Sunday, 13 March 2016

FMP 9 - Burnard's Flame

This week my goal is to work on some of the character FX, mainly trying to figure out a way to create the look of Burnard's flame material so Amber can continue with the character model. I have been delaying this as previous attempts at trying to get the material looking right hasn't really worked, but now it's unavoidable because the characters desperately need to be in and finished.

I have been thinking of all sorts of techniques for how Burnard could look; Using displacement materials, a particle based approach or combinations of those but none of them work for their own reasons:

Displacement material:

Using a displacement material is useful to create a rippling effect of fire across the mesh, which can be controlled using a mask created from the vertex colours. However, this material intersects with anything above it, causing issues with the body cutting through the eye part of the mesh which uses a different material.

Particle based:

A particle based approach could be useful but a lot of effort would have to be put into making sure the particles look exactly how they are supposed to, which is the main problem as the flame has to have roughly continuous form, particles will be hard as without a lot of material work they will appear like they are overlapping and separate. There will also be the same issue as the displacement material with the intersection. Although particles could be useful as an added effect along with something else.

It was at this point I was a little bit stuck until I got a suggestion form Mike Kelly about using a 'sleeve' mesh; using a sphere with almost a sock like sleeve floating over the top, flipped over which will display a flame texture. This was perfect for what we needed, and also could be made better using a flipbook material to get the flame to animate like they do in 2d frame by frame animations.

I created a flipbook texture which contains 16 frames for the flame animation which would be played on loop. This looks great in engine, just needs some little refinements, on top of this some particles will be added but I need to work on a material for them that share a similar colour with the flipbook to make them blend together properly on the character.

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