How to set up a standard Niagara Emitter System using Unreal Engine 5.3

Before delving into the step-by-step guide on setting up a Niagara Emitter system and creating a quick template to enhance your workflow, let’s briefly overview key terms and their respective functionalities.

Niagara is Unreal Engine’s next-generation powerful VFX system, which replaced Cascade.

Core Niagara Systems comprises of the following components:


Niagara systems are like containers for creating visual effects, such as a fireworks display. In the Niagara System Editor, you can manage and modify multiple emitters (like bursts in fireworks) grouped under one system, such as “Firework.” The Timeline panel helps organize and adjust these emitters. The Emitter Editor and System Editor share similarities.


Niagara Emitters are containers that hold modules. They are single-purpose and reusable.


Modules in Niagara are the foundational components for creating visual effects. With modules, you can build functions, incorporate inputs, and write values or parameter maps to customize your visual effects.

You can learn more by visiting the Unreal Engine Official Documentation –

Niagara Overview

How to create your first Niagara Emitter and save it as a template

I’m going to assume that you know the basics of creating a new Level and setting up folders to keep your work organized.

This article will cover:

  • How to set up a Niagara VFX template.

At the time of writing, I am using Unreal Engine version 5.3.2

How to set up a Niagara VFX template

  • Open your project or create a new one
  • Create a new folder to contain all the VFX that you will use in your project
  • In the VFX folder – open it and right-click in a blank space
  • From the Create Basic Asset list – select Niagara System
  • Pick the starting point for your system – select Create an empty system
  • Give your new Niagara a name – as we are creating a blank template, call it NS_Blank

    Note: If you want to create a Niagara system that requires different settings, please name it something like NS_smoke or NS_groundfog, etc. Later, you can always use these systems as your starting point when making smoke, fog, and other systems.
  • Double-click to open it up in the System container

You should now be seeing something similar to the above screenshot.
I’ve called mine NS_TestSystem for the purpose of this article
Feel free to move this module around to give you space to work

  • Right-click in an empty space in the system container
  • Click on Add Emitter
  • Select Empty from the Asset Type Templates list (don’t select add Empty emitter from the above list as it gives you slightly different parameters and works slightly differently)
  • Click on the Empty Emitter system so it becomes active, and press F2 – rename it emitter_particles. Click away or press return
  • The emitter works by following each section of the system in order. So it will start at the Emitter Spawn and work through all the levels, ending at the Sprite Renderer or the last entry in the system.
  • By default, the timeline track will automatically play. This is useful to preview how the emitter is working. You can always press pause should you experience any performance issues, particularly when you have added the VFX to your main scene and are running simultaneously.
  • Click Properties and change the Sim Target from CPUSim to GPUCompute Sim from dropdown
  • You will get an error. To fix it, go to Calculate Bounds Mode, and from the drop-down, select Fixed
  • In the emitter_particles system, click the plus sign next to Emitter Spawn and search for Spawn Rate. This will be the amount of particles that will initially be spawned. Set the SpawnRate to 500. If you see an error message – click Fix Issue.
    The preview will show you what the emitter will look like. It’s not going to be spectacular at this point.
    In the emitter_particles system, click the plus sign next to Emitter Spawn and search for Spawn Rate. This will be the amount of particles that will initially be spawned. Set the SpawnRate to 500. If you see an error message – click Fix Issue.

    The preview will show you what the emitter will look like. It’s not going to be spectacular at this point.
  • Under Particle Update, click the plus sign and search for Set Fluid Source Attributes. This will communicate with a new Emitter that we will add to the system in the next step.
  • This module controls Density (smoke), Temperature (fire), Velocity Scale (how strong the emitter will be), and Radius (how small or large the emitter will be)
  • Next, right-click on an empty space in the system and Add Emitter.
  • This time, select Parent Emitters
  • Select Grid 3D Gas Master Emitter
  • This will load an extensive emitter summary showing many options. Most of these will not be used for the purposes of this template, so click on the small upward-facing arrow at the bottom of the list to minimize the options in view.
  • The above image should be what you are seeing after minimizing the Grid3D_Gas_Master_Emitter
  • The Preview area shows the emitter at the bottom and a sphere throwing out plumes of smoke. (if you paused your Timeline, press play to view a preview of your newly created Emitter in action)
  • In the Grid3D_Gas_Master_Emitter module, click on Emitter Summary
  • Click on the Source tab
  • Under the Sphere Source section – uncheck Enable – this will remove the sphere and compile.
  • It’s a good idea to Save All at this point and often as you add options. Either File, Save All, or Ctrl Shift S (Cmd if you are using a Mac)
  • Staying in the Emitter Summary section
  • Under Particle Source
  • Select Emitter from dropdown
  • Under Particle ReaderEmitter Name
  • Highlight the name Grid3D_Gas_Master_Emitter and type emitter.
  • This will give you the option to select our new emitter_particles module.
  • Go back to emitter_particles
  • Under Particle Spawn
  • Click the plus sign and search for Add Velocity
  • There will be an error saying the module has unmet dependencies.
  • Click Fix Issue against Add new dependency module SolveForcesAndVelocity
  • The error message will no longer be showing
  • Under Particle Spawn
  • Click on Initialize Particle
  • Click on the Sprite tab
  • Under Sprite AttributesSprite Size Mode – select Uniform from the dropdown list
  • Click and drag Set Fluid Source Attributes and move to the bottom of the list (below Solve Forces and Velocity) for easy access.
  • For now, leave the Sprite Renderer checkbox ticked.

