Simulating "Sandblaster" with PFlow


Not sure how many of you are familiar with the old plugin (as least I think it’s old), Sandblaster. I’m trying to simulate an effect that it did, and that is this:

Have one object, say a teapot, and it would look like it was blowing away in the wind from top to bottom, then the particles flew and made up a new object, like a car.

What it did was, as the particles left the original object, that object’s mesh would be taken apart, poly by poly (well, the polys would disapear), then the other object was built back up as the particles hit it, poly by poly.

Using PFlow, I’m able to simulate the effect of the teapot blowing away:

But I’m having trouble figuring out two things:

  1. How can I cover the surface of the teapot so that it looks like a smooth mesh, and not just a teapot covered in 30,000 balls?

  2. Is there any way to do a reverse PFlow, or something, to create the effect of the particles rebuilding something else?



I’m not very familar with PFlow. I know the very little basics, but that’s it.
Since I was impressed by you’re work so far, I started digging in max’s help… what came out is helpers\particle flow\find target. Take a look overhere. I think this is what you’re looking for.
If this works out… is it possible to give some tips about how you managed to let the particles at the bottom stick longer? That, I really can’t figure out…


Thanks, I’ll try that.

As far as getting the particles to stick, well, here’s everything:

Event 1
Birth: I have 30,000 in that scene and a 0 start and 0 stop
Position Object: have a non-renderable teapot as the target.
Shape: sphere .5
Colision Spawn Test: I have a SDeflector that moves from top to bottom. The particles stay in place til this hits them. This start a new event

Event 2
Speed by (teapot) surface
Force: I have a wind force controller that pushes the particles to the right
Shape: sphere .5
Delete by Age: life 7, var 5

I’ll try your suggestion now and post results if I get it to work.


Just tried it, and I think Find Target is definitely the thing to use. I’m just having a problem getting all the particles to it smoothly. For the “Test true if distance to:” field is a high value, the particles just instantly get moved from one object to the other without actually flying. And if it’s low, most of the particles sail right by (I tried a 2nd wind generator inside the target object with a negative strength to pull them in and it sorta worked). Think I’m on the right track with this though.

Here’s frame 31:

And frame 47 where most of the particles passed the target right by:

Still need to get the surface to look right though.


this is a great effect, can i ask how you’re getting the particles to take shape at the second object?




I experimented about the same thing a week ago, this is what I got … (attachment -> zipped MAX6 file)

It doesnt look to great (just a quick test) but with some more tweaking it should look ok.

Hope it helps, but it seems u already figured it out … :wink:



Thanks. The settings are the same as in my 2nd post above. The only change is that I removed the ‘Delete’ operator and replaced it with a ‘Find Target’ test (thx to 3D_me). I have it being controled by speed and ‘test true if distance to’ set to 10 (really need to experiment more wtih this). And selected my target as a Mesh Object pyramid (non-renderable).

This test then goes to:
Event 3
Position Object: emitter object is the pyramid. make sure that Lock on Emitter is checked.
Shape: sphere .5.

I’m not sure if there’s a better way to do it. I’m sure there may be.

I’m still not satisfied as I really want all the particles to go to the target. As you can see in the pic, about half of them (or more) are blowing by. So that 2nd object is only 1/2 as dense as the first.

And anyone know if there’s a way to make the objects (teapot and pyramid) actually look like a solid material and not just a ton of balls glued to it?


“And anyone know if there’s a way to make the objects (teapot and pyramid) actually look like a solid material and not just a ton of balls glued to it?”

Yes!::First I followed Allan McKay’s Tutorial off called “Particle Dispursion”, to achieve your effect, then I had my solid reference object for the particles copied and I did an animated boolean that lined up with the blowing off of the particles. Also I placed all particles at an interior offset so they would not “poke” thru the solid mesh that had the anim-boolean. My boolean “Sphere” lined up with my Spherical Defelctor, but you could do a more natural shape as well. Hope that helps…

Cheers, THOM.


To make more solid models it can work to start with metaballs activated (it will cost some processing time but… it might work)
Than you can animate the ‘value of being metaball’ over time… Good luck. I’m experimenting too!


For the life of me, I can’t get an animated boolean for some reason. I’ve done it before but… I don’t know.

What about for the building of the target object? Would you just do the oposite but still using a boolean?

Sandblaster was great cuz it actually just deleted the polys and rebuilt them for you. All you did was click the start and the end and it did the rest.

Is there a way to manipulate polys as particles in PFlow so the polys themselves would blow off?


As for the Boolean anim, you animate the sub-object “operand” in the roll-out when you select the item and not the resulting object. I booled’ at the last frame of the anim,then key’ed the sub object operand and moved it on differnet frames. Nice thing about the boolean is you get a closed object and not just a hole in the top[ unless that is what you desire].As for blasting the polys away I have no clus maybe we’ll get some reply.

Cheers, THOM


i’m quite sure u can use an alpha mask (animated gradient or something) and also use that mask to tell pf where u want the particles to take off…

Cant try it out though, rendering…


Yay! I finally have exactly what I’m looking for! Thanks for the tips you guys suggested. Here’s what the effect looks like now:

To rebuild the target object I applied an animated noise map that animates from a few small grains, then more and more until it becomes solid.

Thanks again!


If you look up “Fragmentation Sample Script” in the Maxscript Reference there’s instructions on how to use the objects geometry as particles, if you wanted the teatpot’s faces to fly off.

~Mike D.


Oleg was showing off a simple way to tackle this challenge using the new Particle flow tools at Siggraph. The new painting operators could also help out with some variations on particle placement.

There was a link to a demo on the Discreet forum a few days ago at,133

Unfortunately the site seems to be down right now and the demo has not made it to turbosquid yet, hopefully just a temporary glitch.

BTW what you have already looks great, but having a few more options is always nice.


cool! I have tried this tutorial but I couldnt get it to render :frowning: I didnt know how!

nice work!


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