Smoke and Fire is one of those things that can be modelled in numerous ways to achieve a desired result. This tutorial shows you one of those ways, using a Particle Emitter and PyroCluster to achieve a smokey fire. Like all of our tutorials, this is an introduction on how to create this effect and with time you can tweak it to suit your needs.

*WARNING: This scene takes a LONG time to render!*

*This tutorial is for intermediate users with a fair knowledge of the C4D interface*

First things first, I’ve made you a simple scene to start with, in this case it’s a dolly keeping warm next to a 44 Gallon Drum type fire. Download the file here

Now we have a place to start our pyrotechnics!

To ensure we have the animation time we want, first set your project length to 600F by hitting Ctrl + D or Edit > Project Settings

To create our fire effect we’re going to use a simple light based in the drum to give us the ‘flames’ for our fire. To do this we’ll simply create a parallel spotlight and rotate it in the P axis by 90 degrees

Next we’ll rename our light to “Fire” and we’ll give it Soft Shadows, make the light Visible and change it’s intensity to 483% (Remember in C4D that not all properties are constrained to 100%). Now change it’s colour properties to 255, 128 and 0

Switch to the top view and change the base diameter of the light to fit snugly inside of the drum. Switch back to perspective view and move the visible light nodes (little orange squares) so that the top of your light is about chest height and the second cone is a little above the drum lid

If you render your scene now you should get something like this:

Now we have our basic fire, we’ll need to add smoke. For this exercise we’ll use a Particle Emitter. Create a Particle Emitter (Objects > Particle > Emitter) and just like our light, rotate it in the P axis by 90 degrees

Next, move it up the Y axis by 330 degrees and for best practice, rename your Emitter to ‘smoke’

Set your Particle settings as below:

If you want a tall column of billowing smoke you can adjust these settings to suit. A longer lifetime and a bigger end scale will give you totally different results. Try playing with these settings to see what variations can be made. For this tutorial however, we’ll keep them as they are.

Next change your emitter size to 210m by 210m so that it fits snug inside our drum.

If you play your animation now you should be able to start seeing our smoke evolve. Rendering your scene now you wouldn’t see any smoke yet as we need to give the emitter some objects to emit. We’re going to use Pyrocluster to do this.

To use Pyrocluster we’ll need an environment. Do this simply by Object > Scene > Environment and then drag your environment into your scene object.

Using Pyrocluster also requires you to create a Pyrocluster Volume Tracer, which we do simply via. The Materials manager. File > Shader > Pyrocluster Volume Tracer

While you are there, also create a Pyrocluster Material using the same method as above.

Drag your Pyrocluster Volume Tracer onto the Environment object in your objects manager and drag the Pyrocluster material onto your Emitter object.

Now we need to give our smoke it’s texture. Instead of listing a hundred settings, I’ve placed a series of shots below with the settings needed for this exercise. Here is where you can experiment with your settings and achieve vastly different results for the look and feel of your smoke.

For this exercise we won’t be changing the Distance or Cylindrical Distance Parameters, so I omitted them from below.

Right, so now that our smoke has a texture, our render will now start to look like smoke! This is a very intense render and will take a serious amount of time, so to check all is working, press play on your timeline until roughly frame 200-210-ish and render that frame to your picture viewer. Now you should see some action!

Now we are ready to render our animation. Since the emitter takes some time to start, I suggest rendering your animation from frame 100 onwards. The loop below is a render from frame 100 – 300 and took a few hours to render. You may want to start your render before you go to sleep!

If all goes well, you should get something like this:


And that is a great little intro into using smoke! I hope you enjoy it and please feel free to post any scenes you create below!

As always, Happy Modelling!

- Mark [Woody] Woodward