What inspires you when you're in a creative rut?

I want to start creating some effects outside of what I do at work, and I am having a tough time figuring out what I want to make. What kinds of methods do you use to inspire your work? Do many of you experiment outside of work, or do you find yourself exhausted after an entire day of VFX creation?

I created a list of words as a jumping off point, but want to hear what you guys do.


It’s cool to read some fantasy books since they usually have some crazy fantastical descriptions for their spells/how they work. Another idea is to go look up the spell lists for role-playing board games like dungeons and dragons or pathfinder etc.

Also go through /effects | sakugabooru and look at cool stuff


Hi Lindz,

to answer this questions are helping me, maybe it is helpful for you too.

1 - What is the event for the FX?
(shooting of weapon, building up of something, supporting of stuff, engines etc.)

2 - Have your effect a goal or it is just a result of a event?
(for example Magic vs engine energie )

3 - Wich scenario do you want for your FX?
(Sci-fi, fantasy, Horror etc)

4 - Wich style should have your FX?
(cartoon, realtsitc, manga etc)


I’ve totally had periods like this! Personally what I’ve found works best is trying out stuff that is tangentially different from my day-to-day tasks. Since VFX is such a huge field this is pretty easy to do; when I work on games I do pre-rendered stuff at home, and vice versa. Or maybe try and work on my scripting skills, or do FX in a completely different style than I’m used to.

So for me doing stuff that’s very different in style and process from my work helps me stay inspired, avoid burnout, and also helps a great deal with professional development!

EDIT: I just realized I might have misunderstood the question completely, whoops! If you meant like specific VFX tasks to tackle, I’d just recommend playing your favorite game, say “Which is my favorite piece of VFX in this entire game”, and then try to recreate it! I’ve had loads of fun doing that, especially since I work on gritty realism games but only play stylized fantasy games during my free time haha


I think in the end its about doing something you like. If you want to do effects and you have a list of related words, just jump into the one that you are excited about!

Another good kickstarter is to join a jam(Game jams - itch.io) or these sketch competitions at this forum. Learning a new discipline(code, animation, etc) has made me a better vfx artist, totally recommend doing that if you feel like it.

I think the most valuable thing is to have fun..

I just want to point out this podcast that talks about creativity in the art related work: Stream Creative Trek music | Listen to songs, albums, playlists for free on SoundCloud
I usually just picking a random episode. They have given me a lot of insight how others work, I usually don’t finish the episodes because they are quite long.

Gonna go ahead a listen to one right now!


I think this is the most fun aspect when you are deciding what you want to create. You dream a lot and think a lot and light enters that way suddenly :slight_smile: I personally apart from work, inspire from AAA video games and some fantasy stylized stuff from CG Movies specially to get myself ready so I look at those stuff as inspiration to create something to relive those moments.


Both answers definitely apply! While I’m not experiencing burnout atm, it’s definitely been a thing in the past, so hearing how others handle it is welcome.

And yeah, most of my experience has been in realistic effects, so exploring other stylistic choices is something I’m really interested in!


Talking about the stylized effects, I am in love with Legend Of Zelda effects… The stylized gigantic explosions in particular. The world is moving towards realism in video games but looks like stylized and cartoon would have its place and they are prospering side by side and why not… because the wonders and magic from the World will never end :slight_smile:

To inspire myself I just start messing around with materials and emitters. From there it typically blossoms into something that I personally couldn’t have ever imagined!

Majority of my time is spent running JangaFX, so playing with our software daily keeps me stocked with fresh ideas, though burnout is possible.

On the other end, I generally play a few games to get back into the VFX mood if necessary - Metro series, S.T.A.L.K.E.R series, Half Life series, etc. These games are generally toned for more realistic effects, but all have amazing atmospheres that get me back into the mood to make things.

Lastly, if I’m facing a pretty lengthy burnout I just get off my computer for a few days if possible. Take the weekend off and go hike or something along those lines. Then again, learning other skills on or off the computer is the another way to keep my creative side going, just not in the same area as VFX.

I know this is going to sound dumb…but I do hear sometimes that people work hard / a lot and do not have time anymore…but…I get inspired by playing games.

Sometime I even buy games that really are not my thing, just because the art or tech of it is that cool and interesting.

I know I may catch hell for this…but as a gamer, Uncharted really just is not the fun/challenging for/to me. Yet I still buy them for the reference, the breakdowns, etc. From visual effects, to camera work, AI, game mechanics, etc… Anything that can teach or inspire is a plus. Resident Evil 7…dont even care to play a jump-scare FPS at the moment…but the visuals and tech of that game is pretty cool to look at.


It’s gonna sound kind of dumb, but going through all the posts on this site and seeing all the amazing stuff people are working on inspires me

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I also end up buying games because I got impressed by the vfx, watching videos.
While playing I find myself pivoting the camera around, while performing the same effect spawning actions over and over again :sweat_smile:.
Recent cool examples for stylized: Transformers Devastation, Last Fight (fun game, amazing trailer), BOTW.
Sometimes discovered techniques drive me to try sth. different next time I work on some related effects.
Trying sth not fx like, still related, like concept art, modeling or (visual)scripting might ooze some creativity back into the daily VFXery.
Sometimes longer walks in nature are good to clear your mind, maybe even discover sth. inspiring (clouds movement, wind shaking plants or carrying leaves, water ripples, buzzing insects… and so on :smiley: