Travis McCallum - VFX Sketchbook


I would like some feedback on my work. Please be ruthless as it is only my 5th week since I’ve decided to pursue VFX as a career. :smile:

I am starting with the element of fire. I want to make fantasy and science-fiction games.

  1. Fireball Charge-Up.
    After @Partikel gave me a dose of VFX reality, I finally figured out how to attach a particle to a static mesh. I was going for a unique stylized look, but I’m starting to think for a beginner its better to just replicate other designs first.

I created a follow-up particle system as a projectile, but am still trying to figure out how to attach it to the Fireball Charge-Up. I’ve been following Virtus Learning Hub RPG series and I think AI/Player BPs are the way to go.

The Fireball Projectile is an adaptation from the Infinity Blade template. I think my mesh material is awkward, maybe not opaque enough. I am really trying to avoid using sprite sheets at all costs for simplicity sake.

  1. Campfire.
    I think I did a really good job with this one. I used Julian Love’s idea to keep emitter count low by combining 2 of the same texture with different panning speeds and masked the opacity with a cloud texture. The sparks, smoke and light really adds some realism to it. I’m concerned the flames themselves may not be realistic enough.

  1. Torch Fire.
    This one looks good, but I honestly don’t know-- I feel like I’m cheating using a GPU to up the particle count. I’m trying to develop a style of simplicity and low particle count in my shading and emitter designs. (Whoops, I forgot to add a light module!) :face_with_hand_over_mouth:

One thing I want to ask:

  • How do you guys record your particle footage when showcasing it to others?

Finally, here’s a reference to a fireball I plan on replicating from the WoW Mage

Thank you all for your consideration. I’m trying really hard to solve problems on my own. But having a community to help isincredibly invaluable. I’m making an effort to network here in the DFW area so if any of the guys here are at IDSoftware or Gearbox or any other of those studios, hit me up for a free lunch / drinks!

I’ll be working on my water effects next and refine fire based off your feedback/advice.


First off, welcome! It’s always exciting to see new faces around!

OBS and fraps are my go to for recording. They both allow you to record a single screen, making it easy to capture anything cleanly without needing to edit in AE.

I think the strongest piece you have is the last one, because it gives off a realistic falloff of light, with a bit of glow and the colors fading into that nice red from pale yellow. Looking at the first 2 pieces you don’t have as much of that nice natural color falloff. With your second piece, I see a bit of repetition in the shapes. If you give your particle a bit more random scale variation, random color variation, velocity variation, etc it can help it feel a lot more natural. Like Julian Love says in his talk, it gives it that feel of a campfire, where you can look at it forever and never really spot the repetition.

Last thing I’d say would be to just keep going! Keep looking at really cool effects (from real life, or other artists) that you like and mimmick them to the best of your ability! Look at their shapes (are they small, big, sharp, soft), value, hue, saturation, motion, and anything else that make them how they are! Have fun with it, especially when your just starting out! Looking forward to see what you cook up next! :fire: