Fireball Spell Effect in After Effects

Learn how to create a fire ball spell effect in this Adobe After Effects tutorial. Inspired by the mage class in World of Warcraft.

Fireball Effect

For today’s episode we decided to fulfill Jordy’s dream to become a real life World of Warcraft Fire-mage. We were inspired by their Fireball so decided to recreate our own. This effect looks easy but do not be mistaken! You have a lot of elements that need to come together like the fireball itself, flames coming off it and ember floating around. This made us research which way would be the best for us to recreate this effect.

Mage in World of Warcraft casting a Fireball
Mage in World of Warcraft casting a Fireball

Practical effect

First we thought of doing it practical. We could make a ball of cloth, soak it in a flammable fluid , light it up and film it so we have an asset of a fireball. For the embers we could have used stock footage.

However we decided not to do this because of safety reasons. It would not be responsible of us to encourage people to light up a flammable ball in a room. Next to this animating static fire or trying to find fire that moves perfect with your movement is also really difficult.

Dog in burning house cartoon meme
What we don’t want to happen to your house

3D Simulation

Next we started exploring the possibility in Blender/Cinema 4D. You can make a sphere, give it a lava type of texture, add some glow, put a fire simulation on it and animate it for the physics. The benefits of this is that the fire would react to how the ball moves.

This method has its benefits like not needing to add movement to the fire but to get this result it would take A LOT of time. Especially for us to figure it out in 3 days because we almost have no experience in any 3D software. So we had to move on.

Adobe After Effects

All these trail and errors brought us to this method. We decides to do it in After Effects because we had the most experience in it. Creating a Fireball is pretty easy but it turns out that making fire and being able to move around isn’t. After Effects isn’t made for stuff that needs to be able to be influenced by physics BUT we did find a little work around!

There are 2 key effects to create a realistic looking. Fractal Noise and Particle World. With the Fractal Noise we created a texture map, this noise map needed to look like how flames would move and behave. Next we modified the Particle World so it would flow how a flame would. When you add these 2 together via a trackmat you have a realistic flame.

Flame texture noise map after effect
Flame like texture with fractal noise
Flame like shape in Particle World
Flame like shape in Particle World
Fire simulation in after effects
Noise map and Particle world blended together to create fire

The Expressions for the Particles

For the X Position:

target = thisComp.layer("Null 1"); 
(target.position[0]-(thisComp.width/2))/thisComp.width

For the Y Position:

target = thisComp.layer("Null 1"); 
(target.position[1]-(thisComp.height/2))/thisComp.width

For the Z Position:

target = thisComp.layer("Null 1"); 
target.position[2]/thisComp.width

Project File Download

StoryBlocks Video

This video was supported by Storyblocks Video, an easy to use site full of stock footage, After Effects templates, backgrounds, motion Graphics and much more.

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