Blender Smoke Simulation: Creating Windblown Dunes

Shoutout to @loranozor for requesting this walkthrough! I don’t do a blender smoke simulation every day, but one of the biggest takeaways that I got from learning my way through this project was the difference between the resolution divisions of the smoke domain and the resolution divisions under the “high resolution” checkbox.

Smoke Domain Resolution

Basically, as I understand it, the resolution of the smoke domain defines how many voxels are used in the simulation. The higher the voxel count, the more accurate the main body of smoke. Use domain resolution to shape the main look of your smoke sim. If I’m not mistaken, I believe the little cube in the corner of your smoke domain helps you visualize the size of a single voxel, so you can get rough idea of your simulation scale before you even bake it.

“High Resolution” Divisions

Once you’ve got the main shape and behavior of your simulation looking the way you want it, it’s time to enable the “high resolution” checkbox. This is essentially like applying the subsurf modifier to your smoke. It keeps it’s main general shape and behavior, but the high resolution divisions add that extra little bit of “whispiness” for added realism and resolution.

If you’re interested in learning more about blender smoke simulation, check out Mantaflow. It’s a great branch of blender pushing the boundaries of smoke and fluid sims!