Here is the process and break down of how I did the Explosion VFX in UE4.
First here is the final product, then I will go through the steps of how I got there!
Step 1 - Reference
For reference, I wanted something more stylized. At first, I looked the Breath of the Wild explosions and did a break down of that, then I went on and found the game Spellbreak and did break downs of there VFX from there beta and the work that Damon Iannuzzelli posted here. I looked at these for shape dynamics and how these shapes related to each other. I also looked at a live reference video from The Slow Mo Guys which you can see here.
Step 2 - Smoke Block Out
What I wanted to do first was test out the motion of the smoke. I used a mesh emitter with a dynamic material for the particles. The Stylized VFX in RIME talk here is what I have used for smoke in the past and used also for this. I tested out the rolling smoke on the ground first, then I tested out the smoke moving out words for the explosion.
Step 3 - Ribbons & Sparks
Next, I worked on the sparks and ribbon trails that would come from the explosion. I wanted to make sure they did the correct motions and that the ribbons were smooth enough. I did not want to have too many on screen due to it being expensive and busy so it was a bit of a balancing act.
Step 4 - Flash of Light & Timing
The flash of light and the timing of the whole explosion was probably the hardest part to tweak. I wanted to make sure everything had the right timing and was not too even between each event. I wanted the sparks to overlap and not come at the wrong time. This is were the reference helped the most, both the video from the Slow Mo Guys and the screenshots I had of the stylized VFX.
Step 5 - Context & Polish
I wanted to give this explosion context so I created a simple barrel mesh and wood plank meshes for when it is exploded. I turned on and off visibility for when needed on the barrel and wood planks and made sure that the planks simulated physics. I also made a plane with a simple texture for the impact on the explosion on the ground that fades over time.
So that was my process on my Explosion VFX in UE4! If you have any questions do not be afraid to reach out.