I am going to share some of my experience with particle template and that’ll result in a long post. So brace yourself
Well… I was trying to achieve a simple task - make a firework with Synfig. Let’s see what we need to get this task done:
- We have to draw some firework rockets. More is better, because what a firework with only one rocket? It’s a lame firework.
- The rockets should throw away some neat particles while they fly. It’s not necessary , but it will make firework look better.
- After the rocket blew itself up the flash of light should follow.
- And lastly, after flash we see cool particles falling down.
Synfig has an awesome particle template (thanks, Genete!) that we could use for that, but unfortunately it has some limits:
- You can’t copy it to your existing project, because the template is complex.
- You can’t move the particle layer in other groups.
- You can’t make more than one particle layer so it’s not possible to have, let’s say, star field and falling snow in the same scene.
After some digging in the internals of sif format (XML) I discovered that it is possible (and quite simple) to export a particle layer to other animations. So I wrote a script that can do the job. Sadly, I am not a coder so script itself is an awful mess of Perl+bat, but it works… sort of. With this script you can export as many particle layers as you want to your existent animation. If you want to try it, here is some explanation of how to use it:
- Download ‘SPE.exe’ (SynfigParticleExporter ) script from this link: onedrive.live.com/redir?resid=D … file%2cexe
- Run it, you will see a scary console script. First, type a path to your animation. It should be a sif or sifz file. The new sfg format is not supported yet. When ready, press Enter to accept your input.
- Now it asks you how many particle layers you want to create. Enter a number here, like 2.
- Now you have to enter ‘Where-to-Place’ groups. My English is not good so I couldn’t figure out how to correctly call it… Anyway, this parameter specifies what group a particle layer should belong to. So if you have the following groups in your animation:
- Root canvas
|— + Rocket1
|------ + Flash
|— + BKG
Then specifying ‘Where-to-Place’ groups as Rocket1,BKG will place the first particle layer in group Rocket1, the second particle layer in group BKG and the third one will be placed in a root canvas above Rocket1 group. This parameter is case-sensitive. Rocket1 is not equal to ROCKET1.
- On the next screen script will ask you for confirmation, press Y if everything is all right.
- Then you will see some messages (example in the attachment).
Check there’re no errors or some strange output and press Y to open the new generated file in Synfig. If file opened successfully and you’re satisfied with the result - save the animation to your working folder, because now it’s in the script folder, named Result.sif.
If file opened successfully, you will see the new layers named like this: Particles, 1-Particles, 2-Particles, etc. Description of their values you can find here: wiki.synfig.org/wiki/Particles_V2.0
Some drawbacks of this script:
- All particle layers have the same random GUID, so their randomness is the same between particle layers. I guess I can fix it easily.
- Script is not user-friendly. It doesn’t have a GUI.
- I am afraid that script can mess up the XML structure of a resulted sif file (not your original one) sometimes during to my bad programming skills.
The script was tested on Windows 7 and 8.1. In theory, it should also work on Windows XP.
With a good particle system you can implement a great amount of cool effects. Some obvious are: snow, rain, fountain water drops, fireworks, other explosion effects, magic effects. Some more complex: star field, dust, clouds, grass. And I personally think Synfig should have a good build in particle layer that you could add through the usual menu without a help of some scripts.
Off-topic: When I was working on the animation itself, I tried to use “Motion blur” layer to make effects a bit smoother, but I didn’t find any documentation on the subject. So it was me and those scary parameters as ‘Aperture’ and ‘Subsamples Factor’ that I don’t clearly understand because I am an amateur artist and it’s really hard for me when there’s no good text+screenshots+source articles. So again, I would like to address the lack of documentation here…
UPDATE 21.09.2015: New version of particle exporter, see this post for details: viewtopic.php?f=8&t=9076&p=29841#p29841