VFX: Smoke #4- (Shooting Smoke) Getting feedback to make improvements

Table of Contents


This post will explain how feedback was used to make improvements in these animations used in thePlatformer Starter Pack.

Let us begin!

First draft

These animations are made to be smoke effects for the character’s blaster attacks. This means that they are large and powerful smoke clouds when compared to the movement smokes.

Since there was no blast effect to reference off of, I based the smokes off of these gun types:

A- Snappy Pistol, Sniper
B- Wide Bullet, Shotgun
C- Burst, Double shot
D- Charge up, Powerful Shot

Having a general sense of direction is better than none. Make sure you have one when creating something (even if you’re doing something new or are clueless)!

Getting Feedback

(Thank you everyone for your input! You guys are awesome!! :D)

From there, I asked Twitter & Reddit which style was their favorite. Here are the links: 

Shooting smoke styles. Which is your fav? from PixelArt

I kept this question vague & simple because I wanted to keep peoples opinions open-ended.

Although I posted these knowing the pros & cons of each animation, a simple “B is my fav style because ….” shifted my perspectives on old concepts. Its just like rereading a book & getting something new out of it every single time. 

These perspectives allowed me to REALLY understand WHY something looked good, instead of WHAT looked good.

Lets break it down!

The 'pros'

The people favored style B and D. Why?

B had the best sense of direction out of the four. And I personally thought that the shapes were the most dynamic looking. These were the strongest two variables of style B.

D had layered batches of smoke and layered motion. I purposely made the bottom batch of smoke move slower & move in a curlier motion. This motion layered in with the powerful force of the smoke made this style look interesting.

The 'cons'

The least favored was style A. Why?

Style A had the least amount of frames out of the four. 

Although lower frame counts do not necessarily equate to lower quality, the keyframes were inaccurate. I made the mistake of using shapes that were too round in relation to its speed. The shapes should’ve been as stretched as Style B.

Style C was liked by many- its honestly a close call but lets roast it for the sake of it Lol

C had ‘okay’ dissipation but the way the second smoke cloud interacts with the initial cloud looks off. It would be fine if they were totally different smoke clouds, but that’s not the case here. The initial cloud should have been pushed upwards by the second cloud. 

The second cloud also made no contextual sense. It would be difficult to imagine a blaster effect complimenting it.

The Result

With the help of community feedback and some objective analysis, this is what we came up with! 

1) I took the directional prowess of style B to move the initial cloud in an upwards spiral. On top of that, I added a bit more fidelity to REALLY amp up the sense of motion.

2) I adopted the layered motion of Style D. The bottom clouds move at a slightly lower rate than the initial cloud. I took this a step further by giving them curved motion RELATIVE to the initial cloud. (This concept is confusing to explain, Ill probably write another post on it).

3) I added a secondary layer of smoke to tackle the interaction issues of Style C. This is a simple solution to this issue but I’m sure we can combine the secondary layer concept with D’s layered motion.

4) Style A had a lack of frames so I made sure to add an extra 2+ dissipation frames.



-Opinions have some truth to them. Look for them.

-Get feedback with a focused objective in mind.

-Smoke effects interaction with itself alters its motion and direction.

-If you’re using less frames, don’t be afraid to use sharper & stretched frames.

-Adding frames near the end of an animation is an excellent method to smooth out an animation.

-Sometimes, doubling down on a positive eliminates a negative. So do your best to find the pros/cons so that you can make decisive and effective changes in your work.


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. 



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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