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Illusion and Photoshop tutorials:

Creating a particle shape

Making things go boom


Okay. Open Illusion.

In the lower right corner, the emitter library, select an emitter, any emitter.

Right click the emitter and open the emitter properties window. Activate a folder, any folder (so there's no active emitter) , and click the  icon in the bottom left corner to create a new folder for your cool explosion emitters. Give it a name, any name.

(Am i getting repetitious or what? Well, Illusion IS a kind of magic, so "pick a card, any card" ;-)

Next click the  icon to create a new emitter. It will be called "New emitter", but you can give it a name, any na...

SLAP!!! Ouch!

Ok, this is the properties window. Activate Particles > Change shape tab. Click on the add shape button  and locate the new shape we made. Open it, and click the "Full color" option active. This will force illusion to use the alpha channel we made for the transparency of the shape.

Click the "make active" button, and the cloud should now be our current particle shape.

Next, in the Particles > Behavior tab, set the particle angle to "align to motion". You can leave the angle to zero, as we already rotated the particle in photoshop.

Next set the size of the particle shape to about 250, this will make them a bit bigger for us to see.

From now on, i will refer to this kind of constant settings just by saying "Set the emitter size to 250" instead of telling you to "select the size option, and drag the keyframe in frame one to a value of 250".

Dragging the key (Red small box) at frame one will set a constant value, dragging the envelope in any other (SLAP - ouch! - I'll never say "any" again)  place in the envelope window will create a new key. You can use RMB to delete accidental keys.

Ok, now you can set the velocity to about 400. This will give our particles some more speed.

(Hey, wasn't that easy even though i didn't guide you step by step?)

You may have noticed that the particles pop in and out. That's not nice, so let's do something about it next. In the particles > colors tab, adjust the "transparency over life" gradient so that it looks something like this:

You will have to disable the link transparency to color tab in order to be able to edit the gradient.

Now the particles dissolve in and out more gracefully. While at it, give the particles some variation in color.

Activating the "choose random color..." check box will make each particle a little different color, and keep the particle color constant during the whole life of the particle. This will give some nice variation to our particles.

Ok, next set the life of the emitter to something like 250. Our particles will obviously last a bit longer now. Note that they also go further than they used to, as they keep their velocity during their life.

As they are supposed to be smoke from an explosion, they should first move fast with the impact, and then quickly almost stop because they do not have significant weight.

It's called inertia vs. friction, read your physics books baby! (I wish i did ;-)

This can be done easily, let's make a velocity over life envelope for our particle type:

Note that graphs made for emitters affect all particle types, and graphs made for the particle type affect... well you guessed it, the particle type.

You can make as many keyframes as you wish, the rounder the curve, the more natural the final effect!

Hey, let's make a size over life graph too...

Mmm. It's starting to look quite ok now.

Next we will add some random variation, and do a lot of other stuff.


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