Note from forum leader:

As the forum title implies, this is a place to talk about Afterburn. So please do not post anything not related to aburn in this thread.

Thanks and have fun!

AFTERBURN THREAD: We need it ! I do ! so can anyone who is good at it please get it started, the world will be a better please if you do ! :bounce:

ok… could some one tell me how important is :

1.light to afterburn (omni ect…)

2.and how to get after burn to look like smoke/fine sand particles/ water splash

3.when is it proper to use raymarcher and OCTANE shader. (I know that this will not be a rule, but when is it a good choice to used for what type of fx) picture of what hypersolid is for besides just saying it or writing it

5.what does noise shape parrameters : gain and bias do… exactly. what are you telling afterburn when you play with those.

5.for an explosion is it better to have a low noise size then make it a lager noise size ?? what are the principles in using : density noise size noise level threshold, lo threshold, mball effect.What are you telling afterburn to do when playing with those settings…

the reason I asked is that the pdf that comes with afterburn does an ok job at explaining those things to you… so before I buy ALLAN MCKAYS DVD Can you tell me what these settings do and what are some just some of the resons to tweek them like this and like that. thanks!!!

SO FAR Ifound these sites :


Hi sadghost,

What a great idea. This thread would give us a place to exchange info on Afterburn. Afterburn is the one “must have” plug-ins for 3D Max. Discreet should buy the rights and add it to Max!

Here’s my input.

Step Size:
Creating a huge scene with lots of smoke or dust? Increase the Step Size to cut down on render times. The Step Size will determine how much detail will show in the Afterburn particle. With a large scene and large particles you won’t need as much detail as you would with a smaller scene and up close to the smoke or dust. The step size is calculated in Max units and tells Afterburn how many slices of detail it will put in a particle. Lowering the number gives you more detail, which, at first, is counter intuitive to me. But thinking about it the number is telling you what size the slice is. So smaller is more defined. In the help file it gives an example of the different settings. For an example a setting of .125 gives a lot of detail in a puff. A setting of 6 means that only six slices will be made and produces less detail.

The best way to control the colors of Afterburn particles for glowly effects is through lighting and not in the Afterburn Manager. Although controlling the color in the Manager is good for coloring the smoke or dust, for glows you can control the brightness and color variations with lighting easily. Say for a rocket engine, link a spot light to the PF source. Now you can turn up the multiplier, adjust the attenuation and color for the initial blast, turn down the multiplier, adjust the attenuation and the color after the rocket gets moving. In the initial blast you can blow out, over expose, color the smoke to make a real cool bright fiery effect. Every property of the light can be animated. Just remember to add Afterburn Shadows to your lights in the command panel for better detail.

Coloring with AB Manager:

The color for AB puffs can be controlled by adjusting the color parameters in the AB Manager.

The color can change depending on what varible you choose.


The Octane shader:
The Octane shader should be your first choice when you are creating very fine, transparent particles like dust. The Octane shader doesn’t produce good shadows and details but, does a better job at creating transparrent particles. Shadows will be pixilated with Octane, but with very fine particles there isn’t a need for shadows and it is 10 times faster than Raymarcher. While Raymarcher is better at shadows and details, it is just to slow for creating a lot of fine particles.

A great way to test the settings in AB is to create P-Flow source with 1 particle and zero speed. Add it to AB and place it in front of a camer. Adust the settings in AB and render to see what happens.

The Afterburn Flow Control allows you to animate the properties of the Afterburn particles. If you right click on the AFC button and choose enable the next time you click on it the AFC button the AFC graph will open. One import thing to note about the AFC:

If your animation is anything other than 100 key frames in length, the AFC timeline graph will not match your animation, assuming you are using it with P-Flow. The default length for the timeline in the AFC is 100 key frames. If you want the AFC graph and P-Flow animations to match, you have to set the Part Life value in the Particle Properties section located at the top of the Afterburn Manager.

Part Life value determines the life of the particle only if you click the “use” button otherwise, it only sets the AFC graphs. This can really throw you off when trying to match your animation using the AFC graph and events in P-Flow. If you do this and things still don’t seem to be happening the way you think they should, you should also check to see if you have a delete operator in P-Flow. This will comunicate the life of a particle to AB.

