Thanks go out to Tamas Gyerman for this Cinema 4D tutorial. You can see more of his work at wmelone.com/cinemorx
We’ll begin with a simple presentation showing how to create rain. Make a simple Emitter and then size and place it in the required part of the scene. Set the parameters in the Attributes menu, such as Lifetime, Birthrate, Speed, End Scale and, most importantly, the Emitter Angle Horizontal/Vertical values. The angle needs to create a random direction for the particles to simulate a wind effect without going to the lengths of a particle deformer.
When we play it on the Timeline, we can see the rain. The Show Object feature is very useful when we create waterflow effects, but we can also watch the rain object as well. Don’t forget, if you make a render, the particles in the viewport will be invisible, so you’ll need to attach a 2D or 3D mesh to them. This is because the visible particle lines are just previews for the artist, they’re not real content. If you want to watch it for real, you’ll have to fill the Emitter with something, such as a rain mesh.
To create an environment filled with life, I’ve decided to simulate a flock of birds in the sky. To do this, first model some low-poly birds in CINEMA 4D and then use them inside the emitter – the same way we did with the rain mesh before.
Here we have three different bird meshes inside the Emitter group. For these it is vital that the particles are made of random sizes and with a large variety in directions. We can attach more 2D or 3D meshes in one Emitter group if we want to. The system will automatically choose a random source for us from the hierarchy.
This step isn’t very obvious in the final image, but the final composition includes some small water droplet effects. We can either model a droplet or we can use a Metaball effect in CINEMA 4D combined with the particles system. This is very useful and creates a cool effect in animations.
Make a simple preview model by creating two half spheres and subdividing them to around 2,000 polygons. Then create an Emitter system again, create a water droplet shape and then place it inside the Emitter. Set up the variants of the Emitter values, as we did previously. Now create a Metaball group and place all the meshes and emitters inside this. Change the value of subdivison and the hull value for added quality. A lower value means better shape subdivision in the Metaball system, so make this as small as you can.
The most complex particle process used in this scene was for the droplet effect on the screen. Here we use a particle friction and cloth collider simulation. The friction is needed to slow the particles close to the surface, otherwise they are moving across the plane. Place a plane and tag by the collider. Create a drop mesh and place it inside the Emitter. Tag this mesh with ‘Cloth’. Set up the values and start to play it on the Timeline. You can see that the mesh is working as a sticky liquid. You can then create a Metaball group and place the Emitter inside this. Set the values and find your best shapes.
Here we’ll learn what dynamics are used to create the grass and grain. If you have some painted sources, place these on a plane with an Alpha channel. Create a cloner object from the Mograph menu and set up the required parameters. The cloner has two target placements: one for the targeted object and one for the targeted selection. The latter is very useful when we want to create more selections on one surface.
Another way to create grass is using the Hair tool in CINEMA 4D. Create a simple plane and make a Hair tag on it. The program automatically attaches the tag to the selected object. We have transformer tools like Brush, Move, Curl and so on to modify the lines. Without this, the Hair tag has a material system, so you could create modifiers in a procedural way. This module has many more properties and it can be combined with particles, colliders and mesh systems, each with a different outcome. You could generate elements from nature, hair and fur, feathers and more.
This is just a small guide to present the idea of particles to those interested in using them in CINEMA 4D. We’ve briefly discussed some of the standards and shown some tips to help you create scenes with numerous particle and simulation effects.
Object cloners, effectors and fur tools are all very useful time savers when you are creating environments. These tools have parametrical values as well, which can be keyed in the Timeline – these are moving and can cope in animation too. If we have a little knowledge about animation, we can use the tools’ dynamics in CINEMA 4D’s Timeline easily.