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LinkedIn Learning

VFX Techniques: Creating Particle Effects

via LinkedIn Learning


Learn to create Harry Potter–style smoke, fire, and explosions with particle systems in After Effects.

VFX Techniques is back with a new course on particle effects—everyone's favorite feature for creating realistic smoke, fire, explosions, and other phenomena. Author Lee Lanier tackles a wizard battle, producing Harry Potter–style effects as the two wizards fight with their magic wands. Using this sample footage, he shows how to generate particles with After Effect's built-in plugins, dives into the settings to adjust their appearance, and retimes and color grades the scene to create a particular magical mood. Plus, learn about green-screen removal techniques, background plate repair, CG particles, and rotoscoping techniques. This course covers puffs, sparkles, blobs, flares, smoke, sparks, and blasts, so you'll be prepared to create particles for almost any scenario.


  • Welcome
  • Using the exercise files
1. Getting Started
  • Breakdown of final comps
  • Setting up the project in After Effects
2. Prepping and Repairing the Plate
  • Working with Cineon files
  • Color grading for night
  • Generating a particle blob
  • Hand tracking particles into the plate
  • Patching the background
3. Working with Particles
  • Creating a particle puff
  • Creating a trailing particle sparkle
  • Creating a streaked particle blast
4. Relighting the Scene
  • Creating light spill
  • Adding a fake shadow and flare
5. Motion Tracking Damage
  • Copying footage and effects
  • Motion tracking elements
  • Continuing with motion tracking
6. Creating Smoke, Sparks, and Blasts
  • Creating smoke with simple particles
  • Creating sparks with particles
  • Reusing particles
  • Adding the blast as a 3D layer
  • Integrating a CG explosion
  • Creating glowing embers
  • Rotoscoping the foreground
  • Color grading the shot
7. Working with Green Screen and Clean Plates
  • Preparing the green screen
  • Keying green screen
  • Time remapping and split screening
  • Reusing particles
8. Utilizing CG Particle Simulations
  • Preparing CG particles
  • Using the Liquify effect
  • Layering the particles
  • Final relighting
  • Looking at the final project
  • Next steps

Taught by

Lee Lanier

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