Intro to X-Particles: Creating Abstract Images in Cinema 4D | Davide Frusteri | Skillshare

Intro to X-Particles: Creating Abstract Images in Cinema 4D

Davide Frusteri, Motion Graphics Designer

Intro to X-Particles: Creating Abstract Images in Cinema 4D

Davide Frusteri, Motion Graphics Designer

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16 Lessons (51m)
    • 1. Intro

    • 2. Emitter

    • 3. Follow Surface

    • 4. Custom Emission

    • 5. Trails

    • 6. Turbulence

    • 7. Groups

    • 8. Collider Tag

    • 9. Avoid

    • 10. Quick Recap

    • 11. XP Materials

    • 12. Trail

    • 13. Illumination

    • 14. Render

    • 15. 14 Compositing

    • 16. Outro

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About This Class


In this class you will learn the basics of X-Particles, an amazing plugin in Cinema 4D. Use any 3D model of your choice and generate organic streaks using this dynamic tool

Let's create some beautiful abstract images or videos.

You’ll learn:

  • The Emitter
  • Modifiers: xpFollowSurface - xpTurbulence - xpSpeed - xpAvoid - 
  • Generators: xpTrail
  • Tags: xpCollider
  • Materials: xpMaterial and Hair Material
  • Render settings: Export image and Multipass
  • Compositing: in After Effects [Optional] 

The course is for beginners to intermediate level animators, and it requires some basic knowledge of Cinema 4D.  I will guide you through the whole process. 

Software required: Cinema 4D and 3rd party plugin X-Particles 3.5

Meet Your Teacher

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Davide Frusteri

Motion Graphics Designer


Hello there! 

I am Davide Frusteri, I am a freelance Motion Graphics Designer based in London. 
Freelancing has been a fantastic opportunity to meet people from all over the world and to work for many international studios in the United Kingdom.

