Particle animation is a process that is becoming more and more sophisticated as time goes on. With the ability to create on-screen liquids, smoke and other such awesome visuals with eye-watering detail and realistic clarity, the particle animation process allows us to create hyperreal videos for a wide variety of uses.

That isn’t to say that it is easy… No, no, no. Particle animation is a super complicated process involving programmes and software that can often seem almost from a future age. But you get out of it what you put in. We’re talking animations that are equal parts mind-blowing and unerringly life-like. Sound like a potent mix? That’s because it is.

But how exactly does it all work? Well, that’s exactly what we are here to tell you guys.

How Particle Animation Works

At its most basic, particle animation is created by manifesting the particles and their movement before layering over an effect that gives it that crisp final appearance of water tumbling from an abstract object or fabric gracefully undulating in a gentle breeze. But let’s look at it in more detail.

Setting Up With the Right Gear

To kick things off, you need a powerful computer. We’re talking crazy powerful. The reason for this? This is computer animation at its most sophisticated, so a 90s Compaq desktop computer probably won’t suffice. We use the system X-particles to create our work. The platform allows for complete control over particles, allowing for uber-sophisticated visuals tailored to our own specifics.

The Emitter – Giving the Particles Meaning

The process begins with – as the name suggests – the particles themselves. Once created, the animator needs to select an emitter from which they will emerge. Think about it, the movement of smoke, water or similar always starts from a particular source. Then we start to build on this.

What starts a singular particle can lead up to hundreds of thousands of particles. Each programmed with their own unique movement path. Then the animator applies the range of forces that are affecting these particles – we’re talking gravity, drag, wind – and fine-tuning them so that the movements are just right

You’re probably starting to appreciate why this is considered a hella complicated process.

The Final Touch Up

The final step involves adding mesh to your particle animation. This is the look, colour and texture that transforms your clip from mere moving dots into the slick finished article, whether it be steam rising from a boiled kettle, liquor being poured from a glass bottle or a million bouncy balls making their way down the slopes of a mountain.

Et voila! Your masterpiece is complete.

Some of Our Particle Animation Projects

As an expert 3D animation agency, we have handled our fair share of particle animation projects. Here are a couple of our favourites from recent years:

Parkinsons UK

We were tasked with creating a Parkinson’s disease animation that would catch the eye and encompass the causes and symptoms of the condition through visuals alone. No mean feat. However, our team of 3D animation masterminds knuckled down and pieced together a series of particle animations depicting the failed connections in the brain associated with the disease. 

The final animation was displayed across the screens in Piccadilly Circus in unison with a modern art auction being held nearby in support of the charity’s campaign.

Popular Applications of Particle Animation

Strictly speaking, particle animation knows no bounds. If you are after realistic, free-flowing animation depicting natural movements then it may well be the answer you are seeking. Regardless of the context behind it.

However, here are some areas where the discipline has proven particularly popular:

Food and Drink Animation

Liquid animation effects are an inevitably popular format for animations involving drink. Nothing makes a beverage look more thirst-quenching than seeing it poured over crisp, frosty rocks of ice. Particle animation puts this power in your hand.

But the applications in the context of food and drink animation don’t stop there. Smoke rising from the BBQ as your character flips a flame-grilled burger. Crumbs tumbling in slow motion from a freshly cut loaf of bread. The comforting wisps of steam rising from a fresh cup of tea.

All of these taste-bud tantalising graphics and more is possible with particle animation under your belt.

Climate Change Animation

The stark reality and devastating scale of the climate change crisis is difficult to envisage. By using particle animation, the damning truth of the crisis can be placed right in front of the viewer.

A genuine impression of burning rainforests, torrential flooding or melting ice caps can be displayed to your audience. As hard-hitting as this content may seem, it shows the ruthless potential that climate change animation has when demonstrating the inauspicious future that we face if we fail to act now.

Medical Animation

Particle animation can be applied to all science-focused industries. None more so than medical animation.

You can depict miniscule internal changes within the human body with organic authenticity and immense precision. Imagine a strand of DNA developing in front of your very eyes. Or blood particles flowing through an artery in a medically accurate manner. This is the visual potential that particle animation brings to the table in the field of medicine.

If you are on the lookout for a particle animation agency to help give life to your video marketing needs, our team of animators may be just the answer that you are looking for. To get in touch, please email our team at or call us on +44 (0) 207 2886 319.