Are you a Cinema 4D user but feeling like you can’t get the cool particle effects, smoke effects, and liquid simulations you’re seeing on everyone’s reels these days? Do you want to make branching growth simulations or have tons of particles interacting with each other? X-Particles does all of that and more. It turns cinema 4D into an FX-generating machine.
Maxon’s Cinema 4D has been my go-to software package for 3D modeling and animation for more than 15 years now. I teach Cinema 4D in my 3D motion design courses at the University, and I love it! I also use Cinema 4D to create most of my artwork. [link to portfolio page]
One thing I always thought was missing, though, is a really robust particle simulation tool. The built-in particle simulation tools are cool, and they gett better every year, but they still leave a lot to be desired. Insydium Ltd’s X-Particles system solves that. It’s a perfect companion to Cinema 4D that allows you to create amazing effects and incredibly sophisticated particle simulations right inside Cinema 4D.
What makes X-Particles so great?
X-Particles is part of Insydium’s Fused package and, in my opinion, its the best part. It really is like adding an entirely new software package to your workflow for VFX. The cool part is, you can use it all right inside C4D – no exporting, importing, converting, linking, or anything like that.
X-Particles lets you display thousands (even hundreds of thousands) of particles – way more than Cinema 4D could ever handle on it’s own – and you can tell them exactly what you want them to do and how you want them to behave. There is a bit of a learning curve, but once you get comfortable, you’ll be thrilled about how easy it is to add cool FX to your projects.
In Case you’re curious about the other things Insydium’s Fused package comes with, here’s the full list:
- X-Particles: a fully-featured advanced particle and VFX system
- Nexus: a GPU particle and simulation system that integrates perfectly with X-Particles
- Taiao: a procedural plant animation system used to generate trees, flowers, grasses and custom objects
- Terraform FX: a powerful, art-directable terrain generator used to build highly-customizable landscapes
- MeshTools: a suite of powerful procedural modeling and animation tools to affect scene geometry and generate splines
- Cycles 4D: a dedicated bridge plugin allowing Cinema 4D users to access the Cycles rendering engine directly inside Cinema 4D
- Presents and Materials Packs: Collections of plant presets, and materials collections to use with the Fused components
Here are 9 great reasons to add X-Particles to your C4D workflow right now.
I wanted to show some examples of the cool things that X-Particles can do and these are the main reasons I use it in my own work. For me, I am always interested in ways I can simulate natural growth patterns and X-Particles lets me do that perfectly.
This is hands-down the tool I use the most in my work. The XpBranch modifier allows you to control particle branching so you can create incredible organic growth. You can add multiple levels of branching to make an infinite variety of organic objects that feel made-by-nature.
Combine the XpBranch modifier with things like XpTrails (creates a spline of the particle trails), and the XpSplineMesh (creates a mesh around splines) and you can generate some pretty amazing effects quickly.
In my own work, I spend a lot of time trying to replicate growth patterns from tiny organisms – things you might see through a microscope or macro lens. Here are a few examples of the way I’ve used the branching feature in my own work:
2. XpCellAuto and XpScale
What the heck is that? XpCellAuto is a feature that uses a few different algorithms to generate organic shapes. My favorite is the Limited Diffusion Aggregation option, which is the default. It allows you to create coral-like structures quickly and easily from one particle emitter. Just change some of the settings and you can generate unique randomized coral-like shapes in no-time.
Combine the XpCellAuto feature with XpScale and you can get scale changes over time so the tips of your coral growth can be smaller than the body/starting point.
I used the XpCellAuto Generator in my Colorado Coral videos.
3. Intersections and Push Apart
When you start combining particle emission with motion modifiers like turbulence or even the XpBranch object, you get a lot of overlapping that happens. The relatively new intersection detection feature fixes all of that. You can generate detailed multiple-level branching systems now and they won’t overlap.
With the Push Apart feature, you can now simulate dynamic packing by defining how far each particle should remain from it’s neighbors. You can do it based on a fixed number or even use the particle size. That means you can do things like fill a volume with particles using less intensive calculations so it will go much faster for you.
4. Amazing Dynamic Fluid simulations
The X-Particles fluid dynamics system is robust and incredible. With Insydium’s continual improvements, it gets better and faster every year. Generate water flow in or around objects. Create splash effects. Generate ocean surfaces and waves with spray and seafoam. Simulate surface tension and viscosity to create thicker, stickier fluids. Even make snow!
It used to take a standalone product like RealFlow to generate similar effects, and now, with X-Particles fluid dynamics simulations, you can do it right inside Cinema 4D.
5. Incredible Smoke and Fire!
With xpExplosiaFX in X-Particles, you can create truly realistic smoke and fire FX just like you see in the movies – right inside your C4D scene file. The xpExlosia system adds realistic fire and flame and if you use the Cycles 4D render engine that comes with the Fused collection, your renders will look incredible. It also works with Octane and Redshift.
