thinkingParticles 6 is the next generation rule based particle system for 3ds Max and 3ds Max Design, offering unparalleled power to the user.

By integrating industry standard physics solvers, such as; the Bullet Physics Library alongside its own proprietary systems, thinkingParticles 6 becomes the first tool to deliver 3 physics solvers in one product. This gives users the choice and flexibility to work with any or all of the 3 individual physics solvers at the same time in the same scene. 


thinkingParticles™ is one of cebas’ flagship plugins widely known for its fully procedural and physically accurate, real world destruction and special effects simulations in the movie industry.

Countless blockbuster movies and projects have depended on thinkingParticles' limitless ability to portray advanced physics-based particle effects that are simply mind-blowing!

Now, entering the world of fully procedural fluid dynamics and soft body simulations; thinkingParticles Release 6 covers almost any and all possible scenarios of, what is known as, the "multi-physics" effects.

What is the multi-physics effects? It means artistic license to create and re-create countless combined simulations involving fluid dynamics, soft bodies and rigid bodies in multiple actions, down to a realistic particle level.

New features found in thinkingParticles 6

As with every new major release, new functions and enhancements have been added to thinkingParticles. With thinkingParticles Release 6, the upgraded physics solver will act as the multi-physics integrated solution driving all future versions of thinkingParticles. For the first time, thinkingParticles Release 6 comes programmed with a dedicated Fluid Simulation System, empowering the creation of evermore realistic and diverse on-screen fluid effects. 

The features explained below are sure to enhance our tP users' experience like nothing before!

Subscription Drop 1 Enhanced: volumeBreaker

The volumeBreak Node has been enhanced a lot! Now, automatic  tesselation can be activated in a fully procedural way including proper re-mapping. Even when broken off parts are displaced the total volume of the body is unchanged. Pieces still fitt perfectly even with high tesselation values.


Subscription Drop 1 Enhanced: Curve2D

Curve2D - with this new Helper, artists gets full steering in defining a curve to control an output value. There are two methods to use this new Helper Node. It can either be used directly, by wiring it to other Nodes; or it can be configured in a 'Satellite' mode.


Subscription Drop 1 Enhanced: ValueToValue

ValueToValue -  this new helper Node is used to define a curve to control an output value. It allows for detailed control of it's input and output range which are mapped to the curve.

Subscription Drop 1 Enhanced: Shape Position

Shape -This Helper Node allows you to query a Shape (spline) object. For any given length, for example, its 3D position on a spline, can be the queried output.


tP 6.0 Shape Operator Node

ImplicitShape in thinkingParticles Release 6.0 is the newly designed Shape Operator node generating iso surface representations of density created by a particle cloud, and works to amazing 3d dimensions in creating a surface for fluid particle effects. It can also be used to create any kind of surface generated from particles and you can change multi-modality views to see its effects.



tP 6.0 Multi-Physics Fluid Solver

MultiPhysics fluid dynamics presents a breakthru in realistic simulation of water and incompressible flowing substances. Release 6.0 integrates workflow of events to a high degree of manipulation based on realistic flow effects. The MultiPhysics Fluid Solver allows for soft-bodies interacting with rigid-bodies in FlowBoundary node; inter-particle procedural joints; HydroBoat node simulating water vehicles on water; seamless flow from rigid body to fluid and vice-versa.


all new tP 6.0 Analyzer Tool

Another groundbreaker for tP 6.0 is the real time Analyzer that tracks every development path of a simulation networks in all its complexity. The real-time Analyzer further empowers users to truly analyze in-depth details of DynamicSets; tracks PositionBorn in particle sets; emitterpaths; TrailBorn, FlowGroups captured in time intervals, giving users immense control, finest adjustments.


tP 6.0 Generator SnapShot Operator

The Generator node can now procedurally create a mesh snapshot of any amount of particles forming one single larger particle representing the mesh at the time of snapshot using particle modelling and allow the complex whole to be simulated as one.  


tP 6.0 Distance-based TrailBorn

Powerful tool! Users create time-release complex structures based on procedural & particle modelling at interactive rates minus the hard work. Using Trail nodes, multi-level particles are generated - toggle distances of how the entire model meshes out procedurally, enabling effortless generation of sprawls, spiralling networks, symmetries or not.

