Create a splash effect in RealFlow

In this article, I’m going to demonstrate how to build an ocean scene; one where the sea has been struck by something large, like a meteor or a comet in an action-packed 3d movie (opens in new tab).

To make the tutorial easier to follow I’ve used simple geometry, but the same process would work for more complex objects – the only difference would be the number of daemons and the time taken to simulate.

Here we will work with RealFlow’s versatile Crown Daemon, which enables you to create, customise, and fine-tune your crown splashes.

01. Set up your file

If you don't save regularly, you'll regret it

If you don't save regularly, you'll regret it
(opens in new tab)

Everybody has their own way of storing files, but saving regularly and taking control of your files is vital. You can let RealFlow specify paths for your project, but I suggest choosing a location yourself. I use a second drive, which I back up regularly. Double check that Export Central also points to the same place.

02. Create a plan of attack

Split your design concept into layers

Split your design concept into layers
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Before you start, work out what your pipeline will be; this will save you time later on. For this project I’m going to work in layers. The ocean will be one layer, along with the meteor hitting the surface. There will a large amount of spray, which will form another layer, and the crown splash will be the third layer. This means I’ll import three animated meshes into Cinema 4D later on in order to work on materials and lighting.

03. Add the sea

Set up a square splash

Set up a square splash
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From this point, we will mostly deal with the big splash section, and to do this we will add a square Standard Particle emitter. I make mine 5x5 and, rather than emitting particles that will need controlling, I use Volume. 

You can simply set a Volume in the Emitter tab. The figure you set is the depth of the fluid and for this example a low value is fine; I used 0.3.

04. Create some natural variation

Add a Gravity Daemon to help the water act more realistically

Add a Gravity Daemon to help the water act more realistically
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Before we start on the more sculptural crown splash, the water needs to look realistic. For this, I first add a Gravity Daemon with the default settings, then a Noise Daemon, which will add a little natural chaos to the water, providing some organic-looking variation. 

To stop the water falling, add an open-topped cube and resize it to contain the fluid particles.

05. Include a reference object

Spray and swell are taken care of automatically

Spray and swell are taken care of automatically
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The spray and swell will all be taken care of in a separate pass and simulation, but it’s still useful to reference impact. You can either use the base model from your main 3D app or a piece of simple geometry. It won’t be part of the simulation, so all you need to do is place it in the centre of your emitter and lower it.

06. Add a Crown Daemon

It's a good idea to preview the simulation when you're halfway through

It's a good idea to preview the simulation when you're halfway through
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Next, add a Crown Daemon and make sure the bottom of it intersects with the water, preferably sitting quite low down. This enables it to suck the particles into shape more easily. 

At this point, hit 'Simulate' to see the effect you've created (select the Emitter to better see what’s happening). You’ll probably find it’s neither realistic nor attractive, and it probably looks like small-scale viscous fluid, so there’s still a lot to do.

07. Work on splash volume

Give the water some depth and consistency

Give the water some depth and consistency
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The next thing to do is to get the volume of the water looking better, instead of using the default paper-thin sheet of particles wrapping round the crown. This is typically scene-scale dependent, but for my example of a 5x1x5 sized Emitter, a crown width (in the Daemon tab of the node) of 0.2 is about right, although I may increase this when I up the particle resolution.

Next page: read on for steps 8 to 14...

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Rob Redman is the editor of 3D World and ImagineFX magazines and has a background in animation, visual effects, and photography. As a 3D artist he created the mothership in the Webby winning Plot Device and was animator on the follow-up; Order up. He has created training for Cinema 4D and Blackmagic Design Fusion artists. He's been a published product and food photographer since the age of 15. As well as being a multi-instrumentalist, Rob is also an avid beard grower.