Noise shape parameters:
There are areas of brightness and darkness within a particle or puff. The bright areas will render smoke or dust. The dark areas are transparent and will not render anything. The size of those areas are controlled by noise size.

Gain will increase or decrease the contrast between the whitest and darkess areas within an Afterburn puff.

Increasing the Gain will increase the density of the “pieces” within a single puff. The number of pieces in a puff is determined by the noise size and levels. Of course, the density setting will also determine how dense a puff is too. You can use the denisty, Bias and Gain to adjust the total density of a particle.

Bias will increase decrease the level of brightness within the AB puff and hence increase the density. It will also increase the “smoothness” of a puff.

Note: The more you lower Gain the more even the smoke or dust will become. The default is .5 for the Gain and .5 for the Bias which creates somewhat of a soomth puff. If you lower the Gain more, the puff will start to lose any definition and become completely smooth

The more you increase the difference between the Gain and Bias, raising the Gain, the more you increase the difference between the light and dark areas and the more “spotty” the smoke or dust will become. The wisps within the smoke or dust become more noticeable.

When you are animating billowy clouds or fast moving jet exhaust you should adjust the Phase in the Noise Animation Parameters accordingly. Adjusting the Phase will animate the noise within the Afterburn puff or particle.

You should enable the AFC for Phase. Set the low number to zero and the high for the amount of Phase you want.

For fast moving smoke like jet exhaust, you would need to adjust the high Phase value to more than once per key frame of animation. Example if you have an animation of a jet exhaust 200 key frames in length, you would adjust the Phase to 200+. This gives the smoke a lot of interior movement. Clouds would need a smaller Phase as they generally have slower interior movements. You can also use the AFC to increase or decrease the Phase in time.

Okay anyone else?


well I’m very happy that you wrote this… I don’t think that I’m a slow persone , it’s just that I hate it when I get what I feel is a vague .pdf user manual… I want more explanation … what if I didn’t have the net ?
I shouldn’t have to wait for someone to come up with a dvd tutorial in oder for me to get a deeper understanding of someting that I bought (Altough I understand that some times that’s needed) mr Allan Mckay is exempt from this :slight_smile:
ANYWAY no more crying for Mr Sadghost I’ved learned alot about AB in a week and I feel like I made a good choice with this plugin:applause:

I’ved downloaded your post to look at when I’m working ,without having to go to the .pdf thanks… let’s burn this mother $#@% shall wee !? :buttrock:


hehe… why didn’t i think of this? …will read thread in a few minutes then possibly reply with something more productive I think we should move this to the Resources forum though


I hate to say it, but the cebas pyrocluster manual seems to explain what’s going on a lot better… I do feel that it was occasionally easier to get the result with pyrocluster… though I still feel afterburn is superior (in terms of options n such). Anywho my point is that the help file for pyro cluster helped me learn a lot about afterburn, so it might be worth looking at d/ling a demo version with a help file. It lacks tutorials… i think… but it comes with come good example files also.


Hi SoLiTuDe,

Thanks for the tip. I’ll download a trial and look at the help files.

I agree with sadghost about the Afterburn help files. They’re okay but it would be nice if they contained more indepth info. Actually their definition of Part Life in the help file is missleading and it’s things like that that make it difficult for new users to get a handle on what the settings are doing. It wasn’t until I watched Allan McKay’s and Andy Murdock’s DVDs that things started to make sense. Of course, maybe that’s just me.

I really have to plug Andy Murdock’s DVD. If you have $29.95 US to spare it’s worth getting. He’s a master when it comes to Afterburn. I have never seen anyone come close to his AB effects. He spends a great deal of time experimenting with AB. He goes through every setting in Afterburn to find out what it does. He’s been doing this for years. I guess when you think about it, it’s kind of humbling. I’m compaining about manuals and he’s doing brilliant things on his own. Maybe there is more to his DVD than just the tutorials.

