Achieving Photo-Realistic Drink Condensation in Maya (2017)

I’ve been asked to come up with a lot of really cool looks… Some of which are a bit trickier than others. Photo-realistic results can sometimes be easy, but they can also be quite challenging. If it’s something that people see every day, having it off by even a little bit can cause people to spot problems right away.

You can see the particles on the can, generated from the script.

When working on some R&D for one of ‘The Vault’ clients, I had to figure out a way to achieve a realistic look for some drink cans… which is a pretty simple task on it’s own. But what if we wanted to make the can look chilled? How would we come up with a believable water condensation look in Maya? 

Getting the proper materials in the Hypershade is extremely important.

After looking around for a bit, I was able to figure out a quick solution, using a script by Mariano Antico, that uses nDynamics and simulations to generate particles on a surface. The cool thing about this script is that it was written specifically to generate condensation on bottles and cans for product design and visualization. Download the updated script that works with Maya 2016+.

The way water and surface tension work, you will never see 2 blobs of water close to each other without becoming one. You will also rarely ever see a bunch of round droplets on a can,  so by taking it a step further, you can get more realistic results. By then converting the particles to polygons, you can tweak the result to make the drops blob together and look even more realistic. This also gives you an option to fix those ugly water droplets. The really cool thing here, is that the animations still work with the new geo! Duplicate the new geo, rotate and parent it to the other cans, and you’ve got yourself an army!

Un-rendered wireframe, showing the droplets after they have been converted to geo.

It might take a bit of playing around to generate the right look for your project, but it’s definitely a time-saver. Check out this video to see how I made it work for our client project for Beaver Buzz Energy.