Cyprien Douterlungne prepared a breakdown of his cool CrocoWarrior VFX inspired by League of Legends. Software used: Unity, Maya, and Substance Designer.
My name is Cyprien Douterlungne, and I come from Belgium. I studied video game development, specifically in animation and character design for the video games industry at Albert Jacquard, a CG school in Belgium.
I’ve been a 3D animator for one year at the O2o studio in France. This is my first real job after school. I worked a lot on TV series for children and today, I have the opportunity to work on a feature film called “Bayala” with dragons, elves, and magic. I also participated in a community project for League of Legends and our work was congratulated by Riot‘s team. That was a really cool and great adventure!
As you can see, I haven’t had an opportunity to work on a video game production yet, but maybe one day! My short career path brought me to work in the cinema industry but that’s still cool! As for VFX, I simply discovered it for my pleasure because it’s a really fun thing to do and that pairs nicely with the animations I make at home.
This small project was made in an instinctive way. At first, I just wanted to create an animation like League of Legends’ ones, because I love this game. Something like an ultimate spell or a recall with a God view. I quickly chose the ultimate’s animation idea and started blocking it in Maya. I pushed this one as much as possible and then smoothed it.
When the animation was done, I told myself: “Hey, it would be really cool if there was an impact on the ground when the sword crashes on the cube!”
So, I launched Unity and imported my animation. That was really hard and annoying to import it in Unity because the character was not thought to be imported into a video games engine. When I imported it with an FBX file, it was very bugged. With my mate, we managed to import the animation in Alembic Cache and that finally worked. Anyway, that was the least fun part of the project.
Once everything was settled in the Unity scene, I was finally able to begin. I added an impact texture that I animated, a shockwave and some rocks popping.
After that, another thought came to me: “It would be really nice if I added a Divine feel to my shot!” So, I added some emissive to the sword and the cracks of the impact. When the sword went back in the crocodile’s hand, all of the divine power had to be reabsorbed. For this, I created those little volatile particles growing up on impact before being reabsorbed by the sword. I also added some glow and color correction in post effect.
To summarize, I did it step by step and each step inspired me for the next one. I just stopped when I didn’t have any more ideas.
Character & Animation
I didn’t make the character. However, I entirely made the animation and effects. For the animation, I tried to make the most beautiful poses as possible, with strong anticipations to really understand all the actions happening one after another. I really enjoyed making some stretch and squash that create great dynamic movements like Riot loves to do with their champions. That really inspired me.
Big thanks to Grégoire Frederic and Vianney Thomas for their invaluable bits of advice, they really helped me increase the quality of my animation. They are awesome!
And the rig itself is completely free. People who made it did a great job!
The Sword VFX was made in 3 steps:
First, I created an emissive map on the mesh and animated the alpha at the key moment of the animation.
Second, I created a particle system with a cubical emission shape in which I added some particles with a very slow speed and a random direction. You can make it pretty easily and it creates a really nice atmosphere.
After that, I animated the size of the cube with a little anticipation before I reduced it until we don’t see it at the absorption’s moment.
Impact on the Ground
For the impact on the ground, I was inspired by the Galio’s VFX in League of Legends. The FX when he hits the ground was the one I wanted to do for my animation.
Let me explain each step of my VFX below.
1. Impact: I used an impact texture and with Substance Designer, I generated an AO, Height, and a normal map for a real relief feeling in Unity. I created a material and assigned it to the basic plane. After that, I animated it with an overshoot.
2. Shockwave: This is a good trick to bring more power to your VFX. It’s a simple cylinder into which I add a basic, white/blue, serrated textures. It appears simultaneously with impact and disappears right after it in a blink.
3. Rock: This is a particle system with gravity. I roughly drew a pebble in Photoshop to do that.
4. Smoke: I also used a particle system with a circle emission using a smoke texture. For this part, I let it more visible after the shock so we have the time to see it.
5. Flash: I saw that in a reference and thought that was really cool. It’s really easy to make, just one particle that pops and that’s all. Basic stuff which brings a lot of power!
6. Crack light: To get this, I altered the impact texture in Photoshop (invert black and white, readjust the contrast). Then I added it to the emissive channel of the material of the impact. After that, I animated the intensity of the emissive’s alpha that allowed me to manage the intensity of the crack lights the way I wanted.
Is it Suitable for Games?
This VFX can be fully used in games as it’s just some animated textures and particle systems combined together. On the other hand, I think I should correct my animation because it’s based on the camera view which let me hide some defects. Moreover, the crocodile is not made to be exported in an FBX file (at least, I could not do it). I think it’s not possible to use it as a real video game character.
Advice for Learners
I think, when you want to learn something whether it’s VFX, animation or anything else, the most important part is that you need to find joy in doing that.
If you want to make an explosion, just do it. If you want to make a fart, JUST DO IT! The secret is just to do something that will bring you fun. If you take pleasure when trying to do something, you will learn so much more and so much quicker than if you force yourself.
Technically, I advise you to make simple things at the beginning. It’s useless to try to make something too complicated and far too ambitious. Most of the time, you will just give up. You’ll get more motivation and learn more if you achieve a lot of simple but cool things than a very hard project that requires a lot of time and energy. This is my opinion.
And for tutorials, I recommend you Sirhaian’s channel. The tutorials he made were very helpful for me. He is a VFX artist at Riot Games and a good friend of mine.
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