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  1. 3D & Motion Graphics
  2. Visual Effects
Cgi

Create a Particle Based Explosion with FumeFX

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Difficulty:IntermediateLength:MediumLanguages:
What You'll Be Creating

In this tutorial, we are going to learn how to create explosions. This is a very interesting subject, because we can’t define one certain process to create an explosion. As much as you will use your creativity and tools, you will find different types of explosions every time. So it very much depends on your own understanding of the tools and techniques.

Introduction 

In this tutorial, I'll show you how I created the explosion shown in the preview above using 3ds Max and the FumeFX plugin. There are different types of techniques to achieve this effect in FumeFX, but we are going to use particles to create this explosion.

For that purpose we are going to use three Particle Flow systems, a FumeFX Particle Source, three standard lights (a Target Spot and two Omni lights), and the default Scanline Renderer. So get ready for this exciting tutorial!

Editors Note: If you'd prefer to follow along using high resolution Images. You can download them below:



1. Create the Particle Flow Systems & Gravity

Step 1

To create an explosion, particles are a very good option, because we can control the particle's motion easily and particles will generate fire and smoke based on their birth timing. Also the particle count and speed will determine how big and fast the explosion is. So to create a proper Particle Flow simulation follow these steps:

There are two ways to open the Particle Flow window:

  1. Press 6 on the keyboard.
  2. Go to Graph Editors > Particle View.

To create a Standard flow, follow these steps: Right Click on the center part of the Particle Flow window and go to New > Particle System > Standard Flow.

Step 2

Position the first Particle Flow source (PF Source 01) at the following location:

Position: X : 0.0 | Y : 0.0 | Z : 6.543

Rotation: X : 0.0 | Y : -5.358 | Z : 0.0

Step 3

Create a second Standard Flow (PF Source 02) following the above steps and position it as follows:

Position: X : 0.0 | Y : 0.0 | Z : 6.543

Rotation: X : 0.0 | Y : 0.0 | Z : 0.0

Step 4

Finally create a third Standard Flow (PF Source 03) and position it:

Position: X : 0.0 | Y : 0.0 | Z : 6.543

Rotation: X : 0.0 | Y : 13.213 | Z : 0.0

Step 5

 Now create the Gravity Space Warp. To create the Gravity Space Warp, go to the Create Panel > Space Warps > Forces, click on the Gravity button and generate it in viewport by clicking and dragging.

 And then position it as follows:

Position: X : 50.0 | Y : 0.0 | Z : 0.0

Rotation: X : -180.0 | Y : 0.0 | Z : 0.0

Step 6

Select the Gravity space warp and go to the Modify panel and make the following changes to its parameters.

Under Force, set the Strength to 1.0 and the Decay to 0.0.



2. Edit the Particle Flow Systems

Step 1

Now let’s modify each of the Particle Flow systems.

Select PF Source 01, go to the Modify panel and make the following changes to its parameters.

Emission:

  • Logo Size: 10.0
  • Icon Type: Circle
  • Diameter: 20.0

Quantity Multiplier:

  • Viewport 100.0%
  • Render 100.0%

Tip: If you keep the Viewport value at 50.0%, it will only show 50% of the particles in the viewport and because of that FumefX, will only generate smoke from that 50% of Particles. So always keep it at 100%.

System Management:

  • Upper Limit: Keep it at the Maximum.
  • Viewport (Integration Step): Frame
  • Render (Integration Step): Frame

Tip: A smaller integration step can improve accuracy, at the cost of calculation time. But I am not worried about it here, because our particle system is not very complicated.

Script: Keep as it is. (Frankly speaking, this is not my cup of tea.) ;)

Step 2

Press 6 to open the Particle View window and make these changes.

Birth 01:

  • Emit Start: 2
  • Emit Stop: 3
  • Amount: 11
  • Subframe Sampling: Keep it Ticked.

Position Icon 001: Keep it as is.

Speed 01:

  • Speed: 300.0
  • Variation: 50.0
  • Direction: Along Icon Arrow
  • Reverse: Checked
  • Divergence: 21.0

Add a Force and Delete operator into the event by dragging and dropping them from the depot. Adjust the parameters as follows:

Force 01:

Under Force Space Warps, click the By List button and pick Gravity001 from the list. Set the Influence% value to 200.

Delete 01:

  • Remove: By Particle Age
  • Life Span: 30
  • Variation: 35

Display 001:

  • Type: Ticks

Step 3

Select PF Source 02, go to the Modify Panel and edit the parameters to match the settings we used for PF Source 01.

Now Press 6 to open the Particle View window and make the following changes:

Birth 02:

  • Emit Start: 2
  • Emit Stop: 3
  • Amount: 9
  • Subframe Sampling: Keep it Ticked.