ContactPoints Joint Creation

New Utility added to thinkingParticles 6 to enhance Joint creation combined with Physics simulation. Any number of meshes can be selected and joints placed at closest contact points between objects to simulate joint movements. Thousands of joints can be created with a few clicks instead of cumbersome clicks.


Enhanced 6.0 GeomContact

The GeomContact operator powerfully positions outputs between selected points of objects to create connections, procedurally, thereby giving the user greater flexibility and control as the object changes in scenarios across environments, interactively stable in conjunctions with other objects.


New Physics Parameter Handling

By introducing a new level of integrative multiphysics solvers, artists effectively assign independent simulation parameters to particles right away via the physics simulation setup options. E.g., anchoring several animations to a swinging rope (BTropeImport node) and assigning directly to each object/particle which physics-solver will affect its motion to the swinging rope and the parameters involved. The old style group-based settings were slower and have been deemed obsolete but can still be called up from the menu when needed.


Spline Physics, Spline Modeling

NEW nodes enable quick succession procedural spline modelling [3ds Max] New node, SplinePool, auto-generates a network of spline particles across any selected surfaces. The new nodes: SplineInit; SplineImport; SplineData; IsSpline; SplinePhysics; SplineKnot: the ultimate spline modelling tool for artists dealing with complex and diverse setups within tight deadlines.  





    Interoperability : Realflow and Krakatoa

    Movie production is an immense task, which involves many individuals and collaborated efforts during the making-of process. Nowadays, movies are known for their advanced and sophisticated technicalities - making visual effects an increasingly challenging job to perfect. As a result, a single special effect now requires a multitude of software products to be involved in its creation and development.

    ImportFile Node
    The  new ImportFile node in thinkingParticles offers now file compatibility with Next Limit's Realflow *.bin files and Krakatoa *.prt files - products widely used in the industry for their specific strengths. Both *.bin file types (Mesh and Particle) can be directly loaded and displayed in thinkingParticles - better yet - written out particle or mesh simulations can be fully used and interacted with!


    Advanced Science of Rigid and Softbody Dynamics

    thinkingParticles 5 implements the open standard Bullet Physics Library, a widely used physics engine, offering advanced features; such as, multi-threaded physics solvers as well as soft body rope dynamics.

    The amount of high-profile companies developing for as well as using the Bullet Physics Library makes it the perfect choice for all future dynamics developments in thinkingParticles.

    While PhysX from NVIDIA will still remain a core feature of thinkingParticles 5, latest advancements in dynamic simulation effects will be based on open standards and proprietary cebas technology.


    The following new dynamics simulation Nodes are now part of the new release:

    This new Node enables the creation and simulation of  all vehicle based physics within thinkingParticles, leveraging all the power of procedural particle effects.

    Following the main credo of "You can turn On/Off mother nature at will" - this BTVehicleDatat node is the perfect example for procedurally adjusting vehicle parameters at any given time within a simulation.
    In addition, this operator can also be used to query vehicle status as well as modifying some interesting physics simulation-related variables.

    This Node is the first soft-body physics object developed for thinkingParticles. The Node is used to create an actual rope mesh in a fully procedural way that mimics the actual physical behavior of a rope or cable. It is based on two points in space where a spline is drawn between those points. Rope physics simulations are based on a soft body solver, so it can stretch and spring back.

    This Node is a matching thinkingParticles operator used to access or modify the underlying data of any Rope object in the scene. It allows a fully procedural access to the Rope properties at any time in a simulation.

    BTJoint is used to procedurally create joints between particles. The new Bullet Physics Engine in thinkingParticles comes with a rich set of joint types covering nearly every imaginable real world or out of this world scenario! Not to mention: all of this can be done and controlled at any time, in a variety of procedural ways.

    Iterating through an existing set of joints is essential for the fine control of dynamic effects the user usually expects of such a system. By implementing the BTJointCounter node, the artist's desire for controlling physics-based joints is more than fulfilled.

    BTJointData is a powerful Node that can be used to either get information about a joint or set it. This operator is used to set a joint's ability to break as well as its breaking velocity and rotation thresholds. It can also set the ability to define or redefine joint types and particle To/From connections and track when a joint is broken.


