Step by Step VFX Breakdown - Pulse Cannon Effect

Hi guys, I have written a VFX breakdown of an effect called “Pulse Cannon” for all of the VFX community. This effect I created some months ago for the monthly sketch challenge here and it turned out quite good. I would like to share the breakdown here. I hope this step by step guide will be helpful for the VFX artists for their respective interests.

The Pulse Cannon Effect

The Breakdown

There are total 18 emitters employed in this effect. I have broken down the entire thing into three big categories. These are as is:

  1. Energy Buildup

    • Energy Burst
    • Energy Rays
    • Energy Mist
    • Energy Noise
    • Magical Twister
  2. Energy Release

    • Bunch of burst ring
    • Sparks burst
    • Grounded Flash
  3. Energy Beam

    • Energy beams
    • Beam glow
    • Thunder beam
    • Charged particle beam
    • Noise Streaks


  • Energy Burst
    These layers of flashes appear with the burst of rings & streaks. That help to fill the core burst & glow. It energizes the space where it will concentrate inwards for a buildup ready to release that energy.

  • Energy Rays
    Energy rays gravitating towards a center point shows the core of the buildup. These are velocity aligned stretched particles emitted from the spherical surface and in my case I had to set a negative velocity setting to make the particles move inward against the normal vector direction of the sphere surface.

  • Energy Mist
    With the combination of two emitters & textures, I produced a magical mystic look circle that rotate & dissolve in center of the core effect. This layer energizes the space and animates it to show the strength of the core effect.

  • Energy Noise
    Magical traveling of feather like textured particles that makes the core buildup behavior.

  • Magical Twister
    Magical Twister that twist with random behavior that also make the core buildup behavior nicely.


  • Bunch of burst ring
    With the help of single emitter produce a bunch of busted rings of different sizes to give a feel of forward shock wave.

  • Sparks Burst
    Outward burst of sparks after burst the whole other layers.

  • Grounded Flash
    Finally this flash appear on the ground to give a feel of whole effect light up.


  • Energy Beams
    This is the combination of two layers with same streaky texture but different in transparency and properties of particles. These makeup high energy laser like beams moving at high velocity. The different transparency levels give the beam depth and dimension.

  • Beam Glow
    A glow beam travels with the energy beams to enhance the light emitting from the beams. It fills the space with energy and animates the air.

  • Thunder Beam
    Thunder beam appears at the time of core burst which gives life to the whole burst. We have the space looking charged enough that it causes electricity generate and travel along.

  • Charged Particle Beam
    Another laser like beam that makes the core of the pulse. The stretched particles have animated UV coordinates to make the beam animate in the direction of beam. The empty parts of the texture produces the holes.

  • Noise Streaks
    This layer adds noise and blur to the energy beam and increases its density.

I hope this would be beneficial. Feel free to have your feedback on this effect and any questions are welcome. Thanks


I have no familiarity with Fork Particle Studio, can you describe its advantages to other packages?
how long have you used the package?
what other packages do you compare it to?
how do you implement the FX; that is, where/how do they deploy to a platform or device?
anyone can chime in on this who is familiar as i know the dev is here Fork Particle: Particle Effects Editor for Unity

1 Like

Hi Torbach, I am more of a regular artist (like I don’t particularly write complex scripts or complex shaders). I use 3DStudio Max and Adobe Photoshop a lot. So here is my take - I found Fork much easier and faster to create particle effects because I can iterate on the effect at hand very quickly. I like the UI and its art tool feel rather than that of like a game engine tool.

A couple nice features I used with Fork were its effects director that lets you put individual effects on timelines. So timing multiple layered effects like I want is easy and saves a lot of authoring time. Another good one was being able to bring in animated skeletal models into Particle Studio and attaching effects to bones right from the effects director timelines. I timed effects with the character animations and all that attachment information and stuff gets exported for game runtime. I haven’t gotten around to using the texture atlas creator built into Particle Studio, but that I know will come in handy for runtime performance.

1 Like