The above instructions will be the blank setup that can be saved, renamed, and reused to speed up your workflow when setting up a new VFX in a project. If you are new to the system, it is a good idea to go through this process several times to learn the steps so you know where to make adjustments.

  • Now, all you need to do is Save All and drag your new starter VFX into your scene to see what it looks like.
  • Use this template as a starting base to adjust and amend the settings for your next blockbuster scene.

Next up: How to set up a Ground Fog VFX system

With Thanks to RedefineFX for his tutorials. You can discover more here

How to use the new Midjourney /describe command.

Just when you thought AI, and Midjourney in particular, couldn’t get any more mind blowing, they turn around and deliver another tool to fuel your creative journey.

How do you use the /describe command feature?

I was excited to see the introduction of this new command. I will be using an image that Midjourney created from my own prompt. Then, I will use the new /describe command feature to see what results it will return.

Here are the THREE easy steps to get you going.

Step 1

First you will need access to Midjourney. There’s a fantastic Midjourney Bot you can connect with Discord too.

Learn How To Connect the Midjourney Bot to your Discord account here.

Once you have that set up you can chat directly with the Midjourney Bot via Direct Message which is awesome.

You can learn about the free and paid options available to you, by visiting the Midjourney Website.

Step 2

Next up, find an image. This can be anything from photos stored on your computer, images already generated by Midjourney, or your AI of choice and anything in between.

Here’s the image I used to demonstrate the new Midjourney /describe command.

Image created using Midjourney
How I asked Midjourney to create the original imageit even ignored my typo. Clever Bot!

What a cute design. I generated this image using Midjourney but I’m struggling to describe what I’m looking at. Well, that’s not strictly true. I did provide Midjourney with the prompt to create this image. However, I’m now interested to see how the Midjourney Bot will /describe this image back to me. It did create it after all, so it should know right?

Step 3

the Midjourney /describe command

Add the /describe command to the text field and use the image URL of the image you want to use in the prompt box.

add an image for Midjourney to /describe

Attach an image file by dragging and dropping it inside the box or clicking to upload a file from your computer. When you’ve found the perfect image, hit enter and wait to see the results.

After a few seconds, here are the four prompt descriptions Midjourney provided after analyzing the image.

Midjourney’s prompts using the new /describe feature

Click on any of the numbers to generate a brand new image based on the prompts it made from the image provided.

Let’s go crazy and see what the new results are from all of these prompts.

At this point you can also change the aspect ratio or add any other details before hitting Submit. The new pop-up safety reminder and asking you to confirm you want to Imagine This!

Click Submit and wait for the magic to happen. Here’s what Midjourney delivered.

Prompt 1

Prompt 1 – Color Monsters and Stars

Prompt 2

Prompt 2 – Color Monsters and Stars

Prompt 3

Prompt 3Color Monsters and Starsure

Prompt 4

Prompt 4Color Monsters and Stars


Whoosh…I now have 16 new images! Looking at the prompts Midjourney returned, I see new interesting words, artist names, and descriptions. Learning how Midjourney sees images this way will help improve our own vocabulary to better communicate with our AI friends.

A few words in the prompts stood out to me…I want to find out more!

What, for example, is a bunnycore? or furaffinity? an angura kei?

Midjourney also picked up on the styles of various Artists in the original image.
Julio Shimamoto, Victor Nizovtsev, Ryan Stegman, James Jean, and Alena Aenami.

Find out more about their styles and work by clicking on the names above.

  • Do you see any of the artist’s styles reflected in the original image?
  • Which is your favorite remix of the original image or do you prefer the starting image?
  • Do you find Midjourney’s new /describe feature helpful in learning how to feed better prompts to the AI, to achieve the results you are looking for?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

I know…you need to know!

According to here are the definitions of those interesting prompts:

bunnycore – this is a quite rare aesthetic that is centered around bunnies, obviously. The visuals include bunnies, vegetable gardens (or gardens in general)

furaffinity or Fur Affinity – a art community of furry artists.

angura-kei – a movement who influenced many manga artists

You can learn more about using images and prompt commands in my article:
How do you use an image as part of a prompt in Midjourney?