    With Powerful Physics comes Great Responsibility

    The newly introduced BulletPhysics engine in thinkingParticles delivers a more unified and powerful dynamics simulation system than ever before. To achieve such a dramatic improvement in physics simulation, many internal core functions had to be rewritten.
    Handling of physics properties is now done in a fully dynamic way - adding only little overhead on those objects/particles when needed. In fact, if there is no specific Bullet Physics effect in a setup - properties will not exist at all in memory or throughout the whole simulation.


    Rich set of new thinkingParticles 5 Tools

    offers advanced Non Linear Animation features (NLA) allowing control time-based effects in a completely different approach from how it is usually done in 3ds Max.
    The EggTimer helper Node behaves exactly like an alarm clock and a timer combined - it runs for a certain (pre-set) amount of time and then stops and flags a signal. This can be used in a variety of ways to control other connected Nodes.

    Procedural effects are all about detailed control.
    This new Node allows users to do a variety of mathematical operations on any 2 input values and present the final result in its output port.

    A node many users wish it existed; now... it does!
    This node offers raw Matrix of mathematical operations in various combinations. It is best used with the newly added Math operator

    A few weeks in, who can remember what idea someone had in a dynamics setup? Anyone?! This helper node does!
    It stores a text that can be used to describe a wire setup, a scene or anything else important enough to be stored along with a DynamicSet.

    Handling of paths from within thinkingParticles has been enhanced with the addition of the Path Node.
    The new node is meant to serve as a "path feeder" for operators able to work with splines. Paths are either defined by a spline object or a mesh with an active edge selection.

    thinkingParticles 5
    introduces a new category of helper nodes called Geometry access helpers.
    In many situations when creating advanced special effects, there is a need to query about object states and such queries can go even down to the face or vertex level of an object. The Object helper is specifically designed to supply object data to other thinkingParticles nodes.

    This new Helper Node permits the query of any connected particle about mesh specific data. A user can query for the closest Object by Surface, by Vertex or even get the closest point by surface along with the relevant distances and vertex IDs.

    The GeomPoint node is one of the more powerful additions to thinkingParticles 5, where it outputs and uses object (mesh) data.
    Users can query for the color on a surface, material index Face Normal, velocity and many more point related data.

    A new Helper Node used to query vertex related data from any mesh. Such data can be further used and fed into other thinkingParticles Nodes.

    The new node creates random points in space based on the geometry data that is fed into it.

    A new and enhanced temporal interpolation option has been added to this helper node, enhancing particle position accuracy on fast moving emitters by a magnitude.

    A new and enhanced temporal interpolation option has been added to this helper node, this enhances particle position accuracy on fast moving emitter by a magnitude.

    Group Helper
    The new Helper node is used to feed a Particle Group data stream into another Node - mainly the Geometry Nodes.



    Adding new and cool components to thinkingParticles is only one part of the equation to make a new release shine and worth getting. Another part would be our desire to deliver the best possible tool for YOU in terms of usability and convenience. Such attributes are key for a successful major release.

    Detailed user feedback and real life testing scenarios are what drove Cebas to change how users interact with thinkingParticles; where setting up complex DynamicSets has now become much faster and easier.

    Node creation, which is an essential part of your daily routine, has been reduced from multiple Mouse clicks to absolutely none! In fact, you can now create all thinkingParticles Nodes without ever touching the mouse!

    With a virtually exponential growth of particle amounts in modern scenes and simulations, new tools have been added to cope with this multi million particle count demand.

    Staying in control... yes, it exists!  Beacuse nothing more kills production turnaround time than losing control of your assets or effects shots - Cebas added new tools to thinkingParticles to enhance the information and feedback about particle effects right from within the scene. With a simple move of the curser, full particle information is now presented in a manner that is clear and easy-to-read.


    General Enhancements and overall Speed

    Great care and attention to detail were put into creating thinkingParticles 5. And like any other advanced and complex software simulation product, many of the code optimizations and rewriting of core components were done behind the scenes. Some of the new and unique changes and additions are visible in the form of new features such as;  the Max Recursion factor, which was added to the volumeBreaker Node.

