Pixel2017 – Episode 16 – Volcano/Smoke tutorial

This one was a doozy – as the title says, the theme for the day was Volcano.

I decided to go with a snow-capped volcano that has been dormant until recently, but then gives off a thick ash plume. I thought that the smoke would be dark, but nope – it’s only dark when in the shadow, otherwise it’s quite bright, as bright as snow. I guess it makes sense – after all, it IS ash.

This was the part I did at work before I went home.


I refined the volcano base a bit after that, then made the initial idea of the smoke, large plumes of sort of spherical bubbles of smoke. It looks sorta like smoke? I guess? I used this as a backdrop to what eventually became the largest amount of layers I’ve ever created.


Here is what I did – I created a base animation for a bubble smoke cloud. This animation I basically repeated over and over in order to cover the loop. I also created another loop for the bubbles that go under this original one, and another one that goes on top (height wise). I kept the original on top of all the layers.


Here is what it looks like with all the layers on (and also the static background that I made earlier, as well as another animation loop with a transparent grey layer on the lower side of the smoke stack, as well as a lighter one on the top side, mostly to hide the static background.


At this point I realized that there isn’t much contrast to the smoke – this is a problem I tend to have with many of my pixel dailies since I can’t get a grip on colour that well yet, as well as the fact that the monitor I generally pixel on has a very high contrast setting, so something you might not be able to distinguish on your monitor tends to stick out like a sore thumb on mine. Your mileage may vary.

Because of that, I merged all the smoke bubbles, then did a color replace on the smoke’s grey to pure white.



It still has some rough edges, but it’s a daily – I’m actually rather proud of this piece.

Extra: This is how the layers looked like before I merged them to change the colour.smoke.png


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