Followed some tips from one of the previous posts about using TP, PFreeze and I'm using mograph matrix object in object mode to create the thinking particles. It kinda works, but I'm wondering if I'm going about this the hard way. I haven't had the time to learn Pyrocluster or TP properly and they're always a bit tricky. Time is an issue as well. Can anyone offer some more tips or is there an alternative method?
If only I could model some cloud-like shapes and then apply a soft-and-fuzzy effector ;)
You could use some different color volumetric omni lights to be stars in the nebula, then in the light's options in the Noise section, change Noise to Both. Then, go to the Visibility section and increase the % of dust. Try maybe 30% to start and adjust from there. Also, adding Lens Effects may help the lights look more star-like.
This may not be a perfect solution, but will definitely help add to the nebula look.
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I think that Pyrocluser is your best bet for realism. As far as Thinking Particles ... another option would be to use the MoGraph Matrix Object along with effectors. Mograph can be easier to control, and the Matrix Object can output TP particles that can be used with Pyrocluster.