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Is there any way to use a particle system within a particle system?

I'd like this:

Expected result

But currently have this:

Current result

I'm trying to avoid having multiple real meshes (as I've done to create the first image).

Current Workarounds:

  • Manipulating an array to achieve the inner particle system (long tubes) -- it works but is cumbersome.

  • Adding 2 particle systems to one larger mesh (larger hexagon), and again manipulating the location. It's difficult to work with as well because I keep thinking there must be a more straightforward way.

In the end, I'd like for only these 3 meshes to be "real".

3 mesh

This is because I'm going to largely increase the amount of particles, and ideally add a fourth mesh encompasses the previous three (the largest hexagon would be it's particle). I'm not so concerned with the fourth mesh though.

The meshes are just are simple cylinder and a "screwed" edge (hexagon), but here's the .blend

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    $\begingroup$ How about using an object group as a particle? You could create your smaller hexagon particle system in a separate scene, apply it and group it and then use the Particles > Render > Group > Whole Group option to render it. Would that work for you? $\endgroup$ – Duarte Farrajota Ramos Jun 3 '16 at 1:40
  • $\begingroup$ @DuarteFarrajotaRamos I just noticed my question isn't clear enough, I'll fix it. The starting particle is only one cylinder, and it is the particle used by the particle system belonging to the smaller hexagons (which is actually just one hexagon to begin with). I tried grouping the small hex and cylinder, then using the "Whole Group" option, but it didn't interpret the particle system. $\endgroup$ – 360ueck Jun 3 '16 at 1:49
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    $\begingroup$ maybe dupliframe or dupligroups? $\endgroup$ – eromod Jun 3 '16 at 4:16
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While particles can give a varied result, it looks like you may prefer a more structured duplication system. I would suggest using dupliverts. Start by creating a mesh that has a vertex positioned where you want each cylinder, only vertices are needed but you can add edges and faces if it makes it easier for you to work with.

simple vertices object

Then parent the cylinder to the vertex only mesh, and enable duplication for verts.

duplivert setting

You can then repeat the first step with a larger spiral, here I duplicated the first mesh and scaled it up. Then parent the first mesh to this larger one and also enable dupliverts, you will get the first mesh and its cylinders duplicated at each vertex location. You will find it helpful to have the first vertex and the child object both located at the object origin to keep things aligned.

multiple levels of dupliverts

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks, I havnt used dupliverts much because a particle system usually does what I need and seems to handle it better. This must be one of the advantages of dupliverts, thanks again $\endgroup$ – 360ueck Jun 4 '16 at 3:45
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Short answer is no. You need to convert the small groups to meshes in order to distribute them with a particle system.

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