Controlling the paths of particles

I’ve managed to use particles to get a pretty satisfactory engine-glow effect

What I’d like to do is make the particles converge towards a point just beyond that cone in the center of the engine. I’d like it to look like the thrust is forming a cone of its own. Suggestions?

I think you could either use a lattice to control the motion of the particle or you could make the emitter a shallow half sphere (cut a UV sphere in half and scale it down. I think either of those methods would work with a little tweaking.

Also, not sure if you’d want it but you could give the particles an add effect to get a brighter center.
hope that helps.

Thanks. I adapted the half-sphere and with a little work got just the effect I was looking for. I’d post a pic, but I’m on a different computer. I also tried the add effect for a bright center and it looks awesome.

After animating it, I discovered a new problem. Whenever I move the ship very fast, it leaves pretty, spiraled trails of particles behind. Is there any way I can make them move at a certain rate relative to the emitter so that the effect appears the same whether the emitter is moving or not?

thanks again

The reason the particles are coming off of your emitter like that is because it is following the order of creation of the vertices. (or something like that :wink: , ie. they are numbered concurrently. )

To randomize it, you can select all the vertices in your particle emitter mesh, and then press the ‘Hash’ button in the mesh tools panel located in the Edit Buttons window.

You kids and your drugs… You think a little hash makes everything better.

Sorry, I couldn’t resist. It worked though and he spiraling is gone. However, I still haven’t figured out how to deal with the trails of particles that I get when the ship moves.

Here it is still:

And here it is moving:

Awww…someone just got married.

I’d like for it to look like it does in the still picture all the time. Suggestions?

Try turning down life of particles, and change the norm setting to about (minus) -100 to - 180.


When I pull the particle life down to 1 and 1, the trail is shorter, but still there and I lose the engine glow pretty much completely.

My norm setting is already at -110 so I didn’t touch that. Thanks anyway though. Any other schools of thought?

try a higher damp setting

corection: maybe lower damp with higher ob (object) setting

edit 2: if you are going for just engine glow and not exhaust, why bother using particles at all? why not just subdivide the halo mesh a few times and assign a halo material?

Crank the Ob setting of the particles system to 1.0


Thanks for the suggestions. I have been doing tons of class work lately so I haven’t had time to try them yet. Hopefully tomorrow I’ll get in there and get back to blending.

The reason I want to use an emitter is because I love the way the thrust looks when it’s animated. The way the engine lights up is perfect. It all looks nearly just like I want when the emitter is not moving.

I’ve got another question to throw at you guys while I’m at it. I’d like to crank up the size of the glow a little, but it “leaks” through the engine cowling pieces. Anyone know how to make them “solid?”

There’s no way to make it solid. However, you could use a material IPO, animating the halo size to make it start small (not showing through the hull) and end bigger. For particles, the first 100 frames of the IPO is mapped to each particle throughout its life cycle.


Well, I can seem to get the particles to behave halfway the way I want using your suggestions, but not quite. I’m looking into ways to animate halos now, as I can get the Halos to look right in a still, but I’d like the animated effect that the particles had.

How do I apply a material IPO?

it’s just like any ipo, except you go to “materials” instead of object or mesh, etc. Click on Hasize and animate it from 0 to 100. 0 is when the particle is created, 100 is when it dies.

Just need to have your mouse cursor in the Material buttons window when you press [I].

Or you can access them through the IPO Curve Window.
(Be sure to change the IPO type in the IPO Curve Window header.)

if you want to just have a solid looking trust/ engine glow maybe particles aren’t the answer. maybe just model the engine glow, subdivide a bit and use a halo material with a lowish “hard” setting and play with the “alpha” setting