Introduction to Smoke Simulation

3 months in the making! This tutorial will teach you everything you need to know about the new smoke simulator from a beginners perspective.

27 minutes
Software 2.5
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 4.8/5 (108 votes cast)

During the 27-minute video you will learn:

  • The Old System Vs New – What’s changed?
  • How the Smoke Simulator works
  • How to bake and render realistic smoke
  • A behind the scenes look at creating a smoking city

Unless you’ve been living under a rock the last few months, you’ve probably heard about this new feature called the smoke simulator. But what is it? Why is everyone getting so excited over it? This tutorial will answer all your questions from a beginners perspective.

At a Glance

Screenshots from the video:

I originally gave this presentation at the 2009 Blender Conference . The presentation included creations from other users, a short demonstration of smoke in action and a slideshow. Since that time there have been massive developements in smoke simulation so consider my video a revised edition.

Smoke Presentation

Do you have any tips or tricks for using the smoke simulator? Share your experiences in the comments below!

Introduction to Smoke Simulation, 4.8 out of 5 based on 108 ratings

About Andrew Price

User of Blender for 9+ years. I've written tutorials for 3d World Magazine and spoken at three Blender conferences. My goal is to help artists get employed in the industry by making training accessible and easy to understand. I'm an Aussie and I live in South Korea ;)
  • shachar harshuv

    a little thing i have made:
    thanks for the tutorial!

  • Razer

    Why everytime i want to render with smoke,the smoke didnt show up in render?

    • Dirk

      You must bake it before rendering i think, but iam nit sure

    • shachar harshuv

      check the material. Have you:
      - Check Volume
      - decreassed Density to 0?
      - Added a Voxal Data texture?
      - selected you Domain name for “Domain object”?
      - MOST IMPORTANT: checked Density for influence?

  • MArtur

    Hi Andrew, I’m in love with cycles but I think it still doesn’t work with smoke (v.2.68a) so I want to combine a smoke from blender internal engine with rest scen from cycles. I hope it’s possible. Can you give me some advices?

    • Tristan

      you’ll need to add a new scene. go into compositor. scene compositor. duplicate a render input. select the second scene. add a mix. and connect those two up.

    • shachar harshuv
  • Joseph Drollinger

    Why does my domain turn black every time I try to use the smoke sim?
    Please help!!!

    • cosmicdaemon

      You probably have a default material on your particles. Make sure you only have the volume material.

    • RR

      When this happened to me…For some reason it’s only viewable when I have the check box set to “High Resolution” otherwise I just get a big Black box…hope this helps!

  • Edd

    Hey Andrew, i like the idea with the webcam. U are a very likeable person :)

  • Demon4511

    where is the download?

  • mahyar

    hi everybody
    please help!
    how can render smoke with cycles

    • Michael

      You cant yet as volumetric rendering Isn’t in cycles yet. Its coming ‘mid 2013′ so not too much of a wait.

      • fergus

        mid 2013? I’ve been waiting ages! finally, no more motion tracking my own cycles generated animations in the blender render just to put in smoke!

  • Jazz

    That opening was freakn awesome!!

  • Dr_Creetpor

    Right on, Toy Soldiers!

  • Tommy D

    Thank you Andrew for this fine tutorial!

    Your film szene is awesome!

  • Mirsad

    why you dont make animation tutorial and you love soo much eminem boy

  • theoldghost

    Andrew, first off a fine tutorial as usual. I got a new ‘puter’ several months ago and prior to that couldn’t even render smoke in ‘The New Blender’. Immediate crash! So I am just now getting around to your smoke tutorial. Whoa man. It’s a shame but your opening shots immediately remind a American of 9 – 11. Yeah, took me right back to exactly where I was at when it happened. Other then that a great tutorial. “Other then that how did you enjoy the play Mrs. Lincoln”. Just a saying. Great smoke tutorial. I had been loosing it trying to get a render of the damn smoke. theoldghost

  • Robert J. Morris

    Just figured it out, looks like the standard 64 bit build (v2.64) from has a broken smoke sim for my system. also another 64-bit build from didn’t work but a 32 bit build (2.64.9 r52309) did work. now I can continue building shots for my animated trailer….

  • Robert J. Morris

    I’m using Blender 2.64. I tried 2 or 3 tutorials regarding the smoke sim, including this one which I watched several moons ago. Thought I was doing something wrong, or maybe it was the wine. Went to bed, woke up and tried again and still no good. I downloaded your finished .blend Andrew, and I cannot render the fire from YOUR finished example file. Is there a known issue with 2.64 or something that my system is having problems with?? I have an HP laptop with an AMD chipset but my renders are all done by CPU, so I wouldn’t think that would affect anything. FRUSTRATED to say the least.

  • keith

    Amazing tutorial. I was trying to render smoke out but I kept getting the cube to appear. After watching this, I am happy to render out smoke.
    Looking forward to watching the rest of your tutorials

  • Bubba PrisonBund Sanchez

    Um…try changing the gravity to zero…

  • ximy

    Nice tutorial, Andrew. I am creating a project in which the letters of the title arising from the bottom and go through the smoke that is floating in the air. While I can not generate smoke properly, as I want it to be like a thick and mystical fog (as the picture). Do not get to stay floating in the air. Could you tell me I can get it?.


    • Bubba PrisonBund Sanchez

      try to change the gravity to zero

  • Hannes

    I tried to make a fire scene but if I rendere it there is a black plane where the domain is.

  • David Duggan

    After I animate using alt + A, blender generates a smoke file. But once I restart or exit out of blender and open the file again, this folder empty’s out and I have to painstakingly rebuild the smoke files again. Is there anyway to reuse a smoke file again? (Excellent smoke takes a long time to generate)
    When I rendered 700 frames that took 24 hrs, one frame didn’t render correctly. I tried to re-render that frame but the smoke files automatically erased. Can we keep those files for reuse later?

