Adobe After Effects Gun Fire (Muzzle Flash) VFX

I see way too many badly done muzzle flash effects on YouTube to not want to do this basic Visual Effects 101 tutorial.

It is really not hard to add a few layers onto your scene to create great looking gun fire. And this video will show you how

How to Make Realistic Looking Gun Fire (Muzzle Flash) Effects - Visual Effects 101

Compositing the layers for a realistic muzzle flash

To create this effect, you will have to composite a number of layers. Of course, these are not hard set rules so experiment if something doesn't seem to fit right - to me, that is always the most fun part anyways

muzzle flash layer 1 - base footage

The first thing I add is the actual muzzle flash effect. I really love the Action Esssentials 2 package from VideoCopilot and for $99 for the 720p version, I highly recommend it. It's filled with pre keyed stock footage and I use it almost daily. However, you can also find free action stock footage just by searching on google
Here's a useful link to free stock footage from detonation films .

Anyways, take and position a muzzle flash element on top of your base footage.

muzzle flash layer 2 - muzzle flash effect

Next, add another solid colour layer to simulate the light emitting from the muzzle flash. Set it to a colour that is very similar to the muzzle flash and change the blend mode to additive. I usually set the opacity to around 20.

muzzle flash layer 3 - lighting layer

Just putting a solid layer over everything does look pretty crappy. If there was a real muzzle flash in the scene, only the elements facing the front of the gun would be lit. We can simulate this by applying some masks and cutting out only the areas that would directly be hit by the light.

muzzle flash layer 3 - mask out areas receiving light

Once you're done, your shot should look something like this:

muzzle flash layer 3 - mask out areas receiving light (masks applied)

It's not bad, but I personally find that using a simple overlay layer to simulate the muzzle flash light sits very unnaturally on top of our footage rather than in the scene. We can make this look a lot more natural with a technique I described in my After Effects – Natural Lighting VFX Using Mattes tutorial: by creating a matte layer.


User avatar
7 Years Ago
October 10, 2012 @ 10:52 am
I have to say that is the best muzzle flash I've seen. My problem is I have never used Adobe After Effects. I've used Pinnacle for years but I always wanted to learn Adobe.

I have 2 questions if you don't mind.

Does After Effects have a steep learning curve? and is it possible for newbies like myself to purchase the effect already made so I can just add it to the timeline? Any advice would be very much appreciated.
User avatar
7 Years Ago
October 22, 2012 @ 0:36 pm
Hello and thank you very much for the feedback

As for your questions:

1. After Effects does have quite a steep learning curve but just search a few tutorials online and follow them. I can recommend - that's how I learnt, but be patient, it takes a little to get used to

2. The muzzle flash itself you can purchase. Check out the 'Action Essentials 2' package that videocopilot has. It's the one I use. You might still require a bit of work though to make it sit properly in your scene and blend it in a bit
User avatar
7 Years Ago
January 13, 2013 @ 6:43 am
I like your videos but i am very new to this. A friend and i would like to make a video with the muzzle flash and body hits but i am having some trouble. If u could write me back on my email and anwser some questions for me i would very much appricate it.
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6 Years Ago
November 6, 2013 @ 4:10 pm
i lik u wab sait
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6 Years Ago
February 22, 2014 @ 9:23 pm
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Ros Thearit
5 Years Ago
August 14, 2014 @ 1:04 pm
I want lean design with u, u design good,
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4 Years Ago
February 1, 2016 @ 0:58 am
I want to know how to use muzzle flash with a machine gun?? How to use loop??
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4 Years Ago
March 17, 2016 @ 6:49 pm
BAM! How to loop a video in Adobe After Effects:
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2 Years Ago
August 24, 2017 @ 4:10 pm
How am i get that app..?
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Surfaced Studio@ Naatteyy
2 Years Ago
August 31, 2017 @ 8:32 pm
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2 Years Ago
October 11, 2017 @ 9:42 am
Is this free?
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2 Years Ago
October 12, 2017 @ 7:47 am
No, but here's a post on where you can find free stock footage:
User avatar
2 Years Ago
October 11, 2017 @ 9:43 am
Cus I make videos and I want to make my editing better!

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