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I'm trying to achieve an effect similar to this image: Sparks

However it's looking more like this: Lame

No halo; the material ends where the mesh ends.

How can I set a material to look like the first image?

Thanks in advance.

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This kind of effect is usually created in post processing. In Blender's compositor I found that the Filter > Blur node gives a result quite close to what you are looking for, though the Glare node may also work.

Just go the the Node Editor view, switch to compositing nodes, and drop a Blur node in between the Render Layers and Composite nodes. I found that using Fast Gaussian seems to produce the best looking effect.

enter image description here


To get that even wider glow you can add a second blur node with a much larger blur and mix it with the smaller blur. Set the mix mode to Add and adjust the Fac slider to suit your tastes.

enter image description here
Click to enlarge.


For the actual mesh I just used the IvyGen technique outlined here with a very strong volumetric emission shader (and no surface shader).

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enter image description here

You can accomplish this in cycles. But you have to add a little bit more geometry.

The easiest way for me to imagine you starting to experiment with this method is:

  1. Try adding a cube that encompasses your lightning tree.
  2. Shrinkwrap the cube to your tree, make sure to add an offset.
  3. Add a new material to your shrunkwrapped cube.
  4. Add an Emission node.
  5. Plug it into the volume of the material output.
  6. Set emission color to a darker royal blue.
  7. Set emission strength to 1.0

APPENDING RESULTS OF COMMENTS BELOW: enter image description here

  1. Create the Tree with extruded Verts.
  2. Add Skin Modifier.
  3. Duplicate this object (Original Object = RED, Duplicated Object = YELLOW).
  4. On the YELLOW object, apply the skin modifier.
  5. Then add the Solidify Modifier, and set offset to one.
  6. Add a Subsurf Modifier to the RED object.
  7. Apply the material setup as shown to each of the objects.

The results are obviously a starting point to tweak for the look you want. However this is a pretty decent one, considering it needs no post-processing in the compositor, unless you really need to pull off the blurred effect.

@MrZak Thanks for the input.

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    $\begingroup$ It isn't necessary to add cube and shrinkwrap it to lightning (and that may be quite complex task to fit that mesh properly as lightning may be quite curved); just enough to add Skin modifier to lightning mesh. $\endgroup$ – Mr Zak Feb 10 '16 at 23:30
  • $\begingroup$ You are very correct, there are better ways, solidify works really well too, and you can control the offset value pretty accurately to. $\endgroup$ – Rick Riggs Feb 11 '16 at 0:13

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