Hi, my name’s Mark. I’m the Technical Artist at Puny Astronaut. In my posts I’ll be talking about my process in the development of shaders or materials, creating visual effects, or lighting a scene. Most of my work is in Unreal Engine – feel free to email me if you have any questions or suggestions!


In the Beginning

In this post I’ll be talking about the development of our fire since we first starting working on Skye (then called Glaze) back in 2016 for Dare to Be Digital.


The first version of our fire was influenced by our dominant low-poly art style, but as time went on this style grew more and more tiring to look at due to the heavy use of triangles across most of the visual effects.


Revisiting the Art

After the very hectic eight weeks of development for the Dare prototype, we looked at completely revising the art style to create something more unique. I stumbled across a video on stylised visual effects in RiME by Simon Schreibt and this talk by Julian Love on The VFX of Diablo.


Learning from these talks helped me improve the visuals of the fire significantly, but as the game evolved further over our final year at Abertay, and since the investment we received, the fire seemed too chaotic and lacked the gentleness it needed.


Discovering Fire

Once again it was time to rethink the process of creating the visual effect to focus on calm movement.

Embers with shapes that complement the fire made it feel more dynamic and organic. Smoke with slow, exaggerated movement helped it seem interesting and calming, and grounds it in reality. The final touch was to add a subtle glow which shares warmth to the surrounding environment.


Shader Breakdown

For those of you who might find the shader blueprints interesting/useful, here’s what it looks like:

I’m always interested in seeing how other tech artists approach these kind of visual effects, so I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on how we're achieved our fire in Skye!