Duplicating Objects in 3D Studio Max Using Particle Systems - Instancer

By Aziz Khan | 3D Studio Max | Advanced | Edited by Oman3D

This tutorial will teach you how to use the particle system of instancing in 3D Studio Max to duplicate a moving arrow that will flow through a tube without penetrating the tube boundaries. The lesson illustrated in this tutorial could be used to create flowing particle movements such as that of blood cells in a vein. This an advanced level tutorial, you are expected to have sufficient knowledge of how to work with 3D Studio Max before attempting it.

Instancing is the process of creating a template used to make duplicates that correspond to all changes made to the template including the ones occurring after creating the duplicates. In another word, if the template changes its shape, the shape of the instances would change as well.

Setting Up the Scene

Start off by creating a tube in an empty scene, model the tube into a pipe similar to the one illustrated below.

Create a tube

We will now create a motion path for our animation, draw a line going through the center of the tube.

Motion Path

Draw an arrow shape and then extrude it to create a 3D model out of it. Do not forget to weld all the vertices of the arrow shape to create a closed shape before you extrude it as the Extrude Modifier will not work otherwise. The location at which you place your arrow on the scene does not matter.

ArrowArrow on the scene

Instancing the Arrow Using Particle Systems

To start instancing the arrow go through Create>Geometry and select Particle Systems from the dropdown list. You will then have to select PF Source from the Object Type rollout.

Instancing PF Source

PF Source is a particle generating object with certain initially predefined settings that could be altered and manipulated using operators set in the Particle View dialog. Please refer to the 3DS Help file for more info on PF Source.

You will have to create the PF Source at the tube entrance, use the Move and Rotate tool to position it there as illustrated in the image below. The PF Source should be circular in shape rather than rectangular as set by default. This change is required for the PF Source to fit into the inner circle of the tube. To do this, access the Modify Tab, look for the Emission rollout and change the Icon Type to circle from the drop down menu. You can then alter the Diameter value so that the circle fits the entrance of the tube.

PF Source

With the PF Source still selected, access the Modify Panel and select Particle View from the Setup rollout. This should make the Particle View pop up, we shall configure its settings in the upcoming steps.

Particle View Particle View Settings

Select the Birth 01 (0-30 T:200) property and a Birth 01 rollout shall show up on the Parameters Panel, on that panel and up the Emit Stop frame to 200. The Emit Stop is the frame at which the object will stop generating particles.

Emit Stop - Birth 01

Click on the Rotation 01 property and set the Orientation Matrix to Speed Space Follow as illustrated in the image below.

Right Click on the Shape 01 (Tetra) property and then go through Insert>Operator>Shape Instance as illustrated in the image below.

Shape Instance

The Shape 01 (Tetra) property shall change to Shape Instance 01 (None). Access the Parameters Panel and click on the None button on the Shape Instance 01 rollout and then select the Arrow shape present on the scene.

Shape InstnaceArrow

On the Shape Instance 01 rollout, look for Scale and reduce it to 20%.

Reduce Scale

Click on the Display 01 (Tricks) button and change its Type to Geometry from the dropdown list as illustrated in the image below.

Display 01 - Geometry

Right-click the Speed 01 (Along Icon View) and go through Insert>Operator>Speed by Icon.

Speed by Icon

You should see the Speed By icon (rectangular in shape) appearing on the scene. The icon could be quite small so you might have to scale and rotate it to the position you want it to be.

We will finally have to attach the Speed By icon to the line that we created at the beginning of this tutorial so that it acts a motion path. To do this you will have to go through Animation>Position Controller>Path Constraints.

Attach the Speed By icon to the line that we have created at the beginning of this tutorial, it shall act as a motion path. to do this last step go through Animation>Position Controller>Path Constraints.

Tthis should do it, you should be able to play the animation to see a movement similar to the one illustrated below. The arrows generated from the PF Source should follow the Speed By icon without interpenetrating each other and without interpenetrating the tube.

I hope that you could use this powerful technique to create something interesting of your own imagination. Please feel free to contact me if you have any comments or questions, you can alternatively post at the Oman3D Forum if you need any help.

- End of Tutorial