Student WIPs

Hey everyone!

My name is Kyle Valentin and I am a student at Laguna College of Art and Design. I decided at the beginning of my senior year that VFX work really interests me but there is little to no where to learn it! So after becoming best friends with google and lurking on the facebook group a while, I’m finally here to get some feedback. The goal is to have 3-5 solid pieces I can take to companies come to December when I graduate.

I’m hoping for some really strong constructive feedback from the community at large. I’m going for hand painted stylized vfx aimed towards Blizzards/Riot/Carbines kind of style. Any info would be great and much appreciated!

Here is a video of the 3 I’m currently working on:

Thanks everyone! =D


Hey man, welcome to the forum!

First lesson - presentation! Kill that horrible floor and just use a flat grey - i want to see the effect, not be distracted by the ground. Secondly lets see a few more angles and closer up - i presume you’ve seen this effect? not only is it an awesome effect but he’s really presented it well with the focus on the effect.

as for the fx themselves, they’re pretty cool. i’m no expect on stylised fx but i’ve definitely shipped games with worse looking things :slight_smile:

there’s a bit of a style mismatch in the fireball - i really like the handdrawn cut out effect you have on impact but the initial burst and trail effects are much more noisey - little hand animated flame shapes would be much more in keeping.

the trail in the second effect has a nasty hard edge at its start - and then pops immediately on impact which is a bit jarring - unreal’s trails are pretty crap tbh, i’d probably just use a mesh and scale it up to get the trail effect instead. The impact is pretty cool - the black portal isnt centred on the impact point though which bugs me - maybe a sphere might work better if its the sprite facing thats causing the issue. I really like the wisps that jump into the top - really nice motion.

The ice blast is nice too - the smokey part of the initial trails seems to fade away strangely and doesnt have much shape but i had to freeze frame to see that. The mesh icicles all just moving down into the floor isnt great imo - it’d be better if they moved back along their direction as if they were retreating back into the ground, as opposed to just sinking. Also maybe stagger the time a little so they dont all move uniformly.

looking good though!



Great to see someone with enthusiasm to learn and jump into VFX :), great start with the VFX i would recommend you take a look at this thread "What Color is Slow?" PAX Dev Panel - #12 by Anton - Real Time VFX and watch the video about ‘what color is slow’.

The video gives some great information and breakdowns on how to approach working on effects like you have created and what to focus on to give the player the best feedback as i feel you have skipped an important step which is the build up before firing the effect, this part can be the selling point for an effect and lead on to better timings and more punchy looking impacts etc.

Keep improving though and please post more updates :slight_smile:

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Unless it’s for a reel… If I review a reel that shows off effects on a black background, I shut it down and look at the next applicant. It usually means the artist doesn’t know how to make it look good in an environment so they display it against black where ANYTHING will look good. If you can make your effects look good against a boring backdrop, I’m interested in seeing more.


it all depends on the effect of course but i take your point. environmental effects i want to see in context but something like the character ability fxs above i’m happy to see in a simple grey world. better that than with a badly modelled and animated character that just distracts from the effect. at the end of the day quality and care speak for themselves - a nicely lit and composed grey background shows some thought has been taken at least compared to just on black in isolation.


Hey Kyle, I also started learning fx in my senior year too, so you’re not alone! Keep at it, and with this community and online resources you can learn rtvfx pretty quick. Fine tuning it is the harder part and learning to see what works and what doesn’t takes time.

First effect: I agree with @tharlevfx in that there is a style mismatch between the fireball and the impact. Your burst is a lot of soft smokey looking particles, and your impact is hard edged, bright, and vibrant. Try and base your other textures off that impact and have some strong shapes in that initial burst. On the topic of the burst, I don’t feel there’s enough energy in it. The particles just kind of “puff” out and fade going roughly the same speed. If you’re using a sphere emitter, boost the radial velocity higher, and put a high drag on the particles or adjust the velocity/life to slow them down. Hand drawn and Blizz-style fx use lots of radial shockwaves like your ice effect too, so maybe see how one would compliment those initial burst particles. Your colors are very muted, without much contrast, especially in your trail and shell around the shooting sphere. Make sure those colors are pronounced and readable. Again, your impact is great; there are bright yellows and deep reds at the edges, so try to replicate that in your projectile. A last note on the topic of your impact is it just appears, at least to my eye which has only seen your effect a few times at normal speed. It’s just “Boom! Instant shape” and I’d like to see the texture grow around the block. As I said before, the colors and shape of it are great, and I like the dissolve out.

