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Creating a Dynamic Dirt Explosion Using FumeFX and 3ds Max

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Read Time: 4 min
Final product imageFinal product imageFinal product image
What You'll Be Creating

1. Particle Flow Setup

Step 1

First, create a Particle Flow system. Go to Create > Particle Systems > PF Source and draw out a PF Source icon in the Perspective viewport, and position it on the ground grid.

PF Source PF Source PF Source
PF Source 

Step 2

Now press 6 (or click on Particle View) to open the Particle View window.

Particle ViewParticle ViewParticle View
Particle View

Step 3

Delete the Rotation and Shape operators from the event.

Rotation and ShapeRotation and ShapeRotation and Shape
Rotation and Shape

Step 4

With the Birth Operator selected, enter a value of 0 for Emit Start, and 8 for Emit Stop and set the Amount to 900. This means the particles will start from frame 0 and stop at frame 8 and the total amount of the particles/ frame will be 900.

Birth OperatorBirth OperatorBirth Operator
Birth Operator

Step 5

With the Speed operator selected, enter a value of 415 for Speed, and 400 for Variation and set the Divergence to 90. Turn on the Reverse option.


Step 6

Insert the Delete operator in the event. Turn on By Particle Age option under Remove section. Set the values of Life Span as 30 and Variation as 15.

Delete Delete Delete

Step 7

Go to Create > FumeFX. Click on FumeFX tab and draw a rectangular shape around the PF source icon. This is called the simulation area of FumeFX.


Step 8

Go to Helpers > FumeFX. Click on Particle Src tab and draw a small icon of it inside the FumeFX simulation area.

Particle SrcParticle SrcParticle Src
Particle Src

Step 9

With the Particle Scr icon selected, click on Pick Object button and then select the PF source icon in the viewport to add the PF source in the particle source list. 

Pick ObjectPick ObjectPick Object
Pick Object

Step 10

Increase the Radius value of the FumeFX particles. In my case, I have set it to 10


Step 11

You can animate the radius value also, if needed. 

Animate the radius valueAnimate the radius valueAnimate the radius value
Animate the radius value

2. FumeFX Setup

Step 1

With the FumeFX simulation area selected, click on FumeFX Output Preview and Open FumeFX UI icons.


Step 2

It opens FumeFX Output Preview and Open FumeFX UI windows. 

UI windowsUI windowsUI windows
UI windows

Step 3

Click on obj/src tab. First click on Pick Object icon and select the FumeFX particle source in the viewport. 


Step 4

Click on Start Simulation button. You will see the preview of the explosion simulation in the output preview window.

Start SimulationStart SimulationStart Simulation
Start Simulation

Step 5

The simulation quality is a bit low. Go to gen tab and lower the Spacing value to 3.

Lowering the spacing value makes the simulation quality better. You can lower the spacing value as per your requirement. But it also consumes more RAM and makes the simulation slower. In my case, I have set it to 3.


Step 6

Go to sim tab and set the Maximum Iterations value to 60.


Step 7

Go to rend tab. Right click on the fire color and choose key mode.


Step 8

Set the Fire Gradient color as shown in the following image. Start with orange color and fade it with black color.

Fire GradientFire GradientFire Gradient
Fire Gradient

Step 9

Now simulate again and see the rendered frame. It looks better than before.

Rendered frameRendered frameRendered frame
Rendered frame

Step 10

Set the Opacity value to 0.7.


Step 11

Go to sim tab and set the Burn Rate value to 10.


Step 12

You can animate the Burn Rate value also, if needed.

Burn RateBurn RateBurn Rate
Burn Rate

Step 13

Set the values of Heat Production as 15 and Heat Expansion as 3.

Heat Production  Heat ExpansionHeat Production  Heat ExpansionHeat Production  Heat Expansion
Heat Production & Heat Expansion

Step 14

Enable Fire Creates Smoke option. Set the Smoke Density to 15 and Temperature Threshold to 45.

Fire Creates SmokeFire Creates SmokeFire Creates Smoke
Fire Creates Smoke

Step 15

Set the X Turbulence value to 1. Inside the Turbulence Noise option, set the values of Scale to 10 and Detail to 5.

X TurbulenceX TurbulenceX Turbulence
X Turbulence

Step 16

Set the Temperature Buoyancy value to 0.2.

Temperature BuoyancyTemperature BuoyancyTemperature Buoyancy
Temperature Buoyancy

Step 17

I have added several lights in the scene. Remember, the lights play a pivotal role in the overall look of the scene. So placement of the lights must be done carefully. 


Step 18

Turn on Atmospheric Shadows option for the each light.

Atmospheric Shadows Atmospheric Shadows Atmospheric Shadows
Atmospheric Shadows 

Step 19

Go to illum tab and pick all omni lights. Turn on Multiple Scattering option. Set the values of the Multiple Scattering parameters as shown in the following image.

illum illum illum

Step 20

Run simulation once again and do a test render. You will see something like this.

Rendered frameRendered frameRendered frame
Rendered frame

Step 21

See the test render of the explosion at some different frame.

Another rendered frameAnother rendered frameAnother rendered frame
Another rendered frame

Step 22

NB:- Don’t forget to turn on Atmospheric Shadows for the lights as stated in the Step 18. If you don't do it, you wont get the realistic result. 


In the next part of the tutorial, I will show you how to make smoke trails, debris and the final compositing of the scene in After Effects.

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