Where do you turn for inspiration?

Hey everyone, long time lurker first time poster here.

One aspect of VFX creation that I struggle with the most by far is the conceptual stage – I’m just not very good when it comes to coming up with original concepts, much less be able to sketch thumbnails.

So my question is pretty straightforward… Where do you turn to for inspiration when you have no direction whatsoever (particularly when it comes to stylised FX)?

I play games, watch YouTube playthroughs, search Giphy and Pinterest for game and anime GIFs and check out other people’s work on forums like this. Am I missing anything? The process of original FX conceptualisation is often an excruciatingly difficult one for me…

1 Like

Reality. I am always impressed by little fact about IRL.
Last time, I was mesmerized by the smoke simulation from my coffee at work… Or may be it’s the curse of VFX people to see effects everywhere :smile:

In other case, if I understand your ask, it’s more about ‘WOW effect’, rythm and dynamism on stylized effect, right ? After all, it’s all depending about your artist position, what you like and the reference you have… For example, I hate when effect are doing to much. To much bang, to much swizzle, to much ‘anime thing’ making the effect unclear, but after all, it’s all depending your thoughts and the art style… so keep being curious and discover new things, new movies, new museum maybe, new artist, and in the progress you will discover new art style :slight_smile:

I’ve started to look more and more at things I see in real life, shapes, pattern, movement etc. I think I sort of started doing that since I fairly often use phototextures as a base for my textures (with lots of photoshop manipulation so you can barely recognize it afterwards except some of the motion in it) , after that I just started noticing more and more patterns that have interesting movement in it.

Things like this for example (image from the the Elemental Magic by Joseph Gilland)


I think this is a great topic. I am currently doing same as you do, maybe even less. I feel I am a little stronger in technical side than artistic and want to balance it more.

I go to ArtStation browse through illustrations and imagine what could be enhanced if that piece was animated. Things like that.

Another thing I’m very concerned about is how to take a reference, but not to copy an idea all together. Sometimes it seems to be a very thin line between the two. Yes, you can use different colours, momentums, shapes… But in the back of the head it’s always: ‘am I recycling this idea the right way?’ On the other hand, trying to do something unique ends up with something quite crappy and ‘wtf’.

Anime, however I’ve found it really difficult to keep track of remembering where I’ve seen things, or getting a hold of a certain scene from a show or movie if I don’t own it.

1 Like

Your question is “Where to turn for inspiration”, but I don’t think that is the real question. I get the feeling that it doesn’t matter what we tell you, you’ll still feel blunted. Games, youtube, giphy, pintrest… those alone are plenty.

You are asking the wrong question, or at least seeking the wrong subject matter.

What are you trying to say?

That’s it. That’s all(?) you really need ask yourself. After that it’s just knowing what communicates what you have to say through the animation principles. Do you know what those are? Seek the principles, and then I think you’ll find inspiration. Just a subtle change in thinking how you approach the resources you already use.

Is this effect Sinister? Happy? Mournful? That dictates what the effect will be and how it looks. If the player gets hit, does it hurt or heal? How do we know that? It seems to me that inspiration you seek is very much an art thing, so feel it! When you see your idea in your minds eye, what is it? What does it tell you?

Source: I’m an expert on inspiring myself. Currently suck at everything else. :stuck_out_tongue:

Does anyone else do this and think “Aw man that’s a great sim”, and then realize oh right this is real life? No? Just me? :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

1 Like

This is a great contribution, thanks so much! You’re right on the money in fact… The problem is perhaps not so much a stylistic in my case, but conceptual, i.e. what needs to be conveyed to the player (I’m talking more gameplay/ability related FX here, of course).

1 Like