Making a Fire Ball in After Effects

   Our Final Product in Action
Tutorial INFO

Author: Logan Kenesis
Time: 20 Minutes

After Effects
Trapcode Particular
Trapcode Shine

Lets Get Started

In this tutorial i will teach you how to create a simple ball of fire in after effects. To create this effect we will need After effects (obviously) and two plugins called trapcode particular & trapcode shine, if you never heard of these two plugins just click on the following links and you will be directed to where you can get them (Trapecode Particular & Trapcode Shine).


First lets make a new composition, call it "Rain" lets make it a size of 1920 x 1080. If you have a slower computer you can make this size smaller.


- Now lets create our particle system so lets create a new solid by clicking " Layer > New > Solid " and name it "Rain Drops"
- Next give it a size of 1920 x 1080
- Click Ok

- Now Make a second solid and name it "Emitter"
- Next give it a size of 1920 x 1080
- Click Ok



Ok so easy stuff so far right? But now comes the hard part so get ready for a lot of tweeking of setting.

- Lets go ahead and apply particular to our Rain Drops solid we just created by right clicking on it and choosing
" Effects > Trapcode > Particular "

Great now lets dive right into the setting of our particle system and as we go down the long list of setting i will try to explain why we are adjusting each setting so lets get to it.

- First make sure you have the "Rain Drops" layer selected and check out the effects panel and look at the particular setting, Now as you can see there is a ton of stuff to change but here are the setting i want you to change.

- Change the " Particles/sec to 16090" this will set the number of particles we are using.
- Change the "Emitter Type to Layer" remember the Emitter solid we made? well this is going to be the layer that emits our particles

- Change "Velocity to 80" We are setting this kinda low so that are particles dont drop to fast
- Change the next 3 velocity setting to ZERO
- Change "Emitter Z size to 50" This setting really doesnt matter but the point of it is to give it a little more randomness

- Open up the Layer Emitter setting, inside you will see 3 setting but we are only interested in "Layer" setting next to it you will see the word "none" change this to our layer we made called "Emitter". What this does is tells trapcode particular to use our solid we made called Emitter to emit the particles out of it.


Alright so you survived step 3 and now in step 4 we will be changing a lot more setting and also setup our emitter so here we go.

- Look in the timeline for our layer we created called Emitter click on it, and to the right we need to enable 3D which is a tiny little box, you can see what i mean in the image below. Ok so now what this does is tells after effects is to treat our emitter layer as 3D meaning that now we have the ablity to move it around in 3d space. If i lost you here dont worry to much because it will become a bit more clearer later.

- Ok so i know what your thinking... all this work and nothing pretty to look at right?dont worry were getting close.So before we move on click on the emitter layer and then change the solid setting by going to "Layer > Solid Settings" and change the color to any thing you like besides Black (i choose blue). Now one thing you might notice is that we could of done this when we first created the emitter layer and you would be right. The whole point of me doing this is to show you a IMPORTANT STEP that some people might miss or over look which is your particles will ALWAYS have the color of the Emitter layer. So for those of you that had your solid as black unless you change the color you would never see your particles. So just remember this and you will be ok.

- Now we need to set our emitters position so have a look at the setting below and copy each one to your emitter layer


- Alright next lets click back on our Rain Drops layer and adjust some more setting to particular so open up the Particle settings and change every thing like the image shows below

-Good now lets move on to the Physics settings, have a look at the image below and once again copy all the settings. Dont worry if you have no idea what all this stuff means i will explain each setting shortly.

Alright so whats going on with all this junk in the images above. Well what all of this does is tell Particular how the particles are effected by the air (Physics) of our particle system. And while these particles fall make them deflect off of an invisible sphere. Ok so here is a break down of every setting we changed and its purpose. If your a little more advanced in after effects just skip this next part.

- Gravity this is pretty obvious but whats odd about this one is the gravity is very high. The reason for this is so that the particles can fall faster so that they can be seen in our screen earlier in our timeline.

- Physics Time Factor this setting slows and speeds up time i set this to be very low so that our particles move a bit slower so they do not fall to fast, you can ahchieve almost the same results with gravity but the difference is this doesnt effect the physics in the same way gravity does (Just trust me on this one)

- Spherical Field Strenght this is the invisible sphere i mentioned earlier that will deflect our particles as they fall. The Strength settin will determine how strong this deflection is.

- Position XY this will as you guessed position this sphere in the coordinates of X (Left & Right) and Y (Up & Down)

- Position Z this will position our shere in the Z position (Forward & Back) )in 3d space

- Radius this lets us choose how big we want the sphere to be


We are about half way complete here so lets keep the pace and move on to the last setting for particular which is Aux system. But before we do go ahead and check out your work so far and move the timeline foward and check out how our ball is starting to form. Cool right?

