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.
Enjoying this tutorial? Sign up for the Creative COW Newsletter!
Sign up for the Creative COW newsletter and get weekly updates on industry news, forum highlights, jobs, inspirational tutorials, tips, burning questions, and more! Receive bulletins from the largest, longest-running community dedicated to supporting professionals working in film, video, and audio.
Enter your email address, and your first and last name below!