Creating Realistic Flame In Blender
by Krzysztof Zwolinski

'KeepTheFlame' is one of my works inspired by the book of Pete Drapera, "Deconstructing the Elements with 3ds max 6”. Even though this book is aimed at users of 3ds max, I recommend this book everyone.

How to make flame?
Before we start to make materials we have to take a minute and wonder about characterization of our object. In this tutorial we make a flame from a lighter, lets think about ití:

  • 1) Flame is fading out with the environment
  • 2) It has two different colors, half blue and yellow
  • 3) Each half has a different property..

Now it seems that we can't make this flame just from a simple material. So to do this material, we will use Node materials. In this tutorial we use a simple object Sphere scaled in Z. The Flame in the 'KeepTheFlame' was alos made in this way, but it takes a little time &effort to set up everything to have this effect fell right.

Lets start:
First we make a simple material and Turn on ZTransp, Alpha 0,0, Spec 0,0. Now for the Node, in Node editor we erase everything leaving only Output (I am not going to explain about the properties of every Node we have in the editor, I will only show you how to connect them and what this connection results in). Now add Output, Geometry, Normal, Color Ramp, and RGB Curves nodes. Mix and connect them like on the image.

We use a setup like this almost all through this tutorial as it gives great adaptability. In this case the object is covered with two colors which are setup in Mix Node, and Mix Node is setup by ColorRamp and Normal Node. So we can setup fading one color to another on the object Normals. Later we change Normal Node to Texture Node.

And this is the result of this setup. Gentle fading of the white color in the blak and because we alos put this setup in the alpha channel the object disappears and fades out with the background.

Now we have an object that is gently fading, so now we have to split him into two different parts. First we make Blend texture like this.

Copy all of the Nodes and change Normal, ColorRamp on Texture, Mapping and set up adequate coordinates of the texture,

and the results.

Our flame is now split by the texture in two colors, white and the black. In the alpha channel, blak is transparent. So now we put all of the Nodes made in first step to fadeout what is in the white slot of Mix Node.

Create another Blend texture, which will replace the Blak slot in the Mix Node and add another Mix Node and mix them together like this.

If we render it now we can see that the blue part of the flame is not fading out, that's because the Mix from Normal fade in is not attached into the blue slot. So now copy them and set them up like in the image.

Alos copy Normal and ColorRamp and put them into the blak slot, this give us the ability to change the outer line of the blue part. If you setup everything correctly you should be have some thing like this.

Now we can take care of the upper part of the flame. Make another Blend texture like on this image.

And connect this texture to the first Mix Node we created to the white slot

Now we have complete setting for the flame.

Now its up to us and what we want to achieve. We could add a Material Node with Emitter and cloud texture. With emitter we could use Radiosity and the alpha channel in the clouds to make the flame more real.

You can see that making a good Node material is hard work and you need to study them in real life. Most of time the best results are made by trials and error.

Information in this tutorial are only the basics of the Node Editor and making of the flame materials, but I hope that the basics and study of the image of the final settings of Nodes used in the work 'KeepTheFlame' will let you to make more realistic flames and many more Node materials in future.

Krzysztof ”Blender-Man” Zwolinski

I have work with 3D softwares for almost 10 years. I startedd out on AutoCAD then moved to 3dsmax. Throughout this time I worked on many programs but found Blender to be the best of them. I currently study journalism with specialization on "CyberMedía and Electronical Commúnication". In my free time I work as 3D graphic freelancer.