Joey Bullock - Sketch#60: Earth Bender

Final Submission:


Stone Fist:
My main effect will be an Earth Bender charging up a special attack, causing the surrounding rocks to form into the shape of a giant stone fist that will be used to attack the enemy. I’m thinking most likely a downward hammer-fist attack.
Aside from the charge up, I want this to have a few distinct beats, hit super hard on the final impact, and really convey the weight of a massive fist made of stone. This is somewhat of a variant of the Rock Glove technique used by the Dai Li.

Quick Sketch:
I am the farthest thing from an illustrator, but just to put something on the page…

I also want to try some “Slab Shackles” like Aang used against Ozai to keep the enemy still during the charge up phase.

Proof of Concept:
The first thing I started testing is a way to animate the formation of the fist from rock shapes. Here’s a viewport render of my current Houdini simulation.



Update 12/10/23:
I have decent blockout for my scene in Unreal.
The environment is crucial for Earth Bending, so I’m making a custom landscape. (I will try more plateaus & canyons next iteration)
I have a hard time making VFX in a vacuum, so I animated some characters to tell a little story. All of their animation is pretty much done.
The RBD sim for the fist is nearly dialed in, although I will iterate for more punchiness and secondary motion.
I realize this is already lengthy, but my plan is to get a lot of dynamic camera angles, play with time-dilation for dramatic moments, and make this feel more like an in-game cutscene.
Most of the tedious work is done, I have a foundation to start building VFX on, so now the fun stuff really begins. :smiley:

1 Like

Sorry I couldn’t take pictures “under the hood” until now. Here’s some of my process for building this scene:

I started by animating some Mixamo characters. I knew I wanted Abe to cast Slab Shackles, so I would need Ybot’s arms to be sticking out on either side, hence the double sword draw.

Abe has vertex color masks to control things like emission and wind influence. He also has a 2nd UV channel so I can do a simple panner on the V-axis and move aura energy from his feet up and out to the top of his head and tips of his fingers.


Slab Shackles were modeled using simple blocky shapes with edge damage. I ended up fracturing these in engine in order to make use of some of Unreal’s new chaos physics tools.

The stone fist was modeled by taking Abe’s fist as a reference, and arranging boxes along the bones in his hand. They were beveled, edge-damaged, and fractured in Houdini.

I used DOPs to simulate lowpoly RBD objects colliding with each other while SOPs pushed each piece towards their target position in the fist fracture. I could then use those piece IDs to copy that that data onto the high poly fracture pieces and bake it all into a lightweight FBX animation.

The environment was an opportunity to embed my art direction for Abe’s earth bending into the landscape itself.

I made a few texture sets for some stylized dirt and rocks, and decals for where the earth-bent elements meet the ground.

The anime lines are a very simple way to make a character animation look way more dramatic than it is. :sweat_smile:

I have been pulling a few of my most used “uber” shaders from project to project - refining, adding onto, and improving them each time. It’s a major time saver!

Lastly, I made this more of a cutscene than a gameplay moment, so I was experimenting with different kinds of camera moves that would emphasize the action.


Haha, so fun story. That old man just heard the loud sound of the assassin’s blade. Some unprofessional killer :grin: :grin:

1 Like