Text Particle Diffusion Effect in Blender

Intro

In this tutorial, you will learn how to create a particle diffusion effect for text, as shown below, in Blender. In order to complete this tutorial, you should have the latest version of Blender (version 2.78c is featured in this tutorial), and having a fast processor or GPU is recommended, since it lessens rendering time and the former is necessary for previewing the motion of hundreds of thousands of particles at a fair frame rate.

Intended Audience

This tutorial is suitable for beginner Blender users; it is fairly easy to follow and complete, and assumes the reader has little prior knowledge of the program.

Possible Uses

The project could be exported as frames and used simply as a title in a movie, the other possible uses are endless.

Overview

This tutorial goes into great detail explaining how to recreate this effect in Blender, broken down into major sections. At the beginning, the tutorial begins with creating and customizing the text object to your liking, in terms of choosing a preferred font, before proceeding to convert the newly created text object into a mesh object, which will be used as a particle source.

Next, you will disable gravity, add a particle system and add a physical force to the scene which will allow the particles to diffuse. Lastly, the next step will involve creating a volumetric shader container mesh and create a material, and use a ‘Point Density’ node to allow shading of the particles.

Please make sure to save your Blender project frequently while completing this tutorial, just in case a crash occurs, which may occur when rendering, after changes to the volumetric shader material.

Initial Setup

In a new scene, switch from ‘Blender Render’ to ‘Cycles Render’, press ‘a’ to select, press delete then begin the tutorial.

1. Creating the Text Object

First, you will need a source for the particles to emit from.

  1. Press Shift+A, and select Text, and you should now see a new object in your scene.
  2. Before editing the text, switch to a top-down orthographic view by pressing 5 and 7 on the Number pad respectively.
  3. Edit the text of the new object by pressing Tab, then press again to exit edit mode.
  4. Next, as an optional step, we will assign a different typeface to our text to improve it’s appearance. To do so, click the folder icon under the ‘Font’ section for regular style in the properties panel, to display a file browser.
    Browse, select a truetype font and then click ‘Open Font’.

Once you are satisfied with the appearance of the text object, you can begin to make the text object into a particle source. The text will have to be converted to mesh and this is done by pressing Alt+C, and selecting ‘Mesh from Curve’.

  • You can also modify the character spacing under the ‘Paragraph’ category if needed.

2. Configuring the Particle Source

Let’s rename the newly converted mesh object into something meaningful, such as ‘CoolTitle’ by selecting the `Object` tab in the properties panel:

Before adding the particle system, let’s disable gravity by going into the scene properties tab, and unticking the ‘Gravity’ option:

Then, create a new emitting particle system for the object by clicking the particle tab, and selecting the plus icon. Use the following settings for the particle system:

Emission

Number 100000
Start 1.0
End 1.0


Velocity (Emitter Geometry)

Normal 0.0

3. Adding a Physical Influence to the Particle System

  1. Add a new plane object to the scene.
  2. Rotate the plane 90 degrees on the Y-axis, by pressing ‘r’, ‘y’, typing ‘90’, and hitting enter.
  3. Reposition the plane to be slightly left of the text by pressing ‘g’, ‘x’, typing ‘-2’.
  • Under the physics tab, enable the force field, and set the type to ‘Turbulence’ as shown below:

Note that the strength field is highlighted green: this is because this value is animated, and appears yellow when it has a keyframe assigned to it. This value will be animated because if the full force strength is active at the first frame, the text particles will immediately start diffusing.

  • To animate the value, move to one of the first few frames on the timeline, then with the strength field set to zero, press ‘i’ whilst the mouse is hovering over the input field. This will add a keyframe.
  • Then, navigate to frame 43 and set the strength value to ‘20’, then press ‘i’ again.

4. Making Objects Transparent

Since only the particles are to be rendered, the text and the plane object will have to be assigned a transparent material. This can be done by clicking the plane and adding a new material. In the new material, rename it to ‘Transparent’ and then clicking the color value box, set the alpha value to ‘0.0’ and the value to ‘1.0’:

Assign the ‘Transparent’ material to the text object as well.

5. Particle Shading

The next step is to create a cube, and to assign a material to the cube that will affect it's volumetric shading.

  1. First, create a cube, rename it to something meaningful like ‘Volumetric Container’
  2. Resize the cube by hitting ‘s’, and pressing 4.
  3. Apply the cube’s scale with Ctrl+A, and selecting ‘Scale’.

Then, switch to the node editor in the bottom pane:

The next step will involve inserting nodes for the material, which like the 3D View is done with Shift+A. Add an emission shader, and a point density texture node. Insert and connect the other nodes like the following:

In the next step you will test to see if the volumetric particle shading looks preferable, and if not, change the settings of the nodes and you have achieved a desired ‘look’.

5. Test Rendering

Before rendering the scene, you should change a few settings to make the rendering process quicker, the following settings:

  1. Make sure you have added a camera to your scene.
  2. In the Properties panel, under ‘Sampling’, change the tracing type to ‘Branched Path Tracing’.
  3. Under ‘Light Paths’ select the ‘Direct Light’ preset in the ‘Integrator Presets’ drop down box (multiple light bounce calculations slow down the rendering process).

Also, halving the resolution of the render dimensions can also decrease rendering time. Hit ‘F12’ to render the current frame, and if you are satisfied with the result you can render all of the frames and export them to a video or image sequence, as explained in the next section. Here's a rendering I made from the blend file used to test this tutorial.

No post processing blurring filters were used, the smoothness is due to the particle cloud's depth of field:

6. Exporting Rendered Frames

In this tutorial, the rendered frames will be exported into a video, and to do that, you will have to choose a file path in the ‘Output’ group to save the video to. After setting an output filename, you will need to change the encoding options in the 'Encoding' panel.

The ‘Encoding’ panel provides various settings associated with the selected output format, such as the codec, color depth and compression percentage. For this tutorial I would recommend the following output and encoding settings:

Output

Format H.264

Encoding

Format MPEG-4
Audio Codec None


When finished hit Ctrl+F12 to render the animation.