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Creating a Hut Destruction Scene Using Photoshop, 3ds Max, and After Effects

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In this tutorial, I'll show you how to show a still image of hut being destroyed by a storm using Photoshop, 3ds Max, and After Effects. 

I'll show how to create secondary animations of torn cloth, debris, dusty wind, etc., to add feeling to the scene. Using these techniques, you'll be able to turn any still image into a beautiful live action scene.

1. Setting Up the Image in Photoshop

Step 1

Open Photoshop.

Open PhotoshopOpen PhotoshopOpen Photoshop
Open Photoshop

Step 2

I've imported an image of a hut into Photoshop to demonstrate the effect. You can use a different image if you prefer. 

Image importImage importImage import
Image import

Step 3

Since the upper part of the hut will be shattered, isolate this upper part in a separate layer.

Isolate the partIsolate the partIsolate the part
Isolate the part

Step 4

With the help of the Lasso Tool, select and cut the indicated upper part of the hut.

lasso toollasso toollasso tool
Lasso Tool

Step 5

Make a new layer and rename it Outer Part. Paste the cut upper part in that layer.

Outer PartOuter PartOuter Part
Outer Part

Step 6

Following the same method, make another new layer and rename it Inner Part. In this layer, make an inner shattered part. You need to do some paint work in this step.

Inner PartInner PartInner Part
Inner Part

Step 7

Now, turn on all layers. It will just look like before, but the upper part and the BG are now separate. Save the file in PSD format.

Inner Part

2. Creating Flying Debris Using Particle Flow in 3ds Max

Step 1

Open 3ds Max.

Open 3ds MaxOpen 3ds MaxOpen 3ds Max
Open 3ds Max

Step 2

To create flying debris, go to Create > Shapes > Line and create several random shapes.

Create  Shapes  Line Create  Shapes  Line Create  Shapes  Line
Create > Shapes > Line 

Step 3

Once done, select all the chunks and apply an Extrude modifier to them.

Extrude modifierExtrude modifierExtrude modifier
Extrude modifier

Step 4

Select all the chunks and then go to the Group menu and group them all, Group > Group.

Group menuGroup menuGroup menu
Group menu

Step 5

Create the flying debris using the Particle Flow system. Create a PF Source system by navigating to Create > Particles > Particle Flow Source, and open the Particle View window by pressing 6 on the keyboard.

Overwrite Shape with the Shape Instance operator. Click on None and select Group from the list.

Particle ViewParticle ViewParticle View
Particle View

Step 6

Go to the Shape Instance operator and turn on the Group Members option. Decrease the Scale % value. You'll now see the chunks scaled down and scattered randomly. 

Shape InstanceShape InstanceShape Instance
Shape Instance

Step 7

Go to the Speed operator. Decrease the Speed amount and increase the Variation and Divergence values as indicated in the following image.

Speed operatorSpeed operatorSpeed operator
Speed operator

Step 8

Go to the Birth operator and set the values of Emit Start to -100, Emit Stop to 100, and Amount to 100.

Birth operatorBirth operatorBirth operator
Birth operator

Step 9

Go to the Spin operator and set the Spin Rate to 360 and Variation to 20

Open Render Setup and render the animation sequence from 0 to 100 frames.

Spin operatorSpin operatorSpin operator
Spin operator

3. Creating Torn Cloth in 3ds Max

Step 1

Open 3ds Max. Create a plane in the perspective viewport. Keep its Length Segs and Width Segs as 100.

Open 3ds MaxOpen 3ds MaxOpen 3ds Max
Open 3ds Max

Step 2

With the plane selected, apply the Cloth modifier to it.

Cloth modifierCloth modifierCloth modifier
Cloth modifier

Step 3

In the cloth modifier, click on the Object Properties tab.

Object PropertiesObject PropertiesObject Properties
Object Properties

Step 4

In the Object Properties window, select plane and turn on the Cloth radio button. It turns the plane into cloth. Click OK.

Object Properties windowObject Properties windowObject Properties window
Object Properties window

Step 5

Open the cloth modifier roll out. Select Group.

Select GroupSelect GroupSelect Group
Select Group

Step 6

With the indicated top left and bottom left vertices of the plane selected, click on the Make Group button.

Make Group buttonMake Group buttonMake Group button
Make Group button

Step 7

In the Make Group window, rename the group name as Hold Vertices.

Make Group windowMake Group windowMake Group window
Make Group window

Step 8

With the Hold Vertices group selected, click on Preserve.

