How to Use Thinking Particles in Cinema 4D in 6 parts

March 11, 2011

In this series of tutorials, Chris Schmidt shows you how to set-up and use thinking particles for Cinema 4D. Thinking Particles is a powerful particle system inside of Cinema 4D. However, it seems not to be used as much as it should because it requires Xpresso. Luckily, Chris is here to demystify Thinking Particles a bit and show you how to harness it’s power.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

About Chris Schmidt
Chris Schmidt is a self taught Cinema4D user since version 6 in 2001. After teaching C4D for 4 years at Prairie State College and creating a series of tutorials for Maxon on Cineversity, he cofounded Chicago’s C4d user group ChicagoC4d (@ChicagoC4D). With a general obsession of all things C4D especially character rigging, animation, Xpresso and Thinking Particles. Most recently co developed the City Kit with The Gorilla.

Tutorial Focus:  ,
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  • The more xpresso tuts the better.. So tough to find them online. Only here and there bouncing from site to site.. Thanks!

  • Great man!! thx you a lot!

  • Better faster stronger πŸ™‚ @ the question “do you know Cinema 4D” I’ll probably say yes now


  • Hi Wath’s up … I’m trying to Applicat your Tutorials .. but i dont have “Simulation” in my barTools .. from where i will get one ??

    aahh .. im using Cinema 4D 11.5

    • Hi there,
      Cinema 4D comes with various bundles.
      Like Release, Prime, Broadcast, Visualize, Studio.

      Some of them doesnt have Particles, MoGraph, hair etc…

      Your version may not have the particles stuff. Im not sure if you can add them. But sure you could use the Studio bundle witch i think has everything.

  • Thank you very much Chris.
    This helped me a lot, ofcourse would love to see something more unique maybe. Like how those particles could have a geometry like snow or sand.

    Ofcourse you can create snow in post production like AE, but a cool sand spot where something can foot on it and make the particles thrown back and stuff like that would be great.

    We all know that c4d is not good particle flow stuff, but you can reach a nice result.

    • :)… We all know this, do we? My. I guess that would be why they stuck PyroCluster and PyroCluster – Volume Tracer in with the shaders, basically so you have no way of doing stuff like that in C4D.

  • hey, i think if you click PDeflector-parameter,and there is an option “offset type” if u change it to User Defined Travel -> there will be no escaping particles.

  • so awesome. i have watched this 2 times… i’m a little slow. πŸ™‚ quick question: after the cubes are being emitted… how would you add random rotation to the particles (cubes) as they flow out?

  • How can you rednder the particles as sand or dust???

  • (With acceptable render times)

    • use hair render tag and hair material… renders in no time

      • juaner franzius May 23, 2011 at 9:11 pm

        hey magic, can you walk me through that, because im trying it but doesn’t work for some reason… i selected the
        ‘particle geometry” and added the hair… then i added the “particle geometry” to the pshape… and when i hit render nothing happens… am i doing it wrong or what step did i missed?

        Thank you

        • ok, the simplest set-up you could start from is:

          a particle geometry, and in the expresso editor a pstorm to generate the particles. then add the hair render tag and the hair material tag to the particle geometry and add a light. let it run for a few frames and hit render, you should be able to see the particles now.

          • juaner franzius May 30, 2011 at 9:40 am

            thanks magic it worked perfect, but now i ran into another problem… im using a camera with DOF but wherever i put the focus point of the camera, the particles show all blurred out… do you know any workarround?? i would really apretiate your help!


    • I haven’t used hair jet, could you please give me a short description?
      Thanks Max πŸ˜‰

  • This is really helpful. I was having difficulty finding a good starting point for thinking particles, but it’s something I really want to master. This gives me some traction.
    Thanks for sharing the info, and thanks to Chris for making it.

  • That’s alot to absorb.
    Thanks for the tutorial and the post.

  • Thanks a ton for doing this series. I never understood TP. I will have to use these soon.

  • Dude. Learned more from these in one day than in the past six months of futzing about. Thank you.

  • Great stuff! Nice tutorials!

  • Is there a reason why one would choose to use TP instead of Modynamics w/ Cloner?

  • hmmnn could anyone answer the question of – how I can use two different objects or materials with the same emitter?

  • GREAT TUTORIAL! I think if we could see more XPRESSO with TP tutorials it would be a great way to learn XPRESSO generaly. Hope you know what i mean. BTW we all love beautifull particles πŸ™‚

  • Hey, I have a little problem.
    There are no “Thinking Particles” and “Particles” in “Objects”. I’ve found “TP Settings” somehow, but can’t find “Particle Geometry”. Can I find it in any other way? Thx.