    Other optimizations Cebas has added are strictly code related and do not have visible controls. View port redraw in 3ds Max with Nitrous display drivers, with thinkingParticles particle systems, is between 30-100 times faster  when compared to Release 4 of thinkingParticles.


    Scripting thinkingParticles Nodes - Good just got Better!

    thinkingParticles 5 incorporates updated MAXScripting support. All previous scripts written for release 4 will continue to work for the latest release as well. Also, new scripting options allow the addition of more features and new operators.

    In addition to the fully functional operator Nodes written in MAXScript, complete MAXScript access to DynamicSets and Node properties is now possible with thinkingParticles 5Here is a simple example of such access via MAXScript:

    The script below demonstrates how, with a selected thinkingParticles system, a new particle group is created and renamed "MyGroup".

    gr.SetPGroupName(0) "MyGroup"


    Rendering Enhancements

    thinkingParticles 5 improves the interoperability with finalRender 3.5 even further for scene transfer with large particle counts, instancing and sub material handling as well as particle motion blur.


    Remains Unbeaten: The best ever vessel to create and control FumeFX effects!

    thinkingParticles 5 has become the standard tool for FX professionals in this industry - the flexibility and sheer unlimited power it offers, makes release 5 a logical choice.

    Renowned 3rd Party developers like SitniSati also offer advanced FX tools. FumeFX, for example, perfectly integrates into thinkingParticles to create the most amazing fluid effects ever. No other product combination on the market forms such a perfect match as thinkginParticles and FumeFX!

    Additional features:

    • 3 highly optimized, industry standards Dynamics Solver tightly integrated
    • Near realtime soft-body Rope dynamics system 
    • Advanced geometry access functions for particle systems
    • Fully Procedural Joint handling (Creation, Setting)
    • True Hierarchical Dynamics Breaking System
    • Low-Subframe Sampling Joint System with Fast Solving Speed
    • High Precision/Low Sub-Frame Sampling Rigid Body Dynamics Solver
    • All new ShapeCollison Operator, re-coded from scratch, to take advantage of modern Multi-Core Systems
    • Complete learning and training coverage! From beginners level, there are several hours of FREE Training Videos offered either directly from cebas or DVD tutorials from
    • Fully rule-based particle system 
    • 100% Scriptable DynamicSet and ParticleGroup Control
    • True Scriptable thinkingParticles Plugin Operators
    • Procedural referencing system for non-linear animation
    • Complete particle baking option into 3ds Max objects 
    • Dynamics Simulation Recording for all particles
    • MatterWaves as rule-based operator included 
    • Any 3ds Max object may be turned into a particle 
    • Full hierarchical Condition and Operator workflow 
    • One or many particles can be accessed at any time 
    • Automatic and intelligent rule-based Object Fragmentation 
    • Advanced Object Tracking features to handle mesh animation 
    • Multi Purpose Complex Operators 
    • Advanced and highly optimized Particle Dynamic Engine 
    • Full support of Particle/Object interaction 
    • Complete object parameter access "through" particles 
    • Advanced "Blurp" Operator to handle complex particle morph effects 
    • Ultra fast Real-time Particle/Object Collision Detection 
    • Particles may be affected by 3ds Max geometry 
    • Advanced Crowd Control Features
    • Instanced and morphable Skin or Physique Modifier support 
    • Special IK handling routines for real-time Crowd Control 
    • Advanced Wire Setup View for easier behavior setup 
    • Real particle Paint Support (particles carry color information) 
    • Extended PyroCluster support to access individual particles 
    • 100% integration into 3ds Max workflow 
    • All particle Space Warps are supported 
    • Enhanced and real-time rule-based Dynamics Engine


     Thinking Particles + Fume FX Bundle

    Sitni Sati and cebas VISUAL TECHNOLOGIES are pleased to announce a special bundle that includes two of the most robust plug-in suites ever produced: FumeFX 2.0 and thinkingParticles. Used by major effects studios around the world to realize some of the most breath-taking visuals ever put on film (including Roland Emmerich's epic 2012 destruction sequences); these two products have been designed to work in concert to give you complete control over your particles and fire/smoke simulation effects.

