3ds Max Particle Flow

The 3ds Max software, released by Autodesk, allows users to model, animate, and render objects and systems with a large degree of freedom and accuracy. The Particle Flow program is a simulation system built into 3ds Max. It allows for non-linear events to drive the parameters of the system. Complex phenomena such as water, air, and photon-scale light behavior can all be modeled in the particle flow system.


The system consists of various modules to modify simulation behavior. These include:

Emitter – The emitter is a geometry class object which represents the particle system in the viewport. This object controls particle counts/max and in the viewport and in the rendering, particle limits, ways to create a selection of particles and to run scripts.

Event – An event is a group of particle and the actions that affect the group of particles. Events can be linked using test actions or linked to events.

Birth Action – The birth actions generate new particles.

Operator – Operators change variables such as position, velocity, rotation or events such as rendering.

Test Action – Test Actions are a type of action which can script events

Source:  http://wiki.cgsociety.org/index.php/3ds_Max/Particle_Flow

Img Source: http://www.computerarts.co.uk/__data/assets/image/104975/varieties/7.jpg

Particle Flow FAQ:  http://wiki.cgsociety.org/index.php/Particle_Flow/FAQ


Getting Started with Particle Flow:  http://www.escalight.com/tutorials/3dsmax-tutorials/getting-started-with-particle-flow-part-1.html

Modeling Ground Water Flow:   http://www.freeitsolutions.com/3ds/viewTutorial.aspx?id=3716

Modeling Grassland:  http://www.freeitsolutions.com/3ds/viewTutorial.aspx?id=3211


Modeling Particle Dispersion:


Particle Flow Tutorial [Practice Blog]

Downloaded 3D Studio Max 32-bit 30 Day Trial.

STEP 1 – Created a teapot on box platform and to show particle dispersion I’m going to make the teapot desolve toward a certain direction.

I did not specify an image size for my teapot because I didn’t plan on redering it.  Size does matter in the rendering process, the bigger, the slower.

STEP 2 – I set up my particle flow. Graph Editors>Particle View>Drag and Drop “Birth” and “Empty Flow” into grey area of screen.

A shortcut to particle flow set up is “6” right after the object creation.  This shortcut did not work on my machine.

STEP 3 – To modify particle flow, add Position Object, Force and Shape to grey box in particle view.

  • Position Object – because we want to add our teapot (or whatever you are using) to a system
  • Force – because we want to add wind (otherwise particles won’t fly away)
  • Shape – because we want to see particles on renders

STEP 4 – Go to Create>Space Warps>Forces>Wind Place it somewhere on your scene. Change the surface and orientation of wind plane so particles don’t fly completely straight in scene. Changes in turbulence, frequency, scale, decay, and strength can be edited in the parameters window.

STEP 5 – Go back to Particle View and select Position Object, Add your teapot to Emitter Object list in right hand grey column.

STEP6 – Now choose Force and add forces, in our case there is only wind. 

STEP 7 – Go to Display and choose particles’ color and  type.

STEP 8 – Substatialy decrease the size of object to 1 or 2 cm.

STEP 9 – Go to Birth in Particle View and make Emit Stop a large number, like 50, are make the amount something very large.  20,000 works for the first renders but you may need more in final renderings.  A number like 100,000 may be more suitable. 

****Edits can be made at any time to change the animation settings on the particle flow.  Your computer may slow down with rendering of more complicated animations.

If you go to your PE Source Settings and look for Quantity Settings, you can decrease viewport percentage so that the particles are less visible but they will show up in full in rendering. 

STEP 10 – The object will disappear through transparency and the particles grab color from any object.   The shortcut to the Material Editor is “M”.  Select and opacity slot and change it from NONE to Gradient Ramp.  Make sure the Material Map Browser Box beside the Default selection box is set to “Standard”.

STEP 11 – Make the gradient on the teapot animated over 100 frames turning from white to black.  I found difficulty in this keeping the color of the gradient even and smooth.  I can’t yet figure out what the problem is.  Make sure keys are set.

It is ideal to get the object to disperse when the particles appear and at the right speed and consistency.  This is difficult to do and takes lots of trial and error. 

STEP 12 – Adjustments should be made to make animation more visible but for the most part, animation is complete.

I was able to fix my gradient speed over the animation.  All the information for the animations exists, but my particles aren’t visible 

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