DeRain's Sketchbook

Hey guys, this is my first go at making a proper effect after committing to learning VFX! In my process of learning I’m going to make it a project to adapt some “concept art” for effects that I drew back in high school for a game design class, starting with this tornado.
It’s meant to be just an intermediate skill, which within that concept isn’t very strong at all, and is why I chose not to do the big vertical storm that I unfortunately saw the most when looking for references on how to make a tornado :sweat_smile:
In general, I think I’m going for a punchier version of Hanzo’s ult in terms of feel and kind of like airbending in terms of style.

It’s not quite where I want it to be yet but I would appreciate any tips before continuing further with it!


Hi @DeRain14, welcome to the community :smiley:

For sure you need to change some material settings because this beams of wind looks opaque. 1
Like here your cloud texture covers only parts of your mesh and transparent parts are something like 0.5 transparency. I guess your noise texture after material calculation is looking something like this on left.
What I would reccomend is to change the texture for one on the right, this way you will get cloud texture on entire mesh. Second way is to change this dark grey parts on left texture to full black this will be transfered as opacity = 0.

Same can be applied to this part, but here better will be second option I guess :wink:
Cool idea with this small particles, just try to randomize their spawn location. I can see rectangular emmiter and we should avoid this.

Last thing are this rings
I guess they are generated by wind from main projectile, but their movement indicates that rings are comming from player not the projectile.

Keep it up and share with us if you have something new!

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Hey thanks for the advice, I’m glad someone recommended to look on here to learn more about VFX!

The opaque-ness(?) on the wind beams was more or less intentional, I set up the materials to have adjustable opacity and the materials were set to around mid way, so I just slid it back down to 0 for now. I decided to reverse the velocity for the rings to make it seem more like the tornado is creating that force at the start instead of as it goes. I assume that’s sort of what you meant, anyway. I originally wanted to eventually make them into streaks of wind whipping around the mesh but I haven’t figured it out yet.
I think I’ll let this one simmer for now though and start learning some different things. I essentially have six different effects planned coming off of this old game idea, each based off of a different element (with ice and lightning separate), so I might move all of them to the same post once I get a few of them finished. Fire element is next (and it’s not going to be a fireball :wink:)!

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Sure :wink: just when planning the effect remember how the effect energy will behave. For example, this tornado pushes energy outside, so it looks unnatural if something is closing in.
This energy stuff is well explained in Elemental Magic books.


Ok I’m feeling good enough about the second effect to post it after getting some feedback on the discord! I think I’m gonna change this thread to be a semi-vfx journal for the stuff I make while sorting through this vast ocean of knowledge. Of course any feedback is appreciated and encouraged!

My goal right now is 4-6 effects done by the summer or at least the end of summer, each with at least a few new techniques that I haven’t learned or properly incorporated before and based on some element (fire, wind, ice, etc).

The first effect I did was the basics of UE4 particle systems, mesh particles, and projectiles, with the goal of making something based on wind. This one is fire-based, and I ended up learning about UV editing/manipulation, soulercoasters, channel packing, opacity gradients, and (unfortunately) ribbons. Still have a lot to learn about all of them though, and I had to change my design for this like 5 times because I couldn’t really secure what I wanted to do in my mind, so maybe I’ll sit down and properly plan the next one :sweat_smile:! Also I don’t really know how people make good looking runes, so I’m using the flame sigil from Tyranny and a fire rune from skyrim as placeholders!

Anyway, TL:DR: VFX is(are?) cool. For the people who are familiar with elemental effects, I would love to hear which elements are your favorite to design for! I personally think lightning is the coolest but I’ll probably hold off on that one until I can make it look really good :grin:

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Here’s a WIP recreation of the skill Ziodyne from Persona 5! I’ve been playing through the game again since the Royal definitive edition came out and I was inspired to recreate one of the skills from the game.

So far I think I’ve got most of the moving parts down, though the textures are fairly rough and I’m working on getting the bursting particles in the middle to be oriented around the center. I’m thinking maybe it’s just a rotating alpha erosion texture rather than a set of different textures like I have, but it’s kind of hard to tell.



From here on, I’ve got to add the lightning strikes from above, fix some timings, and clean things up, but yeah!


I’ve cleaned up some of the textures and changed the bursty particles in the middle to be a single rotating texture with a mask rather than multiple particles choosing from a subuv.

I’m pretty satisfied with it so far considering I put it together fairly quickly compared to the other stuff I’ve done. I might keep tweaking it, and if anyone has any inputs I’ll take them into consideration!

OK, here’s another WIP effect I’ve been working on! This is the first effect I’ve made that loops with a defined intro and outro. Imagine a giant gun barrel behind the portal, gundam style. The barrage happens for as long as you hold the mouse button down, otherwise it just shoots the beam right away, although skipping the barrage isn’t seamless at all right now.

