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Creating small scale fire and smoke with the help of FumeFX

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Date Added: 24th February 2014
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VFX artist Vikrant Dalal takes us through the creation of small scale fire and smoke, with the help of FumeFX


Hello everyone, welcome to my second tutorial. This time, I will cover how to create small scale fire and smoke. You may already be familiar with this working style, but I still want to say that I will make this tutorial with minimum parameters, with a few extra tricks. So get ready for a blast; sorry, not a blast... for small scale fire and smoke!

You may already have seen small scale fire and smoke effects in game cinematics or war movies, and noticed that they increase the impact of the shot. In this tutorial, I'll show you how to create this small scale fire and smoke with the help of 3ds Max and the FumeFX plug-in.

There are different techniques you can use to make this effect in FumeFX, for example; Simple Source, Object Source, or Particle Source, but this time we will use Object Source with a texture map. With this, we'll need to use a plane, Gradient map, standard lights (Target Spot and Omni), the Default Scanline render, and most importantly, the Wavelet Turbulence to add some detail.

Generate a plane

As I mentioned before, there are different types of techniques you can use to make the small scale fire and smoke effect, but we are going to use Object Source.

First, create a plane from the standard primitives menu on the right hand panel. Then, in the viewport, adjust the following settings:

Position of Plane01
? X : 0.0
? Y : 0.0
? Z : 5.0

Rotation of Plane01
? X : 0.0
? Y : 0.0
? Z : 0.0

Creating a plane using a standard primitive, and adjusting the settings

Make a texture map

You might be questioning why we are using a map in our effects ? it's because I want to generate fire and smoke from a certain area; for example, here, I want to generate the fire from the center of the plane.

So how do we go about this? First, I make a black-and-white map. This is important as we can program the fire and smoke to appear only from the white areas. This is the main reason we're using a texture map.

To make this black-and-white map, first press M to open the Material Editor. Select a material slot and apply the material to your Plane01. Now right-click on the Diffuse Color button, and the Material/Map Browser window will appear. Select the Gradient Ramp option and change the Gradient type to Radial. Finally, you can adjust the color to appear the same as in the image and play with the Noise Parameter to displace the clean circle.

Allocating materials to the plane to create the base texture map

Generate the FumeFX system

Now with our base texture map established, we are going to use 3 important things from the FumeFX System: the FumeFX Container, the FFX Object Source and the FFX Gravity Vector.

So first, to create the FumeFX Container, we need to go to Create Panel > Geometry > Dropdown menu > FumeFX. Now click on the FumeFX button and Generate Container in the viewport. Now we can rename FumeFX01 to SSF Container, and in the viewport, change the position of the LSS Container to the following:

? X : 200.0
? Y : 0.0
? Z : 0.0

To create the FFX Particle Source, go to Create Panel > Helpers > Dropdown menu > FumeFX, then click on the Object Src Button and generate in the viewport. Now you can rename FFX Particle Src01 to SSF Src.

Finally, to create the FFX Gravity Vector, go to Create Panel > Helpers > Dropdown menu > FumeFX, and click on the Gravity Vector Button and generate it in viewport. The gravity vector will change the Gravity Direction according to the icon. In the viewport, you need to change the rotation of FFX Gravity Vector01 to the following:

? X : 0.0
? Y : 70.0
? Z : 0.0

Setting parameters in the FumeFX system to set up the effect

continued on next page >

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Readers Comments (Newest on Top)
J Lebowski on Mon, 03 July 2017 4:48pm
"This will generate one more window (Noise Controller: SSF Container/Expansion) and you can adjust the settings to the parameters shown in the image." What. Image?
J Lebowski on Mon, 03 July 2017 4:34pm
You need to include what your units set up is for 3ds max as part of this tutorial. It does make a difference as to the sim result you will get.
Tronmole on Sun, 05 October 2014 4:16pm
So to make this work do the following. Increase the strength of the noise modifier that is applied to the expansion. It should vary between 0 and maybe 5. Secondly make sure the plane is contained within the fumefx grid. move it up to about Z: 0.05 Also make sure your units are set to generic.
Emil on Fri, 12 September 2014 10:55am
I'm sorry , why i follow all the steps but still didn't see any result kust like MPeter, Black Screen and finish the simulation within 1 mins, please help
Vikrant Dalal on Tue, 08 July 2014 7:54pm
My new Blog Address is - You can watch more tutorials. My Showreel Link -
Chris on Thu, 29 May 2014 11:38am
I'm like Lawrance, Jim and JB : the final product IS NOT the same, though I followed to the letter the tuto. Flames are very small and ridiculous, and we can see the plane during the render. (sorry my english is bad) The tutorial is clumsy. Jackie and MPeter : the source (plane) is below the grid, move it up
Tmqvnf on Sat, 10 May 2014 8:43pm
oh.. It's nice tutoria l..!!! I wish I buy this program FumeFX.. I remember this
Jackie on Fri, 02 May 2014 4:54am
how come i don't see anything in my simulation? I really need some help. I did the tut twice already... (
Vikrant Dalal on Tue, 01 April 2014 7:43pm
Hello JB, I'm Really sorry that I forgot to add Noise controller Image.
JB on Wed, 26 March 2014 10:11am
Whilst i got the tute to work, the final product is deceptive. Perhaps its the noise modifer which makes the flame turn into a fireball ish and the smoke to plume around? Mine just looks lack luster. You say refer to the diagram for the noise modifier but there is no picture for it =P. I'd of liked to have seen a tute where you talk a little bit more about the parameters. Or what major ones are best to change for different effects etc.
MPeter on Thu, 13 March 2014 7:14pm
I made the tutorial also 2 times and everything I get is a black simulation screen. The Simulation only takes 1 minute...
Jim Mallard on Wed, 26 February 2014 1:27pm
I've done this several times and I am like Lawrence, not getting anything close to what you are getting. My flames are very small. Smoke isn't too bad. I did get the texture to emit OK. I used generic units.
Vikrant Dalal on Tue, 25 February 2014 12:11pm
Use generic units & keep z value of plane position is 5.0 it will work definitely. still if you have any problem, reply here. Good Luck... :)
Josh Purple on Tue, 25 February 2014 12:24am
Thank You :) !
Lawrence on Mon, 24 February 2014 6:04pm
Identical settings (done the tut 2 times from 0) , and the result I get its not even closed when comes to animation , it just burns a lil on the ground .... What units setup ? Generic units?
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