Where to start for a Riot Games type of thing

Sorry for posting another similar thread. I did read the other “where to start” threads, but I still have a few questions.

Hello, I am a student that is trying to learn VFX. I live in the United States.
I don’t have any art experience unfortunately.

My dream is to work at Riot Games, but I am a bit lost on the path I should take.
I don’t have any background in programming, except like a tiny bit. I can learn a programming language if its necessary. Also I do have access to Pluralsight.

I saw a lot of different opinions online regarding programs, namely:

  1. Maya
  2. Houdini
  3. Photoshop + one of the above
  4. Learn 2d → one of the above?

Also I’ve no clue about Unity vs Unreal, I read Partikels post that said Unity is more for mobile.
So is Unreal better for a League of Legends kind of thing as well?

Some explanation of my thoughts:
My dream is to work at Riot Games. Jason Keyser said in one of his vids that they use Maya, and I believe they have their own particle engine.
I have done some tutorials on modeling in Maya so I got the basics of modeling, since I think you only use simple models for vfx. Never touched anything else in maya though.

I barely see anything about Houdini but some people say its the tip top best program.

But I saw many jobs require Photoshop as well, so should I start from there (and practice traditional 2d as well?) and then move into particles?

While the other “where to start” threads on the forum did help, I’m still not sure what program(s) to learn, specifically for something on the feel of Riot Games.

This article made it sound like it would be better to learn 2d before going into 3d.
And I heard Riot uses a lot of hand-drawn things, so would it be better for me to study 2d art first? Like Jason used a flipbook animation for Dragon Tamer Tristana’s fireball animation, though I don’t know if that’s a common thing.
I think its more often hand drawn effects manipulated and put through a mesh like the sunfire cape? But even then it feels like it may be better to learn some 2d.
Do I just practice sketching effects in 2d while learning one of the engines? Would that be enough?

And do I learn Photoshop? Is there some way to find a list of things I would want to focus learning for Photoshop?
It just has so many tools and I wouldn’t want to spend time to learn something that I won’t need. (Just pluralsight has 966 different courses on photoshop and I don’t think I need all of those)

I hope that was enough information, please help!



If you are going for Riot without any baggage software, I’d get comfy with Photoshop, Maya and unity. Just dive in and start making particle effects with Shuriken. Draw your textures in photoshop. When you feel comfortable, watch Jasons videos and try your hand at animating in flash (adobe animate) to create flipbooks.

Check out Shannons thread about the lol effects if you haven’t already. It shows a bunch of neat mesh tricks that you can use with some basic shapes from Maya.

For that style, there’s no need for Houdini, programming or super complex shaderwork, so keep it simple and just dive in. You’ll love it :slight_smile:


Hi @NEmt and welcome to the site and to VFX!

Here’s some things to consider:
Riot uses Photoshop, Maya and their own proprietary engine.

If you want to do stylized stuff, I’d say go with Unity for a game engine to learn because, as odd as it sounds, it’s more limiting than Unreal. Out of the box Unreal has so much complex stuff you can do and I constantly find myself creating new materials to do all kinds of tricks if I need a solution to something. Unity is very limited out of the box for particle and material use, but you can do just about everything Riot does with League’s effects, and it will help you get in the mindset and proper workflow for creating similar stuff.

For Photoshop and Pluralsight tutorials, look for anything hand painted related, even if it’s for environments or props. You will learn some good hand drawn techniques and how to get a stylized look. There are a lot of tuts out there for that.

Piggybacking off what @Partikel replied with:

For where to start with vfx, look at ImbueFX on Youtube. Bill uses UDK and Unreal for the effects tuts but all of the principles of particles, mesh effects and layering apply to Unity. https://www.youtube.com/user/imbuefx

For Unity-specific stuff, check out Sirhaian’s stuff on Youtube. He’s also very active on here as well https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCUqIetx0scoe79qZTovn9BA

Shannon works at Riot and posted here demo reel as well as some breakdowns of the effects she’s done, and is usually good about answering questions on the thread there.

Jason is another VFX master over at Riot, you can find his hand drawn flash fx tutorials on his Youtube channel, which applies both animation fundamentals and to the hand drawn flipbooks they use on League:

As for one last link, Sirhaian shared all his league fan stuff for people to download and learn from, and that thread is here:

Any other questions, feel free to ask away and we’ll help as best we can! Best of luck getting started, and feel free to post any progress you make :slight_smile:


Welcome! :slight_smile:

I think most of the resources have been shared already. :stuck_out_tongue:

I’d recommend you try to make skills you like from League into Unity, then post your stuff and ask feedback on how you could improve them. I think it’s an amazing way to learn the basics and beyond. :slight_smile:

Just feel free to ask questions here and there. As @Travis said, we’ll do our best to help you! GL HF! \o/

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Thank all of you for the replies, that was exactly what I needed.
I am re-reading everything multiple times as well, I’ll follow everyone’s advice and do my best.


