Future of the blog and completely unrelated cloud R&D

I haven’t been very active on the blog lately, which some of you may have noticed. I’ve got a just-about-finished tutorial describing how to create a ripple deformer in ICE with a “simple” equation. So, no simulation a fancy stuff like that. Just a couple of well-placed nodes. I also have a half-finished piece about creating a weightmap brush, with dispersion, decay etc, which I might finish if anyone asks for it.  In the meantime I’ll post some wip from a few projects I’ve been working on lately.

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Animating a cable using Softimage cloth

The project files used in this tutorial can be found at:

Softimage Cloth
Start by open the scene cabel.scn from this issues CD. Select the Cable_Cloth object and press [T] to set the selection filter to points and select the two vertices at the right end of the object. From the Edit menu choose Create Cluster with Center. Press [4] to switch to the Simulate Toolbar. Select the Cable_Cloth object and from the Create > Cloth menu choose From Selection. Different types of cables obviously has different characteristics. Use the values in the above screenshot as a starting point and experiment on your own.

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Simulating an effervescent tablet using particles

Creating particles
The first think you’ll need is obviously a glass of water and a tablet, so start by opening the scene effervescent_tablet.scn from this issues CD. Press [4] to switch to the Simulate toolbar. Select the tablet and from the Create > Particles menu choose From Selection. In the particle PPG, change the settings as shown in the above screenshot (a high-resolution version can be found on the CD).

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Illustrating a Dandelion Clock


Start by opening the scene dandelion_clock.scn from this issues CD. For your convenience the scene already contains a stem and a seed object, so all you have to do is to add a bit of fluffiness to the seed before placing it on the stem and your done. Easy enough, right?
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Particle Caching in Softimage XSI

Caching the particles
Start a new scene and press [4] to switch to the Simulate Toolbar. From the Create > Particles > From Primitive menu choose From Grid. Under the Simulation tab in the Particles operator PPG change the Execution State > Mode to Standard Caching. Switch to the Output tab and set a unique name for the particle files. Go to the last frame in your animation to make sure you’ve cached the entire simulation. Select the particle cloud and press [H] to hide it.

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Cartoon Explosion

Even though it’s just about impossible to find a Hollywood blockbuster these days that doesn’t include its fair share of special effects and explosions, people just don’t seem to ever grow tired of them. On the contrary; take a poorly written excuse for a story, add a couple of nice, rich explosions and some other FX while you’re at it, and people will still see it. Let’s not single out a specific film because there’s just too many to choose from. Nevertheless, in all fairness sake, the sheer fun of blowing things up just might vindicate an otherwise totally uncalled-for explosion, or possibly even a bunch of them.

Without getting to scientific, let’s have a quick look at what we are about to create. Everything explodes differently, so depending on what’s causing it the result can range from a massive eruption of fireballs to a modest puff. Even so, they do share the same elemental course of events. The abrupt and violent release of energy sets of the explosion from a small or limited area and will aggressively grow larger. As the explosion or cloud travels away from the point of origin it loses its energy and will settle down and gradually fade away.

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Stylized Fur Creation

Let me start of as a true party-pooper and point out that none of those characters where designed, modeled, covered in fur and rendered by a single person during a coffee brake (although while the final scene is rendering, you’ll probably have enough time for a good cup of java). Having given you that advice, please disregard it – because we’re going to try to do so anyway.

Given that carton or stylized animals generally are quite clear-cut and unfussy in there design, the time spent on adding fine details such as wrinkles and creases can usually be kept to a minimum. Basically, all you have to is to get a cube and start moving the points around till you’re happy with shape. Sounds simple enough, right? Well, even if the technical side of the modeling isn’t necessarily more complicated than so, it is the very same simplicity that makes it challenging. As you chuck out most of the details you stand a great risk of ending up with a rather meaningless and uninteresting character, which is pretty much the opposite of what you’ve original planed.

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Realistic Grass

Step 1

Growing grass
From the Get > Primitive > Polygon Mesh menu chose Grid. Press [Ctrl] + [2] to switch to the Hair Toolbar. From the Create > Hair menu chose From Selection. In the Hair PPG, set the number of Total hairs 13000 or so. The lawn is still way to sparse, but using the Strand Multiplier will be more efficient than further increasing the Total hairs, so set it to 2. Next, set the Splay at tip to 0.5 and the Splay at root to 0.25 to separate the strands.

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Exploding Wall

While constructing scenes certainly is rewarding, it just won’t come close to the fun of blowing it all up. If you don’t’ have a brick wall at hand you can use the brick_wall.scn scene included on this issue’s CD. Select the ground_object and press [4] to switch to the Simulate Toolbar. While the ground object should be included in the simulation we don’t want it to be affected by the gravity, so from the Create > Rigid Body menu chose Passive Rigid Body. Scroll down to the Rigid Body Properties section and set the Elasticity to about 0.2 and both the Static and Dynamic Friction to about 0.75. The complete opposite is true for the bricks, so select all of them (66 in total) and from the Create > Rigid Body menu chose Active Rigid Body. Click the Lock icon in the Rigid Body PPG to lock it in place as you’ll return to it in a second. From the Modify > Rigid Body menu chose Edit Simulation Properties… In the PPG, change the Play Mode to Standard and check the Caching Checkbox. You’ll probably want to increase the Accuracy later on, but leave it quite low for now due to the otherwise decreased performance.

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Water Drops

Step 1
Setup your particles
Open the file 3dw_can.scn from the cover CD. By examining the scene you’ll see four objects, the can and three slightly altered water drops. Select the Can object, switch to the Simulate Toolbar and click Simulate>Create>Particles>From Selection. In the ParticlesOp Property Editor, scroll down to the can_emission>Overview tab and set the Speed to 0. This will make the particles stick to the surface of the can when generated.

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