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Create a Ribbon Effect in Niagara

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Simulating natural phenomena is challenging, especially when using sprite or mesh-based particles to simulate smoke or vapor trails. Ribbon Emitters are an excellent solution for simulating these objects, and in the following How-To, you will learn how to set up a Niagara Emitter to emit a continuous ribbon-style particle effect into the world.



  1. First, we will need to create a new Material to color our Ribbon Emitter. To do this, right-click in the Content Browser, and under Create a Basic Asset,�select the Material option from the displayed list.�Name�the Material M_Ribbon.

  2. Double-click the M_Ribbon Material to open it. Press and hold the 3 key, and left-click in the Material grid to add a Constant 3 Vector Material Expression node.

  3. Hover the cursor over the small circle on the right side of the node, then click and drag to connect the Constant 3 Vector to the Base Color and Emissive Color inputs in the M_Ribbon box on the right.�

  4. Double-click the Constant 3 Vector to open the color picker. Set the R value to 1, then click OK. This turns the material red.

  5. Click in the grid to take focus off the Constant 3 Vector. This changes the Details panel display on the left. In the Details panel, scroll down to locate Usage, and expand it. Check the box for Used with Niagara Ribbons.

  6. Click the Apply and Save buttons to apply changes and save your work.

  7. Now, right-click in the Content Browser, and select FX > Niagara Emitter to create a new Niagara Emitter.�

  8. Name the newly-created Niagara Emitter FX_Ribbon,�and then double-click it to open it.

  9. "Locate the Render section of the FX_Ribbon Emitter, and click the Trash icon to delete the Sprite Rendering module.

  10. Press the Plus sign icon�(+)�and from the displayed list, select the Niagara Ribbon Renderer Properties.

  11. Next, click the small white triangle to expand the Ribbon Rendering section. In the Material section, click the dropdown to select the M_Ribbon Material that was created in steps one through five.�

The value in the SpawnRate module (found in the Emitter Update section) is set to 20.0�by default. The Spawn Rate affects the roundness or angularity of the resulting ribbon effect. Lower values create a more angular or polygonal effect shape. Higher values create a more round effect shape.

Low Spawn Rate value

High Spawn Rate value

  1. Locate and expand the Particle Spawn section.

  2. Delete the following modules by clicking the Trash icon.

    • Add Velocity

    • Sphere Location


  3. In the Set Variables section, click the small white arrow next to the following variables and select Remove.

    • Particles.SpriteRotation

    • Particles.SpriteSize


  4. When those variables have been deleted, click the Plus sign icon (+) next to Particle Spawn to display a list of options. Expand Set Specific Parameters, and add the following variables:

    • Particles.RibbonWidth

    • Particles.Velocity


  5. Click the Plus sign icon (+) next to Particle Spawn to display a list of options again. Select Experimental > Point Spiral Location.

    The Speed value of this variable expands the base diameter of the overall effect.

  6. With the variables now added to the Ribbon emitter, set the following Variables to the following values.

    Variable Name





    X:1.0, Y: 0, Z: 1.0

    Point Spiral Location

    Speed: 500.0, RotSpeed: 4.0



  7. Locate and expand the Acceleration Force module.

  8. Set the Acceleration Z value to -100.0.

    A negative value in the Z field produces a cone-shaped ribbon effect. If you put a positive value in the Z field, an inverted cup-shape is produced.

  9. Once all that has been completed, click the Compile, Apply and Save buttons to compile and save your work.

  10. Now right-click in the Content Browser, and select FX > Niagara System. Name the new system Ribbon.�

  11. Double-click on the Ribbon Niagara System to open it, then drag the FX_Ribbon�Niagara Emitter from the Content Browser to the Timeline.

  12. Click the Compile and Save buttons to compile and save your work, and then close the Ribbon Niagara System. In the Content Browser, drag the Ribbon Niagara System into the level viewport.

End Result

When completed, you have a Niagara System that plays your Niagara Emitter when the Niagara System is placed in a level, as shown in the following video.