Making a Water Fountain in 3dsmax

Arch Ronel K. Pabico


I want to share my workflow in creating a water fountain using the 3ds Max Particle System.

1. Download the scene file fountain_start.max by going to the bottom of this tutorial or the fountain model. If you haven’t you can create your own model for the fountain source. Any model will do. To begin, set some 3ds max parameters just like the following: set the units to meter, and the renderer to scan line (for the meantime we will use scan line because we will do some series of test renders).

2. From the command panel, browse on create , particle system, then select super spray. Or from the Menu Bar, select Create, then browse on Particles then Super spray.

Drag anywhere from the top viewport as if you were creating an icon (round icon image with upside down arrow) just enough for you to see and handle. From the top viewport, move the super spray icon to the center of the stone fountain model, and from the left view port, move them vertically on to the uppermost part of the stone fountain (see image below).

3. With the super spray icon still selected, go to modify panel and adjust the some basic parameters as shown on the image sample. Now play the time slider and move it along to say on frame 10.

You can see how the fountain works. However, you can adjust any parameters as long as it suffices and fits to how the fountain looks like. For the tutorial to not be more complicated, let us leave some parameters in its default state.

Off Axis - affects the angle of the particle stream off the Z axis (along the plane of the X axis).

Spread - affects the spread of the particles away from the emission vector (along the plane of the X axis).

Off Plane- affects the angle of emission to the Z axis. This has no effect if Off Axis is set to 0.

Spread - affects the spread of the particles about the Off Plane axis. This has no effect if Off Axis is set to 0.

Speed - the speed of the particle at birth, in units per frame.

Variation- applies a percentage of variation to the speed of emission for each Particle.

4. As you move the time slider, the more the fountain goes up; now let us control it. From the Command panel go to Space Warps, then to Forces and select Gravity from the list.

Then on the top view port drag anywhere. Then on left viewport, move the gravity icon on top of the water fountain you have created just enough to how the water goes up.

With the gravity icon still selected, go to main toolbar and select bind to Space Space Warp. See the figure. Drag to link the gravity to the super spray. Then adjust some basic parameters.

Strength- this will determine the upward force super spray particles behavior, the more amount, the particles will suddenly go down, the lesser amount, the less it will go down. Adjust and play around with the strength amount until you're satisfied with how your fountain goes up.

Decay- when Decay is set to 0.0, the Gravity space warp has the same strength throughout world space. Increasing the Decay value causes gravity strength to diminish as distance increases from the position of the gravity warp object. Default=0.0.

5. Now that we already set the upward strength of the fountain, the problem now is how it falls and reaches the surface. From the command panel again, go to Space Warps, choose from the list Deflectors then select Deflector. Or go to the Menu Bar – Create - Space Warps – Deflectors – Deflector.

6.Then on top viewport drag a Deflector reactor (rectangular shape) on top of the stone fountain just enough to cover its size. Name this deflector 1. While the deflector is still selected, go to main toolbar and click Bind to Space Warp, then drag the deflector 1 to Super Spray Reactor. On left view port, move the deflector on its y-axis just on top of the water on the stone fountain.

Then on modifying panel, adjust the bounce amount to at least 0.3, with a variation of 4.0% and friction to 10%. Now play the time slider and observe now how your fountain behaves and reacts to the deflector. The particles bounce as it touches the water surface (deflector). You can adjust the amount as you like. But observe the height of the fountain balance with the downward force, theoretically, not much bounce will occur.

7. Now, as you observe, after the particles bounce on the first deflectors, it goes down beneath the water pond surface. Now repeat the process of creating deflectors (name this deflector 2), but now make it big enough to cover the water pond surface.
From the left viewport, move it just on top on the water pond surface. Make the bounce amount to 0.1, for its gravitational downward force is already decreased. Now play the time slider to see how it works. Save your work.

8. We already completed the water fountain, from start until it goes down to the water pond. Now water from the fountain not all goes down directly to the lower surface, it's stored up in the stone fountain until it overflows down to the pond. Now freeze all other objects and unfreeze the model water top. It is the stored water in the stone fountain.

Then on command panel browse on Particle system, then from the list select PArray.

From the top viewport, drag anywhere on the screen just enough for you to see the PArray icon (see image below).

9.While the PArray icon is still selected, go to modifying panel, click select object then select the water top model. This will make the water top model as a water source for overflowing water.

10.Then activate the left viewport, select the water top model, right click and then convert to poly. Maximize the viewport, then click polygon and select all around edges of the water top model by window crossing across the edges, see the image sample. Then click on the small box opposite the polygon on the modifying panel so the selection is still active as you proceed. Select again the PArray icon and from the parameters, select the check box Use Selected SubObjects. This means that the overflowing water will only come out on this side and not to the whole object. Then adjust some basic parameters as seen on the figure.

11. Now play the time slider, observe the behavior of the PArray Particles -- it spreads all over in horizontal direction. Let us put some control over it. On the Command Panel, go to Space Warps then to Forces then to Gravity , on top view port, drag anywhere there to create an icon for gravity reactor (rename this to gravity-overflow).

With the gravity reactor still selected, go to main toolbar click on Bind to Space Warps icon and drag the Gravity reactor to PArray particles. This will link the PArray particles to the Gravity Reactors, then just adjust basic parameters as shown. Now move and play the time slider and observe how the PArray particles move.

12. Now that we made them fall downwards, let us control where it goes, definitely it must be stopped on the water pond. So to make this activate again the Space warps then to Deflectors then to Deflector. On top view port drag somewhere on the screen to create a Deflector icon just enough to cover the whole water pond (name this deflector 3). Then on left viewport, move the Deflector icon just on top of the water-pond surface. Then adjust some basic parameters as shown.

13. Applied materials to all of the objects. Here are the materials i used:

14. Now all the parameters are nearly complete. Attach your materials to all the objects and to the particles. You can create your own material for this. Note that there are some adjustments on materials if you switch on V-Ray render. Put on lights the way you want . Put on target camera. Now make some test render.

The particle look isn’t good, so let's do some fine tuning.

15. Adjust time slider to frame 15, adjust super spray particle percentage to 100% and change rate to 300.

16. And PArray particles adjust percentage to 75% and change rate to 200 .

17. Adjust camera basic parameters, enable multi-pass effect, enable Display Passes by clicking the box, adjust total passes to 10, and duration frame to 1.0 , bias to 0.5, the activate Normalized weights on Pass blending. Activate the renderer you prefer.

18. Right click on each reactor (Super Spray and PArray) and activate object properties then click on motion blur one after another. Fire render and enjoy

Comments and suggestions are welcomed!!!
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Scene Files: