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  1. 3D & Motion Graphics
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Understanding Particles and Dynamics in Maya—Part 1

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Difficulty:IntermediateLength:ShortLanguages:
Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

This could be a giant series exploring particles, n-particles, dynamics, n-dynamics, n-cloth, n-hair and so forth in Maya

I will start with basic particles and dynamics in Maya and then move towards the high end n-particles and dynamics systems. I will show you how to create production ready effects as fire, smoke, explosion, rain, cloth and hair simulation.

In the first part of this tutorial series, I'll explain how to set up the dynamic particles system using emitter, gravity field and collision and reaction with other objects. 

1. Setting Up Particles Emission

Step 1

Open Maya.

Open Maya
Open Maya

Step 2

Jump in the Dynamics mode so that you get the dynamics menu items.

Dynamics mode
Dynamics mode

Step 3

Go to Particles > Create Emitter and click on the option box.

Particles  Create Emitter
Particles > Create Emitter

Step 4

In the Emitter Options box, give the emitter a name as Particles Emission. Presently, the Emitter type is set to Omni and Rate is set to 100 particles/ second which you can change anytime later in the Attribute Editor.

Speed is, by default, set to 1

Click on Create button to create the emitter in the viewport.

Emitter Options box
Emitter Options box

Step 5

The default timeline length is up to 24 frames only. You need to Increase the frames number on the timeline because in order to view the particles act, you need more numbers of frames. 

Go to Window > Settings/Preferences > Preferences.

Preferences
Preferences

Step 6

In the Preferences box, go to Categories > Settings > Time slider and set the Playback start/end and Animation start/end from 1 to 500

Click the Save button.

Preferences
Preferences

Step 7

If you scrub the timeline, you will see the particles coming out of the emitter icon from all directions. This is because the Emitter type is set to Omni.

Emitter type
Emitter type

Step 8

With the emitter icon selected, press Ctrl-A to open the Attribute Editor of the emitter. In here, change the Emitter type to Directional.

Attribute Editor
Attribute Editor

Step 9

Press the play button and you will see the particles coming out in X direction since the value of Direction X is set to 1.

Direction X
Direction X

Step 10

Change the Spread value a bit to scatter the particles.

Spread
Spread

Step 11

You can change the Speed and Speed Random values also to get random speed of the particles.

Speed and Speed Random
Speed and Speed Random

Step 12

With the emitter selected, go to particleShape1 and open Render Attributes drop down menu. Right now, the Particle Render Type is set to Points.

Render Attributes
Render Attributes

Step 13

Set the Particle Render Type to Spheres. Click on Current Render Type and then you can control the Radius of the spheres also.

Particle Render Type
Particle Render Type

Step 14

To make the particles fall on the ground, you need to apply the gravity field in the scene. So, with the particles selected, go to Fields > Gravity and apply the gravity.

Fields  Gravity
Fields > Gravity

Step 15

Now you can see the particles are falling down due to gravity.

Particles falling down
Particles falling down

2. Adding Deflector

Step 1

You can also show the particles to react with the ground plane. To create the ground plane, navigate to Create > Polygon Primitives > Plane and drag and draw a plane in the perspective viewport.

Create  Polygon Primitives  Plane
Create > Polygon Primitives > Plane

Step 2

To collide the particles on the ground, first select the particles and then select the plane and then go to Particles > Make Collide.

Particles  Make Collide
Particles > Make Collide

Step 3

Press the play button to see the animation. You'll see the particles are bouncing too much. 

Hit the play button
Hit the play button

Step 4

To control the bounciness of the particles, select the plane and go to Attribute Editor > geoConnector 1 and decrease the Resilience value. Now the particles will bounce less.

Resilience
Resilience

Step 5

Right now the particles are sliding and falling down from the ground plane because there is no friction on the ground plane.

Particles falling down
Particles falling down

Step 6

To increase the friction of the plane, select the plane and go to Attribute Editor > geoConnector 1 and increase the Friction value.

Friction
Friction

3. Controlling Particles Emission

Step 1

By default, the life of particles is set to Forever

To control the life of particles, select the particles and go to particlesShape1 in the attribute editor. 

Open Lifespan Attributes drop down menu and change the Lifespan Mode to Constant.

Set the Lifespan value to 5. It means the particles will live up to five seconds and after that they will die.

Lifespan Attributes
Lifespan Attributes

Step 2

You can also set the Lifespan Mode to Random Range. In this case you can set the Lifespan value to 3 and Lifespan Random to 5. It means the particles will die randomly between three and five seconds.

Lifespan Mode
Lifespan Mode

Step 3

You can also control the emission of the particles. You need to animate the value of particles generation. With the emitter selected, go to Particles_Emission1 in the Attribute Editor

Right now, the Rate of particles emission is set to 100 Particles/Sec.

Attribute Editor
Attribute Editor

Step 4

For example, I wish to show the particles emission at the rate of 100 particles per second from 1st frame to 100th frame and then the emission to stop gradually from 100th frame to 150th frame.

In this case, navigate to frame one on the timeline and set the value of Rate to 100 and with the primary-click on Rate and select Set Key

Set Key
Set Key

Step 5

Now move to 100th frame on the timeline. Again set the value of Rate to 100 and with the primary-click on Rate, select Set Key

It means the value of particles emission from frame one to 100 is 100 particles per second.

Set Key
Set Key

Step 6

Now move to 150th frame on the timeline. Set the value of Rate to 0 and with the primary-click on Rate, select Set Key

It means the value of particles emission from frame 100 to 150 is going to 100 to 0 particles per second.

Press the play button and you can see now the particles tend to vanish by 150 frames.

Set Key

Step 7

In case you need to modify the frames and particles emission rate, just right click on Rate (Particles/Sec) and select Particles_Emission1_rate.output.

Rate ParticlesSec
Rate (Particles/Sec) 

Step 8

It opens the Anim Curve Attributes box. Here you can play with Time and Value options to change the frames and number of particles emission rate.

Anim Curve Attributes
Anim Curve Attributes

Conclusion

In the next part of the tutorial, I will show you how to use Instancer to create instancing particles.

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