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Explosions: Blowing up your digital toys in Carrara

Author: WarMachineX0

Tools Needed

  • Carrara 3D Express
  • Carrara 6
  • Carrara 6 Pro

Introduction

This tutorial will explain how to use the advanced “modifier” tool in Carrara on your models to add an explosion special effect to your renders. The modifier tool in Carrara is very powerful, and can do many amazing things. We will be using the “explode” option for this tutorial. A basic knowledge of Carrara’s user interface is required. Do note, this increases the model’s resource needs, this is not intended for models that require extreme amounts of resources.

Step 1 - Setting up the scene

First you want to set your scene up. Place your models and then pose them. Set up any background or scene setting. For this tutorial, I am using Daz3D’s StarFire because of its minimal resource needs. For the Back ground/scene I am using one of Carrara’s space scenes from the Scenes>Space tab. For this tutorial, I am using Daz3D’s StarFire because of its minimal resource needs. For the Back ground/scene I am using one of Carrara’s space scenes from the Scenes>Space tab.

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At this point you will want to save, especially if you went to a lot of work to set up your scene or if you are using a resource intensive model. After saving you may wish to go to “Flat” or “Wire” posing window viewing mode to reserve extra resources. I will be using “Gouraud” mode for better viewing of this tutorial.

Step 2 - Adding your modifier

Now, in your “Instance” tab, expand the tree for the item your planning to blow up. Select the branch named the “model”.

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Now, in your properties window select the tab called “Modifier”. You one have two options, “+” and “-“. The “+” will add a modifier to your model, and if you highlight a modifier and select the “-“, it will remove the modifier. Select the “+”, go down to “Explode” and select it.

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At this point, any transparency becomes a solid color, don’t worry, this won’t affect the final render. Your model has been loaded now with the “Explode” modifier. You will now see many sliders and three check boxes.

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Step 3 - Explaining the modifier

Now, I will explain the sliders and check boxes. Please refer to the last image for reference if needed. You will notice that some sliders have dual sliders; this is a min/max (minimal to maximum) setting. You will want to set the lower slider to the lowest setting you will accept, and the upper slider to the highest you will accept.

Completion: This it done in %, and indicates how far into the explosion you would like the model to go. High % does not work well with the box “Pieces Stop at Bottom” checked, as it will flatten the model’s pieces on the ground plane.

Size of Pieces: This is a dual slider, and the setting determines how small to how big of pieces you want Carrara to rip the model into.

Speed: This is a dual slider, and the setting determines random speeds of the pieces of the model. Adjusting this setting gives the explosion a random and more realistic appearance.

Gravity: This setting determines the ambient gravity. The higher the gravity, the further into competition the model’s pieces fall downward.

Slow Down at End: This setting figures in air friction of moving pieces. Used more in the process of animation, it will add a random appearance and realism to the explosion if you use a high competition %.

Rotational Speed: This is a dual slider, and functions just like Speed; with the exception it calculates the rotation of the pieces.

Large Pieces Move Slower: This will place the larger pieces closer to your lower setting on your speed slider.

Pieces Stop At Bottom: This will only allow your pieces for fall to the level of the ground plane, and no further. If you attempt to push the pieces further with this selected, they will start to flatten on the ground plane.

Explode From Top: This setting starts the explosion from the top, instead of all over.

Step 4 - Setting up your modifier

I will be setting this up for a space scene, but you will need to do a little planning and imagine a little on how you would like to have your explosion. Think of the size of the pieces, and determine your scene. Is it a space ship exploding, a car blowing up, or even possibly a building being demolished?

Go though and set all of your sliders with out setting the Completion slider, we will be saving this one for last as after you move it, it may take a few seconds for the image to change. Now, move the Completion slider to 1%, and see if it works out for your scene. Now from this point, it’s faster to just jump to the other settings, and adjust as needed until you have what you want, but you will need to move the completion slider to see the majority of the changes (Move to 0% and back if you currently like your Completion setting).

This is the setting for my scene, and what my model looks like at these settings.

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Step 5 - Adding fire

Time to add fire to your explosion. On the top menu bar on Carrara select “Insert” and click on “Fire”. This will drop a wire box in the center of your scene. Select that box either from the preview window, or from your instances tab. Now go to your properties window and select “General”, you will have many options for sliders, colors and other things. Most of these will have to be tested out to find what works with your scene, but the one feature that will need to be specifically set for an explosion is the “Container” options. Set this to “Sphere”. Now with your universal manipulator tool, scale and move the box until it wraps around the majority of your model parts. At this point you may have to do test renders at low settings to ensure proper placement and settings. Make sure under in your properties window, you have “Casts Shadows” and “Receives Shadows turned off for the Fire, as it is needed for proper lighting.

Here is my scene with the Fire selected and wrapped around the StarFire, and my test render. (This is at default Fire setting with container set at Sphere)

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Step 6 - Simple Lighting

Now to set up simple lighting for your explosion. First you are going to want to place a bulb in your scene, go to the menu bar at the top, and select “Insert” and then “Bulb”. You will want to set the color to an orange to yellowish color, and the intensity to 100 to 350 (This is determined by your scene, sometimes by setting the distance to 10ft will aid in stopping to cast too much light). Go back to the menu bar, and with the bulb selected, Edit, and then Copy your bulb. You will want to place four to six of these bulbs around the explosion; you can just Paste the bulbs into the scene and place them. Make sure they are spaced around the explosion evenly and close enough to cast light on the inside surfaces of the model’s parts.

Here is the preview and a test render of the image.

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Step 7 - Finale

Now you are set, finish up with any other special effects, and adjust any lighting needed to be fixed. Finally, fire up your final render.

Here is the tutorial final render.

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For more special effects, namely the jets and laser in my final image, look over my other tutorial “Jets and Muzzle Flashes: Playing with Fire in Carrara 6” under the Carrara tutorials.

A few things to remember:

Save often, you don’t want to have to start over again.

Close background programs if this becomes to resource intensive. Changing your veiw mode will aid in this. Avoid veiwing in “Textured” mode in large scenes.

Try other Modifiers, that is a really powerful tool.