Overwatch - Moira - Biotic Orb Recreation Attempt

Hi All,

I haven’t posted in a while… but I have been lurking in the shadows trying to absorb all the tips people are sharing and looking at all the really cool stuff people are producing…

To that effect, I set myself a challenge to recreate Moira’s Biotic Orb from Overwatch. The reasons being…

  • It’s a very cool effect
  • I suck at using flow maps and want to get better
  • The way blizzard arts use simple colours but make stuff so striking is something I want to learn…
  • Hopefully any advice I get will help other beginners create similar effects
  • Overwatch and Diablo are basically my biggest VFX inspirations… so seemed like a good place to start

So I started off by jumping in game and grabbing a reference video…

And I have tried to match the Damage orb as closely as possible…

Things that are bugging me about my attempt that I just don’t have the knowledge to sort out…

  • There seems to be far more subtle colour movement within the flow map of the orb in overwatch…
  • The outter wisps seem to come out really poor quality, and my alpha erosion doesn’t seem to be as clear as in overwatch… tbh I tried like 20 different textures and 20 different flow maps and I just can’t recreate the outter wisps… this was the best attempt…
  • The outter border of the orb is very crisp, where as the transition in overwatch from the orb to the glow seems softer and just looks nicer… I am using fresnel on a sphere mesh though and when I try and fade the center and the edge at the same time it just seems to die…

Those are the bad things I have noticed… if anyone can help me fix them then please do fire away… and if you can see anything else that I can improve please feel free to tell me as this one was all about learning things I don’t know very well…

Thanks for taking the time to read and watch all! :slight_smile:


Ohhh Awesome … I think main orb is missing some animated texture/shadrer thingy.

Breakdown for outer wisps please … :smiley:

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Hey there Kris!

It’s awesome to see people recreate effects from Overwatch! I might be biased having made Moira’s effects though haha! It looks like you’re off to a strong start on this.

Overall, it hits the big aspects of the effect pretty well. My two pieces of critique concerning the big picture would be that the core of the orb is off center and the shape of the smoke emanating from the orb is a bit jagged/sharp and doesn’t live long enough. The overall movement of the smoke should be calmer. Give the smoke some time to breathe. Part of why you might be having trouble with the alpha erosion is that you can’t really see it erode if it erodes too fast. As far as the shape of the smoke goes, I’d let your flow map do most of the heavy lifting and keep your color texture very simple and clean and keep the flowmap pretty soft and curvy. It’s hard to give much more in-depth critique without seeing your textures or how the shader is set up.

The soft outer border of the orb is controlled through fresnel just like how you described. It was just a lot of tweaking with the graph to get it just right.

And about that subtle color movement you were talking about in the swirly part of the orb. Most of the textures we use are grayscale and then we remap the color with a ramp. My texture had a quick but still soft transition from the solid shape to the blurry falloff. The solid shape was remapped to be a dark purple and the outer falloff was remapped to be a brighter pink/purple and the flowmap distorts it all.

Overall, looking good! And keep it up! Would love to see updates or more Overwatch inspired work :slight_smile:


Well… I couldn’t ask for a better person to give me feedback! thanks Toafer! I really appreciate the reply. I can’t upload my materials and textures at the moment, but I will give the effect a rework with your feedback first and see if I get any closer, and then give a full break down as to what I am doing so you can actually see where I am going wrong in my approach.

For the center of the orb I was actually using a smaller sphere with a camera fade material function and a gradient texture… I assume from the feedback that this is wrong and you are actually just using a 2D sprite and a texture… if that’s the case it’s a nice easy fix! (it is off center because of the camera angle I think)

The outter smoke was reaaalllly bugging me! I think the texture I am using is really wrong, is it right to say that you are actually using a smoke texture that has been masked? if so I was way off in my assumption and that alone will probably help me get closer to what you did originally. (this would also explain why I am getting a lot of difficulty getting the apha erosion to stand out)

As for the outter border I will have a go at sorting that out… I have an idea for that I think :slight_smile:

As for the swirly colour motion… I am happy to say that I am using that technique, but again I think my texture choice is wrong… I am actually just using a sphere texture with a noticeable but steep fall off on the blur. can I ask what kind of texture you actually used for that internal motion?

I will have a go at improving this tomorrow and post an update… beyond that my next Overwatch inspired effect will be Zarya’s ultimate which I already started before I got this reply :smiley:

Many thanks again!

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Hi Parag, thanks, I will post a break down of the wisps once I get them closer to the effect itself :slight_smile:

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I did a little bit more work on this…

Worked on softening the edge of the sphere… and I made a couple of new flow maps for the center and the smoke. Changed the smoke texture so that the alpha erosion is a bit more visible…

I also added a bit of noise to the outter sphere as I notice in game it seems to wobble around the edges just a bit… I also changed the colour gradient for the inner noise and I think I have a bit more colour motion now… also fixed the central orb being off center…

Still some things bugging me but I think it looks a bit better…


Hey Parag… I am pretty happy with the moira wisps now so thought I’d post the update video and my material set up… hope its useful :slight_smile:


Ah … Sweet. Thanks for the breakdown. I am still in early stage of learning unreal. I ll try this and bug you again if anything goes wrong :slight_smile: Thanks alot.

In the effect I think you need to animate the core texture as well.

Yeah I did do that before but I turned it off for that vid because I completely messed it up XD

I cant seem to get the texture/flowmap or colour gradient right for that at the moment… it is driving me insane…

Also… just incase it helps here are the values I have for the things being controlled by the dynamic parameters…


So generous of you :slight_smile: Thanks for sharing this.

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Really cool! Thanks for the breakdown. I’m trying to recreate this myself, I’m having trouble making the flow textures and Alpha (White/black). It’s painted in Photoshop or generated in a program?

I generally played around with 2 ways of making my flow maps but I know for a fact there are more ways than that.

First thing I tried was creating a flow map in Maya as shown in this imbueFX tutorial

Then I created some in photoshop, basically by getting a texturecoordinate texture and then distorting it using filters in filter forge, or using the liquify tool in photoshop, I felt that gave me a little more control, on the basis I could apply it to whatever texture I was manipulating with the flow map and see the end result. But the lessons learned in the imbueFX tutorial definitely improved the quality of what I was improving in photoshop.

I am definitely not 100% confident in what I produce when it comes to creating flowmaps, but I am much better than I used to be because of that tutorial series :slight_smile: hope that helps!


Thanks! I’ll look the video and try some diferents ways.

Flowmaps are really painful to do, and I think there is need for better tools in this area.
I tried to use Photoshop (which gives you a lot of control, but basically no real preview), and Substance Painter (you have a preview, but I wasn’t able to get good results because of the way brushes seem to behave). Maybe Mari is an option (didn’t try that yet).

I’ve built a little tool myself for painting flowmaps & dissolvemaps to have more artisic control, but it’s rather simple / something to doodle :wink: I might share that at some point.

I hope there is going to be a professional solution.

We’re currently working on a professional solution for flowmaps right now!

It’ll have 2D fluid sims, the ability to paint flowmaps manually, and take slices of vector fields and output flowmaps from there as well.

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If its any bit as good as your vector field generator I’ll look forward to it!

Should be! Our thoughts are that it’ll be implemented directly inside of VectorayGen (the vector field generator). So users who use that will get the flowmap exporting/creation for free if they already have vectoraygen. Otherwise, we’ll probably pull out the core functionality of flowmap creation and make it a separate cheaper tool for users who don’t want to purchase VectorayGen just to make flowmaps.

Though we could certainly use some feedback on this!