Second effect: Again, the initial burst is a bit weak, with just a few rings popping out. Flares and burst textures help sell explosiveness and force in fx. Try and find some examples of impacts and slow it down to check out how it’s all put together. Jason Keyser has some good references and videos on it . I like your trail and the animation in it, but the others are right it’s a bit too harsh and square at the end. Try multiplying it by a linear gradient to soften up that end edge. I’d say get rid of the floaty soul bits coming out of the trail, or make them more numerous and give them a soft kill (they play out their lifetime) instead of just popping off screen when the projectile impacts. For the cracks, same thing with your fire burst, it just pops on screen, so I’d recommend either growing the cracks out from the center to their full size, grow the width of the cracks to their full size, or both. For your portal, try drawing an interesting shape for the portal instead of just a plain oval, add in some value variance in your purple edge (lighter/brighter in spots) but stay away from blooming it out, Blizz and Riot never use engine bloom (to my knowledge). The smoke in the center of your portal pops too much. Try getting into the habit of scaling particles’ size and opacity up by life, and overlap their death with another particle’s life. I like the energy coming out and getting sucked into the portal, but that one block does get in the way of it. You don’t need to be constrained to using the identical “test room” for every effect, and I actually strongly recommend putting your effects in actual levels. Usually a commercial engine will come with pre built demo scenes, so try putting your stuff in those, keeping in mind the genre of the scene to your effects. You wouldn’t really have a sci-fi effect play in the middle of a forest, ya know?

Third effect: I think this one is your best so far. There are a lot of elements layered over each other and it feels punchy. Your ice crystals could use some size variation in the thickness of them, but that’s just my personal opinion. They do need more contrast and variation in the texture though,right now they just feel like blue spears. If you made the geometry, take some time to UV it and do some hand painting for the textures, like this . The snow bits and fog around the origin feel good, but your snow coming off the impacts is a bit too slow. Give it a very slight delay from when the crystals spawn, but keep in mind that they are shooting out with the force of the crystals growing, so they should initially be moving as fast as the crystals are growing up, but as soon as they pass that they should hit a lot of drag in the air and float down since they are very light bits. If you are working in Unreal, try adding an Orbit to them so they swirl around a bit on the way down. Also for little bits like that always remember to have a distinguishable difference in lifetime so some fade out much sooner than others, it gives it more life and character.

One last bit, try and use curves in your graph editor as much as possible. Ease in, speed up and level off or fade in and out all help sell and blend your particles into a cohesive effect, and sometimes adding curves and tweaking a curve handle can mean the difference between having 10 value changes over a particle’s life, and just two.

Keep at it and reference, reference, reference!


Hey everyone, thanks for all this awesome feedback!

Unfortunately I have been so busy with other classes I haven’t been able to fix up more than the first one, but I thought I’d share the progress with you guys and you can see whats changed and what you do and do not like etc. etc.

Starting off, I fixed up the map, flat gray away!

I added a build-up phase tot he fireball. I don’t know about everyone else, but I’m very prone to adding too much and then losing the effect later, so I really hope I didn’t take this too overboard.

I added some bursts to the initial launch and edited a lot of the colors throughout the effect.

I think the only thing I really haven’t touched on yet is the growing out on the hit effect. Those are animated flipbooks and I may just need to add a few frames to make that feel a bit better.

As usual, C&C away!

Thanks for all the feedback everyone!


I like it a lot my only suggestion is maybe try the hit to show with the (orange, yellow) - hot colors for impact and then change the colors to (blue, pink) so the heat is cooling of. Basically the opposite of your order.
I think it will look and feel better as a stylized effect.
The timing looks good to me, but what do I know… :blush:

Hey Everyone!

I’m back with some updates.

The second spell wasn’t reading quite like I wanted to so I more or less changed it completely lol

Feedback as usual is always accepted and appreciated!


I’m just going to edit this post to my (hopefully) final draft on these 3 before moving onto the next one.

check it out and feel free to drop a comment, moving onto a heal next!

Thanks everyone!

Hey everyone!

I think these are finally finalized. There was a lot of tweaking and perfecting at the end there, but I thought I’d put up what I’m hoping is going to be the final of the version of my Senior Semester work here. Made in Unreal

Let me know what you think!


Hey everyone!

So after graduating I took a few months off to decompress, but I’m back at it again!

I’ve fixed up a lot of my effects and added a few more things and learned a few tricks and techniques so I’d love to get another round of critiques from everyone!

Here is the video:


More work on these.

Working on adding more cohesion to the textures.