VFX noob - Texture creation Techniques

Hi Everyone,

I’ve recenty started to take a look at learning VFX off of the back of needing to do some pretty basic, cheap environment bits at work.

I really enjoyed it and ended up down a rabbit hole and getting pretty excited about what is down there. Whating brake downs about how combinatins of what can be quite simple elements can bring so much life to game events is really exciting and has made me want to start learning more exciting VFX.

But one thing I’m really finding it hard to find good information on is the process and software people are using to create the base textures that go towards building the effects.

I’m looking to find some information on…

General process - Are they just hand drawn in photoshop?
Software - what is the go to software for static or animated images? Again just photoshop or are there loads of really useful things out there worth taking a look at.

Are there any good tutorials / brake downs / step by step guides that go through some of the texture building process?

I understand its a very broad question but for me its great to see a broad set of answers as it really helps me to understand the world of VFX and the different posibilities.



It’s going to be different for everyone. For me I hand paint 90% of my static textures in Photoshop (you can do same in something like Gimp, I just use photoshop because work pays for it usually). If I need a stylized flipbooks I use Procreate. Substance designer is also very popular for static textures and has the benefit of free normals and depth outputs, for example.

For a more realistic sim/flipbook embergen is great I hear, although I personally haven’t used it in production.

I’ve noticed exactly the same issue as you did: There is not much tutorials out there regarding the texture creation process and I’m working right now on something to cover exactly that. To give you a short run-down:

You can create textures by:

  • not creating anything (but using existing texture packs)
  • painting
  • photo bashing
  • procedural tools (e.g. substance designer)
  • simulation (houdini, blender, …)

As you’re new to VFX, I’d recommend the first 3 options as they are the fastest (procedural tools are mostly used for noises and learning simulations takes a long time). Note: There are quicker tools like Embergen but I didn’t test it yet.


We can split VFX roughly into 2 styles: (semi)realistic or stylized. For stylized textures we can see people often paint, while for more realistic effects ofte times photos and/or simulations come into play.

Important things to get into your mind:

  • sing 3rd party texture packs is totally fine.
    especially for he first itation of your effect. it’s not easy to make a good effect (set nice colors, timing, …) so it helps if you can focus on these things instead of spending hours in textures - later you can exchange or re-do your very own textures.
  • using photos is not cheating.
    it’s totally find to take photos from e.g. textures.com and make a nice texture from several of them to get a nice fire- or watersplash-texture. no need that you paint every pixel by your own.
  • make sure you test your texture as fast as possible!
    Just slap a roughly cut-out photo (e.g. a flame) or paint something quickly and smudge it via smudge brush and test it ingame. You’ll immediatelly get a feel if it’s going somewhere. Maybe your fire is supposed to be big but the texture really does not transfer that feel. Then you can try to use a different photo. Or you notice that even this very quickly smudged texture already works nicely and then you don’t need to spend any more time on it.
  • re-use textures as much as possible.
    maybe you don’t need a brand-new noise as some from your library already work good enough.


Get yourself a nice little start library by downloading/using these resources:



Procedural Generation

  • Effect Texture Maker. Enable the “animate” checkbox and check every “type”. Then you can store them into flip books. A very efficient tool to get yourself some nice textures. EffectTextureMaker

For hand drawn stuff I use krita because has a ‘wraparound tool’ that makes drawing tiling textures easy.
I also use substance


I only learned that a short while ago, but PS has such a mode now as well:



Thanks for the feedback. Lots of really good useful information here to get me going. It’s a lot to take in and makes it pretty hard to know where to start with it all.

Yes it’s a lot. What I tried to explain: forget procedural and simulation right now and only focus on photobash or painting if you can’t find an existing texture pack. Maybe this takes a bit pressure away as it removes some of the options.

One of the ways to create textures for VFX is described here ArtStation - Bruno Afonseca
You can also learn how to create textures from 1MaFX - YouTube Hope this helps

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Thank you, I’m uninstalling krita right now :laughing:

this tho

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