Where should I start in vfx?

Do I need to learn and actually draw 2d effects when I start?
Some people say that it will get you a better understanding of how elements work.

Or just start by using unity??

I started from Unity and when I got good hang of particle systems and were able to create basic effects then I’ve started learning drawing and 3D to make my effects better. Though there are many paths.

It also depends highly on the style you wanna make, as for stylized: drawing is really important skill, while for realistic, you might not ever do any drawing stuff.

Here’s a useful thread: Getting Started in Real Time VFX? Start Here!

Werther or not you should start from drawing 2d effects depends on what your end goal is. Do you have any examples of an effect that you like and would want to learn how to replicate?

thx for the answer! :grinning:
By the way, do I need to learn basic animation theory like how things change during the movement?

Learning timings and dynamics are really important. So most of the animation principles are good to learn though not all are used in VFX. What Kuba linked should be helpful in finding info what you should go through

thx for the answer! :smiley:
I really want to make stylized effect which looks like a hand-drawing 2d animation
such as Mr. Costard : Sketch #56 - Frozen

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Same :3 Then drawing is a fine direction, though best if you both draw and work in Engine together and see how you can make them cooperate.

Watching some videos from VFX Apprentice should be good path too

I’ll jump in too
I joined a company having no experience in VFX, but hired for a VFX role (They took a chance, lol)
I started in UE3 and Unity, just diving right in and looking at very basic VFX systems, particles, flipbooks and noise maps with gradients. Once I felt confident in that, I started learning to draw my own gradients and flipbooks.
Over the past 7 years I’ve mostly learned through dissection of others VFX (looking at tutorials or even just going frame by frame of a beautiful VFX and breaking it down).
Currently pushing myself to get better flipbooks and 2D skills to fix my short-comings.

If you’re going for more 3D VFX, I’d suggest Gabriel Aguiar as a good starting point. He’s amazing at breaking stuff down into bite sized pieces.
If you’re going for more 2D VFX, then Jason Keyser has great notes (he also does 3D stuff too)

As for skills you need, you mostly just need the skill of learning. You’ll be constantly learning new things, new techniques and it’s the most valuable skill in VFX.
Doing concepts for 2D effects are a great start, but you can also do what I did and just watch dozens of videos about explosions, fire, impacts, etc. It’s all about understanding how elements work, then “bending them to your will” :wink:
Slow-mo Guys are great ref for slowed down visuals about elements, but you can just pause any YouTube video and hit the arrow keys for a frame by frame breakdown too.


thx for sharing your experience! It’s really helpful :laughing:

For this style of vfx you need just the basic knowledge of particles systems, and a lot more effort put into the look of the materials those particles use.

For learning the latter you can either go in the direction of hand-painted flipbooks, or making complex procedural patterns in the shader. Whichever you pick depends on what sounds more interesting to learn: beautiful traditional 2d animation or shader magic :wink:

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I know it isn’t much, but I also wanted to make a small contribution to this post, as I’ve been spending quite a lot of time looking for useful resources in the last few weeks. Once you feel confident to dive into Unity or Unreal, you can take a look at these two free YouTube channels.

• Gabriel Aguiar Prod

Both of them are really good, but if you’re willing to make an investment to speed up your learning process, then I highly recommend these two paid courses.

• Booms & Blasts
• Realtime FX for Games & Cinematics