Anyway I still think this is a great idea to share info on AB.


yeah andy is a badass… i’ll pick up his dvds when i get some extra cash… I can’t wait to see volume 3. :slight_smile:

As for the pyrocluster help file… it was great for me when trying to figure out the whole “colors” thing. It made more sense to me the first time I read it…

What is Position doing?

As soon as more than one color is active, a position for the color needs to be defined. As described in the chapter about the volume tracer and how it works, each pyrocluster bounding volume is sampled in space to get the correct color and noise value. There are three possible positions to define a fixed color in the pyrocluster volume space.

1.) the outer shell

2.) the center of the bounding volume

3.) the middle position between center and outer shell of the bounding volume.

The color setup shown below, was used to render the illustration sequence of 3 images were the position of the red color changes from 0.0 to 0.6.

Note: A position of 1.0 defines a point on the outer shell of the bounding volume. Position 0.0 defines the center of the pyrocluster bounding volume while 0.5 is the exact middle position between outer shell and center.

Color Change by Density

Changing the color of the volumetric rendering effect by density can create easily a special look and might even offer more control over the outcome of the final rendering. By choosing Density as the Color Mixing method, pyrocluster will use the gathered density values of the noise function to define the color that is to be used to draw the volume effect.

A pure white color in the noise function will correspond to the color position value 1.0 while a black color in the noise function (can be easily seen in the noise preview window) will correspond to the color position 0.0.


The density value of the noise or the overall density in the volume created by adding multiple bounding volumes does not play any role in coloring the volume effect with the density function. The only thing that counts is the density value created by the noise function alone!

Also take a look at the volume tracer section in the help file… helps understanding the whole “step size” thing a lot more too!

…Funny how they’re very alike…


Where did you guys download the trial of pyrocluster from … I whenT turbo squid and cebas website didn’t find a download link…


:slight_smile: hey guys I need to slow down a volcano after it erupted , THe particles that I’m using are spitting out too fast how can I sloow fire and smoke down alot … to make it look like a slow motion eruption…well not eruption but too look like it’s not moving like a jet trail !


Hi sadghost,

Put a drag force in your scene. In the command panel you may want to select Spherical Damping. In Particle Flow add a Force operator after the Speed and adjust its value. Add your drag force to the Force operator add “By List”. If your particles are traveling very fast you’ll have to increase the drag. On the Influence choose Sync By Particle age. The “older” the age the slower they’ll get. Play around with the strength until you get the results you want.

Also, try putting a Keep Apart force in PF after the position. This will spread the particles apart making a puffier cloud. Adjust the settings and watch the cloud grow.

On the Speed operator in Particle Flow adjust the divergence angle. This tells the particle emitter to spread the angle of the particle stream. Instead of all the particles coming out in a straight path, the stream will start to spread. A divergence of 10 will mean the particles will come out of the emitter at a 10 degree spray.

Right before the Display in Particle Flow put a delete operator. This tells Afterburn how long the particles will live. You can set the delete operators time to more that your animation if you want the particles to stay around during your whole animation. Remember to change the Part Life in Afterburn to the length of your animation.

SoLiTuDe, Thanks for the good info!

Hey man, I checked out your photos in your gallery. WOW! Awesome!



Hey thanks! Which gallery??? My Temp one? I put up a new website that i haven’t finished yet… so all my pics are on my isp webspace… surprised anybody even looked at it. :smiley: And i didn’t know it was still in my profile… mehhh… whatever works hehe…

…I woulda done that volcano the exact same way… The book by pete draper does a good job on this, and combined with afterburn it would be twice as good


cool I’ll give it a try… I might need to invest in a new video card… cause AB is slow for me at times even when I use like only 10 particles to emit.


Yeah Andy Murdocks dvd’s definitely are great for their price, I’ve bought both purely because of how cheap they are, still haven’t had a chance to actually watch them yet mind you ; ) but from what I had a look at they really are a great resource.

Pyrocluster up until 3 has been pretty useless although 3 was a complete rewrite and during it’s early alpha stages interface wise wasn’t that great although it’s made large leaps to better itself. I still think AB’s better in a lot of ways although there are things in pyro that do stand out as being far better and easier to use at times. Although you will find that particle raymcher shaders are going to become quite out of date pretty soon as a lot of new technology is being developed that really stamps how old particles are in a lot of ways when it comes to this kind of stuff.

