Using CC Filters and Displacement Maps to Create Fire
Using CC Filters and Displacement Maps to Create Fire
Adobe After Effects Tutorial



Joe Chao (Cao Jun) Joe Chao,
Jiangsu, China
©2006 Joe Chao and CreativeCow.net. All rights reserved.

Article Focus:
In this tutorial, CreativeCOW Contributing Editor Joe Chao creates ethereal fire using some of the CC filters and displacement maps in After Effects.





Here is the finished effect:





This tutorial comprises 2 parts. Part One is about how to make the burning text "FIRE". Part Two is about how to make the burning lunt.
(lunt=torch)

Part One

Make the flame

First, we should make the core of the fire. I selected CC filters to make it. (They are packed with AE6.5 and easy to control. Particular playground or Trapcode particular can work too, but the particular system created by Particular playground is too simple and pale. Trapcode Particular is powerful, can make the fire more colorful, but it is a little hard to control and in this case, CCfilters are just enough. By the way, if you are using an AE5.5, you can use FE filters instead of CC filters. They are almost the same.) Here are the steps:

  • Create a composition named "core". Set a proper size and length for it. (I set 720*576 /30seconds)
  • Create a text layer and input: "FIRE" (or any other words you like)
  • Note:
    Choosing a bold font is better than choosing a single one.
  • Apply Effect > Simulation > CC PS Classic
    Here are the settings for the filter: (
    please, especially pay attention to the red underlined parts.)




  • Secondly, because the fire-like element is in black and white, so it must be dyed into fire color.
  • Create a new composition named "color"
  • Put "core" into it
  • Apply Effect > Image control> Colorama
  • To make the image less sharp, I apply Fast Blur for it
  • Here are the settings:



  • Now the particular system seems a little strange with crude edges.
  • Put another core composition in to this composition, place it above the other one. Change the matte mode of the other layer to "alpha matte 'core' ".
  • Here is the shot of the timeline window:



Now it is time to make the fire.

  • Create a now composition named "fire"
  • Put the composition "color" into it. It looks more like smoke than flame. So we must make it ethereal by a trick.
  • Apply Effect > Distort> Displacement Map
  • Duplicate this layer.
  • Apply Effect > Stylize>Glow to the UPER one and switch the transparence mode to "add", adjust the opacity if necessary.
  • Here are the settings for the effect window:



And the timeline window:




Now your fire should be like this:





If not, check the last steps, rectify the mistakes and adjust the settings till you succeed.

NOTE:
The size of the text will affect the result. Different settings for the particular system should be used in different cases.


Make the Melting Text.

Before making it we should prepare a displacement map for it.

  • Create a new composition named "Displacement"
  • Make a solid layer.
  • Apply Effect > Render > Fractal Noise
  • Here are the settings:
    Remember to add key frames for Evolution parameter. (Set the first frame to 0 circle and the last frame:2circle)





Now let's make the text.

  • Open the composition "core", copy the text layer. Go back to the composition "fire" and paste it. Remember to locate the text layer above all the other layers. Delete all the effects applied to this layer.
  • Put the composition "displacement" into this comp. Hide it.
  • Set the fill color of the text to red and the outline color to yellow.
  • Apply Effect > Stylize> Roughen Edges
  • Add key frames for Evolution parameter. (first frame:0circle~last frame:20circle)
  • Apply Effect > Stylize> Glow
  • Apply Effect > Distort> Displacement Map
  • Here are the settings:




You should have results similar to this:





If not, check the last steps, rectify the mistakes and adjust the settings till you make it.


Part Two


In this part, we will make a burning lunt in a similar way.

1: To create a burning flame.

  • Create a new composition named "Core of lunt" .
  • Copy the "FIRE" text layer from "CORE" composition and paste it into this comp.
  • Double click the text layer. Input: "O". Change the font to "Impact".
  • Notice that the shape has changed a lot. You can also try other letters. Letters in font "Wingdings" can often be pretty.
  • Create a composition named "color of lunt". Dye the flame as you did in the composition "color" above
  • Create a composition named "lunt" (you'd better set the size to 720*900), and put the composition "color of lunt" into it.
  • Put the layer "color "at the bottom and hide it.(It will be used as the displace map)
  • Apply Effect to "color of lunt" > Distort>Displacement
  • Here are the settings:


  • Duplicate this layer and adjust its size, make it smaller. Change the transparence mode.
  • Notice that the flame doesn't look very realistic. It lacks texture especially at the inside part of the flame. So we'll make an inside flame for it. But before that, we should create a displacement map for it.
  • Create a new composition named "displacement2" in the same way with the composition "displacement". Place it at the bottom. Hide it.
  • Here are the settings:



  • Duplicate the layer "lunt color"
  • Apply Effect > Distort> Displacement Map
    Set it like this:



  • Create a text layer and input "O"
  • Apply Effect > Stylize> Roughen Edges
  • Add key frames for Evolution parameter.
  • Apply Effect > Stylize> Glow
  • Apply Effect > Blur & sharpen>Directional Blur
  • Apply Effect > Distort> Displacement Map
    Settings:



The timeline window:



The Flame should look like this:


2: Make the lunt.

  • Import the image of a lunt from the file lunt.psd.
  • Adjust the position and the size.
  • Duplicate it. Convert it into a 3D layer. Change the anchor point to the bottom of the image.
  • Adjust the position and rotation to make it like a shallow.
  • Apply Effect > Render> Fill
  • Apply Effect > Distort> Displacement Map
  • Apply Effect > Blur&sharpen>Gaussian Blur
  • Switch the transparence mode to "Multiply"
    Setting the effects like this:



  • Set key frames for the scale and opacity with the wiggle tool to imitate a pulsing shallow.
    Now we have finished making the lunt.


The Final Step:

Assemble the burning text and lunt.

  • Create a new composition named "main"
  • Put the composition "fire" and "lunt" into it.
  • Adjust the position and size.
    Pay attention here:




  • Make a backdrop for your scene.
  • Finally, we get the result like this:




If you're satisfied with this effect, render it.


Feel free to ask questions in the After Effects forum at CreativeCOW.net.



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