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After Effects Tutorial – Updated Kamehameha Tutorial

Welcome to the Kamehameha tutorial 2.0 in HD! Forget that 240p piece of garbage I made 6 years ago. This is the tutorial you’re looking for. I don’t want to waste much of your time, but before I dive in, I want to make sure everyone knows that I use the plugins Trapcode Particular and Trapcode Shine. I will mention other effects that you can use as substitutions, but I won’t be going into detail about them. Finally, since this tutorial is on the long side, I have included a table of contents here and in the description. That said, let’s dive in!

This is what we’re aiming for. We are going to achieve this with four solids, one adjustment layer, and a whole lot of effects. Starting from scratch, we will make the source of the beam, then some little extra bits to make it look more alive and organic, then the beam itself, and finally some…I’m not sure what to call this layer except it’s a kind of energy that flows from the source point throughout the entire blast.

To start, create a new composition. I’m using the HDTV 1080 29.97 preset. I’m making mine 5 seconds, but this can be as long or as short as you wish. Name it Main. Create a new black solid, and call it Source, as this will be the main source of the beam. Set its transfer mode to Add. Apply Trapcode Particular by going to Effect, Trapcode, Particular. If you don’t have this plugin, you can go to Effect, Simulation, Particle Playground or CC Particle World. Go to the start of your composition. Open up the Emitter property, and enter 25,000. We are now creating a ball of particles. Go down to 4 seconds in your composition, or wherever you would like the blast to dissipate. Set a keyframe for your current value. Go forward one frame, and set a keyframe for zero. Your emitter will generate 25,000 particles per second for 4 seconds, and then stop.

Change the Emitter Type to a Sphere, because we want to be able to adjust the size of the emitter, and you can’t do that with a point. Pull the Emitter Position over to the left side of your screen. I don’t want our particles to have any velocity, so zero out Velocity, Velocity Random, Velocity Distribution, and Velocity from Motion. We want to spread our Emitter out a bit, so input 215, 500, and 230 for X, Y, and Z respectively. We are now done with the Emitter property. I know it doesn’t look like much yet, but hang in there!

Open up the Particle dropdown. We don’t want the particles to live so long, so turn the life down to 0.5. We also don’t want everything to be perfectly uniform, so turn up the Life Random to 20%. Open up the Opacity over Life, and choose the second preset. The particles will generate, and immediately begin to fade away. We are done with the Particle property.

Open up the Physics dropdown, and inside that, open up Air. We are going to use Wind X to push our particles. Crank Wind X up to 990. And that’s it for Particular for now.

I will want my blast to be a little taller, but I like the amount of particles we have out there, so hit S on your keyboard to open up the layer’s Scale property. Unlink the proportions, and type 145 into the Y dimension.

Our final step on this layer is to add a Radial Blur. So go to Effect, Blur & Sharpen, Radial Blur. Set the Type to Zoom. Drag the Center, or input the value manually to 5 in the X dimension, right behind your blast. Turn the Amount up to 120. We are done with our Source layer.

A RAM preview will show you that…this doesn’t exactly look like a Kamehameha. But we’re going to make it look a little more familiar right now. Create a new Adjustment Layer by going to Layer, New, Adjustment Layer. Call this layer Shine. Apply Trapcode Shine by going to Effect, Trapcode, Shine. If you don’t have this plugin, you can go to Effect, Stylize, Glow. This effect will not allow you to achieve the same look as this tutorial, but it might get you close. Drag or type the Source Point to be 130 in the X dimension. Change the Ray Length to 2.0. Boost Light to 6. What I like about Shine is that it gives you a LOT of control over the color of your light. Hit the Colorize dropdown, and choose the Electric preset, or make your own unique colors with either 3-Color or 5-Color Gradients. I just happen to think Electric matches the Kamehameha the best.

Now we’re going to round out our blast a bit. With your Shine Adjustment Layer still selected, go to Effect, Distort, Spherize. Turn the Radius up to 455. Now you’re going to have to kind of guess and check here, but drag the Center of Sphere to the left until it looks good to you. I like 520 for this. I just like the rounded look Spherize gives the blast.

The last effect we are going to add to our Adjustment Layer is CC Vector Blur. Go to Effect, Blur & Sharpen, CC Vector Blur. Messing around with this effect can give you more a fiery, organic look. Change the Type to Direction Fading. Turn the Amount up to 15. Change the Revolutions to 2.

A RAM preview will show us that we’ve got something that looks a lot like the base of a fireball or energy blast, but it looks very symmetrical. Let’s fix that.

Duplicate your Source layer and rename it to Flames. Let’s solo this layer so we can see what we’re doing a little bit better. First, delete the Radial Blur. Our original Particular layer gave us a good base for what we’re about to do. We just have to tweak a few settings.

Open up the Emitter dropdown. Go to your first keyframe and change it from 25,000 to 50. Drag those two keyframes backward 10 frames. Increase the Position X to 230. Reduce Emitter Size X to 155 and Emitter Size Y to 320. Z can stay as it is.

