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Nerd 3D Smokin' Flames

Product: Nerd3D Smokin' Flames
Product Code: ps_ac4114b
DAZ Original: NO
Created By: Nerd3D
Released: July 6, 2010

The Dust and trail tools

The Nerd 3D Dust and trail tool is designed to let you add contrails, dust trails, bullet wakes, plasma beams and a myriad of other effects to your renders and animations. These tool allow you to add a subtly wisp of dust that sets your render in motion by adding that feeling of action. You can also add dramatic, intense contrails to add realism to your aircraft renders. Even plasma beams and energy rays are at your mad scientist's finger tips.


  • The Nerd3D Dust and Trail Tool
  • A place to make a trial of smoke, dust or flames
  • Poser 6 or newer, DAZ Studio 2.3 or newer
  • A parachute

Important: The Poser and Studio Versions of the Dust and Trail tool are not compatible. Even if you have both a scene created in Poser it will not work in Studio.

The way it works

Load a Dust and Trail Tool. You'll see a triangle centered in the stage and a little trail of arrows pointing towards the front of the stage. The arrows actually lead way behind the camera. They are about 100' poser feet long. This trail of arrows is where the Effect will appear. If you're doing animations this is the path the effect will travel along.

Just to get a feel locate the “Make Trail” dial in the Control part of the tool (The control is the cone or triangle in the center of the scene). Dial the Make Trail dial to 100. Back the camera way off to get a good view of the whole scene. You can see what looks like a trail of dark smoke from the Control Prop to the end of the tool's trail. Each segment of the path has a “Cell” attached to it. Each of these cells display part of a special effect.

This is the basic idea of how the tool works. But there are a lot of material and settings to produce some elaborate effects. In the next section we'll go over the controls and what to expect from them.

Lots of Dusty Dials

OK it looks like a lot of dials but most of them are really straight forward and once you see how the effects fade out as “travel” down the track they will make perfect sense.

First let's look at the EasyPose section. The trail the effect follows or “Track” can be a bear to pose. That's why the control and every segment of the track contain EasyPose dials. These dials allow you to pose the entire length of the track with just a few dial spins.

Make Trail is the “go” dial it causes the effect to travel down the track. For still renders you will usually set this dial to around 100. If you are animating the range is pretty much unlimited. Just keep it in the positive range. Nothing will break if you go negative it just doesn't do any thing. In Poser the dial is limited but DAZ Studio doesn't support open ended limits and the dial has to be unlimited.

Spacing simply the distance between cells. This also changes the over all length of the track. Normal is around 1 but you can set it up to 10 plus of minus.

Use Point At any value above zero activates the point at system and the Point Target becomes visible. In poser it's 3 concentric rings in Studio it's a green ball. The Cell will all face towards the target. When the point at system is enabled orientation dials (Pitch, Yaw and Roll) may not work as expected. These dials are marked with a plus sign +. In studio there's a bug that prevents dynamically turning off point at. A separate figure with no target is included. Studio users will need to switch to that figure to completely disable point at.

Fade Rate is simply the speed the effect fades away. 1 is the starting point. Any value above zero is valid.

Yaw, Pitch and Roll these only work when the Point At is set to zero. These simply rotate the cells. They can be used to manually face the cells for setups where Point At is not practical. The dial values are in degrees.

Scale X, Scale Y These change the size of all the cells together. This is just the size of the effect. Zero is standard scale and 1 doubles the size.

Randomize Fade this is the best randomizing dial. it mixes up the speed that each cell fades away as the effect progresses. Zero is no randomization and 1 is a lot.

Random X, Y. and Z these randomize all the cells together. The randomization does not change as the effect progresses. They're pretty open ended but be careful when there are sharp curves you can cause the cells to get bunched up or too spread out at the corner.

Random Pitch, Roll and Yaw Just like the random drift settings above these randomize the orientation of the cells. The random roll is very effective in preventing the visibility of repeating patterns in the effect. These may not work when the Point at Target is active. The base here is degrees so 0 is no randomization and 90 would be a lot.

Random Scale X, Y You get the idea here just like the two sections above these randomize the size of cells in the entire length of the Track. Zero is on randomization and 1 is a lot.

