Pixelpart is an application designed for creating stunning visual effects in 2D and 3D. The application utilizes particles as the basic visual elements, and you have complete control over particle movement and appearance. You can even simulate natural forces like gravity, wind, and collisions to create realistic effects. It offers a variety of plugins that enable direct use in game engines or export to sprite sheets, videos, and animated images.
The user interface of Pixelpart is composed of five elements:
- The scene view showing the effect in action and a timeline at the bottom. The scene view is interactive, so you may move and manipulate objects while the effect is playing.
- The object browser showing a list of all objects (particle types, particle emitters, force fields and colliders) in the scene.
- The property panel showing the properties of the selected object.
- The keyframe editor, which allows you to animate object properties.
- The main menu and toolbar.
After starting Pixelpart for the first time, you will see the default 2D effect being played. To start from a more complex preset, create a new project by clicking New Project... in the toolbar or main menu. In the dialog that opens, select a preset you would like to use and click Create.
Your first effect is now playing inside the scene view, which is the most important place when designing effects. It shows the effect in action and lets you move and resize objects in the scene. You can navigate the scene view with the following commands:
|Action||Effect (2D)||Effect (3D)|
|RMB||Move the viewpoint.||Look around in first-person view. In order to rotate around the selected object, hold Shift.|
|Mouse Wheel||Adjust the zoom.||-|
|W||Move the viewpoint down.||Move forward.|
|S||Move the viewpoint up.||Move backward.|
|A||Move the viewpoint to the right.||Move to the left.|
|D||Move the viewpoint to the left.||Move to the right.|
Creating effects in Pixelpart involves designing different particle types, creating emitters for those particles and placing other objects that influence particle behavior. You have access to four different types of scene objects:
- Particle types, which define the appearance and behavior of particles. This includes visual properties like the color and size of particles, but also behavioral properties like movement paths, acceleration and rotation. You can attach custom shaders to particles in order to define their appearance even more precisely. They are created with shader graphs, a form of visual scripting.
- Particle emitters, which spawn new particles. Particle emitters continuously instantiate new particles of their assigned particle types in a defined area, like inside a circle or on a line. They also define in which direction particles are initially accelerated.
- Force fields, which influence particles by applying forces to them and can be used to model things like gravity and wind.
- Colliders, which are objects particles collide with and are used to simulate particles hitting and bouncing off solid surfaces.
Many properties of these objects can be animated with keyframe animation in order to make particles and object change over time. Similarly, you can animation the position of objects with motion paths.
It is also possible to enhance the effect you have created with additional image effects, which are filters that are applied to the whole effect after rendering, such as motion blur and color correction.
Once you have created an effect, you can use it outside of Pixelpart in two ways.
- You can render the effect to a sprite sheet, image sequence, animated image, or video.
- You can save the effect (as a .ppfx file) and directly import it into game engines using the provided runtime plugins.