Andy Ford's After Effects Smoke Creation with Particle Playground

Smoke Creation with Particle Playground in After Effects

One way to create smoke within After Effects is by using Particle Playground. Add Particle Playground to a solid layer by going to Effects – Simulation – Particle Playground.

In the Effects Panels, first twirl down the Cannon property and adjust the position where you desire. If you play your timeline, you’ll see the default effect. Then, adjust the width of the emitter, or barrel radius, as well as the particles per second. The other options alter the direction, spread, speed, color, and size of the particles to your liking.

Since smoke floats upwards, reduce the Gravity by making the Force value 0.

Finally, add a blur to the particles to make them appear more like smoke. A Gaussian Blur works fine for this.

When playing the timeline, the smoke goes straight up. Since that’s fairly unrealistic, add a wiggle expression to the direction value of the cannon. This will make the smoke appear to billow in the breeze.

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