Making realistic honey with Phoenix FD

By Hammer Chen

In this article, I am going to share my tips & tricks for making realistic honey with Phoenix FD.

1. Modeling a honeycomb
Finding a photo-realistic model is very difficult. Even you have a budget to purchase from the online shop doesn't guaranty you get the right 3D model for the project. So I decided to model it by myself.

I found a handy tool from Scriptspot - Honeycomb, a maxscript by Anubis. This script allows you to generate a honeycomb shape with just one button.

After some extrusion, boolean cut, I got this rigid, artificial looking honeycomb. I will use this as a base and transform it into an "organic" model.

The model above was sculpted digitally with Autodesk Mudbox. Now my honeycomb model is ready!

2. Liquid simulation RnD
Because the 3D model of honeycomb is cumbersome, so it's better to work with simple primitive first. Once we got the right settings for simulation, we can use the high-resolution 3D model.

Here I used a simple plane as the liquid source (size around 127 X 26 cm). Beware that Phoenix FD doesn't like geometry without thickness, if you're having trouble emitting liquid from a simple plane, adding a shell modifier to it should fix the issue. In this case, no thickness is fine. The key is to put a Stucco texture as LiquidSrc's mask.

This is how the stucco texture looks like.

Those are settings for the Grid and Dynamics. Noted the Viscosity and Surface Tension play important rules when simulating realistic viscous liquid like honey. Once we are happy with the results, let's move on to the next stage.

3. Simulation for production

First of all, I manually selected part of the honeycomb - top portion and bottom, clone and detach them. In the image above, I moved the two meshes aside for illustration purpose (so you can see them better). Make sure the two meshes are not solid object so they won't collide with liquid.

Since we already got the excellent settings for dynamics in step 2. Assign the two meshes (top and bottom) as our liquid sources. Then hit the Start button of the Phoenix Liquid Simulator, and you should have similar results above. Please noted the 3D honeycomb is 150 X 150 cm, roughly ten times than a real-life honeycomb. Use a little larger geometry can be more comfortable with adjusting a simulation.

To make the animation more interesting, I animated the Time Scale and set it from 0.5 to 0.1. So you will have honey slowing down during the whole animation. Simulate again to see the results.

4. Lighting
Nothing fancy for the lighting. I created one V-Ray Dome Light - HDR plus one VRay - Plane light in the scene.

5. Honey material
Here are my settings for material for honey, using VRay standard material. Making realistic honey is very difficult. Play around with "Fog multiplier" , "Fog bias" and "Light multiplier" to match your scene.

Put a Falloff map in the Reflection slot. Settings as above.

6. Final rendering

Hope you like this article and find it useful~



  1. As for the technical side of the things I like it (not that it is my area of expertise)

    As a beekeeping is my hobby, here it goes:
    Comb should be bigger. Honey doesn't drip. It goes straight up to a thinnest flow. Number of torrents dripping from it is too big. Some cells within cone should be capped.
    The flow from above is unrealistic. The cone should be tilted and honey coming from cells in MUCH less amount. There should be less of a constant flow for much longer time.
    This particular pattern could happen if you break a comb in two parts and then you would get flow from broken point.
    As for the grouping of the torrents there usually are 2-3 of them for this size of comb. Also the amount of the honey is far to great.
    Also keep cell walls in comb much thinner if you want to have more realism.

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