How to do an aura effect?

I’m trying to achieve sort of like an aura effect around a character ( or anything else if possible ) like this:


But I’m not sure which is the most effective way to do it. I mean, I could do it by placing particle effects all over the character, but that feels cheap and probably not very good performance-wise.
Can you achieve this with a post-processing effect or something?

Thanks in advance.

There’s a variety of methods that I’ve seen used in games, and it really depends on which one works best for the visual effect you’re looking for.

I’ve seen camera-facing sprites (usually rotated along a specific axis so it always matches the character’s shape) spawned at the different bones in some games, and inverted normal “aura” models in some others (DC Universe Online does this for their auras for an UE related example). There’s some that rely on other types of aura meshes or particles too, but it really depends on the specific effect you want.

Judging by the picture you posted, it’s probably a series of animated sprite images spawned for each desired bone and along the length of the weapon, but that’s just a best guess from what I can see in that screenshot.

I just want sorta like an outline coming from the character, but since I want it to leave sort of like a trail when moving, I guess I should go with particle effects set on bone certain bone positions. However, I think I’ll run into a problem with that, and that is that if I do that the character will be glowing even in the direction of the camera.

I can’t remember the specific material nodes to do it(Camera Offset I think?), but there’s a way to get a rendering offset working for a particle’s material in UDK that forces the particle to be rendered further back from the camera than their actual location and always rendering them behind the character opposite the camera position.

Here’s a short video I slapped together showing what I mean using a ZEQ2-Lite model of Goku (Because it looked cooler when I messed with auras of that style)…

Works well for the most part, but can look strange by a character’s feet if offset too far(because looking down with the camera will have the particles colliding with the ground a foot or more away), but if you’re careful about how you set it up it can be avoided. Shouldn’t be much different to setup something similar for your needs in UE4.

Generating an “outline” type aura…? That might be possible using a heavily modified version of the Outline/Edge detection Post Processing setup (like the ones used for cel-shading) to create the outline as the aura color you want instead of black, and then just use a series of particle emitters to generate the trail effect. At least, that’s my best guess.

I’ve been doing some tinkering with the aura I was working on for one of my games(to be honest, I was already trying to get a slightly similar effect…), this is an example of the “mesh aura” technique which I slapped together by taking the original mesh, and inverting the normals, and smoothing the mesh details a little. Then I set a material to the “mesh aura” based off of the one demonstrated in this video here which lets it “wave” slightly.

It gives the outline effect fairly well, but there’s portions of the mesh that overlap with the underlying mesh, so it’s not exactly perfect or ideal, but it should give you a general idea of how to get started at least.

I don’t know much about them, but you could use blendables. One of the basic outline materials would be a good starting point.

In the end I used a particle effects approach. I create sockets on each bone and alongside them and spawn a particle effect on each socket.
It’s probably not the best solution, but it’s the one that artistically speaking looks best.