pin's "Pivot Point" to the center of the object.


Step 10

Save your scene. Next, we'll start to create the "Pinboard" effect.


Method 1: Creating the Pinboard using Scatter

Step 1

With the "Pin" object selected go to the "Command panel > Create > Compound Objects > Scatter".


Step 2

Once you have clicked the "Scatter" button, go into the "Modify" panel to access its properties. Click the "Pick Distribution Object" button and select the "Displacement Plane" object.


Step 3

Under "Distribute Using:" select "All Vertices". As you can see, the pins are too large and stay perpendicular on the "Displacement Plane".


Step 4

In the "Source Object Parameters" group, scale down the pins using the "Base Scale" spinner, and then under the "Distribution Object Parameter", disable the "Perpendicular" option.


Step 5

In the "Display" rollout, enable "Hide Distribution Object". Now everything looks fine, but you can't work with this huge number of pins in the viewport. Use the "Display" spinner to reduce the amount of the pins displayed in the viewport to 5%.


Step 6

Don't forget, with "Scatter" you can save a preset and reuse it whenever you want.  And with that, we're finished with the Scatter method!


Method 2: Creating the Pinboard using Particle Flow

Step 1

Go to the "Command panel > Create > Particle Systems > PF Source", and create a "Particle Flow" icon. Set the "Viewport Quantity Multiplier" to 100%, to see all the particles in the viewport.


Step 2

Open the "Particle View" window by clicking on the "Particle View" button or by pressing "6" on your keyboard. Then delete the following operators, "Position Icon", "Speed" and "Shape".


Step 3

In the "Display" operator rollout, set the "Display Type" to "Geometry" to see the particle's shape in the viewport.


Step 4

Add a "Position Object" operator to our current Event by dragging it out from the "Depot" at the bottom of the Particle View window. Under "Emitter Objects:" click the "Add" button, and add the "Displacement Plane" to the list. Next, enable the "Lock On Emitter", "Animated Shape" and "Subframe Sampling" options. Under "Location:" select "Vertices" for the distribution method.


Step 5

Now, we'll assign the "Pin" shape to our particles. Add a "Shape Instance" operator to our Event. In the "Shape Instance" rollout, select the "Pin Object" from the viewport, and then scale it down to 24%.


Step 6

Change the particle's "Orientation" from "Random 3D" to "World Space", with 90 degrees on the 'X' axis.


Step 7

Before setting the particle amount, we need to check how many vertices the "Displacement Plane" has. Click on the "+" sign (or "Right Click" on the viewport name) in the upper left corner of the viewport, then click on "Configure...". In the "Statistics" panel, enable "Vertex Count" and choose to view the statistics only for the selected objects.


Step 8

Press the "7" hotkey to see the statistics in the viewport. As you can see the "Displacement Plane" has 8,131 vertices.


Step 9

In the "Birth" operator, set the "Emit Stop" to 0, to generate all the particles on the very first frame. Set the "Particle Amount" to 8500, to be sure that the particles cover all the vertices. As you can see there are some gaps between particles, because multiple particles can be positioned on a single vertex.


Step 10

To fix the gap problem, in the "Position Object" operator, enable the "Separation" option.


Step 11

Add a "Material Static" operator. Here you can assign a material to the pin particles.


Step 12

Add a "Cache" operator, under the "Render" operator. The Cache operator records and stores particle states to memory, for faster playback.


Step 13

Now that everything is alright, decrease the particle amount displayed in the viewport to 5%. And that's it for Particle Flow.


Method 3: Creating the Pinboard using Thinking Particles

Step 1

Go to the "Command panel > Create > Particle Systems > Thinking", and create a "ThinkingParticles" icon in the viewport.


Step 2

Go to the "Modify" panel and click on the "Properties" button in the "Thinking" rollout, to open the "TP" user interface.


Step 3

In the "DynamicSet Tree" view, highlight "Master Dynamic". Disable "Edit on the fly" to see the changes in real time, and enable the "Show Mesh" option to see the particle shape.


Step 4

To dictate what the particles do, you need to create "Dynamic Sets" (rules). In the "DynamicSet Tree" view, click the "Create" button under "Master Dynamic", and create two Dynamic Sets: "Generator" and "Surface Position".


Step 5

Highlight the "Generator" dynamic set, and then go to the right-hand side of the dialog, where you will see a new set of "Create" rollouts.


Step 6

Go to "Create rollout > Operators > Generator". Select the "Born" node to highlight it, and then click in the schematic portion of the "Wire Setup" view, to add this node to the "Generator" dynamic set. The "Born" operator is used to generate the particles.


Step 7

In the "Born" rollout, set the generation type to "Pistol Shot", to generate all the particles on the very first frame. Set the particle amount to 8,131 (we have seen before that the "Displacement Plane" has 8,131 vertices) and increase the "Life Span" value. As you can see, the particles are generated in the "All" group.


Step 8

Go to "Create rollout > Operators > Shape" and create a "Geom Instance" operator to this dynamic set. This operator is used to assign a specific shape to the particles. In the "Geom Instance" click the "Pick Object" button and select the "Pin Object" from the scene.


Step 9

To scale down the particles, we'll use a "Scale" operator. To create it, go to "Create rollout > Operators > Standard". In the "Scale" rollout set the "Scale" value to 24.


Step 10

Go to "Create rollout > Operators > Material" and create a "Shape Material" operator. Here you can assign a material to the pin particles.


Step 11

Connect the "*Born Particle" output of the "Born" operator to the "Particle" input of the "Geom Instance", "Scale" and "Shape Material" operators. Now, the operators are connected, and 8,131 particles are created at the 0,0,0 position.


Step 12

Highlight the "Surface Position" dynamic set. In the "Create" panel, click the "Groups" icon. Add the "All" group to this dynamic set.


Step 13

Go to "Create rollout > Operators > Standard" and create a "Position" operator, then connect it to the "All" group. Until now, nothing changed because the position in the "Position" operator is set to 0,0,0.


Step 14

Go to "Create rollout > Helpers > Position" and create a "Surface Position" operator. This helper is designed to place the particles over the surface of a selected object. As you can see the distribution method is already set to "Vertex".


Step 15

Now, create a "Node" helper from "Create rollout > Helpers > Standard".


Step 16

In the "Node" rollout, click the "Pick Node" button and select the "Displacement Plane". Connect the "Node" output to the "Node" input of the "Surface Position" helper.


Step 17

Now, all we need to do is to connect the "Position" output of the "Surface Position" helper to the "Position" input of the "Position" operator, and then, the "Particle" output of the "All" group to the "Particle" input of the "Surface Position" helper. And that's all!


Final

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial! Stay tuned for ‘Day 2', where we'll take a look at modeling, animating, shading and rendering with finalRender!

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