Aligning particles and making instances look at something

Dealing with particle orientation and rotation can be frustrating, especially when you’re first learning.

Here, I’ve got a bunch of faces instanced onto a disc, and I want all of them to to look the closest point on the grid that’s in the center of the disc. Because the initial local Z axis of some particles faces “away” from the grid, you get can some weird popping and flipping. Here’s an illustration of the problem from an earlier test, when I was aligning the faces to look at a specific point. Notice how only the instances on one side of the null have problems.

So, I use the dot product to determine whether the local Z axis faces “away” from the target grid, and if so, I make an adjustment of 180 degrees, and then the faces align nicely.

A negative dot product tells me that the angle between the local Z axis and the vector to the closest point on the grid is more than 90 and less than 270.