Subsurface Effect tutoriul(Iron Man 3)

A small note: The most important part of this effect is tweaking the look. I didn't have a lot of time to really dial in the look, but if you put in the time, this effect can look amazing.

Another small note: This effect can be easily converted into an Iron Fist effect.

This is the tutorial for an effect I have been working on. I got the inspiration from iron man 3 obviously along with a similar tutorial that Andrew Kramer did in after effects. I used the free version of hitfilm for this, but you will get much better results if you use mocha for the tracking step. So enjoy, and I will take requests for any other effect you want me to do.


  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator

    It's a solid take on the "Extremis" effect. YOu did a good job on your vein placement.

    Note in Express you should be able to get some good tracks for head turns if you adapt the techniques used to fake a 3D track with a 3D point from Hitfilm's "Heads Up" tutorials.


  • That is a really good point! But that will only work for a few cases. Only close ups and maybe some medium shots. But I wanted this effect to be as adaptable as possible for any kind of shot.

  • Good looking effect, have to be honest as a medium experienced Hitfilm user, I did have some trouble following some of that, the bit that seemed to be very quickly glossed over was from when you had all those vains in to the single comp and then they went from visably off the neck (as in not blended in) to masked by the factual noise layer and no longer off the face. think I need to watch that again.

    The power Hitfilm Express, I don't think you used any add on packs.

  • Yeah I agree that I can be very hard to follow at some parts. I am still trying to find a good way to edit my tutorials.

  • If I may offer my opinon, maybe at a bit more disciptive colour to the reason you are clicking or changing something, "Now change the x setting resulting in our image doing y"

  • Okay. Thanks for the advice.

  • And as the voiceover for the extra bits said they were really important (or something like that... I only skimmed it at x2 speed), why were they only "extras"?

  • I had some weird and complex problems when I was editing, and my solution was to add a little card to cover up the problem. I couldn't think of anything else to put on the card so I just said a few extra details.

  • Good work

  • Come again and again new ideas for me. Very good effect!
  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator

    Some quick advice on tutorials. 

    Just make an outline or checklist first. You don't need a script of what you're going to say, but you need to write down what you're going to do! So, for this subsurface effect, you want to put the steps in order--not down to the "set fader to >x<" level, but at least. 

    • Discuss selecting tracking points. 
    • Track. 
    • Create tracked point. 
    • Parent point to track.
    • Create/mask face plane.
    • Parent to track point.
    • Create fractal noise texture.
    • Etc. 

    Anytime I DON'T outline, I'll get a step out of order or explain something poorly and either have to play editing games, or re-record, which just takes time and a half! 

    Remember what teachers would always say about essays--assume the audience knows nothing. 

    Where possible, add the "why" to an action. Sticking with this tutorial, telling a user to blur some vein layers is a programmed step that might be forgotten. Telling the viewer "now this layer of veins is deeper under skin, fat and muscle, so let's blur it out for some depth" is better, because it's demonstrating WHY those layers are blurred. It's more likely to "stick" in the brain and help the viewer adapt or change the technique for other uses--like, let's assume we're creating a shot with glowing parasites under the skin: this would be the same basic techniques as the "Extremis" look, but with more complex animated masks, and a few other tweaks, but the grounding of "why" makes the adaptation easier! 

    Ideally you finish a tutorial a couple of days before upload. Set it aside for a day, then watch it fresh. It's tempting to upload as soon as you're done, but you might miss something. 

    Here's one that I only figured out a few weeks ago myself. Don't screen record the whole thing in one shot. Record several scenes, starting and stopping recording for major sections. In the edit this becomes almost like editing several short scenes, but you focus on/edit one section, then taje a five-ten minute break before loading in the next recording. Staring at a really lengthy thing for too long is demoralizing and can feel slow. Finishing a shorter section feels like you got something done. You get a taste of accomplishment, then a quick breather to reset your brain for the next segment. 

    Finally, just keep doing it! My own organization of tutorials and workflow have greatly improved over the past few months. Not perfect yet, but better than when I started. 

    Now, to change topics: an enhancement to this effect--forget "vein" images! Make your own with the lightning/Electricity effect! Black core set to multiply on a white plane with no glow... Turn animation speed to zero. Now you have custom veins, and, you can keyframe the growth of the lightning. Combined with some animation of the fractal noise layer/mask you can have the subsurface glow spread out and enlarge while having the veins become more prominent as the glow increases. 


  • Thanks for the advice! That was very helpful!  And I actually did try the lighting as oppose to veins, but I decided not to use it because it slowed my computer down to much but more importantly it looked more like electro so I thought at one point I could do a tutorial for how to do an effect like him. I probably should have mentioned that you can use lightning  in the tutorial though. And again thanks, you are a huge help.

  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator

    Aw, you're welcome. I try. :-) 

    Oh, duh! With lightning, you could always render out the veins you make as a PNG to re-import. I guess I push that because when one does a Google search for an image, the tendency is to grab something from the first page or two... But so does everyone else (including me), which means everyone builds from the same "vein" images, and everything looks similar. I'm pretty sure I have the same vein images you have, because when I had my first try at this I took the first good images that came up! My second attempt, with custom veins made with lightning, looked cooler, cuz I had full control over the length and width of the veins and I could make them stringy instead of all meeting at a central point. Incidentally, also more realistic because I could build those layers up using more accurate structure, closer to a real circulatory system. 

    For more guidance on tutorials, watching anything from Inscape Digital, Digital Blast or Hitfilm Sensi can show effective ways to structure short Hitfilm tutorials (all three of them have different styles). The Hitfilm channel, Film Riot and Creative Dojo are all good to look at for medium-length tutorials. Especially the Hitfilm channel, since Simon Jones organized a bit differently from how Axel does. Axel is different from Josh, Oli and Kirstie have yet another different style, and of course any guest tutorial (including mine) will be different. Simon and Axel are masters of explanations, and they are the standard to which I hold myself. 

    For long-ass tutorials, I'd say Filmmaker IQ or my own Hitfilm University. Hit-U you can have the added analysis "fun" of figuring out which episodes I properly outlined, and which ones I had to save my dumb ass in editing! 

  • Oh yeah! That is a great idea! And personally, I think that my favorite style of hitfilm tutorial is inscape digitals.  But like you said, they have shorter tutorials while mine are closer to the length of something like Film Riot. But anyway I will figure it out (eventually). And again, thanks for the advice.

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