When creating an Epic Fantasy, whether in a fictional setting or in a more common place one, at some point something "odd" is bound to happen. And with the majority of Epic Fantasies, that "odd" thing generally is magical in nature.
The trick in producing these kinds of things becomes one of how to best create these odd magical events and objects, so that the viewer not only knows that it happened, but that of course it was "magical" in nature. To our benefit, a number of these special effects are easy to set up in Blender.
Appearance / Disappearance Effect
- The first special effect (and probably one of the easiest) I'll explain is having an object (or person) suddenly appear with a simple animation.
- First, make sure your object/person is on a layer that can be turned off. If it isn't, you can move it to a layer that can be turned off. To move an object to a different layer, select it and press M >> then from the pop-up menu select an empty layer.
- Next, make sure you are on the right frame. For the purposes of this demonstration, use frame 1. You can use the arrow keys on your keyboard to cycle through frames.
- Once you are on the right frame, apply a keyframe so that the object/person will initially stay on that layer at the beginning of the animation. Select the object/person and press I >> then from the pop-up menu select the Layer that you using to hide your object/person.
- Next, cycle through the frames until you reach the right one you want the object/person to appear. The lower the frame number, the faster the effect.
- Select the object/person and press M >> then from the pop-up menu select an empty layer that is visible.
- Finally, apply another keyframe while the person/object is on the visible layer (I >> then from the pop-up menu select the Layer that you are using to display your object/person.
To make the object/person disappear, just set it up in reverse. Place the first keyframe on a visible layer and the second keyframe on a hidden layer.
Now this is a very basic and easy effect, but it could use a little polish and added pizzazz to convince your audience that real magic is happening. Here are some things you can try and experiment with:
Key frame the Alpha
value of the object/person as it is appearing/disappearing.
In material windows press I >> Alpha
- Set Alpha from 0-1 or 1-0, depending on whether you are appearing or disappearing.
- Be sure to set the Alpha key frames to cover several seconds, so that the effect can be seen and appreciated, but not so long that the viewer gets tired of waiting for it.
Use a Build Modifier
The Build Modifier can create the effect of your object/person appearing/disappearing in random stages or pieces. When used with the two previously mentioned techniques, changing layers and Alpha Key framing, the Build Modifier can both create cool effects and be lots of fun to play with.
- For best effect, set up your Build Modifier to start slightly before your object/person appears/disappears.
Add some Halos
Kernon Dillon recently created a set of video tutorials covering "Magic Wand Particles Effects". In addition to creating a magical look in and of itself, this effect could be used to surround your object/person as it performs its appearing/disappearing act. Try it with any combination of the previous techniques.
David Revoy made great use of halos and the Build modifier to create a magical castle in his “Little Fairy” animation. Instructions for his magically appearing castle can be found in Issue #10 of Blenderart Magazine.
Glowing objects are always a cool effect and rather simple to implement in multiple ways.
A Very Soft Glow/Color Aura Around Object:
- Create a copy of your object. Depending on the object and how far you want the glow to spread, try to scale up the copy ever so slightly.
- Give the copy a low alpha material (.100-.200) and a pale color (color choice will depend on the object and the look wanted).
- Set the “Emit" value to between 1-2 (might require a few tests for the best look).
- Parent the "glowing" object to the "real" object.
- If you want your glow to actually cast light as well as color, parent a few low energy lamps to the object as well.
You can parent several lamps (number of lamps will depend on the size and shape of your object) to your object Set the energy to a low value (you don't want to blow out your object or scene with overly bright lights)
Use Lamp >> Sphere with a very small distance
Depending on your object, you may need to overlap the influence of the lamp distances to get a good result.
Halos can create a great glowing look, but be careful when setting the size and energy. Very small values work the best, otherwise you will likely blow out your image.
- Create a simple cage around your object
- Delete only the edges, Keeping the vertices in place
- Apply a halo material
- Remember, use Low Values!
These are just a few easy examples of how you can quickly create magical effects in Blender. Of course, Blender is capable of creating any number of special effects, it is limited only by your own imagination.
Additional Resources: The following resources cover the use of and creation of some very nice visual effects.
Foundation Blender Compositing
Bounce Tumble and Splash!