Intro to Particles/Emitters

Make a folder on the Workspace on the Mac with your username (inside the student folder)

Make a new project and call it ParticleExercises

File menu - Project Menu

Click - NEW and the folder to the right to save your project on the Workspace

For Later: Each time you go back to Maya and open your file make sure you need to SET Project to the correct one.

Your project name will be different from mine.

Setup for Particles
In Window menu- Settings/Preferences - Preferences

window menu

Click - Settings

Select Time: NTSC (30 fps)


Select the Time Slider from the menu on the left

Playback speed: Play Every frame


time slider

Change Playback start/end to 0 and 1000:

***WARNING: If you do not set the START to 0, it may not compute correctly.

Making particles:

Change to the FX Menu Set

Rules of Physics apply, calculated frame by frame not using keyframes. Particles are designed to be animated using forces like wind and gravity.

Under nParticles menu select the nParticle Tool ☐(Options)

Enter a Particle Name:

Conserve means the amount of momentum of the original particle that is conserved.

1 = all momentum is conserved and fields won't effect the particles

0 = no momentum (velocity) is conserved and fields have maximum effect

3 choices - Particles via clicking, Sketching Particles, or Particle Grid


Number of particles - makes new particles each time you click

Maximum Radius - how far apart they could randomly be placed

Hit Enter when done entering numbers in the window

Start clicking in the Perspective or Orthagonal windows and hit ENTER when done

The Nucleus

You will see that each particle group has a nucleus1 attached to it.

Look in the Outliner. The Nucleus is not grouped with the Particles because other particles can use the same nucleus.

The Nucleus solver calculates simulation data for the Nucleus objects that are part of its Nucleus system.

The Nucleus contains settings to control forces (gravity and wind), ground plane attributes, and time and scale attributes.


Sketch Interval - how dense the particles will be

Hit Enter when done


Particle Spacing - how far apart the particles will be in the grid

* Work in the 4 window view mode (space bar to toggle)

Placement: with cursor - place two points and hit Enter for a 2D grid

3D grid: with cursor -

1) place 2 points in the TOP window

2) hit Insert (OR hold down the D key while moving) and move one point down in the FRONT window

3) Hit Insert again to turn off the Insert Mode (if you used the D key, don't do this)

4) Hit ENTER

With text fields - enter the coordinates of the Lower Left Corner and Upper Right Corner
Move mouse into window and hit ENTER

To move a particle (before hitting Enter) use the Insert Key (or hold D key while moving)

To remove a particle or bunch of particles (before hitting Enter) use the Backspace Key

To remove all the particles in the object, after hitting Enter, hit Backspace

Painting on Live Objects

Can place particles on Live objects but they will not move with the object.

Turn off the Live object when done.

Try it

1) Make a sphere (Create menu, Polgon or NURBs primitive - Sphere)

2) Scale the sphere up so it is pretty big (hit the R key to scale)

3) Click the horseshoe looking icon to Make the Object Live (make sure the sphere is selected first)

3) In the perspective window use the nParticle Sketch tool to cover the geometry with particles. You may need to adjust the Maximum Radius or Sketch Interval

4) Don't forget to use the Command key to rotate so you can paint all sides.

5) Hit Enter when done

6) Open the Windows - Outliner and delete the sphere. Now you have a ball of particles.


nParticles menu - Create Emitter ☐ (Options)

Emitter Type - try Omni and Directional

Rate (Particles/Sec) (in Basic Emitter Attributes)- determines how many particles get sent out per second

Speed (in Basic Emitter Speed Attributes) - how fast they move


ALWAYS: Click the Rewind button:

Click the Play button:

Emitter/Particle Attributes (in Attribute Editor and some in Channel Box):

In the Outliner or the window: select the emitter or particles

Open the Attribute Window

emitter1 Tab: info on the emitter

nParticleShape1 Tab: attributes that can be keyed

nucleus1 Tab: effect the whole particle set, and all other nParticles attached to this nucleus.

Next Lecture: [Emitters]