My main tools are After Effects | Cinema 4D | X-Particles | Redshift

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1. Intro: Hi. My name is David. A few Steri. I'm a freelance motion graphic designer from Italy. I've been living and working in London for over 10 years. Welcome to my skill shirt class. This class will be an introduction to the X particles flagging for Cinema four D. And we're going to use some of the basic tools to create an abstract image. I will get it from start to finish and in each lesson you will find us that by step description, we're going to start from a simple emitter and turn it into our custom shape meter. After that, we then explore the trades, generators and some of the modifier to make an interesting look. Also, we will learn how to use the groups and sub folders to keep your project well organized. We're also going to check their ex particles and her material and some of the multiple assumptions for render purposes. At the end of the class, you will improve your ex particle skills and you will be able to apply our set up to your own model. Let's get stopped. It 2. Emitter: Okay, let's begin our class. The first thing we're going to create is an ex particle system. Click on X particles and Select XP system. This will automatically generate a set of icons to keep the project well organized. We don't need the icon in the view port, so let's deactivate it. The first object we are going to create is an emitter. So with the meter selected, click on Create a meter. Once we press play, we see that X particles will start to generate particles. Let's extend our timeline a bit more. I want to change a couple of things to our emitter, the speed and the radius under a mission tub. Let's set the speed to 50. If we press play, you can see our particles are now moving slower. To change the radius, you first need to change the display mode rather than dots to circle or any other object. Go back to a mission and change the radius. Once the radius has been changed. Now we have a better visualization off our particles. 3. Follow Surface: The next thing to do is to create a custom a meter shape. If you see here, our emitter, shaped by default, is set to return angle. But we want a custom object to be our emitter. So let's import our model. Click on file and merge objects and select your object. In our case, it's a human head. Now, if you're going to use your own model, try to keep it more or less the same size as this one. Otherwise, you may get a different result on the tick nous or the turbulence off the particles said. So let's elect our meter and change the meter shape to object mode. Now we need to assign to the object field the model we want to be our particles a meter. So a sooner we press play, you can see that the particles are now a meeting from the object. There is one thing I want to show you under the emission tub. If we increase the number of particles 200,000 for Eastern's, you can see more clearly that they are a meeting from the center off the polygons. If you look at the field, Emmet from is set to Polygon Center. Once we change it to polygon area automatically, the particles are distributed in a much nicer and evenly way all over the shape. Go back to the mission tub and let's change back our mission to 1000. Now I want to introduce the first modify year. Select money five years under motion Money five years select full of surface. Once elected, we need to tell to the full of surface modifier which one is the object to follow. If we drag and drop here the polygon object, you can see that our particles are now constrained to the surface off the head. I want to take accurate. This will make sure no particles can fly away from the surface. Okay, One more thing to do under the emission tub. By default, the mission mode is set to rate and the particles are emitting all frames. Let's change a mission mode to shot and the particles will be emitted just once at frame one. And this will be enough for our project 4. Custom Emission: instead of having the particles a meeting from every single polygon off our surface. What we want to do next is to create a selection of polygons and having the particles a meeting on Lee. From that selection, let's go to the polygonal mode and create a selection. Our selection will be the eyes, the nostrils and the lips. Let's select the first I, then the second. Now let's select the nostrils. Okay, and now the lips. Once we are happy with our selection, what we need to do now is to go to select and set selection. You can see that cinema four D automatically created attack, which we can rename to a mission. Let's now go back to the normal mode and select the meter and under object up less drag and drop our tug in the selection. The meaning is that our object is the head and it omits from their selection. If we press play now, you can see that the emission is happening on Lee from the polygons with selected and this is starting to create a nice dynamic movement from the front of the head towards the back. From the side view, you can start getting an idea of where we are heading 5. Trails: The next thing that we're going to create are the trails. Let's go back here and select generators and then select XP trails from the least down below. Once it's created, we need to tell the XP trails which one is going to be the meter to trace. So once we drop the meter into the field now you can see that every particle is generating spine all over the surface. Few things about the XP trail. First of all, I would like to change the display Kohler toe the same color as the meter one. This is because later on, we will create another trail and a meter. So I prefer to have the caller off the trail Toby, similar as the one off their own particles. So let's select a light green color. Now you can see the departed. Cols and the trails match nicely together, and the second thing I would like to show you is how to change the length off the trails by default. It set to the full scene trails. If we want to use a custom lens, we select length and we assign any custom lent to our trail. For instance, if we sent it to 50 and press play. Once they reach their own and lend, the trails will stop to draw the spines for our tutorial. I'm happy with 3 50 but off course you can experiment as much as you like, and that's it for the trails now. 6. Turbulence: it's time now to introduce a new modifier. As you can see, our particles at the moment are moving in a very regular way, and so are the tracers. There are following our