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Lava Textures - the Tutorial

Creating animated hot stuff in Dogwaffle for use in 3D animation

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Whether it's water drops rolling down a window on a rainy day, or hot lava in a volcanic eruption, or even a Matrix-like effect of text or streaks flowing vertically down, Project Dogwaffle and PD Pro have a great set of tools to help you make creative effects in the form of animated textures which you can use for video special FX or to insert in 3D projects by way of animated texture maps, transparency maps, refraction channels and more.

Getting Started

When starting PD Pro, let's enter a size for our image buffer which gives it a portrait (vertical) shape. For example 2 times taller than wide.

Let's erase the buffer to black:  right-click on the Clear icon in the Tool panel.

If the secondary color happens to be black you can in fact just left-click that same button. Or select "Clear selected to secondary".

Otherwise, use "Clear selected to black". This assumes you don't have an alpha selection (other than perhaps the whole buffer) in effect.

There are other options to clear or fill the whole buffer in the Buffer menu. Check and try them out.
Once we have a black background, knowing that this is just one frame, let's turn this into an animation of a great number of frames. Select menu:

Animation > Create...

The default is 30 frames. Let's try 100 and click Ok.

The Animation control panel appears. In PD Pro there's an Options menu for the Filmstrip mode.

Notice the skull head for deleting the current frame, the "+" sign for adding a frame, the lightbulb for light-table mode (onionskins).

FPS (frames per seconds) can be used to change the playback speed.

You can click and drag the corner of theAnimation panel to resize it and fit it where you want.

The Timeline Editor

Select menu:

Animation > Timeline...

to open the timeline editor. With this we can apply filters not only on a single frame, but across all frames of the animation, and even change the filter's parameters over the timeline.

Again you can resize it to better fit your screen
and see more of the filters that are available.

click this image for a full view.>>>

Notice at the bottom-left of the Timeline: the Render button, the Undo button, and the checked box for recording undo info.

Notice near the top right: the timeline of all frames. The Stop/Play buttons. The +/- buttons to add and remove keyframes. The reset button and the Spline mode toggle (enabled by default).

First Effect Filter: Snowfall

Scroll to the bottom of the Timeline and select the Snowfall filter.

There are five parameters appearing as sliders for this FX filter.

Set the Wind Speed to zero (middle of the slider) so that the snow drops perfectly down vertically.

Increase the size a bit, and the Snowfall amount

Then Click Render.

The same parameters will be used across all frames in this case.
PD Pro now renders the filter across each frame.
Here's a Screenshot of PD Pro after the rendering is completed.

Notice the preview area in the upper left corner of Timeline.

If we wanted to have more dense snow FX we could just re-render the same filter.


Let's select another filter now.
The default is 4 frames. We can try more. Time to experiment....
Click 'Render. This filter takes longer the more frames you select on the slider. It blends that many frames with decreasing intensity. This filter renders from last to first frame.

At this time we should have an animation which looks similar to this one.

click the image to toggle on/off the
small version in Flash MX stream>>

or download and view the original
AVI file (Xvid encoded) here:

Yes indeed, this could also be a good starting point to make meteor storms. Especially when adding motion blurr... that will make them look thinner on either ends, a bit more like Perseid meteor streaks.

Motion Blurr

Depending on your settings you might now see something that doesn't look anymore like perfect round snowflakes. Instead, they might more like tears or drops, wider below and thinner on top.
The Motion Blurr filter can add a bit of vertical tearing and blurr. Use the 90 degree value on the angle.
If you didn't like the amount of the effect, click the Undo button to step back to the prior state of things.

Saving to AVI File

Frequent saving to AVI or image sequences is advised while you experiment.
You have one more chance here to specify the frame rate at which you want the saved AVI file to playback.

 Then click "Save AVI..."
You'll see a standard dialog to select the desired compression codec. The list of course depends on what's on your system.

For Xvid check out this

Change Brightness&Contrast

Ok, here's the next filter.
Increase Value and contrast, decrease Gamma just a little.
We should have better contrast now across the animation despite the smearing and fading effect of blurr and ghosting. Perhaps something like this?

Mapping the Gradient

Lots of magic starts here: with the color gradient.