Position Icon 02: Keep it as is.

Speed 02:

  • Speed: 320.0
  • Variation: 100.0
  • Direction: Along Icon Arrow
  • Reverse: Checked
  • Divergence: 16.0

Force 02:

  • Force Space Warps: Add the Gravity.
  • Influence: 200

Delete 02

  • Remove: By Particle Age
  • Life Span: 30
  • Variation: 50

Display 02:

  • Type – Ticks

Step 4

Select PF Source 03, go to the Modify panel and again edit the parameters to be the same as PF Source 01.

Now press 6 to open the Particle View window, and make these changes:

Birth 03:

  • Emit Start: 2
  • Emit Stop: 3
  • Amount: 8
  • Subframe Sampling: Keep it Ticked.

Position Icon 03: Keep it as is.

Speed 03:

  • Speed: 300.0
  • Variation: 200.0
  • Direction: Along Icon Arrow
  • Reverse: Checked
  • Divergence: 8.5

Force 03:

  • Force Space Warps: Add the Gravity.
  • Influence: 100

Delete 03:

  • Remove: By Particle Age
  • Life Span: 30
  • Variation: 50

Display 03:

  • Type – Ticks

3. Create the FumeFX Particle Source

Step 1

We are going to use a FumeFX Particle Source to create the Explosion.

To Create the FFX Particle Source, go to the Create panel, click on Helpers and select FumeFX from the dropdown list.

Click on the Particle Src button and generate it in the viewport by clicking and dragging. And then rename it from FFX Particle Scr01 to "FFX Explosion Src".

Step 2

Position it at the following location:

Position: X : 0.0 | Y : 0.0 | Z : 0.0

Rotation: X : 0.0 | Y : 0.0 | Z : 0.0


4. Create the FumeFX Container

Step 1

Now it’s time to make the Fumefx Container. To create the container go to the Create panel, click on the Geometry tab and select FumeFX from the dropdown menu.

Click on the FumeFX and generate the container by clicking and dragging in the viewport. Now rename the container from FumeFX01 to "Explosion-Container".

Step 2

Position the Explosion-Container at this location:

  • X: -20.559
  • Y: -12.908
  • Z: 0.0

5. Edit Fumefx Container

There are Five Important Sections in the FumeFX Container we are going to modify.

  • A. Gen – General
  • B. Sim – Simulation
  • C. Rend – Rendering
  • D. Illum - Illumination
  • E. Obj/Src - Objects & Sources

Step 1

Open FumeFX, go to the Gen tab and set the following parameters for each section.

General Parameters:

  • Spacing: 0.7
  • Width: 500.0
  • Length: 500.0
  • Height: 500.0
  • Adaptive: On

Output:

  • Start: 0
  • End Frame: 100
  • Exporting Channels: Fuel, Smoke.
  • Output Path: Click on the small button next to Output path, make a New Folder on your Storage Drive and save your cache file (fxd) as "Explosion_test_" in that Folder.

Playback:

  • Play From: 0
  • Play to: 100
  • Start Frame: 0

Step 2

Go to the Sim tab and set the following parameters for each section.

Simulation:

  • Quality: 5
  • Maximum Iteration: 200
  • CFL Conditions: 5.0
  • Maximum Simulation Steps: 1
  • Advection Stride: 0.5
  • Time Scale: 1.0

System:

  • Gravity: 0.05
  • Vorticity: 0.7
  • X Turbulence: Animated*

NOTE: We are going to animate the Turbulence because we want to slow down the turbulence after Frame 20. So what we’ll do is keep the Turbulence set at 2.0 from Frame 0 to 14, and on frame 17, we’ll set the Turbulence to 0.5. And on frame 20, we’ll make the Turbulence 0.1.

 Turbulence Noise:

  • Scale: 3.0
  • Frames: 2.0
  • Detail: 5.0

 Blocking Sides:

  • X : None | Y : None | Z : Both

 Simulate Fuel:

  • Fuel Buoyancy: -0.1
  • Ignition: 100
  • Burn Rate: 18.1
  • Burn Rate Variation: 1.0
  • Heat Production: 10.0
  • Expansion: 1.5
  • Fire Creates Smoke: Unchecked

Note: Don’t Change any Parameter from Smoke or Temperature, keep them Default.


Step 3

Go to the Rend tab and set the following parameters.

Rendering Parameters:

We are not changing anything under this tab.

Fire:

  • Color: Gradient
  • Opacity: 1.0

 Editor Note: You can download the Color Gradient file from the Attachments section at the top of this page.

