Guest Author: Gottfried Hoffman
This written tutorial shows how to create a cool and stylized Nova-like explosion all inside Blender.
A Supernova is something mankind can’t watch too often, and there are only a few recordings of such deep-space happenings. What you can see from the Earth is mostly the remnants. The stylized nova you are about to create was inspired by the famous remnant Tycho, which is just beautiful, and a few computer simulations released by NASA over time.
Nasa Simulation Reference
3-Dimensional Flash Center simulation of the deflagration phase of a Type Ia supernovae.
Lets get started
In this second part of the tutorial on a stylized super nova in Blender we’re going to do some animation of materials and the like. At the end you should have some really crazy movement of the nova lightning. You can use the the techniques also for things like animated lightning effects for logos.
The first step is to start by keyframing the scale of the outer sphere. Set a keyframe at frame 200 with the current scale and one keyframe at frame 1 with a scale of 0.01, S > 0.01.
At frame one you should see the inner sphere now and roughly at frame 41 the outer one becomes the bigger one.
The current animation is not very Nova-like as it starts slowly, gets faster and then slower again. We will change it later with a few other animations all at once.
Next, we will start animating the material. The Nova should start very bright and lose energy over time. Let’s do this by animating the diffuse color. Set a keyframe at frame 1 with the current color and another one at frame 200 with a hex value of 746F9B – this reflects a darkening. You can keyframe the diffuse color by hovering over the color field and hitting “I” on the keyboard or by right-clicking with your mouse and selecting “Insert Keyframe”.
Now it’s time to animate various texture properties. Since the warp texture influences all the texture slots below it has the greatest effect, so let’s start with that one. The nova explodes in a very chaotic fashion and gets more defined while growing so we will increase the warp influence at the beginning. Set a keyframe with the current value at frame 200 and a keyframe at frame 1 with a value of 0.800.
To add some further movement let’s animate the offset under mapping. Thus the texture will move across the spheres. Since it’s warping the other textures with noise the effect will look like a wild scribbling and not like a defined movement. This time first set a keyframe at frame 1 and then another one with Y: 0.50 at frame 200.
Now you already have a decent looking nova-like explosion but let’s add further detail by animating the other two textures. The animated warp adds some movement but the actual bolts stay in their place. That’s why we need some primary movement by also animating the offset of the Bolt-texture. Set a keyframe at frame 1 and X:1.00 at frame 200.
The Displace texture is also influenced by the Warp but some subtle extra-movement might look a little better. To add this, animate the offset to X:0.10 and Z:0.30.
At this point, we have a really cool looking chaotic movement. What’s left is to animate everything in a way that fits the fast-expanding movement of an explosion a little more. We’re going to animate it to give a pleasing look but not necessarily following the laws of physics. Select “Animation” from the screen layout presets and take a look at the F-curves (you might need to zoom in a little).
The current curves are all set to the default Blender smooth fade-in and -out. For the nova we want the start to be more abrupt so we can set the right handle of all starting keyframes to frame 20. You can constrain the movement of the handles to the vertical (or X-) axis by selecting one and hitting G > X.
Now the fade-in should be hardly noticeable and the behavior is a lot more explosion-like. To improve this even further, some additional effects from the compositor might be adequate. Head over to the compositor and add a glare node set to “Ghosts”. Go to frame 35, set the threshold to 0.000 and insert a keyframe. Set the quality to “Low” and the number of iterations to 5 for a stronger effect. Lastly set the color modulation to 0.150.
Next go to frame 100 and keyframe the threshold to 2.000 (depending on your setting you might need another value. Just make sure that now more streaks are visible). Insert a keyframe.
Head back to the “Animation” screen-layout and take a look at the newly created f-curve.
We need to change it in way that the effect stays strong for quiet a while and then dies out quickly (thus leaving only little single streaks). Move the upper left handle all the way towards the actual keyframe (100) and the lower right handle also to frame 100.
Now you can finally render your animation and enjoy a great result already. However, we are not done yet! We will keep adding details in the next part of the tutorial. Be prepared for a volume cloud and a particle-based starfield!