Use the Window menu or 'p' shortcut to see the color gradient.

In the Timeline editor, select "Map to gradient"
Select the desired gradient from the slider. This is the only parameter for this filter.
To change the gradient, go directly into the gradient panel.

Use the mouse to shape the evolution from left to right for each channel.
Here's something interesting.
The preview of the Timeline editor now shows the resulting effect.
Right here is a point where you might realize it's 2 o'clock in the morning and you're not tired of experimenting for hours and finding new fascinating results. Oh well, there's always a catch when you discover great software :-)

Here are a few examples I created by changing color gradients, adding variations to the parameters of certain filters (See further below), doing displacement mapping against something in the Swap buffer, etc...

original AVI
(Xvid codec)
[907 kb]

original AVI
(Xvid codec)
[1870 kb]

Setting Keyframes

Some filters are more interesting to use when changing their parameters over time.

Drag the time indicator to the left (start) of the animation
Select the desired value of the filter. For example, in this case the length while using the zoom blurr.
Click the keyframe |+| icon to record the values for this keyframe.
Drag the timeline indicator to a different frame in time.
Change the value(s)
Records another keyframe, and so on.

Along the top of the timeline you see red markers for each keyframe.

Here's an example of several keyframes with Spline interpolation between their values. If you Render this then the intensity of the filter will change over time accordingly.

Using the Swap Buffer

Let's place ourselves at the first frame.
Then switch to the Swap buffer. The keyboard shortcut is 'j' (for 'jump)

The Swap buffer will probably be plain white blank  at this time.
Let's select a filter from the Filters menu. This will be applied only to this one Swap buffer.

Select Render submenu, and Plasma noise or Bumpy toy...
There are many things you can create with these. The idea is to create some sort of changes in the swap buffer which are not too abrupt. Perhaps patterns like these (using the gradient too).

Be sure to jump back to the Main buffer when done

Displacing by Swap
Experiment first just on the current frame, using the menu:

There are other ways to get the right image in the Swap buffer, by-the-way. Cold lava works too for some effects. And you can paint your own of course or use a digital picture from other sources.
When you're ready to apply the displacement to the whole animation, use that option from the timeline.
Set the amount of displacement.

Then click Render as usual.

Yet another way to get something into theSwap buffer is by copying it from the Main buffer. Use uppercase 'j'  (J) or the equivalent option from the Buffer menu:

Buffer > Copy to swap  (J)

If the result is too dark (which can happen with some gradients or when applying filters like motion blurr and ghosting), a quick way to fix it is with the dynamic range expansion from the Buffer menu.

Note that the first frame or two might be brighter than the rest because of how some filters work over several more frames. You might want to kill the first few frames so that you get a better representation of the dynamic range before changing it for all frames.

Chocolate, anyone?

On to the Fire.

Ok, here's another starting point. We've used large snow flakes this time, to saturate the area with lots of white stuff.

original AVI - 550 kb
(200x400 pixels, Xvid codec)

Then we can use Contrast and brightness controls to further enhance it.

A proper red/black gradient does the rest. There are several good ones to start from in the 'Red' gradient set.
original AVI - 858 kb
(200x400 pixels, Xvid codec)

You can also add light diffusion for a glowing look, and even Mystic vision.
original AVI - 804kb
(200x400 pixels, Xvid codec)

And just one more (ok, three more)

Here's another bunch of snowfall filters accumulated. We also wiggled the wind speed parameter a little so some of the blobs don't go straight vertically down but do a little zig-zagging left to right as well, just a little bit. This causes some white areas to fuse and separate with their neighbors aside.

original AVI - 1073 kb
(200x400 pixels, Xvid codec)

Add some red hot color gradient and what do you get?

Something bloody hot - is it fire in anti-gravity mode? is it devil's blood?

original AVI - 749 kb
(200x400 pixels, Xvid codec)

And just one more. This one might actually better be played upside-down, since it might look like fire.

In PD Pro, you can reverse the animation, or you can also flip it up-side down. Depending on the shape of the 'flames' one may be more appropriate than the other. It's good to have both options.
original AVI - 1663 kb
(200x400 pixels, Xvid codec)