particles, so instead of particles moving has a straight lines. We would like to see a more organic movement off our trails. And in order to do that, we will need to use a new modifier called turbulence under motion modifiers Select turbulence. Once elected, you would see that the turbulence is spreading the direction off the particles in a random manner. And the picture gets a nice, wavy look. The main parameters to play with our the scale, the frequency and the strength. You can see that if we change the strength, the turbulence will get stronger and the look more waving, same as if we change the scale and frequency. We always get different. Interesting result. Now, one thing that you may notice the turbulence changed the speed off the particles. It doesn't matter how the particle speed set this modifier will always add its own speed. So, for instance, here you can see that the particles are movie very fast compared to how they were moving before. It doesn't matter if we set the speed of the particles to zero, there will always be an acceleration created by the turbulence I work around to solve. This is to use another modifier that is called XP Speed. So let's select again motion modifiers and then X particle speed by default. The operation off the particle speed is set toe increment, the speed over time. But if we said toe on absolute value, for instance 50 we can see that the particles acceleration is now gone and the particles are moving again at a constant speed. So let's do a comparison. If we set back the particle speed to 50 and with the activate X particle speed, we can see that there is a very strong acceleration. And instead, if we reactivate X particle speed in an absolute way, now the particles are moving and a meeting at a constant speed play as much as you like with these parameters. For this tutorial, I put the particle strength to five scale and frequency to 50 and particle speed to 50. The result is a very subtle movement off our particles and the trails way be enough 7. Groups: Now that we're happy with our particles and the trails running through the surface, I want to create another emitter and trail toe. Feel the volume off our model. First, let's tidy up a bit. Our project. I can rename the emitter to surf face and do the same for the trail. Now, instead of creating an emitter from scratch, I will just duplicate it. The parameters will be exactly the same as the one off the meter surface, and I will rename it to volume. I will do the same with the trail surface duplicate and then rename it as volume. Let's not forget that the trails volume needs the emitter volume. Another thing that we can do is to change the display mode. So let's select display mode and we can change the cooler to blue. And maybe, rather than having an editor display said a circle, we could change it to box. Also to the trail volume, we can assign a different color, let's say a light blue. So now we have just duplicated the meters and the trail, so they're going to do exactly the same thing. If you zoom in, you can see that the particles are displayed in two different ways, and at the moment, the trails are just overlapping. You see, if I deactivate the blue ones, the green ones are exactly the same. Now it's time toe. Introduce the groups. The cool thing about the groups is that we can assign different modifiers, two different groups. So let's start creating our first group. If I select the surface emitter and I go to groups, I can create an ad, a group. And here is our first group. I'm going to rename it to Group Surface. And now let's select the meter volume and create another group. You can see that the group will automatically pick the particles Kohler and displayed into the icon. So let's call this group volume now. If we go to modify years, we can keep the project even Tidier by creating sub folders, click on Create sub folder and rename it Us shared. And then I drag and drop the shared modifiers, which are the turbulence and speed. They are applied to both groups and both emitters, while the surface modifier will be applied on Lee to our surface group. Click again here to create another sub folder I name it surface and then I'm going to drop the fall of surface inside it. The reason off creating a folder is to keep the project tidy is not strictly necessary. But it will help you to understand straight away which modifiers is applied toe which group now How do we tell the full of surface modifier that it must be applied on Lee to the surface group? So if you see here, there is a tub called groups affected. If we drag and drop the group surface to the groups affected, it means that the fall of surface is a modifier for that group on Lee. So let's press play now and you can see that our particles running on surface are exactly has they were before. They have the speed, turbulence and the fall of surface, while the volume once have the speed and the turbulence, but not the fall of surface 8. Collider Tag: Now it's time to play with the volume meter. Let's turn off the surface for now. And let's change the display mode two lines which will help us to see what's going on inside the model. The first things to do is to change the direction off the particles. If you remember, our emitter at the moment is a meeting from the head and from our polygon selection. If you see here the recep parameter called particles direction. If we click, invert and press play, you will see that the particles are now a meeting towards the inside off the model. This is an interesting look that might be used for some other project, but our goal is to keep the particles within the model. In order to do that, we need to introduce the collider tag, select your model and then right click. You will see that under X particles tags, there is the collider tag so once created. Don't forget that we need to tell which group is affected. Dragon, drop the group volume to the group affected tab. Then we need to change the collision from the outside of our shape to the inside. So now if we press play, you can see that the particles are constraint inside our model 9. Avoid: you may have noticed that thanks to the collider tag, once the particles reach our surface, they start to bounce. But this creates a lot of sharp corners. When the direction off the trails changes tow, avoid it and to get as Notre look, we can use another modifier. If we select again modifiers, we select motion modifiers and then we click on Avoid. Don't forget that the group of our avoid modifier is going to be the volume group. So