Hi there everyone,
I have some questions about software choice regarding portfolio and career plans. I thought that this topic would be the best one to ask this question without creating a new thread for this kind of question.
The same way NEmt wanted to some years ago, I’m thinking about making some fan art VFX related to League, Valorant, or Warcraft for portfolio purposes.

From what I can see by reading some topics here and there, for Riot Games related VFX, Unity is more often used than UE4. I’m more of an Unreal user lately and I’m now working with some ease within this engine interface and features. On the other hand, I see more and more interesting features inside Unity added to my Riot Games career focus, and I wonder if switching from Unreal to Unity would be a good thing to do? Are Unity’s knowledges and features needed to achieve a League VFX alike outcome for my portfolio? On the other hand, is it better to stay with an engine I already know and enjoy using?

I already know that many pieces of knowledge acquired by working with UE4 will still be valuable inside Unity (I’m thinking shader math, vector/normal understanding, PBR rendering, etc) since many features are shared by the two engines (like the shader graph being really similar to the material editor). But still, I know I will not be at ease using Unity at first and will lose some time understanding interface and related kinds of stuff. And I also know that I could easily translate Sirhaian tutorials from Unity to Unreal if needed, so why would I switch to Unity when I could still use Unreal?

To resume, I’m asking myself many questions about engines, about how much Unreal is a good/bad thing for Riot portfolio focus, about the importance to know Unity now that I’m comfortable using UE4, etc…

I hope my doubt and questions are clear enough, feel free to ask some more details if needed to give a proper response to this reply! And in advance, thank you very much for all the help out there! :slight_smile:

PS: I leave here a link to my Arstation, if some are curious about my previous artwork, feedbacks are always more than welcomed! https://www.artstation.com/m0oka

PS2: Sorry for the size of this reply by the way! I always find myself talking too much when coming to VFX subjects ahah! :wink:

This is a completely unfounded and common misconception that Unreal can’t do stylized or that Unity is somehow better for these kinds of thing. If you’re already proficient in UE4, all you need is some tweaks to the default post process that you use in your scene. Here’s a great tutorial overview to get you started

Riot uses (to my knowledge) proprietary engines for all of their currently public games. The only difference between Unity and Unreal that may seem like a benefit is Unity doesn’t come with all the bells and whistles Unreal has by default (To reiterate on my post from '17, it just keeps you from using techniques you shouldn’t). The most important thing, outside of the art of course, if you’re using Unreal is having and understanding of Riot’s tech limitations and art process. You want to avoid using any tech UE4 has that Unity doesn’t share a commonality with as solutions or a backbone for your art as you go on your learning journey.

The materials and techniques you use when making your vfx projects should be a streamlined as possible. I don’t know about Valorant or LoR, but for League you should basically stick to:

  • No more than 2 textures multiplied against one another
  • Coloring your particles with gradient textures/texture LUTs
  • No bloom or blown out emissive values. All of League’s glows are separate particles or baked into the texture being used.
  • Mainly distorting the UVs of your mesh vs using additional textures for uv distortion
  • Simple World Position Offset to add motion to your meshes
  • All FX materials are Unlit, and you should really only be using Unreal’s Additive or Translucent material types.
  • Packing multiple textures into RGB channels, and probably nothing with a resolution higher than 1024x1024
  • Use sequential flipbooks sparingly; shouldn’t be anything baked out of a simulation.
  • Panning or manually offsetting textures for motion in a particle.

Riot cares most about your vfx and animation principles displayed in your effects.


Thank you very much for such a quick answer! :slight_smile:
This reply really help me with all those beginner questions spinning around in my head!
I look forward to taking a look at this post-process tutorial you shared above, it seems great for a clean start and to fix some issues I encountered with previous projects.
I have a more clear sight of what I need to do to fulfill my goal and I’m keeping in mind all those precious advice about technical limitations. Thank you very much for this constrain list I can use as a general guideline from now on (I’m pretty sure I already read it somewhere else, so I’m sorry for making you repeat yourself ^^’).

After I found that, I set up something really similar for my personal Unreal vfx projects. It’s maybe 20 minutes of setup, and then however much time you want to spend adjusting it for your own tastes. It definitely changes how fx look compared to a default project’s, so you’ll probably have to play around with it to get a feel how things react before starting in on making planned out FX. I think Bravely Default 2 was made in UE4, so you can absolutely do hand painted and similarly stylized art in Unreal.

If your goal is just the art, there’s no reason to take extra time trying to learn a new engine and dealing with all the extra quirks that will entail, if you can just do the same thing in something you already know. Put that into making your effects :slight_smile: studios will have documentation and ramp up procedures to help you learn their engines, or Unity if they use it.

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