I am trying to create the tractor beam effect from Star Trek. I applied an emission shader with a noise texture as the factor and set the scale on the x channel of the texture coordinate to 0. That got me close. I thought if I applied this material to a cylinder then scaled one end of it down I would be done. However I get the following effect.

enter image description here

Can I adjust the coordinates so the rays come together at the top? Is there a better way to get this effect? I want to use it in an animation which is why I used the noise texture. By animating the texture coordinates I can get the rotating beam effect you see in the series.


1 Answer 1


This is written for Cycles, however the same steps apply for Blender Internal except you do not need the volume mesh. All steps including the shadow mesh and lamps are the same.

I would recommend using a cone shaped mesh set to volume, a mesh that has holes in it to give the beam shadow, and a spot lamp. Start by adding a cone to your scene using Shift+A > Mesh > Cone:

Add Cone

Now move it, scale it, etc. as desired and add a spot lamp using Shift+A > Lamp > Spot and move it to the top of the cone.

Add Spotlamp GIF

Now change the cone material to have a Transparent surface material and a Volume Scatter volume material in the material settings:

Volume Material

Now all you need to do is add the texture to the volume. I do this by adding a plane, subdividing, and then deleting some random vertices:

Volume Shadow Mesh

Now move it into the beam of light, rotate, duplicate, etc. and tweak the lamp settings and position as desired. You should end up with a result like this:

Final Result

I have included the .Blend file for you to examine and compare with.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Shape key animations on the greeble prop may help to get the twinkle effect for the beam as time passes. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 16, 2015 at 12:06
  • $\begingroup$ Good idea! Also, animating the position of the various layers can give a good result as well. $\endgroup$
    – J Sargent
    Commented Mar 17, 2015 at 1:30
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    $\begingroup$ Maybe the random f-curve modifier? $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 18, 2015 at 0:01
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ You can use the select random feature to select the vertices to delete, it's just a tad faster. $\endgroup$
    – PGmath
    Commented Mar 21, 2015 at 3:29
  • $\begingroup$ Sorry this took so long. Got busy with school and haven't been able to get back to this. That is the best solution I have seen so far, and much different technique than I have been trying. It does fade out the further you go, but that may actually make it look for realistic than the original effect. Thank you! $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 24, 2015 at 5:27

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