ClothFX lets you populate particles along the vertices of your plygonal objects and turn them into beautiful cloth objects. Its easy to use and interactions like collisions with other objects can be added as well.
I used the ClothFX system to generate the flowing plastic bags in my Blue Sea New Sea animation.
7. Particle-Based Dynamics System
The updated dynamics system in X-Particles integrates seamlessly with the built-in Bullet dynamics in Cinema 4D. Now you can create stunningly detailed dynamics effects faster than ever – and because it is part of X-Particles, you can easily interact with particles at the same time.
With xpBullet you can:
- Generate constraints that keep particles close together, or allow tearing to happen.
- Create flocking actions like fish in the sea or birds in the sky
- Make flow fields around and through objects
- Shatter objects like glass
8. Lots of Rendering Options
When it comes to Rendering out the splines, particles, fluid systems, smoke, and fire you make with X-Particles, you have a lot of options for rendering.
X-Particles works with the built-in Standard and Physical Renderer out of the box.
Cycles 4D (part of the Fused Collection) is designed specifically to integrate with X-Particles and lets you easily take advantage of luminosity shader settings, shallow depth of field, and particle data to generate color, speed, sized, and many other settings. Its fast and built on the Cycles Render Engine used in Blender.
X-Particles also works well with Arnold, and the Octane and Redshift GPU-based render engines so you can take advantage of the latest technology for super-fast renders.
9. So Many Tutorials and Trainings
Insidyum does a terrific job of providing tutorials and training videos so you can learn all you need to get the look you’re going for. Every time I’ve wanted to do something, I’ve been able to find a video that at least got me part of the way there. The team at Insydium is continually releasing updates to the software and new videos to help get you up to speed with the changes.
Oh – and the customer support team is amazing. I love them!
X-Particles is a beautiful system that provides a juicy VFX boost to your Cinema 4D workflow. If you’ve ever felt hindered because you couldn’t make jus the effect you wanted in C4D, you should really consider trying X-Particles. It will add such a robust collection of tools that you’ll wonder how you got along without it.
Since I added X-Particles to my collection, I’ve used it in some way with almost every project I’ve made.
A couple of things to consider before you jump into X-Particles
This is probably not a surprise, but one of the main things to consider when you’re doing any 3D work, is that you’ll need a powerful computer to take advantage of all the tools and techniques. Whether its a tricked out laptop, or a super-charged desktop machine, just be aware that you’ll need some power.
Another thing to be aware of is render time. Although X-Particles is streamlined well for rendering already, adding more geometry and objects to your scene will likely increase your time for rendering things out. Of course, it will be worth it because you’ll be thrilled with the results you get.
What does X-Particles Cost?
Great question! X-Particles is now only available as part of the Fused Collection. There are quite a few different purchasing options available on Insydium’s Website. You can choose from a 3-month, 6-month, or annual subscription. You can also choose to purchase the entire package for a flat rate, and then sign up for the maintenance package, which costs considerably less each year.
In my opinion, the best price is the annual subscription – At the time of writing this post it is $526.50 per year (about $44 per month). I know that’s a lot, but man is it worth it!
Special Pricing for Students and Educators
If you happen to be a student or teacher, Insydium offers significant discounts on the Fused Collection. Check out their website for the latest pricing.
Alternatives to X-Particles
Insydium Fused isn’t free, and it certainly isn’t cheap. I wanted to offer a list of a few alternatives you can try if you can’t quite justify the expense right now:
- Thinking Particles inside Cinema 4D is a great starter. There is a steep learning curve, but if you give it the time and effort, you can produce some very nice results that go way beyond what you can get in the standard particle simulations.
- Check out Cineversity Plugins. You get Cineversity with the Maxon One subscription and there are a ton of plugins in there that can help optimize your workflow.
- For fluid dynamics, you can check out Jets – it is a low-cost plugin for C4D.
- aaOcean is an ocean generator plugin for C4D that looks pretty great and doesn’t cost a lot.
- Cinema 4D 2023 has a beautiful fire dynamics simulation now that does an incredible job. Its definitely worth spending some time with.
- The updated cloth dynamic inside Cinema 4D are incredibly good and calculate at lightning fast speeds. If you haven’t tried them out, please do. You’ll be really happy. Check out this quick demo from EJ at EyeDesyn.com
Wrapping it up
Whatever kind of work you do in Cinema 4D, I am certain that X-Particles will add a set of tools you’ll be happy with. If you’re doing anything that requires VFX simulations, it feels so great to be able to do them right in Cinema 4D and the Fused collection interface is seamlessly integrated. If you want fire, floods, explosions, sparks, tornadoes, flocks, cracks, cloth, and smoke – all from one system, then you can’t go wrong. I use it all the time to make slime molds, simulate lichen growth, and create fluid effects in my work. Sometimes I just use it to add a few water droplets to a scene. Its beautiful and I love using it every day in my studio. You will too.