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After Effects Plugins Everyone Should Own – Trapcode Particular: Particle System

After Effects Plugins Everyone Should Own – Trapcode Particular: Particle System

16 Jan 2018 Behind the Scenes

For this episode in our series of ‘AE plugins that everyone should own, we’re going to talk about the plugin that pretty much everyone already does own; Trapcode’s Particular.

Particular is a particle generator, that can be used to create explosions, fireworks, blowing leaves, trails of sparkles, fog, water, snow, fire – just about anything to be honest! We use it regularly, and are going to use our recent ‘Shakespeare Lives‘ series of films for the British Council to talk about a few of the places where it’s made our lives easier, happier or prettier.

Rain in Particular

What would a retelling of the life of Shakespeare’s most depressed protagonist be without a bit of pathetic fallacy to set the mood?

In Hamlet, we needed the rain to be bold and obvious to match the cartoony style of the animation, but to still have a realistic sense of depth to it, and to look like it was falling down on him from the high angle of the camera.

These are the very basic settings needed to achieve this look:

  • Change the emitter to ‘Box’ from ‘Point’ – this allows you to spread out the area that the rain is emitted from.
  • Change the Y position of the Emitter to a point above the scene
  • Increase the X Size of the Emitter to wider than the scene, and increase the Z Size to increase the depth that the rain falls from
  • Create a composition that is an image of a single raindrop. Name it ‘Rain Comp’ and put it as a hidden layer in the main comp
  • Change the Particle Type to ‘Sprite’, and then change the Texture Layer to ‘Rain Comp’
  • In the Physics setting, increase the Gravity to make the rain fall downwards.

Playing and experimenting with the settings will give all kinds of variations to suit just about any kind of rain you may have cause to create. Twelfth Night begins with a storm at sea, which required a much more realistic type of rain, lashing down from the side and giving a sense of danger rather than depression – we changed the size of particles, rotated the direction of the emitter, and increased the gravity to achieve this effect:

And with just a few tweaks to the above settings, we were also able created mystical fog in MacBeth, snow that transformed in to autumnal leaves in Twelfth Night, and a love potion that settled in the eyes of a young lover in Midsummer Night’s Dream.


Although these simple effects barely scratch the surface of what Particular can achieve, they have each saved us considerable time and effort, and compared with After Effects’ native particle systems (cc Particle World), Particular offers a huge degree of flexibility and control.

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