What Is a quick method for building a simple candle flame?
Creating realistic-looking CG fire might seem like a daunting task, and generally speaking I would always advise utilising a simulation plugin, such as the water and fire simulator Phoenix FD supplied by Chaos Group, for this sort of task.
In fact, for anything more complex than the simplest of flames, I don’t think there are many other options available other than using a simulation plugin program such as this.
However, this might seem like an awful lot of fiddly work for something small and simple in a scene, such as a small flame from a candle. So with that in mind, here is a quick and easy method of modelling and texturing a pretty convincing candle flame.
The candle itself in this scene began life as a simple cylinder in 3ds Max. It was then exported as an OBJ file, then deformed inside Zbrush to add all the lumps, bumps, dents and bends for a more realisticlooking candle shape.
It was then imported back into 3ds Max where I applied a VRAYFASTSSS2 (subsurface scatter) texture to give it that soft, semi-opaque, waxy look. Funnily enough, I find that the Potato preset in Vray’s SSS texture works well as a candle!
The scene was then illuminated using only a single light source positioned just above the flame, and for this I have used an invisible V-ray spherical light multiplied to a high setting of 800 and with an orangey yellow colour.