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'Quick Tip' - How to Create Awesome Looking Imprints Using 3ds Max 2009 & Thinking Particles 3

In this tutorial, you will learn how to create realistic imprints, such as tire tracks or footprints, on surfaces like snow, mud, or other deformable materials. This technique can be used on a variety of objects, rigid or deformable, or even adapted into other interesting variations of your own!


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Note: click the 'Monitor' icon to view tutorial in full-screen HD.

Create a Plane and change the name to "Deformable Plane".

Set the plane's Length and Width to '140' and disable "Real-World Map Size".

Move the "Deformable Plane" to the coordinates: x = 0, y = 0, and z = 0.

Create a new plane, change the name to "Emitter Plane" and set the Length and Width to '120'.

Move this plane to the coordinates: x = 0, y = 0, and z = 140.

Press the 'A' key on the keyboard to turn on "Angle Snaps".  Now, rotate the "Deformable Plane" by '25' degrees on the 'x' axis.

Clone the "Deformable Plane".  Set the clone type to "Copy", and change the name to "Deflector Plane".  Press OK.

Move the "Deflector Plane" to the coordinates: x = 0, y = 0, and z = -10.

Near the "Deformable Plane" create a Cylinder. Set the Radius to '4' and the Height to '30'.

Near the Cylinder create a Teapot. Set the Radius to '12'.

Finally, near the Teapot create a Torus. Set the Radius1 to '13' and Radius2 to '3'.

Go to the "Command panel > Create > Particle Systems > Thinking" menu, and place a "ThinkingParticles 3" icon in the Viewport.

Go to the "Modify" panel and click "Properties" in the "Thinking" rollout. You can also use the hot keys of 'Alt + Shift + P' to open and 'Alt + Shift + C' to close the "ThinkingParticles 3" user interface.

In the "DynamicSet Tree" view, select "Master Dynamic".  Disable "Edit on the fly" to see the changes in real time. Enable "Show Mesh" to see the particle shape.

In the "Particle Group Tree" view, click the "Create" button, under "Master System". Name the group "Objects" by clicking on the name "Group" two times (slowly).  Next, you need to create a "Dynamic Set" to dictate what the particles do.

In the "DynamicSet Tree" view, click the "Create" button, under "Master Dynamic". Rename the new "Dynamic Set" with the name "Generate", as you did previously with the "Objects" group.

Highlight the "Generate" "DynamicSet", and then go to the right-hand side of the dialog, where you will see a new set of "Create" rollouts.

Select the "Operators" icon, and then choose "Generator" from the drop down list.

Select the "Matter Waves" node to highlight it, then click in the schematic portion of the "Wire Setup" view, to add this node to your "DynamicSet".

In the "Matter Waves" rollout, on the right portion that appears, click the "Pick Object Based Emitter" button, and select the "Emitter Plane" in the viewport. Select "Objects" as your "Group" from the drop down menu. Change the "Particles / [s]" value to '2', the "Life Span" value to '300', and the "Speed" value to '0'.

Minimize the "ThinkingParticles 3" interface.  Now, set the "Animation Length" to '200', and play back the animation to see the particles emitting in the viewport.

Maximize the "ThinkingParticles 3" interface.  Highlight the "Generate" "DynamicSet".  Go to the "Create" panel, and from the drop down list select "Shape".  Add a "Geom Instance" operator, near "Matter Waves".

In the "Geom Instance" rollout, click the "Pick Object" button, and select the Cylinder, the Teapot, and the Torus.

Click on the "Born Particle" output of the "Matter Waves" operator, and drag a wire to the "Particle" input of the "Geom Instance" operator. Now these parameters are connected: when a particle is born, a random shape (cylinder,teapot or torus) will be assigned to it. Move the time slider to see the changes.

In the "Create" panel, select "Standard" from the drop down list. Add an "Alignment" operator, and connect the "Particle" input to the "Born Particle" output, of the "Matter Waves" operator. Now the particles use random vectors for the alignment.

In the "DynamicSet Tree" view, select "Master Dynamic", and click the "Create" button. Rename the new "DynamicSet" with the name "Dynamics".

In the "Create" panel, click the "Groups" icon. Add the "Objects" group, in the schematic portion of the "Wire Setup" view.

Click the "Operators" icon, and from the drop down list, select "Dynamics". Add a "Force" operator.

In the "Force" rollout, change the "Strength" value to '-100'. Connect the "Objects" group to the "Force" operator. This will act like a gravity force for the particles.

Create a deflector for the particles by adding a "PhysX" operator, and in the "PhysX" rollout, select "Objects" as your "Group".

In the "Create" panel, click the "Helpers" icon. Add a "Node" helper, and in the rollout that appears, click the "Pick Node" button. Select the "Deflector Plane".

Connect the "Node" output to the "Floor Node" input of the "PhysX" operator. Play back the animation. Now the particles should collide with each other, and with the "Deflector Plane".

In the "DynamicSet Tree" view, select "Master Dynamic", and click the "Create" button. Rename the new "DynamicSet" as "Imprints". In the "Create" panel, click the "Operators" icon, and select "Tools" from the drop down list. Add a "Collision Map" operator.

In the "Collision Map" rollout, click the "Pick Object" button, and select the "Deformable Plane". From the drop down menu, select "Objects" as your "Group" . Change the "Map Width" and "Map Height" to '512'.

Click the "Select Record File" button, and select a path for the movie that will be saved. Name this "Collision.mov". Click the "Record" button.  A progress bar will appear, and you have to wait until the simulation is complete. The "Collision Map" tool creates an animated map that contain the information of the collision between particles and the "Deformable Plane". Open "Collision.mov" to see this animation.

You can now close the "ThinkingParticles 3" interface, and hide the "Deflector Plane" and the objects. Select the "Deformable Plane" and set the "Length Segments" and "Width Segments" to '100'.

Add a "Displace" modifier from the Modifier List.  Set the "Displacement Strength" value to '-10', and choose the "Collision.mov" file for the "Displacement Map". Change the "Blur" value to '0.3' and the "Map Length" and "Map Width" to '142'.


That's all. Move the "Time Slider", and notice that the imprints follow the shape of the objects very well.

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. Below you can see my final results.


From: http://cgi.tutsplus.com/tutorials/quick-tip-how-to-create-awesome-looking-imprints-using-3ds-max-2009-thinking-particles-3--cg-422



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