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Understanding Particles and Dynamics in Maya—Part 2

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Difficulty:IntermediateLength:ShortLanguages:

In this, the second part of the series, I'll explain how to start working with nParticles in Maya. nParticles is an advanced particle system that uses Maya Nucleus framework

This is better than the traditional particle system as nParticles can collide and interact with each other, as well as other dynamic and passive collision systems, and hence you have better chances to explore and delve into this dynamic particle system.  

Preview


1. Setting Up nParticles Emission

Step 1

Open Maya.

Open Maya
Open Maya

Step 2

Jump in the nDynamics mode so that you get the n-dynamics menu items.

nDynamics
nDynamics

Step 3

Go to nParticles > Create nParticles > Create Emitter with Balls option turned on. It creates an emitter in the viewport.

Create Emitter
Create Emitter

Step 4

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 5

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 6

If you scrub the timeline, you will see the ball particles coming out of the emitter icon and falling down.

Scrub the timeline
Scrub the timeline

Step 7

The ball particles are multicoloured. However you can change it into one specific colour.

With the nParticles selected, go to Attribute Editor > nParticleShape1 > Shading > Color. You can see there are two main colours here- Red and Blue. These colours derive the particles colour. Just delete the blue colour so that the particles could have only one shade.

Attribute Editor  nParticleShape1  Shading  Color
Attribute Editor > nParticleShape1 > Shading > Color

Step 8

With the particles selected, go to nucleus1 > Ground Plane and turn on Use Plane option. This enables the grid as the deflector plane and hence the falling particle balls interact with the grid.

You can play with the Plane Bounce and Plane Friction properties to have different results.

nucleus1  Ground Plane
nucleus1 > Ground Plane

2. Accumulation of nParticles

Step 1

To accumulate the nParticle balls, you need something to hold them. Go to Curves > EP Curve Tool and draw the curve in the side view as shown in the following image.

Curves  EP Curve Tool
Curves > EP Curve Tool

Step 2

With the curve selected, go to Surfaces > Revolve to create the bowl shape in the viewport.

Surfaces  Revolve
Surfaces > Revolve

Step 3

If you scrub the timeline, you will see the balls are passing through the bowl.

Simulation
Simulation

Step 4

With the bowl selected, go to nMesh > Create Passive Collider.

nMesh  Create Passive Collider
nMesh > Create Passive Collider

Step 5

To increase the ball size, go to nParticleShape1 > Particle Size and increase the Radius value a bit.

nParticleShape1  Particle Size
nParticleShape1 > Particle Size

Step 6

Hit the play button and you will now see the particle balls getting accumulated in the bowl.

Hit the play button
Hit the play button

Step 7

While the bowl is getting filled with the balls, just decrease the Rate (Particles/Sec) to 0 around 222nd frames on the timeline, so that there is no more particle emission in the scene except the bowl particle balls.

Rate Particles Sec
Rate (Particles/ Sec)

Step 8

With the particle balls selected, go to nMesh > Initial State > Set From Current.

nMesh  Initial State  Set From Current
nMesh > Initial State > Set From Current

3. Creating interactive Animation

Step 1

Create a plane under the bowl of particle balls.

Create a plane
Create a plane

Step 2

With the plane selected, go to nMesh > Create Passive Collider.

nMesh  Create Passive Collider
nMesh > Create Passive Collider

Step 3

With the bowl selected, go to the 50th frame on the timeline. Go to Attribute Editor > revolveSurface1 and with the right click on the Translate, click on Set Key. This sets the first key frame on the 50th frame on the timeline.

Set Key
Set Key

Step 4

Go to 120th frame on the timeline and move the bowl a bit in the X-axis as shown in the following image. Due to Auto Key button turned on, a key frame on the 140th frame gets applied automatically.

Auto Key
Auto Key

Step 5

Go to 200th frame on the timeline. With the right click on the Translate, click on Set Key. This sets a blank key frame on the 200th frame on the timeline.

Auto Key
Auto Key

Step 6

On the very 200th frame on the timeline, with the right click on the Rotate, click on Set Key. This sets the first key frame for the rotation property on the 200th frame on the timeline.

Set Key
Set Key

Step 7

Go to 240th frame on the timeline and rotate the bowl a bit in the X-axis as shown in the following image. Don’t worry if you see some absurd behaviour of particles in the viewport as that would get normal automatically.

Rotate the bowl
Rotate the bowl

Step 8

Hit the play button to simulate the animation. You will see the particle balls are interacting with the bowl and the ground plane according to the motion.

Play the animation
Play the animation

Conclusion

In the next part of the tutorial, I will show how to delve into more deeper in nParticles in Maya.


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