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So I need to create smoke because I'm doing a render of a crashing plane. What I was wondering is that do people only simulate smoke or do they sometimes model it? I've seen people do both but I was wondering which way works well.

Thanks!

NOTE: I'm not sure if it changes anything but I use cycles.

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    $\begingroup$ It depends on what you want. For an animation simulation is more than likely the best route, but for a still you have some options. I'd say try simulating it, then fall back to a more manual technique if you can't get it to work the way you want. $\endgroup$ – gandalf3 May 12 '15 at 22:28
  • $\begingroup$ @gandalf3 alright thanks! Do you want to put this as an answer? $\endgroup$ – Chickenator May 13 '15 at 6:19
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It depends.

By manually creating the smoke you have as much control as you like, but it will take more time (at least more of your time. Smoke sims can take awhile)

For more realistic results, animations, or less manual work, the simulator sounds like the way to go.

I'd recommend trying to simulate it first, then moving to alternate methods if you are not satisfied.

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