FX Barrel Underwater Explosion - Unreal Engine 5.2

FX Artist: Aitor Fernández
GameEngine: Unreal Engine 5.2
3DPackages : Blender 3.6 , Houdini 19.5, Substance3D Painter
Hardware used:
12th Gen Intel(R) Core™ i9-12900K 3.20 GHz
128 GB RAM

Artstation: ArtStation - FX Barrel Underwater Explosion - Unreal Engine 5.2
Youtube: FX Barrel Underwater Explosion - Unreal Engine 5.2 - YouTube

In this project, I wanted to showcase an underwater explosion of a barrel by applying various knowledge and software that I use in my daily work.

Here’s the workflow I followed:

I created the barrel model in Blender 3.6 and added more detail to the original geometry to enhance its appearance.

Using Substance 3D Painter, I designed the material for the barrel along with its respective UDIMS (texture maps).

In Unreal Engine, I set up a small level to place the barrel effect and illuminated the scene using Lumen and Nanite. I also utilized lightmapping for efficiency.

Once I had the scene prepared, I began working on the Rigid Body Dynamics (RBD) simulation of the barrel in Houdini 19.5.
The simulation involved a simple explosion where the debris rises upward while suspended.

I exported the entire RBD simulation of the barrel in FBX format and incorporated the animation into Unreal Engine.

For the Pyro Simulation in Houdini 19.5, I utilized the Sparse GPU Solver for faster iterations. The simulation was divided into three phases and exported in TGA format to be used as a flipbook within Unreal Engine.

While prioritizing the resolution of these textures, there is still room for optimizing their usage.

For the particle system, I utilized the Niagara module in Unreal Engine. It was employed for creating effects such as bubbles (using sprites), fish (using a material with world position offset), and dust (using a raster fluid simulator).

Bubbles: Each vertex of the explosive barrel mesh served as an emitter, with a module to stop particle instantiation at a certain height.

Fish: The fish material was a simple 2D texture with world position offset to introduce movement. I used Mesh Distance Fields to calculate the fish trajectory and avoid obstacles in the 3D environment.

Dust: I experimented with Niagara’s Fluid Sims to rasterize GPU-computed particles.

The main explosion of the barrel was achieved using a particle system that utilized the textures generated in Houdini 19.5 in flipbook format.

Since this is a proof of concept for a single effect, I animated the parameters to integrate the effects using the Sequencer in Unreal Engine.

I hope you enjoy it!


The animation in this scene was impressive, but the audio was exceptional and stole the show of this scene! The sound of the barrel submerging in the ocean, the bustling of the sea life, and the underwater explosion were all therapeutic to my ears. :star_struck:

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Hi there @Aitor3D,

Hope you’re well and having a great week so far!

The lighting in this scene looks phenomenal! The rays and how it moves across the sand - simply stunning.
Getting to read through all the software you’ve used to create such a short scene is quite humbling. However, all the work and skill poured into the project has certainly paid off. The collision of the explosion mushroom throwing the fish, the wood scattering then floating up, and the sound of the “boom” muffled by the water has resulted in nothing short of an expertly crafted scene. Beautifully done and I hope to see more of your art around the forums! :slight_smile:


I wanted to include the audio to add more depth and avoid making it sound dull. It’s not my area of expertise, but thank you very much!

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Thank you for your kind words!


The pleasure is all mine! Even though it’s not your specialty, you did an excellent job with it in your creation. Kudos again on a job well done! :grin: