Particles for Performance

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Tutor:  Eva Harley (EvaHarley Resident)
Last updated:  10/9/2018

Workshop Summary:

During this workshop we review the different types of particles, ways to effectively use them to enhance your dance, trigger types and methods, considerations and resources.  Includes demonstrations, and extras.  Does not include actually learning how to make your own effects, but I do demonstrate two tools that I do use for that purpose.

Workshop Notes:

  1. Demonstration of a performance with particles
  2. What are particles
  3. Using particles in a performance
  4. Types of particles
  5. Particle triggers – how particles are activated
  6. Controlling particles
  7. Participation activity
  8. Brief overview, creating your own particles
  9. Tips, tricks, and tools

What are particles?

Particles are basically a texture that is controlled by a script and can have a very dramatic impact on a dance. The script controls the color, the size, how fast the particle emits, the direction, how fast it fades, color changes, etc. There are generally one or more transparent prims, each containing a particle script. Creating amazing particles is an art in itself. I choose to purchase the bulk of my particles, supporting particle designers who can create effects I can only dream of (plus I focus my time on the dance part).

Using Particles in a Performance

When Should You Use Particles?

There are two key reasons to use particles:

to enhance your dance
enhance the story/or emotion
draw attention to a specific point in the performance
add impact
– especially the beginning or end of a dance
– on dancer(s) appearance

to distract during transitions:
dancers are changing costume
the set is changing
dance animation transitions that aren’t smooth

Always remember that you are performing a DANCE, not a special effects show. Less is More!

Incorporating Particles into Your Dance:

I highly recommend “choreographing” particles, just as you would animations. Choosing, activating them are very similar in how you would choose animations for a specific part of the music.

Types of Particles

There are three main “types” of particles you can purchase.


usually no mod, may or may not be copy

wear the particle to start the effect, detach it to turn off the effect
by default, when you right click and add it is usually worn on avatar center.

When you stand on a pad and dance, your avatar center does not move – good for most particles. Exception: hand and foot particles by default will attach to your hands and feet.

is a transparent prim. Attach the particle, turn on transparent view. Zero in on where the particle seems to be coming from. Usually one or more very tiny spheres or boxes but it’s there!

you CAN move the particle as you’re wearing it. Is the particle too far forward? To find the transparent prim, stand on a pad, attach the particle, turn on transparent view. Find it? go into edit mode, and move it back behind you. When you attach it again, it will re-attach where you left it.

Why do so many creators create this type? One reason – it is said to create much less lag on the server.

Can you put the particle in a rezzer? If the transparent prim has copy/mod permissions, then yes, otherwise no.

Want to rez it but can’t put it in a rezzer? You will need to rez it or restore to last position (if it’s no copy you’ll have to always place it manually). To pick it up you will need to find it and take it back into inventory. I use World/Area Search for this.

generally the best particles fall into this category
sold individually, so you can buy just the particles you want

Can’t control when they trigger, except by adding adding and removing
As you move on a mover, particles will move with you. This may not create the effect you want.

Second Most Common: PARTICLE HUDS

A particle HUD is actually two pieces:
an emitter that you wear or that can be rezzed on the ground
a HUD you wear that let’s you control/trigger particles

The HUD includes a pre-packaged variety of particles.

The HUD may or may not allow you to change the particle as you “play” it.
Example: Changing colors, changing size, etc.

Usually the HUD shows pictures of the particles you can trigger. Click on it, and the particle will start. Click on it again or click a stop button and it will stop.

There are some particle makers that provide a copy/mod emitter. What does this do? You can add the emitter as part of your set and put it into the set rezzer. (Don’t link it to the set.) Rez your set, select a particle on your HUD and boom!

Provides a ready made buffet of particles at your finger tips
A simple and excellent way to start using particles in your dances

You can’t add particles to the HUD. What you see is what you get.
There are almost always particles in the HUD that you will never use
Bigger investment


As a dancer – I almost always prefer controlling effects with a chat trigger. What is that? saying “fire” on channel 12 to start a fire particle. This lets me put the command into the Performance Director as part of my routine, set one of the HUD buttons to trigger a particle, or even create my own hud to trigger the particles.

In my experience, there are relatively few of these – and high quality ones even less, but there are a few out there.

Particle Triggers

What is a particle trigger?  The action that must occur for the particle to “activate”.

Particles are scripts.  Just like any script, the creator can put in the script when the particle will activate.

  • When it’s rezzed/worn
  • When the script hears a chat command on a specific channel.  Particles activated by a particle HUD also use chat commands, which the creator usually keeps private.
  • When an avatar touches it or collides with it

Controlling Particles

Particle HUD:

If you buy a particle HUD, it will come with two pieces – the HUD and the emitter (or the ability to rez an emitter from the HUD).

The emitter is generally a small disk or object that contains the particle scripts.  If this object has copy/mod rights, you can include it in your set rezzer.  When you press a button on your particle HUD, particles will emit from the emitter.  If you have the ability to rez your emitter, you can generally rez multiple copies that will all activate at the same time – letting you spread out your particles.

If your emitter doesn’t have mod rights, there are possible ways to include it in your stage manager, or you can rez copies directly before your dance.  Either way, you will need to remove these manually or by using area search after your dance is complete.

You can also wear the emitter, usually on your avatar center.  When you press a button, the particles will appear to emit from you.

Wearable, No Chat Command:

Most individual particles sold are meant to be worn, and activate as soon as they attach.  In the past, dancers would often attach particles manually from their inventory during a certain point in the dance.  Now tools such as Costume Assistant can be used to add or remove worn objects, allowing the particle to be added and removed by touching a button or putting it into a performance timeline.

Particles That Allow Chat Commands:

Particles that allow chat commands are often the easiest to work with.  You can configure a tool button, a performance timeline, or a custom HUD to shout the particle command on the correct channel.  These particles offer the most flexibility in that respect.  Depending on the particle, it may be possible to rez it with your set or must be worn/manually rezzed.


Particle hat:

  • particle activated by anyone
  • particle activated by owner only

Special note about particles activated by chat commands:  depending on how the script was written, the particle may be activated by anyone saying the command on a specific channel, the owner saying the command on a specific channel, or the owner/owner’s objects saying the command on a specific channel.

If a script is limited to the owner only, a tool or HUD can’t be used to activate the particle.  The owner must say/shout the command in local chat.

Creating Your Own Particles

Particles may be made or purchased.

Buying particles:
generally made by a particle designer, they tend to be more refined and elaborate

they generally have restricted permissions which controls how you activate the particles

Making your own particles:

there are many particle making tools on the market to make this easier
you can create/use your own textures, select your own options
you have full control over how your particles are activated.

it can take time to make the particle you envisioned
there is a learning curve

Buying Full Perm Particle Scripts:


  • Gives you the ability to convert the particle into a “chat triggered” particle
  • Allows you to make changes to the particle settings


  • There is a learning curve if you are new to scripts
  • May take some trial and error if new to adjusting particle settings


Getting Started:

Buying Particles:

If you are just beginning to use particles in a dance, I highly recommend starting with the Dancer’s Particle HUDs. The Cyber HUD and Dancing HUD are two of my main staples in the effects I use. This HUD uses copy/mod emitters, so you can include them in your set rezzer (you can link to each other, but not to anything else). You can also rez multiple.
Always try out particles whenever possible and be aware of size!

Particles can vary from small hand particles to sim wide explosions. Choose what will work best for your dance and venue.


Caching Particles:

Even been to a a show and watched little grey boxes flying about? Particles are textures, and just like any texture, our viewers need to “cache” or read the texture before we can see it. It’s always a good idea for particles to be cached – played early to prepare audience viewers.

Dancer’s Particle has a free texture prim at the back of the store. I still cache my effects, but this is great for late arrivals. Just wear it for your performance.

“I think you have seen the gray box when you put some particles on.
This object “TEX ALL(wear me)” resolve the problem by pre-loading the textures.” ~ Dancer’s Particle


This webpage lists a number of particle stores that I personally prefer:


Hat –
0 shazam
81 pow – owner of object

hand particle
1500 start stop