Cool District

Cool Stories

Short articles about our work and passion projects

Realistic Clothing - Chapter 4: Cloth Simulation and X-Men Shape Shifting

It has been about a year since we changed the way we create 3D clothing models at Cool District. Before, we used to hand-sculpt or 3D-scan (and clean-up) the assets for our 3D projects. Today, we use simulation software to create realistic clothing and fabrics (although we still create smaller details by hand).

Most recently, we studied ways to have our clothing react to motion and apply effects to those moving parts. As it turns out, it took some research.

  • Special thanks to Tyson Ibele ( for releasing Tyfow for 3dStudio. Download the Tyflow Beta release here

Here is a look at our latest study:

Part 1 - Clothing Creation

The first half of this project involved the creation of the clothing and simulating it over the course of a walk cycle. In-house artist, Derick Flory, created the jacket simulation.

Our simulation software creates the clothing based on patterns, just like when one would sew their own clothing. The below image shows the final patterns for the parka and the pants. This process involves the reverse engineering of existing clothing items, modified to fit this particular mannequin. A lot of the time spent here is to achieve a correct fit over the body and the correct physical action and reaction of the fabric during the walk. Getting the clothes to move in a nice way involves controlling physical constraints on the fabric such as stretch values in the warp and weft, the shear quality, elasticity, mass, bending and buckling ratios, etc.

Marvelous Patterns

Part 2 - Special Effects on Static and Moving objects.

The second half of this project focused on applying a Special Effect to the moving garment. We chose to recreate an effect that you may remember from the X-Men movies:

Artist Kris Treiber was responsible for studying ways to re-create the Shape Shifting effect with TyFlow, a particle system plug-in for 3DStudio Max.

First, we studied a few, more basic version of the effect applied to a static object. You can see our studies and many more nerdy things on our famous instagram account:

Next we applied the effect to our moving jacket (This involved a tricky work around using the built-in cloth modifier in Max to export an animated mesh object. This new mesh was the base for the TyFlow node tree (shown below) to work from).

The effect you are seeing in the end result is actually a compilation of two versions of the same effect, working in symmetry with each other. One jacket, in white, fractures and disappears as it comes into contact with an invisible trigger volume. A second jacket is built piece by piece (actually: polygon by polygon for the 3D artists amongst you).

The below image shows how the effect was built in our software. Not a very exciting thing to look at, but there is a whole lot of power hidden in this ‘node-based’ particle system.

TyFlow Node Tree creating the two, stacked effects

TyFlow Node Tree creating the two, stacked effects

Screen shot showing the first jacket that fractures upon entering the trigger volume and disappears while exiting the volume.

Screen shot showing the first jacket that fractures upon entering the trigger volume and disappears while exiting the volume.

Thank you for reading! Just shoot us a note at if you’d like more information, or leave a comment.

Kris TreiberComment