Official VFX Sketch #33: Photorealistic

(Banner background Image from bhphotovideo)


Create an attack spell using only photographs as textures.
Setup :

  • Create a new project and add two spheres a few meter appart.
  • Add only materials which use textures multiplied straight with particle colour, no fancy shader trickery allowed, alpha channel of the texture can only go to material alpha.
  • Go out there, or create something inside and take pictures.
  • Import those pictures in the engine, or alternatively import into photoshop and attach an alpha channel then import into the engine. (Alpha channel can be generated)
  • Make an effect that communicates damage being done by one sphere, to the other.

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

  • You showed WIP throughout the month
  • Your work is technically and artistically well-executed.
  • Followed challenge rules.

Submitting: Create a new topic in the " Events > 33 - Photorealistic " category with your name and sketch number in the title (Like this: “Shin-ki Sha: Sketch #33” ), and post your updates to your topic during the month!

When you are finished, Edit your first post so it holds the final effect in the form of Youtube/Vimeo Video or High-Quality GIFs.


  • Always cite your sources! Is your work based on someone else’s? Let us know! Always show your references.
  • All entries must be made during the running period shown below.
  • Do feel free to use any tool, system or workflow that pre-existed. Although we encourage experimentation.
  • Using a simple environment for presentation is allowed, but should remain simple and serve only as background.

Mar 4th → Mar 30th 11:59 PST

Favorite : Will recieve a golden badge and avatar icon.
Runner up : Will recieve a silver badge and avatar icon.
All Participants : Will recieve a participations badge.


People who have Sketch Diamond (x3 wins!):

If you have any questions, ask them down below!

Good luck, have fun!

EDIT: I am aware the sketch is a bit wacky this time, so if you have any questions, feel free to ask below :smiley:


Wow…it’s probably should’ve been “Events > 33 - Photorealistic” instead of “Loot Box” in the name))
Anyways…does it mean that no textures allowed instead of the ones taken out of a photos ?)) I mean…anything can be taken out of it…pretty much. It’s just the matter of filters. Just wondering what is the point here) Thx)

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You’re right, that should have been Events > photorealistic, my bad. :sob:

You’re not allowed to use filters or change the photo in any way. The only thing you can add to the photo is an alpha channel.

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Can i ,at least, crop / resize images ?)) please…:smile:

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Any criteria on using meshes in any ways?

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You can add alpha channel and plug that to material alpha. I guess that can be used for cutout.

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Cutout is fine but I’m talking about basic image maniplation. Here’s an example : i can draw a “glow” of some kind , but if i take a picture it ( with a phone ) , it probably wont be accurate, so i wonder if i can at least crop it to the reasonable area , and make sure it’s got the proper aspect ratio)

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Is it okay to Scale / Offset UVs? And what about Color Intensity?

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Ah, sorry, yeah, I should have been more obvious about that, you can resize and crop, just not manipulate the colors etc of the image.

Essentially, the challenge is to work with photos, not to create procedural textures.

For example, if you want a leaf in your effect, you can go to the forest, take a picture of a leaf, draw an alpha over it, then use that as a particle.
You cannot, manipulate the picture of the leaf until it looks like a vague noise.


Meshes are allowed, as long as the material on that mesh falls within the guidelines. :smiley:

Haha - this sounds refreshingly fun!
I am tempted to join this - oh my, if not time was always running out before I get to finish

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Sounds great! I do have a bunch of photographs already, but if I join, I’ll make some new ones.

I got so many ideas already :star_struck:

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Nope, no manipulation in the material.

those restrictions are illegal…should be :smile:

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Weeelllll, we’re trying something different :thinking:


Great theme!
So is it okay if I take a photo and make some meshes and texture them with parts of the photo? Material will be simple, but mesh UVs are initially aligned with photo in some ways and wouldn’t change runtime in material?

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Yeah, if you want to, you can unwrap your mesh to do interesting things.

Scrolling uvs etc,… are NG though.

Do we have to take the photos or can we find something on google images?

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This sounds like an unusual but fun challenge! As it’s almost perpetually raining at the moment, I’m going to find a nicely contrasted image from the web I can pull an alpha from rather than taking my own photos

EDIT: Ah, after re-reading more carefully, it looks like it does have to be a photo I’ve taken myself (bullet point #3). Will do some digging around in the apartment, might have to waste some kitchen ingredients :smiley:

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