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Create a Ribbon Effect in Niagara

Prerequisite Topics

This page assumes you have prior knowledge of the following topics. Please read them before proceeding.

Simulating natural phenomena is challenging, especially when using sprite or mesh-based particles to simulate smoke or vapor trails. Ribbon Emitters are an excellent solution for simulating these objects. In the following How-To, you will learn how to set up a Niagara Emitter to emit a continuous ribbon-style particle effect into the world.



  1. First, we'll create a new Material to color our Ribbon Emitter. To do this, right-click in the Content Browser, and select Create a Basic Asset > Material. Name the Material M_Ribbon.
  2. Double-click the M_Ribbon Material to open it. Press and hold the 3 key, and left-click in the Material grid to add a Constant 3 Vector Material Expression node.
  3. Hover the cursor over the small circle on the right side of the node, then click and drag to connect the Constant 3 Vector to the Base Color and Emissive Color inputs in the M_Ribbon box on the right.
  4. Double-click the Constant 3 Vector to open the color picker. Set the R value to 1, then click OK. This turns the material red.
  5. Click in the grid to take focus off the Constant 3 Vector. This changes the Details panel display on the left. In the Details panel, scroll down to locate Usage, and expand it. Check the box for Used with Niagara Ribbons.
  6. Click the Apply and Save buttons to apply changes and save your work.
  7. Right-click in the Content Browser, and from the displayed menu select FX > Niagara Emitter. The Niagara Emitter wizard displays.
  8. Click the radio button next to Create a new emitter from an emitter template. Select the Fountain template. Then click OK to create a new emitter in the Content Browser.
  9. Name the newly-created Niagara Emitter FX_Ribbon, and then double-click it to open it.
  10. With the Niagara Emitter now open, locate the Render section of the FX_Ribbon Emitter. Click the Trashcan icon to delete the Naigara Sprite Rendering Properties module.
  11. Click the Plus sign icon (+) and from the displayed list select Niagara Ribbon Renderer Properties.
  12. Next, expand the Ribbon Rendering section. In the Material section, click the dropdown to select the M_Ribbon Material that was created in steps one through five.
  13. Locate and expand the Emitter Update section.
  14. In the Spawn Rate module, set the Spawn Rate value to 100.
  15. The value in the Spawn Rate module is set to 20.0 by default. The Spawn Rate affects the roundness or angularity of the resulting ribbon effect. Lower values create a more angular or polygonal effect shape. Higher values create a more round effect shape.

    Low Spawn Rate value

    High Spawn Rate value

  16. Locate and expand the Particle Spawn section.
  17. Delete the following modules by clicking the Trashcan icon.
    • Add Velocity
    • Sphere Location
  18. In the Set Variables section, click the white arrow across from the following variables and select Remove.
    • Particles.SpriteRotation
    • Particles.SpriteSize
  19. When those variables have been deleted, click the Plus sign icon (+) next to Particle Spawn to display a list of options. Expand Set Specific Parameters, and add the following variables:
    • Particles.RibbonWidth
    • Particles.Velocity
  20. Click the Plus sign icon (+) across from Particle Spawn to display a list of options again. Select Experimental > Point Spiral Location.
    The Speed value of this variable expands the base diameter of the overall effect.
  21. With the variables now added to the Ribbon emitter, set the following Variables to the following values.
    Variable Name Value
    Particles.RibbonWidth 35.0
    Particles.Velocity X: 1.0, Y: 0.0, Z: 1.0
    Point Spiral Location Speed: 500.0, RotSpeed: 4.0
    Particles.Lifetime 5.0
  22. Locate and expand the Acceleration Force module.
  23. Set the Acceleration Z value to -100.0.
    A negative value in the Z field produces a cone-shaped ribbon effect. If you put a positive value in the Z field, an inverted cup-shape is produced.
  24. Once all that has been completed, click the Compile, Apply and Save buttons to compile and save your work.
  25. Right-click in the Content Browser, and from the displayed menu select FX > Niagara System. The Niagara System wizard displays.
  26. Click the radio button next to Create an empty system with no emitters. Then click OK to create a new Niagara System in the Content Browser.
  27. Name the new system Ribbon.
  28. Double-click the Ribbon Niagara System to open it, then drag the FX_Ribbon Niagara Emitter from the Content Browser to the Timeline.
  29. Click the Compile and Save buttons to compile and save your work, and then close the Ribbon Niagara System. In the Content Browser, drag the Ribbon Niagara System into the Level Viewport.

End Result

When completed, you have a Niagara System that plays your Niagara Emitter when the Niagara System is placed in a level, as shown in the following video.