Make it Rain with 3ds Max Particle Flow

Creating this 3ds Max rain tutorial was fairly easy. Basically, I just set up two plane objects, one smaller and above the bottom.

3ds max particle flow tutorial
3ds Max Particle Tutorial

Then I open the Particle View in 3ds Max for editing events. I can set the position and speed of the particle flow (rain and rain drops), set the gravity force with Space Warps. Change the bounce of the particles by using a UDeflector (collision control), again using Space Warp.

I can change how long the rain drops are going to last by setting the Particle Age. I can create splashes for each rain drop by setting the Offspring. I can create the rain drops from simple spheres, as you will soon read. Also, I add a water material to the rain drops.

The coolest thing is that this is also a 3ds Max water tutorial…the animation of a box filling with rain water. Filling the box with water is done by adding a small plane object with a noise modifier that has its “animate noise” checked. Then I use the auto-key animation set-up to create the rising water in the box. Both the particle animation and water level animation are on the same timeline to make things easier. Just use the frame slider to test the animation as you are creating it. It is that simple.

The still image above is one frame in an animation of 100 frames. I rendered all 100 frames of the animation to an AVI video file. That is the animation you see in the video tutorial. It is simple, and demonstrates some cool things you can do with water and rain effects in 3ds Max. I hope you enjoy learning about 3ds Max Particles. This tutorial will make it easy.

Watch it:

Particle Flow 3ds Max Tutorial

Get Started with Particle Flow in 3ds Max

After starting 3ds Max, create a plane for the surface and another plane a bit higher as the rain emitter object.

Now hit 6 on the keyboard (Menu … Graph Editors / Particle View). to open up the particle view. Right click on empty space, go to New > Particle System > Standard flow.

First make sure when you click “Birth 001”, that the Emit Start=0 and Emit Stop=100. This will set the frame animation to run from frame 0 to 100 (the default number of frames).

Also, click the modifier button, and you have the option to turn off the Logo and icon symbols which may display on the bottom object.

Now, after you open Particle View, you’ll see some event created in the window. Now we have to replace the “Position icon” with “Position Object”. To do that, simply drag the “Position Object” from the bottom of the window and drop it over “Position icon”.

Then select the Position Object, and on the right area find object list. Click add and select the rain emitter plane object you’ve just created. Check the animation slider. Slide from left to right to see the rain particles.

Click on Speed in particle event. Change the speed to 100 and variation to something like 50-100.

Now make a gravity force anywhere in the scene from Menu > Create > Space warps > Forces > Gravity. Change the Strength of the gravity to 0.5.

Now go back to particle view and drag a force under the speed. On the force space warps, select the gravity from the list on the top right side.

Now we need some collision so that rain doesn’t fall through the surface. To do that, make a UDeflector anywhere on the scene from Create > Space Warps > Deflectors > UDeflector. UDeflector is object based deflector. When you’ve created it, under the Object Based Deflector, click Pick Object then select the ground plane object. Change the Bounce of the deflector to 0.2.

Now go back to particle view again and add Collision under the force. In Deflectors (top right side), select the deflector you’ve just created in the list.

Using the animation slider, you’ll see that the rain drops are going to keep sticking on the surface which is wired. Add delete under the collision in particle view. Select remove By Particle Age and set the life span to 20 and variation of 10. Check the animation slider again, and the particles will start to disappear at frame 35 to 100.

Now to make the splashes, we need to spawn more particles when a particle hits the collision. Add a spawn event in any empty space in particle view. You’ll see a circle over the event. Also you may noticed that Collision will have a connector on its right side. Now drag the circle which is over the spawn event, and drop it over the connector of collision.

Click spawn, and change the Offspring to 9. This is giving us 9 particles for one rain drop.

Now again we need to set up collision with the same surface. So add collision with the deflector and gravity same way.

Also we cannot keep the splashes forever. Add Delete under collision and set by age, Life span 5 and variation 2. Now the particles are starting to look like rain drops when you run the animation.

Till now, we are seeing particles. Now we’re going to make them rain drops. Make a mesh which looks like a rain drop. In this case, I’m just scaling a sphere. Stretch the sphere vertically, and then scale it real small.

Now go back to particle view, replace the Shape with Shape instance. Pick the raindrop mesh. Then click on the Display, change the type to Geometry.

For the splashes, also do the same. In this case, I didn’t use any mesh instances. I’ve just used the sphere from the shapes in particle view; size 0.5 to 3. Test the animation so far. You should have realistic raindrops.

Next thing is to apply materials on the particle. Doing this is very simple. Just make a water material in whatever way you like. I’ve used mental ray’s water material.

Now get over to the particle view and add Material static over shape instance into event box 001. Make sure assign material is checked. Pick the water material from sample slot or just drag and drop on it. Same way apply material on the splashes in event box 002. And you’re done!

Use Particle Flow to fill a Box with Water

You can do further things in 3ds Max to check the collision. I have made a boxed wall and attached that to my ground plane.

The reason I’ve attached it with ground plane is so that my deflector effects on it. Remember, whenever you need collision, you have to use deflectors. It’s not strict that you need to use a single geometry with a single deflector. You can use multiple deflectors at once on a particle flow.

Also you can’t simply fill up an area with this kind of particle. Like you see in other animations with water filling up a glass or a bucket. If you want to do something like that from this particle, you need to make false water. Like I’ve done. Watch the video to see how this animation was set up.

I did this animation by creating a plane object as the water level then added animated noise on to that object.

Then I used the auto-key feature to animate that from bottom to top as like the empty area is filling with water. I’ve used the same water material on it.

Now you can animate this in the viewport, or render all 100 frames in an .avi file. In the Render Setup just make the following changes below to output the animation in an AVI movie file. Note… if you render in Mental Ray the rendering will take a long time. You can switch to Default Scanline Renderer to make the render to AVI very fast, but you sacrifice quality. This is what I did for the intro animation on my YouTube video.

This frame was a simple output to AVI. Watch the video for the full animation.

That’s it for this 3ds Max particle flow tutorial. I Hope you learn from it and create something cool on your own.

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