Francois Antoine of Epic explains how artists are able to make believable explosions with UE4

Video: Making sharper explosions with UE4 and volume texturing

Epic’s case-by-case dissection of its Infiltrator tech demo for Unreal Engine 4 continues with a close look at 3D volume textures and how they helped to create better explosions.

The striking jet of flame that’s seen about halfway through the tech demo would have been far more complicated to create using the previous generation of tools, according to Epic.

“It would have be hard to do previously because we’re using custom material functions and the material expression editor, and on top of that we need to use GPU particles,” said Epic’s senior FX artist Francois Antoine.

However, using the UE4’s toolset, such as the material editor and nodes, the video’s 3D volume texture explosion was created by artists, without the need for a coder in this instance.

Volume texturing is a new technique that Epic has employed. The method enables developers to make elements, like explosions, that would previously have been made up of flat particles 3D, made up of a series of separate sections. These sections, or slices, can then added to the material editor and the colour adjusted so that the final explosion looks more realistic.

“You can actually feel [the explosion] creeping up at the camera,” enthused Zak Parrish, developer support at Epic.

Take a look at the video below.

In the first part of this VFX series, Epic offered a look at the engine’s ability to create muzzle flashes, smoke and impact effects. And in December it showed off realistic water effects and GPU particle simulation.

You can read more about Unreal Engine 4 and its feature set in Develop’sUnreal Diaries articles, or check out Epic’s Inside Unreal page for video shorts.

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