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Booms & Blasts

Real-time Stylized VFX for Games

Instructors: Jason Keyser, David ShovlinGe Lush, Guillermo Salido, Jason Chisolm, Luke Mason
Included with VFX-A All Access

The definitive course for real-time stylized FX for Unreal Engine and Unity. This best-selling series teaches your particle animation, texture creation, and building real-time VFX for game engines. 

Learn how to take elemental concept paintings and kitbash four of the most frequently used elemental game effects with explosions, wisps, lightning, and splats. 

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In All Access

21+ Hours

This course includes over twenty hours of real-time VFX training.

Skill Level

Beginner Level Two course for new and aspiring VFX artists. 

Software

Unreal Engine 5, Unity 2019+,
UE4, Adobe Animate, Photoshop, Maya

Instant Access

This course and files are immediately available to All Access members. 

Course Breakdown

Lesson overview.

Real-time Stylized Fire Explosion 

4 Lessons

Learn how to create a fiery and explosive effect in both Unreal Engine and Unity. Stary by creating a tileable noise that will drive your effect in the game engine of your choice. 

Tiling Fiery Noise

(Adobe Animate)

Learn to paint a stylized fiery tileable noise, perfect for use in games! Dive into this lesson to learn the different uses of tileable textures in games and how to create them.

Fire Explosion

(Unreal Engine 5, Unity 2021+)

Look behind the scenes of the real-time particle systems driving this powerful explosion effect in UE5 with Niagara and the latest version of Unity.

Fire Explosion

(Unreal Engine 4 - Cascade)

A step-by-step breakdown of the Unreal Engine 4 fire explosion particle effect. See the different emitters in the Cascade, and take a look at the different materials, textures, and meshes.

Fire Explosion

(Unity 2019)

Recreating effects is a common task for VFX artists. Learn how to break down each of the elements and restrictions of the UE4 fire explosion effect and recreate it in Unity.

Real-time Stylized Wispy Cloud

7 Lessons

The wispy cloud is an often-used effect for everything from attacks and heals to opening portals to the nether realm. This effect is quick and easy for players to understand in a gameplay setting, making it a go-to effect for a variety of use cases. 

Learn how to create a wispy cloud by starting with a mesh, and then creating the textures and dissolve maps that will drive the final effect.

Wispy Cloud Sphere Mesh

(Autodesk Maya)

Learn to make VFX meshes in Maya. Follow step by step through the process, and learn how to export the mesh for use in Unity or Unreal.

Wispy Cloud Offset & Normal Map

(Adobe Photoshop)

Create the base texture for the wispy cloud effect by enhancing the blocking texture you made in Maya and improving it in Photoshop.

Wispy Cloud Dissolve Map

(Adobe Photoshop)

Learn how to make a dissolve map (aka erosion map) in Photoshop with various layers and blend modes. Check how your erosion will work in the engine by modifying a threshold layer.

Wispy Cloud Breakdown

(Unreal Engine 5, Unity 2021+)

Learn how to combine your assets and different techniques to create this magical wispy cloud, that doesn't have real-world references to work from. 

Wispy Cloud Dissolve and Fresnel Shader

(Unreal Engine 4 - Cascade)

Learn Unreal shader magic! Combine your meshes and textures to create a material and particle system.

Wispy Cloud Particle System

(Unreal Engine 4 - Cascade)

Make the wispy particle in Cascade to animate your effect. Go through each step to make a stylized wispy cloud.

Wispy Cloud Breakdown

(Unity 2019)

There are a few key differences between particle animation in Unity and Unreal. This video covers all of the changes you'll need to make in order to recreate the wispy cloud effect in Unity.

Real-time Stylized Lightning Zap

8 Lessons

Lightning zaps and impacts are another VFX staple. This elemental effect is used on everything from powerful impacts to teleportation and fast travel. 

Learn how to create an animated effect using Adobe Animate (or Toon Boom Harmony) and then bring your flipbook texture into your game engine of choice. 

Lightning Zap FX Design

(Adobe Animate)

Learn how to draw and create a hand-drawn stylized lightning flipbook for your zap effect! 

Lightning Zap Animation

(Adobe Animate)

Start animating your design with this in-depth flipbook process. Animating flipbooks for  3D game engines can vary from the process used in 2DFX for television and film.

Lightning Zap Inbetweens

(Adobe Animate)

Create smooth clean motion with in-betweens. This process of creating frames between two keyframes makes the animation appear smoother.

 

Lightning Zap Burst Gradients

(Adobe Animate)

Make a splash dissolve for the impact of the lightning effect. Creating a flipbook-like effect by overlapping gradients is quicker than animating the dissolve frame by frame. 

Lightning Zap Burst Color Pass

(Adobe Animate)

Let's add a color pass to the burst effect for a final polish. Learn how to color textures and pick up some tricks to elevate your final effect.

Lightning Zap Breakdown

(Unreal Engine 5, Unity 2021+)

Take a deep look into flipbook emitters! Breakdown the electric particle systems that make up this lightning zap effect in UE5 and Unity.

Lightning Zap Breakdown

(Unreal Engine 4)

Break downthe lightning zap effect in UE4 that combines 2D and 3D elements.

Learn how engines use SubUVs to read flipbooks in particle systems and how to properly set them up.

Lightning Zap Breakdown

(Unity 2019)

The Unity shuriken particle editor has a parameter called Texture Sheet Animations which makes flipbook effects in Unity a very straightforward and streamlined process.