Hold Vertices groupHold Vertices groupHold Vertices group
Hold Vertices group

Step 9

Go to Forces > Wind and apply a wind force in the scene, from left to right.

Forces  WindForces  WindForces  Wind
Forces > Wind

Step 10

In the cloth modifier, click on the Cloth Forces tab.

Cloth ForcesCloth ForcesCloth Forces
Cloth Forces

Step 11

In the Forces window, select the wind and click on the left to right button to bring the wind force into the simulation. Click on OK.

Forces windowForces windowForces window
Forces window

Step 12

Click on Simulate. The simulation starts, and you can see the cloth simulation in the viewport. 

Simulate buttonSimulate buttonSimulate button
Simulate button

Step 13

To make the cloth torn, I would use a black and white texture as the opacity map. You can make your own opacity map in Photoshop. The black part would be transparent while the white part would be opaque.

Black and white mapBlack and white mapBlack and white map
Black and white map

Step 14

Press M to open the Material Editor. With an empty slot selected, click on the Opacity channel. It opens the Material/ Map Browser

Click on Bitmap and select the black and white image. Click on OK.

Material EditorMaterial EditorMaterial Editor
Material Editor

Step 15

Apply the material to the cloth.

Apply the materialApply the materialApply the material
Apply the material

Step 16

Render the torn cloth simulation up to 100 frames.

Render the torn cloth simulationRender the torn cloth simulationRender the torn cloth simulation
Render the torn cloth simulation

4. Creating Shatter in After Effects 

Step 1

Open After Effects.

Open After EffectsOpen After EffectsOpen After Effects
Open After Effects

Step 2

Import the Hut.PSD file into After Effects as a composition. It comes with three different layers: Outer Part, Inner Part, and BG.

Outer Part Inner Part and BGOuter Part Inner Part and BGOuter Part Inner Part and BG
Outer Part, Inner Part, and BG

Step 3

Create a new solid layer and apply a Turbulent Noise effect onto it: Effect > Noise & Grain > Turbulent Noise. Set the Contrast and Brightness values as shown in the following image.

Turbulent NoiseTurbulent NoiseTurbulent Noise
Turbulent Noise

Step 4

With the solid layer selected, go to Layer > Pre-Compose. Rename the pre-composed layer as Ramp and choose the second option. Click on OK

Layer  Pre- ComposeLayer  Pre- ComposeLayer  Pre- Compose
Layer > Pre-Compose

Step 5

Turn off the Ramp layer. 

Ramp layerRamp layerRamp layer
Ramp layer

Step 6

With the Outer Part layer selected, go to Effects > Simulation > Shatter and apply the effect to the layer. 

Select View as Rendered. If you move the time slider, you will see the outer part of the hut is getting shattered. But you need to tweak it to get the desired effect.

Effects  Simulation  ShatterEffects  Simulation  ShatterEffects  Simulation  Shatter
Effects > Simulation > Shatter

Step 7

Open the Force 1 and Force 2 dropdown menus and set the values of the properties as shown in the following image.

Force 1 and Force 2Force 1 and Force 2Force 1 and Force 2
Force 1 and Force 2

Step 8

Open the Gradient dropdown menu and select Ramp as the Gradient Layer. Animate the Shatter Threshold value from 0 to 100 values, starting from the frame where you want the shatter effect to begin.

Shatter Threshold Shatter Threshold Shatter Threshold
Shatter Threshold 

Step 9

Import the torn cloth and particles debris and put the layers on the timeline to composite.

Import the torn cloth and particles debrisImport the torn cloth and particles debrisImport the torn cloth and particles debris
Import the torn cloth and particles debris

Step 10

Create a solid layer. Apply the S_CloudsGenarts Sapphire plug in, effect to the layer. Set the Shift Speed X value to 600. This will create an effect of stormy wind.


Step 11

Create an adjustment layer. Apply S_Film Effect and Hue & Saturation effects to the layer. Turn on the Colorize option and set the Colorize Hue value to 40. This will create a pale stormy day effect. 

S_Film EffectS_Film EffectS_Film Effect
S_Film Effect

Step 12

Hit the play button and you will see a stormy scene with flying chunks of the hut, various wooden debris, and torn cloth. 

Play the animationPlay the animationPlay the animation
Play the animation


You've now seen how to take a still image of hut and show it being destroyed by a storm using Photoshop, 3ds Max, and After Effects. You can play with the values of the properties of the various effects to get the desired look. 

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