we're going to create a sub folder. We call it Volume and we drop it in there. The purpose off the avoid modifier is to avoid a certain object, and in our case, it will be our model. If we press play now, the particles are now trying tow. Avoid our model. You can see that. Obviously there is a big gap from the surface to the trail, and this is the detection distance parameter. So if we drop it to 20 centimeter now, you can see that the particles are almost reaching our surface, but then they try to avoid it. And this is a much cleaner result because we don't have any more particles that are bouncing and the sharp corners are gone. 10. Quick Recap: Let's do a quick recap of our particle system. We have to a meters generating particles and two trails. Then we created two groups. The surface and the volume. The sheriff Modifiers are the speed and the turbulence because they don't have any specific group affected, then the full of surface is applied only to the group surface. The avoid is applied only to the group volume, and the collision tag is applied only to the group volume. This is great because we kept everything under one system with a nice and tidy hierarchy off all our objects. 11. XP Materials: Now that we're happy with our XP system, it's time to add some materials and work on the look. If you eat render, you can see that nothing has been rendered. What we need to create is an XP material Click on Create Shader. Expect Tickles material. We can assign these material to our emitters. If we exclude the head from the render, you can see that the particles are now generated and the colors are the one we have assigned as display mode. It was green for surface and blue for volume. Let's have a look at the material you can see here. The color mode is set to particle color. If you want to override the display moment, we can select single Kohler and we can pick a bright yellow and now this color will overwrite our display color moment. Another top to check is the size by default is set to particle radius. Personally, I don't like this way because I always need to check what was the particle radius value for each meter. If we instead select world now, we have a proper dimension field that we can set here directly. Let's say we keep one centimeter. And now we have all our particles with our custom size. Third parameter is the illumination. By default, the particles are flat. They have neither a volume nor a shape depending on the look. There are a bunch of option you can play with. The one have chosen is noon. This will give a sort of glowy magical appearance to our particles. Obviously, this looks too much, but we can drop the with off our glow to 25% which will give our particles the look unhappy with in the next lesson will create our trail materials. 12. Trail: Now it's time to create materials for our trails. The trail's technically speaking our spine, and we're going to use the hair material for our particles. We can rename the material as XP dots, and we would create a shader hair material. We will then rename it as trail won by default to the head. Material comes with a brown look. If we hit the render, you can see that the result is not great at all. The reason we're using the hair material is because the render is super fast. We can actually work with the interactive Render region, extend its area and said it has the highest quality. Let's have a look to the hair material. As I said before, the cooler is a Grady int with the dark and light brown. Let's change our radiant for the surface. I've used a preset, so if we go toe load preset, we will have a bunch of pre made color palettes. The one I picked is the scheme seven. We can change the interpolation to moose. Now you can see the look is much better. We can also change the thickness by default. We have a big route which is this one and a tiny tip at the end. I prefer to change the route toe a small one. This way we will get more density and more details in our emission area, and the end of the deep will be 0.5, so it's slowly getting thicker while is growing. The second Grady Int there are used is a custom palette. Let's duplicate the material and rename it as trail, too. Let's assign it to our volume trails. You can see at the moment both of them have the same material. Double click. And for this material, let's choose another Grady int. For this one. You can select Kohler from picture, and you can upload your own Grady int. This is the one I used, and here you can see that the image is loaded and you can pick the coal or uploaded. There are four colors so we can remove these two, and then we can select the 1st 1 blue 2nd 1 green 3rd 1 yellow and 4th 1 red. We can adjust the position off the color. This one will be 33.3, and the second will be 66.6 so it's evenly distributed. Now we have a nice combination off the two radiance, but at the moment is still looking flood because we haven't added any light to our scene, which will be done in the next tutorial. 13. Illumination: Now let's work on the lighting off our scene. You can see right now the over a look is very flat. This is because we're missing shadows and contrast at the moment. We just have the cinema for the default light. Let's create our light. I'm going to do a very simple set up, just one relight for this project. You can see straightaway that if now we hit render, it's already getting better because we're starting to have some illumination. Now let's work a bit on the light. First, I want to add a target tag. So if I use our subject as our target, you can see now that we can move the light around and it's always pointing the subject. Also, I want to activate the shadows because my default they're off. Now you can see that the look is getting much nicer for small tweaks. I'm going to turn off the particles and work a little bit directly on our subject because it's easier to understand where the lights and shadows are. Let's move the light a bit up just like that. I think this would work is going to give us a nice, dramatic look because there is a good amount off shadows and light in the scene. Let's run up the numbers. Another see that I want to add to our light is the fall off. We can go toe the details and at the inverse square, which is a physically accurate fall off. And let's see how Howard particles look like. Let's turn back on the particle system and turn off our morning. I think I want more particles running, so I press play and let them grow a bit more. You can also forward frame by frame. This is enough for me