Cinema 4D Tutorial – Basic Flocking with Thinking Particles

I’m sure a lot of you remember the blog that I used to have, the original pages hosted on the HYPA server.  It wasn’t really a blog, but more of a mish-mash of my experiments, downloads etc.


I often get requests for the downloads, so I do intend to repost them all eventually.  I posted the light presets a while back and now I am going to repost the Thinking Particles presets.


The first offering is my TP Basic Flocking example.  This is a really simple setup that shows you how you can create a flocking or swarming type effect using Thinking Particles.


Basic Flocking Xpresso

As you can see from the Xpresso, there is not a lot to it.  The particles are all in the same default All group.  I’ve added a null which is then animated along a spline.  This null is used as a Follow Position for the particles.  As the particles try to follow the nulls position, there is some hidden geometry that is used as a Deflector, this helps to add a little chaos to the motion.  I’ve used the Particle Collision preset to stop the particles colliding with each other too.


I hope you find this useful.  Don’t forget that you can also clone onto the Thinking Particles using MoGraph if you want to start mixing up some MoGraph and TP techniques.  Lots of fun to be had for sure.


Cinema 4D Tutorial – Basic Flocking with Thinking Particles

Author: Tim


  1. Dave Glanz
    Dave Glanz On July 28, 2010 at 2:49 AM

    Thanks Tim!

  2. Mike Tan
    Mike Tan On July 28, 2010 at 12:08 PM

    Thanks again Tim! Fun times.

  3. Alan Adamik
    Alan Adamik On July 29, 2010 at 8:17 PM

    Thanks tim !
    Since i’m a little too much of an optimizer, i must say that there’s a “Time Control” preset in Xpresso, that in one node do the exact same thing as your time+compare+boolean combo 🙂

    • Tim
      Tim On August 3, 2010 at 12:59 PM

      @Alan Hi Alan, Thanks for the comment. I am aware that there are plenty of presets for Thinking Particles, they are definitely useful and worth exploring, even simple setups like the time control preset.

      However I think it is beneficial for people to understand the basic structure and inner workings of the Xpresso setup which is why I encourage breaking apart these presets and adapting them for your own unique projects. This will give you a deeper understanding of TP and it’s uses in the long run.

  4. […] LINK to the posting and scene file. Comments RSS Feed   Post a comment   Trackback URL   Share on Twitter   Share on Facebook […]

  5. Ladozs Kadullu
    Ladozs Kadullu On August 6, 2010 at 2:51 AM

    2nd attempt

    Hi Tim.,

    thank you very much for uploading your presets and sharing your knowledge, especially the scary xpresso- stuff!

    I´ve made an animation using your “flocking ” preset in a slightly different way:


    Greetings from Berlin

  6. Oliver
    Oliver On August 10, 2010 at 11:35 PM

    Thanks Tim!

    I’m bit of a newbie with Xpresso, how can I randomize the particles so at the Particle Birth it uses more than one PShape (you know, so the flock has different fishes)?

    • Tim
      Tim On August 19, 2010 at 6:12 PM

      @Oliver You can use the multishape emitter preset to create multiple particle shapes, or you could clone onto the particle groups with MoGraph

  7. […] way I wanted.  I used a simple mograph dynamics solution, but during the project Tim Clapham from HelloLuxx posted a brilliant solution to the very problem that was plaguing […]

  8. Oliver
    Oliver On August 24, 2010 at 9:28 AM

    Thanks Tim! Keep it up!

  9. 4do
    4do On November 2, 2010 at 6:27 AM

    thanks for the download, I am a newbie to expresso, how do I substitute, my shape for the Pyramid.

    • Tim
      Tim On November 2, 2010 at 9:22 AM

      @4do drag the object into the PShape node to replace the pyramid.

  10. craig
    craig On March 8, 2011 at 1:42 AM

    Hey Tim,

    Is there a way to have the particles leave the path at a specific point and “flock” to fill a volume shape? For example, if you had flocking birds and then you wanted them to leave the path and form a tree or something.

    Thank you,

    • Tim
      Tim On March 9, 2011 at 11:33 AM

      @Craig You’d need to change the particles to a new group and then use the PVolumePosition node to move them into an object.

  11. Alex
    Alex On March 11, 2011 at 4:42 AM

    Hi Tim,
    Thanks so much for this! I’ve been playing around for ages in mograph to get my birds to flock so naturally…
    I’m a real greenhorn on Xpresso though… so I wanted to ask you how to make the animation last longer than 250 frames. I’ve replaced the spline, naturally adjusted the amount of frames and adjusted the tag. But the cones disappear after 250 frames… I’ve been staring for a good few hours to the Xpresso patch… but I can’t seem to find it..


    • Tim
      Tim On March 11, 2011 at 10:34 AM

      @Alex Select the PStorm node in the Xpresso and increase the Life of the particles

  12. Rich N
    Rich N On June 8, 2011 at 11:43 AM

    Cool tim, nice setup. Do you know if theres a way to add in an effect where the particles won’t pass through each other – so when they get near another particle they’ll move around or away from it?

    great work as always

  13. Rich N
    Rich N On June 8, 2011 at 11:51 AM

    Sorry tim, wasn’t looking at the scene properly, just realised theres a repulse and bounce node in there. Not used that before.

  14. JNothing
    JNothing On September 29, 2011 at 7:40 AM

    I’m having a problem where I have a pre-animated bat and I can replace the pyramid with it just fine but it distorts the geometry and stretches the polys way off screen. I did indeed ‘bake’ and ‘loop’ the bat flying animation but this isn’t doing the trick.
    Any help???

    • Tim
      Tim On October 5, 2011 at 8:56 PM

      @JNothing It depends how you’ve created the geometry. It shouldn’t stretch! Maybe you cloned onto the particles with MoGraph, if so there is an option to stretch the particles on the cloner. Perhaps you have some deformer that is not moving with the geometry so as the object moves it moves through the deformer space. All guesses, but hopefully something to check.

  15. Jnothing
    Jnothing On October 6, 2011 at 6:06 AM

    What I have is it looks like certain points of the geometry are erring pulled way off screen. It’s not a deformed or effector at all. It appears that the coordinates of half the poly points have been relocated (what I meant by stretching) it’s really boggling my mind. I had to go with a standard emitter but it costs me lots more render time and I don’t have control over the flight path if the flock at all. I will try and send a project file as soon as I’m not on my iPhone. Thanks for the help 🙂

  16. Tim
    Tim On October 6, 2011 at 11:14 AM

    Try just cloning onto the Particle Group with MoGraph rather than using the TP Particle Geometry object and the PShape node. Maybe that will solve your problem.

  17. Need4Speed
    Need4Speed On January 12, 2012 at 10:29 AM

    Love this setup 🙂 How can I control flocking settings? Mainly I need more speed, but also interested in controlling turbulence etc. Thanks!

  18. emer
    emer On August 15, 2013 at 8:22 PM


Leave a Reply