  • Hey Chris, thx for these tuts. CmiVFX also has a great set of tutorials on TP and there are a few others around, but almost none show you how to deal with rendering believable results. Yes there is pyrocluster, but besides puffy clouds I can’t get it to be much more. I keep hearing about using the hair material as an excellent and fast solution, but I haven’t seen anywhere how to do this. There is also Stormtracer as an option but I don’t own it and don’t know how that works (I believe small planes that are always pointed at the camera).
    Some examples that would help us actually render TP would be much much appreciated to everyone, I think…

    b a s

  • Some TP stuff I’ve been playing with since looking at the tutorials. Thanks Chris

  • Great tutorial, well explained. I’v had C4D for years and I’ve shied away from TP. Tried to use it a few times and just found it overly complex. This set of tutes really helped ground the concept. Well done.

    However, I am stuck at one point and cannot get beyond it.
    I cannot get the Particle Geometry object to parse the Sphere object into the PStorm node

    Heres a screenshot to my setup. I followed your instructions, and also the instructions in the Maxon TP Manual, but to no avail. Any thoughts why this may not be working?

  • HI there,

    wery nice tp tutorials, ilove it!
    is there a chance to see how to make a tornado that looks realistic with tp?
    i only know the tut from maxon itΒ΄s a very old one but itΒ΄s not what iΒ΄m looking for.


  • I have a problem, thinking particles does not show up under my objects drop down. Is there a way to find it? or download it?

    But very nice tutorial πŸ™‚

  • I was wondering if there is a way to make it so that the particles don’t pass through one another? I’ve created particles made out of spheres and they sort of float into one another. Can i give them some density or mass so that they will bounce off one another. I’m new to C4D so over explain please.

  • In R13 the Thinking Particles menu has been moved to Simulate > Thinking Particles

  • I’m having the craziest problem. I can’t add keyframes to any of the pStorm parameters. For example, I want to have frame one with “shot” value 4, then frame 10 with “shot” value 10, when I change the value to 10, it just automatically switches back to 4.

    I tried going into the timeline and doing the adjustments in the curves, and i was able to do it, however this seemed to break the entire particle system and it would no longer render until i deleted the animation tracks. Any ideas??? Can you not key-frame parameters within xpresso like you normally can?

  • Great Tutorilals ! I am trying to make a fluid simulation with TP and metaball, but the geometry is moving throug the pipe i have made. Can you help me to fix this problem ? Thanks !

  • Hi!
    This might be a noob question, but how do I assign materials to thinking particles generated with Espresso? For example fire or smoke?

  • Where can I find particle geometry at version R13?

    help me

  • Hi, your tutorials have been awesome! I’ve missed something I think… I don’t have the simulation button on the top bar. Is this because of the updates, do I need to puzzle around in the settings? please help me?
    Thanks in advance,

    Fridgely (not my real name :P)

  • Just wanted to say that I love your enthusiastic way of explaining this stuff.
    you are doing it very well and clear and not intimidating…
    Well done Chris!
    Keep ’em coming ( :

  • once again, big ups for your work. It is appreciated. I just have a couple of noob questions. if somebody could post a link to where I should look for the answers that would be great.
    1- the geometry of the particles themselves intersects. i think I fixed it just now by adding another Pdeflector node that putting the particle’s referenced geometry shape inside of that. is that the correct way to do it?
    2- how do i put multiple kinds of geometry emitting out of the same TPemitter?

    Yes there are such things as stupid questions, and i apologize in advance if the above questions qualify as such.

  • can u tell me ??
    where can i get Thinking Particle for c4d ?

  • Part 4, 10:30
    How can I make the position of the Wind null object affect the actual wind position?

    Part 5: 5:09
    TP Storm “Size” setting is not a percentage.. It is divided by the bounding radius set in PShape.. In your case it’s 100, so 100/100 = Scale factor of 1… Incidentally.

  • Hey I cant find parts 1, 2 and 3 for this.. the link is dead..

  • This series seems to be broken… at least for me. All I get is blanks πŸ™

    Please, please fix it (if the problem is at your side) because your tutorials are absolutely great!

  • Nice intro to Thinking Particles. Would I need X-Particles plugin? Does it do more than Thinking particles? Im using R17

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