Simon Trümpler - VFX Sketchbook

OMG! it keeps just getting better and better :scream: :heart:
Awesome work Simon!

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Thank you @Arklan & @Laura_041!

I finally finished the effect!
Here is the Artstation Page, Breakdown & Project Files:


This is beyond gorgeous :sparkles: :sparkles: :sparkles:

I wonder how much performance this VFX eats up. While the smoke builds up around the core it consists of 5+ meshes which all use transparency, right? Would you say this could be put into a PC game as is, or would it need like a “reduced” version for lower graphic settings?
(I read that you recorded it with 60 fps, but I imagine your hardware specs to be on the higher end and I’m working with Unity, so can’t take a look at your UE project, unfortunately.)

Once more, amazing work! :clap: :clap: :clap:

Good question :slight_smile: I think from an overdraw standpoints it’s ok because the very big novas are just 1 layer of transparency and the core where stuff happens doesn’t fill the whole screen and there is nothing like 100 big soft smoke particles on top of each other. But I must admit that I put a lot of mesh resolution in the geometries i used. I guess I would re-visit this and see if I can optimize more if it would be for a game. It’s also the question if this effect could appear 100x at the same moment on the screen or if it’s a very special spell only fired once.

Regarding the fps: I record in 4K via Sequencer. This means it’s NOT captured in real-time but rendered in a way that 1 frame can take way longer than it would be possible for a game.

Thank you! <3

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That makes sense. Yeah, I imagine it to be on screen only one time or maybe a couple of times, since it draws a lot of attention and would probably be to noisy for a smaller scale. Thanks for your answer! :blush:

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Absolutely stunning!
Could you tell me how you did the distortion around the core that looks like its sucking the atmosphere around it before the explosion?

Thank you! It’s a simple particle with a disortion material and a cone-shapes normal map. You can download the project and check it out of you want.

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I will do just that!, thank you

I made a small project for my GDC22 talk which you can see here:

I’m extending the project a bit because I’ll give the talk again at ADDON22. Here is the current state:

ToDo Notes:

  • explo slower
  • lightning blue/white
  • variation to watersplash
  • additional elements (clouds?) for forground?
  • rework lit from below/inner volcano smoke texture
  • tweaked explosion to communicate scale better (everything slower)
  • lightning now blueish
  • watersplashes with a bit random scale
  • lava debris colliding with volcano

:white_check_mark: Shockwave in Air & Water 1.
:white_check_mark: Improve water splash (2 stages, angled when stone hits at anngle?)

  • additional elements (clouds?) for forground?
  • Physics of smoke, lava lumps and water burts seem to be from different scales, not reading together.
    :white_check_mark: Lava Flow
  • Steam Column
  • Water Foam around Island
  • Tweak colors? Discord

very satisfying to watch on loop and this iteration you made is even more impressive

these are the additions i could see attempting

  • water highlighting around mountain
  • lava flow
  • steam column

@Torbach thank you so much for your feedback! <3


  • smaller debris
  • smaller water splashes (with a first and a 2nd phase/splash)
  • lava streams
  • shock wave on water


  • :white_check_mark: Shockwave in Air & Water 1.
  • :white_check_mark: Improve water splash (2 stages, angled when stone hits at anngle?)
  • :white_check_mark:Small debris also with glow materials & collide with island
  • :white_check_mark:Rework Colliding Sparkles
  • :white_check_mark:Tweak Lightning (new core, color tweak)
  • :white_check_mark:Shockwave along terrain?
  • :white_check_mark:Tweak Shield Wiggle according to shockwave
  • :white_check_mark:New Textures (lit below, lit from inside)
    -:small_red_triangle_down: Recording- Fire should be colder( towards red). Lighting should be mix of blue and red, depending howclose it is tosmoke pillar. Lighting should be somewhat constrained to smoke pillar.
  • :small_red_triangle_down:additional elements (clouds?) for forground?
  • :small_red_triangle_down:Water Foam around Island
  • :white_check_mark:Physics of smoke, lava lumps and water burts seem to be from different scales, not reading together.
  • :white_check_mark: Lava Flow
  • :small_red_triangle_down:Steam Column

I like your volcanic lightning. In my opinion: you could make the lightning darker and more saturated for a stronger contrast.

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I’ll call this done. Could improve more but I need to finish it, document the texture creation and then give the talk.


  • new Smoke Column Textures (improved lighting from below & inside)
  • tweaked water splash (now with 2 stages, scaled them down a bit)
  • Lightning Strikes have a glowing “blob” at their core now



Working on a small effect for a class I’ll give soon. The idea is to have a relatively simple material/shader (mainly uv distortion + alpha erosion) and still get somewhat complex motion:



A new version. All elements (sphere, ring, smoke, fire, drips, puddle) use the same shader. The drips & circle are inspired by Alex Fedorov: Sketch #20 WIP @AlexFedorov



Here are some more small effect using the same shader (see above). The idea is to be able to create many different effects (projectile trails, collectible glare, scifi barriers, …) with the same shader.


  • puddle below fire orb is now less bright and i added some subtle smoke
  • new simple waterfall + waterrings + watersplashes

I find it hard to believe the waterfall and the fireball (or is a fire wisp?) are using the same shader, really interesting stuff there.
I can see this is some sort of continuation to your “How to not create textures” talk.
Thank you for sharing these.

I’m a newbie so if you’d allow me to ask: how is that fire projectile making that smooth up and down motion? Is it some ribbon magic, or something else?

Hi :slight_smile:

The “secret” of the projectile is a sine-shaped texture and a trail which is thin at the start and then quickly scales to it’s defined width. The principle is basically the same like here for the angel wings: sine texture on a plane where one part is scaled down → nice wiggly motion (Diablo 3 – Wings of Angels | Simon schreibt.)

In addition the trail uses UV distortion BUT

  1. only for the vertical UVs (meaning only for V, not for U)
  2. The distortion intensity gets stronger over time (so at the start of the trail there is no uv distortion and at the end of the trail it’s full intensity). This makes the trail move the “older” the ribbon particles get.