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TurboSplines: Making Light Trails

“Mystical Explosion”. Art by Rodolfo Rodríguez, CG Artist & Animator.

Hi guys!

In this tutorial we will see how to recreate this cool VFX work, called “Mystical Explosion”, using TurboSplines 3dsMax script.

Although this kind of special FX (light trails and light rays) are usually made with 3D particles, VXF plugins or directly in postproduction, the power and versatility of TurboSplines allows you to easily create them as 3D meshes, so you can have a fast realtime representation of the whole thing and control every aspect of the final shape. Let’s start.

First, we need to create the nucleus. It’s like a magical gem about to explode.

Create a geosphere. Then add an EditPoly modifier and extrude all its faces a bit outwards to make it look like it’s cracking because of the internal pressure.

To make the paths for the light trails, you can use circular shapes and place them like orbits around the nucleus. Another way is to make a torus knot object (Control Panel > Extended Primitives) and extract one of its edge loops to use just a single spline as the path. But the better and easier way to get a cool path for this, is using Spiros script. It’s as simple as creating any primitive shape in 3dsmax. The one in this tutorial was made with that script. Look at the image below.

Now open TurboSplines. At the Creation section, load the path/s and create 5 or 6 cylinders along the path/s to make the light trails. Use the extra feature Taper to make the trails look more dynamic and appealing.

To make the bigger end of the cylinders look smoother, change the basic geometry of the meshes from cylinder to capsule (with rounded end). Go to CreationMesh Type and select Capsule. Then press ‘(Re)Buil Geometry’.

Adjust the meshes’ radius, segments and height at the Edition section.

Once you are happy with shape of the light trails, hide them to start making the radial light rays coming out of the nucleus.

For this example, instead of using a post-render effect, we will build the light rays as 3D geometry (for the same reason we did that with the light trails).

Although there are other methods to create objects like spikes on the surface of another object, we recommend you to try this great free script called Vertices to Splines.

Download the script and do the following.

Make a copy of the geosphere, scale it down a bit and delete the EditPoly modifier. This way you can use its vertices as starting points for the radial light rays.

Using the script and the second geosphere, generate the radial splines with some length variation to make like the bright of a star. See the image below.

Then use TurboSplines again (cylinders with taper) to quickly create like spikes, emerging from the geosphere. Delete this second sphere.

Unhide the light trails meshes and check the general shape and volume of the final model. Make the necessary adjustments.

Create a camera and set a nice view for the final composition.

Assign some nice materials for the light trails, the nucleus and the radial light rays.

Render the image, with all the channels you need to have enough freedom for compositing (diffuse, reflection, z-depth, transparency, etc.)

Finally, in your favorite image-editing or post-production software, retouch the image/s, add glows, smoke, bright and additional effects to your final render.

That’s all! I hope you liked this tutorial. If you have any doubts or consultations, please post them down here on the comments section or write us through this Contact form.

Cheers! 🙂

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Spline Cleaner: Optimize, Normalize, Reduce vertices

Here’s a video showing a quick overview of the most important tools in Spline Cleaner for removing excessive vertices from your spline curves: Optimize, Normalize and Reduce Vertices.

Update: The Normalize tool was greately improved in version 1.50 with the addition of Smart Normalize feature, wich rebuilds the spline/s without loosing any detail at the corners.

Visit our SplineDynamics channel on Youtube for more videos.

Cheers!

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Spline Cleaner: Filters – Fixing Curves

Here are 2 videos showing a quick overview of Spline Cleaner’s filters tool and the Splines Info Dialog.

Using Filters: take a look at how to select, attach, detach or delete spline curves in a smart and fast way with this great tool.

Fixing spline errors: Discover how to use the Splines Info Dialog to interactively get useful data from your splines and monitor their changes. Learn to make an error diagnosis and resolve the most common errors that splines could have.

Visit our SplineDynamics channel on Youtube for more videos.

Cheers!

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Spline Cleaner: Quick Start Tutorial

Welcome to Spline Cleaner, a set of powerful tools for cleaning, repairing and organizing spline curves in Autodesk 3ds Max!

INSTALLATION

Spline Cleaner UI1. Unzip the content of the .zip file and then drag the “.mzp” file onto one of your viewports in 3ds Max . The script automatically installs itself.

2. A dialog called “Software Activation” pops-up. Enter your license key in the text field. (You received 2 license keys by email when you purchased the product).

3. If the license key is correct, Spline Cleaner will start.

4. To add the script to a toolbar, go to the Menu > Customize > Customize user interface…

5. Go to the “Toolbars” tab and pick the category “Spline Dynamics”.

6. The script’s name, “Spline Cleaner”, must be listed there. Just drag it onto a toolbar and you’re done!

SPLINES INFO DIALOG

This script comes with an interactive tool called the Splines Info Dialog, wich displays very useful information about the selected shapes/splines.

We strongly recommend you to keep this dialog open everytime you manipulate spline curves to have an instant feedback about their changes.

  1. Draw some splines and shapes  in your 3dsMax scene.
  2. Convert them all to Editable Spline (most of Spline Cleaner operations requiere Editable Splines to work. Otherwise you’ll get a warning message)
  3. Select the splines and open Splines Info Dialog (the topmost button).
  4. You’ll see there all the splines info: no. of shapes selected, no. of splines, segments, vertices, spline length, and more.
  5. Click the button Show/Hide Vertex Ticks to display all the spline vertices/knots.
  6. Make changes to the splines, add, delete and move vertices. Then re-select the splines or change the selection to update the splines info.

This tool can also make a diagnosis of possible errors on your splines, such as overlapping duplicates, double splines, overlapping vertices and empty shapes.

TOOLS, ROLLOUTS & QUICK HELP

If you scroll down the script’s interface (UI), you’ll see there are more tools and other rollouts.

The main tools are in the first rollout. In the rollout named More Tools there are some complementary tools, such as Flatten Splines.

In the rollout Basic Parameters, you will be able to change the basic parameters of all the selected splines at once. Try it!

On the right of every tool’s title there’s a question mark icon. When you place the mouse pointer over this icon, a tooltip with help appears. If you click it, in most of the cases, a dialog pops-up showing an extended help.

FIRST STEPS

To start trying the script, you can play arming and disarming shapes with many splines. You can do it very fast with Spline Cleaner.

Draw some shapes and splines and create some duplicates to have a bunch of curves. Use the tools Splines Info Dialog, Attach Selected, Explode and Weld Vertices to see how powerful this script is.

We hope you enjoyed Spline Cleaner. Check for more tutorials on this site!

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