Particles in Maya: emitter and attributes using a shower scene as example

I found a pretty good tutorial how to use emitter and particles in Maya 6.0. This tutorial is quite easy and you get a very simple overview using particles.

(1) Preparation

- download file:

- set this project: File > Project > Set ... and open the scene shower.mb

- change Timeline Preferences: Window > Settings/Preferences > Preferences > Timeline > Playback Speed > Play Every Frame, Playback by > 1.0

(2) Creating an emitter

- Dynamics Menue (Shortcut F4): Particles > Create Emitter

The emitter (consists of two nodes: emitter, particles) will be created at the point of origin. You can move this emitter like any other object in Maya. We want to move (Shortcut w) this emitter in front of the shower head. Later we will move this into the shower head.


For better orientation we will name this emitter showerEmitter.

Please change the playback range to 500, go to the first frame and press play to see the result of our created emitter. We can see, that the emitter spreads out the particles in every direction.


During the next steps we want to change the attributes of the emitter to look the particles like waterdrops.

(3) Changing emitter's attributes

You can change the emitter's attributes in the Attribute Editor (Shortcut Ctrl+a) or at the Channel Box on the right side of the window. At first we want to change the type of emitter to Directional.


We play again the scene. Now, the emitter spreads all particles in one direction and we only see one line. That's because the value of the spread attribute is just 0. And the direction is also not correct because now it is horizontal. Not very natural for a shower.


We want to change direction, spread and speed of the particles by using the very comfortable Show Manipulator Tool (Shortcut t).


Several coloured markers appears around the marker. We click on the blue circle until you can read Direction. We can now change the direction coordinates. Click at the blue square to activate the move tool and change the y-axes 45° towards the emitter so that the xyz-coordinates are now 1,-1.5,0.



We click again the blue circle until we can read Spread and change the value to 0.35 . The particles will be spread in the space of this generated cone.



The last attribute to change in this mode is the speed. We click again the blue circle until we can read Speed and drag the value to 5.


We play our animation again. The direction of our water jet is now ok. But the particles are still very un-real. We want to change the attributes of the particles which are now like points. But we want to have kind of streaks.

(4) Changing particles' attributes

We open the Attribute Editor of the emitter (select editor and then Shortcut Ctrl+a) and go to the tab particleShape1. We change Render Attributes > Particle Render Type to Streak.


We want to change more attributes. Please, press Current Render Type and change Line Width to 2 and Tail Size to 9. Try out different values to find out the meanig of these two attributes. You can see it very well.

As water is blue we also change the color Add Dynamics Attributes > Color. We select Add Per Object Attribute and press Add Attribut. We have now three new attributes for the colors red, green and blue. We use the value 0,0.2,1.0 to change the watercolor into a nice blue.


Let's play our animation again. Very nice but still not perfect. Our particles fall down very un-real and the drops go through the bath tab.

(5) Creating a gravitation field and using Collision Events

A gravition field will our particles fall down in a more realistic way. To create a gravitation field simply select the particles (NOT the emitter! You can select only particles with the outliner window: Window > Outliner) then go to the menue Fields > Gravity. Try out again our animation and see the results. Our water falls down quite natural but the effect is a little bit too strong so we change the Magnitude of this gravity field to 4.5.


But still the water goes through the bath tab. To avoid this effect we want to make a collide. This is again very easy as Maya has a function to do this. Select particles and the bath tab, go to the menue Particles > Make Collide. When we play our animation we'll see that the drops bounces of the bath tab. The effect is very strong so that the drops splash over the bath tab. We want to reducethis effect by changing the attributes of the created geoConnector (created by the function Make Collide): Resilience, Friction. This node is the connector between our bath tab and the particles. We want to set the Resilience value to 0.5 and the Friction Value to 0.1.


The last step is to change the particles look after they hit the bath tab. For the moment the look the same like before hitting the bath tab which is not natural. We want to create a second little particle system as kind of answer to the hit of the bath tab. With a second particle systems it is possible to change the look of our waterdrops.

Select the particles, go to menue Particles > Particle Collision Events. A new window will be opened. Be assure that particle1 is listed in the Object Box and set following values:

Type: Emit

Random # Particles: ON

Num Particles: 2

Original Particles Dies: ON


After setting these values press Create Event and Close the window. Play the animation. We see a new type of particles (the origin particles died after hitting the bath tab) whose attributes we want to change now.


We change the type of particles to MultiPoints and change the color to white (1,1,1). You can make these changes with the Attribute Editor of particle2. Select particle2 (e.g. with the Outliner) and press Ctrl+a. Please go back to point 4 if you don't remember how to change the color. It's the same way.

Because we don't want the particles love forever we change the Lifespan Mode to Random Range (you can change to this mode in Attribute Editor > Lifespan Attributes or in the Channel Box > Shapes). Set Lifespan Radom on 1.0.

OK... Now we add the gravity field and the geoConnector to let the particles behaviour like the origin particles. Select particle2 and open Window > Relationship Editor > Dynamics Relationships. When we activate to see all nodes, select our gravity field and the bath tab and close. The nodes are now connected to the particle2.


Our emitter settings are finished now and we can move the emitter into the shower head and play the animation.

Final result: