At its simplest, the X-Particles particle emitter can be used instead of the standard Cinema 4D emitter, giving you more options and control over particles than you would otherwise have. If you just want to generate some particles, the emitter is all you need and will work perfectly well on its own without the addition of the control system.
You can also add tags to the emitter and a variety of particle modifiers (including all the standard Cinema 4D modifiers) and again these will work without the control system.
For the ultimate control over your particles, however, you will need to become familiar with the X-Particles control system.
For more information, you can:
- refer to this documentation (see the table of contents in the sidebar)
- refer to the online video manual
- watch the videos available on the X-Particles web site and on our YouTube site
- try the sample files provided on our site and dissect them to see how they work
- ask on the INSYDIUM Online forum or Discord channel
In this section, we will take a brief overview of the X-Particles particle emitter and how to set up a basic control system.
Adding an emitter
To do most things with X-Particles you need an emitter. So, to add an X-Particles emitter to the scene, go to the Cinema 4D menu bar and find the ‘X-Particles’ entry. Click this entry to display the X-Particles menu, then click the entry 'xpEmitter’ to add an emitter to your scene.
At this point, clicking the Play button on the timeline (or hitting the F8 key) will play the animation and start to generate particles.
Note: the animation only plays forward; you cannot scrub the timeline backwards and forwards unless you cache the system first. For more information on caching, please see the Cache object.
By default the on-screen representation of the particles is the simplest possible one, to place least overhead on the computer. This will show the particles as small blue dots. If you find these difficult to see, simply change the representation in the ‘Display’ tab; you can select a variety of different shapes and change the particle colour. These parameters can be keyframed if you wish, or if you are using the X-Particles control system, you can change them with an Action. This can help to make it easier to understand what the particles are doing when setting up a complex system.
You can turn off the editor display if you want to: in the 'Display' tab just uncheck the ‘Show Particles’ switch or set the 'Editor Display' to 'None'. Note that this does not affect sprites or generated objects, just the editor display of particles. If you don't want to see the default emitter shape, uncheck 'Draw Emitter' in the 'Display' tab.
If you find that you always want your particles to appear as cyan spheres (for example) you can set these defaults in the X-Particles Preferences. The settings there will then be used as the default options for all future emitters and scenes.
Up until now your particles cannot be rendered – it’s just an editor display. To get something to render, you can do several things:
- create an object to be generated (e.g. a sphere): add a Generator object to the scene and make the sphere a child of the generator object. In the Generator, drag the emitter into the Emitter field; that's all that is needed
- or add a Sprite object to the scene, drag the emitter into the Emitter field, and select the desired options in the Sprite object
- or use a OpenVDB or Skinner objects to generate a mesh
- or use the X-Particles material to render the particles without generating geometry
- or use the Hair renderer to render the particles without generating geometry (see the Hints and Tips page for an explanation of how to do this)
For details on using the Generator object, please see the Generator Object page. Details of the Sprite object can be found on the Sprite Object page.
In X-Particles, sprites are small objects (actually Cinema 4D primitives) or lights, which are a convenient way to generate simple geometric objects. They have the advantages that they are small, lightweight objects which can be readily controlled via the X-Particles control system, including changing the type of generated sprite and their attached materials. They can also be used with the sprite shader, which enables age-dependent texture effects.
For details on using the Sprite object, please see the Sprite Object page.
The control system
Now that you have got the basics, you might want to go to the page 'The X-Particles control system' as this will give you vital information on using the particle controls in this plugin.