Particle Age map alternatives...?


Is there either an alternative to the Particle Age map or a way to force the Particle Age map to have more than three slots?

Cuz sometimes that just plain isn’t enough for some effects.


Hi, u can try using a gradient ramp map instead with ur particle age map. Choose “mapped” as the gradient type and use a particle age map as ur source map.

Hope it helps


That doesn’t really address the problem…or, if it does, you need to expand your explanation a bit more.

The problem I’m having is that Particle Age only gives three slots…but I need more.
As it is now, I can only have three stages during the particle’s life: Age #1, Age #2, and Age #3.
But I need more. I need an Age #4…at least. Sometimes I’ve needed up to Age #6 to get the effect I’m after.

Only there seems to be no option to add or subtract slots for ages.

Now, if there is some way that a Gradient Ramp with “mapped” as the gradient type adds more ages, I’m just not seein’ it.


hi, with gradient ramp u can add as much color as u want without slot limit. the particles will use the colors from gradient ramp Left to Right as to their age.

U can then add flags along the ramp for which ever color u need along the particle age.

hope this explanation helps.


Unfortunately, I need more than just color.

Particle Age includes map slots as well as color swatches. I need to use those map slots.


The Gradient Ramp has no concept of Age !!!

Yes it can interp between the flags…but without the concept of Age…doubt if it would work.

Let’s just pretend you’re using a standard setup, with Particle Age map, with 3 Age slots…you tweak the % Age to your liking then say you decided you need further refinement to the Middle Age (Color2), then all you do is drag out another Particle Age map, its output would go into the orig Color 2, effectively, you’ve got 5 Ages now
Here’s a basic setup, just render, you’l see the boxes as RGB from left to right
Now if you connect the extra Particle Age map into Color2, re-render, the middle bit is no longer Green but are coloured according to new scheme.

.ParticleAge_Refine_2015.max (528 KB)


But then the Particle Age sub-map will have three slots when I might only need two extras…

And even worse, the ages dissolve from one to the other; the ones in the upper map will be transitioning along with the ones in the sub-map. That means it’s gonna look kinna funky between ages. Unless there is some way to set the change from one Age to another be Step instead of Linear on the upper map; that could solve it…but I don’t see that option anywhere.

Part of what I’m looking for is a non-pain-in-the-butt way to accomplish this.

Also, I can’t open that file; my copy of MAX is 2013.


then you may have to divide your stages up in the Particle Flow itself, ie. Age 1 blah…blah,test age, send out to Age 2…blah blah, test age, send out to next Age…just think of your Ages as next Events in the flow.



This is the kinna thing that just seems so damned short-sighted on the part of the developers; you’d think they’d realize that this functionality is limited in ways that can really screw things up.

I mean, heck…if maps like Composite can have slots added and removed, you’d think Particle Age would, too. I’d love to know their thinking on this one.


hi vusta,

i attached a simple scene showing i would use gradient ramp with particle age.
Its seems to work fine for me. U can try adding variation to the age, the particles will still follow the colors as in gradient ramp.



Actually…come to think of it, Composite might just be the answer…

Have one slot with a Particle Age map that goes from 0% to 25% to 50%, where 50% is a copy of the first slot in a Particle Age placed in the second Composite Map slot…or something like that, in order to make a smooth transition.

It might have to be tweaked a little, but I think it could be made to work. Still a pain in the butt, tho. A workable pain in the butt, and yet, you’d think they’d have known this would have come up when they were developing this map. You’d think.


Hi BionicDance.
If u are using gradient ramp method. U could set ramp interpolation to “solid” so particles color just change to next color instead of fading.

I am not sure what u trying to achieve but gradient ramp flags allow u to choose textures as well.

Hope it helps.


I’m trying to make an explosion.

I don’t have FumeFX cuz it costs out the butt and I am on a budget.
I’ve gone looking for tutorials for making explosions; they all assume that I have FumeFX, or that I’m willing to use MAX’s built-in explosion effect which is, let’s face it, pretty awful.

So I have a seamless animated sequence of smoke and am using that to determine color and opacity over time using Masks that employ the level of black-to-white in the bitmaps–varying the sensitivity over time–in order to achieve the effect.
Each of these maps is then used in a particle system using Facing as the particle type.

Unfortunately, the number of steps needed for realism are greater than three.


This is what I’ve managed so far, but…it’s not great. It’s not what I’m seeing in my head, which is an effect that’s totally achievable…if I had more Particle Age slots.


i would suggest u to try blender for its fluid explosion. Free and its not too difficult.
U can export ur scenes to blender using alembic. After u simulate ur explosion u can render in blender using the imported camera. or u can export the explosion using VDB to 3ds max.

Just an extra option for u to consider.


Well, the idea I had about using Composite seems to be working, actually…

I’m not sure whether it’s super apparent, but this is going from white to red to yellow to purple using Particle Age maps in multiple Composite slots.
It’s not a super pain in the tuckus to make happen–the third slot in the first Particle Age has to have a zero opacity in order to have a smooth transition to the next PA map–and it seems to be getting the job done.