- Open up the Aux System and apply these setting below BUT!!!! before you set the particles/sec number i just want to warn you that if you have a slow pc this might take a while to load so to be on the safe side start at around 300 and work your way up.

- Great now you should have something like this shown below (Looks Awesome) But before we move on
let me explain what just happend here. For all you smarty pants experts reading this you can skip this part. So any
way the Aux System takes the particles we already had and spawns another at its current position in time which in turn makes a trail effect. Now if this confuses you the best way to understand it is to just play around with the setting and see it for your self and every thing should start to become clear for you.

Ok so lets talk a little bit about the settings we just changed a bit before we move to the next step
-Emit we set this to continuous so that the particles will keep spawning in a trail from our main particles
-Emit Probability this just says that from our main particles how much will the aux system emit from those main particles. Basically this means that 100% of our particles will be trails.

-Particles / sec this just means how many particles per second will be emitted. The higher the number the more our trails will look like a solid line and the lesser the number the more dotted the lines will look.

-Life this just means how long our particles will last 1.0 means they will last 1 second
-Size will tell our particles how big they should be.
-Transfer mode well if you ever used photo shop iam pretty sure you know what this is. But if not this just means that when particles over lap there colors will be added to one another, making a brighter color of the particles.

-Inherit Velocity alright so this last setting tells the aux system how much of the main particles velocity will it inherit. Meaning lets say if the main particles are going left and you set Inherit velocity to 0 this means the aux particles will not follow the same path (left) that the main particles are going. If you change this number to be higher then our aux particles will start to follow the main particles more and more. But for right now we set this number to 330 to get a nice wavy look, but play around with this setting so you can get a feel for whats happening.


Alright Step 7, this is where all our work comes together. So here is a quick over view of whats going to happen. We now have our particles set up how we want them and now all we have to do is apply a few effects to them, add a mask layer and a background. So lets start with our background.

- Start off by creating a new solid and give it a name of Background. And make sure you put this solid layer below our Rain Drops layer.

- Next apply a ramp effect to it and a guassian blur effect with these setting below. Dont worry about getting the exact same color as me in the ramp. It wont matter in the next few steps

- Good now we are going to create a brand new composition from the one we have been working on. So go up to your project panel and drag the Rain Composition into the composition icon and then you should have a new composition called Rain 2 check out the image below to see exactly how to do this.

-Alright now make sure your in the Rain 2 composition and this is the part where we will start to add our effects.
So click on our Rain layer and apply a Shine effect to it with these setting below. You can find shine in Effects > Trapcode > Shine

-Now you can see our effect starting to take shape here are my results so far

-Ok so were getting close to being finish here, so now lets create a mask on our ball. To do first make sure you are on the Rain layer and then double click on the ellispe tool on the top menu bar and begin to adjust the circle around the fire ball. Check out the images below.

You dont have to make a perfect circle. Just enough to cut out our background

Now take a look in the Rain layer and find the mask setting. Here you will need to increase the feather and expansion setting so that our ball have a softer out line to it. Below our my setting but just use them as a guide. I recommend you use your judgement as to what looks nicer for your fire ball.

-Now that you have that done we need to duplicate our Rain layer, then change the transfer mode to add.

- Add the cc glass effect to our new rain layer, you can find cc glass in Effects > Stylize > CC Glass. Below are all the setting you will need to adjust for cc glass.

Now As you can see now we have our fire ball and it looks great!! and we could use this as it is....but it looks kinda naked in all that dark area surrounding it. So in the last step i have put together a zip file with that you can open up and see everything that i have done to create a background for our fire ball. Below are my results.

Final Step - Final Touches

So you made it to the final step, iam proud of you!!! But now your here to add a little bit of a extra touch to your fire ball. Now there are 2 things you can choose from and the first is to add a few extra background layers and a adjustment layer to get rid of that blackness. The second is to use our free fire template here at and overlay our fire ball on top. Both of these techniques have been added to the zip file of this tutorial. To see the Extra background technique i have created shown below make sure you open the file labeled "Fire-Ball-Tutorial-extra-backgrounds" & to see the fire template merged with our fire ball make sure you open up the Final-Touch Folder and then open the file "FireWaves"

I wont be explaining how to create these 2 techniques, but from what you have already learned you will not have a problem seeing what i have done. Trust me its nothing complicated just a few extra layers moved around and a slight adjustment to our effects we added.

Extra Backgrounds Technique

Fire Template Merged Technique

Well this completes the tutorial guys, I hope you all enjoyed this tutorial and learned some new techniques for your designs. If any of you have any questions or comments make sure you drop me an email or post a message in the comments below. Thanks for reading and i will see you again in the next tutorial.


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