    FumeFX 2.0 is considered the industry standard when it comes to fire, smoke and explosion simulations, and allows 3ds Max artists to rapidly combine their aesthetic visions with real-world physics. Using a voxel-based simulation engine, fire and smoke behave according to real-world laws of fluid dynamics and react to relevant physical forces, such as temperature and gravity. This means that you can produce realistic effects with greater speed and ease than ever before.

    thinkingParticles is the sophisticated particle engine designed to free 3ds Max artists from the constraints of traditional, time-based particle effects, in favor of a much more flexible rule-based system that allows for an unlimited combination of conditions and operators to be assembled, in order to define the behavior of every single particle within the system. This approach allows for a truly non-linear animation pipeline to be set up and driven by any effects artist.

    Combining these two incredible tools is straight forward and allows for even more amazing effects to be achieved. thinkingParticles can easily serve as a Particle Source for FumeFX 2.0 effects. FumeFX 2.0 provides real and fully integrated thinkingParticles operators of equivalent functionality which affect each system. FumeFX 2.0, when used in combination with thinkingParticles, allows for the creation of fluid effects that can dynamically affect each other at the same time!



    Version / Release Updates


    Thinking Particles 6.2 released:

    New in thinkingParticles 6.2: 

    Ultimate Smoke Operators

    A whole new category, ‘Smoke’ was added to the Operator drop down menu/section:


    SmokeBoundary - this new operator is dedicated to handling smoke fluid and rigid body interactions.


    SmokeGroup - this is the main smoke fluid operator used to adjust and control the smoke fluid simulation.


    SmokeData - like any other fluid type in thinkingParticles; the smoke fluid comes
    with a full set of simulation controls. SmokeData is used to access and modify those
    settings on a per particle basis.


    *SmokeSolver - let there be smoke! Every fluid system needs a solver in its core,
    this operator represents the actual smoke fluid solver. 


    **SmokeRender - what good is smoke if you can't smell it ? Or in this case - see it? This unique render node controls the rendering of the smoke fluid effect. For the
    first time; thinkingParticles 6 offers a fully procedural operator node to control
    a rendering effect right from within thinkingParticles, controls in real time! (Please see below, under Smoke_atmospheric_renderer for the list of render enhancements.)


    SmokeTRanges - rendering complex smoke fluids like fire, gas and burning stuff in general presents many challenges. Finding and adjusting the proper color to represent the burn rate of the gas matter becomes a child’s play with this new operator node.



    Smoke Atmospheric Renderer

    thinkingParticles 6.2 atmospheric renderer offers multiple render elements that can be
    used to enhance the look of smoke and fire effects in the post processing stage - more power at your finger tips. Find below a list of supported render elements.

    A render element that will only show the combustible components of the smoke effect. This can be used to efficiently add glow or color grading.

    This render element stores all flame components of the smoke effect. This allows the vfx artist to add extra glow or some color grading effects.

    An advanced highly optimized Z-Depth render element that accurately represents the distance to the clouds’ estimated average surface. This render element is the key to advanced depth of field effects with atmospherics.

    A render element that writes out a separate alpha channel for the complete smoke render effects.

    This render element writes out the estimated ‘surface normal’ of the smoke effect. This render element can be efficiently used to change lighting or other surface dependent effects for the smoke component.

    This render element stores all the smoke components of the fluid effect. Use it to adjust color or intensities in a post process.

    Atmospheric effects and motion blur are usually a hard thing to do. Normally atmospheric effects do not come with an option to render motion blur. thinkingParticles 6.2 Smoke Render engine allows to create proper motion blur with the help of this render element, as it stores all motion vectors of the fluid in one render element in multiple formats.

    Direct Particle Rendering

    thinkingParticles 6.2 is the first version to offer true direct volumetric particle point rendering. The SmokeRender operator does not only work with the newly introduced smoke fluid system, it is able to render all particles without a mesh (points in space). This is a very powerful feature and opens up new creative possibilities. All of this point rendering functionality stays fully procedural within the thinkingParticles context. This amazing feature also allows for parameter controls such as distance-temperature fall off.


    the Initiator Operator

    The Initiator menu section has a new operator!

