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I would like to modify the mesh from a particle system during animation. Without some way to join all of the particle object meshes together, modifiers like smooth do not work as needed.

What is the simplest way to create a single mesh from a particle system at each frame in an animation so that other modifiers can be applied like Smoothing?

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  • $\begingroup$ Have a look at CubeSurfer addon. $\endgroup$ – Jaroslav Jerryno Novotny Nov 3 '15 at 14:51
  • $\begingroup$ In many cases, the CubeSurfer addon will produce non-manifold geometry. See blender.stackexchange.com/questions/40094/… with a test of Cubesurfer at the end of the question. $\endgroup$ – Ed Tate Nov 3 '15 at 15:14
  • $\begingroup$ Yes I seen it, the answer is from me there. Yes in many cases CubeSurfer will produce a non-manifold geometry which can be smoothed though. In same cases the answer here will however fail at booleaning the spheres producing no mesh to be smoothed. $\endgroup$ – Jaroslav Jerryno Novotny Nov 3 '15 at 15:47
  • $\begingroup$ In testing with 1000's of particles, this approach is more robust for boolean operations than CubeSurfer. However it is much slower. Still testings for 10,000's of particles. $\endgroup$ – Ed Tate Nov 3 '15 at 16:41
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A single mesh can be created from a particle system by using modifiers.

  1. Create a particle system. For this example, also create a container to keep the particles in a volume.
  2. Add a cube which fully encloses the particle system and its container. After some simulation, the geometry will look like this:

Particles and geometry

  1. Add a sphere which will be used to display the particle system. Any manifold object can be used. If non-manifold objects are used, this solution will not work.
  2. Add a modifier to make this sphere a particle system instance. At this point, each sphere is a separate mesh. Therefore, filtering modifiers operate on each sphere, not the combined mesh.

Particle system setup Particle geometry

  1. Add a modifier to perform an intersection with the particle system and the largest cube. This will create a single mesh from all of the spheres.
  2. Add a Laplacian Smooth modifier. The mesh will be smoothed eliminating the appearance of intersecting spheres.

Filter setup Filter result

  1. Now other operations like Booleans can be applied.

Boolean operation Rendered boolean

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  • $\begingroup$ To the 7th point: Nope, they can't. If the particle mesh is non-manifold (which it usually is) the Boolean will fail. $\endgroup$ – Jaroslav Jerryno Novotny Nov 3 '15 at 14:50
  • $\begingroup$ If the initial particles are manifolds, then the intersection in step 5 produces a manifold. This manifold can be smoothed or have Boolean operations applied. The images following step 7 were generated using all of the steps in this answer. The geometry is a result of an intersection between the combined mesh for the particles and a cylinder. $\endgroup$ – Ed Tate Nov 3 '15 at 15:11
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    $\begingroup$ The answer was updated to include the requirement that the object modified with a particle instance must have manifold geometry for this approach to work. $\endgroup$ – Ed Tate Nov 3 '15 at 15:18

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