WIP Space Explosion package for Unity

Hello everyone!
I’m Lucas and this is my first topic on this beautiful(!) forum. I hope you don’t mind some work in progress material from me and my first “big” VFX project :scream:
I’d like to ask for some critique on it. I’m getting fairly close to what I had planned the final result to look like, but I’ve come to the point where I’ve looked at the effects over and over again and I have a feeling I’m becoming blind of some flaws in there.

As you may see below, I’m not going for a fully realistic style. It has some overly dramatic and cartoony characteristics.

• Here is first a short video of all the effects together:

I have named them, from left to right; Planet, Large, Medium, Small…

• And a longer where the camera rotates around the effects:

It’s all done for Unity, and I’ve used ShaderForge to create some new shaders, written some scripts for animation etc. and drawn some flipbooks and created textures in Photoshop. Some modelling in Maya, and additional texturing in Substance Painter. I’ve learnt a lot and maybe posting this here is a chance for me to learn even more and improve my effects.

I’m aware the effects can probably be optimized a lot! But that I can learn more about another day.

I should also mention that it is partly made for my specialization course in the last year of a Computer Graphics university program where I chose to do some real-time VFX.

Thanks! I hope I can give something back to this community and not only ask for critiques.


These are pretty cool! You’ve got some creative action going on with them.

My main criticism would be that the fire and smoke textures don’t feel like they’re as stylized as they should be. They feel inconsistent with the much more cartoony animation you’re using.

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Alright. I’ll try adding some more sharp edges in it perhaps.

I don’t understand what the messaging is for the rings that shrink in first. I get that they add to the suspense before the bang, but I have no idea why they happen. If this was CSI-Intergalactic I wouldn’t be able to figure out what killed them and I’d put out an APB for someone with a temporal reversal device.

Haha, okey. Well the main idea was to add contrast, by having a black circle, with a white outline, before the boom. I added the white outline because it felt like it made more sense than to only have the black…?

Maybe it doesn’t do any good. but yeah the main purpose was to add contrast and a slight build-up.

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I have a slight issue with the smake that is left behind, that the more form/shape I give it the worse it looks when camera spins around it. It becomes more and more obvious that it’s billboards.
I’ll probably try to fit some of the other parts the smoke more. Well… that would be the easy solution I guess.

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At some point I ended up talking to Matt Vainio about VFX and he actually made a graph that resonated with me and I realized that’s how I had been thinking about things for a while. In a way, it’s a lot like how animators think about primary, secondary, and tertiary animation.

Page 2.


Ooh, very cool resource! I’ll look at it some more and compare it to my work. I’ll post an update on the effects soon.

Here is an update on my progress. I have mainly re-worked timings here and there in all explosions, adjusted some sizes and a few textures to try and make the style more coherent.

The video is slighly more fancy just because I’m nearing my deadline for presentation, but that doesn’t mean I can’t stop improving them.

I don’t think these are quite good enough to be used in a game, which was one of my goals. That makes me a bit dissapointed in myself. Nevertheless, I’ve definately learnt a lot during this project and I’m excited to learn more.

Thanks for the feedback and I do recommended the resource William Maurizen’s linked me; a VFX Progess by Matt Vainio. Check it out!


YEAH! Huge improvement…almost literally.
That’s way better, don’t you think?
It’s got pop!

You could probably push it further. Not sure what you’re trying to communicate with the implosion.
Flashes tend to be shorter. Get their attention, then give them the show.

Slow speeds do communicate massiveness, but you don’t want to do that with flashes, because they’re just the light from the initial explosion.

Your planet ring could have a tighter leading edge.
High frequency or thinner lines help communicate scale in texture. Slow motion communicates massiveness in animation. So you probably don’t what that zippy texture panning on your planet.
I highly recommend seeking reference.

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Thanks a lot!
It is better indeed. And yes, they can be taken further. Good tips on how! :slight_smile:

I do have references, and now that I think about it, I’m not sure why I’m doing implosions before explosion. I can’t find it in my references at the moment; https://www.pinterest.se/lucasjohansson1/explosions/ . But I guess I must have seen it somewhere, and it got stuck in my head real hard. A short flash on ignition is perhaps better in most cases.

I will go over them again and see what I can do. Thanks again.

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My guess is that you were looking for that “hold your breath moment” in your fx. Which isn’t always appropriate, or is at least harder to do with explosions. Massive explosions can have that effect by sending out a shockwave that takes a while to get to the viewer.
Consider having a debris that zips past the camera a couple seconds after. You’re looking for that perfect sweet spot when they’ve juuuuust said, “whew.” Then zing. (it’s something to try, it might not work… :slight_smile:

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Thats really a good start mate. I like the inner core and the effect itself a very good start. Hope to see more improved version. I myself working on an Space Explosion, I got my first pass of it but didn’t share it yet. What references you got for the big explosion? Would love to see If you share some :slight_smile:

Thanks @Atif ! Yeah, my reference board is in a post above already. Here again: https://www.pinterest.se/lucasjohansson1/explosions/
It’s quite difficult to find references because I don’t get much when searching for exploding planets.

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So here is a new version of the planet explosion. I completely replaced the part just before the big explosion with another effect. It starts to glow more and more as if building up energy. I thought maybe this would take away from the big explosion and make it feel smaller, but comparing with the old I don’t think it does. I think I prefer this one. Does anyone agree?

I still have the stripes/unnatural wind flowing around the planet, but changed the texture and speed slightly. I did more changes here and there but no need to go into details I think. You can see for yourself.

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Very cool, man. I do prefer the feeling of buildup on this one more. My only note is that I’m getting a little bit of a flat 2d feel with some of your textures cutting through the planet, like that initial flash. I wonder if sorting it above the planet would help it feel more enveloping. I really like the end phase of the planet. Those shards and bright core really look awesome.

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Thanks! I’ve tried multiple times sorting my particles to be one top of meshes but have never succeded. With “Layers”, “Sorting layers” and “Order in layer”. Maybe I have to write another shader to achieve this?

I managed to create a shader for a billboard to be always on top. But I’ll see if I can do it without an extra shader as well.

EDIT: I did it mainly through changing the Depth Test to Always in ShaderForge and having relatively high Render queue.

I thought I’d close down this topic with an update on the explosions. I’m finally happy with them and may move on to another project. Thanks for all the support and feedback :slight_smile:


That’s looking much better! Awesome dude, digging it :slight_smile:

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