Meshes for VFX

So, first of all, hi, fresh blood here. I’m currently working primarily in Unreal and have managed to get a pretty decent grasp on its particle emitters and GPU sprite emitters (currently learning ribbon and beam effects, enjoying them as of so far), but what I really want to try and get a good grasp on is Mesh effects.

A lot of videos I browse for inspiration or for help usually in some way go into 3DS Max, a program that although I have access too, am unfamiliar with. I’ve been struggling to find good videos for tutorials on how to exactly design meshes in 3DS Max or Maya for the use of VFX in Unreal. I was hoping that if I asked around on here, maybe someone has had some better luck than me. The official cascade video is great, but it doesn’t really help explain how to actually make a mesh for say a laser beam (Or maybe it did and my dumb ears didnt pick it up.). I know that these kinds of effects can be achieved without mesh emitters, but I want to try and grasp as much information as I can so that I can apply it when I need it, ya know? Anyways, thanks for reading this post and I hope to hear from you guys soon. Have a good one!

PS: I have zero idea if this belongs in the Technical & Engine Help section or general discussion, but I decided to put it here in General cause it seemed to be the safest route. Still getting use to the forum and with what goes where and whatnot. If it isnt, please let me know, sorry in advance!

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don’t forget blender :slight_smile:

shannon posted a break down of a simple shape and how to start thinking about how/why mesh might help you

as for basic modelling just a simple google/youtube search on modeling basics for (insert package) should give you direction on how to use the interface

may I introduce you to one I just found on youtube for blender :):grin:


Hey there! Thanks man. I have Blender but havnt managed to get the time to get down into it and work on how to do stuff in it, but this is really helpful! Thanks a ton for the video and link. I’ll be sure to look more into it!

you will also need to learn UVing as well; this can get you started -


Definitely! I’ll probably take the time soon to try and get use to Blenders interface so I can understand what is where. Still, this is awesome, thank you so much!

Go there:

There are tutorials for pretty much anything you need to know, specially for a beginner. Plus he uses Blender, which i don’t since i’m already familiar with 3DS Max, so this will prove very useful to you.

You can even go on his patreon and ask him to cover a specific topic for a next video, if he didn’t already did it.

As a VFX Artist, at least from what i experienced so far since i started not long ago (and you will eventually notice it unless you already did), you will have to get knowledge in pretty much every field (Animation, 3D Modelling, Texturing, UVs placement, etc) to get the job done. At least the basics.

And you’ll have to be able to explain how you do it, specially in an interview. I know since it cost me a post as an intern at Gameloft a few months ago.

Not trying to be depressing, just to warn you the path you choose isn’t the easiest and you will have to accomplish a lot before you’ll feel comfortable enough to be able to make pretty much everything you’ll be tasked to in the field.

Not the easiest way, but we are few and as such the community is very supportive.

Wish you luck.


Thanks a ton for the link! I definitely do want to get into Blender, yeah, but I really don’t want to try and wear myself thin with too many programs, so I’ll likely have to save learning Unity for another time as I’m already trying to learn 3DS Max, Unreal Engine and Blender. I’ve got a strong concept of how animation, 3D modelling, texturing, etc, works thankfully, I’ve learned a lot of that over time in the university I attend, its actually the reason I wanted to get into VFX in the first place. That and I love seeing stuff explode :stuck_out_tongue:.

Though, granted, most of what I’ve learned is in Maya, Zbrush, Unreal, etc. Not so much for 3DS Max, Blender or Unity, sadly. I know Maya can be used for VFX, but, I see people use 3DS Max far more often, so I assume its just generally better for it. I’m not 100% certain though.

I’ll be sure to give these videos a thorough glance when I start getting into Blender, which will probably be after I’m more comfortable with Unreal. From one engine to another kinda deal.

Again, thanks a ton. The more learning material I can get, the better. I want to try and learn what I can from the basics so I can branch off and do my own thing. (Which I’ve already started doing, actually. I should probably make a journal or something of the VFX I’ve started and completed and get some advice, huh?)

Also a thought on why we use mesh’s : you may need something as simple as vertex color

in this example the blue colors are motionless while the red and green move in different axis - cheaper than having to make images and the shader using an extra texture look up

but also you can ostensibly “model” a simple shape to blend with a texture (say feathering the edges while scrolling a seamless texture)


I think I’ve seen these before, yeah, but I’ve never seen them applied in a video or anything. I’ll try to give it a shot at making them at some point. I’d imagine these would be used a lot for environment effects (the branch being an obvious example.). Thanks for sharing!

Once you get a feel for your 3d program, it’s pretty easy. I kid you not, the majority of the stuff we do uses basic shapes like spheres and cylinders with some variations in them.


Yeah, I knew that much, could see that a lot on the videos I’ve been watching, like lots of beams were literally just three long flat faces with high emission added to them, then pushed forward quickly to give the illusion of a beam-like attack. It looks simple, just, needa figure out how to get there. Lol.

I also noticed that some meshes are imported in with animations at times. Like this one ribbon-like effect had a star that was spinning in a circle with ribbon emitters on each ending vertex of the star. It was pretty awesome. What I really want to get into is how to get the impact of an effect in my VFX, like when a bullet hits a wall or a beam creates sparks from some kinda surface impact. I’m not sure if thats Blueprint stuff in UE4 (which is what I use for now) or not, but I’m sure I’ll figure it out eventually. Hopefully :smiley:.

PS: Sorry for the late reply, was getting some work done and fell asleep. Zzz. Thanks for the post!

Impact, like a scorch mark decal?

Exactly! I think its probably something involving blueprints, where a effect influences a mesh to create a decal like a bullet hole, just needa figure out how to do it.