Real-time Stylized Gooey Splat

8 Lessons

Liquid effects and thick gooey splats are a mainstay of poisonous attacks and unsafe environments. 

Learn how to create a mesh for VFX, hand-paint textures in Photoshop, and create dissolve and normal maps to drive the effect inside the game engine of your choice.

Gooey Splat Bowl Mesh

(Autodesk Maya)

Create a 3D mesh to create a splashy gooey splat effect! 

This lesson will focus on creating the bowl meshes required for the core of the splat effect. Then you'll set up the UVs and export the mesh for use in game engines.

 

Gooey Splat Texture Painting

(Adobe Photoshop)

Hand-paint gooey splat textures in Photoshop.

You'll be using the block-in texture you created in the previous lesson as a jumping-off point to start painting.

Gooey Splat Dissolve Map

(Adobe Photoshop)

Dissolve maps are very useful when you want to add that extra bit of motion to your effects. They are most commonly used to erode out your shapes in a more interesting way than fading out their alpha.

Learn how to create your dissolves maps by hand-painting them in Photoshop.

Gooey Splat Normal Maps

(Adobe Photoshop)

Normal maps are textures used to define how objects will interact with light in the game engine. We'll be using it to create the specular highlights that you find in a liquid goo.

Gooey Splat Breakdown

(Unreal Engine 5, Unity 2021+)

Learn more about building an effect with a high level of detail in mind. Break down the particle systems that make up this gooey splash effect in UE5 and Unity.

Gooey Splat Breakdown Particle Setup

(Unreal Engine 4)

Make a faux-lit material and use it with dissolve and normal maps to create believable viscous goo splattering up and outward.

Gooey Splat Breakdown Particle Refinement

(Unreal Engine 4)

Picking up from the previous UE4 lesson as you continue to refine your effect to create the optimal visual appeal.

Gooey Splat Breakdown

(Unity 2019)

Learn about how the gooey particle system, with its dissolve material and bowl meshes, is put together in Unity.

Play in our Sandbox

This course includes the VFX Apprentice Sandbox for Unreal Engine and Unity. See how these FX work, import your own effects, and showcase your work in a real-time game environment. 

Booms & Blasts Essentials

9 Lessons

These are foundational lessons focused on learning the many aspects of creating real-time effects using particle systems. Start with a dive into particle animation, get to know the two main game engines, Unreal Engine and Unity, and then experiment with the VFX Apprentice Sandbox by learning how to create, edit, and kit bash VFX. 

Particle Animation

There's so much to the craft of making VFX. Jason Keyser teaches the mindset of a hand-crafted & art-directed approach that can serve you well while working on 3D particle systems for stylized FX.

Particle Systems Overview

(Unity 2019+)

Ge Lush gives you an introduction to the Unity game engine, and shows you how to navigate the assets in the VFX Apprentice Sandbox project.

Introduction to Unity

(Unity 2019+)

A quick orientation on the Unity game engine. Navigate through the tools and windows, go through the sandbox game scene, and learn how to import assets.

Kitbashing in Unity

(Unity 2019+)

Kitbashing is a rapid form of prototyping, where you grab different components from various effects and combine them to quickly explore an idea. It's a crucial and common skill for any gave dev and VFX artist. 

Project Overview

(Unreal Engine 4)

Jason Keyser gives you a quick orientation to the Unreal Engine project files, and shows you how to navigate the assets in the VFX Apprentice Sandbox.

Introduction to Unreal Engine

(Unreal Engine 4)

If you've never touched Unreal Engine 4 before, this lesson will give you a quick introduction to the real-time game engine.

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Introduction to UE Cascade

(Unreal Engine 4)

Cascade was the original main particle system in Unreal Engine 4. Cascade is slowly getting replaced by Niagara but is still used in both professional environments, as well as this class. This will be one of the most used tools in your particle effects.

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Introduction to UE Materials

(Unreal Engine 4)

Materials define the visual aspect of your textures when you put them in Unreal Engine. If you want to add cool features like making your texture glow brightly, animate, or pan over meshes, you'll be doing all of that in the material editor.

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Kitbashing in Unreal Engine

(Unreal Engine 4)

Kitbashing is a rapid form of prototyping, where you grab different components from various effects and combine them to quickly explore an idea. It's a crucial and common skill for any gave dev and VFX artist. Here's how to start kitbashing in UE4.

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What members say about VFX Apprentice

Bruno Cano

VFX-A All Access Member

Joining VFX Apprentice was, for sure, the best decision I've made in my early VFX career. The courses are great and the mentors and students are always trying to help. I just love being here!

Rafe Valley

VFX-A All Access Member

I found traditional education systems didn't work nearly as well for me as online classes do! I have been drawn to VFX since before I knew what it was, so I am having a blast with all of the courses.

Learn 2D and 3D FX with VFX-A All Access

All 2D FX, 3D VFX, and Advanced courses are included with VFX Apprentice All Access. Learn stylized and real-time FX from professional artists and animators.

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  • New Lessons Monthly
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Take what you learn in this course and apply these skills to creating FX for games and animation. 

FX Concept Painting Elemental Studies

2D FX: Level One
Create concept art for various elemental effects, including a fiery explosion, goo splat, lighting zap, and more!

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Attacks: Production-Level FX Breakdowns

Apprentice: Level Three
Break down a variety of attack FX like projectiles, slashes, and explosions.

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Game FX for Sidescrollers

Apprentice: Level Three
Dive into the Unreal Engine sidescroller FX pipeline and create in-game spells and healing effects. 

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