    PPassString - with this latest release of thinkingParticles’ 6 Subscription Drop 2, a new particle group access workflow has been introduced. Particle groups can now be accessed across ‘hierarchy trees’ just by their name or parts of their name. This new operator alone, opens up more powerful and efficient setups than it would have been possible ever before for VFX.

    New Generator Operators

    LayerToParticle - a powerful, brand new operator for thinkingParticles 6 offering the ability to automatically "import" objects from the 3ds Max scene into a thinkingParticles 6 simulation. Working with the standard 3ds Max layer system, one or multiple layers can be dedicated as an ‘import’ to thinkingParticles layer. Now, whenever a new object is created or moved to this layer - it will be automatically added to thinkingParticles.

    LayerToParticleData - to support the functionality of the new LayerToParticle operator, a specialized LayerToParticleData operator has also been introduced. 



    Specifications & Licensing

    System Requirements

    Operating systems

    Windows 32 Bit & 64 Bit

    Host Software:

    • 3ds Max 2013, 2012, 2011 and 2010
    • 3ds Max Design 2013, 2012, 2011 and 2010



    All CEBAS product licenses are floating licenses.  CEBAS product downloads include floating license manager. 

    If running on a single workstation, you can install the license manager on it alongside the main application.

    The installer that is downloaded includes installation options for license manager, Plug-in and render node.

    For network licenses you must install the license manager on your license server first then activate your key on the license server.  After that you can install the Plug-in on your 3ds Max workstation, launch 3ds Max and access the plug-in from within. When you first attempt to use the Plug-in you will be prompted to activate or give a license server host name. Once you enter your license server info you will be able to use the plugin.

    For render nodes, follow the same steps above for the workstation, after you have successfully accessed the plugin from within 3ds Max on the render node, shutdown 3ds Max and your done.

    Additional Info

    Upgrades / Support

    thinkingParticles 5 is compatible with 3dsMax versions 2013, 2012, 2011 and 2010. Release 5 ships with one simulation license PLUS an offline manual that self updates.




    thinkingParticles 4 owners can order their update from RFX for a reduced price. 

    Users who purchased thinkingParticles 4 after April 27th, 2012 qualify for cebas’ free upgrade to thinkingParticles 5.

    Please call RFX for details about product pricing and ordering.



     RFX is available for all your support needs.

    • CEBAS offers email support and online Wiki support page

    Pre-mades and Scene Files

    thinkingParticles includes 250+ scene files, as well as 30+ pre-made BlackBoxes and pre-made TD Tools.


    To use the thinkingParticles SDK, you will need a VISUAL C++ compiler from MICROSOFT and good knowledge of object oriented programming.


    • The SDK is not a part of the shipping product and it won't be available to the public. cebas VISUAL TECHNOLOGY Inc. reserves the right to decide who qualifies to use the SDK. Further restrictions may apply and will be discussed with the relevant parties. Production houses are welcome to use our SDK to enhance and develop additional operators and conditions for their "internal use" only.
    • Commercial developers who plan to create additional thinkingParticles operators and conditions must be approved by cebas VISUAL TECHNOLOGY Inc.

    Anyone interested in the thinkingParticles SDK may contact RFX at:



    thinkingParticles Part 1 - A Comprehensive Introduction

    In this DVD, Hristo Velev starts from the very beginning, by explaining what thinkingParticles is all about. Then he builds upon a solid foundation of theory and technical knowledge from the program. From there, Hristo elucidates an extensive set of basic concepts which guide you through the massive amount of features in thinkingParticles. Throughout this learning process, he demonstrates several practical effects that can be very useful in production.

    After the basic concepts are covered, he creates an entire project, from start to finish, to help you comprehend the entire process. With over 9 hours of training, this DVD will help you understand thinkingParticles R3 and R4 much better and enable you to start creating amazing effects from the get-go.

    Duration: 9 Hours
    DL Filesize: 1.2 GB
    Project Files: Over 40 3ds Max files, as seen in the DVD, with which to examine, reverse engineer and experiment.

    About the Author:

    Hristo Velev ( worked on the movie '2012' as a VFX Artist and has been passionate about effects and video training for many years. Hristo is known for his many hours of free training on other subjects and is currently working in Berlin at Pixomondo.