Official VFX Sketch #22: Grayscale

background image provided by [Ivan Grudinin]

The Grayscale Challenge:

Pick one typical effect below and create 7 variations of it using only grayscale value’s, no colour allowed (incl. post processing)
Make the variations as distinct from each other as possible.
These 7 variations should be very rough first passes, do not spend too much time on them!

The typical effects to choose from are :

  1. Gun Muzzle Flash.
  2. Barrel Explosion.
  3. Circular Portal.
  4. Magic projectile.
  5. Tornado.
  6. Magic Beam.
  7. Grenade.
  8. Hit Impact Effect.
  9. Sword Slash.

If you present more then 7 variations clearly outline the 7 that you wish to submit.

Once you have 7 variations, select your favourite one and work it out further into a final effect.

Submitting: Create a new topic in the “Events > 22 Grayscale” category with your name in the title and the sketch number ( Like this : “Bas Ketball: Sketch #22” ), and post your updates to this while the event is running.
When you are finished, edit your first post so it holds all 7 variations as well as the final effect in the form of Youtube/Vimeo Video or High-Quality GIFs.


  • Always cite your sources! Is your work based on that of someone else, let us know. Show your references.
  • All entries must be made during this running period
  • Do feel free to use any tool, system or workflow that pre-existed. Although we encourage experimentation.

April 3rd → April 30th 11:59 PST, The judging process can take a few days.

Scoring and Winning:
We will have some of our very own vfx wizards to judge your work.
These judges will select a favourite and runner up.
Judging criteria includes:

  • Created distinct, unique and readable variations.
  • Followed the challenge rules.
  • Showed WIP.
  • Work is technically and artistically well-executed.

All Participants : Will recieve a participations badge.
Runner up : Will recieve a silver badge and avatar icon.
Favorite : Will recieve a golden badge and avatar icon as well as a video critique by a Master VFX Artist!


If you have any questions, Feel free to ask them down below!

Good luck, have fun! :fire:


Pretty challenging! Really hyped to post my entry.

Good luck everybody!

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Also for those fast readers, this marks the first time we’ll have the winner receiving a video critique from a veteran VFX Artist, as well as formal judging! Thanks for pulling this together @Niels! Excited to see what people make!


Sounds great. Good luck everyone!

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I know it says: " Pick one typical effect below and create 7 variations of it using only grayscale value’s, no colour allowed (incl. post processing)"
But because of my mind i have to ask:
Isnt allowed to use posprocessing only to get that greyscale right? I mean, in color grading saturation can be set to 0 to only get greyscale.

GL everyone! :smiley:

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Also, try to show us how you are making sure/attempting to make the effect as performant as possible!
Its good to show others optimization tricks, and learn some yourself :slight_smile:

Not mandatory of course, but… well… since its realtime vfx, its good practice :slight_smile:



the incl. post processing inflicts the no colour allowed statement. You are allowed to use post processing, just not to add, remove or alter colours :smiley:

What I mean by that, is that it’s not really intended that you make your effects in grayscale and then tint them differently per variation.

The 7 variations that you present should be presented in grayscale :smiley:

That seems like a pretty fun challenge ! I’m in :smile:

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Ok, first things first, 'cause I can’t be the only one. When I saw this months topic my very first thought was; Oh! It’s a Game of Thrones homage! (Since the Final Season begins this month.)


Sigh11 more days!:woozy_face:

This Months topic seems… I’m not too sure. I mean, I get it, make one thing multiple times in multiple styles was once something I had to do in an Art II Class as I recall. It was fun! With the gray scale requirement the focus is now on Value & Motion to make things stand out each in their own way. What I find perplexing is…

Perhaps this is me being silly, as I subconsciously do understand, yet I still have this question - What does finished look like in this case? I have read the Judging criteria, which I presume is very much the answer to this question… yet I’m still scratching my head about … what that looks like. Perhaps it will be more clear once I see some entries.

Also I tried to find out who was “top dog” last month. Did no one finish? There is literately no post. I think that’s the first time that’s happened in my tenure here.

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I would add another example to the list of typical effects. having a list of 7 items while asking for 7 variations may lead to some confusion.


You manage to be confused while stating the answer to your question.

This is very much your “Multiple times in multiple styles” Exercise from art class with the difference that most of us have a full time job and aren’t in school anymore :smiley:

Your 7 variations shouldn’t be finished, instead they should just give the general idea. Think thumbnails for concept artists kinda gist.

Then after that, you bring only 1 of them to completion. Where that completion lies, is up to you.

Is a “Barrel Explosion” literal an exploding barrel or some specific kind of explosion?

Yup, literaly an exploding barrel :smiley: I feel like in my tiny little carreer I’ve had to blow up an out of proportion amount of barrels, so I wanted to include it as being typical :smiley:


Do you not like the symbolism? :smiley:
But you are absolutely right, people might get confused with the 7-7 thingy, I’ll add some more examples of what you can make :fire:

what about slashes? :slight_smile:

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I can dig it! Consider me in for this theme!!

So I know I don’t need to, but I want to save some face here. When I made my post, I didn’t yet realize that GDC had gifted me some good old fashioned kick-your-ass “flu”, or whatever it was. Feeling better. I knew something was up. Thank you @Niels for responding to my question, odd in concept as it was.

Welcome to the homestretch!

Hey guys,

There’s 10 days left to enter the challenge.
Don’t forget to present a final version of your chosen effect.

Now is probably also a good time to present the awesome people who will be judging your entries.
@Luos_83 , @Sirhaian and @Partikel will be looking at the wip and final result and will select a judges favorite and runner up.
They will do so based on your ability to follow the sketches guidlines and and your ability to show general artistic and technical ability.

Good Luck!



Time to re-watch all of their tutorials and courses :eyes: