Creating Smoke in Maya!

As you know if you red my blog, that i have been in charge of effects in our film.

In the beginning our film was to have smoke and fire but as i will speak about later you will realise why we decided to only focus on smoke…

Being new to maya and still a little timid and unsure of how to use it my first thoughts were to animate in Maya and create the effects in After Effects, which i did here…

I even included the smoke over a piece of animation i made for our original story (which has now changed drastically) as you can see here…

After one of our presentation deadlines (as you know from previous post’s) we got a lot of criticism and were asked to try and create our effects in Maya, wich is what i set out to do next.

I began watching video’s on youtube and digital tutors to see what i could find, funnily enough i found one that was easy to understand on youtube. Here are the processes i took to create my smoke.

  • Create a layer for smoke and name
  • Change shelf to dynamics
  • Particles-create emitter
  • hold shift on item i want emitter to be attached too (tree)
  • edit-Parent
  • uncheck preserve position-click parent
  • go to channel box
  • change direction xyz as desired (y particularly)
  • play around with spread
  • change speed as desired
  • change emitter type to directional
  • play around with rate until happy
  • go to attribute editor
  • particle shape 1
  • lifespan mode- random
  • particle render type- clouds
  • current render type- radius- surface shading- threshold
  • click hypershade-create- volumetric materials-particle cloud
  • life colour- add ramp-click ramp 1
  • change bottom and top colour to white and black-delete middle colour
  • pull up and down to change colour percentage
  • particle cloud 2- life transparency- add ramp
  • change colours as above

after doing all these steps i had tweek at them for a while to get them as i wished, i also had to animate a path for the emitter as it had to burst out of the trree and cover the bird, i found this tricky.

What i really found confusing was how to get the smoke to fade, i made lots of particles but they never seemed to stop it just seemed to go on forever until the timeline ended, i finally realised that i needed to select from keyframes and drag them way down the timeline to nearer the beginning so that it would stop sooner and fade on its own. (this took me way longer to realise than it should have).

My next problem was styling, we had always said that with the beautiful render’s we can get from using Arnold that we would want out our film to have a soft, childlike, almost playdough feel to it, and so when creating smoke this had to be considered.

To have realistic smoke in a play dough world would look ridiculous and make the audience remember that the world isn’t a real place as it isn’t authentic or legitimate.

Here is my first attempt at bubbly smoke…

Here is a screen shot of it in the film as i have not yet rendered out the scene.

This is how we finally decided the smoke should look, big and bally, soft and cloudy.

Screen Shot 2014-05-05 at 14.46.28

I think these clouds look to small and you can also see parts of the bird beneath it Screen Shot 2014-05-05 at 14.41.53

as you can see here this didn’t work at all, there wasn’t enough particles and the clouds are not at a large enough radius, meaning it doesn’t look like smoke and you can see the bird clearly.

Screen Shot 2014-05-05 at 14.38.39

This one worked okay, but we thought the larger clouds of smoke looked better Screen Shot 2014-05-04 at 17.37.09 Screen Shot 2014-05-04 at 17.25.33 Screen Shot 2014-05-04 at 17.25.11


Here is a screen shot of my very first attempt at making the bubbly smoke. Screen Shot 2014-04-17 at 13.57.47






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