17
Sep
08

Lightning Effect by editing Particles in iClone 3.0

Use a real photo of lightning to create custom particles with only 2 image maps

Use a real photo of lightning to create custom particles with only 2 image maps

Hello iCloners, today’s tip deals with Editing Particles in iClone 3.0. Particle effects in iClone are image based emitters that have customizable parameters allowing users to make fire burn as high as they like, or fog roll as slow as they want, or in this case I am going to create a Lightning Particle to accompany a rainy scene. This is also a image editing process so you will need to use an external image editor such as Photoshop. A Particles appearance in iClone is based on two image maps, a Diffuse and an Opacity map. I will show you how to customize these images to fit a bolt of lightning using only I photo of a real bolt. Using this method will help you to become more comfortable with createing your own particles and give you a better understanding of how the emitters work, so you can make them work for you. To open, and edit a particle system follow the steps below or watch the high-speed video example.

  • Go to the Set Tab
  • Click the Particle button
  • Select the Template folder
  • Double click the Basic 01particle template
  • Click the Play button to review the default particle animation
  • In the Modify Panel locate and click the Diffuse map to activate it
  • Click the Launch button to open the default image into an external image editor, for this example I use Photoshop
  • Open a custom image to create the new particle design with, for this tip I use a regular photo of lightning
  • Place and Edit the image to suit your needs
  • Save over the temporary file in a JPG format
  • Return to iClone
  • Click the Update button to apply the new image
  • Click the Opacity map to activate it
  • Click the Launch button to open the default opacity image into your external image editor
  • Use the new edited Diffuse map image to create a Black and White Opacity file
  • Save over the temporary opacity file in a JPG format
  • Return to iClone
  • Click the Update button to apply the new opacity image
  • Click the Play button to review the edited particle images
  • Begin to Edit the particle settings in the Modify panel, note that all the following settings may be adjusted to suit your desired particle output
  • Adjust the Start and End Color to fit the lightning, extremely pale blue is best for this
  • Change the Width and Height settings to 5 times higher than wide to ensure your lightning reaches from the sky to the ground in your scene, for this example I use a Width of 300 and Height of 1500
  • Edit the Life setting to a Minimum value of 3 and Maximum of 124, this is to give the lightning particle the “flicker” it will need by setting a very low Life span
  • Set the Quota to 10 and the Emit Rate to 1 to enhance the “flicker” as well
  • Then give the Emit Volumes for the X and Y axis large values to help spread out the lightning, for this example I use a value of 200 for both
  • Adjust the Position value, but only the Z axis in order to place the particle higher or lower in the scene
  • Set the Spread to the highest value of 179 to help randomly place the Lightning Particle
  • Click Add in the Content Manager to save the custom particle

Editing Particle Effects in iClone 3.0 seems to some users to be a little too complicated for their taste, but I can assure them that particles are easy and fun to customize. When you become comfortable with creating new settings and appearances for particle effects, then you can develop incredible things such as lightning, tornadoes, swarms of creatures, projectiles, motion graphic backgrounds and most anything else you can imagine. The options are limited only to the bounds of your creativity, these are powerful tools that can provide powerful output if you take the time to become familiar with their functionality. Below is a high-speed video build of the production of the Lightning Particle and a rendered showcase example of it in action. Enjoy!

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2 Responses to “Lightning Effect by editing Particles in iClone 3.0”


  1. 1 Mike Joyce
    September 17, 2008 at 4:33 pm

    James,
    Thank you so much. This is exactly what I was looking for. Your tutorials certainly seem to anticipating the work I am doing currently.

    And the information you give opens up endless possibilities.

    Thanks again.
    Mike

  2. September 17, 2008 at 6:36 pm

    Hey Mike,

    I’m a real-time physic part-time, did I not mention that? But seriously, that is awesome and I’m really happy to be of service to your production. I also take requests, so keep that in mind if you run into any bumps along the way. Thanks again for the compliment, I will keep the tips rollin’ for ya!


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