Particles form the basis for some very cool and exciting effects. We use the term “basis,” as particles are often combined with special rendering effects, or used with cloned object, without the need of MoGraph (although particles work great with MoGraph as well.) As you might infer from the name, particles are really infinitely small little points. Particles can have a birth, lifespan and death, and the can even spawn other particles. You can tell particles to bounce off of objects, die when they hit a certain position, or meet a certain condition, and so on. You can even use particles to drive cloth and other events within your scene.
Even though particles are little points, Cinema 4D will let you define a variety of basic shapes so that you can make your particles visible. You can even have your particles change into other shapes when they meet a certain condition, such as changing from pyramids to spheres when they bounce off the ground. You can use your own custom meshes for your particles as well, and make grass, leaves or even cities!
So far, we have only discussed what particles can be. We have not yet discussed how they can move. You can add a variety of effectors and deformers to the spaces within which the particles travel in your scene. They can react to turbulent wind, deflect off objects, become influenced by friction and velocity and other forces. While particles themselves are not a fluids-based system, they are often used together. For example, its rather common to use a series of particles that spawn from impacts in a water simulations to form tiny bubbles or even foamy splashes.
You can choose to render your particles as they are with one of the default shapes assigned, or with your own custom shapes. But the real fun begins when you add PyroCluster to the mix. PyroCluster’s volumetric rendering allows you to use particles to generate smoke, fire, dust, steam, even volcanoes!
So they next time you think “it’s just a particle,” you might want to think again… particles deserve respect!