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Here we will discuss one of the most amazing features of the new particle system: the Particle Mode. In this mode you can edit the keypoints (=controlpoints) of Editable Hair particle systems. The number of keypoints is the number of segments plus one. Additionally you can add Hair particles.

Since working in particle mode is pretty easy and very similar to working with vertices in the 3D window, we will show how to set a particle system up and then give a reference of the various functions.

How to get the Particle Mode up and running

  • Create a Hair particle system.
  • Give it an initial velocity in Normal direction.
  • Click on Set Editable.
  • Select Particle Mode in the Mode dropdown-box in the header of the 3D window.

To see what you will be doing:

  • Select Point select mode (in the header of the 3D window).
  • Turn on the Particle Edit Properties (PEP) panel with N.
Image 1: Setting up particle mode.

Now your system should look similar to (Image 1), probably with more particles. Go ahead and edit the keypoints.

Particle Mode Options

Selecting keypoints

  • Single: RMB Template-RMB.png.
  • All: A.
  • Linked: Move the mouse over a keypoint and press L.
  • Border select: B.
  • First/last: W → Select First/Select Last.

You may also use the Select Menu.

Moving keypoints or particles

  • To move selected keypoints press G, or use one of the various other methods to grab vertices.
  • To move a particle including it’s root you have to turn off Keep Root in the Particle Edit Properties (PEP) panel.
  • You can do many of the things like with vertices, including scaling, rotating and removing (complete particles or single keys).
  • You may not duplicate or extrude keys or particles, but you can subdivide particles which adds new keypoints (W → Subdivide/2 NumPad).
  • Alternatively you can rekey a particle (W → Rekey/1 NumPad) and choose the number of keys.

How smooth the hair follows the keypoints depends on the number of Draw Steps, which you can set either in the PEP or in the Visualisation panel.

Mirroring particles

  • If you want to create an X-Axis symmetrical haircut you have to do following steps:
    • Select all particles with A.
    • Mirror the particles with CtrlM, or use the Particle → Mirror menu.
    • Turn on X-Axis Mirror Editing in the Particle menu.

It may happen that after mirroring two particles occupy nearly the same place. Since this would be a waste of memory and rendertime, you can Remove doubles either from the Specials (W) or the Particle menu.

Hiding/Unhiding

  • Hiding and unhiding of particles works similar as with vertices in the 3D window. Select one or more keypoints of the particle you want to hide and press H. The particle in fact doesn’t vanish, only the keypoints.
  • Hidden particles (i.e. particles whose keypoints are hidden) don’t react on the various brushes. But:
  • If you use Mirror Editing even particles with hidden keypoints may be moved, if their mirrored counterpart is moved.

Select Modes

  • Path: No keypoints are visible, you can select/deselect only all particles.
  • Point: You see all of the keypoints.
  • Tip: You can see and edit (including the brushes) only the tip of the particles, i.e. the last keypoint.

The Particle Edit Properties Panel

The Particle Edit Properties Panel (short PEP panel) bears various options to facilitate the working with particle hair.

  • With the button row you can select the type of “Comb” utility you want to use:
    • None: No special tool, just edit the keypoints as “normal” vertices.
    • Comb: Moves the keypoints (similar to “proportional editing”).
    • Smooth: Parallels visually adjacent segments.
    • Weight: This is especially useful for softbody animations, because the weight defines the softbody Goal. A keypoint with a weight of 1 won’t move at all, a keypoint with a weight of 0 subjects fully to softbody animation. This value is scaled by the GMin-GMax range of softbody goals.
    • Add: Adds new particles.
    • Length: Scales the segments, so it makes the hair longer or shorter.
    • Puff: Rotates the hair around it’s first keypoint (root). So it makes the hair stand up (Add) or lay down (Sub).
    • Cut: Scales the segments until the last keypoint reaches the brush.
  • Keep:
    • Length: Keep the length of the segments between the keypoints when combing or smoothing the hair. This is done by moving all the other keypoints.
    • Root: Keep first key unmodified, so you can’t transplant hair.
    • Deflect Emitter/Dist: Don’t move keypoints through the emitting mesh. Dist is the distance to keep from the Emitter.
  • Draw:
    • Steps: Drawing steps (same as in Visualisation panel).
    • Show Time: Shows the frame in which the position is reached (quite useless now but very promising for the future).
    • Show Children: Draws the children of the particles too. This allows to fine tune the particles and see their effects on the result, but it may slow extremely down if you have many children.