Your online Softimage Educational Resource

The blog has been online for more than 4 years and there’s still not a single post even remotely related to the delicious brew called coffee… Perhaps it will someday, but in the meantime you can read the articles about Softimage. Most of the material are tutorials and Q&As I’ve written for 3D World Magazine sometime between today and 2003. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate sending me an email.

Thanks to Letterbox Animation Studios for hosting all the scene files.

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Saturday, July 5, 2008

Fluorescent Afterburner

Once you’ve got the basic parameters working, you can start playing with their variation as well as adding new ones.
Particles offer a great deal of the features and parameters to suit just about all your needs. However, as a beginner you’ll most likely end up fiddling with pretty much all of them before getting the result your after (or simlpy giving up because you’re no where near it). Just because you have a parameter at your disposal doesn’t mean it will add anything to your current setup or that you should use it. On the contrary, keeping it simple will drastically increase your chances of succeeding.

Start by pressing [4] to switch to the simulation toolbar. From the Create > Particles > From Primitive menu, choose From Disk. Click on the lock icon in the Particles PPG to ensure it will stay in place trough out the procedure and scroll down to the PType > Overview section. The first thing you obviously will need to do is changing the color to cool blueish tone. Click the animation icon (the green dot) to set a keyframe. Go to frame 100, make the blue slightly brighter and set the alpha to 0 (zero). Set a new keyframe. In the Animation Reference section, change the RGB and Alpha to Age %. The Max Life will control the length of your afterburner. Set it to about 0.3 and increase the Size to about 4. Go to the Particle_Billboard > Rendering Properties and check the Rotation Follow Velocity checkbox. In the Effects section, set the Burn to 1 to create a bright intense core in the combustion. You don’t want the particles to be affected by the lighting in your scene, so switch to the Shading Properties tab and uncheck the Apply Shading checkbox.

The afterburner is starting to come together but the shape still look slightly of. Go to the Particle_Shape > Shape and change the Type to Beam Pattern and set the Width to about 0.035. The last thing you’ll need to is to increase the number of particles and their speed, so scroll back to the Emission > Overview. Set the Rate to about 4000 and the Speed to 35. Remove any highly flammable material, hit the play button and your ready to take of into space.

The project files used in this tutorial can be found at:

For an even greater control of the shape of your afterburner you can make use of sprites instead of the Beam Pattern shape.
Quick tip
Switching the background color in your viewports to black (in the Camera icon menu in your viewport) and the Display Type to textured will limit the need to render each and every frame to se the effect of your settings.