Gain Limiter is probably the neatest and most confusing dial here. If you ever watched real contrails you may have noticed how at first they evolve rapidly but once they are a certain distance behind the plane they just kind of stop changing. That's this dial's job. It's units are the same as the Make Trail Dial above. Basically one number is one section in the Track or one cell. Set the Make track dial to 100 and the Gain Limiter to 50 and you will get the idea of what it does. At 50 the effect just stops changing 1/2 way down the Track. If you were animating the limit would follow 50 sections behind the start of the effect. Default is 500 which is basically “off” and any value above zero is valid.

Gain X, Y, Z These increase the amount of drift as the effect progresses. You can simulate wind blowing the dust or trail off the source.

Gain Scale X, Y You will use these a lot. They increase the size of the effect as it passes. They're great for simulating the way dust spreads out behind the car or horse or whatever is making it. Zero is no gain 5 is a lot

Gain Roll, Pitch and Yaw if you have a situation where you can't use the Point at Target these can keep the cells pointed in the general direction of the camera when you have a long effect or one that goes past the camera. Or you may just want a corkscrew effect. These are degrees at the first cell but with gain it's 100 degrees at the last cell. That makes 1 a lot.

Random Gain Drift X, Y, Z This set of dials increase the offset of each cell randomly that amount increases as the effect progresses. Zero is none and 1 is a lot.

Random Gain Pitch, Roll and Yaw by now you've got the idea of how these work. These are random rotations that increase as the effect passes. Zero is none, one is lots.

Random Scale X, Y and these scales increase as the effect passes. One is a lot.

Now for a simple effect

Making a contrail was was the inspiration for this tool and it does that very easily so lets set one up. We'll start making a straight one and go from there.

Load a Dust and Trail Tool and something that can make a contrail a rocket or some kind of airplane. Move the plane to the end of the Track. That's the end opposite the control handle. If you what you can parent it to the “Guide 100” part of the Tool.

Now apply the “White Smooth Heavy” material and set the the Make Trail dial to 100. That's in the ball park but it's too uniform. Set the Random Fade to 0.500 and the Gain Limiter to 50. (See I told you those were the two were cool dials)

In the B-17 Promo each plane had 4 contrails. I just duplicated the first one and move it over. Then I tweaked the random fade a little.

If you wanted to create a curve you would just use the easy pose dials in the Control or one of the Guide parts of the Track. (That is when you would want the plane parented to the last section.)

Using the point at feature

The point at feature is controlled by the “Use Point At” dial in the Control element. To activate it just set that dial to 1. You will now have a target in the center of the scene. All the cells face towards that target. Drag the target so it's right in front of that camera (or right behind). This is the easiest way to keep the effects facing the camera.

Some effects look goofy setup this way, Notably the Fire B and Bullet Wake materials. For those you can turn the Point at off by setting it to zero an use the Roll, Pitch and Yaw controls to keep the cells on target if needed.

Studio user may find that even with the Point At set to zero the Roll, Pitch and Yaw won't work correctly. This is a bug. Even when the Point at value is set to zero the rotation dials don't function correctly. Studio users will need to load the Special version that doesn't have a point at target for these situations.

So what about Animating this

You are probably expecting this tool to be a bear to animate with but really it's not. Take the B-17 setup we made above and set it to have, maybe 120 frames. Copy the setup you have right now to the last frame. (leave it straight, no EasyPose curves for now) Now go to frame one and set the Make Trail dial to 0. Move the plane back so it's even with the first Guide section of the track. The First cell will be right behind it.

Click play and watch as the plane flies along leaving a contrail behind it. See, that was easy.

I've included a couple of sample animations. The one you may want to look closely at is “Missile Launch” If you apply one of the Rocket materials and then this pose you can examine how it works. You'll notice the contrail seems to slowly fade away after the “launch”. This trick is done with the Gain Limiter dial. (See told ya it was cool!) It slowly increases after the launch giving the impression that the smoke is slowly clearing.


When it comes time to rendering there are not really any special considerations. As with any set that uses multiple transparent planes there will be an increase in render times. In poser this can be helped by applying one of the shading rate poses. These will reset the shading rate for the cells in the effect and can increase render speed.

Studio uses should be sure to apply the “Hide Controls” pose to make sure all those ugly green handles are hidden before rendering.


