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"Color over Life" in Trapcode Particular

Using the gradients in Trapcode Plugins for After Effects By Miwa Hirano
When animators, compositors or visual effects artists are using After Effects, some plugins will help modify things with values other than just numbers. Sometimes, you can use colors to change the way a plugin behaves.  When you use Trapcode Particular, one of the values that you can use to modify the individual particles is called "Color Over Life" and it allows you to change the way the particles are colored after they are spawned from the emitter.

1. First, make a new composition (CMD-N). In this example, I used 500 x 500, 29.97sfp, 300 frames.
[image 1]

2. Make a New Solid (CMD-Y) and make it a comp size.

3. With the solid selected, go to Effect --> Trapcode --> Particular.

4. Twirl down the Particle section and you'll see "Color over Life". By default, it is grayed out and you need to select "Over Life" from the "Set Color" pulldown menu.

5. The default is a rainbow color. The colors are going to change from red to yellow to green to light blue to dark blue over the life of the particle, BIRTH to DEATH. Particle's life is set at 3.0 by default (you can change it under "Life [sec]), so that means at 0 second (BIRTH) it is red and at 3 seconds (DEATH) it is blue.

6. There are 6 pre-sets on the right. Select the second one from the top (white to black) and the particles would change from white to black in 3 seconds in this example.

7. Select the third pre-set from the top which changes from white to light blue to dark blue. You can change the colors using the color squares on the bottom. Double click on the white square and that would bring up a color palette. Pick a green color and click OK. Now the birth color is green.

8. You can drag the square colors along the life of the particle. For example, if you wanted the green in the middle, drag it to the right. To get rid of the color, just drag it down and it will disappear.

9. "Transfer Mode" in "Color over Life" is for each particles. Change the size of the particle from 5 (default) to 20 and change the "Transfer Mode" to "Add." Wherever the particles overlap, it shows the effect of "Transfer Mode."

With all of the millions of colors available, you can design virtually endless variations of particle systems very easily.  All you have to do is change the gradients to come up with new and interesting animations.

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Miwa Hirano is a motion graphic designer in Los Angeles area. She has a fine art background and studied graphic design at CalArts and Santa Monica College. She has over several years of experience in print graphic design. As a motion graphic designer, she worked at Form in W. Hollywood. There, she worked on projects for Motorola and NXcare which featured Carmen Elektra. Currently she is a member of Pixel Corps and working on projects with other artisans on the particle team. She is also a member of MGLA. Through her various experiences, she has knowledge of printing process, QuarkXpress, Illustrator, Photoshop and After Effects.
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