March 21, 2011, 7:30 a.m.
posted by nuclear
A particle, in 3ds max terms, is simply a point in space; a particle is not, by itself, a 3D object. Although particles respond to their own creation controls — and can take on the appearance of 3D objects — a particle still has no actual dimensions. (Is that weird, or what?) Particles mainly identify on-screen places to apply specific animation settings — and places to apply the content of the Materials mapped to them.
As you use Materials on particles, the most important mapping option is the content of the Opacity Map. For that reason, it’s a good idea to create a series of Opacity Maps in a 2D image-editing application like Adobe Photoshop. Opacity Maps play a strong role in defining the overall shape of a Particle, as well as the Particle’s capability of showing soft edges.