Scorch marks, what's your process?

Hi everyone, I’ve been thinking about what kinds of common effects get used in just about every game regardless of style. One of the most common that comes to mind, and something I would like to be more proficient creating, are scorch marks. That sooty scaring that we see in games left behind from everything like bullet impacts, explosions, fire and magic. This is a good example of what I have trouble creating quickly:

I admit that I don’t know photoshop like the back of my hand yet, and my hand painting is a bit slow from lack of practice. What kind of workflow does everyone here use to make these? Do you have an action or two in PS that just makes them out of a few procedural textures and filters? Is there a quick way to paint them, or do you use some other program? Any insight would be appreciated, and I think would be a good informational addition to the community as well. I feel like my method is pretty rock-and-chisel.

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First of all, I’d definitely recommend generating some of the look using a procedural technique in the material. Things like scorch marks are often re-used constantly from things like incendiary explosives, bullet impacts, etc. If you just paint a scorch mark, you’re going to end up seeing that same repetition constantly.

Radial coordinates with on a mask that looks something like this (note, not exactly this, just a quick google search to find something kind of appropriate):

with a random start position on the U for that will get you a “starburst” that can be different for each instance. That’ll get you some of the look you need, and then layering on other techniques (sphere gradients eaten away by a noise texture) can be added on top.

Of course, I feel like I’m dodging a bit of your original question, which is how to paint a texture that does this, but my advice is still “don’t paint a single texture for this.” I’m sure someone on here might have some great filters and techniques to help you out with that question tho! So I’ll leave it to them.


That helps a fair amount actually. Radial w/ stacking would be a good way to go about it. I was mainly asking about quick or efficient ways to get something like you posted above, it doesn’t necessarily need to be a hand painted texture. I guess I just feel like it should only take 15-25 minutes to get something that looks good, and I seem to push 45 min for something I’m happy with :confused:

Oh yeah for sure, anything that can help speed up texture generation I’m all for.
Well one thing you might consider is doing the same kind of thing I mentioned above as material work, but just doing it in photoshop instead to help get a good starting point! That might speed up texture generation.

So using the Distort->Polar Coordinates operation in photoshop on the image above, I get this:

Which is probably a decent starting point. Obviously it has artifacts and such, but it gets you part of the way toward a completed texture.



Not sure the “best” way, but this is how I approach it:

Draw random dotty shapes and add radial blur (zoom mode). Ctrl F to repeat that action until it looks guuuwd ^^:

new layer rinse and repeat:

This is where we are:

Invert to see what it looks like

large round brush to fill out the center a bit more.


Textures are based on art direction. I will use whatever is appropriate for the game. Sometimes photos, sometimes painted.

A fun trick is to use parallax mapping in a shader to create the illusion of depth in the scorch/impact mark.

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