View Full Version : Creating curves from particle paths

05 May 2006, 02:54 PM

I'm wanting to somehow use particles to create curves based on the trail of each particle. So the result would be a curve created by each particle, with each curve shaped by the particle that created it.

I hope that makes sense

I could then take the curves and use them for other things, in this case I am wanting to use them to create a mass amount of vines with interesting shapes by extruding along the curves. I know there are other ways of creating vines, but if it was possible to create curves from a particle there would be many other things you could use it for, and you would be able to get some really cool shapes from just a few fields on the paticles.

any help on this would be greatly appreciated!
many thanks


05 May 2006, 09:26 PM
I'm bumping this topic. This is definitely something I'd love to see.

05 May 2006, 09:28 PM
search for particleMotion2Curve 1.0 on Highend 3d.

05 May 2006, 09:34 AM
Is something like this achievable with rigid bodies?

05 May 2006, 10:55 AM

here the magic script is. really helpfull


05 May 2006, 06:58 PM
I tried the script. It's nice, but there's something I didn't like. The moment you create the curves, that's what you end up with. I mean what if you could control the curves dynamically? That is, the curve would be created every step of the particle motion and then you could apply some kind of field to the curve itself - like a soft body. The problem is, that you'll need to create the softbody dynamically, which is a bummer.
I'm working now on an effect like that. So far i get pretty interesting results. I'll post a test soon.

05 May 2006, 08:10 PM
here's the test:
woun't be able to keep the link up for long and for that I apologize.

(removed the link. sorry)

05 May 2006, 08:50 PM
Looks cool. Did you manage to get the curves dynamic as they grow? If so, how did you go about it? Could use something similar on an effect I'm working on...

05 May 2006, 10:07 PM
Yes. The curves are dynamic. They are actually moving slightly on the video.
What I did was more or less this:
I have a basic particle system. Each particle creates a new particle system when it's born and adds a particle to that very same system every frame. Also, it creates a curve that follows the particle trail - something like a softbody. And finally, it extrudes a circle along those curves. What you gaet in the end is a bunch of particle systems, curves with A LOT of CVs and a bunch of extruded surfaces. The calculation is a bit slow, but it works quite well.

05 May 2006, 11:11 PM
So you end up a new particle system for each curve and the new particle system holds a particle for each CV? How are the particles connected to the CVs?

05 May 2006, 02:25 AM
Okay. Got it somewhat working by assigning a runtime expression (in the base particle creation expression) to the new particle systems to take care of the particle -> CV connection.

Somehow this whole thing feels a little fragile ;) But it works...

I'd still like to hear how you did the particles to curves connection...

05 May 2006, 10:56 AM
here's the scene
I've added a few attributes to the main particle system - Step size - if you need to see a faster animation, you can create a CV not every frame, but every 2nd, 3rd, or so on. There's a Scale attribute and that's for the extruded surfaces - to make the tubes smaller at the beginning of the curves. And also a Conserve for the new particle systems.
There's a lot of room for optimization, because some things aren't working properly - like the particle cache. There is a way to fix it and that won't be a problem. The only annoying thing is that the whole simulation evaluates pretty slow. If you can come up with a better way of doing it, I'll be happy to know.

05 May 2006, 01:01 PM
Thanks for sharing your file. My tests were pretty much similar to yours. I didn't add all those bells and whistles for controling the tapering etc. Basic technique is the same. Equally slow and so on...

I also noticed that this system doesn't work well with paint effects brushes attached to the curves. Need to think of another way... I'll let you all know if I come up with something...

Here's my file if you want to take a peak...

05 May 2006, 07:58 AM
Ok, great! I'll look at it later in the evening.:thumbsup:

05 May 2006, 12:42 PM
In MEL for FX artists, kevin mannens explains in depth a script called plotParticleCurve,which does exactly what you need, AND a gazillion other things.

05 May 2006, 01:30 PM
In MEL for FX artists, kevin mannens explains in depth a script called plotParticleCurve,which does exactly what you need, AND a gazillion other things.

whats that? a book? or a workshop DVD like gnomon-series?

05 May 2006, 07:39 PM (

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