  • dylankuhlenthal

    I’m trying to use these settings in version 2.63 and in the domain controls there is no ‘Initial Velocity’ check button. Anyone know of I can get that effect in version 2.63?

    Also, the video in the beginning was excellent! Really amazing, I think I’ve watched it about 10 times!

  • Evan

    I am using Blender 2.62 following Andrews Smoke Sim.

    Everything looks great in the display but I cannot get any smoke to render at all.

    It looks great and animates in the 3D view port and I am able to fully manipulate it there. But no luck on the render.

    I made sure the camera was lined up with the view by inserting an object into it.

    The object rendered but not the smoke.

    Domain object is using Voxel Data as well as the Emitter.

    Do I still need a build? If so can anyone tell me how the down loaded builds are enabled?

    Do I need to import something for the builds?

    Help please.



    • ezraezra1

      Andrew has an excellent tutorial on how to make a flamethrower. Its done in a more recent version of blender which means it has the right settings, and should have enough information to make smoke too.
      Basically you need to do:

      Get a domain & flow object and make the smoke (you’ve clearly done this)

      Set the material of the domain to Volume (up by the top) and the density setting to 0

      Create a texture for that material
      Set type to Voxel Data
      Set the domain object to whatever your domain is under the voxel data panel
      Under the influence panel, uncheck emission and check density
      Go back and change settings to make it look better

      Thats the quick version, there’s more in Andrew’s other tutorials.
      Also, make sure you’re using Blender Render and not Cycles, because I don’t know if cycles does smoke, though it might be possible to hack something together with the compositor and smoke rendered in Blender Render.

      In the FAQ section, Mr. Price also suggests that you submit this question at, it your query might be answered faster.

      I think thats it,

      • ezraezra1

        I switched computers and have had the same problem.
        I don’t know why it isn’t working,

      • fergus

        Cycles doesn’t have volumetrics, so it can’t render smoke.

      • Sari Grove

        Thank you so much for this comment…It solved a problem I’ve been repeating for a while…Much appreciated!

    • weasel17


      I had the same problem. My mistake was to set the texture of the emitter object (flow) and not that of the domain object. I hope this helps!


  • dinglibin

    could you send this video to my email-box? I can not see the video online!

  • Justin

    The smoke in the viewport keeps disappearing and reappearing, am I doing something wrong?

  • potus98

    Hi Andrew,

    Thanks for taking the time to share such a helpful tutorial. This is especially useful with the blender overhaul we’ve been through recently. So many of the tutorials and docs out there are now out of date.

    Since you asked; I think it’s good to see your face with the tutorial. It seems more natural, much better than a disembodied voice. Also, the short “making of” at the end was also inspiring. Forget the smoke, I want to go make post-apocalyptic piles of rubble!

    • Tangier

      Thanks for the tutorial. It’s a great start in understanding how to do this. I need to create smoke coming out a metal barrel – like someone burning something in it in an alley and composite it onto the live shot. That smoke is very different. Can you give me some guidance on that or point to an explanation of how to go about doing that; the darkness of it, swirling motion and rise, etc?

      tangierc – at – gmail – dot – com

  • emilio

    first this is awesome and it works perfectly with the old render engine… cant get it to work on cycles tho…
    it’s the materials isn’t it?

  • Chris

    Awesome, thanks!

    Rendering is not such a nightmare for me as you explained the settings so well.

    Thanks again.

  • walshlg

    Thanks for the start Andrew, here is something that I’ve learned starting from this tut:

    Using the Blender 2.61 smoke generator is a bit of trial and error so far. I wanted to be able to make puffs of smoke. Previously, one could control the particle generation rate but currently I don’t see a way to do this (its the particles that are used to make the smoke path). In the vid description are links to the tuts that I’ve used to get this far.

    To make the effect of [i]puffs[/i] of smoke (ok they are more like sequential explosions) I set the smoke particles to get velocity from the normals to the emitter (flow object’s) faces. I then animate the strength of this effect. Also shown are that some of the problems folks are having with smoke flow can be ameliorated by turning absolute density off.

    You may notice that it looks like sand falling in the middle of the sim. I don’t know why that is happening because I do not have any self effect turned on in the fields, never the less it appears that the waves of “smoke” are bumping into each other and when they do they seem to fall down. So here is what I’ve worked out:


  • walshlg

    Great intro tut, thanks.
    Do you have to render to layers and composite?

    Headbang TIP: if you have emitters that aren’t smoking check to make sure that the BOUNDING BOX is completely within the domain, If even the slightest edge of the bounding box is outside the domain it won’t render the smoke, just the initial particles!

  • Linus


    Thanks for the great tutorial!
    I was wondering if there is a way to capture/extract the simulation data at periodic time-steps and write it out to a file?


  • Thomas M

    I want to say that I love your tutorials Andrew, you explain them very clear and in a easy way Since I have been taking your tutorials I have been able to use blender much better. and in ways I have never thought of using it. I have a request of a tutorial that can teach people how to create race tracks Ive been trying to figure a way but ran out of ideas. I used the curve modifier but I can’t get a race track to bank with out going into edit mode is there an easier way ?

  • http://n/a DeathCult667

    hey i was wondering if you add a object eg. a desert landscape n have the domain of the smoke touching the object will this cause any problems to the smoke. because iv some problems with rendering the smoke eg. it doesnt show. but some grey is applied to the material , whats wrong???

  • Nicholas A. Gill

    Is this the line for Metallica?

  • Johannes

    I like… Can you tell me the name of the song at the opening?

  • abel

    smoke simulation wont work with my pc i dont know why,maybe i missed something even though i watched it over and over .can you please post this tutorial in a pdf?