because it's close to the back of the head but not reaching it yet. Let's reactivate one more time. The interactive render region. I think we're close, maybe is a little bit too bright, so we can actually move the lights to, let's say, minus 400 and also we can have less decay. Let's drop it to 300. So now is not over exposed. And now I think I'm happy with the look. We can start to create our camera in the next tutorial 14. Render: in this lesson. We're going to create the camera and then set to the Render click on the camera button to create the camera and make it active. Let's go to the object up and change the focal length to portray it. 80 millimeter. And now I want to frame the subject on a side view. If we go now to the coordinates, I want to make sure we're perfectly on the side. We need to zero all the values, and this one will be exactly on 90. Let's also make sure we have enough space at the top, and at the bottom this value would be 1700. Now we can run again. Our particle simulation. Let's stop around here. I can turn on again the interactive Render region. Let's go forward, frame by frame and stop. Once we're happy, I think here is a good frame. Now it's time toe open our render settings and render our image. Let's click here and our render settings. Windows will pop up. Let's change the file extension toe PNG and activate Alpha Channel with straight alfa. This will allow us to change the background color later on in compositing. Click here to choose the destination folder and I'm gonna name the file XB head. Let's click on output to change the resolution. I can take here the lacresha toe, keep it 16 by nine and change the size toe 1920 by 10. 80. I also want to render an extra pass just with our particles. To do this, we're going to use the multi pass option. Quicken multiple US and activated. The particles will be under the atmosphere Pass. Now, if we click back to the safe option, you can see that now, beside the regular image, we also have the multi pass image available. We can select the same folder and we can name the file as particles as a 54 month. I can choose again PNG eight beats per channel, exactly the same as the regular image. Now we can finally hit render and this is going toe open. The picture viewer file is now rendering very fast. If we click on layer single pass, we have the atmosphere pass with just the particles separated the background image which is the full image and the Alfa Channel information. Okay, this is it in cinema four d and the next lesson we are going to do some compositing in aftereffects 15. 14 Compositing: in this final class, we're going to do a bit of compositing in after effects just to let you know this class is optional and you can actually have pretty much the same results in photo shop if you're more comfortable with. Also because this is not specifically on aftereffects class, I won't go too much in debt with the knowledge of the software. Okay, DoubleClick in the Project window and important to images generated by Cinema 40 Select XB Head and drop it into a new composition. This is going to create a new composition with the same size and same name off the image, and if we click here, you can check the health of channel first. Let's create a background color so right click and select New Sold it and we can rename it background. Select I very dark blue with those values. 15 25 40. Once created drug it below second. I created a fake source light to add a bit of variety to our background. Once again, new solely, Let's name it light, and I picked a slightly lighter blue with those values. 25 35 50 Drug it in between the two layers, selected the mask to and double quick and scale it until it looks like a circle. It doesn't have to be precise. Let's unfold the mask option and feather 500 pixels and change the blend. The mode to add this will much more or less the light from cinema for the now a bit of color correction. If you zoom in, you can notice here the shadows are too dark and I want to blend the image and the background. I'm going to use an effect called selective Color Double Click, and it's applied automatically to our image. Here you can select all the different tones, plus the whites neutral, and blacks, by selecting the blacks weakened, tweaks the shadows. Let's add a bit of science and removing the yellow, which means we are adding blue. You can see now that the image is more blended with the background color. Now I want to use our practical atmosphere image to make the particles more visible. Let's drop the image on top and let's change the blending mode to add. And if we Presti, we can change capacity to 25% and you can see it's adding a bit off touch to the scene. Let's create another soul did toe at some vignette. This time it can be black, and let's name it to be yet double click on the Lips Mosque, and this time the operation would be subtract. You can see the soul. It is now on the corners off the composition. Change the feather toe 300 pixels and set the blending mode toe multiply and capacity to 25%. This will add an extra vignette. Toe the compositing. Now let's create an adjustment layer and name. It blur in effects, less type fast books blurred and blair three pixels Dick Repeat edge pixels to remove the black line around one more time the lips tool and set it as a subtract feather. 200 pixels. And now, if we press control, the scale off the mask will be on both sides. What is doing is adding a bit of Blair at the top and the bottom. Let's create another adjustment. Layer a name. It levels toward some contrast typing levels and change. The Gamma Tau 0.85. Finally, last adjustment layer to add some grain grain is very useful to remove the bending caused by any radiant change. The view we mode from preview toe final output. Otherwise, the grain will be only visible toe this small square in the center of the screen as preset . I used the 2nd 1 which is a small grain pattern, and change the transparency to 50%. Okay, this is it for their compositing to render the final frame Go to composition se friend us Fine. It will automatically open the render cute in output mode. Select PNG sequins and press OK named the file XB had final look and let's hate to render Okay, this is it for this class and I really hope you enjoy it. Thanks for watching. 16. Outro: That's it. We reach the end off the class and I hope you guys learned a lot of new things. Feel free to share your project on. I will be happy to give you some feedback. Thank you very much for watching. And I'll see you next time.