Creating Water Ripple Effects in 3ds Max - Part 8 - Animating Wakes

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  • Film & VFX
  • Games
  • Design Visualization
  • Animation
  • Dynamics
  • 2014
  • Simulation and Effects
  • Workflow
  • 3ds Max
Skill Level
  • Intermediate
6 min

Creating Water Ripple Effects in 3ds Max - Part 8 - Animating Wakes

In this tutorial, you learn different workflow to create special effects with the Flex Modifier. Here, you will use flex to create wake effects like those created by boats and other marine vehicles.


  • Recorded in: 3ds Max 2014
  • This tutorial is intended for use with 3ds Max version 2014 or higher.


00:00:06 --> 00:00:15
In this last movie, you change the ripple effect into a wake effect, to create water wakes like those caused by boats and other water vehicles.

00:00:16 --> 00:00:22
You can work on your own scene or open the file: flex_final.max you downloaded for this tutorial.

00:00:23 --> 00:00:29
Also load up the Point Cache file that animates the ripples. You won't need it for long though.

00:00:35 --> 00:00:41
Select the arrow, its path, and the sphere that acts as a collision object and hide them.

00:00:44 --> 00:00:50
In fact, select all rings and connectors and hide them as well; you won't need them for this example.

00:00:51 --> 00:00:58
So that leaves the pool floor and water surface. You need something to cut through the water surface to create wakes.

00:01:00 --> 00:01:08
Using Import >Merge, merge the contents of the file ToyBoat.max into your scene.

00:01:09 --> 00:01:15
As the name implies, it's the geometry of a plastic toy boat that you will use in this case.

00:01:17 --> 00:01:21
Position it to the left of the water surface.

00:01:25 --> 00:01:33
Animate it going from left to right between frames 0 and 150. This simple motion should be enough here.

00:01:33 --> 00:01:41
Obviously, the water is currently animated based on a ripple effect created by a bouncing sphere, you need to change that.

00:01:42 --> 00:01:47
Since the boat mesh is fairly complex, you'll use another sphere as a collision object.

00:01:48 --> 00:01:51
Create a sphere centered on the boat.

00:01:56 --> 00:02:01
Make its number of segments 16 to bring down its density.

00:02:05 --> 00:02:17
Use non-uniform scales to shape the sphere to the boat's hull. Vertex positions on the sphere determine collision properties with the water surface.

00:02:19 --> 00:02:28
In this case, the hull cuts through the water from above, so make sure the sphere's center is slightly above the water level.

00:02:36 --> 00:02:45
If the sphere's center is below the water level, the wake will have an effect similar to one caused by a submarine only slightly submerged.

00:02:47 --> 00:02:52
Name the new sphere Boat Hull to remind you of what it represents.

00:02:56 --> 00:03:03
After transforming the sphere to fit the boat's hull, use the link tool to link it to the boat so that it travels with it.

00:03:13 --> 00:03:20
Next, select the deflector object you created earlier, and assign the new sphere as a deflector.

00:03:25 --> 00:03:30
Once that is done, you can make the sphere non-renderable or better yet,

00:03:33 --> 00:03:35
simply hide it from view.

00:03:35 --> 00:03:39
All that's left is to re-calculate the Flex simulation.

00:03:39 --> 00:03:43
Select the water surface and make sure you are at frame 0.

00:03:44 --> 00:03:50
In the Modify panel, disable both TurboSmooth and Point Cache and enable Flex.

00:03:51 --> 00:03:58
With the Flex modifier selected, click the Create Simple Soft Body button to re-run the Flex simulation.

00:03:59 --> 00:04:03
Now enable the Point Cache modifier one more time.

00:04:03 --> 00:04:10
Here be careful not to record the simulation just yet, otherwise, you'll be overwriting the ripples effects on disk.

00:04:11 --> 00:04:18
Instead, click the New button and create a new Point Cache file called myWakes.xml

00:04:22 --> 00:04:26
Now you can go ahead and record it without affecting the old simulation.

00:04:30 --> 00:04:40
When the calculation is done, disable the Flex modifier below, enable the TurboSmooth modifier and scrub to see the results.

00:04:51 --> 00:05:01
It's always a good idea to reset the strength to 1 to begin with. In this case, it works fine as the wake effect doesn't seem to require any boost.

00:05:05 --> 00:05:12
From that point forward, you can go ahead and render the scene to disk or view the animation that's been provided to you.

00:05:13 --> 00:05:18
In this tutorial, you learned how the trailer used extensively on this channel was made.

00:05:18 --> 00:05:24
You learned to use the Flex modifier in conjunction with the Point Cache modifier to create animated ripple effects.

00:05:25 --> 00:05:29
You also learned to animate and synchronize an arrow head to deform along a path.

00:05:29 --> 00:05:35
Finally, you learned how to embellish the scene with the use of proper materials and lighting.

00:05:35 --> 00:05:42
Although the scene you worked on is not exactly the one used in the trailer, you learned all the concepts that were used in that project.

00:05:42 --> 00:05:51
As a final note, you learned how to move from a ripple effect to a wake effect with very little effort, simply by re-calculating the simulation.

00:05:51 --> 00:05:59
Hoping this was to your liking, especially those of you who requested this "making-of" tutorial, we hope to be with you again very soon.
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  • 3ds Max
  • Animation
  • Dynamics
  • 2014
  • Simulation and Effects
  • Workflow
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