pflow coloring

Particle colors | part 1

Let’s take a look at some simple pflow coloring methods.

Here is a standard pflow scene. After birth, wind force will drive particles around and Lock/Bond will let them slide on the sphere surface.


Particle age map added to diffuse and opacity channel. There is a nice shift between colors.

Important: for Particle Age to work, particles must have correct life span, best method is to add Delete operator in the same event as Material Dynamic


Similar technique as previous, but colors are made from gradient with mapped particle age map as a source.


This time let’s assign multi/sub materials to particles. It can be done with material static, material dynamic, of material frequency operators. In our situation, we don’t need to make every single particle different, only different trails, so let assign material to root particles.


Simple, planar mapping. Try with default noise map or more advanced gradient ramp with noise amount.


Falloff map has an ability to blend colors (or maps) depends on distance to any object.

There is also an ability to map the entire particle system as any other 3dsmax object. Check out Mapping Object operator.

In next part, I will show some #box3 as well as Krakatoa coloring techniques. Stay tuned…

  1. Thanks for sharing! I have a question though. For multisub material setup, how do you select the root particle for assigning the color? Thanks for your generous help.

    1. Hi, you don’t need to select anything, just add material operator to event01. Check out screenshot in this post.

  2. Interesting, I just put the material dynamic operator in the global node, and it worked just the same. Thanks for the reply.

  3. this download max 2012 scene cannot releaseit’s need a code……can you tell me the code?

  4. Great tips, really useful, thank you so much for sharing the files.

    I hope you’ll do more of these in the future.

  5. Thank you sooo much!!! <3 U ! Looking forward to watching your next awesome tutorial!

  6. thank you very much, im very beginner for pflow, yet this tutorial helps me a lot to explore advance features.
    – i have a doubt, if you don’t mind.
    Fallof map have ability to blend colors dependly on distance to any object; i try move the teapot farther and nearer, but i didn’t get what it usage,.

    im sorry if its silly question 🙁

  7. Thanks for the tutorial! I always found particles fascinating, but I don’t yet know them well as I’m a 3D modeler, not a vfx artist, so the file provided was a great learning aid when I analysed it bit by bit.
    great looking website too, by the way!

    Linkėjimai iš UK 🙂

    1. Hello Rimas,
      glad you liked and welcome to the VFX world. I hope you will find more useful info to help on your path.
      Thank you! Linkėjimai iš Tėvynės 🙂

  8. Hi Deko,

    First of all thanks so much for the tut and the max files, My question is on the particle side say if I have a more complex
    object than a sphere how do I make the particles stretch across the object and the spawn last longer.


    1. Hi James,
      of course you can choose different shape. Just pick your object in Position Object and Lock/Bond operators. And to make particles living longer, look at Delete operator.

  9. Hello, great tutorial, i’m a bit new to pflow. I’m working on a scene using two different objects sources emitting smoke of different colours. I however can’t figure out how to tell pflow to use the colour of the smoke for the particles. Can u help?

  10. Hi, stubled across your website looking for a way for stoke to inherit fumefx color channel. If you know how please do tell. Stoke has a field loader utility that will load the fumefx color cache but using that data seems impossible with stoke. Btw you make a beautiful website.

    1. Hi JDB,
      thank you, website needs some reworking, hopefully, will be better.
      Default Stoke object can inherit fumefx color data pretty easily. But you need have fumefx grid as distribution source. Not sure about Field Loader stuff, will check it.
      Keep ind mind, I have prepared one post about getting fumefx color data, I will investigate more Stoke options and include that information as well. Keep checking, I will anounce any news on Facebook:
      Thanks for reading!

      1. Please do post a simple solution to inherit fumefx color. I found some time and tried the grid with no success which I find weird. I can use krakatoa magma to color the same but magma really falls apart on some of the more simple things. I guess I could use pflow and map the color then use stoke to spawn off the intial birth with the fumefx as velocity in the stoke sim.

  11. Hi,
    Did not know that glow can work with particles ?! I thought that you need lights to pick in order to apply glow effect…
    Man , you should make some dvds on particles mechanics and stuff.

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