VFX: SMOKE #2- Basic Coloring and Shading

Table of Contents

Choosing the Hue

Smoke is a dense cloud made up from a mixture of gases, materials, and debris.

We can assume two things from this fact:

1. Saturation will be lower due to the mixture of materials

2. The color originates from the fuel source

With these concepts in mind, lets talk about how shade tones can be chosen.

Shade color

Lets take an example from a friend artist, Mamoruhik. 

Step 1. Choose base color

The base color should be quite saturated and luminated. A higher saturation/luminosity value allows for a wider range of color.

Step 2. Shift in a diagonal pattern

Many artists, including myself, fall victim to stale color usage. The reason? Only the luminosity is changed, and the rest stays the same.

To avoid this habit, try shifting colors in a diagonal pattern while shifting the hue (color bar on the bottom). This creates an interesting combination of colors that has depth to it. 

Step 3. Choosing dark tones

Step 3. Darker shades shift towards Blues, higher saturation, and lower luminosity.

Simply put, darker shades move in a downward-right direction on the HSV color palette. And the hue moves towards lower wave-length colors (Blues & Purples). 

Step 4. Choosing lighter tones

Step 4. Lighter shades shift towards Yellows, lower Saturation, and higher luminosity.

The exact opposite method applies when choosing lighter shades of color. Choose colors that have higher wave-lengths (Yellows & Reds).

Yes, I know these concepts are confusing. Ill explain it better in a future video & GIF-tutorial!

Shading methods

Now that we’ve got color out of the way, lets discuss how those colors can be applied to our animations. 

Avoid even, parallel shading

Just like natural shapes found in nature, its best to avoid parallel patterns.

When the shading is too even along the edges, it makes the overall sprite look very flat.

This flat look does not bode well with dynamic animations.

Shade corners

A simple way of shading is to focus the light on one corner.

This removes the flat look it would have otherwise.

I will iterate upon this basic method in future posts. So for now, keep shading the corners!

Smoke FX Library

A library of Smoke FX used in games & animations.

Platformer Starter Pack

The most complete set of sprites & animations to prototype platformer games. 

Categories: LearnSmokeVFX



I'm a Game-Dev specializing in 2D VFX & Animation. I wish to simplify the learning process & help creatives learn new skills through LearnIndie.


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