# Smoke-like material without simulation?

I'm trying to find a less techy alternative to render water splashes in a river than the smoke simulation.

All what i've found is tutorials to make waterfalls that have been done with the smoke simulation, where the results are awesome.

But i can't go that way, basically because i'm not Pixar and i need to have the final render (wich will be a 1 min. long animation) whitin a reasonable amount of time.

I'm trying to figure out the way it was done before simulations...I don't need it to look realistic at all.

PD: this is totally related to this question

• this waterfall tutorial is aimed at using the game engine. – sambler Jun 10 '14 at 4:32
• That's exactly what i'd like to do....exept i want to do it in blender internal.... i'm trying to render a video, and i don't have any previous experience in the game engine – invicente Jun 11 '14 at 1:11
• Instead of logic bricks to emit image planes you use particle emitters. – sambler Jun 11 '14 at 2:50

To elaborate on Joel's recommendation of using smoke sprites: I believe he is suggesting an instanced set of small face primitives positioned in a scattering at the surface of the water object. Vary the transparency, size, and the magnitude of a small animated shimmer movement so that each small face (sprite) has an additive motion overlaid onto the base water object(s) in the waterfall. Also assign material and texture from a collection of smoke pngs.

A key consideration is that these sprite elements should remain roughly normal to the camera view plane...not parallel to the water or its not really acting as a sprite just another texture-mapped animated object.

The cumulative effect of the instancing is to allow variability of the image, shimmer motion, size, position, and transparency while reducing discrete object definitions. The art is in making the sum of sprite variations appear like hydraulic effects such as turbulence!

(Note :if my 'comment all' creds came thru I would have simply commented on Joel's comment instead of adding a new 'answer' with these details.)

• Thank you, but i think i don't understand, can you show some images of the possible result? – invicente Jun 10 '14 at 11:18

Smoke simulation in cycles will give you the best result. But seeing as you don't want that you can try having smoke sprites close to how video games do it.

• Please elaborate on your answer for those of us who have no idea of how smoke sprites work on video games. – user1853 Jun 10 '14 at 4:10
• In video games they create a large amount of planes that all face the player. All of these planes will have a texture that will most likely change over time. – JoelWaterworth Jun 10 '14 at 6:58
*I will edit this later with more accurate info and images, but for now... try to follow along*


Another approach is to use a combination of a volume shader, and displacement modifier.

This technique is usually used to make clouds, but as you can animate the displacement map ( moving the texture coordinates ) you can create a very convincing effect of vapourized flowing water

1. First, create a geometry that simulates a waterfall. In order for this to work later it has to be manifold, so planes won't work. However you can use a plane and apply a solidify modifier to make it thicker.
2. Subdivide your geometry. The idea is to get a very faceted geometry so the next step works smoother. You can use a Subsurf modifier if you don't have a problem with round geometry.
3. Apply a Displacement modifier.
4. In Blender 2.7 you need to add a noise texture manually (or any procedural texture). this should make the geometry bumpy.
5. To animate the texture, first you need to create an empty and then in the displacement modifier of your "foamy object", under "Texture Coordinates" select "Object" and select the empty
6. Animate the coordinates of the empty and the bumps in your object will get animated along. TIP: animate the z-axis to get nicer results

Hope it works for you!