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Create Awesome Cloth Simulations using nDynamics in Maya

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Dynamics simulations can be a powerful tool when trying to generate realistic looking effects that would be very difficult to achieve manually. In this tutorial you will learn how to use nDynamics' passive colliders and ncloth objects, in conjunction with fields like air and gravity, to easily simulate realistic dynamic objects such as a windy flag or a water container.

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 November of 2009.

Final Effect Preview

Step 1

Go to “Create > Polygon Primitives > Plane”.

Step 2

Create a plane that matches the size of a flag and rotate it by '90' degrees.

Step 3

Open the Attributes Editor for the plane, name it, and increase the “Subdivisions Width” to '30', and the “Subdivisions Height” to '50'.

Step 4

Your plane should now look like this:

Step 5

Go to “Create > Polygon Primitives > Cylinder”

Step 6

Position the cylinder, and scale it to match the size of a flag pole.

Step 7

Select all the top faces of the pole.

Step 8

With the faces still selected, got to “Polygons > Edit Mesh > Extrude”.

Step 9

Extrude those faces until you get a nice pole shape.

Step 10

Select the top vertex of the pole.

Step 11

Use the move tool to position the vertex.

Step 12

Go to “Window > Rendering Editors > Hypershade”.

Step 13

With “Create mental ray Nodes” active, create a new “mia_material_x”.

Step 14

Open the Attributes Editor of the material you just created, name it, select the preset called “Copper”, and adjust the “Diffuse” and “Reflection” colors accordingly.

Step 15

Apply the material to the pole.

Step 16

Go to “Window > Rendering Editors > Hypershade” again.

Step 17

With “Create mental ray Nodes active”, create a new “mia_material_x”.

Step 18

Go to the Attributes Editor of the material, name it, and decrease the “Reflectivity” value to '0'.

Step 19

Click on the checkerboard button, to the right of the “Diffuse” color value, to open the “File” browser window.

Step 20

The Attributes Editor should now change. Select the image you want to use to texture the flag.

Step 21

Apply the material to the flag, and with the flag selected go to “Create UV´s > Planar Mapping”.

Step 22

Select the option highlighted below so you can see if the texture looks good.

Step 23

If your texture looks bad like mine, go to “Create UV´s > Planar Mapping (settings)”.

Step 24

This will open a new window where you can change the projection axis to whatever works for your scene, and then click “Project”.

Step 25

Your flag should now display the texture correctly.

Step 26

Select the flag, and in the “nDynamics” menu, go to “nMesh > Create nCloth”.

Step 27

Increase the number of frames of the animation.

Step 28

If you play the animation now, you will see that the flag just falls down. This is because the flag is not attached to the pole.

Step 29

Rewind the animation.

Step 30

Select the flag, and in the "Window" menu, go to “Show > Isolate Select > View Selected".

Step 31

You should now only see the flag, which will make it easier to work with.

Step 32

Select all of the vertexes that you want to be attached to the pole.

Step 33

In the “nDynamics” menu, go to “nConstraint > Transform”.

Step 34

Select the flag, and in the "Window" menu go to “Show > Isolate Select > View Selected” this will make everything visible again.

Step 35

Select the pole.

Step 36

In the “nDynamics” menu, go to “nMesh > Create Passive Collider”.

Step 37

If you play the animation, you should now see the flag hanging from the pole. This is realistic, but an unmoving flag is not very dynamic, so let's add some wind.

Step 38

Go to the Attributes Editor of the flag´s “nucleus1”, and in the “Gravity and Wind” section, change the following values:

  • Air Density = 10.000
  • Wind Speed = 8.000
  • Wind Direction = – 1.000 z axis
  • Step 39

    If you play the animation now, it should look pretty good. All you need to do is smooth the polygons by pressing '3' on the keyboard (with the flag selected).

    Step 40

    Perfect! We are done with the first section of this tutorial, just don´t forget to save your scene!

    Step 41

    Create a new scene, and go to “Create > Polygon Primitives > Plane”.

    Step 42

    Create a square plane.

    Step 43

    Go to the Attributes Editor of the plane, name it, and change the "Subdivisions Width" to '50', and the "Subdivisions Height" to '50'

    Step 44

    Go to “Create > Polygon Primitives > Sphere”.

    Step 45

    Create a sphere and position it very high above the plane.

    Step 46

    Go to “Window > Rendering Editors > Hypershade”.

    Step 47

    Make sure you have “Create mental ray Nodes” active, and create a new “mia_material_x”.

    Step 48

    Go to the Attributes Editor of the material, name it, and change the following options:

  • Diffuse: Color = Green; Weight = 0.100
  • Reflection: Color = Green; Reflectivity = 1.000; Glossiness = 0.500; Glossy Samples = 30; Metal Material = Active
  • Step 49

    Apply the material to the ball.

    Step 50

    Go to “Window > Rendering Editors > Hypershade”.

    Step 51

    With “Create mental ray Nodes” active, create a new “mia_material_x”.

    Step 52

    Go to the Attributes Editor of the material, name it, and decrease the “Reflectivity” value to '0'.

    Step 53

    Hit the checkerboard button to the right of the “Diffuse” Color value. This will open the file browser window where you can select the image that you want to use to texture the plane.

    Step 54

    Apply the material to the plane.

    Step 55

    Select the plane, and in the “Polygons” menu, go to “Create UV´s > Planar Mapping”.

    Step 56

    Select the plane again, and in the “nDynamics” menu, go to “nMesh > Create nCloth”.

    Step 57

    Select one vertex from each corner of the plane.

    Step 58

    With the vertexes still selected, go to the “nDynamics” menu, and choose “nConstraint > Transform”.

    Step 59

    Select the ball, and in the “nDynamics” menu, go to “nMesh > Create Passive Collider”.

    Step 60

    With the ball still selected, go to “Fields > Gravity”.

    Step 61

    Increase the number of frames of the animation.

    Step 62

    Position your camera.

    Step 63

    Play the animation.

    Step 64

    The plane should just stretch instead of tearing.

    Step 65

    Rewind the animation.

    Step 66

    Select the faces of the plane that you want to tear.

    Step 67

    In the “nDynamics” menu, go to “nConstraint > Tearable Surface".

    Step 68

    You should see some dots covering the faces you selected.

    Step 69

    If you play the animation now, your plane should tear naturally. End of tutorial! Hope you liked it!!

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