Fire/Flames as a mesh

I am wanting to create a fire/some flames using a mesh rather than a full simulation to achieve a move cartoonish look. Unfortunately, I’m struggling to visualise the flames in order to model them.

Here is what I am trying to model:

And here’s how far I’ve gotten:

(Touch-ups, texturing and posing will be done later)

The part I’m stuck on is creating the flames on his head. I tried looking for threads on the subject or for 3d printable models of fire, but I haven’t been able to find anything to help me figure out how to progress.

As I said earlier, my biggest difficulty is visualising how a the flame should look in three dimensions. If anyone has any suggestions as to how to model this, or can point me towards good examples I can use as visual aids, that would really help. As I’ve been writing this message, the idea of using a cone and warping it has crossed my mind, but I haven’t tested that.

So, I tried the idea that came to me after I wrote the last post and it actually looks pretty good for something I threw together in 5-10 minutes.

I created a cone, used a Clouds Displacement texture and used UV warp to add some movement. I imported a fire material from an old fire sim .blend I had, made a few quick mods and this is the result. Still needs tweaking but it’s a start.

I’d still welcome better suggestions if there is a better way.

I have attached my .blend.


Fire (206 KB)

You might try adding more subdivision and then add a displacement modifier to pull the faces out along the z axis as pointy flames (add a shapekey or put an f-curve on the noise value to animate the flames). Put a volumetric material on instead of texturing, and turn up the emission value while dropping the density value to create a rendered image that looks really nice for flames.

See this excellent tutorial by Blender Guru for how to do it:

Thanks, I’ll have a look at that when I get the chance. I’ll have a look into making the pointy flames; that was something I hadn’t thought of.

I did originally use a volumetric material and, as you said, it gave a really good effect, but I wanted to test surface to cover all my bases because I’m not sure which render engine I’ll end up using (Cycles is looking like the best option, for flexibility). Here’s a quick volumetric render from my last surface render (boosting strength and dropping density):


That looks good already.

I just learned about this method I posted so I was just passing it on.

Will it be an animated flame?

I’m actually surprised at how it came out, given it was just a quick test of a theory. Obviously, as you said, subsurf improves the look as well.

Very useful, thanks. I had a lot of trouble finding this kind of tutorial, so I’m glad to have this resource (also good to hear a fellow Aussie’s voice on a tut :P).

Eventually, I’m intending to animate it, yes. I have gotten around to rigging the model, etc yet, because I want to get the details right before moving on. So far, I’m just animating the V-Coordinate of the displacement.

On a side note, after watching the video, I realised that I forgot about using vertex weights to affect displacement. I always forget about weights.