Archiemage's Sketchbook

Ok, decided to create this sketchbook to practice some VFX this year, it is more of a hobby done in free time with small, consistent steps.
The main focus is to make as many mistakes as possible, start and end things, share, learn and hopefully show some progress over time.
Particle simulations done in Cascade for Unreal Engine 4.

Do you know a cool thing? If you think about heroes, 2D VFX Animation looks like Sorcerers - The power of magic seems to come spontaneously and rather than rely on complex incantations they need to feel it so that it comes naturally (besides not having to memorize at the beginning of the day).

Real-time VFX on the other hand seems a Mage - Always seeking knowledge and studying things like: elements, words of power and reagents to mix into intricate formulas and produce spells that can challenge the mortal minds. Also walk in group to share and look for the next addition to your Grimoire.

Despite the similarity to these things (and tabletop role-playing games), everything here is fan art made for fun. It is a beautiful craft that deserves admiration for its own challenges and for the talent of the artists who work with it.

Hope this can be useful for you.

Very basic steps started with what was shared right here on the site.

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Did some flame practices to feel the process in 2D animation.
Loop with 5 frames: 3 keys and 2 in-betweens
It came out quite cut, but I was happy for the opportunity
to put it into practice.

Trying some blocking of the main shapes with two reading of values.

Thinking about vfx animation sounds crazy, flames have no bones and joints, water is tiny units clumped together in one form, and yet you can come here and find something new EVERY DAY. To think that an artist can find order in something naturally chaotic can blows your mind the first time.


Some smoke practice

“Interpolation” as poor translation of “straight ahead” and “pose to pose” animation methods.

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Pretty handy stuff about smoke and dust effects on the artist channel

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Incandescent Rukhmar quill

Starting to play with particle effects along with 3D in this piece of fan art, focus on just putting it into practice and use of basic resources while trying to optimize/compensate some aspects with the use of art. I will do my best to be objective and as brief as possible.

putting the initial idea on “paper” while trying to stick with something that makes sense

after some research, trying to figure out how it will work in general

refining sketch to start some 3D

modeling the main shape

refining the mesh and adding some silhouette to it

with the model ready, it becomes doable to do some tests such as a hierarchy of values without losing the sense of progress

sketching the mesh of the other components

meshes are ready

UV map logic

preparing the textures to be used: ember

here there is the use of some rgb channels for alpha (so the smoke doesn’t disappear abruptly)

sketching some idea of color and details

and some hand painting process


some considerations about shaders and particle system (and the feeling when you study it the first time)

final polishing after checking that everything is ok

Cool resource
Lots of useful information about particle effects on the artist channel:

Don’t get me wrong, it seems simple but it was a hell of work gather the initial information and convert it into a visual response like this, even if you are a person invested in take things apart to see how it works inside there will still be disciplines worth to taking shortcuts if you can, luckily the general sense of share and grow within the vfx community helped a lot in that regard.

In the end I was very happy with the result and I hope something can be useful to you too. Thanks