3D Artist

How to create realistic demolition effects with 3ds Max

Tips & Tutorials
The 3D Artist Team

In this 3ds Max tutorial we show you how to create realistic demolition effects with the RayFire plug-in

The RayFire plug-in is an ideal tool for any visual effects professional. It also works incredibly well alongside the major fluid dynamics packages such as FumeFX and RealFlow, adding a whole other dimension to your work. You can get a demo version of it from the official RayFire Studios site if you don’t already own it.

Step 1: The scene

First things first, we will need to establish a basic scene in which to create the desired effect, which is in essence a bullet hitting a stationary light bulb, creating all manner of shattering glass. If you intend to use your own models, be aware that the geometry must be free of holes etc. in order to work properly within RayFire. A bulb model can be sourced from the Free3DModelz website.

Step 2: Interaction geometry

With the bulb (or other model of choice) in place, we must now place the geometry that will interact with the soon-to-be shattered glass. This includes a floor plane (or studio backdrop in our case) and a small sphere that will serve as the ‘bullet’. Line up the bullet in accordance with the area of the object where you would like the most damage to occur.

Step 3: Animation settings

At this stage, you should consider the speed at which the animation will occur. In order to get that high-speed effect, we have set our scene at 600 frames and animated the projectile (sphere) moving through the bulb. This is a simple keyframed move taking place between frames 0-100; this leaves the remaining 500 frames free to accommodate the aftermath.

Step 4: Open RayFire and assign objects

Open the RayFire floater (launches from Create>Geometry>RayFire within the sidebar). Add your main impact object (the glass) into the Dynamics/Impact Objects section of RayFire and subsequently the floor plate and other static/kinematic objects into the section below. This includes the projectile sphere as it is already animated and therefore does not need to have dynamic qualities applied. Finally, set the material settings below each panel – Glass for the dynamics section and Concrete for static/kinematic objects.

Step 5: Fragmentation

Click the Fragmentation tab within the RayFire dialog; this will present several options and your choice at this stage is very important as it determines how the bulb will break and the size of the fragments that will ensue. We recommend experimenting with all of the settings available at some point as they all have many uses, but for the purposes of this tutorial we have used the ProBoolean – Irregular type coupled with 150/0 Iteration settings. Click Fragment Impact Objects and the glass will be split into shards. If you wish to restart the process, click Manager>Delete and the geometry will reset to its original state.

Step 6: Final simulation

Click back onto the Objects tab, select all of the newly created dynamics objects and move them into the Sleeping Objects category; this means that they will only begin to simulate once the sphere makes first impact. Now navigate to the Physics tab and set time ranges which befit your animation. Change the Time Scale value to 0.01; this setting determines the speed of the end simulation (0.01 equates to the extreme slow motion we require). Finally, press the Play/Rec button to simulate and bake the animation.


Tutorial written by Ross Board for 3D Artist issue 33, available to buy as a back issue from the official Imagine Publishing online store.

All images © Imagine Publishing