Add preset particles or create custom particles
There are two basic ways to add a particle system to a project:
Choose a preset from the Particle Emitters category of the Library.
Create a custom particle system using your own image, video clip, shape, or text. You can also use multiple images as source cells for a single particle system.
Add a preset particle system from the Library
The easiest way to add a particle system to your project is to use a preset in the Particle Emitters category of the Library. There are many types of particle effects to choose from. If you find one close to what you need, you can easily customize its parameters after you add it to your project. Particle systems are added to a project exactly like any other object in Motion.
In the Library, select the Particle Emitters category, then select a subcategory, such as Nature, Pyro, SciFi, and so on.
In the Library stack under the categories and subcategories, select a particle preset.
An animated preview of the selected particle emitter plays in the Library preview area.
Do one of the following:
Click Apply in the preview area to add the selected particle system to the center of the Canvas.
Note: If Create Layers At is set to “Start of project” in the Project pane of Motion Preferences, the particle system is added at the first frame. See If it’s your first import.
Drag the particle system from the Library stack into the Canvas to the position where you want it to appear.
Drag the particle system from the Library stack into a group in the Layers list or Timeline.
Drag the particle system from the Library stack to the track area of the Timeline or mini-Timeline; when you reach the frame where you want the new particles to start, release the mouse button.
The new particle emitter layer appears in the Layers list and in the Canvas, composited against any other layers you’ve already added.
When you add a particle system from the Library, the system acts as it did in the preview area. If necessary, modify the particle system parameters in the HUD or Inspector. See Emitter adjustment overview. You can modify a particle system only after it’s added to a project.
Note: Some emitters look best when motion blur is enabled. Preset Library emitters that benefit from motion blur include Jelly Bands, Light Transit, Rain Streaks, and Silly String. To enable motion blur, choose Motion Blur from the Render pop-up menu (above the Canvas), or choose View > Render Options > Motion Blur (or press Option-M).
Create a custom particle system
To create a custom particle system, you must select a layer in your project to use as the source for a cell in a new particle emitter. You can use any layer in your project as a cell source, including still images, video clips, text, or shapes created in Motion. The layer you select when you create an emitter becomes the first cell in that particle system. The cell specifies the look of the actual particles generated in the Canvas.
Note: You can also use a group as the source for an emitter cell, but your computer’s processing performance may slow drastically.
Create an image layer to serve as the cell source for the particles that your emitter will generate.
This example uses an image of a simple white circular gradient, such as the “basic blur” image located in the Library (in the Particle Images subcategory of the Content category).
Move the object in the Canvas to the location where you want the center of your particle system to be.
Select the object, then do one of the following:
In the toolbar, click the Make Particles button.
The new custom particle emitter layer appears in the Layers list and in the Canvas, composited against any other layers you’ve already added. If necessary, modify the particle system parameters in the HUD or Inspector. See Emitter adjustment overview.
Create complex particles using multiple source layers
You can add as many cells as you want in a single emitter, creating complex compositions with different overlapping particles.
Add one or more image layers to your project.
In the Layers list, select the layers to use as the particle cells, then do one of the following:
In the toolbar, click the Make Particles button.
A new particle emitter layer appears in the Layers list and in the Canvas. The emitter’s cells (the image layers you selected in the previous step) appear in Layers list under the emitter object.
To create additional cells for the emitter, drag layers in the Layers list onto an existing emitter.
Note: Layers dragged from the File Browser or Library directly are not added to an emitter, but as a layer in a new group.
The layers you drag are copied to the particle system, appearing as new source cells in the Layers list (under the emitter object) and in the Canvas as part of the complex particle system. The original layers remain as standalone items in the project. You can deselect their activation checkboxes in the Layers list to hide them in the Canvas. (However, if you delete the original layers, their source cells are deleted from the particle system.)
When you play the project, each source cell generates particles simultaneously, according to each source cell’s parameters. When selected in the Layers list, each cell displays its own Particle Cell Inspector.
Note: When multiple sources are used to create a particle system, the resulting emitter is positioned in the Canvas at the average of the sources’ positions.
Optimize particle system resolution to improve playback performance
Particle systems often create particles that grow or move off the Canvas before they “die.” This can make the size of a layer or group much larger than the dimensions of the Canvas. Although the particles are not visible after they move off the Canvas (unless Show Full View Area is enabled in the View menu), they’re still present in the project and are processed. You can improve playback performance by constraining the resolution (height and width) of the group containing the particle emitter.
Note: Using a movie with applied filters as a particle cell source adversely impacts your computer’s processing performance. For better performance, export your sequence with the filter applied, then import it back into Motion and use the movie as the cell source.
In the Layers list, select a group that contains a particle emitter.
In the Group Inspector, select the Fixed Resolution checkbox.
For more information, see Constrain group size.