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Making Asteroids in 3ds Max with AfterBurn

Final product image
What You'll Be Creating
In this tutorial you'll learn how to leverage the power of particle flow and Afterburn to create a great looking burning asteroid in 3ds Max. 

1. Particle Flow Setup

Step 1

Open 3ds Max. Go to Particle Systems and create a PF Source icon in the perspective viewport by clicking and dragging.

Step 2

With the Rotate tool selected (E), rotate the PF Source icon vertically 90 degrees, or enter a value of 90 degrees in the Y axis field.

Step 3

With the PF Source icon selected, click on the Modify panel button to open its parameters. Here set the values for Length and Width to 0, and change the Viewport value to 100.

Step 4

Click on the Particle View button (or press 6 on the keyboard) to open the Particle View window.

Step 5

Click on the Birth operator and change the Emit Start and Emit Stop values to -100 and 100 respectively. Set the Amount value to 500.

Step 6

Go to the Speed operator and change it's Divergence value to 6.0. This will make the particles spread out a bit.

2. After Burn Setup

Step 1

Now it’s time to use the After Burn system. Press 8 on the keyboard to open the Environment and Effects window. Inside the Atmosphere panel, click on the Add button. This opens the Add Atmospheric Effect sub-window. Here select After Burn and then click on OK.

Step 2

You can see AfterBurn and the FusionWorks Renderer have been added into the list.

Step 3

Now create a standard Target Spot light and position it in the scene (Create > Lights > Standard LIghts > Target Spotlight).

Step 4

      Turn on the Shadow option and choose AB Shadow Map from the drop-down menu.

Step 5

Now click on After Burn in the Environment and Effects window to open the AfterBurn Manager.

Step 6

First click on the Pick Particles/ Daemons icon and then select the PF Source icon in the viewport. This adds the PF Source into the list. Then turn on the Show in Viewport icon to see the shape of the actual AfterBurn particles in the viewport.

Step 7

Now click on the Pick Lights icon and then press the H key to open the Pick Object window. Here select the spot light (Spot001) and then click on the Pick button. You will then see the spotlight added to the Source Lights list.

Step 8

Go to the Particle Shape parameters and change the Sphere Radius value to 10.0, and set the Var % (variation percentage) value to 10.0. Then click on the AFC icon and set the Hi Value to 40.0.

Step 9

In the Colors rollout, click on the Color 1 icon and change the color values from light grey to dark grey going from left to right.

Step 10

Right Click on the Ambient Color box and choose Key Mode.

You can change the key color values as shown in the following image.

Step 11

Go to the Rendering parameters and turn on the Self Shadows, Shadow Cast and Shadow Receive options.

Step 12

Now render the scene and see how it looks. It looks impressive, but we need to add some more detail.

Step 13

Go to Helpers > After Burn Daemons > Explode and draw an explode icon in the viewport.

Step 14

Click on the Pick Particles/ Daemons icon and pick the Explode daemon.

Step 15

Change the Color of the Explode to match what's shown in the following image.

Step 16

Render the scene to see the difference the Explode daemon has made.

Step 17

Increase the Multiplier value and render again to see how it looks.


There is no definite method or values to get the desired result. All you need to do is play with the parameters and their values until your get the results you're after. So keep experimenting with the Multiplier, Level, Scale and Amount values to achieve the desired result. 

This is the outcome I got after playing with the values. I hope you guys liked the tutorial.
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