Why is DAZ Studio is very slow after applying a material? This has to do with the way Studio process images. It's is handled by a background process but each texture on this set is really a hundred! Give it a couple minutes to get the textures all processed and Studio will begin responding normally.

How can I change the speed of the included Animations? Poser has a built in function to speed or slow animated sequences. Select the figure that you want of change and choose Animation > Retime Animation …

Why are there no “! Trail Shadow On/Off” presets for DAZ Studio 3? A limitation of DAZ Studio 3 prevents this option. Shadows can still manually be turned off by right-clicking on any part of the Dust and Trail Tool in the viewport, then clicking on “Select All” and turning shadows off in the Paramaters Tab.


<ul> <li>Dust and Trail Tool </li> <li>Special Tool for DAZ Studio with no Point At Target</li> <li>7 Utility Poses</li> <li>2 Animation Examples</li> <li>77 Materials <ul> <li>Black Chunky Heavy</li> <li>Black Chunky Light</li> <li>Black Chunky Medium</li> <li>Black Smooth Heavy</li> <li>Black Smooth Light</li> <li>Black Smooth Medium</li> <li>Bullet Trail Blue</li> <li>Bullet Trail Green</li> <li>Bullet Trail Orange</li> <li>Bullet Trail Purple</li> <li>Bullet Trail Red</li> <li>Bullet Trail White</li> <li>Dust Chunky Heavy</li> <li>Dust Chunky Light</li> <li>Dust Chunky Medium</li> <li>Dust Smooth Heavy</li> <li>Dust Smooth Light</li> <li>Dust Smooth Medium</li> <li>Fae Trail Blue</li> <li>Fae Trail Green</li> <li>Fae Trail Pink</li> <li>Fae Trail Red</li> <li>Fae Trail White</li> <li>Fae Trail Yellow</li> <li>Fire B Green</li> <li>Fire B Midnight</li> <li>Fire B Natural</li> <li>Fire B Violet</li> <li>Fire B White</li> <li>Orange Chunky Heavy</li> <li>Orange Chunky Light</li> <li>Orange Chunky Medium</li> <li>Orange Smooth Heavy</li> <li>Orange Smooth Light</li> <li>Orange Smooth Medium</li> <li>Plaz Ray Blue</li> <li>Plaz Ray Green</li> <li>Plaz Ray Purple</li> <li>Plaz Ray Red</li> <li>Plaz Ray White</li> <li>Plaz Ray Yellow</li> <li>Purple Chunky Heavy</li> <li>Purple Chunky Light</li> <li>Purple Chunky Medium</li> <li>Purple Smooth Heavy</li> <li>Purple Smooth Light</li> <li>Purple Smooth Medium</li> <li>Red Chunky Heavy</li> <li>Red Chunky Light</li> <li>Red Chunky Medium</li> <li>Red Smooth Heavy</li> <li>Red Smooth Light</li> <li>Red Smooth Medium</li> <li>Rocket Flame Chunky Heavy</li> <li>Rocket Flame Chunky Light</li> <li>Rocket Flame Chunky Medium</li> <li>Rocket Flame Smooth Heavy</li> <li>Rocket Flame Smooth Light</li> <li>Rocket Flame Smooth Medium</li> <li>Rocket Red Chunky Heavy</li> <li>Rocket Red Chunky Light</li> <li>Rocket Red Chunky Medium</li> <li>Rocket Red Smooth Heavy</li> <li>Rocket Red Smooth Light</li> <li>Rocket Red Smooth Medium</li> <li>Rocket White Chunky Heavy</li> <li>Rocket White Chunky Light</li> <li>Rocket White Chunky Medium</li> <li>Rocket White Smooth Heavy</li> <li>Rocket White Smooth Light</li> <li>Rocket White Smooth Medium</li> <li>White Chunky Heavy</li> <li>White Chunky Light</li> <li>White Chunky Medium</li> <li>White Smooth Heavy</li> <li>White Smooth Light</li> <li>White Smooth Medium</li> </ul> </li> <li>1,111 Texture Files</li> <li>Comprehensive Tutorial Included</li> <li>Complete, Discrete Versions for Poser and Studio</li> </ul>