It’s that time of the year again! Spooktober! 🎃 I love Halloween and what better way to show it than to create a spooky scene with effects?
While making this project, I had a few goals in mind. The first goal was to play with more color and the second one was to practice baking smoke textures with EmberGen. In total, 4 effects were created for this scene: cauldron effect, fire effect, fog shader, and fog effect.
Software I used:
Unity (2020.1.4f1) – for creating particle systems and the scene,
Adobe Photoshop – textures,
Blender – 3D models,
EmberGen – texture animation sheets.
For the cauldron effect, 7 textures were used: ghost texture (inspired by Jason Keyser’s tutorial), lighting noise texture, caustic noise texture, gradient texture, blurred-out noise texture, smoke texture animation sheet, and a glowing dot texture. I also created a custom mesh for the ghost and glow effect.
For the textures to work I created a simple shader in ShaderGraph that would show and offset the ghost and noise textures, then multiply the result with the gradient texture so that there would be no rough edges from the sides, and the top of the mesh. The color slider was added for color tweaks and depth fade for a nice fade at the bottom.
For the caustic & glow effect, the same shader was used but no additional noise was needed.
I then added animated smoke texture and upward floating sparkles to the effect.
The fire effect was recycled from an old project and it was improved upon, it uses 3 textures: fire shape texture animation sheet, blob texture, and a noise texture.
In total, 3 particle systems were created for this effect: fire, smoke, and embers. The fire effect is very simple and just uses the texture animation sheet, the smoke effect uses a custom shader which allows to show the texture animation sheet and then distorts it using the noise texture, ember effect uses blob texture with built in noise feature from the particle system.
The fog shader was created using ShaderGraph and it uses three textures: 2 noise textures and a ramp texture. The shader was put on a mesh that has quite a lot of cuts so that it would have a smoother movement.
The shader offsets and animates vertices according to the first noise texture, then cuts out parts of the fog with the second noise texture. The ramp texture was added to give the fog a bit more dimension, the parts of the fog that are higher appear in a brighter blue color while the parts that are lower have a navy color. Depth fade was added to the shader as well so that it wouldn’t cut into the models.
The final fog effect was created so that the sky would blend better with the environment. It uses the same smoke texture as the cauldron’s smoke.
As always, at first, everything is far from perfect so below are my previous iterations. I’ve experimented a lot with smoke textures and then slowly built up the scene with lighting.
As mentioned before, on this project I really wanted to focus on baking smoke textures with EmberGen and use more color. I think, overall, I baked over 10 different smoke textures with EmberGen, until I got close to something that I wanted. I would say that the process was tedious, but it wasn’t at all, I really enjoyed exploring EmberGen and I think I got the hang of it. As for color, I drew inspiration from Tim Burton’s ‘Corpse Bride’ stop-motion film.
I really love the lighting and the colors in the scene where the skeletons perform ‘Remains of the Day‘. They use a strong complementary color palette. Even though I did not end up using the same colors as the film, nor the complementary color palette, it gave me a direction of playfulness that I wanted to get to. In the end, I chose a triad color palette of blue, orange, and green hues.
In conclusion, I would say that I had too much fun with this project. I pushed myself from the safe monochromatic color palettes and finally got to learn how to make better smoke textures. Also, I did set a hard deadline and managed to meet it – yay for improved time management!