Great to see an AB thread hope it expands into a big resource!


Thanks Martijn [size=2]Appreciate the move of the thread – suggested that early on :slight_smile:

Nice to see you’re still alive, Allan – haven’t heard much from ya lately! The only thing i liked about Pyro better was the viewport preview – kicked butt, though the preview window in ab does a good enuf job. Only reason I mentioned it was mainly because it’s Ab’s only competitor, and it has a nice help file =)

Anywho… when u say raymarchers are going to be out of date soon, are you talking about that voxel whatnotwhoositcalled stuff? Like the way Aura renders particles n the likes? Or are you talking about something else we should know about??! Hook it up with some info! What’s on the horizon for cool effects (that will go public!)

Hope you’ll be a big part of the thread, since your pics are the majority of the examples in the help files, and you’re the particle master anyway…



Yeah been offline a bit lately, been down in Sydney on set for a Kevin Spacey film, and then shifting between North Au and Canada so been a bit stressful lately.

Yeah the viewport preview is kind of neat, I guess when you use AB for long enough you kind of already can visualize how it will look so you don’t need it, but during the initial stages it’s definitely quite helpful.

cebas gets on my nerves purely since they’re just so competitive against AB and other systems. For the last 5 years they’ve never supported TP and Afterburn, purely because Pyro exsists, which is pretty imature in a lot of ways. But meh all good.

Yeah fluids are the future, and fluid driven particles. I’ll just say ‘like aura’ and maya fluids, there’s lots of cool stuff in all areas of max being pushed lately but I think for fx that’ll be a big piece. Not to say particles aren’t going to be around forever, but for a large majority of rendering volumetric effects, fluids are the shiizit.


hey allan

I hope your not refering to flood. becasue if they never release it to the plubic. we still will be stuck with ab and pryo and stuff. since your in sydney that means the work on superman is done?


even if he is referring to flood, somebody else may potentially end up releasing stuff like it a lot of ways to the public (think a little bit of aura with a little bit of glu with a little bit of realflow, with a little bit of maya) Now, if fluids are “the future” how controllable are they and such in the same way particles are now? In terms of even driven, why would we want to use a fluid system to control anything, if we want something “physically” impossible??
But either way – what different ways of shading are there? I don’t understand the way aura/maya fluids renders their effects… and how that works. I get afterburn and pyro, but aura went right over my head, and I don’t have enough time playing with maya’s effects or maya for that matter to get a clue on any of it.

Back to afterburn though – let’s start talking about some of the different ways to create an explosion (good place to start, since afterburn kicks butt at it). Does anybody have some basic footage that we could use as a background plate to throw an explosion in?? I figure that will make more sense than just having an explosion on a blank background.
Lets come up with some ideas that we can all work on to make some cool effects and learn from each other…


First I have to say HI Allan!

What a treat to have you post on this tread. Your DVD, Afterburn Fundamentals, is terrific. The DVD and all of your online tutorials have really helped me out. Thank you.

Okay, back to Afterburn…

SoLiTuDe good idea. I’ll throw some stuff out for ideas.

Here’s some reference picts.

Video clips


This would be interesting to reproduce

For the images and videos at, you might get a 404 page not found. Just hit refresh and it should appear. Weird.



sweet man – amazing stuff. would hate to be under any of those! I’ll start playing around asap… hopefully i’ll actually make something cool.

Thanx a ton for the links!


Cool. Can’t wait to see what you come up with.

I think I’ll try the bunker buster. Seems like a real challenge.


reference screen shots

01 the drop -
02 contact -
03 penitrate -
04 all the way through -
05 explode start -
explode start 02 -
explode start 03 -
explode start 04 -
explode start 05 -
explode 06 -
explode 07 -
explode 08 -
explode 09 -
explode end 10 -

zip file, contains all images -

  • I’ll have to move these files. It looks like the bandwidth is very limited.