In this After Effects tutorial, Jayda Lyon covers how to create steam using particle playground.
First of all, you make a new composition. I just titled this one Tutorial, and I actually used a tutorial I found online, but the effects are a little bit more updated in our version of After Effects, so I had to make a couple of adjustments. I changed the background color to a dark color because I wanted to make my steam white. So you're going to add a solid layer to your new composition, and I would, again, do a darker color, so the white steam shows up.
Then I went to effect and then down to simulation and then down to particle playground. Here, you open up cannon, and you can adjust all these different settings. I changed the barrel radius to make the particles fill up more of the screen. I changed the direction just a little bit, lowered the velocity so it doesn't go too fast, changed the color to white, and then changed the particles to make them larger themselves.
These are all really up to just your preference and playing around and seeing what works. I still have a little bit more exploration to do in terms of how the particles show up and when. I also changed the gravity from 180 degrees to 360 degrees, because if it was 180, the particles would float down. So I changed it to 360, so then the particles would flow up like steam actually does. Then I go to blur and sharpen and go down to Gaussian blur. Here, you can change the amount of blurriness, so they're a little less opaque, so they have that more translucent steam effect. And then I just went in again and kind of adjusted a couple more of these canon settings.
The tutorial I found online, used a fast blur effect, but I couldn't find one in this version of After Effects that did what that tutorial had shown, so I just went with Gaussian instead. Then if you go ahead and play the video, we can see here that it's a little too close together, so I'm going to lower the particles per second and then increase the barrel radius so it's a little wider. Then I just up the blurriness again, trying to make it a little more cohesive. And, after making some more adjustments, you have this steam effect. That was a really cool thing that I learned in After Effects.
Here's the final result: