Heat distortion/blur effect for jet engine


I’ve done a lot of searching and can’t quite find an answer. I’d like to create an effect that distorts the air (or blurs the background) using a particle system, like you might expect to see coming out of the back of a jet engine.

Is there a way to mask in a screen effect (like a simple blur) using a particle system? I’ve tried using refractive particles, but I’m not getting the desired effect.

Example image from real life:

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spherical gradient for opacity, 1.05 into refraction, set to translucent.
or a cylindrical mesh with a cloud texture (panning)for opacity, lerp with same cloud as alpha, and 1.0 and 1.05 as respective value’s in the lerp into the refraction.

Thanks for your response. This is where I’m at with it. In motion, the effect is a bit too strong, but I can’t seem to reduce it. I also can’t seem to get it to fade out using the particle system, though I may try hijacking the particle color for this.

Hmm, you could try and also multiply the refraction with the alpha from the particle color.

I dont have any more time tonight, but I could try something tomorrow if that doesnt work.

Hey I know this was from a while ago but was looking for this exact type of thing (light refraction due to passing through a heated volume of air). I did notice that you were passing 1.5 into the “Refraction” input of your material node (image above) which would explain the excessive strength of the effect you mentioned.

Did you ever get this thing tuned up and working the way you like it? If so, care to share some tips/tricks, or is this basically what you went with?


No problem! I ended up just using UE4’s default fire particle effect. If you remove the other emitters, their heat distortion works for most things.

Oh awesome, I’ll give that a try. Thanks for the reply!