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On this page, we’re going to look at an introduction to Multiple Systems - how to set them up, and how to work with them in the Particular UI in the Effect Controls panel in After Effects. It’s important to note, however, that it’s best to work with Multiple Systems in the Designer. For more information on working with Multiple Systems in the Designer, consult the Multiple Systems in the Designer page.
At the top of the Particular interface, you’ll find a Show System area. This is where you can create new systems, or select which of your systems to adjust. You can create up to 15 additional systems (16 systems total).
To create an additional system, click the Add a System… button. This will launch the Designer and create a new system. Upon accepting your changes in the Designer and coming back to the Particular UI, you’ll see the system selectors in the Show System area populated with new systems. You’ll also see significantly less options in the Effect Controls panel.
By default, after creating a new system, Particular only shows you the controls for that specific system. The name of the system you are adjusting is seen in the name of the properties (for example, “S2” appended to the name of the parameters for System 2).
Also, the system selector of the selected system is highlighted in the Show System area to indicate which system you are currently adjusting.
Since systems are basically a duplicate particle system in the same effect, and use the same parameters as each other, these indications are an important tool to help you know what system you’re working on.
To change systems, simply click the system selector button in the Show System area. The Particular UI updates to show you the properties for the system you’ve selected.
Note that additional systems only have 3 groups by default.
More groups and properties can be added in the Designer, but are turned off by default initially. This is discussed later on this page in Adding Properties to Systems, and much more in depth on the Multiple Systems in the Designer page.
To show all systems, click the All Systems button at the bottom of the Show Systems area.
In addition to being able to clean up the Particular UI to focus on some certain systems, you can likewise hide systems from the Composition panel. The project we’ll be using for the following examples contains 3 systems: a Primary System with green rectangles, a second system with a pink OBJ heart, and a third with default white spheres.
If I click the eye icon next to System 2, the heart disappears. The eye icon for System 2 also dims and gets a slash through it to indicate that it is hidden.
To solo a system (i.e. see only that system), you have two options. You can Alt/Opt click the eye icon for a system to solo it. You can also click on the pop-up menu on the right side of the system selector and choose Solo System.
Note that when a system is soloed, it gets a golden circle outlining it as an indicator.
From this same system selector pop-up menu, you can also choose Unhide All Systems to show all systems in the Composition panel. Note that this is different than the All Systems button in the Show Systems area, which shows the adjustable properties of all systems in the Effect Controls panel.
Alternatively, you can also click any eye icon to turn off solo.
To delete a system, simply choose Delete System from the system selector pop-up menu.
To reset a system back to the defaults, simply choose Reset System from the system selector pop-up menu.
When a new system is created, Particular only gives it a limited range of properties - those from the Emitter, Particles, and Physics Simulations groups. Giving you access to only the most commonly used features helps keep the Effect Controls panel easier to navigate, and to increase performance for Particular.
However, if you’d like to get more power, by adding something like Fast Physics, this can be done in the Designer.
You can also use the Designer to have secondary systems (i.e. non-Primary Systems) inherit attributes from the Primary System. So, if I wanted the heart example above to have the same green color as the Primary System in the background, I could do that with inherited values by deleting the Color block for System 2. This creates a relationship between the Primary System and selected attributes of secondary systems, so that when you change a Primary System attribute, that change ripples down to all of the secondary systems that inherit those values.
The current number of particles in the simulation are displayed at the bottom of the Show Systems group. The particle count is useful when trying to optimize a render.