Open up the Particle dropdown. Increase the Life to .8 seconds. Nothing else changes here.

Now things get interesting. Open up the Aux System dropdown. The Auxiliary System turns every particle into a separate emitter. Set Emit to Continuously. Change Color From Main to 100. We basically want to create a solid line of particles here, so increase Particles/sec until you see that. 210 is good enough. We also don’t want these particles to reach so far across the screen, so open up Control from Main Particles, and change Stop Emit to 80.

Another RAM preview and we have what looks like a blue flame with these random flickers coming off of it. Our next step is to create the beam itself.

Duplicate your Flames solid. Drag it above the Adjustment Layer, reset Particular, and rename the layer Beam. Also make sure to delete all the keyframes. Let’s solo the layer so we can see what we’re dealing with. Go to second frame of your composition. Open the Emitter dropdown and set a keyframe for zero Particles/sec. I’m doing this because I want the beam to appear after the source. Go ahead to the next frame and set a keyframe for 950 Particles/sec. Go to 4 seconds in your composition, or wherever you set keyframes to turn off emissions in your Source layer. Then go back three frames. Set a keyframe for 950, move forward one frame, and set a keyframe for 0. Change the Emitter Type to a Sphere. Set the Position X to 230. Set the Direction to Directional. Reduce the Direction Spread to 0. Increase the Emitter Size to 100 for all axes.

Open up the Particle dropdown. Increase the particle size to 20.

Open up Physics and Air, and increase the Wind X to 2000. We are now done with Trapcode Particular.

Next go to Effect, Trapcode, Shine to add Shine to our beam. Set the Source Point to 155 in the X dimension. Go to the beginning of the composition. Set the Ray Length to 1, and set a keyframe. Go forward to about when your beam exits the screen, which is right at 1 second for me. Increase the Ray Length to 3. Select your first keyframe and hit F9 to turn it into an Easy Ease keyframe. Set Boost Light to 1. Change your color to Electric, or whatever color you made your Source.

Go to Effect, Blur & Sharpen, CC Vector Blur to add a Vector Blur to your beam. Set the Type to Direction Fading. Set the Amount to 15. Set the Revolutions to 3. If you zoom in to the edge here, you can see the Vector Blur is messing with our beam a bit. To fix that, just scale the beam up a bit until you can’t see that.

Let’s do a RAM preview. We now have the basics completed. There is one more piece to this puzzle to complete the main part of the blast. Select all of your layers and go to Layer, Precompose. Name it Blast. Create a new black solid. Name it Fractal. Go to Effect, Noise & Grain, Fractal Noise. Go to the beginning of the composition. Open up the Transform dropdown. Set keyframes for Offset Turbulence and Evolution. Go to the end of the composition. Set Offset Turbulence to 5000 and Evolution to 5.

Go to Effect, Color Correction, Tritone. Choose a light blue for the Midtones (8EFEFF) and a darker blue for the Shadows (051AFF).

Go to Effect, Blur & Sharpen, Directional Blur. Set the Direction to 90 degrees. Set the Blur Length to 110.

Set the transfer mode of your Fractal layer to Linear Light. Duplicate your Blast composition, and move the duplication on top of the Fractal layer. Set the fractal layer’s Track Matte to Alpha Matte Blast.

Select the Blast layer you are using as your track matte. Go to Effect, Color Correction, Levels. Select the Alpha channel. We don’t want to see so much of the Fractal layer, so we are going to shrink the Alpha Channel (Input Black 150, Gamma .3).

While we’re at it, I want to do the same thing to our original Blast comp. So apply Levels, go to the Alpha channel, and just bring everything into the middle a bit (20, 200, .9).

The final step is to add Spherize to the Fractal. The easiest way to do this is to go into your Blast comp, go to your Shine Adjustment Layer, copy the Spherize effect, and paste it onto the Fractal layer. Everything should be set up the same way. The fractal gives the blast a feeling like there is energy flowing through the entire wave, and the Spherize effect gives it a round, 3D look.

I had originally planned on covering how you would go about incorporating this into footage, but creating the Kamehameha by itself turned into a fairly long video. So I’m going to create a Part 2 all about adding the blast to footage. I will go over expressions to make controlling the blast easier, how to charge up an energy ball, and color correction to get a good DBZ look.

So make sure you subscribe to my channel so you can be notified when it comes out! I will also update this video with an annotation to link you straight to it. And while you wait for part two, I have a weekly series of After Effects tutorials you can check out. Please leave me a comment if you have any questions about this tutorial, and leave me some video responses of your work! Thanks for watching!


  • chris
    July 20, 2013

    I’m disappointed now. I thought this was going to be a kamehameha tutorial for real life. Not for After Effects. What a bummer.

  • Xavier Brown
    September 4, 2013

    Thanks bro! I was looking for something like this to make in my 3ds Max project, once again thanks!!

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