Front View:

Side View:

I’m trying to get better at adding smaller details like the Ziodyne case study from before so hopefully I can get more ideas about how to continue with this effect in that way. I’m also trying to add a better feeling of power both from the barrage and the beam as well as add collision effects, so yeah!

More WIP for the barrage effect I’m working on! Got a lot of help from people in Discord so far, and made a lot of changes. I shaved off a lot of extra effects that weren’t really contributing to the overall feel and also cut off the big beam at the end for now at the recommendation of people in Discord, since it was pretty disjointed from the rest of the effect.

Overall, I redid the portal to make it look less like an ambiguous yellow circle and separated the fireballs into their own emitter so I could shoot more off at one time and also control their location more easily. I also moved the fire lines from shooting out of the portal to shooting from the casting circle into the portal to better show the transfer of energy. And finally, I added an explosion on fireball death and a bigger explosion on collision as well as some camera shake and bloom to give it a bit more weight.

I’m still debating whether to keep the portal since it kind of lost its purpose for the most part. Technically, the portal shown is only the inner portion of the portal and I’m still trying to figure out a good way to add some rolling smoke to the edges, so I will continue to look into that if I do decide to keep it. Also I still want to try and make the beam work, mostly because I think it would be cool, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

Alright, this is probably the final version of this. I think it came out pretty well, thanks to the great advice from people in the discord.

Side View:

Back View:

I ended up taking out the portal since it was just kind of there and wasn’t contributing to the overall effect. I polished up the fireballs and fixed an issue that was making them duplicate as well, and overall added more variation in their velocity. I also added some rotation to the magic circle so it wasn’t just sitting there as dead weight after the initial spawning.

Overall, I’m pretty satisfied with it. I think I’m getting comfortable enough to start putting together a proper demo reel to look for internships or something junior, so I will probably come back to this one as part of that process if I feel that there’s more I can do!

And piggybacking off of that, here’s a bigger and better version! This one was based around using the portal to shoot the fireballs like I had originally intended, except there’s many more portals to increase that feeling of absolutely demolishing a target.

Thanks to Anthony Davis on the RTVFX discord for the idea and help putting it all together! Overall, I’m pretty satisfied with this one as well, even moreso than the last, and although it could still use some touching up in places I feel like it’s good enough for me to move on and start completely from scratch.

Here’s another effect loosely based off of an existing one, this time from a PS2 game called “Tales of the Abyss”. It’s an attack named “Blessed Drops”, and unfortunately it is very difficult to find a good video showcasing the move since the game is pretty old at this point, this video is about the best one I could find.

Original at about 1:10 –

My version –

I decided to reimagine it as a healing move since I’ve always felt the name was kind of misleading, and overall it mostly involved making everything feel “softer” I guess? Also my first effect made using Niagara, which while a bit complicated at the beginning, felt much more powerful than Cascade already and I’ve barely used anything more than just the basics. I’m gonna mark this one as a WIP for now, although I’ll probably change the waterdrop at the beginning to have more of a buildup and then call it a day!

As always any feedback or ideas are welcome!

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Here’s another effect I was working on, it’s like an earth quake clap thing.

I mostly wanted to integrate animations more so I found one on Mixamo that I felt I could work with and made this! I’m starting to get more familiar with niagara, although I haven’t really messed around with much else outside of the base modules for this effect in particular.

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Also an update to the waterdrop effect.

I changed some things around with the materials, like making the highlights part of the main materials instead of layering them using a separate mesh. I also added it to an environment and played around with distance fields to get an outline where it collides with things, so the point of collision isn’t so jarring.


Here’s a crypt scene in UE4 that I made to get more accustomed to producing atmospheric FX, and also just to mess around with volumetric fog in unreal :grin:

I used a map on the unreal store called Medieval Dungeon and basically sliced out this portion that was already constructed, so the architecture and some blueprints were more or less already there, I just made edits to them as I felt necessary. I made from scratch the fire, fog, decals on the wall and floor, and the auxiliary atmospheric stuff like dust and cobwebs.

A WIP lightning effect i’ve been working on to grow more accustomed to using substance to make textures.

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Also i forgot to post the updated version I did of the crypt I had posted before :sweat_smile:
This one was expanded to encompass the whole underground area, complete with coffins and creepy statues.

Here is the final version of the lightning effect that I was working on! Overall I think this version has a better feel to its flow while still keeping some of that punch for the actual impact, plus the added flash helps give it some power.

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Here’s some quick post processing things I did to start getting more familiar with it and explore manipulating different camera passes.

Starting with a simple recreation of the ghostly afterlife in Phasmophobia:

And the material:

Assorted first person status indicators made with the same material:

Shield buff:

On Fire:


The material: