Seeking tips for beginner effects and portfolio ideas!


I’m new here and recently starting taking interest in vfx. 3D and realtime is nothing new to me so jumping into vfx isn’t such a big step. But what overwhelms me is what to start making. I’ve been watching a couple tutorials on cascade in Unreal and I’ve followed along without too much effort. But now when it’s time to start making something I don’t know where to begin. What I know is that I wanna work with stylized effects.

I also hope to build up a portfolio in the future that might attract future employers but I’m unsure what employers might be interested to see.

So here’s my question to the community:

  1. What kind of effects are good to start with as a beginner?
  2. What kind of effects are considered more advanced?
  3. What kind of effects should I focus on to show a broad knowledge on my portfolio?

All answers are appreciated!

Thanks so much in advance! :blush:

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It sounds weird but I feel like all 3 questions are really really closely related.

3 -> a good combination of what you get from 1 and 2?

1 -> How basic do you want to start? And what is your personal approach when it comes to making something, do you want to learn tech first and then assemble from the toolbox in your head or do you work the other way around with a specific target in mind and fiddling around with the tech to get it working somehow?

There are a hundred ways to make a fire effect. Let’s pick that as a base. You can do this entirely in a shader with noises and UV scrolling + UV Distortion. Both usefull techniques to know, absolute must know I’d say. Or you can achieve this with particles and some overdraw.
But based on your question is the answer here “a uv scrolling effect” or “a fire effect” ;)?

Getting a good grip on the particle system of your choosing is a good idea I believe, because in the a lot of effects can probably be achieved with some kind of mixture between particles, modeling and shaders.

Apart from that search through all tutorials to all topics that interest you. There are a billion possible effects and every single tutorial probably helps finding a new angle of looking at the problem.
Try to lookout for how people break down motion and shading in their tutorials and develop your own feeling of how to approach an effect.

tldr Answer: Particle Projectiles in general, Fire effects are always nice, Moving Gras (/ Vertex Displacement), Texture based water waves.

2-> (fake, efficient) Volumetric effects, Gerstner Waves Ocean shader with all the fancy bells and whistles, integrate your shaders with the lighting system (code, not graph based stuff), effects that require you customize the renderpipeline in any way (custom shadow systems, this goes beyond what an fx artist would do and includes tech art too)

I don’t know if other people would agree but I hope it helps


thanks for the information . .

I’m starting my journey just like you & I almost have the same questions.
Coming from the basic 3d generalist background we are concerned with what a junior would be able to do so we don’t go way over our heads … unfortunately, I couldn’t find some specific junior effects.
I think that’s due to even the most advanced effects are done with the cheapest tricks … so the methodology can be the same between a junior & a senior … it’s just about how you creatively combine them together.

The most helpful resource I found is this
She’s a great artist here on the forum & was kind enough (like many others here) to put the effort of making this guide for juniors like us. You can explore the forum here more to find other resources, but I find this the clearest to me.

Hope this helped. As said I’m just starting, so take my words here with a grain of salt.

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I’d just add that doing the FX challenges here and/or where you find them is a great motivator and way to improve. Also gets more eyes on what you’re doing. If the challenge results are good enough put it on your reel!

Thank so much for you answer! It gives me a good idé on how to start thinking. I’m a pure artist mind so I always start with visualizing what I wanna do and then try to break it down. I’ve started to look more into how games have used different effects and how I would try to make them myself and I noticed that that helped a lot.

I started making a fire! It’s not pretty it’s a good start I think haha.

Omg thank you! This is exactly what I’ve been looking for! She describes what is needed in a portfolio in such a clear way. It makes it really easy to follow! Thanks again for the link :smiley:

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That’s a great idea! I’ll definitely check it out! Thanks! :smiley: