In anticipation of the release of the new series of Planet Earth (which, was absolutely incredible), I watched the underwater episode from the first series. One of the things that particularly stuck with me were the Underwater Vents, so feeling inspired, today I had a quick go at creating them as a particle effect.
So this is what I achieved so far. It’s basically a bunch of spheres spawning very quickly. Scaling with their life and with a drag force applied. On top of that there is a panning heightmap which is fed into the world position node to create the illusion of some secondary motion, and finally, there is a sparkly 512 specular map and a panning 512 bump map generated from procedural noise to give some added fidelity.
The world position offset caused seams to be come visible in the mesh, so I am currently combating this by rotating the mesh to perpetually face teh camera, which does alleviate that issue, but also seems to have an unusual effect on the lighting.
I quickly sculpted some coral-like geo and threw them together to create the test scene above.
There is heavy fringing, some dof, and a bit of grain to suggest an underwater environment.
To improve the scene I would spend more time modelling different coral and rock variations with better textures, add some more ‘wispy’ elements to the smoke, add some heat distortion, and perhaps even a bit of ocean wildlife.