Reactor boat wakes

This tutorial will teach you how to create water wakes in 3ds max 6+, to simulate a boat moving through water. First, start 3ds max and make a quick boat object. It doesn't have to be a boat, it could be a cube or spoon or jetski or anything, as long as it's a solid object.

Then, create a Water object from the reactor toolbar.

Drag out a big square in your viewport. Put the boat on one corner. Make the subdivisions 50x50. Turn on depth, and make sure it's deeper than the bottom of the boat.

We will draw a path for the boat to take through the water. In the top viewport, create a NURBS Point Curve.

This'll be the path our boat takes through the water. Next, we'll have to actually constrain our boat to the path. Select the boat, and go into the Motion panel.

Click on the Position controller in the chart, and click on the Assign Controller button (the one with the question mark). Choose Path Constraint and click OK. Click on Add Path, and choose the NURBS Point Curve you drew.

Additionally, enable Follow and Bank. Click Play, and preview the animation. You might have to orient the boat so it goes straight on the path. Your boat now goes along the path and banks at the turns. Move the path lower, so that the boat actually intersects the water object.

Now, select the boat, and click on the Rigid Body Collection button on the reactor toolbar.

This will automatically create an RB Collection and put the boat in it. There's one more setting we need to change. Select the boat, and click on the reactor properties button. Check Unyielding. That's all. We're ready to simulate the boat wakes. Click on Create Animation in the reactor toolbar.

Reactor will ponder your animation for awhile. You can see the waves the boat makes in the preview window. There's only one problem. When you render, all you see is the boat. That's because the Water object is technically a WSM (AKA a space-warp). Create a plane that's the same size and position as the Water object, then bind the Water object to the plane. Give the plane 50x50 segments too. Now, you can hide the Water object and just see the plane. It'll make waves as your boat goes by. The only problem is, the wakes are barely visible. Select the WSM Binding, and increase the Scale Strength until you get the effect you're looking for. I used a value of 3.25.

If you wake looks too narrow, increase the speed of the waves of the Water object, then run the simulation again. Adjust it until you're happy. Remember that the Water WSM Binding always comes last in the modifier stack.

For fun, you can add a Displace modifier and use the Waves procedural map, and then add some materials to the scene.

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