Smoke:

  • Ambient: R: 0 | G: 0 | B: 0
  • Smoke Color: R: 66 | G: 66 | B: 66
  • Opacity: 0.2
  • Cast Shadows: Checked
  • Receive Shadows: Checked

Note: Keep all other parameters at default.

Step 4

Before starting work in the Illum tab, we need to add some lights to the scene. We will use the following three lights:

  1. Target Spot
  2. Omni
  3. Omni

Create a Target Spot by going to Create > Lights > Standard Lights > Target Spot. Click and drag in the viewport to create the light, then position it at the following coordinates: 

Light Position: X: 642.252 | Y : -486.928 | Z: 932.155

Target Position: X: -13.825 | Y: 0.0 | Z: 200.066

Step 5

Next, go to the Modify panel and adjust the light's settings:

  • Turn On Shadows.
  • Go to the Shadow Parameters rollout and turn On Atmosphere Shadows.
  • Multiplier: 0.6
  • Light Color: R: 255 | G: 255 | B: 255

Note - Keep everything else default.

Step 6

Create an Omni light by going to Create > Lights > Standard Lights > Omni, and click in the viewport to create the light, then position it at the following coordinates: 

Position: X: 657.659 | Y: -557.434 | Z: 178.75

Step 7

Next, go to the Modify panel and adjust the light's settings:

  • Turn On Shadows.
  • Go to the Shadow Parameters rollout and turn On Atmosphere Shadows.
  • Multiplier: 0.3
  • Light Color: R: 255 | G: 255 | B: 255

Note - Keep everything else default.

 Step 8

Create a second Omni light and position it at the following coordinates:

Position: X: 425.011 | Y: -677.873 | Z: 130.717

Step 9

Again, go to the Modify panel and adjust the light's settings:

  • Turn On Shadows.
  • Go to the Shadow Parameters rollout and turn On Atmosphere Shadows.
  • Multiplier: 0.15
  • Light Color: R: 255 | G: 255 | B: 255

Note - Keep the rest of the light's settings default.

Step 10

Back in FumeFX, go to the Illum tab and add the lights to the Lights list by picking them, then change the following values: 

  • Turn On Multiple Scattering.
  • Maximum Depth: 6
  • Fire: 1.0
  • Smoke Strength: 1.0
  • Falloff: 8.0

Step 11

The final step before we hit the simulation button is setting up the Obj/Src Tab.

Add the FFX Explosion Src to the Objects list. When you select the FFX Explosion Src, another tab will appear called Particle Source Parameters. Now add all the Particle Flow Systems into the Particles list. And change the parameters as follows:

Radius:

  • Radius: 4.187
  • Variation: 643.572*

You can see the Particle Radius Button, exactly below the Var Text. Right Click on it and choose Enable. Now you can see that the parameter text window has been Activated, change the parameter to 0.0

If you use this option, the particle radius will animate automatically. You’ll see that from emission to deletion, the particle radius size will animate from big to small.

Velocity Multiplier:

  • Amount: 1.0
  • Variation: 10.0

Fuel:

  • Amount: 100.0
  • Variation: 10

Temperature:

  • Amount: 300.0
  • Variation: 10.0

Smoke:

  • Amount: 10.0
  • Variation: 10

6. Start the Simulation

Hit the Simulation Button. It will take around 10 to 12 Hours for the 100 frame simulation to complete.

I want to share one important thing with you. If you want to work with plugins like FumeFX and RealFlow, you need a very high end machine, because if you are working on a big scene and you don't have such a machine, the software will crash every time and you won't be able to deliver the project on time, or maybe not at all.

I'm using an Intel Core i7 - 2700K CPU @ 3.50GHz and 16GBs of Ram, and it still takes 10 to 12 minutes to simulate a single frame of this explosion.

7. Rendering

After the simulation finishes and you setup your scene, go to Render Setup (F10). Add the FumeFX Fire & FumeFX Smoke Elements in the Render Elements Section, and render the sequences at a HD resolution (1280 x 720).

8. Basic Compositing

Step 1

Open After Effects and load the image sequences you rendered from 3D Studio Max. 

You can add the following effects to the Fire layer.

  1. Color Balance
  2. Sharpen
  3. Glow (Sapphire_Glow)

Step 2

Add the Smoke Layer and apply these effects to it.

  1. Brightness & Contrast
  2. Sharpen


Conclusion

The most important thing to remember when creating such effects, is always try different parameters again and again. First, try this tutorial, but then try your own ideas. Use more than one particle system, add simple sources, change the parameters and see what happens. I would like to see your tests when you finish this tutorial, but not the same as I have made. I want to see your own effects.

So good luck… keep working.

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