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Falling vapour effect

This cool effect makes the text appear to have been super-frozen in dry ice, and oozing eery vapours.

Step by step

This tutorial uses a web UI rather than Youtube videos. Use the tabs below to navigate the steps of the tutorial.

About this tutorial

The vapour-oozing text effect was made using Blender 2.73a.


Set your text!

001-004-text-addedBefore you get to the details of the falling vapour effect you need to spend a few minutes completing these common set-up steps.

You need two versions of the text!

001-014a-duplicate-textWhen we create the smoke effect, we’ll be asking Blender to make thousands of particles “emit” from our text.

But to create the effect the text has to be invisible!

Clearly this will cause us problems when we want to see smoke oozing down the side of the words.

The answer is to create a duplicate text object. One, we’ll give color. The other, we’ll make smokey. Combined together, we’ll get the desired effect.

So, with the text object selected, press shift-d, or choose Duplicate Objects from the Object menu, as shown in the first image. Press Esc to accept the current position of the new object. Blender will place it in the exact same location as the original object.

It would be sensible to rename this new object with a name that hints at its purpose. In the Outliner pane, rename the new object “Text – smoking”.

When text is not text…

curve-from-meta-surf-textNext, with the “Text – smoking” object still selected, press alt-c (which is short for “convert”) and choose Mesh from curve/meta/surf/text.

You’ve now converted an object made up of text characters to another type of object called a mesh – it looks the same but you can’t edit it as you would normal text any more. This object is ideal for emitting smoke – almost!

Add a modifier

001-015-add-remesh-modifierWe now need to make some adjustments to our mesh-text.

Look at the properties panel on the right. Select the spanner (wrench tool) tab, which is where we choose our modifiers.

The modifier we want is called Remesh.

Choose it now and then set the values as shown in the final image. These values will tell Blender that the text-mesh should be made up of an evenly distributed mesh.

set-remesh-valuesIt’ll look a bit like it’s made of chicken wire – and this will mean when we create smoke particles they’ll be emitted evenly from all parts of the object.

Adding a smoke domain

001-020-add-cube-and-position-it-centrallyIn a Blender scene, there’s a lot of empty space and if smoke was created in that “world”, Blender would need to compute the physical properties of the smoke in relation to all the volume in its world.

This would take such a lot of computing power!

To manage this better we must add some boundaries, to help Blender limits its smoke-calculating workload just to a limited area.

These boundaries are called a Smoke Domain. Let’s begin!

With your cursor in the scene’s centre (Setting up – common steps, Step 3), add a cube (shift-a, mesh, cube).

001-023a-set-maximum-draw-typeUsed the red arrowhead to move the cube so it’s centred on the text as shown in the first image.

Now, because we don’t really want to see this cube in our final animation (it’s job is to define the smoke domain), we need to set its maximum draw type to wireframe.

The second image shows where you set that.

You should now be able to see the text and the plane again.

001-023-scale-z-and-move-downNext set the size and the position of the cube object, so that it is bigger than the plan and the text. The smoke will fall from the top towards the bottom so you should allow most of the smoke domain to be positioned below the plane, with only a small area above the text.


001-024-review-should-look-similarUse the numeric keypad if you have one, to  change the way you view the scene.

Press numpad 1,3 or 7 to switch between Front, Side and Top views of the scene

Press numpad 5 to remove the scene’s perspective (and again to restore it)

Use the red, green and blue arrowheads to adjust the position of the smoke domain cube.

These keypad tricks can help you get the positioning of objects just as you want them.

The cube is just a cube, until…

001-026-add-smoke-to-cubeWhen you set up a cube to be a smoke domain, Blender doesn’t know what you have in mind. The cube is only a cube, and so you need to tell Blender that the cube is there to act as the boundary to the smoke effect.

Find the Physics tab (see first image) and once it’s selected, click the Smoke button, and then click the Domain button.

That’s almost it! You just told Blender that this is a smoke domain!

001-027-set-smoke-domain-valuesNext, you need to set the smoke domain’s many settings; follow the settings shown in the second image. You can expand the image by clicking it if you can’t see it clearly.

Something to ooze around

001-016-add-planeWhen your text vapours start to ooze, the effect will look really, er, cool, when the vapour finds its way around the edges of some kind of platform or table object.

Let’s add one. Remember to ensure the cursor is centred on the scene (Setting up – common steps, Step 3).

Press shift-a and select Plane. Grab the red directional arrow and drag the plane so it’s centred under the text.

001-018-scale-and-move-plane-under-textNow, we’ll give it some thickness so it looks a bit more solid.

With the plane selected, press tab to enter Edit Mode, and then press the e key. This is the shortcut for extrude, which basicall stretches objects out.

Try moving your mouse downwards slightly- do you see the plane getting thicker?

When it’s thick enough, click once with your mouse to set the extrusion size.

001-019-extrude-downNow, press  tab again to return to Object Mode.

It’s a bit strange when you first hear it, but objects don’t have colour. In the real world, it seems that they do but in Blender, it’s materials that have colour. In order for an object to have a colour it must be assigned a material, and that material must be assigned a colour.

First, let’s make a small but important change.

switch-to-cycles-renderIn the top menu switch over to the Cycles rendering engine. This will change the way Blender handles a lot of things, so it’s important to do this step now.

001-019a-give-plane-a-materialWith the plane still selected, you can give it a colour now. Go to the plane’s Materials tab.


Click New to create the new material. Then click Use Nodes – this will give you still further options.

001-019c-set-material-shaderChoose the Anisotropic BSDF shader and give the plane a colour you like – dark is good because the smoke/vapour will be white and a contrasting colour will help show it off.

You won’t be able to see any smoke effect yet – there’s still more to do.

Next up, you’ll create the smoke, and play around with forces like gravity, temperature and more!

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