Trapcode Particular: Creating an Under Water Bullet Trail

The following tutorial discusses how to create an underwater bullet trail using the Adobe After Effects suite, Adobe Photoshop and the Trapcode Particular plug-in for After Effects.

Step 1: Setting up Source Files

You will need to procure a bullet image to use as a media element in your composition, and mask out any undesirable areas using Adobe Photoshop. Create a new composition and select the required settings and parameters. You will now proceed to create a background for the underwater scene. You will create a solid for this and add ramp effect to this solid. You will notice that a gradient is now visible. Select an appropriate bluish green color for water and make it change gradient across depth. Adjust other settings like ‘ramp scatter’ to make the scene look more organic rather than like a squeaky-clean agenda.

Step 2: Creating Bullets

You will now move ahead with developing Particular bullets. Create a new composition, make sure that it is comp size, and apply Trapcode Particular plug-in to the composition. You will now proceed ahead with setting up the particle emitter configurations. Change the particle direction to uniform, and set the axis rotation to make the particles seem to come out from a corner and moving towards the other corner of the screen. Now, move the emitter beyond the source corner and pop it in location. Setup a suitable velocity to mimic bullet velocity and drop down the number to a realistic number of bullets.

Adjust the physics settings dialog box to mimic the water resistance over the bullets and particles. Setup and adjust the auxiliary settings to create a natural bullet trajectory though a denser than air medium. Change the particle type from spheres to sprites, and use the bullet png file to represent the leading particle. You will add textures to the bullet and turn the orient to motion option to give a more organic look to the scene and particle paths.

Also, you may create more realism in the scene by pulling out most of the red color from the screen to create a cold watery environment. Add relevant textures to bullets.

Step 3: Finalizing the Scene

You will now insert the elements into the master composition and adjust the scale and orientation to provide a more realistic sense of proportion to the overall scene. You will add in the bullets and turn on the auxiliary particles that will be in turn emitted by the bullet particles themselves throughout their entire trajectory. This would mimic water bubbles in a bullet’s wake. Setup particle sizes to be more discreet and smaller. Also, introduce a fair measure of randomness to show the particles disperse behind the bullet into an upward direction. Use negative gravity to do this. You will now introduce motion blur for an increased sense of realism in the scene.

Do a final render and evaluate your scene composition. Play with the settings as much as you like to take things closer to your vision.