Recreate the Starter Content Smoke Effect in Niagara

This how-to shows how to recreate the Starter Content's Cascade smoke effect using Niagara.

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The Starter Content for Unreal Engine 4 (UE4) includes a smoke particle effect created in Cascade. In this how-to, you will learn how to recreate this Cascade smoke effect in Niagara. This example will help you move from Cascade to Niagara.

Prerequisite Steps:

This how-to uses the M_smoke_subUV Material, which can be found with the Starter Content. If you have not done so already, make sure that your project includes the Starter Content. This how-to also uses the FX_Smoke emitter created in the how-to Create a Sprite Particle Effect in Niagara .

Create System and Emitter

Unlike in Cascade, Niagara emitters and systems are independent. The current recommended workflow is to create a system from existing emitters or emitter templates. However, since you are duplicating an existing emitter, the process will be slightly different.

  1. Create a new folder for this How-To in the Content folder for your project.

  2. Make a copy of the FX_Smoke emitter you created in Create a Sprite Particle Effect in Niagara .

    Click image for full size.

  3. Drag this duplicate emitter to the folder you created in step 1. In the popup context menu, select Move.

  4. Rename the copied emitter FX_DarkSmoke. This distinguishes it from the smoke effect created in the Create a Sprite Particle Effect in Niagara How-To.

Rename the Duplicate Emitter

  1. Right-click on your new smoke emitter, and select Create Niagara System.

Create System From Emitter

  1. Name the system DarkSmoke. This is to distinguish it from the smoke effect created in the Create a Sprite Particle Effect in Niagara How-To.

Rename System

  1. Double-click the FX_DarkSmoke emitter to open it in the Niagara Editor. After you have edited the settings in the emitter, you will need to save the DarkSmoke system also.

  2. Drag the DarkSmoke system into your Level, so you can preview the changes in the context of your project's world.

    Click image for full size.

    When you make a particle effect, it is always a good idea to drag your system into your Level. This gives you a chance to see every change and edit in context. Any changes you make to the system automatically propagate to the instance of the system in your Level.

Edit the Emitter Update Settings

First you will edit the modules in the Emitter Update group. These are behaviors that apply to the emitter itself, and that update each frame.

  1. In the System Overview, click the Emitter Update group to open it in the Selection panel.

    Click image for full size.

  2. Expand the Emitter State module. This module controls time and scalability for this emitter. Because you used the Simple Sprite Burst template, the Life Cycle Mode is set to Self. Normally this is used for complete customization of emitter life cycle logic for this specific emitter, but it is not needed for this effect. Click the dropdown and set the Life Cycle Mode to System. This enables your system to calculate life cycle settings, which usually optimizes performance. By default, the system loops infinitely on a 5 second interval.

    Click image for full size.

  3. Open the Spawn Rate module. Set the Spawn Rate to 25.

    Click image for full size.

Edit the Particle Spawn Settings

Next, you will edit the modules in the Particle Spawn group. These are behaviors that apply to particles when they first spawn.

  1. In the System Overview, click the Particle Spawn group to open it in the Selection panel.

    Click image for full size.

  2. Open the Initialize Particle module. Under Point Attributes, expand Lifetime. The Lifetime parameter determines how long particles will display before they disappear. Change the Minimum and Maximum values to the following.

    Click image for full size.

    Parameter

    Value

    Minimum

    3.0

    Maximum

    5.0

  3. Expand Color. Change the RGB values to the following:

    Click image for full size.

    Parameter

    Value

    Red

    .208

    Green

    .208

    Blue

    .208

  4. Under Sprite Attributes, expand Sprite Size. Change the Minimum and Maximum values to the following:

    Click image for full size.

    Parameter

    Value

    Minimum

    50

    Maximum

    90

  5. Open the Add Velocity module. Change the Velocity Minimum and Maximum values to the following:

    Click image for full size.

    Parameter

    Value

    Minimum

    X: 12, Y: 0, Z: 5

    Maximum

    X: 32, Y: 0, Z: 7

  6. Open the Sphere Location module. Change the Sphere Radius value to 30.

    Click image for full size.

Edit the Particle Update Settings

Now you will edit the modules in the Particle Update group. These behaviors apply to an emitter's particles and update each frame.

  1. In the System Overview, click the Particle Update group to open it in the Selection panel.

    Click image for full size.

  2. Open the Acceleration Force module. Set the Acceleration Z value to 20.

    Click image for full size.

  3. Open the Scale Color module. Add a third key to the Scale Alpha curve by right-clicking the curve line and selecting Add Key to Curve.

    Click image for full size.

  4. Set the three keys to the following values.

    Click image for full size.

    Key Number

    Time

    Value

    1

    .08

    .3

    2

    .16

    1.0

    3

    .68

    .3

End Result

After following these steps, the Smoke system in your level will produce a smoke effect similar to the one in the video below. In the video, you can see the Cascade particle system on the right, and the Niagara equivalent on the left.

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