Creating a Missile Animation in 3DS Max using Particle Flow SourceBy Aziz | 3D Studio Max | Intermediate
This tutorial will teach you how to create an animation of a missile that flies targeting an object and then explodes when hitting that target. Our animation will be created using the Particle Flow Source (PF Source). PF Source is a powerful multi-purpose particle system that lets us manipulate a large number of particles to create effects such as fire, rain, snow, and smoke. We will PF Source in this tutorial to create our missile animation by doing the following:
- Duplicate our missile to launch four missiles.
- Make the four missiles track the target objects as they are shot.
- Create smoke trailing behind the flying missiles.
- Create the explosion when a missile hits a target.
We are not going to cover any modeling in this tutorial, in order to follow this tutorial easily you need to download the starting max file from here.
Open the .max file to see that it has a simple scene with a biplane, a missile, and four pre-animated teapots. By the end of this tutorial our biplane should fire four missiles that will fly towards the teapots and explode when they hit them.
1 - Creating the Particle Flow To Duplicate Our Missiles
We are going to start off by creating a PF Source object, which is basically an object that emits particles. We will use this object to emit, i.e. launch, four missiles. To create a PF Source access the Create Panel, open Geometry, select Particle Systems from the drop down menu and then look for the Object Type rollout and select PF Source. Now you have to click once on the scene to create your PF Source.
The arrow on the PF Source object shows the direction from which the missiles will be emitted. Align the PF Source so that this arrow faces the same direction as our biplane. Head back when you finish to the Modifier panel, look for the Setup rollout, and click on Particle View.
The Particle View window that should now be visible to you is the place where the majority of our work in this tutorial will be done. The particle view window provides the main user interface for creating and modifying particle systems in Particle Flow. Our project will consist of events, which are combinations of operators that specify the particle's characteristics over a given period of time, and operators, which are the basic element of the particle system that let us describe parameters such as particle speed, direction, shape, appearance and others. We will be adding an event by righting clicking an empty space in the Particle View window and then select New to select any event or operator.
Start by selecting Birth 01 - the birth operator, the function of this operator is apparent from its name, it sets the manner in which our particles are to be produced and the number/rate at which these particles are to be produced.
Set the Emit Time to 30 (this means that our particles will be emitted from the PF Source at frame 30) and the Emit Stop to 100 (this means that the PF Source will stop emitting at frame 100). Set the Amount to 4 to produce four particles only - which is the number of missiles we need. An alternative emission method that we are not going to use is production by rate in which we can specify the number of particles to be produced for every frame. We only need 4 missiles, so we only put the number four as our amount.
By default, a PF Source emits particles from the position of the PF Source object itself, this is managed by the Position Icon operator, however, we do not want our missiles to be shot from the position of the PF Source object, but from the missile launch pads attached to the airplane. To do this we will have to replace the Position Icon with a Position Object Operator. Right-click on the Position Icon operator and go through Insert>Operator>Position Object.
Select the Position Object operator and check the option to Inherit Emitter Movement. This lets each particle inherit the speed and direction of its emitter object, which will be in our case the airplane. This means that our missiles won't look funny if we decided to move and animate our airplane.
We are going to set the Emitter Objects by selecting By List and then picking Biplane from the list. We will now specify the actual location from which our missiles are to be emitted, so under Location pick Selected Faces and click on the faces of the back of the missile launcher on the plane to select these as the emitting source.
We will now configure the speed at which our missiles will fly. Select the Speed Operator and set the Speed to 1200 and the Variation to 24. The Speed is the speed at which our particles move, the variation on the other hand is the range at which the speed will vary from one particle to the other. In our example, by setting the variation to 24 makes it possible for our particles to have any speed value between 1176 to 1224 (1200 + or - 24).
The next option will let us control how our missiles will rotate in space as they fly. Select the Rotation Operator and set the Orientation Matrix type to Speed Space Follow. This option makes our missiles face the direction that they are travelling through. You will have to set the Y axis to 90 though to actually make its head face that direction.
We have not made our particles appear as missiles yet, by default a particle's look will be managed by the Shape Operator but we already have our object, so to make it without dealing with the Shape Operator we can replace it with the Shape Instance Operator. To do this go right-click the Shape Operator and go through Insert>Operator>Shape Instance.
Select the Shape Instance Operator now, look for the Particle Geometry Object section, click on the None button and then select the missle object on the scene. This will make our particles look like our missile. We no longer need the original missile on the stage, so simply right-click and select Hide Selected Object.
We are going to test our missiles now, to be able to see them in the viewport we will need to configure the Display operator and set the Type to Geometry. This will let us see our missiles the way they are and not as dots or some other generic shape.
We are done with this part, you can play the scene to see that:
- Four particles have been produced.
- These particles are emitted from the missile launch pad of the airplane.
- These particles travel at different speeds.
- These particles have the shape of a missile.
The second page of this tutorial will explain how to make these missiles track our targets and explode upon hitting these objects.