Drawing an explosion

Marco Lopes bio photo By Marco Lopes Comment

My talent for drawing graphics is, to put it nicely, less than amazing. So, when I was faced with the challenge of having to draw an explosion for Starminer, I didn’t knew what to do. So, I decided to read a bit about how explosions work, and ended up drawing an explosion I was fairly happy with.


The trick was to understand how an energy burst works. Initially, the energy released is very high, so the you’ll get a lot of white light. The white light, will be concentrated in the center of the explosion, where the energy release is higher. As it moves away from the center, the energy levels go down, which means the colour of the light will change. The higher energy the energy, the more towards the violet side of the colour spectrum the colour will be, while lower ones will be more toward the red side of the colour spectrum. Based on this information, I made the center white, and the first frames have a lot more white, yellow and orange. As the animation progresses, the white area gets smaller, and the outskirts of the explosion get closer to red, as the energy levels go down.

After this, smoke will raise and start appearing around the explosion, and increase till it completely covers the explosion, which is already declining, and thus won’t have any white, and the colours will now be more towards the orange and red. In the end, only smoke can be seen, so the image becomes grey, until the smoke disapears.

Direction is also important. Where is the energy coming from and in which direction is it moving? In this case, the ship was hit, and will explode due to some internal energy release, maybe caused by fire in the reactors or the engine, or whatever means of propulsion it uses. This made it very easy to go with the explosion coming from the centre, which was a relief, since I’m not sure if I would be able to draw it with a different direction.

Ideally bits of the ship would be thrown around by the explosion, coming from the explosion start point, in the direction it is moving. Again, I can’t really draw something with such level of detail, but some procedurally generated particles seem to have done the trick pretty well.

All in all, I’m happy with the result, and it ended up looking much better than I was expecting when I first decided to give it a try.