How To Prepare a Mango

Mango is the “King of Fruits” and definitely brings a taste of the exotic to the table.

It’s not the easiest fruit to prepare, being so juicy it tends to slip and jump out of your hands. There is a better way.

I will show you how to prepare a mango with the minimum of fuss and mess. This method will help you extract the most flesh from your ready to eat ripe mango and keep the juice from escaping all over you and the kitchen!

Follow these easy steps and you’ll look like a professional mango connoisseur.

  • Wash your Mango
  • Leave the skin intact
  • Hold the Mango so the pointed lower part of the mango is facing you and the top pointed upper part is facing away from you
  • With a sharp knife slice the right hand side of the mango.
  • Repeat on the other side. You should now have three separate bits of mango. Set the middle core section aside for now but do not discard.
  • With the same sharp knife, score vertically across the flesh of one segment, but do not cut through the skin.
  • Using the same segment, score horizontally across the flesh. Again, do not cut through the skin.
  • Turn the mango over so the skin is facing you and turn the mango inside out – pushing with all your fingers (see image below)

You should now have something that looks like this

Follow my steps to easily prepare your mango
Follow my steps to easily prepare your mango

  • Using your knife, cut off the raised segments into a bowl. Discard skin.
  • Repeat above on the second half of mango segment

To remove the flesh from the core

  • Using your knife, slice either side of the main core so you have two thin strips. Carefully remove the skin from these strips and chop into chunks.
  • Discard the skin and main core

Minimal mess and lots of sweet mango pieces to enjoy.
No mess and lots of sweet mango pieces to enjoy.

Functions in Pages that are different on the iPad and Mac

Apple’s Pages is their equivalent to Microsoft’s Word and is available on both the iPad and Mac. You may have discovered a few differences on how to achieve the same result or thought that some options are just not available. However, some of the functions in Pages can be accessed a different way depending on what device you are using.

Here are a couple of functions in Pages that are different on the iPad and Mac and how you can still access them by navigating to them a slightly different way.


Sometimes you need to lock or unlock an object such as a photo so that it does not move and stays in a certain area in your document – for example the object moves with text or the text wraps around the object.

Mac version

  1. Select one or more objects, then tap the brush icon
  2. Click Arrange, then click Lock. If you don’t see Lock then the object is probably set to Move with Text. To turn that off – Click Wrap and turn off the Move with Text option.

Read more

How to make Lace in Photoshop

I thought I’d try to make some lace in Photoshop and then define it as a brush preset so that I can stroke a path around some material to make a lace edge. I’m using Photoshop CS5.

Open a new Document – File → New Document and set the workspace to 270 x 270 px.

Next, select the Custom Shape Tool

In the options bar, click the Polygon options menu and check smooth corners, star and smooth indents boxes. Change the indent sides by to 10% and the number of sides to 12.

Set the foreground color to black and then drag your mouse so that the polygon shape fits within the document.

Polygon Shape
Polygon Shape

Pick the Ellipse tool and ensure that paths is selected on the options bar. Draw an elliptical path inside the polygon shape.

Select the brush tool and pick a hard round brush. Set it’s size to 20 px and its spacing to 180%.

Create a new layer above the polygon layer. Set the foreground color to white. Select the ellipse tool and click on the Paths tab. Drop down the pop out menu and select stroke path. Choose Brush from the menu and the simulate pressure box remains unchecked. Click OK and you should now see the following image.

After stroking the path you should now have a circle of white dots.
After stroking the path you should now have a circle of white dots.

Check that the ellipse tool is still selected and draw a smaller path in the middle of the polygon. Select the brush tool again and change the size to 7 px. Spacing should be set to 150%. In the preview you should see a smaller chain of dots.

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How to make realistic rivets in Photoshop

I decided to try my hand at making some realistic looking rivets in Photoshop and share the steps here so you can go ahead and make some too.

I’m using Adobe Photoshop CS5. So if you’re ready, open up Photoshop and get ready to learn how to make realistic rivets that can be used on many things.

Start by opening up a new file.

File → New. As this is a test document set the size to the following dimensions:-

Set up your file using these dimensions
Set up your file using these dimensions

Double click the background layer to unlock it.

Fill the space with either a pattern or a style of your choosing.

Add a new layer. Check the color you have set as the foreground and change it to a grey color. I used #a3a0a8.

With the new layer active, select the Ellipse Tool and drag the mouse to make four circles near the edge of your pattern. They will autofill with your selected foreground color. You may want to make a new layer per circle so that you can move them about in your scene, especially if you want to line them up one under each other. To make a perfect circle don’t forget to hold down the shift key as you drag the mouse.

They don’t look much like rivets just yet so we’re going to add some effects to these flat looking circles to make them stand out and add some shine.

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