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Your own particles in particleIllusion

Simple steps to creating custom color particle shapes for emitters By Ko Maruyama
There are a lot of different particle shapes that you can draw from within the default library of shapes that ships with wondertouch's particleIllusion, but there are instances when you'll want to design your own particle shape.  It's easy.  Particle shapes within particleIllusion are simply bitmaps.   You can use color or black and white images to fuel your own particle animations.

When I first started this tutorial, I figured that it'd be easy enough to follow a series of instructions if I kept everything to a 5-step procedure.  When I moved into the custom editor, I quickly realized that I wouldn't want to keep to 5-steps alone.  Of course, I could probably cover certain techniques in 5 steps, but there are so many that you'll want to explore and experiment on your own as well.

But despite the hours of... days of playing.... you can quickly get a custom color particle shape into your emitter in.... 5 steps.

Step 0 : Create the bitmap image. (This isn't really a particleIllusion step, and you probably already have a bitmap that you'll want to use as a custom particle)

In a bitmap editor (I use Photoshop CS3) separate your logo with an alpha channel.   particleIllusion will accept several different file formats.  You could use TIFF, TGA, PNG or if you want to have a rectangular logo - I suppose you could use JPEG.  I'll use the Photoshop format (.psd), relying on the layer's transparency.  

I've kept my custom shape to 128 x 128, there are other sizes that you can use, but this one is good for now.


In particleIllusion, double click anywhere in the library window.  This will bring up the Emitter Properties dialogue box.  With this window open, you can modify the emitters that already exist.  If you'd prefer to make a new emitter (or folder of emitters), you'll probably want to click on one of the icons at the bottom of the folder view column.

double click anywhere in here

click above for larger image


This dialogue box is going to allow you to modify the properties of the emitter or the particles... We want to modify the particle, so you'll need to click on the tab that defines PARTICLES.  

At the middle of that frame, you'll see that there are three different particle descriptions that can be edited here.  You'll want the middle, CHANGE SHAPE.

In the bottom part of this dialogue box, you'll want to ADD PARTICLE SHAPE.

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In the finder, select your image.  (NOTE: If you want to import a sequence of frames, you'll do it in a different dialogue box, more on that at a different time)

click above for larger image


There are a couple of radial buttons and dropdowns you might need to modify if you haven't created a 16 x 16 black and white image.  It's a quickly navigated step, even if you've created a larger bitmap image for your particle.  Just set the values for your particle shape depending on how big you expect to use this.  I suppose you could create multiple versions if you're going to make different emitters (different resolutions).

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Just click the button above the preview that says "MAKE ACTIVE".  That's it.  You can now use this emitter that you've just modified, or you can use the custom color particle in any future emitters you create.

click for larger

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Ko Maruyama is a freelance animator in Los Angeles.  In addition to working on film and broadcast animations, Ko teaches at Pasadena's Art Center College of Design - focusing on motion design.  When working, writing or testing software allows, you can find him lending a hand in the After Effects board and lurking among the Cinema4D, Visual Effects and Photoshop posts within the DMNForums.
Related Keywords:tutorial, particles, wondertouch, particleIllusion, custom particles, bitmap particles

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  • Your own particles in particleIllusion by DMN Editorial at Mar. 29, 2008 6:08 am gmt

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