How to create Smoke effect in 3ds max using Particles?

A detailed tutorial to show how to create simple but cool looking smoke effect in 3ds max using particles in very less time.

In this tutorial, I am going to show you how to create a basic smoke effect in 3ds max using particles. This tutorial involves setting up the particle system and creating the smoke material for the particles. Here is the preview of the effect that we are going to create:

Let’s get started.



Go to Create > Particles and create a Spray particle system from there and set the Width and the Length of the emitter to 15.



Rotate the spray emitter 180 degrees in x-axis. Now, with the Spray particle system selected, go to Modify panel and under Parameters rollout, set the Render Count to 500, Drop Size to 18.0, Speed to 0.2 and Variation to 0.
Choose the Facing option from the Render group. In Timing group, set the Start value to -50, Life to 50 and Birth Rate to 1 with the Constant option turned off.

Step 3


Go to Create > SpaceWarps > Forces and create a Wind force from there. With the Wind force selected, go to Modify panel and set the Strength to 1.2, Decay to 0.01 and choose the Spherical option as Wind type.
Inside the Wind group, set the Turbulence value to 1.5, Frequency to 0.5 and Scale to 1.15. Align this wind below the Spray emitter.

Step 4


Now, go to Create > SpaceWarps > Forces and this time create a Drag force. Set the Time On value to -100 and Time Off value to 200 (the end frame of the active time segment). Under Damping Characteristics group, turn on the Unlimited Range option. I am using Linear Damping in this case with X Axis: 50%, Y Axis: 50% and Z Axis: 0%

Step 5


Now, select Bind to Spacewarp tool from the main toolbar and bind Spray emitter to the Wind and the Drag force one by one.

Step 6: Preparing Smoke Material for particles


We are done with the particle set up. Let’s prepare the smoke material for the particles so, open the Material Editor (M), select a material slot. Unlock the Ambient and Diffuse colors then choose the Black color as Ambient and Specular color. Use dark grey color (R: 52, G: 52, B: 52) as the Diffuse color.

Step 7


Now, In the Maps rollout, turn on the Opacity and click on the None button. Select the Mask material from the Material / Map Browser list.

Step 8


Under Mask Material Parameters rollout, we have two buttons with no maps assigned to them. Click on the Map “None” button to launch the Material / Map Browser and select the Particle Age material from the list.

Step 9


Under Particle Age Parameters, assign White color to Color #1, Grey (R: 128, G: 128, B: 128) color to Color#2 and Black color to Color #3. Now, click on Go to Parent button, to bring back the Mask parameters.

Step 10


Now, click on Mask “None” button and select Gradient from the Material / Map Browser list.

Step 11


Under Gradient Parameters rollout, choose Black color for Color #1, dark Grey (R: 65, G: 65, B: 65) for color #2, and light grey (R: 45, G: 45, B: 45) color for Color #3.
Set the Color 2 Position value to 0.5 and Gradient Type to Radial.

Inside Noise group, set the Amount to 0.2 and Size to 3.0. Turn on the Turbulence and set the Levels value to 0.7.

Now, assign the material to the Spray particles and render the scene to see the effect.

That’s it, I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. For realistic fluid simulations you can use some advance tools like Afterburn and FumeFX etc. Good luck.